Friday, June 30, 2006

The Sickening Sigh of Relief

Every time there's a terror attack, we feel the pain. We think that there's nothing worse then this. And each time our enemies strike again, twisting the knife a little further. A pregnant mother and her four kids, murdered. A father and his daughter on the night before her wedding, murdered. And then it gets worse. A soldier kidnapped, and then another boy kidnapped. We sit and wait, frustrated by our inability to do anything, refreshing news page every few minutes, listening to the news every hour, maybe theres been an update. Rarely there is. The army is back in Gaza, bombing away, arresting the enemy leaders, bombing bridges...I dont care. All those details used to interest me, but not now. All I wait to hear is the news I havent heard yet. Where is Gilad? How is he? When is he coming home. First Gilad was captured, then Eliyahu. A boy tremping like everyone does, from the spot everyone tremps from. Do they have him, or not? There was always that bit of a chance, maybe they're bluffing, maybe they just heard he's missing and are playing with our emotions. Them we see one of them, those animals, holding a copy if his identity card. Now we know the worst has happened. What are they doing to him? How long will they hold him, taunting us? Then the news, a body has been found in Ramalla. Is it him? Finally hours later, we finally sigh with relief. Yes, his body has been found, yes, he was killed right away. We sigh with relief at the very thing we thought we feared the most, being killed by a terrorist. At least they dont have him to do their horrible things we know they are capable of. At least not another lynch. At least they killed him right away. There are so many things to be thankful for, things we didn't even know we could be thankful for. But it's a sigh of relief that is filled with pain. Another one of us killed, another piece of our flesh ripped out, gone forever. And what about Gilad?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Quick Note

This latest template edition is courtesy of Jameel. A lot is going on now but I'm really not in the mood to post. Please everyone pray for Gilad Ben Aviva, our soldier who is still in the hands of Hamas. And pray for all of our soldiers that are in or going in to Gaza now to bring him back home.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Only in Jerusalem

MyShan and I were in a cab the other day, when a charaidi beggar came collecting while we were sitting at a red light. Our non-religious cabdriver gave him a shekel, and asked him to pray for someone. He gave the fellow the name (Michal Bat Yardena), and then we kept going. Shan asked who that was, and the driver said it's his daughter, and she is sick with something. Shan told him that she'll say tehillim for her. When we got to our destination, the driver gave us back five shekel and told us to put it in tzedaka for his daughter.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Embrace It

The summer is here which means seven planeloads of Nefesh B'Nefesh Olim are coming in, including my brother and his fam. Here's my one piece of unsolicited advice.


There are many olim here that I feel the only difference between their life in America and here is that they now have a smaller house and les income. They get understandably bitter, and either they go back to America or give off negative aliyah vibes. Here's some thoughts of mine on how to avoid being the bitter olim.

Go to the Army or do some form of National Service-You are going to be living here, and your kids are going to be growing up here and able to move around freely because the army is watching out for you. You owe it to the soldiers who are watching over you and will be/are watching over your kids, that you will take your turn and watch over them. An added benefit is that it's an easy way to become a part of the culture and society here.

Live in an Israeli or at least a Mixed Community-MyShan has a friend who told her before a test that she's nervous because the Hebrew level is so high on the exam. Shan asked her when she made aliyah, and the girl answered that she was BORN here and lives in Ramat Bet Shemesh. It's hard to make aliyah, even harder to have to speak a foreign language in addition to everything else. It's much easier to move into a "mini-America" where they sell all the same products you're used to, and everyone speaks English. But you will forever be handicapped. While almost everyone speaks English, you miss out a lot by not knowing Hebrew. Once you're settled in your Anglo community, it will be a lot harder to make friends with the natives. I have friends who came here for a few years and left since they found it too hard to live here. They also lived in a very American area, and the only native Israeli they ever met was my wife. Adapt yourself to your sorroundings.

Read a Hebrew Paper-The Jerusalem Post is a very good paper, but it is geared for people who dont live here. Reading Yediot or Maariv will help you with hebrew, and also you'll know what people around you are thinking. If you want more tznua/rightwing, go with Makor Rishon.

Be Aware-It can be very frustrating to wake up one day and not have any water. It's less frustrating if you read the sign that had been posted a week earlier that they are cutting off your water for half a day to work on the pipes. If you have to go to an office, call and make sure exactly what documents to bring. If they dont mention something that you think might be needed, bring it anyway. It's a lot better to bring extra papers thento be told, "oops, you do need that document. Come back when you have it."

I'm sure there's more, but I have to go study.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The gods of noise

Last year during finals, our upstairs neighbor gutted their entire apartment and redid it. The decibel level was insane, and of course it was impossible to study. This year, our neighbors are not doing construction, so we shoul be having a quiet and peaceful time sudying. But the gods of noise could not allow that to happen. So instead of neigbors pounding on our heads, the city decided to rip up the sidewalk in front of us and lay cables underground. Theyve been here about a week, and one of the construction guys said it should take another two weeks to finish our area. So now every morning we get awoken by the pounding of a huge tractor smashing the concrete. I am slowly going crazy.

Friday, June 16, 2006

An Unforgettable Experience

I went to a wedding of one of the guys from my unit last night. First, some background. The guy is from Susia, a settlement near Chevron. Actually, its not near anything, just a lot of barren hills. After about an hour in the army, the guy turned to me and said he had never worn shoes for so long. For those with army understanding, he was a negevist, and on hikes would help with the pakal mayim in addition to the negev. And he came to my wedding barefoot playing the flute.

The wedding was in Sussia, the families provided busses for transportation. We crossed the green line, passed all civilization, drove another twenty minutes, and there we were. Except the wedding wasnt actually in Sussia the settlement, it was in the ancient ruins of Sussia, a mountain or two over. The Chattan was dressed in sandals, khaki pants, and a white loose t-shirt with a small design on the side. We talked to him, and then we wandered around. We found the Kalla further down, dressed in white pants and a long shirt/dress. We wandered some more and found a bonfire with pots around it, we later found out that this is a delicacy called poykl (pokly? poilyk? I dont think there is a correct way to spell or say it) which is basically goulash. I dont have time to write the whole thing down, all of which was so different from what I am used to, yet so amazing, but here are some highlights.

The Chuppa was held in the courtyard of the ancient shul of Sussia. People were perched on top of the ruins, including the cameraman, who kept jumping from ruin to ruin.

The Kalla danced around the Chattan seven times, instead of the usual slow walk.

The father of the Chattan read the Ketubah, with the funniest commentary I've ever heard, saying it's basically a document like signing on a mortgage at the bank, just more expensive. He also spoke about the shephard of Sussia , who was killed by the arabs, and who was a freind of the chattan.

Before the Chattan broke the glass, he requested that no one say mazal tov right after. He then spoke about how, for him, the Churban is not just about the Beit HaMikdash, but about the settlements of Gush Katif. When he hears Churban Bayit, there is a specific house in gush Katif that he thinks about, and may the settlements there be rebuilt speedily in our day. Then he said Im Eshkachaich (If I forget thee, Jerusalem), took a guitar, and started playing and singing Al Ele Ani Boche (On these I cry). while playing the song he broke the cup and continued playing. Then he sang Im Eshkachaich, and the Chuppa was over. It was a tremendous mix of joy and sorrow.

The dancing was outside on pavement. About half the people danced without shoes (including me-I felt it was part of truly experiencing this kind of wedding instead of watching from the side). There was no singer, just a band playing music.

While I was in culture shock for most of the wedding, it was truly a beautiful affair, and the Chattan and Kalla both were so happy the whole time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How Much I Hate Our News

There are certain things I expect from Al Jazeera. This may still be my naivety speaking, but I didnt think I should expect a similar thing from all the leading Israeli papers. This past weekend an explosion went off on a Gaza beach killing a family, including infants. While this is a very tragic thing, explosions happen very often in Gaza, and not always from us. This didnt stop our news from immediately reporting that we had killed them.
Haaretz "We came, we shelled, we killed" and, as a statement of fact without mentioning any other side to a story, "The hardest hit in the Israel Defense Forces artillery strike on a Gaza beach Friday was the Ghalia family, which lost six members, among them the father, one of his two wives, an infant boy and an 18-month-old girl. "

Ynet "
7 killed by IDF artillery fire" They at least had the decency to write in the article "Palestinian sources report 7 Palestinians, including children, killed by artillery shells fired by IDF", but the title is what most people see, and still remains incriminating.

"(translated)7 innocent Palestinians killed in attack" " in the article, "The Gaza Strip is burning: 10 Palestinains were killed by the IDF yesterday, inlcluding 7 innocent civilians"

Even the BBC was more even-handed. " Palestinians killed on Gaza beach", no mention of how they were killed in the title, and in the article it immediately says "Seven people, including three children, have been killed by Israeli shells which hit a beach in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials say.

All this isn't even what bothers me (OK, it does bother me, but it's not my main point). The army is now looking into the matter and finds it very unlikely that the killing had anything to do with us. So how do these news agencies report that?
Haaretz "
Probe: Hamas bomb, not IDF shell, caused Gaza deaths"

Ynet "IDF: Palestinian bomb, dud may be behind Gaza incident"

Maariv, I cant even find an article saying that the original story may not be true.

How is it that when they write their original story they dont feel the need to limit it by saying that their may be another side, only when they write that maybe their own country wasn't at fault do they feel the need to tell everyone this may not be true!!?

How much do they hate themselves?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Yesterday I Went To Heaven

Yesterday I went with a few friends to a ma'ayan (natural pool) somewhere outside of Jerusalem. A few years ago, a few guys were hiking on a mountain and discovered a (very) small stream of water that was flowing down into a nachal. They dug a huge pit, plastered the walls, planted fruit trees, and set up a piece of heaven on earth. They hung up sheets next to the ma'ayan, and put a chair and some logs for sitting, so people can relax in the shade. A little further up the hill they set up an area for camping. There is a box with cups and things for tea, coffee, and other little items. There is also a photo album of them digging and setting the area up, along with a whole story of they how they found it, how they dug it, etc. And there is a little book with a pen for people to sign. It was the most relaxing place to be, especially during the heat wave we've had. Thank you, whoever you are, for taking the time and energy to build the ma'ayan, and for keeping it clean and nice.

Monday, June 05, 2006

This City Stinks!!

Is it only in Jerusalem, or did they decide not to collect garbage in the whole country? As we took a walk today, I was reminded of the days of Amir Peretz's Histadrut and the garbage collectors strikes. Everywhere you look is garbage, all you smell is burnt garbage. I understand the first time garbage wasnt collected, people didnt know what to do, so they burnt it. But after that, didn't they realize it smells worse to burn then to let it sit there the extra day?? Even when they eventually realize garbage hasn't been collected and collect it, the small of burnt garbage will linger in the air. Not to mention that a lot of the covers of the garbages are plastic, and when they burn them off they're allowing the cats free access to hide in the garbage and wait for you to throw a bag in so they can jump at you. Did anyone see on the news that garbage wont be collected today?
We have a serious dilemna. We are going through a serious heat wave (although I hear its supposed to start breaking tomorrow), but we dont have screens for our porch doors. If we keep them closed, our apartment is a sauna, but if we open them we get inflicted with mosquitoes. I bought Raid, against the advice of my sis-in-law, and she was right; the mosquitoes clearly don't care. Other than sleeping with mosquito repellent on, there's got to be something else to do. Any advice??