Sunday, December 31, 2006

Purim in Tevet?

Yesterday's news that they have executed Saddam Hussein gave most people in Israel a sense of satisfaction, even if the left-wing media tries to see the negative side of it. The "pc" politicians are being low-key, but the man on the street here is happy. It wasn't that long ago that we had to worry about sealed rooms and gas masks. (We made aliyah just a few months after the end of the first Gulf War, so we missed out on the Scuds, but we did have to take out our gas masks when the Americans went in to Iraq again).

As a religious Jew I can't help but see the parallels to Purim. Hussein was hung on the same gallows that he ordered used by his Secret Police, not unlike Haman who was hung, along with his sons, on the same gallows that he had built for Mordechai.

The fact that this was done on the ninth of the Hebrew month of Tevet is also significant. Aish has an interesting article here about the connection between Saddam Hussein and Nebuchadnezzar, who started the siege of Jerusalem on the Tenth of Tevet. Today we fast to mark this tragic day.

Another sad connection is the fact that today is Yom HaKaddish HaKlali - the Yahrzeit day of those whose date of death is unknown, which is also known as one of the Holocaust remembrance days marked here in Israel. Holocaust survivors light Yarhzeit candles and say the Kaddish prayer in services today, and many schools have special commemorations.

I can't help thinking about what might have happened if a government had gone after Hitler earlier, and executed him for war crimes. How many Jews would not have to use this day to say Kaddish for their relatives?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

You Can't Fake Good Character

Ezzie has an excellent roundup of the latest controversy in the JBlogosphere, about plagiarism. He links to many good posts, and has his own take on the situation.

I agree with Ezzie completely. There is no place for this kind of behavior - it is just plain wrong.

Many people who want to defend DovBear have made the claim that "he just plagiarized a little" or "people are taking blogging way too seriously", perhaps rationalizing his actions because they personally enjoy his blog or agree with many things he has said in the past.

They ignore a very important fact, though. Your character (you can also use the Hebrew term "middot") is judged not only by the big actions but by the small ones too.

Yesterday, the lady at the makolet, perhaps because of the Friday morning rush, forgot to ring up a can of pineapple that I had bought. I noticed that she had forgotten while still at the register, and pointed it out to her. She quickly put it in, and I paid. The can cost all of eight shekels (less than two dollars), but for me it didn't make a difference. Stealing eight shekels from the grocery store is the same as stealing a greater amount.

Your character is shown by other actions too. How do you treat the people who work for you - even if just for a short time? Do you say thank you to the waitress in a restaurant, or to the cleaning woman in your office building, or do you treat them as if they are part of the furniture? Do you say "good Shabbos" to people on the street, or at least answer them back when they greet you, or do you just walk by? (This is one of westbankpapa'a pet peeves when in a certain Charedi neighborhood in Jerusalem - only rarely do people answer his Shabbat Shalom with a similar greeting).

In terms of the blogging world, your character can be judged here too. Do you answer your commenters? Do you respond civilly to the ones that disagree with you, even if they themselves are less than polite? (This does not mean the trolls - the people who are obviously just trying to "make a scene" and are not interested in a rational discussion should be ignored). Do you steal others' words or not?

You really can't fake good character, at least not in the long run. A slick salesperson may be able to do so to get a quick sale, but this only works for a short encounter. In any other situation, where people interract for a longer period of time, the real you comes out.

Yes, blogging is just a hobby (at least for most people). We don't need to take it too seriously. But if you think of it as another place in which your character is on display, then you should take it seriously indeed.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


All of us grow up in a certain environment, and take things for granted. The language that our parents use become ours, the foods that we are served train our palates in a specific way, and the weather is usually nothing more than the backdrop to our daily lives.

I grew up in upstate New York, in a place where it would start snowing in late November and continue through March. I remember being thrilled to see the first crocus sometime in February or March, and spring fever was more than just a phrase.

The first snow of the season was fun, but quickly lost its appeal, especially since I had a long walk to school (starting in junior high).

There was one first snow that I will never forget though.

In my city the Jewish elementary school depended in large part on Israeli shlichim (or yordim - those who left Israel for good) for their Hebrew language teachers and, in some cases, their religious studies teachers.

When I was in fifth or sixth grade, one of my teachers was an Israeli, who came to America with a few young kids who studied in our school. One cold day in late November the inevitable white flakes started to fall, and we looked with interest out of the window, but continued with our lesson.

Then one of the teachers came to the door with a wide smile on her face and beckoned everyone to come quickly. We had no idea what she wanted, but our teacher gave us permission to leave our seats and follow her. She then led us to a wide window, and we looked out onto a wonderful sight.

One of our new teacher's children was outside. Growing up in Israel, he had never seen snow before, and today was a very special day for him. To our amused eyes, he was literally singing and dancing as the delicate white flakes surrounded him. Every once in a while he would open his mouth to let a snowflake fall onto his tongue, trying to enjoy this new experience with as many senses as possible. Many of us then raced to get our coats and gloves, and ran outside to teach him the other ways to enjoy the snow (snowmen and snowball fights predominated - there still wasn't enough on the ground to teach him about snow angels, though).

The teachers looked at us through the window. As a child I couldn't really understand the expression on their faces, but as an adult looking back I can. They were looking with wonder, and probably a bit of envy, at someone who was experiencing the pure joy of a new and exciting experience.

I can understand their envy today. When was the last time you felt that kind of joy? I feel that way once in a while in Israel, as I discover another thing that I love about this country. But otherwise it is a feeling that comes only once in a blue moon.

When was the last time you felt pure joy?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

We Cease, They Fire

Two teenagers were hit by Kassam rockets yesterday in Sderot. One, aged 13, was taken to the hospital on the brink of death, and it was only by the heroic efforts of the doctors there that he is now "just" in critical condition.

The IDF is demanding that Olmert let them go in after the rocket launchers in Gaza. This morning he gave approval for "pinpoint" attacks, whatever that means.

It seems that in Israel when the Arabs call for a ceasefire, it means that we cease, and they fire. According to the article above 62 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel since this "ceasefire" was established.

Refuah Shleimah to these two boys.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The More Things Change....

Imagine the scenario. A homocidal maniac in a far-away country is planning the destruction of the Jews, while he is being met with nothing more than appeasement. The Arabs are involved in terrorist activities against the Jews, but their own casualties are double in number because of internecine battles and revenge-taking. There is heated debate whether to show restraint in reaction to the terrorist activity or to act aggressively against it. The die-hard Zionists want to build new communities, in spite of the dangers.

Sounds like reading the news, doesn't it?

Well, all of this was news - seventy years ago.

I received a pictorial history of Israel as a gift a number of years ago, and every once in a while I look through it. The chapters about 1936-1938 are fascinating in and of themselves, but even more so when you compare what was happening then to what is going on today.

Hitler was rising to power and wasn't met with much resistance at this point, the same way that Achmadinejad is today.

The Arabs started a wave of terrorist attacks in April 1936, which would last for three years. Statistics show that even in the worst year of Jewish casualties, the number of Arabs who died was double that of the Jews - because of their internal warfare.

Debate raged about how to respond to the Arab terror - with restraint or by acting aggressively. In 1938 a Scottish officer by the name of Orde Charles Wingate, who was very pro-Zionist, trained both Haganah members and British soldiers (who were also attacked by the Arabs at this time) to use aggressive tactics such as night raids and surprise attacks. These night squads were very successful, and paved the way for future IDF activities.

Despite the dangers, the die-hard Zionists of that time decided to build new settlements anyway (yes, the history book uses this term. Before 1967 "settlements" were considered positive things I guess) On December 10, 1936, the first stockade and watchtower settlement (called "choma u'migdal" in Hebrew) was built. Members of Hashomer HaTza'ir prepared the wooden components needed for sheds, a watchtower, and the outer double wall, and broke them down and marked them out for quick assembly. They then went to the site chosen (near the Beit Shean valley) and built the whole thing in one day. The Arabs were taken by surprise and did not attack them. In the next two years another thirty settlements would be built in this way.

The die-hard Zionists of today are also building despite the dangers. Today, unfortunately, the dangers are not just from the Arab terrorists but from Peace Now, but there are those who are braving them too. A group of Gush Katif evacuees have received permission to build a new settlement, this time in the Jordan Valley. Despite their mistreatment by the past government, they are continuing to put idealogy before personal security, and they are building their new homes in a place where it is strategically necessary for Jews to live.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Rak B'Smachot

I think most Jews are familiar with the phrase "rak b'Smachot" - "only at simchas", referring to our wish to be able to see our family and friends only at happy events. Even my parents, whose connection to Yiddishkeit was somewhat tenuous, would use this phrase when saying goodbye after a family celebration, or unfortunately, a funeral.

I thought of this phrase because Chanukah time is one of the busiest times in my family in terms of celebrations. My father's birthday (81 this year) and my mother-in-law's birthday (70 this year) always come out during this time. I have a number of nephews who were also born at the end of Kislev (Bar Mitzvah's past and future), and it turns out that good friends also have boys who were born during Chanukah.

So, for a family that hardly gets out to a restaurant, I have eaten out twice in the past three days, and we have a Bar Mitvah tonight.

Added to this is the fact that family members are moving from one apartment to another and we will help them out, and I have my one-day orientation at work this week.

This long introduction is just meant to say that I will be busy this week, and blogging will be light, but thank G-d it is because of good things.

Rak B'Smachot!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Batya has another great roundup of delicious kosher recipes here. (As if we needed another excuse to eat this week...)

Check it out!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I Got the Job

Yesterday I received the phone call informing me that I got the job I interviewed for this Sunday. I need to go in one day next week to learn a few things, and then I start officially on January first.

I am looking forward to this very much. The job is with a small but growing business in a nearby yishuv, and they need me to take care of their English speaking customers in America (and soon to be other countries). I'll be working three afternoons a week at first, and after Pesach I will probably get more hours because their busy season is from May to September.

The business is run by religious people, which makes a lot of things easier. At the interview my future boss looked at my resume, and very casually remarked at the long gaps in my employment history, that apparently I had stayed home to raise my family. You have no idea how wonderful it is not to have to defend that choice.

I have worked in the past with non-frum people in Israel, and it is certainly easier here than in America - you don't have to explain about the holidays (although Tisha B'Av is unheard of in many circles). At the same time, there are times when people can make nasty remarks without thinking. In one place that I worked, the only other religious person was an engineer. When the news came in to the office that his wife had given birth to their sixth child, my boss at the time made the remark that "they breed like rabbits". It was also a frequent and mind blowing occurence to hear both "Baruch Hashem" and the "F" word in the same sentence. (I guess this is an "only in Israel" experience too, huh?)

Tomorrow we will be going to Maaleh Adumim and then on to Jerusalem for family gatherings. I feel very lucky, especially during holiday times, that both sides of our families are in Israel, something that is somewhat unusual for olim.

Chanukah sameach!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

There Must Be An Ambulance Shortage

Last night there was a gun battle in Gaza between Fatah and Hamas. This is despite the so-called "ceasefire" that is supposedly still holding (!).

The "interesting" part of this is that this shootout took place in the hospital grounds. (I guess it saves money on ambulances.)

What next, a gun battle in a schoolyard?

Oh, I forgot, they already did that last week.

Monday, December 18, 2006

They Found It!

Those persistent archeologists have found the elusive Havel-Havalim 98. The whole entertaining story is at Jerusalemgames. Check it out!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Phew! Well, That's Over

I had my job interview this morning, and it went rather well I think. The person who would be my boss seemed rather pleasant, and I think I made a good impression. He said that he would let me know later in the week.

It took me a long time to unwind after this, and my husband can't figure this out. "How terrible can it be to sit down and talk about yourself?" he asked.

Different planets for introverts and extroverts I guess.

Time to make the back tomorrow!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Far Away From the Commercialism

I read an interesting article in ShabbatShalom, an OU website, by a woman who resents Madison Avenue trying to make Chanukah as commercialized as X-mas.

I completely agree with her. As a matter of fact, it was one of the reasons that I wanted to make aliyah in the first place. Here even the non-religious know that the most important holidays in the year are Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, followed by Pesach and Sukkot. Chanukah is wonderful, and is my favorite holiday in fact, but at least here in Israel it is kept in proportion.

When my kids were smaller, I would get a huge amount of satisfaction from the joy they took from simple gifts. After lighting candles, once or twice during the eight day holiday, I would give them inexpensive things I found in town. A bag of marbles, new crayons, or a plastic animal would be greeted with more pleasure than a fancy electronic toy. These small gifts, with a small amount of Chanukah gelt (money) would be the sum total of the commercialized aspect of the holiday.

After my in-laws made aliyah, things became a bit more complicated. Saba and Savta couldn't give up the pleasure of spoiling their grandchildren, so the Chanukah gelt increased greatly. My kids are older now, and their tastes have grown up a bit too. But they know that birthday time is when to ask for something big, and Chanukah is the time for family and making our own latkes and sufganiyot (I make the latkes, westbankpapa makes the donuts).

Add to this the fact that the only thing that is red and green around here is the Israeli salad, and you get one more reason to love living in Israel.

Chanukah sameach to all my readers.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Are Bloggers Introverts or Extroverts?

I had a nightmare last night. It involved various crazy things centering around an interview that I am scheduled to have on Sunday for a part-time job.

I am a naturally shy person, who would rather write than speak in most cases. When westbankpapa and I were first going out, and we reached that delicate stage in the relationship where you either open up or say goodbye, I resorted to writing him a letter with some personal stuff in it rather than speak to him. Being the sensitive guy he is, he didn't think that was wierd, and as a matter of fact we started to talk seriously about marriage very soon after this.

So interviewing is one of my least favorite activities in the world. I know that once I sit down in the office, and see that the person who may be my boss is not seven feet tall with huge fangs, I will relax and talk to him like a normal human being. Until that time I will be tense, though.

This led me to think about the differences between bloggers. I assumed when starting my blog, that since it is mostly a written medium (except for podcasts, of course), that most of the other bloggers out there would be introverts like me. I am beginning to think I was way off base. (Feel free to correct me - I am very curious about this point).

So what are you, my fellow bloggers, introverts or extroverts?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Drawing the Line at My Front Door

One of westbankpapa's volunteer activities is acting as one of our yishuv's official spokesmen. He handles both Hebrew and English speaking groups, and is called upon to deal with reporters, tourist groups, and Israeli officials when they need a guided tour of our little village or some information about an incident that happened in our area.

We are sometimes asked to host people for a meal in our home, which we accept gladly.

At least most of the time.

Awhile ago westbankpapa received a request. A famous left-wing personality, who had been hosted himself in America, was now hosting both a Christian American and a Palestinian American (Muslim). They asked him if he could arrange to meet a "real settler".

This request always puts me off a bit. I mean, really, we are not museum pieces or attractions at a freak show, we are normal human beings who happen to live in an area that some find controversial. At the same time, this is what being an official spokesman is all about - making a good impression on people who are unfamiliar with those who live in Judea and Samaria.

Westbankpapa told me about the request, and we were working out some logistical arrangements, when he casually mentioned the name of this famous left-wing personality.

I remember bursting out, completely without thinking, the following: "I will not let that man step foot in my house!"

Westbankpapa was shocked. In the past I have had Palestinian Arabs, fundamentalist Christians (including the pastor), and European reporters in my home for meals without batting an eyelash. I believe that communicating with people on a one-to-one basis is the very best way to break down stereotypes.

This time was an exception, though. The person in question was personally responsible for telling vicious lies about our whole community, and literally causing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of others to hate those of us living in Judea and Samaria without cause. I just couldn't bear the thought of him in my home.

Of course, after I said this, I started to feel a bit guilty. Most women are taught to "be nice" no matter what. Having guests in your home is a fundamental part of being an Orthodox woman. And, the insidious little voice of egotism started to speak. "Maybe when he meets us he will change his mind about settlers, and realize that we are not so bad after all"....As if my recipe for brownies (as good as they are) will somehow tame the savage settler hater into a more objective and reasonable person....

Of course a few minutes later reality set in - and I figuratively shook myself and thought "NOT GONNA HAPPEN MAMA. This guy has an agenda and your hospitality will not change it."

Westbankpapa made arrangements to speak with the three visitors in the yishuv but not at home, and he said it went well. This small group left the yishuv never knowing that they missed out on my delicious brownies. And I reaffirmed a feeling that I have had for a long time.

I do not have a lot of clout in the traditional sense. I work part-time at two very low paying jobs, and I do not come from a wealthy or a powerful family.

But within the four walls of my home I am the queen, and I choose who gains entrance to it and who does not. Although not opening my home to this man made absolutely no difference in the cosmic sense, it made a big difference to me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Something Positive From the Kolko Case?

How many posts have you read about the Kolko case? How many of them had something practical to say?

I can't recall the exact number for the first question, but I can say that so far I've only read one that fits the second. Sepharadilady has an excellent post here.

As usual, it is the inimitable Ezzie who points the way to great posts. What would we do without him?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Don't Worry, Be Happy Is Not A Defense Strategy

You know the feeling when you read a news article and the hairs on the back of your neck start to rise, and you start hearing "Red Alert" alarms going off?

That is what happened to me when reading this article in Haaretz this morning. The IDF seems to be backing off of a report made yesterday in the security cabinet meeting about Syria preparing for war with Israel.

According to the article, the head of Military Intelligence reported that:

"Assad is preparing the Syrian army for the possibility of a military confrontation with Israel, but on the other hand does not discount the possibility of a diplomatic settlement."

"The head of research stressed that the Syrian leader has issued orders to expedite the production of long-range ballistic missiles and to move air-defense missiles closer to the border with Israel and the Golan Heights".

"In meetings of the intelligence community in Israel in recent weeks, the view of most participants is that Assad is in no rush for war."

There are a lot of mixed messages here. Let's clarify some things.

Which things reported by the Military Intelligence head are FACTS, and which are SUPPOSITIONS?

The assesment that Assad is preparing for a military confrontation, as evidenced by his order to expedite the production of long range missiles, and the movement of defense missiles closer to the border with Israel is a FACT.

The idea that Assad does not discount the possibility of a diplomatic settlement is a SUPPOSITION.

The view of most participants in meetings of the intelligence community is that Assad is in no rush for war is another SUPPOSITION.

I don't know about you, but I get very angry when military experts give their opinions about what is supposedly going on in our enemies' heads. I think that there are quite enough pop-psychologists available for those types of opinions. What I want the military to do is see the facts in front of their faces, and prepare the army to deal with the wars that are inevitably part of our lives here in Israel. Anyone who has ever studied the history of the Yom Kippur War can see that wishful thinking is not a defense strategy. We lost too many soldiers in that war to be complacent again. The recent failures in the second Lebanon war also point to the mistakes that can be made when not preparing for the worst case scenario.

Paranoia is much better than "don't worry, be happy".

Add This Blog To Your Blogroll

For years I have been reading Littlegreenfootballs and other pro-Israel blogs. Many times they have included important information from Memri (Middle East Media Research Institute), who translate articles and video clips from Arabic and Persian into English.

This information is literally not available anywhere else. For years the Arabs would say one thing to western audiences, while saying the opposite in Arabic to audiences at home. Memri provides the English speaking world with the truth of what is being said in these places.

Now Memri has started a blog. I'm putting it on my blogroll, and I urge you to do the same. The next world war is coming soon, and we need as many people as possible to wake up to this fact. When you read and hear what my neighbors are really saying about not only the Jews, but about all Americans, you will start to understand what we are all up against.

Hat tip: Carl at Israelmatzav.

More JBloggers Are Up For Weblog Awards

I went over to Jack's place to read Haveil-Havalim #97, and I was surprised and pleased to see that some more JBloggers are up for awards. In addition to Treppenwitz and ElderofZiyon, Dry Bones is up for best comic strip, and Jack himself is also in the running.

Go on over for some good reading, and while you are at it, vote. Voting is open for about another week.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I've Added A Jewish Twist To This Meme

MinorFastDays has tagged me with this meme. I've seen it around on a few blogs, and I've decided to add some Jewish/Israeli things at the top. (Letters a - z, 1-150 are the same as on other blogs). (My answers in bold.)

a. Danced joyously in the streets of Jerusalem for Unification Day.
b. Gone to a funeral of someone killed by a terrorist.
c. Volunteered in Israel during a war.
d. Learned a second language as an adult.
e. Recited the entire book of Psalms.
f. Used a ritual bath.
g. Met a survivor of Auschwitz.
h. Received a gas mask especially designed for babies when leaving the hospital with a new arrival.
i. Received a cheery "See you next year" when doing the above.
j. Baked homemade challah.
k. Prayed at the Western Wall at dawn.
l. Changed my family name to its ancient Hebrew version.
m. Visited Yad Vashem.
n. Felt homesick for a country that I set first set foot in at the age of 20.
o. Ate a Shabbos meal with Chassidim in Meah Shearim.
p. Bought fresh fruits and vegetables in Machane Yehuda.
q. Accidentally left a bag on an Egged bus and was questioned by security.
r. Nearly been trampled by a policeman on a horse. (No not Amona, remember Oslo?)
s. Been saved from falling by a policeman at a demonstration.
t. Floated in the Dead Sea.
u.Watched dolphins frolick in Eilat.
v. Voted in national elections using a piece of paper and an envelope.
w. Called a Knesset Member to express my opinion.
x. Cried on Yom HaZikaron.
y. Danced with joy on Yom HaAtzmaut.
z. Tried to convince others to do most of the above.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said "I love you" and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse of the moon.
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
30. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head (not bald, but close enough)
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone's life

I tag Jameel at the Muqata.

Friday, December 08, 2006

You Never Know What You Might Find On Your Favorite Blogs

You never know, do you? That's the best part of surfing the net, and bopping around from one blog to another. Here are just a few of the things I found in the past few days:

I clicked on a button (graphic) called Moms For Modesty on Me-anders blog, and I found a post by a Christian woman who is against the very provocative clothing sold for young girls. Read her post, and if you agree with her, sign on in the comments section and post a link. She very rightly points out that mothers of young children are a key consumer group, and that they have a lot of clout when organized. Add your voice to this group (and, maybe, years from now, the Israeli marketers will take notice...).

Erica really brightened my day (and westbankpapa's too) by linking to a clip of Mahalia Jackson singing "That Old Time Religion". Yes, I have a weakness for passionate singers who really belt it out, especially when I can relate to what they are saying. That old time religion really was "good for the Hebrew children" and is good for us today!

Congratulations are in order to both Treppenwitz and ElderofZiyon, who both reached the finals stage in the 2006 Weblog Awards. A vote is in order too, don't you think?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Who In The World Is Westbankmama?

[This is a teaser folks...]

Right before my one year blogiversary, I went through all of my postings in order to add a few that I really liked to my sidebar. I discovered in this overview, that all in all, there were maybe one or two posts that I would regret signing my real name to, (and I'm not telling which ones...) but that all of the others were fine.

I started to think seriously about "going public" (an egotistical statement, I know, given the fact that I have a limited number of readers). I hesitated, though, because I wanted to go through the JIBs this year (if they will really happen) annonymously. I wanted to get whatever few votes I received just by my writing alone, and not because my friends voted for me.

I still want to wait, but in the meantime I have been tentatively offered to have a post of mine (with some rewriting and additions) published on another website. I would need to use my real name there.

So now it is a matter of which comes first - the reprint, or the JIBs.

In any case, I started annonymously because I wanted to feel completely comfortable writing. I found, though, that my natural reticence to reveal very personal things about myself and my family won out, even in an annoymous blog. So there is no need to be annoymous any longer.

Stay tuned....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Some Delusions Never Die

I read a disturbing, though not surprising, article in Haaretz about a declaration by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee. (I am not familiar with this group). Numbering eight chapters, and financed by the United Nations Development Program, it contains a number of serious demands.

Just some of the "gems":

The chapter about relations with the state does not say that Israeli Arabs recognize Israel's Jewishness, but that they are willing to see it as a "joint homeland" for the two nations. (How big of them)

The Arabs want the right to veto government decisions on national issues that affect them. (How many minorities in a democracy have the right to veto government decisions?)

Israeli Arabs demand that during the next two decades Israel become a bi-national state alongside an independent Palestinian state. (UN decisions in 1948 notwithstanding)

The document demands changing the states symbols.

It further states that the Arab public does not see Israel's present government system as a democracy, but as an ethnocracy.

In short, the Israeli Arabs represented by this group deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.

I don't know if this is a fringe group who hopped onto the UN gravy train, or if it represents the mainstream Arab public as they try to claim. For those on the extreme left who don't believe in Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, their statements sound acceptable. For those of us on the right, who trace our country's Jewish roots all the way back to the Bible, which was "officially" sanctioned by the UN's decision in 1948, their statements seem delusional.

I am curious to see what those who consider themselves centrists, or even "center left" think about this. One of the main points made by many on the left is that we can achieve peace if we return to the pre-1967 borders, and that our settling of Judea and Samaria by Jews is the cause of the Arabs' dispute with us. The complete failure of this theory is apparent now to many after the disengagement from Gush Katif. Will this declaration further destroy this misconception?

Update: Uzi Benziman analyzes the situation in light of this declaration. I disagree with him on some points, but in general it seems to be a fair analysis.

This Just In....

I couldn't resist publishing this "only in Israel" story that I received in an e-mail from Debbie Wechsler. Even though is too late for my roundup, I think it is a great story....

"I know it is waaaaaaaay too late for a 'only in Israel' story but none came to mind around the time of your deadline (even though I have lived here for over 30 years - and experienced many such moments)

Until last night - when my plumber came over to do what plumbers do. As he walked into the apartment he immediately noticed I had painted the walls in the hall a different colour. I explained that I had been to a Rav for a Brocha (as I am still single and want to be married) who had told me that a variation of 'meshane makom meshane mazal' can also be achieved by painting a few walls or moving around the furniture. My lovely plumber, Eli, walked back out to the front door and asked me when I had last checked my mezuza. I told him all the mezuzot in the apartment were new when I moved in and are not yet due to be checked. He then proceeded to tell me that I had positioned mine too high and would I bring him a kippa so that he can replace it and make the Brocha. Being single and female I don't have kippot hanging around so I folded a clean tea towel which he put on his head. He replaced the mezuza and said the Brocha and then told me to step into the house using my right leg first.

I cannot think of a plumber anywhere else on this fine earth who would care that I am single, who would recognize the importance of finding a zivug, who would jump into action and do what he could to bring about the change needed. And all with no fan fare and a very sincere heart. Do you?"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fraction Phobia

Perhaps it is a cliche, but I think that most parents try to give their kids a better life than they themselves had. This shows itself in the big things, but it can be seen in the smaller things also.

I remember my mother, aleha haShalom (may she rest in peace) saying to me once that she used to be deathly afraid of bugs. She didn't want to communicate this fear to us, though, and she would force herself to smile and hand my brother an empty jar when he wanted to collect various creepy crawly things that he found in the great outdoors.

I remembered this a short while ago when the youngest westbankkid had a particularly difficult time with his homework. Screeching in frustration and throwing his pencil down onto his workbook, he said "I can't do this - I'm just stupid".

He was working on math problems.

Not just any math problems, but fractions.

I remembered my mother's words to me and I plastered what I hoped was an encouraging smile on to my face."I am sure you can do it, sweety", I said out loud.

What was happening inside my head was another matter. Behind my calm and upbeat exterior I was going through paroxysms of sympathy. "Yes, I know exactly how you feel," I thought to myself. "I HATED math when I was your age, and fractions were the WORST. I would rather write three book reports and study 100 words for a spelling test than do those blasted problems!"

I didn't express any of this of course. I want him to get over his frustration with math and not develop a phobia, so I covered up my own fear and loathing.

"Maybe Abba can help you", I said. (Which just goes to show you that there is always a place to say "gam zu l'tova" - "this is also to the good". He may be temporarily unemployed, and he drives me crazy in the kitchen, but he is available to help with math homework!) Westbankpapa did a great job explaining things, with a bit of help from the older westbankkid (how do you say "least common denominator" in Hebrew?).

As a matter of fact, westbankkid came home from school with a 94 on his math test! (Hurray! Kol HaKavod for westbankkid!)

I hope the fleeting joy of a good mark will leave a more lasting impression, though. Perhaps the next time he finds something difficult he will say to himself, "well, this is hard, but if I get a little help I can do it".

Which is probably one of the best gifts we can give to our kids.

A better life, indeed...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Beyond BT Has Another Thought Provoking Post

A recent addition to my blogroll is the blog Beyond Teshuva. I enjoy it very much, and every once in a while it has a post that is just right on the money.

Today I found one of these. Rabbi Yonason Goldson has written about how hard it is to be in "the middle" as an Orthodox Jew, and how easy it is to look down at others who you think are "fanatics".

Worth a stop.

Soccerdad Does It Again

Soccerdad has done another great job in hosting this week's Haveil-Havalim. I especiall enjoyed Shoshana's discussion of the terms "frum" and "religious", and I really like the interview that JewishBlogmeister did with everyone's favorite, Ezzie.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Upholding Standards for Thousands of Years

Here is an article for all of you who oppose the mixing of politics and religion. No, it is not about the religious parties trying to pass a law to protect the traditions followed by the Jewish people, it is about a secular politician trying to meddle in religious affairs.

Yossi Beilin is trying to propose legislation that will change Israel's official policy on who is a Jew. I can't think of a more damaging threat to the unity of the Jewish people than this. We may have had bitter fights among ourselves in the past (and unfortunately in the present) but at least we Jews could agree on who we were. Now he wants to take a page out of the reform movement's book and meddle in this. (The reform movement, when faced with the decreasing numbers of Jews affiliated with their synagogues, proposed to change the halachic standard accepted by all Jews until that time - that Jews were those whose mothers were Jewish - and stretch it to include those whose mothers weren't Jewish but whose fathers were.)

In the article he states "If people see themselves as Jewish, and certainly if one of the parents was Jewish, why should the state define them as not Jewish?"

Well, try this one on for size Yossi. If one of my parents is a doctor, and I see myself as a doctor, then why not define me as a doctor?

What, you say, there are standards to follow? You mean I have to attend medical school and pass my examinations first? Who are you to tell me what standards I have to pass!

Ok, ok, so there are standards. But why can't we change the standards? If I go to, say, a very liberal and open-minded medical school, which throws off the old fashioned labels and cares about what is really important, (like, do you feel like a doctor, have you learned a little medical jargon, and do you have at least one parent who is a doctor) then can I be called a doctor too?

No? You mean some standards are more acceptable than others? Like the ones that have been around for literally thousands of years, and which a good portion of the population see as fundamentally immutable, no matter how "old fashioned" they sound?

People have a right to either be religious or not, that is their choice. But they do not have a right to use a political body such as the Knesset to try and change the standards that a religion holds.