Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Grumble, Grumble

Ok, I gave in. They made me switch to the new blogger. I absolutely HATE the idea of supporting Google in any way, but on the other hand, I did not want to switch to another hosting service, because I simply do not have the time to learn a new way of doing things (I am the ultimate un-geek).

So I gave in.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Two Articles Not to be Missed

There are two great articles in the Jerusalem Post web edition - neither one should be missed.

The first is about new memoirs of Rabbis who survived the Holocaust. It is unusual in that the information is taken from the prefaces of books on halacha (Jewish law) that these rabbis wrote. The actual text of the book does not contain personal information, but the introductions are rich with inspiring stories.

The topic of when did "settler" become a dirty word, is the subject of this article in the Jerusalem Post, which tries to give both sides of the story.

I disagree with with some of the points made, especially the one stating that the IDF is only in Judea and Samaria to defend those of us that live here - after all, the suicide bomber killed in Schem (Nablus) before he goes on his way is headed for Tel-Aviv, and not my little yishuv. But on the whole the article gives a good overview of the issues involved.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Life in the Wild West...Bank

I write about a lot of things on my blog. Some things could be applicable to anyone, anywhere - stuff about my kids, or my relationship with my husband, for example. Sometimes I write about Israeli politics, or about my life as an Orthodox Jew.

Once in a while I write a post that only people who live in Judea or Samaria can relate to. This is one of them.

We have a weekly newsletter which comes out on Friday mornings. It contains a dvar Torah (Torah lesson) on the front page, along with the times for services throughout the week. The back page contains both personal and other announcements to the whole community.

This past week there was an announcement from the municipality, saying "Yes, we KNOW the streetlights are on, even during the day, please stop calling!" It seems that some *ahem* local individuals have been vandalizing and stealing parts from the streetlights. I know, I know - what can you do with streetlights? (Perhaps sell them to disreputable contractors who will buy them cheap, then sell them to others at a high price?) In order to deal with the situation, the municipality decided to leave the lights on 24 hours a day, presumably because the fear of being electrocuted would be a deterrant to would-be vandals.

Of course, it means that all of us will have to foot the bill for the higher electricity usage- by paying higher arnona (municipal taxes). And, if someone does get electrocuted (future Darwin award winner?), then the rumors will start circulating that the settlers are electrocuting the local Arabs....

On the other hand, I like to look on the bright side. It makes for an interesting blog post, no?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Is It Still Jewish Blog Awareness Month?

Well, it's still January, for the next few days, so I thought that I would continue to introduce some of the lesser known blogs from my blogroll (with apologies in advance that I don't have enough time to get to all of them....).

A lot of the bloggers that I read are more or less like me - and if you put us all in a room together you could probably not tell us apart.

Then again, I read people who are not like me in one significant way or another, and it makes the whole participation in the blogosphere that much more interesting.

One blog that I try to get to on a regular basis is OntheFringe, written by Shira. She is probably the closest thing to being an Orthodox Jew without being an Orthodox Jew. Puzzled? Read some of her posts....

A relatively new blogger is JerusalemJoe, who writes TheIsraeliTikkunBlog. He is a right wing secular Jew who is now exploring his heritage, and sharing this with us. He also writes about psychology, the media, and the connection between Zen and Judaism. Fascinating reading.

Jeremayakovka is a former radical leftist who is now a staunch conservative. He is literary and witty, but down-to-earth enough to wave the American flag in public for hours to commemorate 9/11. This description does not do him justice - go over and read for yourself.

Erica Sherman epitomizes everything great about New York Jews. She is unabashedly proud of being Jewish, and is not afraid to show it. She is also not afraid to make her opinions very clear about many topics, and she loves Yiddish and playing pool with equal passion.

BakaDiary, otherwise known as aliyah06, shares with us her impressions as a very new olah chadasha (new immigrant to Israel). There are so many times that I read her posts and I say to myself, "yes, I remember that, that is exactly it!"

Then there is the WalkingforIsrael blog - a really new one for me. This religious couple from Texas is in the process of training in order to walk the Appalachian Trail to raise money for Meir Panim, a well known Israeli charity. Can you imagine being a middle aged couch potato and deciding to leave corporate life to go on a journey like this? It certainly sparks the adventurous spirit in all of us.

I hope to get to more soon - and don't worry, my non-Jewish friends, you are on my list too!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Jews Forced to Flee Their Homes In Yemen

I just read this post at BokertovBoulder and it is chilling. Members of a tiny Jewish community in a village in Yemen were threatened and forced to flee their homes. Anne also points out that this story has not been picked up by AP or Reuters (I guess threatening Jews is not news, huh?)

It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I just wish the Jews there would move to Israel!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Grandma's Remedies to the Rescue

January is a big month for the flu here in Israel, even if the weather is relatively mild. I know of a lot of people who have been sick, and the hospitals are full.

The other day I started to feel very tired, my nose started to run, and I had that tell-tale slight ache in my muscles that signals that I am coming down with something.

I said to myself that there was no way I could call in sick to work - after all I have only been there for one week! So I took "emergency measures".

I didn't care what was happening in the house, I took a warm shower and got into comfortable clothes. I then did what my husband's grandmother (may she rest in peace) used to tell us to do. First I ate a grapefruit (Vitamin C in its most natural form) and then I ate a raw clove of garlic (antibiotic properties). The garlic was hard to get down, but from experience in the past it really works.

I then made myself a cup of tea, and got into bed with some light reading. I told myself that I would rest, and my body would use its strength to heal itself, and even if I still felt badly the next morning, sitting in an office in front of a computer would be a piece of cake compared to what I used to do. I remember being a mother of two toddlers (two very active toddlers, who obviously thought that Evil Knieval was a great role model) and being sick - but there are no sick days for mommies! When I was very ill my husband would take a day off from work to take care of them, but there were always times when I was under the weather and he couldn't take time off.

Thankfully I felt ok the next morning, and by the afternoon I was back to my normal self. Garlic (and grandma) to the rescue!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Customer Is Always...What Was That Again?

I love living in Israel, but there are some things that drive me crazy about this country. Although it has improved over the years, and some businesses have changed their attitude, in general most Israeli businesses put customer service way down on their priority list. If in America the prevailing wisdom is "the customer is always right", in Israel it is all too frequently the opposite.

Last week westbankpapa and I went to rent a car from a place which we have used before. We filled out the paperwork and went out to the parking area to get the car and check it out. The worker got in the front seat and put the key into the ignition and tried to start it.

Nothing. Dead.

He jumps out, opens the hood, and calls to another worker for some jumper cables, and says to us "the battery must have frozen this morning".

Westbankpapa and I just gave each other this look, and I said to him, "what does he think this is, Wisconsin?"

You have to understand. Even though it was the middle of January, this was a beautifully sunny day - in Bnei Brak. Even though I am usually cold, I was completely comfortable in just a light sweater. Compared to what I was used to in upstate New York, where in January there usually was snow up to here and a warm day was when it got up to freezing, that day was practically tropical. And here he was trying to convince us that the weather was responsible for the battery being dead.

Instead of apologizing and rushing to get us another car, he wanted us to take this one. Westbankpapa looked at him and said in a very firm voice, "we are NOT taking this car!" He then got the message, and we ended up with a slightly larger model at no extra cost.

I guess part of the problem is that for many years there was no competition - many businesses were monopolies and didn't need to work for customers, so this attitude became ingrained. This problem persists in some areas - the electric company, for example, is a monopoly and abuses its customers, and we have no recourse. (Many people do not realize that electric company workers receive free electricity. Which means that the rest of us, who do not work for the electric company, pay for their bills by having to pay higher prices. They are also notorious for paying their employees outrageously high salaries).

Another reason for more Anglos to make aliyah!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

JBlog Awareness Month

Ok, I've caught up with some of my blog reading, and it seems that the JIBs are being put off until May, and that the Jblogosphere blog will host them. You can read up about it here, and give in your ideas in the comments section. I would just like to say "Kol HaKavod" to those who are working on this!

So, in the meantime, it has been declared that January is Jewish Blog Awareness Month (thanks to Chaim). So, I decided to participate myself by introducing my readers to some of the blogs on my blogroll that may be new to you.

It was easy to pick the first blogger, because she makes me laugh out loud almost every time I read her, and I can't wait to meet her in person when she makes aliyah (G-d willing) this summer. I am of course talking about Bec. Go on over and read about how she gave birth to a "monster" (her words, not mine!) of a baby last week. In a few hours the new arrival will receive his bris and his name.

Mazel tov to Bec and Adam, and the other "phish" children on their new brother.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Who In The World Is Westbankmama (Part 2)

For all of you out there who have wondered who westbankmama is in "real life", now is your chance. Go on over to Shabbat Shalom, an OU website, which has reprinted a post of mine, and read the bio at the end. There are some other good articles there too.

I started my job this week (there were some technical problems so I couldn't start on January 1st as originally planned). Thank G-d the people are very nice, and the work seems interesting so far. I am using parts of my brain that I haven't used for a long time. Being a good mother and wife, and even being a good mikveh lady (my second part-time job, which I have done for the past seven years) entails certain skills and middot (characteristics), which are helping me when dealing with people. Now I am enjoying learning new things and adding some other skills to my repertoire.

It might take me a little while to get back to my regular, once-a-day blogging pace, but I fully intend to do that. I enjoy blogging too much to give it up.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My Dog Ate My Homework

There are many different excuses for not blogging. (Dogs not involved, though).

New jobs, guests coming for Shabbat, a kid with a broken tooth, etc., etc....

I could use all of the above as my excuse, but my real reason is a lot simpler.

Our yishuv (and the next one over) did not have internet access for the past two days. That's right folks, two days without e-mail or blogs to read (and I am living proof that you can live without it!)

So, I could catch up and write a post about Dan Halutz resigning (one down, two to go...), or I could write about my take on the idea of boycotting the JIB Awards (I agree in theory, but I am a bit disgruntled. Last year I started blogging two weeks before the awards, so I was not elegible. This year they may be boycotted, and who knows whether I will be blogging a year from now?)

Instead I will just write a short apology for disappearing - sorry guys - and get on with the business of catching up with all of you.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Another Great....

Soccerdad hosts another great edition of Havel-Havalim this week - number 102, in fact.

Check out new blogger wingslikeadove, a courageous woman who writes about her struggle with depression. She finds comfort in her book of Psalms.

I also enjoyed Yisrael's post at MyRightWord about his correspondence with a radical leftist.

Bridging the Generation Gap Using the Internet

The cliche "opposites attract" certainly applies in my marriage. I am rather shy, although I do warm up to people a lot faster than I used to.

Westbankpapa doesn't have a shy bone in his body (and one of the westbankkids takes after him in this respect). This manifests itself in many ways. One of them is my husband's total lack of inhibition when it comes to singing. Granted, he has a wonderful voice, and I take great pleasure in hearing him sing Shabbat zemirot (songs traditionally sung at the Sabbath meal between courses). I also think he has the best voice of all of the Torah readers in our synagogue. He loves to sing at home in the middle of some mundane activity.

There is only one problem. He sings lyrics from obscure and old songs. He is a native New Yorker, and I grew up in a "hick town" according to him (despite the fact that the hick town happens to be a city of more than 250,000 people, it doesn't compare to the Big Apple. Then again, I reinforced this stereotype one summer when I took him to the New York State Fair!). So his exposure to Jewish culture was a lot more extensive than mine, even though we both grew up in non-observant Jewish homes.

At the start of our marriage I would sometimes ask innocently, "what are you singing?" when he would belt out an old show tune or an Allan Sherman song like "My Zelda". He would give me this exasperated look and sometimes even ask, half-jokingly, "are you sure you are Jewish?" (New Yorkers are such snobs sometimes!)

Pretty soon I was up to speed. But now there is a second generation that sometimes asks, "Abba, what in the world are you singing?!?"

This is where the internet comes in. All westbankpapa has to do is search for a minute, and he comes up with an official website, or a complete set of lyrics, and sometimes even a YouTube rendition of one of his favorites.

Just this morning he found a YouTube take on Allan Sherman's "Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda".


Friday, January 12, 2007

Ping Update

For those of you who read my previous post quoting Treppenwitz about pinging, I did an experiment with my own blog. I wrote posts as usual, and I waited to see if the change I made in the Blogger settings would reach blogrolling by itself.

It didn't. I just checked David's blog, and when putting the cursor over my blog's name it shows that I supposedly haven't updated it since Monday.

Lesson learned - ping blogrolling manually (which I will do just as soon as I finish publishing this....)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Well Isn't THAT Special?

Machsom Watch, the closest thing Israel has to the Church Lady (just replace religion with secular, leftist feminism and replace "Satan" with "occupation") is trying to expand their operations.

It seems that demonizing soldiers who are risking their lives to protect Israeli citizens by manning the checkpoints isn't enough.

Now they want to bother the security personnel at the airport. You know, the people who are working to make sure that terrorists with explosives don't board the plane you will fly and blow it up.

According to the Jerusalem Post article, there were complaints made that certain groups were being discriminated against, and now Machsom Watch has "offerred to coach airport staff as to appropriate behavior."

Not only are these women arrogant and politically biased, but they are downright dangerous. Their activities hinder soldiers from doing their jobs, and now they want to do the same to airport security.

I don't know about you, but any airline that lets these women anywhere near their security personnel will be boycotted by me. I am sure that I am not alone in my feelings.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Trying to See the Forest

I usually concentrate on local Israeli news and family events for this blog. I am grateful for other bloggers who are interested in more far-ranging things, so that I stay informed.

Michael Totten takes a trip to south Lebanon, six months after the war there. His account is chilling - the "watchers" on the roads spying on who travels in and around Hizballah held territory remind me how wonderful it is to live in a free country (with all of its problems). Don't miss the picture of the destroyed village - with the completely intact mosque - which proves what we knew all along. The IAF was precise in its targeting last summer.

Daledamos has an interesting post about how the lawmakers are trying to impeach the President....of Iran. It seems that Achmadinejad really does have political headaches.

Oceanguy explores the question of whether there really are moderate Muslims in his posts here and here.

Telchaination reports about three men arrested trying to infiltrate the Miami port. I found this interesting, because the way I heard it there was "just" a false alarm. Media spin in America doing its thing?

All worth a look.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What Goes Around Comes Around

Haaretz has an article this morning about the increase in numbers of draft deferrments by national religious young men, who are deciding to study in what we call "yeshiva gavoha" versus in "yeshivat hesder". Haaretz uses the term "Ultra-Orthodox" to describe the former, although this is not really accurate in this particular context. What this means practically, is that there will be less men who will actually go into the army in two years time (when the students entering the Hesder program now do their army service). Receiving a deferrment by studying in a yeshiva gavoah means that this deferrment in not defined to specific amount of time.

The army officials seem to be surprised by this, because the numbers of religious men in the army who refused orders during the disengagement was low. They made all kinds of assumptions based on this statistic which were innacurate - including thinking that the reaction to the disengagement would "just blow over". Anyone living in our communities knows differently.

One quote in the article is telling, and shows how there are those in the army who really don't understand what is going on on the ground. "Senior army sources say that they [draft deferrers, ed.] are from the extremist fringe of Yesha....".

WRONG, and just wishful thinking on the army's part.

I live in what is considered a "tzfoni" yishuv. (For those unfamiliar, there are yishuvim which are considered very "suburban", and are mocked as if they are like neighborhoods in north Tel-Aviv, hence the name tzfoni, which means north. This is in contrast to the very "idealistic" yishuvim, like the ones near Schem and near Hebron). Most of the young men in my yishuv who had to choose which path to take in terms of army service leading right up to and after the disengagement, have chosen the yeshiva gavoah option. They are disgusted with how the army took part in the uprooting of their friends and relatives, and although they see the importance of serving, they do not want to be put into the terrible position of having to choose between uprooting others from their homes, or going to jail for refusing. The way the army handled (or mishandled, as the case may be) the war in Lebanon last summer also did not help things. The stories about the lack of proper equipment and the confusion and mistakes made by the army during the summer, in addition to Olmert's stupid statement about the success of the war paving the way for more disengagements, has made many very wary of joining up.

Another issue giving these young men pause are the stories coming out about Hesder guys being "abused" by some of their non-religious officers. Just a few weeks ago I read about a particular group whose officer was formerly religious and who was taking out his personal antipathy to religious people on them (forcing them to break Shabbat when not really necessary, and giving them a hard time about praying, again, when the time taken out for this was not essential). There seem to be too many officers in the IDF with chips on their shoulders regarding the Hesder recruits.

Everyone in Israel loses because of this terrible situation. These are very fine and idealistic young men, who are self-disciplined and who would make excellent soldiers. The statistics from this past summer, showing the disproportionate numbers of soldiers killed who were from kibbutzim and from yishuvim, attest to the bravery of those who served before them.

For a country surrounded by enemies, which depends on its army for its very survival, it is a great shame that this talented pool of young men has found no choice but to avoid their service. Perhaps with new leadership, both in the country as a whole and in the IDF in particular, some of the wounds can be healed, and in the future these young men will then join up.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Solomonia Describes It Well

For those readers of mine who do not read Solomonia, I urge you to do so. His blog is pro-Israel and covers both the national scene and the what happens in the New England area.

He has covered the entire controversy surrounding the visit of "Wheels of Justice", a radical left, pro-Palestinian group to Andover High School, which, despite protests, occurred this past weekend.

This group was disinvited from another liberal high school in Riverdale, New York, this past spring. Although there were many parents that protested a similar visit to Andover, the liberal powers that be in this high school insisted that it take place.

They didn't bargain for the response, though, and seemed genuinely taken aback by the anger. Solomonia explains his feelings very well, and I am sure many can relate to them. Just a quick quote:

"One last thing, and it's sort of a side note, but I feel it has to be said, however briefly, by way of explanation of the source of at least some of the outrage expressed tonight -- aside from the legal stuff and the protecting children and teaching and all that stuff which I've already gone over multiple times...

You know Jews are in a tough position. They can be quiet and let the slanders, some of very ancient and recognizable heritage, build and build and eventually overwhelm them, or they can speak out and defend themselves. Yet when they defend themselves from the lies as anyone else would, the bigots simply use that to confirm the slanders -- "Aha!" they say, "You see, the Jews do control society...they don't allow criticism...they don't allow open debate!" (I can't wait to read Ron Francis's and Mazin Qumsiyeh's notes to their emails lists all about how the wicked Zionists bullied them tonight.)

There are about 323 million Arabs in the world today, about 1.4 to 1.6 billion Muslims...and there are between 12 and 14 million Jews with 6 million having been killed in one spasm still in living memory while they continue to carry on their backs a particular set of prejudices and hatreds the world directs at Jews and only Jews. Take a look at a map and note what a pin-prick of a country Israel is compared to its enemies, and consider the obscene obsession so many people have with criticizing that country among all others -- the one "Jewish" state.

America is the one country aside from Israel where Jews can live and feel in their bones that they have both built and maintained the foundations of the nation and, due both to these contributions and the founding philosophy of the state, not ever feel that they are guests or outsiders.

Now, given those hard-won comforts here in America, and the traditionally precarious history and present of Jews throughout the world, and those chains of bigotry they bear that their long history has placed on them, and the frequent feeling of "we've seen this before"...and you would have to be a moral infant not to understand much of the outrage expressed in that room tonight while watching slander-merchants like Qumsiyeh operate. And to think this group is focusing on the next generation, and that some people entrusted with your own children's future support this's tough to take.

Fortunately, it wasn't just the Jews who were outraged, and I don't think many people are going to forget what they heard, and what some people foisted on their kids."

Read the whole post here.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

From Your Mouth to G-d's Ear

You know, sometimes those phrases that your grandmother used to say come in handy. I couldn't help but think of the one that my bubbe said frequently "from your mouth to G-d's ear", when I read in about the big Fatah rally.

It seems that Dahlan, boasting about how he wasn't afraid of Hamas, stated to the crowd, "Let Hamas shoot me".

Let's see if he gets his wish.

Alo! Alo! Alo!

Westbankpapa and I did something on Friday morning that we haven't done for years. We went to the open air fruit and vegetable market (what Israelis call the "shuk") in Petach Tikva.

We were lucky to miss most of the rain, and the crowds were relatively thin, which made it more pleasant for me anyway. I get a bit claustrophobic in huge crowds, and in the summer on a Friday morning the shuk can be really packed.

Westbankpapa has shopping there down to a science. He first does a quick walk through the whole market, noting the prices and relative quality of the produce in each stall. He also has a few "favorites" that he tries to get to each time. There is one vendor that always seems to have pink grapefruit even when everyone else just has the white (for some reason our kids won't touch the white ones, while they eat the pink ones like crazy). There are also a few religious vendors that he likes to buy from.

The experience is one for all of the senses. As soon as I step into the place and smell the fresh dill and other greens I feel like I am entering a different world. The awnings overhead protect the produce from the rain (and the direct sun in the summer) but it also shades the place somewhat, so that you feel like you are leaving the city behind. The fresh fruits and vegetables are piled up in pyramids, and except for blue, every other color is represented.

In addition to the smell of dill, there is always a slightly salty and tangy fragrance coming from the fresh fish vendors. I always pass these places with the combined fascination and horror of a small child. There are huge pans of water, with the live fish swimming around, with the fishmonger in an apron wielding a metal club to send the unlucky chosen one to the next world. Westbankpapa always likes to tease me, and says that we should buy one ourselves, but I can never bring myself to be the angel of death for that one particular fish. The sound of the heavy "thwack" has me scurrying on to more pleasant parts of the shuk.

Speaking of sounds, the shuk wouldn't be the shuk without the loud and insistent calls of some of the vendors. This week we were treated to the exhortations to shop quickly before the rain returned, and to the pronouncement that the cherry tomatoes in one particular stall were as sweet as candy. The first time I shopped in the shuk I found these sounds somewhat disconcerting, but now I take it for granted, and probably would be disappointed if the murmur of the crowd was the only "music" I heard there.

In addition to some small changes (the fresh egg man has his own enclosed stall now, instead of having to "park" his wagon in the middle of the main aisle) there was one major one. There is a double stall in the middle of the shuk just for treats. Complete with some refrigerator cases containing yogurts and puddings, there are huge displays of chocolates and candies. I was torn between the need to get home quickly to finish my cooking (Shabbat starts at 4:30 in the afternoon, after all) and my desire to buy some sweet stuff. This week the clock won out.

There is always next week, though...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Some quick links for a busy Thursday morning:

The good, Jameel has a story about a heroic New Yorker....

The bad, Erica tells about her "terrorist tutor" (really!)....

The ugly, Rafi at Lifeinisrael tells about another ugly incident concerning R. Nosson Slifkin.

The stubborn, as Tali Fahima tells reporters after being released from prison, "I don't regret anything".

The pathetic, as reports that 77% of Israelis are dissatisfied with Ehud Olmert as Prime Minister.

The straight talker, (through LGF) as this opinion piece states that there is no way that there will be a sovereign Palestinian state (and the author isn't even a settler, fancy that!)


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More Than Just a Prefix to "Pong"

This post is for those of us who write blogs but are, shall we say, "geekingly challenged". The rest of you can just scroll by...

Treppenwitz has an interesting post about "pinging" (is that a real verb?). It seems that some blogrolls can change according to when the blogs contained in them have been updated, (putting the most recently updated blog at the top)and notifying the various sites that do this is called "pinging".

He explains it in detail, and I followed his advice and changed a setting in my blogger template.

I also learned how to manually ping

He also has a link to a post about trackbacking, (which I understand in general, but I haven't figured out how to do myself yet) and another one here with general advice about blogging.

I appreciate this type of post (although I am a far cry from a southern redneck, thank you very much!). I also remember an advice post from Abbagav about a year ago, but I couldn't find it. When searching I kept getting humorous posts about advice to the lovelorn....Abba, if you are reading this - I'd love to link to it, because I remember finding it very helpful at the time, and I'm sure others would too.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Definitely NOT in the Doldrums

I just went over to Bagelblogger to check out Haveil-Havalim #100. He did a fantastic job! It is worth it just for the fake New York Times headline, but there is also the usual wide variety of Jewish blog posts and a whole section of "memory lane" posts - great blasts from the past.

Definitely worth a look folks. (It takes a minute or two to load, just be patient).

The Doldrums

I don't know about anyone else, but I definitely feel that this country has entered a period of the doldrums. I barely glance at the news nowadays, because it just repeats itself over and over.

Violence in Gaza between Fatah and Hamas, meaningless pronouncements by the Arabs that Gilad Shalit will be released in lieu of thousands of prisoners released, Olmert anouncing that he will release prisoners, and then he won't, and then he will again..... Meanwhile Kassams fall in Sderot and the western Negev, and when they don't hit anyone everyone goes back to normal, and when they do (G-d forbid) then the IDF yells for a day or two to let them do their job, but nothing comes of it.

Reports come out about the failures of last summer's war, but noone is expected to pay any price.Rumors are spreading about the possibility of another war next summer, and most people are hoping secretly that the IDF is learning from its mistakes, but there is no way to tell for sure. Peace Now screams whenever they see on their aerial photographs that another caravan has been placed in a yishuv, but of course noone says anything about the illegal Arab building.

The Israeli public can't stand their government, but it is plainly too soon for another round of elections. It is hard to believe, but we went to the polls last March, only nine months ago. So the politicians, as terrible as they are, are getting a free ride for awile. This doesn't stop them, of course, from bickering amongst themselves. As soon as the primaries are announced, then the knives will come out in earnest, but until now it is all on a low flame.

There is a reason for slow times. Hashem didn't create winter for nothing, it is obvious that things are happening under the surface that we can't see. Sometimes it is hard to be patient, though, during the cold months.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Tweety Would Be A Better Name

Last night was New Year's Eve. For some strange reason Israelis call it "Sylvester". I have lived here for years, and I have asked quite of few Israelis, both religious and non-religious, about this strange name, and I haven't received a decent answer. (Whenever I hear this name, though, I can't help but imagine a huge costume party with hundreds of people dressed as black and white cats, accompanied by those smaller in stature dressed as bright yellow birds - complete with lisps!)

Until today. I finally decided to do a search on the internet, and I found out the truth.

Sylvester was a Roman pope who lived in 325 CE, and convinced Constantine not to let Jews live in Jerusalem.

So this "holiday" is called by the name of a notorious anti-Semite.

I'm glad it is just another day in the calendar for my family.