Wednesday, April 30, 2008

יום השואה והגבורה

Tonight marks the beginning of Yom Hashoah VeHagvurah--Holocaust Remembrance Day. The literal translation is Day of [remembering] the Holocaust and the Strength. My ulpan teacher told me that in the early days of the Medina, when survivors of the Holocaust were coming to Israel en mass, the sabras had a hard time understanding them. They asked, "Why did you accept these decrees? Why didn't you fight? How could you allow this to happen to you?" It is the perennial כצאן לטבח--sheep to the slaughter--question. These pioneers who sacrificed everything and fought like warriors so the State of Israel could be established simply could not understand how six million people could be obliterated.

Eventually, I guess, people came to understand the גבורה--the strength--it took to live through the Holocaust. The large brave acts of defiance, such as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the greater strength it took to maintain a shred of humanity when indeed humanity had slipped into an abyss of evil.

And so tonight and tomorrow, we remember those who were murdered and those who survived. In a country where joy and sorrow are intertwined daily, where we have so much to be proud of and so much to shed tears over, we pause for a day and think about the survivors who defended and built this country of ours, and we thank them. And we take pride that today Israel exists, that we are strong and that Jews all over the world know they have a country waiting with open arms for their return whenever they are ready to come home.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another Rabbi Visits Iran

You think the neturei karta are the only ones who want to be Ahmadnejad's friend?

Guess again.

According to today's Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb is going to co-lead a delegation of 21 peace activists to Iran.

I feel so much better now. Peace with Iran is almost at hand. What a relief.

The good rabbi wants "to humanize the face of Iran, lest we end up with a disaster of global proportions we cannot imagine".

She believes that we should negotiate and talk with Iran not threaten to obliterate them, which apparently Hillary Clinton did while stumping for votes. The article goes on to say:

What about the threat to Israel? "I don't think Iran is going to attack Israel; I think it's a chimera. Iran has never initiated a war. And the fact that Israel has never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it has nuclear weapons, is one of the reasons Iran wants nuclear weapons. Israel has already bombed Iraq and Syria. It is not [unreasonable] for Iran to think it will also be a target. Maybe we should be pressuring everybody to sign the NPT. We should be [backing] the forces of peace, not the forces advocating war."

Iran thinks it will also be a target? Are they afraid? Yes, Israel has bombed Iraq and Syria, but she's omitting the little fact that it was their NUCLEAR REACTORS that were bombed. Now these countries are less of a threat, at least until they get another reactor up and running. Less of a threat to us and to the entire region, maybe even the world. A strong Israel benefits everyone.

Rabbi Gottlieb joins the ranks of Jimmy Carter, and that rabbi-guy from Neturei Karta. Appeasers. The people they visit probably laugh their heads off as the door closes behind them.

Gottlieb insist she's not naive. After all she is a student of history. And she's doing this for her children and grandchildren.

What about MY children and grandchildren???

I don't think she's helping them.

Monday, April 28, 2008

About the last post...

If you didn't read the comment section of the last post, I'll just let you know that I started a post not intending to publish it, but then did. I was so tired that I inadvertently hit the wrong button.

I had been talking about food shortages, when my husband Isaac gave me additional inspiration. You see, here in Israel, there is always talk about water shortages. This year in particular has been very dry and the water level, which is measured at the Sea of Galilee, more commonly known as the Kinneret, is at dangerously low levels.

Anyhoo, Liat was finishing washing her breakfast dishes, when she walked away from the sink, leaving the water running. She just forgot to turn the faucet off. This caused Isaac to passionately exclaim, "Liat, the Kinneret!!!!"

Okay, maybe not so funny to all of you, but imagine it with a Venezuelan accent and an extremely serious tone of voice. Now that is funny. "The Kinneret" has now become the household catch-phrase for the excess usage of water.

But of course, we all know what Isaac is really concerned about: the water bill.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Liat the kinneret

Joseph, where are you when we need you?

I'm hearing alot lately about food shortages, especially rice. Apparently, we're also missing corn, soybean and all kinds of wheat. Sugar is also becoming scarce. A friend showed me an article she took off the internet that said that buying rice and storing it is a better investment than a low interest CD.


I spend half of my life in the supermarkets and it doesn't look like a shortage to me. I counted 20 different cereals there the other day. Rice? There were a dozen varieties from plain to exotic. Coffee? Seven different brands, not including the flavored ones.

Of course, we have to say there is a shortage, this way prices can go way up. And up.

Look, economics is simply not my thing. When I had to follow the stock market for Mrs. Posner's economics class in the 11 grade, I totally cheated. I didn't understand it then and don't understand it now. Buy low, sell high (but we generally do the opposite). And I do believe that at least some of this is created by the media who relishes whipping up the public to a frenzy. What fun for them to see masses of people panicking and running over to their local ShopRite to stock up on basmati or risottos. Imagine how much fun the 11 o'clock news would be to watch, were that to occur.

But still.

We are a gluttonous society. The amount of food available in the supermarkets is crazy and the amount we buy is obscene. Did our parents eat like this? Our grandparents? Of course obesity is on the rise everywhere. (I know, I know, I'm not one to talk, but if they only sold one cereal, and it was bran flakes, I'd probably be thin. Of course, my kids would be starving).

Maybe a "famine" is a natural correction for our gluttonous nature. Because sooner or later the piper has to be paid. Maybe "later" is now sooner.

But as the Israelis are fond of saying, "Yiyeh B'seder".

It's all good.

I'm copying Mom

A little over a month ago, she promised to post at least once daily on her blog right up until the beginning of Pesach. Truth is, I thought she was nuts to commit to something like that at that particular time. But she kept her word, and her posts were varied, creative and interesting.

So now I'd like to try the same thing, but on a much smaller scale. I could never commit to a month of daily posts(I am always experiencing writer's block). I'm going to try my darnedest to post daily until Yom Ha'atzmaut, which this year comes out on May 8 on the secular calendar. That's only 12 posts. And they can be short.

Really short.

So let's give it a whirl, shall we?

At the same time, I'll also be working on my Sixty Reasons I Love Living in Israel post, to be published on Yom Ha'atzmaut in honor of Israel's 60th. That's 5 a day.

Feel free to add your ideas for that list (I have no problem going over 60 if I need to).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jerusalem: Scenes and Faces

I had the honor and the pleasure of spending much time in Jerusalem over Chol HaMoed. Can one ever tire of this city? As I walked around the Ir Atikah (Old City), both with and without a guide, I thought that no matter how many times I have been there, there always seemed to be some new fact to learn. I tried to capture some of the Jerusalem I saw in these photos:

The Ramban/Churva Synagogue has been destroyed several times, the last time in the 1948 War of Independance. It is currently being rebuilt. This is where the famous arch in the old city was, built after the Six-Day-War to symbolize the shul. The minyan is currently held in an adjacent basement, where they ascribe to no specific nusach--the davening goes by whatever nusach the Shaliach Tzibur (leader of the tefilla) uses. This is at the behest of the Ramban himself. (Four Sephardi Synagogues in the foreground)

Father and son

Is there anywhere else in the world you'd see a sign like this?

Thousands of people were "oleh regel" to Jerusalem, from all over Israel, and from around the world. We were all welcomed by the Mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupianski.

A Karaite Jew, right around the corner from the Karaite Synagogue.

Karaite Judaism or Karaism (Hebrew: קָרָאִים) is a Jewish movement characterized by the sole reliance on the Tanach as scripture, and the rejection of the Oral Law (the Mishnah and the Talmud) as halacha (Legally Binding, i.e., required religious practice). They originated in Baghdad, in present day Iraq.

When interpreting scripture, Karaites strive to adhere only to the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text. This is in contrast to Rabbinical Judaism, which employs the methods of p'shat, remez (implication or clue), or drash ("deep interpretation"). In modern times Karaite Judaism has formed its own independent Jewish organization, and is not a member of any Rabbinic organization. (Some of this information was retrieved from Wikipedia). Needless to say this group is fairly controversial.

A simple Jew.

Happy on Chol Hamoed

Priest leaving the Christian quarter.

Protecting the Old City, both from unwanted traffic, and from more sinister dangers.

Praying at the Kotel. LeShana Habaah B'Yerushalyim Habnuyah!


Mazal Tov to our very special friends, Michael and Nadine upon their son Evan's Bar Mitzvah, which took place at the Kotel. The Bar Mitzvah was beautiful and meaningful and we give Evan, his parents, his brothers and of course, Boma, our heartfelt good wishes. It is because of our friends that we have been spending so much time in Jerusalem. We miss them terribly, but are so happy that Evan chose to have his celebration here. With G-d's Help, may they celebrate many more smachot here in the Holy Land!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm signing off till after Yom Tov.

I was going to blog right up 'til the last minute, and I had so much to say today, but I got a phone call today that my aunt, ("Tante Clara"--to be said with an Argentinian accent), passed away. She was my mother's twin, and her only sibling.

I did not know her very well, and could probably count on my fingers the number of times we actually saw each other. But she was very much a part of our lives, through my mother of course. What is difficult is not being with my mother while she is grieving.

So suddenly I just want to focus on getting everything done and then having my first Pesach here in Israel, which I really am excited about.

It's been fun getting ready for the holiday with my new blog friends.

To my family and friends in America, you cannot imagine how much you are missed, and at the same time how gratifying it is to prepare for this chag with just about everyone else in this country.

Wishing you all a wonderful chag, (of course Sameach, V'kasher)....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I rarely do this, but...

I got this joke from my friend, Arlene. It's one of those "heh-heh chuckle" jokes (as opposed to a "loud guffaw" joke, which I probably couldn't reprint on my blog anyway).


As the EL AL plane landed at Ben Gurion airport, the voice of the Captain came on:

"Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated with your seat belts fastened until this plane comes to a complete stop at the gate and the seat belt signs have been turned off. We also remind you that the use of cell phones is strictly prohibited on board this aircraft. To those of you who are still seated, we wish you a Happy Easter, and hope that you enjoy your stay in the Holy Land.

And to those of you standing in the aisles and talking on your cell phones, we wish you a Happy Purim and Happy Passover, and welcome back home."


Monday, April 14, 2008

It's beginning to look alot like....

Okay, so I'm sitting at my computer (where else?) the other day, and all of a sudden I see a man waving an Israeli flag in the reflection of the screen. At last, I thought, Theodore Herzl is visiting from the beyond to personally thank me for my Aliya. I turn around and see nothing. But there is that man and flag again on my screen. Maybe it's one of those optical illusions where you stare at a dot for a minute and then see jesus christ floating away. I turn around again only to see TWO men again, in a cherry-picker, putting an Israeli flag on the streetlight right outside my mirpeset (porch):

Guess what??? Modiin is getting ready to celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut!

This scene just made me so happy....Sure I know we have Pesach first, and then of course Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron (Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day), but to see the country getting ready to celebrate our 60th birthday??? Well that just puts a huge grin on my face.

And there does our banner yet wave.....

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Liat and I spent our day doing this:

and this:

I don't think I've ever cleaned my own oven (I always had a self-clean oven and/or a housekeeper). I feel very accomplished. And let's give credit where it's due--Liat's contribution was huge.

Tali and Orli are on a "Masaa Bnei Akiva" until tomorrow night. They will hike for miles in the blazing sun, pee in the woods and sleep in their sleeping bags under the stars. They will have a great time (did I mention peeing in the great outdoors?) and come home really tired and cranky.

Okay, Liat and I are off to shop.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Haveil Havalim #162--Passover Edition

In case you have not heard the latest edition of Haveil Havalim is now live here, at Esser Agoaroth. Enjoy.

And for lots of Pesach tips, including recipes and other fun stuff, click on over to Mom in Israel, where she is hosting Kosher Cooking Carnival #29.

And now back to my oven....

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Siren....

This week, here in Israel, is a "National Preparedness Week". There are all kinds of exercises and drills going on to give us all some "practise" in the event, G-d forbid, of some national emergency (i.e. war).

My kids have been telling me all year that they have "Bomb drills" at school. When the alarm goes off, the kids are supposed to dive under their desks and cover their heads. Orli's wry observation: "Yeah, like that's going to help if we really do get bombed".

Today there was a nation-wide siren going off at 10:00 a.m. This was supposed to be a specific drill for school children. (The schools in Sderot and surrounding areas were exempt, because the government figured those kids get enough practise). As soon as the siren sounded the kids were supposed to do the requisite dive under the table, and then walk calmly and quietly to the miklat--bomb shelter--where they were supposed to wait for an hour.

Yikes. Tali and Orli attend a school that was intended for 500 students, but is currently bursting at the seams with almost 900 students. How were they going to fit all those kids in those tiny shelters? You know how there is an expression "אין סומכים על הנס"--you don't rely on miracles, you do everything you can to help yourself. But here in Israel, we just depend on miracles all the time.

I informed my kids about what was going to happen. They took it in stride and were completely unconcerned--if anything they were happy they get to miss whatever class was taking place during the drill. I don't think they believe that anything like that could happen here in Modiin.

They ended up lasting 24 minutes in the shelter, with windows and doors open. There were 80 kids in a space the size of my living room. I guess we really do rely on miracles.

I was in my ulpan class when the siren went off. Our teacher stopped talking and we all silently listened to its wail. I thought about something like this really happening and not being with the children. I wondered if Isaac was hearing the siren in Maale Adumim. I thought about the people of Sderot who run to their shelters umpteen times a day. I thought about the "mamad" (shelter room) in my apartment and how the only thing in there to occupy us are Liat's books.

I thought, "Dear G-d, please don't ever let this be for real".

The whole thing lasted about a minute. I don't know if it was considered a success or not. But it definitely reminded me that I live in a country that is surrounded by enemies.

Not that you ever forget that.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Moses is Dead

I heard on the radio (in Hebrew, I might add) that Charlton Heston has died.

Tell the truth: how many of you, when you think of Moshe Rabaynu think of the young (and then, through the magic of the movies, the aging) Charlton Heston? Admit it. Remember him killing (smiting?) that Egyptian? Being banished by Pharaoh (Yul!) and trying to squeeze that last drop of water through his cloth canteen? And who was that narrator anyway? "Bithiya"? "Sephora"? "Dathan"? Those names weren't heard in the Klausenberg Bais Chana Yeshiva I went to!

I grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where owning a television was akin to committing--well, it was a very, very bad thing. But somehow we always had a few chasidish neighbors coming in to watch "The Ten Commandments". (How did they know it was on? Did they have a suscription to TV Guide?) Few of them had the stamina to watch the four hour spectacle, but it was fascinating to watch them be so fascinated by the images. My father, by the way, who never was a chasid, hated that we watched this movie (actually he hated the TV altogether, but that is a battle my mother definitely won); he called it "apicorsish" [or something like that] and felt it would leave us with images in our heads that we would never get rid of. Hah!

I could go on and on about that movie. The foggy Angel of Death descending on the silent city. The skinny old man about to be run over by a massive stone until Moses comes to his rescue. Pharaoh intoning, "So it shall be written, so it shall be done". The revelry around the Golden Calf. Joshua, handsome Joshua. (Even at seven years I knew that ). Lily Munster as Moses' wife,--Tsipora, or "Sephora". And of course, the parting of the sea.

Heston was very much a part of my childhood in Williamsburg. Aside from his controversial (and I personally didn't think it all that controversial) stand on the right to bear arms, you didn't hear about the typical Hollywood scandals; he died Saturday with his wife of 64 years, Lydia, by his side.

Is it a coincidence that he died right before the iconic movie is about to be aired yet again?

They don't make 'em like they used to.

Here's to "Moses" finally making it to the Promised Land.