Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Happy Aliyah Anniversary to Me

Ahh, I remember it well. The day we actually made aliyah, fifteen years ago. We took a night flight hoping our very active two year old son would sleep for most of the way (didn't work). When we finally made our descent, I pushed the little cutie to drink as much as possible so that his ears wouldn't hurt. As the wheels touched down at Ben Gurion airport and we felt the euphoria of "Yes, we are finally home!", my son took the opportunity to throw up all over my skirt. I remember thinking to myself, is this the way it is going to be?

Truth be told, that is the way it is. Moments of unbelievable euphoria and a contentment that is indescribable, punctuated by some nasty surprises, and with a lot of mundane stuff in between.

Sort of like marriage, or raising kids, or that fantastic career that has its ups and downs....but that you wouldn't change for the world.

I have a lot of good posts to put up tomorrow - Snoopythegoon, Abbagav, and Treppenwitz have joined in the fun, and Jameel and the Purple Parrot have promised me that it will be in by tomorrow...

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Another Missing Headline, That Shouldn't Be

For those of you who haven't seen Treppenwitz's post from yesterday, May 29th, go read it now. He tells the story of a Palestinian girl suffering from leukemia who is being treated in Israel's best children's hospital - at the expense of - you guessed it - Jews.

This story, of course, was ignored by the mainstream media, and was only reported by Hatzofe and Arutz 7. Shouldn't we do something about that?
Appeasement Doesn't Work

Running away from terrorists never works. Barak ordered the army to run away from Lebanon, and now we have Hizbullah with rockets capable of hitting Tel-Aviv. right on our northern border.

Sharon ordered the army to leave Gaza, and uproot ten thousand Jews from their homes, and not only do we have Kassamim falling in Sderot and Ashkelon, but the army had to go back into Gaza with ground troops, a little over nine months after the disengagement.

Further uprooting of Jews from their homes will be just more of the same mistake. It will hurt many people (possibly me), it will cause more of a rift in the army than there already is (the soldiers who followed orders thinking that maybe things would work out for the best see now that it didn't), and it WON'T STOP THE TERROR. The only reason why there are fewer attacks now is because of the special forces that go into Schem (Nablus), Jenin, etc. to find the terrorists where they live and capture or kill them before they can carry out their plans.

Can we please learn from our mistakes?

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Missing Half of the Headline

A few weeks ago, on Independence Day here in Israel, the body of an eight year old girl was found near the market in Beit Shemesh. The police rounded up suspects, and recently announced that the murderer, a Palestinian worker who was in Beit Shemesh illegally, had confessed. has the full story here, under the headline "Palestinian Man Murdered Child". The article gives some of the more sordid details, like the fact that he raped her first, and then calmly washed his face and went to eat dinner with others.

The article also states his name, the fact that he is a father of eight (shudder), and from which village he comes from.

So why do I claim that there is something missing from the headline? Because what would follow in most of the other countries in the Middle East would be the equivalent of "Enraged Citizens Burn Down Village" or "Palestininas Lynched in Revenge for Child's Murder".

No such headlines here in Israel, because we Jews don't take the law into our own hands and kill innocent people in retaliation (and no, killing innocent civilians by mistake when targeting terrorists is not the same thing).

Just my own little voice speaking the truth - even if it is drowned out by the loud cacophony of lies.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Havel-Havalim #71

Thank You G-d, For the Miracles That You Performed In The Past...and The Present

Israel Perspectives has the radio recording of "Har Habayit B'Yadenu" and shares some thoughts about Yom Yerushalayim taken from "Eretz Yisrael in the Parasha". A JHistory has an article by Rabbi Mordecahi Willig on the Six Day War - 1967 - Expression of Divine Will.

Elder of Zion has the oldest pictures of Jerusalem, and Jonathan Stein has some pictures of the "Rikud Degalim" (Flag March) from two days ago, posted here on Jacob Richman's site.

Miriam writes about a miracle of the past, that is only being commemorated now. Gail of Crossing the Rubicon beautifully expresses her feelings about the miracle of Israel.

I write about the Divine intervention that happened this week. Treppenwitz has another take on it, and thinks we need another kind of intervention.

Help Us Cope With The Tragedies That We Could Not Prevent

Elie at Eliesexpositions writes about the funeral and shiva for his son Aaron. Shira at Onthefringe has an excellent post about how to behave at a shiva call. Psychotoddler shares some thoughts at the shiva of his father who recently passed away. Elder of Zion posts the pictures of the Americans killed by a terrorist arrested in Israel this week.

Give Us the Wisdom and the Courage to Deal with the Threats From Without...

Roger Simon writes aout the "dress code" in Tehran, and Daledamos posts about a different way of combating Ahmadinejad. Michael Totten goes to Ramallah, Chomsky goes to meet with Nasrallah, and Robert of Seraphic Press tells the Presbyterians who want to divest from Israel to got to ...Gaza.

Soccerdad discusses the terror strategy of Al Qaeda and its connection to Palestinian terror. Israelmatzav looks at the topic of protecting soldiers from outside challenges. Judith at Kesher Talk quotes a professor at Emory University who addresses the latest academic boycott of Israel, and Meryl Yourish notes that someone could use a lesson from Miss Manners.

...And From Within

Israeli Politics:

AtlasShrugs says "stop giving territory to terrorists" and covers Olmert's speech to Congress and gives us the inside scoop. Israelmatzav reports that the Surrender and Expulsion plan shrinks. Batya at Shilo Musings notices the backtracking also. Telchaination points out tha not all Jewish organizations saw the need to protest. And we shouldn't forget the human face to this controversy.

Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community:

Hirhurim writes a post with some guidelines for protecting both our children and teachers. The Canonist claims that these are not good enough. Ezzie weighs in with his opinion of both posts. Canonist responds to Ezzie and discusses the heart of the matter, the acceptance of claims of abuse. Ezzie responds to this also.

The Israel Rabbinate and the Conversion Controversy:

Lifeinisrael reports on the topic here, and Joe Settler thinks that it is a good thing. Ranaana Ramblings disagrees and thinks that they are going too far. Gregg at Presence has a post with some scholarly background to conversion.

Secular versus Religious:

Lifeinisrael points out an interesting thing abut secular Israelis who go to chutz l'aretz, and Jameel at the Muqata writes about the dilemma of accepting secular kids in religious schools.

Let Us Enjoy Your Gifts to Help Us Get Through...


Remember your first trip to Israel? Jewlicious follows the Taglit/birthright trip now in Israel, and has some great pictures - a big CK and some little cute kids, the Golan, planes boats and...camels? Judy at Adloyada makes a joyous announcement that makes her feel like a real Jewish mother.


Abbagav follows Oprah as she goes to...(no, NOT there..). It may not be the Brooklyn Bridge, but someone has a very nice city to sell you. And speaking of sales, Aussie Dave at Israellycool has an idea on how to increase them. Don't miss those crazy settlers and their mailing lists (I can relate!).


AsimpleJew wonders about diamonds and their magic powers. And finally the answer to which came first, the chicken or the egg...

Good Food:

Me-ander has some great recipes at the Sixth Kosher Cooking Carnival.

NotQuitePerfect reminds us that Shavous is coming next week, and so is the next edition of Havel-Havalim, hosted by Jack. Send your submissions to talktojack at sbcglobal dot net.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Aliyah Post Update

So far I have six posts on reasons for deciding to make aliyah from: Rafi at Lifeinisrael, Batya at Me-ander, Moze at Mozeman, Bec from Bec's World, and EmahS at Movingonup, and of course, my own.

(Notice how the ladies are way ahead of the men - no more jokes about women being late....)

One more week until the deadline - May 31st. G-d willing I will post on Thursday, June 1st, if I can tear myself away from the kitchen.

I am spending most of my time reading great blogs and working on Sunday's Havel-Havalim - so this will be it for now!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Zeiler Commission Sends Warning Letters to Police Officials

I have written both here and here about problems in the Israeli police force, specifically about them using excessive force in Amona and their splicing a video of the event (lying, in short) to cover up one of their members hitting Member of Knesset Effie Eitam.

The Jerusalem Post has an article about a further investigation. The Zeiler Commission sent warning letters (get a lawyer, and fast) to police officials, including Moshe Karadi, about their involvement with organized crime families and botched murder investigations.

Despite what it looks like, I actually don't enjoy bashing the Israeli police. I think that there are many policemen who work hard to protect the citizens of this country, and it is a shame that their reputations are tarnished by the actions of others. As someone who tries to promote aliyah it also pains me to have to admit that these things are happening in Israel.

On the other hand, I think it is important to cover these developments because too often the outside world gets the impression that every time a settler complains about the Knesset, or the courts, or the police, as in this case, it is just another "right wing nutjob" whining. There are serious problems that need to be taken care of.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

And the Crowd Goes Wild...

I sometimes wonder how much my kids understand about blogging and what Ima really does when she sits down at the computer.

I got a partial answer the other week.

As my readers know I have boys, and they are prone to leave things lying around. Some of these things are sports paraphanalia. In an unusually grumpy mood one day, I gave my son's ball a vicious kick to get it out of my way. He looked at me, put on his sports announcers voice, and said "And westbankmama kicks the ball, it's a goal, and the crowd goes wild!"

Well, as sometimes happens, I immediately lost my grumpiness and started to laugh. Imagining myself playing soccer with some of the professional players is comical in itself - me with my jean skirt and hand holding my beret on my head so that my hair will stay covered, while trying to keep up on the field...Well, you get the picture.

The other thing that made me laugh was his use of "westbankmama". Of course he couldn't use my first name (that is against the law of respecting your parents), but I was surprised that he didn't say "Ima". I guess he knows that I have another "identity", and that westbankmama is the codename.

I wonder what other blogger's kids think?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Havel Havalim #70

Soccerdad has done another great job with Havel-Havalim, number 70 this week. I have volunteered to host next week, so send in your submissions to

In addition, for those of you who have made aliyah, and would like to post about how you made your decision, please send the link along. Deadline May 31.
Greatest Advertisement for Israel Yet

Last week President Moshe Katzav hosted 120 Israeli centenarians. On the front page of the paper Makor Rishon, there was a charming picture of Shalom Amrani, 105 (bli ayin hara), with a handsome young man in an IDF soldier's uniform smiling behind him, both wearing kipot.

No, its not what you think. The young man is not his grandson, but his son.

Nechemia, 21, is one of eight children born to Shalom, after he married his second wife.

At the age of 74.

His blushing bride Mazel, was all of 22 at the time.

When asked for the secret to his longevity, he said that he eats a spoonful of honey, a spoonful of oil, and three garlic cloves a day.

I think living in Israel has something to do with it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Modim Anachnu Lach...for Your Miracles That Are With Us Every Day

A religious school in Sderot was hit by a Kassam rocket this morning. Noone was hurt, thank G-d, because the kids who are usually in this classroom were in another praying the morning service.

Part of the morning service, said in the portion known as the Amidah, is Modim (Thanksgiving). Here is the translation of a section of that prayer (Artscroll Siddur):

"We gratefully thank You, for it is You Who are Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers for all eternity; Rock of our lives, Shield of our salvation are You from generation to generation. We shall thank You and relate Your praise - for our lives, which are committed to Your power and for our souls that are entrusted to You; for Your miracles that are with us every day; and for Your wonders and favors in every season - evening, morning and afternoon...."

We live in a land of miracles, and unfortunately we sometimes don't really appreciate that. I know that after hearing about the miracle of this morning I will say this prayer with more feeling.
The Lizard Wears Orange

Charles at Littlegreenfootballs has taken a stand against Olmert's planned "convergence" and calls it what it is, more appeasement.

Let's hope others in America will join in and show their disapproval - we need all the help we can get.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Foreign Aid to Hamas is a Mistake

I've read two well written posts today about the mistake of sending aid to Hamas. First, Carl of Israelmatzav compares the dependence on foreign aid by the Palestinians to an addiction.

Second, Bruce Thornton of the Victor David Hanson site writes in his essay "Fig Leaf Diplomacy":

"The war against jihad will never be won until Muslims themselves are convinced that jihad will fail."....."Unfortunately, in the case of Israel for forty years we have not only failded to show that the wages of jihad is death and failure, but we have indulged, subsidized, and rewarded terrorism."

Read the whole thing.
How Would You Answer This Question?

Don Radlauer at Don's Mideast Musings received a request to respond to an assertion that what the Palestinians are experiencing in Israel is the same as what the Jews went through during the Holocaust.

His great answer is here. This is the kind of question that would get me too angry and upset to answer properly, so its good to read someone else with a cooler head.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

To Give and to Receive

So far I've received pretty positive feedback from my requests for posts on reasons for making aliyah, and Rafi of Lifeinisrael has already put his up. I thought I would keep the ball rolling with my own contribution.

During my sophomore year at Stern College I decided I wanted to further my Jewish studies in Israel. For various reasons I could only go to Israel for a semester, so I landed for the first time in January of 1982.

Like most American students I studied in English and had English speaking friends, and spent most of my time in Jerusalem, although I tagged along with friends who travelled to different places for Shabbat. I very much enjoyed the tiyulim (hiking trips) that were arranged for us - but the bulk of my time was focussed on continuing my learning.

I was completely apolitical at that point. The protests before the evacuation of Yamit were not on my "radar screen" at all, and the controversy surrounding it went completely over my head. The sight of the little kids dressed in their Purim costumes and the sounds of the vendors in the Machane Yehuda shuk made more of an impression on me than the news that I barely understood.

Then the war in Lebanon started (Operation Peace for Galilee). One by one the girls who I studied with began receiving frantic phone calls from parents, and slowly but surely the dorm emptied out. I also received a similar phone call - which I ignored. When most of my friends were packing and moving up their departure dates, I went to the El-Al office and delayed my return trip by a month. (I had a job in August that I could not ignore).

I don't know how it happened, but somehow the love of this little country of ours took hold of me. The thought of leaving caused me almost physical pain, as if I were abandoning a friend in trouble. I decided to spend the rest of my time in Israel volunteering.

I did various things during this time, including packing care packages for soldiers at Yad L'Banim in Jerusalem (which deserves its own post). One day I heard that they needed volunteers at Moshav Keshet in the Golan, because a lot of the men had been called up for army duty and there was work that couldn't wait. I packed a bag with enough clothing for a few days and got on a bus to Tiberias.

When I approached the ticket window at the bus station in Tiberias I hit my first snag. I had called for information on the bus routes and ticket prices, but I had failed to ask about the exact schedules. It turns out that I had missed the last bus to Keshet by a half hour. I didn't have enough money for a taxi, so I had to decide whether to take the return trip back to Jerusalem - or to try and make it on my own. There was still a good few hours before sunset, so I walked to the nearest bus stop and did what a lot of other people were doing - waiting to hitchhike.

This action took a lot of courage on my part. As a little girl I always colored within the lines, as a student I always did my homework and never cut class, and was, in general, the goody-two-shoes that everyone secretly wants to strangle. As a 20 year old woman traveling on her own I knew that hitchhiking was very dangerous - but my determination to get to the moshav overrode my fears.

My first ride was with an older gentleman who drove a truck. He alternately boasted about how beautiful "his" Kinneret was (the Sea of Galiliee) - and the view climbing up to the Golan is truly breathtaking - and scolded me for hitchhiking by myself. When letting me off at Ramat Magshimim he apologized profusely for not taking me all of the way to Keshet - but he had merchandise to deliver and couldn't go out of his way. I then turned into the Israeli and reassured him that "yiheyeh b'seder" - "it will be all right".

I then spent a long time trying to get a ride from there - unsuccessfully. A young girl of about twelve approached me and asked if I needed help. I explained the situation in my very rudimentary Hebrew, and after a pause she crooked her finger at me, signalling that I should follow her. She took me to her house and the family gave me - a complete stranger - a room for the night and both dinner and breakfast. (Not only was I grateful for their generosity, but I was very impressed with the maturity of this young girl, who took the initiative and helped a stranger). The next morning I caught a ride with an army jeep, where the soldiers told me that although it was against the rules to give people rides, it wasn't safe for me to hitchhike alone and they would do it anyway. (Three guardian angels in less than 24 hours!)

At Keshet I was given the task, with two other volunteers, of cleaning out the huge chicken coops, an olfactory experience never to be forgotten. True, most of the ...uh...debris left by the chickens had been cleared away by other workers already, but we still had to sweep away the very smelly dust that remained. After three days of this I was overjoyed to be given the task of staking up grape vines, although it was physically harder work.

Working in an adjacent row was the man from Keshet who was in charge of volunteers, and he engaged me in conversation as we worked. Between my very bad Hebrew and his passable English we surprisingly communicated very well. At one point some fighter jets flew overhead towards Lebanon, and I took the moment to look at the sky and stretch out my back. My companion looked at me and asked, "aren't you afraid?"

I would have had a hard time sorting out my feelings and giving him a coherent answer in English - and in Hebrew this was all but impossible. The closest thing I could come up with was the simplest, and probably truest, answer. "Ani tzricha la'azor" - "I need to help". My need to give was stronger than my fear.

I travelled a few weeks later to another moshav in the south, not far from Gush Etzion, to do more volunteering (this time checking the bus schedules carefully). After my stay was over a member of the moshav offerred to drive me to the nearest bus stop, and he took his ten year old son with us. Suddenly he stopped by the side of the road. I thought at first that something might be wrong with the car, but he quickly allayed my fears and asked his son to get out of the car. He then pointed to an Arab woman on an adjacent hill, who was throwing what looked like wheat into the air. The man then proceeded to remind his son about the laws of the Sabbath that they had learned together, and explained that what we were looking at was the act of winnowing.

I remember thinking to myself, "I want this". I wanted my future husband to be able to stop by the side of the road and teach his son Torah, just as it says in the Shema (Hear O Israel prayer) "V'sheenantam l'vanecha v'dibarta bam b'shivtecha b'veitecha uv'lechtecha b'derech..." - "Teach them [G-d's commandments ed.] thoroughly to your children and speak of them while you sit in your home and while you walk on the way.." (Artscroll Siddur translation).

So when did I "know" that I would make aliyah? Was it when I changed my ticket to stay another month? Or was it when I refused to turn back at Tiberias? Perhaps it was at that moment that the Shema's words came alive right in front of me?

I don't know exactly - but the unbeatable combination of wanting to both give of myself, and receive wonderful things in return, was enough to bring me back home.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Rants

Tired of the usual political/personal/religious rants? Want to see something beautiful and vote for your favorite?

Take a look at Jewishnation's entries for the photo challenge he sponsored. You'll be glad you did.

And can we ask him pretty please to do this more often?
Are You SURE You Want to Kick Mama Out of Her House?

Both JoeSettler and Telchaination have reported in their blogs about the scary development that some here in Israel don't want you to know - that rockets have already been smuggled into Judea and Samaria and have been launched towards major cities.

The IDF has been reluctant to admit this - but did when pressed. The MSM here in Israel has not reported it, because it would certainly put a damper on Ehud Olmert's plans to kick us out of our homes.

After all, when you think about it, who would you rather have on a mountain-top overlooking Tel-Aviv? Mama hanging out her laundry in the backyard, or a guy doing his level best to send a rocket crashing through your roof?

Monday, May 15, 2006

How Is It That a Guy Named Jameel Started J-Blog Central?

Yes, you read this title correctly, Jameel @ the Muqata has started a blog called JBlogosphere, which many hope will turn into J-Blog Central.

It all started with Irina, and got a push from those who are "Wiki savvy", and from other bloggers (kvetchers?)who are spreading the word.

Confused yet? I was, until I followed the links. An open invitation to anyone who wants to put in their two shekels.
Havel-Haveilim Goes Home Again

Havel-Haveilim 69 is at Soccerdad this week, and is packed with great posts. I really liked Oceanguy's post about the proposed disengagement from Judea and Samaria. And he's not even a settler...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

If You Read Nothing Else Today, Read This Article

Natan Sharansky has written a superb editorial in Haaretz, where he puts forth his view that there is no Zionism without Judaism. This from someone who refuses to label himself a religious Jew.

One short quote: "There is no Zionism without Judaism, and there never has been. Just as the Israeli people has never had a right to the land of Israel. Only the Jewish people."

If you read nothing else today, please read this article.

Friday, May 12, 2006

For Those of You Who Don't Like Chocolate Cake - Ignore This Post

Batya put out a call for recipes having to do with Jerusalem. This is a bit of a reach, but when I was a student in Jerusalem a LONG time ago, we didn't have an oven, just two gas burners. A friend gave me this recipe to make in what is called a "sirpelah", or "wonder pot" in English. This is basically an angel food tube pan which sits on a special metal disk over the gas flame.

When we were suffering from the cold Jerusalem winter, and dreaming of central heat, a hot cup of tea and a piece of this cake would do wonders (no pun intended) to brighten our mood.

Moist Chocolate Cake

1 1/4 cup margerine or oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups flour
10 tablespoons cocoa (NOT Dutch processed)
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 tsp. coffee

Cream margerine or oil with sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. Dissolve salt and baking soda in 1 cup of cold water and mix into creamed mixture. Sift flour and add to mixture, mixing well. Add cocoa (yes, all 10 tablespoons). Make coffee and pour on top of dough and mix well. Pour into 9 x 13 inch pan and bake on slow oven - 150 C or roughly 325 degrees F. The tricky part of this cake is knowing when it is done. I start checking it at 35-40 minutes. Sometimes the cake will seem completely done, and after cooling the middle sinks. This is a good excuse to frost it, although it only really needs a small dusting of confectionary sugar.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Let Alaa Call Me a %#@&(&^ Settler

The post title is a bit misleading, because the truth is I don't know what Alaa would call me. But that is exactly my point.

Alaa is an Egyptian blogger who was arrested protesting his country's justice system (I can relate to that). Right now he can't express any opinion at all, on his blog or anywhere else. There are many who are trying to secure his freedom.

I didn't think that I personally could do anything for him, until this morning when I read Abbagav and his link to Lisa at Ontheface., who details what we can all do.

Those of you believe in freedom of speech, even for those who disagree with you, please follow the link and help to free Alaa.

Technorati tag:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why Do Some of Us Make Aliyah and Others Do Not?

Daledamos has an excellent post here about the relationship between Orthodox Jews and Israel, and it contains a few surprises.

It started me thinking about why some of us actually make aliyah, and others of us just dream about it. Our own particular aliyah anniversary is coming up in a few weeks, 15 years on the English date May 31st, and I had planned on writing about when I "knew" I would make aliya - (even though it took a good number of years after that to actually do it).

I don't want to turn this into an official meme, but I would like to hear from others who are living here about why they actually made the leap, and collect the links into one place.

Deadline - May 31st - two days before Shavuot.

Update: This is totally voluntary - no "Jewish guilt" involved! Only bloggers who are happy to write about this topic should pay any attention to this.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Remembrance Day for Little Girls

Two weeks ago today Israel commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day, with a siren and official ceremonies to remember the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis in World War II.

One week ago today, Israel commemorated Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and terror victims with a siren and official ceremonies to remember those who fell in defense of Israel.

Today, the 11th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, is the second anniversary of the murder of Tali Hatuel and her four daughters, Hila 11, Hadar 9, Roni 7, and Merav 2, z"l. They were gunned down as they were driving from their home in Gush Katif. Their ceremony will be a private one, but we should all remember them just the same.

In this war that isn't a war, their "battleground" was the family station wagon.

In this war that isn't a war, their "defense" was their innocence. In most of the civilized world people don't target women and children and kill them in cold blood. In this case their innocence wasn't enough to protect them.

When Jews refer to someone who has died, we usually put the letters z"l after their names. This abbreviation stands for "zichrono l'bracha" in Hebrew, which means "his memory should be a blessing". It is customary to memorialize a person by giving charity in their name, so that this verbal wish is realized practically, and that blessings really are brought into this world in connection to the person who is no longer with us.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the details of the conflict between the Jews and the Arab terrorists in the Middle East, and are confused by both the deliberately distorted moral equivalence put forth by the media and the dust kicked up by the anti-Semites, here it is in a nutshell.

There is a qualitative difference between the two sides in the conflict, and can be summarized simply in a way that is short enough for a sound byte.

Look at the reaction to senseless death, and how the dead are "memorialized".

The Arab terrorists react to senseless death by calling for more senseless death. They exhort their followers to become suicide bombers, and they dress their babies in bomb belts.

How do the Jews react to senseless death?

Look at David Hatuel, the husband and father who lost everything dear to him two years ago. If anyone has the "right" to call for revenge and could be forgiven for doing so, it is David.

He didn't do that. First, he rebuilt his life and remarried a few months ago. Second, he set up a memorial fund in memory of his wife and daughters, that gives money to infertile couples so that they can undergo treatments that will hopefully help them bring children into the world. He thought that this was the most fitting memorial to them, because in addition to the other things his daughters may have done with their lives, getting married and bringing up Jewish babies would have been central.

How do Jews react to senseless death? By bringing forth more life.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Conservative Businessman Brings in Tax Revenues - Will the Socialist Politicians Squander It?

Until yesterday I had never heard of the Wertheimer family, or Warren Buffet for that matter. I glance at the business headlines, but I don't follow the financial news like I do the political situation.

So most of my information about the big deal that was announced yesterday and the background came from the media - the web articles and an interview I heard with Stef Wertheimer last evening.

The news that Warren Buffet's first aquisition outside of the United States was in Israel was met with unqualified glee, but there was also a thinly veiled feeling of astonishment at which company he bought. A metalworks company and not a hi-tech one? One located in the Galilee and not in the Israeli equivalent of Silicon Valley - the Tel-Aviv coastal region? The media people were then quick to say that Buffet will be coming to Israel in September and "will probably buy more companies". Who are they consoling with this information?

The media repeated the information that Stef Wertheimer is now the richest man in Israel - to the point where I was embarrassed. He was interviewed on television (which was broadcast on IDF radio) and was asked more than once how it felt to be the richest man in Israel, and he brushed this off and spoke about what is his real dream - building up the Galilee and turning it into an extremely desirable place to live. He spoke about investing the profits from this deal into attracting more businesses to the Galilee, and how Buffet bought his company because of the work ethic of the employees and that he would definitely not sell out and take the business to other locations for cheaper workers.

To my American ears it sounded as if Stef Wertheimer is the epitome of a conservative businessman - building companies and using them to help people by providing jobs and better education. When I went on to the web and read some articles, this impression proved correct. Bradley Burston in Haaretz has an excellent analysis here, and the Jerusalem Post also has background here.

The family has stated clearly that the profits from the sale will be put back into businesses in the Galilee and educational philanthropy (training people for higher paying jobs), but a big question is what the government will do with the windfall of tax revenues.

When Bibi Netanyahu was finance minister there was a clear policy laid out. Government spending was cut, income taxes were cut, and so was the VAT (value added tax). Unemployment also gradually fell.

There is no clear cut policy now, but it is clear from the election results that the Israeli people want more money to be given to the weaker portions of Israeli society. The question is how to do that - and Olmert has been closed-mouthed, mainly because he doesn't want to favor one group over the other. Now he and the new finance minister will have to make some sort of decision - and the expectations have just risen.

Will they renounce the price hike on subsidized bread? Will they give more money to the pensioners? Will they advance the rise in the minimum wage? Will they increase child allowances?

Or will they follow a more conservative policy, like Netanyahu and decrease the VAT (which he lowered from 18% to 16.5% - and you Americans complain about YOUR sales tax!!). They could also just use the money to lower the government's overall debt.

It will be interesting to see which way the government goes on this.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Links to the Some Great Reading

First up is Havel-Havalim, hosted this week at Crossing the Rubicon. I especially enjoyed Daled Amos's roundup of the Israel meme that he started, including Ezzie's story about a great hitchhiking lesson.

I also thought Carl's post here at Israelmatzav was excellent. NIMBY hits Israel hard.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

From A to Z

I have been tagged by a number of people, the first being DaledAmos, so here goes:

Accent: American Hick

Booze : Sip of wine on Friday night and Saturday morning (Kiddush)

Chore I Hate: Grocery shopping

Dogs/Cats: Definitely man's best friend

Essential Electronics: Internet

Favorite Perfume: Tresor

Gold/Silver: Sapphire

Hometown: I'm not telling

Insomnia: Rarely

Job Title: Akeret Bayit (Homemaker in English)

Kids: Three (bliy ayin hara)

Living Arrangements: Happily married thank you

Most Admired Trait: Good listener

Number of Movies since 1998 (cleaned up version): Six (really!)

Overnight Hospital Stays: One for each kid

Phobia: Public speaking

Quote: Who is happy, one who is satisfied with his lot (Ethics of the Fathers)

Religion: Jewish

Siblings: One (bli ayin hara)

Time I Usually Wake Up: 6:00 am

Unusual Talent: Finding things my husband loses

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Spinach

Worst Habit: Reading instead of cleaning the house

X-Rays: Never

Yummy Foods I Make: Homemade ice cream

Zodiac Sign: Virgo

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Neo-Nazis Desecrate Petach Tikva Synagogue

The Jerusalem Post is reporting here that the great synagogue in Petach Tikva was broken into and desecrated sometime last night.

Someone wrote Hitler on the doors, drew swastikas, and threw the contents of the ark onto the floor.

As uspsetting as it is to me to read about it, I can't even imagine how horrible it must be for the Holocaust survivors who live in the area.

They say the police took fingerprints and are investigating. I hope they catch whoever did it.

Update: Video here on For more background into Russian immigration to Israel, I'm Haaretz has info here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Day of Mixed Feelings

This article in pretty much sums up the mixed feelings that many of us have today. On the one hand we celebrate Israel's 58th birthday, and we are grateful to G-d for the opportunity to live in our own state as Jews.

On the other hand, we are still sore and angry at the institutions in Israel that we feel have let us down, and have made decisions that are not only painful for the families that have been expelled from their homes, but have also proven to be dangerous to our security as a whole.

Our family is doing what we usually do today, meeting friends for a short tiyul (hike) and then eating huge amounts of meat, bar-b-qued of course! As a matter of fact, I think today will be an extremely lonely day for another group in Israel, the vegetarians (poor souls). ;)

To my Israeli readers, have a good one. To my international readers, think about us today (and have a burger, at least, in solidarity!).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

There is Nothing For Me to Say

I thought about what to write today, Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) for those who died while serving in the IDF and for those who died in terrorist attacks.

But I found that there really wasn't anything to say when faced with the ocean of pain that those who lost loved ones are feeling - and that I can only dimly imagine.

The only pitiful thing that I can express is my gratitude for your sacrifice, and my sincere wish that G-d gives you the strength to deal with the pain, and the ability to smile and enjoy Yom HaAtzmaut tomorrow.

Monday, May 01, 2006

First Impressions

Recently I accompanied my husband on a company conference in Eilat. During one of his meetings I decided to do a little shopping. Walking down the sunny sidewalk and looking for a good place to buy T-shirts for my sons, suddenly a man fell into step with me and started to speak to me.

I am a person who tries hard not to judge people by their outward appearance, but I found that in this instance some instincts and some learned prejudices got the better of me.

The guy next to me had a shaved head, two earings in one ear and a third in the second, and he wore reflector sunglasses, a black t-shirt and ripped jeans. He seemed to be somewhere in his twenties.

My first thought was, "Of all people here, why is he hitting on me?" With my skirt to my ankles, sleeves almost to my elbows and my hair covered with a scarf, I was more covered up than any other female in the immediate vicinity (we were near the public beach). So it seemed a bit ridiculous that he would approach me instead of some other woman. For some reason, although the mirror tells me I am a woman in her forties, my instinct reacted as if I was a fetching sixteen year old (and if you had seen how I dressed when I was that age, before I became observant, it wouldn't seem that unbelievable). Does that make me vain or just a woman with good self-esteem?

Another instantaneous reaction I had was to strengthen my grip on my purse. Westbankpappa is responsible for this - after we were married he taught me how to hold my purse like a New Yorker (with your grip firmly on the part where the strap meets the body of the bag). We even have a private joke about it, where westbankpappa will affect a heavy New York accent as soon as we get out of the car in the city and he'll remind me to "watch your bag, doll".

It turns out that the man next to me was interested in my purse, but not for the reasons you might expect. He looked at it and said, "I see you still have an orange ribbon..." (For those of you unaware, the orange ribbon symbolizes solidarity with the people of Gush Katif and the opposition to the unilateral withdrawal. People put them on their car antennas and on their bags in the months leading up to the withdrawal, and some still do).

I tried, but was unsuccessful at keeping the defensiveness out of my voice when I replied, "Well, I know people who are still stuck in hotel rooms. When they are all in permanent homes, then maybe I will take it off."

Imagine my surprise when his answer to me completely exploded the third incorrect assumption that I had made about him. He looked at the ribbon and said, "I have one at home. I remember when people had them on their cars and on their bags, and you saw them everywhere. It is a shame that everyone took them down." With that comment he said goodbye and stepped into a store, and I was left reflecting on our short encounter.

I don't regret my first two reactions. I think that whenever there are encounters between adult men and women there is an element of sexual attraction, even if it is miniscule and buried under layers of socialization. I dress the way I do to reinforce those layers of socialization. G-d gave us rules on how to interact with the opposite sex not because we "can't control ourselves" - we do, at least most of the time! The difference is that we observant Jews acknowledge that it is difficult, and that we need societal norms in order to help us. My assumption, while wrong in this case, was in awareness of this natural dynamic.

Holding tightly to my purse when a stranger approaches is another justifiable defense mechanism which most people pick up at one point or another.

My third reaction to this stranger makes me uncomfortable, though. I assumed that this person had very different political views than my own simply because of his appearance. I know where this comes from - but it saddens me all the same. The media in Israel, and some politicians who benefit from it, have tried to isolate the "settlers" from the rest of Israeli society. We are portrayed as religious right wing fanatics and the cause of the vicious hatred directed towards Israel by the Arab world (which doesn't explain, of course, the centuries of anti-Semitism and the wars leading up to 1967 - when there weren't any settlers, but I digress...). I know intellectually that not everyone thinks this way, and that most people don't blame me personally for the terrorist attacks that happen. Emotionally, though, it is difficult for me not to be defensive. After absorbing months of nasty propaganda directed against us, it is hard not to feel bruised - and when I encounter someone that I can't immediately identify as a friend, I automatically brace myself.

This is a real shame - and a lot of us in the dati-leumi (national religious) world are walking around with unecessary chips on our shoulders.