Monday, August 31, 2015

Away They Fly...

I thought the next time I would feel like crying about a child leaving home would come in November, when David would begin serving in the army. Instead, it came today.

Aliza is going away to school. She'll sleep in a dorm Sunday through Wednesday nights and return most Thursday nights to spend the weekend at home. This came about for mostly the wrong reasons. While many of our friends and neighbors came to the realization that the local school didn't meet the needs of their children, we were slower in accepting this reality.

It was so convenient, a 10 minute drive away. We live in a small city. Shouldn't the local school be geared to the children who live here? I still believe it should be, that it's policy should be inclusive, rather than exclusive. But ultimately, the school chose a philosophy for itself...and the philosophy is wrong. Instead of thriving, Aliza was slowly being destroyed by educators who focused on the outside, not the inside. Teachers who cared more about schedules than how much the child learned.

Slowly over the last few years, Aliza was being pushed out and away from the school, as were most of the local girls and boys. Quick to judge, they decided she didn't belong and were anxious to throw her anywhere, push her away. Last year, they gave me a list of schools, including ones that were completely wrong for her. They didn't really understand her, nor did they want to.

She was judged, made to feel she wasn't good enough for the school. Repeatedly, they told me she was a gentle, sweet child who needed a loving, warm school - and they, quite proudly, said they focus more on grades and academic achievements than on the heart and soul of a child.

Warmth is not their style - they want big and more, they want girls who come from outside the city who will fill the dorms they were building. The vast majority of the local girls were found lacking for this local school.

At the end of 8th grade, we considered moving her; but decided to wait. Ninth grade was a year of agony for her; most of her friends had been encouraged or forced away, she and a few who remained were not treated well.

By the end of last year, we surrendered and took her to another school and almost immediately she was shocked by how warm everyone was - the other students, the head rabbi, the secretaries, teachers. She has not felt such acceptance for a long time from a school.

Days before school started, someone from her new class called her, introduced herself and asked Aliza if she wanted to be added to the class' WhatsApp group and from then on, she was welcomed. Such warm girls...amazing.

It's like coming out of a dark cave into sunshine for her. Children should be given approval and love and a school that doesn't cherish the wonder of a child because of what they wear, who their friends are, and other such minor details isn't much of a school. This morning, for the first time in years, she went to school excited, happy, anxious to begin.

And, as is the way with parents, we are left behind - happy to watch them fly, a bit sad that it happened so fast...wasn't she just learning how to crawl yesterday?

I can be angry at the school here or I can accept their failure is on them, just as when the counterpart of this school, the boy's division, failed Elie. Then, they decided that a child that had learning disabilities must, by definition, have behavioral problems. Rather then help him, they too chose to throw him away. If we are blessed, Aliza will have as wonderful an educational and growing experience as Elie did.

Elie soared in the school in Jerusalem, where in Maale Adumim, he suffered. There, they told me he was an amazing child and wondered how the school here could have been so stupid as to give him up, "he's gold," said his teacher to me. Aliza too is gold in so many ways.

Today, we loaded her suitcase and I forced her to let me take her picture. I'm going to try to look at this as the start of a new adventure, a return to a time when my husband and I had time together before the kids came along. I'm going to try not to feel empty and alone because my kids are where I want them to be, doing what I want them to do. Children are supposed to grow and fly and they should never know what that flight cost their parents.

They need to soar, not be pulled down by your sadness. Aliza will be home in four days, she reminded me whenever I mentioned something else she needed to bring.

There is a small amount of anger at the close-minded school here; there is a wealth of gratitude that the school where she will be is so different, so welcoming, so open. She loved hearing the Rabbi speak there; she loved the food. She loved the girls who ran to accept and welcome her.

Sometimes you have to be smart and brave enough to know when it is time to fly. And when your child reaches that moment when they begin to soar, as a parent, you have to let them spread their wings and fly...

Today, my youngest flew towards her tomorrows...and me...I'll remember that it's really more of an experiment than a reality, a chance to begin to understand my own tomorrows. She'll be home in four days...then back, then home, then back...and then, in a few months, she'll go back to school and David will go to the army...and then they'll come home...and then they'll go back...

And they will fly and soar in a land that promises the brightest of tomorrows for the brave and the strong.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

It Starts with a Date

I won't say when, but I will say it is in November. We don't know what unit yet, but we have an idea. It could change, as could the actual date my third and youngest son enters the Israeli army.
Starting from a very young age, Israeli boys (and girls) know that they are destined to go to the army. It's part of how they grow up, where they are headed, who they will become. For those of us who came to Israel as adults, it's something that is harder to assimilate. It's so easy, year after year, to deny that it will happen, to postpone dealing with it. So, here I am, six weeks away from when my son will enter the Israeli army, suddenly having it all become real. This blog is a soldier's mother's story.       -- A Soldier's Mother, February 13, 2007

He told me two nights ago and I think of it at odd times. Mostly, I wonder where I'll get the strength to do it again. I've had a few years' break when I had to worry about reserve duty here or there, but not the daily concern of where my son is, what he is doing.

I hate the idea of going back to that. I hate this whole thing.

I don't really. I'm proud of how calm David seems; I'm a mess. I've watched so many other mothers send their sons; I spoke with them, tried to calm them and told them not to worry. I wrote things like, "you don't have to worry every minute...bad news finds you very fast" and "when he's in training, you don't have to worry."

And now, knowing I have nothing to worry about, I feel that darn roller coaster coming towards me. I've been on it at a national level but not really at a personal level for a while now.
Elie is 19 years old. A handsome boy with the most incredible blue eyes. He's smart, a volunteer in the ambulance squad, and lest you think that I think he is perfect, he's got a mighty fine temper and his room's a terrible mess. Elie is the manager of the family, the one who analyzes everything. -- A Soldier's Mother, February 13, 2007
Davidi is 19 years old. A handsome boy with the most incredible blue eyes. He's smart, a volunteer in the ambulance squad and lest you think that he is perfect, he doesn't have a mighty fine temper, but his room is usually a mighty fine mess. Davidi is the quiet one, the peaceful one, the calm and solid one. He's the one that pulled me into the bomb shelter when we first heard the air raid siren...when my heart stopped and I knew that somewhere outside...Aliza was with her friend. I would never have gone in the bomb shelter...even though it would have been logical to assume a 14-year-old has enough sense to take shelter. And then, when we heard Iron Dome knock out an incoming missile and knew that it was no false alarm, I began to sob...no other word...I just cried my heart out and Davidi held on, didn't let me collapse like I wanted to, tried to keep me calm while we waited. That is David...quiet, strong, solid.

It starts with a date...and we have that. November...less than 3 months. I'm not ready. I don't have questions this time, as I did with the others. All I have is a knot in the pit of my stomach, an ache that is getting stronger.
So - Elie is all grown up now, a man about to go to the army. We got his "marching" orders last week - artillery unit, and already I am panicking. Not because I don't want him to go, but because I haven't had the time to accept it all....And, in the middle of all this, quietly moving closer and closer was this date - end of March, 2007, my son will be a soldier. -- A Soldier's Mother, February 13, 2007
So - David is all grown up now, a man about to go to the army. We have the date but not the unit, and already I am panicking. Not because I don't want him to go, but because there will never be enough time for me to accept it all. And in the middle of all this, quietly moving closer and closer is this date....November, 2015, my son, my baby, my third son will be a soldier.

I have to do this again. I know I will but God, right now, I really don't want to.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Clear Thinking or Hysteria

Maale Adumim is a beautiful city overlooking the Judean Desert on one side, Jerusalem on another. On and between these beautiful vistas are open hills which often become the staging ground for thieves who come into our city. Since January 1, 2015, there have been 26 breakins. Five of these have taken place in my neighborhood in the last 8 months. By comparison, Pisgat Ze'ev, a neighborhood in the northern-most part of Jerusalem was hit 35 times in just one weekend.

Nobody is happy when they are robbed. The feeling of violation and fear that follows in the path of the violation of your home can be catastrophic and can cause long-term issues, sometimes well beyond the initial violation caused by the robbery.

Sadly, what it also may cause, is hysteria, panic, over-reaction, and worst of all, a tendency to attack others who are attempting to allay the fears of others. Two weeks ago, the fourth and fifth robberies took place - again on a Friday night.

Last week, on Friday night, there were no attacks. This did not stop many in the neighborhood from being afraid. One woman even wrote that she had packed a suitcase with her valuables (whether she took the suitcase with her or hid the suitcase in her home was not made clear but her fear certainly came through). This all came out because a man who makes his living teaching others self-defense, posted that there were THREE attacks...when, in fact, there were none. He named two people who would confirm those attacks...when asked, both said they knew nothing. He named a family as one of the victims...but their house had been robbed the previous Friday night. In the end, there were no robberies in our neighborhood...and still he continued.

He wrote in bold letters that we are not safe here - the absurdity of that still shocks me. I have never felt safer than I do in Israel and in Maale Adumim. In all of the robberies over the years, including the one on this man's home, not one single person was hurt or confronted. That is not to say it cannot happen and we have been instructed by the local rabbis here that we are to immediately violate the Sabbath...in fact it is not considered a violation at all...to call the police because the possibility, the danger, is always there.

And yet, the fact is, each time the thieves have heard people approaching the homes, they have chosen to run away. Not once have they stood to confront. Self-defense is a great thing to learn; but the first and most important lesson should be to minimize contact with a potentially violent person rather than act like Rambo and get yourself or someone else hurt. If the thieves are prepared to run, for God's sake, let them!

While I argued that we need to have faith and work with the police, this man began writing nasty comments, asking what was wrong with me. When he wrote that the police do nothing; I argued that while he was sitting having dinner, my husband and other volunteers were out on patrol. When he wrote that there were robberies every other week, if not every week, I produced the statistics to prove him wrong and suggested he was panicking and hysterical.

Clearly, he sees himself as a man's man - he even suggested that hysterics was more a woman-thing...great...just great.

I tried to focus on preventive things that can be done - the man dismissed them all and yet his very situation proves the point. He admits that his house did not have window bars before it was hit - and since that time, since he put bars on, he says (claims) that thieves have tried (and presumably failed) three times to get in. No, bars alone may not stop the thieves, I pointed out, but they look for "weak" houses - houses without bars, houses that are left in darkness.

Despite the figures I posted on our neighborhood list - that our neighborhood has been hit 5 times in 8 months, he continues to claim, "From what I hear on the street our neighborhood is hit by home robberies about twice per month." According to the last time I learned math, that would mean 16 breakins...not 5.

After writing on the local list, he wrote a blog post called "Hysteria and Clear Thinking" in which he writes about some "woman" (wanna guess who that is?):
Such people are like those Jews who knew what was coming during the Holocaust but "kept things quiet" so as to avoid spreading "hysterics". We all know the results of such clever policies.
As someone who has spent so much of my life writing about this very issue, I'm astounded...I think I'm even amused. I could be insulted, but I find that it is better to write logically to an hysterical person than be insulted. One person suggested he was trying to bully the neighborhood into being afraid. That is actually an interesting assessment. He is clearly trying to bully me by endlessly writing nasty comments and sticking to non-facts to promote his position. I get that he feels that he is a victim; I get that he lost a lot when his house was burglarized. What I don't get is what he gains by trying to take a wonderful neighborhood and try to make everyone afraid.

As for the accusation of silence? Wow...he's as off there as he is about the number of robberies. Not once have I ever urged silence as a solution. I also do not urge hysteria and sadly, this man does not seem able to separate the two.

What I have repeatedly urged is for those who are concerned to do as my husband has done - get out and physically protect the neighborhood, weekend after weekend, night after night by patrolling. That is silence? That is keeping quiet?

In reality, all that this person succeeded in doing is raising the level of fear in the neighborhood based on exaggeration and incorrect information. Window bars are a deterrent, despite this man saying no (and obviously he believes they offer some value, since he put finally put them on his windows). Lighting around the house - making it look like someone is home, even when they aren't. All these are proven to be effective.

Hysteria is when you post that there were three breakins, when in fact there were none. Hysteria is when you write, "WE ARE NOT SAFE" - when in fact, crime statistics prove we live in a relatively safe city and country. I know, and  have been told by many of the people whose homes were broken into, that this does not comfort them...and I understand. I have been the victim of robbery...and I know the fear of it happening again, of reliving the incident over and over again, only this time, you rewrite the ending. You fight back, you get home sooner, the police find the thieves...over and over, you relive and try to change the ending.

But the facts do not support the level of fear being pumped up in my neighborhood. In Nazi Germany, the Jews were, ultimately not silent, but they were helpless...by the time they accepted what was happening, it isn't that they chose not to leave, but that they were physically barred from leaving. In Israel today, we are neither silent, nor are we helpless.

We have police and army, we have armed citizens and we have the means, as this man has finally gotten around to doing, to protect our homes. More, we can take to the streets to protect what is ours. That is clear-thinking...and that is, actually, what I've been pushing from the start of this discussion.

This man suggests that he is clear-thinking and that I'm the hysterical one...well, while he things that women suffer from hysterics more than men, in this case, I'm rather amazed by what he is posting and the damage he is causing. Clear-thinking means realistically assessing the danger and doing what you can to mitigate it. Waiting until after your house is burglarized is unfortunate and perhaps even a bit irresponsible. Whipping up fear is just wrong.

I lived in fear for many years of my life - fear of walking alone in darkness. For four years, while attending Columbia University, I never went out alone at night, if at all possible...and in the winter, when I had a late class, I walked back to the dorm looking for someone to walk with, terrified of the last half a block I had to walk off Broadway.

I was afraid someone would grab one of my children. I was afraid of so much...and when I landed in Israel, I promised myself I would not live in fear. I can safely walk in my neighborhood (and in almost all places in Israel), even in the middle of the night alone.

If you really want to stop robberies in your neighborhood - getting a gun won't help (and with all the extra people we hope will start patrolling, could end up being more dangerous), learning self-defense won't help (when not once in the years that there have been thefts in and near my neighborhood have any of the thieves ever chosen confrontation over running).

What will help is working with the police and with your neighbors to have more eyes open and aware and watching.

Clear thinking...what a concept.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer's End

The last week of August - everyone is rushing to finalize plans for the start of school, enjoy these last days before "reality" returns. It's going to be a lot of changes in our family...

Aliza is starting a new school where she will sleep most nights in a room with three other girls, in an apartment with 11 other girls. She hasn't shared a room with someone for more than a night here or there since she was about 7 years old.

Davidi is back in yeshiva but there's a huge clock ticking down on us...the army is coming back in November...too soon, too fast.

The others are more settled...married...


For us...empty nest has arrived - at least during the week. It comes at you suddenly, or at least it did for us. A chance to be what we were so long ago, to have time to do things together. A movie, a walk, dinner. We haven't had to worry about babysitters for quite a while but still, this is up a level. We can decide on Monday to go away for a night without major considerations.

Summer is ending and a whole new reality is beginning...we got through the summer without a war...here's hoping we can get into and through next summer without one as well.

There are basic currents that we feel here - usually they are internal. We feel tensions building and worry that a war may be coming; something happens and we watch carefully to see where it will end.

This time, the currents seem to come from abroad and Israel seems remarkably stable. Obama is fighting an all out war to get his Iran deal passed. The more desperate his attempts, the sillier the deal appears.

That the Iranians would be given 24 days' notice appears ridiculous enough; but ridiculous has crossed into absurdity with the news that some of the inspections, at least, would be conducted by the Iranians.

Though the outcome of the deal will definitely effect Israel, it is an outside force rather than an inside one. As much as we can do to persuade the world that the Iranians are playing them, laughing at them and utterly humiliating the west, the west alone will choose its destiny. Israel will do what is has to do to survive, that is the single greatest truth in the Iran deal. If that makes some in the west nervous...good.

A second "current' that is sending ripples through Israel is the growing anti-Semitism worldwide. Especially in Europe, but in other places, including the US, as well. Like the Iran deal, we are outsiders and yet we are not. There are few Jews in France who are not worried, wondering and perhaps even planning. The Jews in the United Kingdom are feeling the worry though have yet to internalize the threat.

If the winds of hatred bring these Jews to Israel, we will offer them a home here. Perhaps as we have done in other places, we will have to physically send in planes to bring them.

It's still August here, still hot. No one is feeling the weather change yet, though we know that is now weeks away instead of months. But each summer melts into autumn, each autumn flows into winter. Wars and tension happen here without warning. We made it through the summer and that is something to celebrate. We'll concentrate on getting back - back to school, back to work and let the world continue for a while on its own.

The Iran deal will bring what it will; the rise in anti-Semitism will take its course. Somehow here in Israel, the path seems steadier than usual, calmer than usual. Ultimately, as Ben Gurion said long ago, to be a realist in Israel, you must believe in miracles and so we believe, we wait, we live.

At summer's end...life is good here in Israel, and for those of us blessed to call  this our home, that really is all that matters.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Oh No! Spy Dolphins, Killer Tuna and Enemy Eels!

Thanks to The Israel Project for this one!

Laughing at Hamas

One of the things I love most about Israel is our ability to laugh at ourselves and others. The absurdity of the situation could choke us. Iran is threatening right and left...they want to annihilate us...and the US government is about to hand them $150 BILLION dollars which they know...yes, they KNOW...will be given over in large numbers to arm Hamas and Hezbollah. The very weapons that could literally be used to attack Israel (and even US interests)...will be paid for by the stupidity of the Obama administration.

Israel spends millions of dollars helping other countries in crisis...and then is accused of all sorts of violations of human rights by countries such as Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia. Laugh...or cry...

We choose to laugh...and I love that about us...so, swimming around Israel today:





And this one... a take off on the Biblical phrase "And the sons [children] will return to their borders [meaning their land], this one says, "And the fish will return to their borders" (hat tip to Benji Lovitt again for this one)



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When A Dolphin is a...Zionist Spy?

You can't make this stuff up...I mean, you can try, but why bother when Hamas does it for you?

We've heard about the Zionist sharks, wolves, squirrels, ravens...and now we have...dolphins.

It all started with several Israeli news sites covering a report that Hamas has claimed to have captured an Israeli spy...a dolphin equipped with camera and other "espionage equipment".

It's really hot and they are really stupid. Put that together and you have a day of jokes led primarily by the infinitely funny Benji Lovitt (www.benjilovitt.com).
Here's a sampling of how Israelis took the news of the Hamas capture...of a dolphin...
  • Earlier today, Hamas captured an Israeli spy dolphin. After several hours of torture, the Zionist animal had only this to say:"AAAK EEEK SQUEAK!!!!"
  • Hamas was water boarding the dolphin trying to make him confess, until they realized he actually liked it.... 
  • 5:00 PM The Zionist spy dolphin ate a tuna.
  • 5:01 PM The UN condemned it for ethnic fish cleansing.
    • Ephraim Gopin adds: 5:07 Rabbanut declares it will not give kosher certificate to fish deemed kosher in Spain. All fish will have to dunk in mikva in Israel first.
    • Ira Wise adds: 5:08 Spain declares all fish forgiven and welcome to return to Spain. Please!
  • SeaWorld's traveling water show has canceled the Zionist spy dolphin's performance in Spain until it clarifies its position on Palestinian statehood.
  • After the capture of the Zionist spy dolphin, the International Red Cross has pressured the Hamas leadership into allowing the animal a phone call to Dr. Doolittle.
  • Following the breaking news of Hamas's newest hostage, the National Football League is denying reports that a team has changed its name to the Miami Zionist Flipper Spies.
  • Liron Kopinsky:"Israel has entered into negotiations to trade one dolphin for 1,257 Hamas frogmen."
  • Dave Bender: IDF Signal Corps officials, speaking off the record, said the mammal's last radio message before the transmitter went dead was "...and thanks for all the fish," accompanied by two tweeted hashtags: "‪#‎freewilly‬!" and "‪#‎SorryCharlie‬." StarKist could not be reached for comment.
And my small contribution defending the Zionist spying dolphin: I don't think he did it on porpoise!

Why Israel Will Never Be Defeated

There's a reason why Israel will never be defeated. It has nothing to do with Obama, obviously. It has nothing to do with 320 American "rabbis" signing to support the Iran Deal using the blood of our children as the ink for their signature. It has nothing to do with our enemies...isn't that amazing?

It has nothing to do with our technological innovation, our ability to discover or invent amazing things like Waze, the latest cancer treatments, telecommunications wonders, and more. Nor does it have anything to do with our political leaders, current, past or future.

There is, honestly, a simple reason and it has existed as long as there has been a Jew alive.

When our enemies gather on the hills above us, when they wage their battles in the United Nations and world courts, it means nothing because what we have, is this...

video

These are soldiers very close to the Gaza border. There is a sect of Jews, a movement, if you will, called Breslovs. Breslov is a place in the Ukraine where Rebbe Nachman lived. He was the great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, a man credited with founding the Hasidic movement.

The Hasidic movement, in its origin, was so different than it is today - then, it was to focus on the joy of living, of song and dance. In too many ways, the modern Hasidic movement has become more like the people against whom Rebbe Nachman of Breslov rebelled.

And so, around the world, and especially in Israel, there are those who want to get back to the simple joy of celebrating who we are. They'll stop in the middle of the street and start dancing...and amazingly enough, others will run up to join them. This will happen in the snow, at the Kotel, in the rain, on a highway and there, close to the Gaza border.

So long as there are Jews who will dance for the sheer pleasure of thanking God for our very existence, for all the blessings He has given to us, Israel will never be destroyed or defeated.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Twenty-Three Years Ago...Today

Twenty-three years ago today, I flew across the ocean with two little boys,
desperate to reach a husband who I had not seen in almost three months, my young daughter that I had not seen in 6 weeks.

It was a calculated plan to get us all to Israel, meeting my husband's requirement that he have work before we move and my daughter's need to learn at least some Hebrew before she entered third grade.

To this day, I cannot tell you if it was the right plan but it worked. We all got to Israel - that was all I wanted, needed.

I was exhausted when I landed, emotional, drained. The boys had been amazing on the flight. I was the only one making aliyah on my flight but the stewardesses knew and treated me like royalty. They asked often if I was okay, if I needed anything. They watched two sleeping boys when I needed to go to the bathroom even though to their Israeli minds that was a ridiculous thing because who could steal them on a plane soaring through the skies?

I was battered and bruised and all I wanted was home. I wanted to leave fear behind - fear of being assaulted as a woman for a few dollars in my pocket (a story of a young mother in New Jersey weeks before...the thief put the young child out of the van and drove off with the mother, eventually killing her for $1.25 that she had with her). I feared darkness. I feared someone would take my children. I craved light.

I landed and climbed down the staircase, holding my sons firmly while others helped me with bags...and all I saw was Israel...my dream...and the sun and the warmth...I nearly fell to the ground just wanting to touch it and believe finally, finally, finally. But I held the boys, climbed on the bus. A man got up, and another, and I was told to sit down. One son sat next to me, another on my lap and I prayed I wouldn't fall apart.

I got through the paperwork, desperate to collect everything and really get out. They stamped, they filled out papers...I waited, I answered questions and pointed to bags and held hands and pushed a loaded cart until there he was. He brought me flowers and held me so tightly, so strongly, I knew he would never let me go again. I held my daughter and promised I'd never leave her again. My husband picked up his sons and hugged them. Finally together after so many weeks; finally home...

We went to a place I had never seen but recognized it for home within seconds. Settled quickly in a beautiful rented house and made friends. My husband worked; I began to work. My children went to school and made friends and began to fight in Hebrew. We added a son and then a daughter; we bought a house and moved. We sold a house and moved. We rented a house and moved. We bought a house and settled.

We "married off" a daughter and two sons and gained three grandchildren. We built a business, became part of an amazing community. We lost, we gained, we live.

Twenty-three years ago - it's like yesterday except so much richer, so much more. I can dream in Hebrew now, buy and sell anything in an ancient yet modern language.

One son has been to war two times; a second was blessed to have avoided war but not danger during his service. In less than 100 days, my third son...the first born here in this land...will enter the army.

There has never been, not for a single second of a single minute of a single hour of a single day of a single week of a single month of a single year...been a time when I regretted, when I wished I had done anything but board that El Al flight...other than to wish I had done it sooner.

There is no other land that is ours; there is no other place that is home. If you fly home over the summer to visit and vacation, your aliyah might not be successful in the end. If you keep one foot there, wherever there is, and one foot here, that other foot will pull you away.

I came as a refugee seeking a land I could call my own. I watch as others come here from lands where Jews are no longer welcome and worse, I watch while other stay in lands that are fast becoming dangerous.

When I turn into myself, as I will do today, I feel such gratitude to my husband for agreeing to leave his family to make my dream come true. I am grateful to God (and my husband) for the priceless gift of five children who have grown into amazing people in this land. And I thank Israel for welcoming me, for being here.

When I was 16 and came on my first trip, I never wanted to leave. I cried buckets of tears and promised I would be back. When I was 20, I listened to a Jewish Federation leader boast that he had been to Israel 23 times and while others were impressed, I was astounded, "that means you left 22 times...how could you possibly have done that?" I asked without thinking.

When I was 33, I landed in Israel, wife, mother to three small children.

A few years ago, my husband and I spent Shabbat in a hotel in Jerusalem. At one point, I went to the bathroom and found three teenage girls sitting in the hall crying. I was concerned and asked if they needed anything and they explained that they were leaving Israel the next day and didn't want to go.

Paraphrased, this is what I said to them...and to every one who does not live in Israel.

Don't worry. Israel is here. Israel will always be here waiting for you. Whenever you need her, whenever you want, she's here. She is a strong land, a beautiful land and always only a flight away.

I took that flight exactly 23 years ago and my life had been enriched every day since.

May God bless the holy land and people of Israel.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Predictions for the Next War

I read an article on Israel National News today, saying that the IDF is developing laser beams to intercept mortar shells like the kind that killed 4-year-old, Daniel Tragerman and it got me thinking.

At this very moment, Hamas is preparing for the next war against Israel and, in all honesty, Israel is also preparing. How they prepare, though, says a lot about the two entities that have gone to war no less than three times in the last 7 years.

What Hamas is doing, as reported in numerous places and even threatened loudly by their own leaders, is increasing their rocket assets, improving their range, perhaps their payload. Hamas is working to develop the tunnel infrastructure that was largely destroyed during Operation Protective Edge.

In short, Hamas is preparing an offensive war hoping to kill as many Israeli soldiers and civilians as possible. What it is not doing, is spending money repairing the infrastructure in Gaza - that, they leave to the naive Europeans and the idiots of UNRWA.

What they are not doing as well, is building any secure places for the people of Gaza, no bomb shelters, no underground safety areas.

And what is Israel doing? We are developing another advanced technological solution to fill in the gap discovered with the Iron Dome system - those mortars that are meant for close to the border with Gaza, where the warning is only a few seconds. All that aside, the sheer cost of firing Iron Dome is intimidating - it didn't stop Israel from using it, but the debt had to be paid.

So, to summarize...

Hamas is preparing for the next war by sharpening its ability to attack Israel. Israel is preparing for the next war by working to develop yet another system to defend its citizens.

Israel. Hamas. Reality - a reality that will be ignored by many...until the next war when once again, there will be disproportional casualties because our people will run to shelter and above their heads, advanced technological weaponry will work to neutralize Hamas rockets...and their people will have nowhere to run, rockets will again be fired from within their communities, from their mosques and hospitals and UNWRA schools.

Israel. Hamas. Reality.

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