Thursday, September 18, 2014

Count Your Blessings - Day 13

Yesterday, I took the bus to work. That freed me to look around, rather than at the road. I got on the bus later than most, was fortunate to get a seat so I can't complain that the seat I got was facing the rear of the bus. I was especially blessed because just sitting there as we drove out of Maale Adumim, circled the access ramp to the main highway, and then climbed up to and in to Jerusalem, I identified, I felt - three separate blessings. So here they are:

Maale Adumim - the city is so beautiful and I love it very much. It sits there perched high on the mountains to the east of Jerusalem and it is a wonderful place to live. I was struck again by its beauty as I watched it grow smaller in the distance. To live in a place you love, is truly a blessing and so I am blessed many times over. I love the house we bought several years ago; I love the neighborhood in which I live. I love the city I came to live in a bit less than 15 years ago, and I love beyond words the country in which I live.

As far as places go, you can't get much more blessed than that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is He Asleep...or Dead?

This morning I came into the office building where I work. It is a very interesting place - everyone in Jerusalem knows about it. Location-wise, you almost can't beat it.

It is minutes away from Central Jerusalem - a wonderful, easy 5 minute walk from everything. The train stops right in front of the building. Inside there's a world of stores - a fantastic printer that we love to use, a fully-stocked music store, two places that sell, fix and do everything with watches.

A few years ago, there were three sex shops. One was deep in the basement below all the stores. Christian missionaries decided they'd clean up the building and so they spent a fortune buying out that basement sex store owner...who was so happy to take so much money, and purchase himself an even bigger store in the center of the building. Yeah, dumb idea. There are a lot of lawyers in the building, many floors of government offices, some nice cafes, a post office, etc. It also has a permanent and apparently growing native population of cats that have free rein of the building.

The lower level of the complex is a confusing mixture of stores -  a shopper's delight - and a business nightmare. And on top of that, some very interesting characters. One is a woman who seems to believe that cats have a God given right to eat, sleep and do their business where they choose - and that they naturally have more rights than people who pay tens of thousands of shekels to rent the stores because these cats, and the generations before them that she has been feeding for 17 years, have something equivalent to squatter's rights.

So she feeds them inside the building and threatens anyone who attempts to remove the food - that would be several cleaners, me, Elie, Amira, and anyone else she sees near her precious friends. She has harassed us several times (Elie has a delightful video of her ranting). I'm to be thrown in jail and cursed by God, if she has her way.

She can see that I'm a religious woman and so she has informed me, as God's chief right hand adviser apparently, that God will punish me and my children if I dare to harm the cats (which, for the record, I have never threatened to do). All I asked her to do was to feed them outside the building - as the City Inspectors have said she should do.

She informs me that the first Mitzvah (commandment) in the Torah is against being cruel to animals ('s not, I promise you. It's about being fruitful and multiplying and I actually think God was talking to Adam and Eve, not the cats). So, in the meantime, the building is battling the cats and for the most part, losing.

Then there are the dozens of people who violate the law and smoke in the
center of the building - all day long. Several of these are people rent or own shops here and so, when I complained because I can't stand the smell of smoking, they get very angry. Apparently, the very strict laws that Israel has passed in the last few years don't apply if you rent/own and if you really want to smoke...One guy told me that since he owns the stores on both sides of one hallway, I wasn't allowed to walk down that hallway. Yeah...that.

And then there was today...when I came in and found a body on the steps near my office. I stopped and looked for a second. Another woman was in front of me - she looked up, saw the young man sprawled there and decided to ignore him and go in her office.

I assumed he was asleep - but really didn't think it was my place to check and so I went to the main information/security desk. That's my office there to the right of the...body. I really didn't want to walk past him. When I got to the information/security desk, I had a very funny conversation with a woman who explained that she can't check because she was alone. This is security? There might be a dead body lying on the floor in the center of the building but you can't check because you have to stay in the glass booth and answer questions? All those cameras you're looking at - how come you can't see the kid?

"Is he asleep?" she asked me.

"I hope so but I think you should check." I said again. "You're all alone here?"

"Well, someone is making the rounds."

You'd think she'd figure this out...but okay, I decided to help her. "Maybe you should tell him to go check...NOW???"

So she did - and a few minutes later, the security guard came and woke the boy up.

But honestly, I thought to myself, this has got to be a comedy - a whole movie could be made about this building.

Next time I get frustrated, I'll tell you about rumors of bodies buried in the cement and the rabbi's curses. Stay tuned.

America is Doomed

I watched this video, that had been posted to Facebook and appeared on my newsfeed. Two-thirds of the way through, I stopped the video and shared it with my Facebook contacts under a post saying "America is doomed."

After hitting Share, I went back to watch the rest. I have to tell you, at the very end, I gasped as if someone had punched me in the stomach and my eyes teared. Of all days...

Count Your Blessings - Day 12

Today's blessing is the morning prayer we say - Modeh Ani - and the wisdom behind it. Each morning, this prayer reminds us that the day itself is the blessing  and we are grateful to have awakened to it.

This morning, I woke up and the first words I said were a prayer taught to children as early as possible. My young grandson already knows this and many other prayers by heart.
מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּם, שֶׁהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְּחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ
Translation: I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

The funny part about this blessing being what I chose today is the timing. We rarely go out ... something we keep meaning to change, and we rarely go to movies. We don't have a television so a movie is an especially nice change of pace.

We went to a movie two nights ago called, "Before I Go to Sleep" - basically the story is about a woman who each night goes to sleep and in the morning has lost all memories of who she is - she doesn't remember her husband, her age, even her name. So throughout the day, she learns about herself and then loses all that she has learned by the next morning when her brain tells her she has awakened beside a stranger.

The movie opens with her confusion, and the man explaining his name, her name, her age, and what has happened to her. I won't go on with the story but it reflects a bit on today's blessing. In sleep, we essentially lose control of our surroundings, of all that is happening - or, since that may well be our state throughout the day if we acknowledge that we really can't control everything in life anyway, let's say rather that in sleep we lose our awareness of what is around us.

So the first thing we do when we open our eyes, is thank God for returning ourselves, the essence of what we are, our souls, back into our bodies.

So today's blessing is a reflection of that - each new day, each morning we are granted is  blessing.

There is a fascinating medical aspect of many things in Judaism - not the reason why but the confirmation that it is best, even on the physical side. One example of this is meat and milk. Of all the religions, I believe we are the only ones commanded not to eat them at the same time. So no cheeseburgers or hamburgers with a glass of milk for us. On the flip side, if you are ever told to take iron, the instructions will warn you NOT to drink milk with it (or even several hours after it). Just Google "iron and milk" to see many links verifying this.

Another example of this is the Modeh Ani prayer we say each morning. If you say it in Hebrew, there are 12 words. According to an article published in 2012, there was a neurological conference. Reporting on what happened there, The Huffington Post wrote:
In a United States convention of neurologists from all over the world, one of the main topics was the phenomenon of people fainting upon getting up from bed (when they wake up from sleeping). One of the speakers was Professor Linda McMaron of Great Britain and she gave a lengthy speech regarding her study on this issue.
She elaborated that after many years of study and investigation on this subject, she came to the conclusion that the fainting is caused by the sharp transfer between laying down and standing up. Professor McMaron said that it takes 12 seconds for the blood to flow from the feet to the brain. But when a person quickly stands upon waking up, the blood gets "thrown" to the brain too quickly and the result is fainting. She suggested that each person, even one that does not have a tendency to faint, upon waking should sit on the bed, and count slowly to 12 to avoid dizziness, weakness and/or fainting. Her speech was rewarded with loud applause and enthusiastic feedback.

Another professor, a Jewish man, asked permission to speak. He said, "In our tradition, we recite a prayer of thanks to the Creator of the World for meriting us to wake up healthy and whole. The prayer is said immediately upon waking up, while one is still on the bed and sitting down. There are 12 words in this prayer and if one regulates himself to say it slowly with concentration, it takes exactly 12 seconds to say it. ... 12 words in 12 seconds."

He said the prayer slowly in Hebrew: Mode Ani Lefanecha Melech Chai Vekayam, Shehechezarta Bi Nishmati Bechemla Raba Emunatecha -- "I thank Thee, O living and eternal King, because You have graciously restored my soul to me: great is Your faithfulness." The auditorium burst into a standing applause that roared throughout the auditorium.
 And, as a second blessing for the day - I will bless the labor of women. Twenty-nine years ago today, I was in labor...actually, since Amira was born at 12:15 a.m. - most of my labor was on the 16th, but just 15 minutes into the new day - September 17, she was born and so, a second but more important blessing for me will be - my beautiful birthday girl - Happy birthday and mazel tov, Amira!

Evidence of Israel Being Apartheid

...won't be found on my blog because, having lived here for 21 years, I can tell you that Israel is anything but apartheid. In fact, most people go out of their way to ensure that there is no prejudice shown or expressed.

Almost daily, I ride the Jerusalem light rail and, nearly every day, I see at least one and often several young Arab men (and women) who get on the train and do not pay. The way the system works is that you can buy a plastic "debit" card that you fill with points and then swipe it past the machines. The machine deletes one point and tells you how many are left. It's the honor system...unless you get caught. So regularly, there are inspectors who enter the train along the path and meticulously go person by person. They never go directly to anyone - even if they suspect them of not paying.

Only once did I see a man rise from his seat and rush past the inspector - the man was Jewish and explained he had forgotten to swipe it. Another time, I saw an inspector approach an Arab teenager. As soon as the teenager was asked to present his ticket, he pushed the inspector, walked past to the machine, and swiped his card.

Today, I saw three Arabs who did not pay; yesterday in the evening, I saw one yesterday in the morning I also saw one. A few days ago, I saw a young Arab couple smiling and talking - neither had bothered to pay for their ticket. They traveled only one stop, so I guess they didn't feel they were obliged to pay. When they got off, there was an inspector there, who was about to get on - he asked for their tickets and the couple started arguing. I don't know what happened, as the train pulled out of the station.

Yesterday, on the way home, one stop passed where the train was attacked with tear gas in July. We heard the impact of something (most likely a rock) hitting the side of the train. A woman said she saw two Arabs on the side and had seen one throw something. It hit the window - I can't tell you if it cracked the "rock-proof" glass that is designed to crack but not shatter. Almost every window has at least one area that is cracked on every train I ride.

Over 85 reports of rock throwing have been reported in the last 260 days - and that probably doesn't count ones like yesterday where it was a single rock, ignored by the driver and security.

And through all of these incidents and violence, on almost every train, Arabs safely ride the train from their homes to work and shopping and back again. The streets are full of shoppers now - Jews, Arabs, Christians, residents and tourists. All are safe; all are treated equally; all are respected.

That they do not respect the train or the city in no way effects how they are treated. Despite riots that crippled the train and forced several neighborhoods to be cut off the path (because the Arabs had rioted, burned the tracks, the stations and machines), the track was repaired and the train now runs again through two Arab neighborhoods.

Regularly, the train is attacked as it passes through these two neighborhoods. Jews who want to go to the neighborhood beyond the two Arab ones often get off early and switch to buses rather than risk going through and getting stoned.
“Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Jews
are not under any circumstances”
Cafe in Belgium, July 2014.
(Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism)

A trip to any hospital in Israel - every hospital in Israel, will find Arab nurses, Arab doctors and thousands of Arab patients. Many outside Israel throw around the ridiculous label of apartheid when speaking of Israel.

The use of this term is more a reflection of their ignorance and prejudice than ours. More than 10% of the Israeli parliament consists of Arabs - when, during the dark days of apartheid in South Africa (1948 - 1994).
Wikipedia will tell you that during apartheid rule, "the government segregated education, medical care, beaches, and other public services." Education is not separate in Israel - Arabs attend ALL universities in Israel and are eligible to attend schools in the neighborhoods in which they live, irrespective of whether the neighborhood is predominantly Jewish or Arab. I've already mentioned medical care and other public services and I've often seen Arabs on the beaches and shores, barbecuing just as we were, enjoying the breeze and the beauty, just as we did.
Based on recent anti-Semitic attacks in Germany, Belgium, France and the UK, it is clear that these countries are much more apartheid-minded than Israel. But in all truth, the champions of apartheid in this day and age are the Arabs themselves. Just Google how they treat Jews and Christians who live in their lands...or even their neighborhoods.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

YOU are Next..Don't Listen to Me, Listen to HIM

Count Your Blessings - Day 11

One of the greatest gifts...yes, I'll probably keep writing those words for all of the blessings I write in this series...but....

One of the greatest gifts God gives us, is the ability to believe. I cannot begin to list the number of times people have told me that I have it easy because I have faith.  During the war, when so many expected a missile to come crashing into Tel Aviv, a friend there told me that she was genuinely frightened. I told her that I believed that all would be well and all in all, we were blessed with miracles almost daily.

Pieces of missiles fell in the center of Tel Aviv - and Jerusalem - and no one was hurt. Homes were hit directly with rockets - with people in them...and they walked out of their bomb shelters unharmed. For me, faith is the answer to the question of why Jews remain when so many other nations have vanished.

I don't how anyone could live with the uncertainties of life - if they didn't carry with them faith in God and the deepest belief that He will protect us. While looking for another video, I found this one - it is a very well known song - "I believe." - Ani Ma'amin.

"I believe, with complete faith, in the coming of the Messiah, I believe. And though he may tarry, even with this, I wait for him every day  and believe he will come."

Today's blessing is the gift of faith.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Blessings - Day 10

If I find the sun to be a blessing, I find even more comfort in the moon. Years ago, I heard a line in a Harry Chapin song, "he was the sun, shining bright and bitter and, she was the moon, shining back his light a little."

I have, since that song, forever loved the moon and seen so many instances of the glory and modesty of the moon. Often, if there is a great leader, behind him or her, there is someone who is their moon.

The moon guides my land each month and the land is forever tied to it. Our holidays are determined by the moon - and soon, in less than two weeks, Rosh Hashana - the new year, and the first new moon of the coming year, will be celebrated. It is a wonderful holiday full of promise, full of sharing, full of love. Amira was born on Rosh Hashana - the first of our children, new beginnings.

This year, God willing, Rosh Hashana will come in peace. A few weeks and a war ago, a plot was uncovered. On Rosh Hashana, as we gathered to pray for the year to come to be a sweet one, one filled with health and peace and prosperity - hundreds of Palestinians would come through attack tunnels and murder as many Jews as they could while in the north, Hezbollah would open fire against northern Israel with a massive barrage of rockets.

It is doubtful that the Palestinians would have accomplished what they wanted - yes, they were delusional enough to believe that the focus of Israel would be turned enough to allow our destruction. They desecrated Yom Kippur in 1973 by attacking; they desecrated Passover in 2002 when terrorists attacked the Park Hotel in Netanya, murdering 29 and injuring over 140 innocent people...and again just last  year when they murdered a father of 5 as he and his family drove to the Passover Seder. They desecrated Purim when they launched a terror attack in 1996 on the eve of the holiday that resulted in the deaths of 14 Israelis and the wounding of 130 others.

And then, when the war they caused continued because they broke the ceasefire, Israel refused to "honor" one of their holidays and they demanded the world condemn us. Hypocrites that they are...and fools they believe us to be.

So this year, we have more to celebrate than ever because as the new moon arrives in just 10 days...we will know that it is yet another blessing that God has given to will mark not just a new beginning, but truly celebrate that which we hold dear - life.

May we all be inscribed in the book of life...this special Rosh Hashana and may we remember the gift God gave opening our eyes to the attack tunnels the Palestinians would have used, and the plot they would have unleashed against us! Blessing 10 of 100...the moon.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Traitors of Israel

The worst traitors of Israel are those who claim to love the country and then betray it. Two days ago, an article was published in The Guardian - a virulently anti-Israel rag that masters the art of exaggeration and disinformation. The Guardian is mirroring the information published in Ha'aretz - because, as I said, the worst traitors are not those who live in the UK, but those who live here.

The article in both places claims to present the view of some 43 "senior" intelligence officers and soldiers from Unit 8200. The problem, of course, is that this unit is highly classified and divulging even participation in that unit is enough to be thrown out of it.

By extension, since belonging to that honorable and important unit is classified, any moron can claim to be part of it and short of endangering the whole unit, the IDF will not comment.

Logic would therefore dictate that these traitors of Israel are nothing more than opportunists wishing to damage Israel. The letter starts off with the following:
We, veterans of Unit 8200, reserve soldiers both past and present, declare that we refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians...
Well, gee, that makes the pretty useless. Who do they want to take part in actions against? People from Micronesia? The fact that they chose to ignore the standard chain of command suggests they aren't even from this Unit because naturally, a non-member couldn't contact a commanding officer from Unit 8200 and complain, right?

One of the traitors, who claims to be a 29-year-old captain named D, was quoted as saying the following...line by line:
What the IDF does in the occupied territories is rule another people.
Well, gee, D, it took you 8 years of "service" to figure that out? Impressive. Yes, the Palestinians are not Israelis. Congratulations to you.
One of the things you need to do is defend yourself from them...
Well, gee D, it took you 8 years to figure that out? Yes indeed - when the local population is attacking homes and murdering children, throwing stones that kill toddlers and babies, flinging firebombs at cars and buses, kidnapping and murdering teens, shooting people as they wait for buses, stabbing people and more... you do indeed have to defend yourself from them.
...but you also need to oppress the population.
See, now D. this is where you use a standard and well used method of propaganda. You start off by making two statements that seem perfectly logical so that people nod their heads in agreement, and then you say something asinine hoping they won't catch you. If you start with fact and then introduce the lie, there is hope that you'll get away with it, whereas if you start with the lie, you are more likely to be caught. Good, show, D - and going to Haaretz, the most anti-Israel paper in the country was another great choice. What other paper would endanger Israel and our relations with other countries to publish your lies and be a tool for your betrayal?

No, we do not "need" to oppress the local population and we don't.

Have you perhaps been in an Israeli hospital in the last 8 years, D.? Have you not noticed the huge number of Palestinians - patients, nurses and doctors there? Oppressed? No, not even close.

Have you been in a store in the last 8 years? Walk down any main street in Jerusalem, and most other cities in Israel and you will see dozens of Arabs at any moment, freely shopping, purchasing, and working in thousands of stores throughout Israel.

On the Jerusalem light rail? Did you happen to miss the hundreds who regularly and without incident ride the light rail (well, without anything happening to them). We on the other hand, are often stoned (85 times in the last 250 days) on the light rail, and I was on a train attacked by tear gas by a young Palestinian who quickly ran off the train towards the nearest Arab neighborhood.
We can’t talk about specifics … [but] intelligence is used to apply pressure to people to make them cooperate with Israel.
 It would be reasonable to assume that the reason that D. can't talk about specifics is because he is nothing more than pathetic traitor that never got into a Unit as honored as the 8200 and was not privy to anything but the drivel that comes out of the papers he has rushed to be quoted in.

The 43 claim they were highly motivated and this claim I believe - though I doubt it was motivated to actually serve the country of Israel. More likely our enemies - that I would believe.

Very rightly, the IDF has responded to the meandering and illogical accusations of these nameless, faceless traitors with a very simple response:
The intelligence corps has no record that the specific violations in the letter ever took place. Immediately turning to the press instead of to their officers or relevant authorities is suspicious and raises doubts as to the seriousness of the claims.
Regarding claims of harm caused to civilians, the IDF maintains a rigorous process which takes into account civilian presence before authorizing strikes against targets.

Blessings - Day 9

This morning the sun is shining brightly as I begin my work week. I have one child left at home - she's already a very grown up 14 year old. Sometimes I make her a sandwich; sometimes she makes her own.  I go to work or travel to a client in the beautiful sunshine that blesses this land most days of the year.

I live in a country that gets very little, too little, rain. We pray for it every year and don't even expect there's a chance of a single drop for the better part of 8 months. So today's blessing is the sun - no, not as something to worship, but for exactly the reason God gave it to us. The sun rises and give us the promise of a new day. Whatever happened  yesterday or in the past, is nothing compared to what can happen today and tomorrow.

The sun guides us through the day and as it sets, it reminds us that we too need to rest; we too need to shut down and focus on other things. On the darkest days, the sun can sometimes pop out for a few minutes or be seen faintly through the clouds. All as a reminder that we are never abandoned. The sun is, in many ways, not just the creation of God, but a constant reminder that He is there and in control.

Judaism goes according to the lunar year with an amazingly accurate concept of an additional month added every amount of years (that I could never calculate) that brings it back in line with the solar year. The normal calendar goes according to the sun, adjusting once every four years with an additional day.

Islam uses the lunar calendar but without the adjustment so their months are not connected to any fixed time; their holidays not connected to seasons. Ramadan, for example, can be in the winter, summer, spring or fall. When it does come, sadly usually as a time of violence and not the peace they claim it to be, it comes at the same time on one of our months and ends at the same time - the lunar month.

For the most part, Christians use the solar calendar and so Christmas comes every year on December 25, while Easter, I believe, is indeed tied to some calculation that brings it in line with Passover.

As my husband and I were born in the States, we both primarily celebrated our solar birthday. Amira was born on Rosh Hashana - how, I asked my husband, could we possibly ignore that holiday as her birthday? And so it began. We celebrate our children's Hebrew birthdays (and sometimes their English one as well so that the period in between becomes a period of honor to that child). Elie was born right before the holiday of Shavuot; Shmulik was born a week after Purim. All this cemented our tradition.

On the solar calendar, today is my husband's birthday and so it seems appropriate to celebrate the sun today.

So, today's blessing is something as simple - and complex - as the sun. Whatever scientific compilation of gases and masses, may God bless the sun and keep it forever there as the focal point of the known universe and may God bless my husband today and every day.

Copyright Statement

Everything on this site is protected and copyrighted according to Israeli and international laws. Violators WILL be prosecuted.

Copyright 2007 - 2014 WritePoint Ltd. All rights reserved.

For permission to use pictures or text from this site, please write to: