Sunday, December 14, 2014

Finally, some photos from My Last Trip

Two weeks ago I took a trip to the Maaleh Adumim area.  Located between Jerusalem and Jericho, it has its name ("Red Assents") because in the downward trip from Jerusalem to Jericho and the Dead Sea, it is the only ascent, and a lot of the stones in the area are reddish.
    Also located in this area is a museum of Mosaics, all from the area, mostly from the Byzantine period.
    So here are a few photos:

[image:an intermittent spring  in the Judean desert, Wadi Kelt.]

[image: Canyon walls at Wadi Kelt.]

[image: Me at Wadi Kelt.]

[image: view of the Maaleh Adumim area, from inside ruins of a small fort.]

[image: Windows, Byzantine period.]

[image: small part of Mosaic synagogue floor, from Gaza, Byzantine period.]

Jewerly: First Try

A few years ago I bought several jewelry-making supplies but never (except for fixing some broken pieces) used them. When I mentioned this to Mom during my last visit she told me that DAD had also bought a lot of stuff for jewelry. I looked through it and took some of the stuff. (That REALLY weighed down the suitcase on the way home; I BETTER use the stuff!!)  Tonight I decided to try and make a bracelet to match an outfit I have. The beads are from Dad's supplies, the stones and glass from mine. But I think I need to take a good course......maybe after Passover. But not too bad for a first try.

[image: bracelet of beige and rust-colored beads and stones]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Showing Their True Faces

    The Arabs have all sorts of excuses for killing/maiming Jews. They are “settlers”, “soldiers”, or “people profaning the Temple Mount”. Another excuse is that they were “enraged” after some type of provocation. This morning they showed their true face.
    For those of you who do not live in Israel, let me describe to you where this morning’s terrorist attack took place. Har Nof is a quiet residential neighborhood, NOT in east Jerusalem. The population there is “chareidi”, which means that the occupation of a large percentage of the men is to study G-d’s law.  This is not a community of “settlers” or “soldiers”. [NOT THAT I CONDONE THE KILLING OF SETTLERS AND SOLDIERS; MURDER IS MURDER. I AM JUST MAKING A POINT HERE.]

[image: a street in Har Nof]

     In addition, the terrorists knew what hour to come to the synagogue, and they came well armed. This was not a spontaneous “in the heat of the moment” attack. It was planned in advance, as the Jewish leaders were trying their best to return quiet and calm to the area.
    These terrorists entered a house of prayer, attacking unarmed people. People who were praying, amongst other things, for peace.

    It is time for the western countries, and the media to wake up and realize that as long as the Arab population continues to incite terror, and educate their children to terror, there will be no end to this. People often dream that if we only give a bit more, peace will materialize. They do not understand that the mentality of our foes is not a Western mindset. They should stop believing the lies, and realize that just as the Arabs have escalated their attacks from the “territories” to a quiet neighborhood in central Jerusalem….. the rest of the world is not immune.

Update: In addition to the four worshipers who died in the attack, the Druse policeman who was the first to arrive on the scene has died. May his family be comforted. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Haveil Havalim, The Chaye Sarah Edition

A blog carnival is a round-up of blog posts, sort of an internet magazine.  Haveil Havalim is the most veteran of the Jewish blogger carnivals and probably one of the longest running blog carnivals there is

Haveil Havalim, the international Jewish blog carnival, was established by Soccer Dad,
and was then run by Jack.

Now it is run via the HH facebook page. Anyone interested in contributing to Haveil Havavalim should join the group.

[The term “Haveil Havalim” is from Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon. It means “Vanity of Vanities”.]

    I have always been hesitant about hosting “Haveil Havalim”, as I may be asked to give publicity to blogs which I disagree with. Please note that  I DO NOT NECESSARILY AGREE WITH ALL THE BLOGS PRESENTED  HERE!

   [By the way, simple gratitude means that if  posts of yours are included here,you should try and visit several of the blogs listed here (at LEAST 2- posts).  And try to leave a note that you came by way of Haveil Havalim.]

So here goes:

Torah Thoughts:
   Ben-Tzion,  of, talks about the main topic of this week’s Parsha (Torah reading), Match-making, in “AfternoonMatchmaking”

Politics / Terror  
The ever-prolific Batya  (has “ever prolific” become your middle name, Batya??) of Shiloh Musings
     and Me-ander is an avid political/security commentator and she gives us a post, with some interesting pictures added, about the security situation on the Temple Mount, written by Batya

Another  post, also from Shiloh Musings, is about the attack at Kafr Kanna.

Dalia Lemkos, h"yd

   Ester, of It’s All From HaShem , gives us a post about the murder of Dalia Lemkos h”yd,  but even more, about our response to living under the shadow of terror.

Romi Sussman  (of Sussmans b'Aretz), also shares her reactions after Dalia’s death,  poignantly sharing in Talking about Terror, Tefillin and More about the effort to raise healthy children in a world touched by terror.

Life In Israel

Ruti Mizrachi , in her blog Never Ruthless, gives us a cute post, There's a girl messing with my little boy's head, which I can easily identify with. It is on the interesting things that happen to our grown children (and ourselves!) when those sons become parents.

        Batya gives us an account of how several people contributed to a deed of kindness, inThat Chessed חסד Kindness MitzvahBonus”

      She also gives us a glimpse of what her transportation difficulties and solutions are in Travel,Tremping and Public Transportation, a "Typical" Day.

Tzivia, of ALIYAHLAND, tells us of  an unexpected urban oasis in the middle of Haifa,
............ and also talks about naming Jewish babies!

   Rickismom (that’s me) writes about how dieting need not be a prison, in “Dancing and Diet”.

    And to end on a definitely light note,  any beer lovers here should enjoy Doug Greener’s ( Israel Brews and Views)  tale of his experience with a  Porter BeerTasting Panel   

That’s it for this edition!

    Heidi Estrin of the Association of Jewish Libraries asked me to include the link to this, the guidelines for submittingto the Jewish Book Carnival.

Next week’s Haveil Havalim will be presented by the ever-dependable Batya of ShilohMusings.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dancing and Diet

"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.
It's to enjoy each step along the way."
                          -Wayne Dyer

I saw this quote, and really enjoyed it. I had to look up who-in-the-world "Wayne Dyer" is (on WIKIPEDIA), and I'll just say that quoting these words does not mean that I endorse his viewpoint or anything else.

    But this quote expresses to me, my own belief that successful weight-loss needs to be enjoyable.  Weight loss is not a temporary prison to be endured until you reach your goal weight (and then you can spring out of jail with a “get-out-of-jail- free” monopoly card).
Losing and maintaining your goal weight can be fantastically fun.

Find those exercises that you enjoy, go to places you can delight in. Every once in a while try something new. Even doing your “normal” standby walk can sometimes be spiced up by doing it from the opposite direction.

Experiment with new ways of dressing …. Your old style might not fit your new shape and (hopefully) new self-confidence. If you wear a wig, consider having it styled in a new way, or tie your scarf in a different fashion.

Occasionally you might attempt to cook with a vegetable you have never, or rarely, used.  Never cooked Moroccan style? Experiment! (Just don’t add too much oil, my friends….)

     One of the points that successful dieters said helped them to lose and stay there was this trait of making weight-reduction FUN.

  So no matter what shoes you wear, get out there and DANCE.


Monday, November 10, 2014


sharing a link with you: , on use of the R-word.

I've always said that as each derogatory word gets " outlawed", the new term eventually gets a new connotation, and also gets used to stereotype and insult. The problem is the underlying attitude to those we feel are "beneath " ourselves. ..... However, as it turns out, "intellectual disability" is such a cumbersome long word, it just doesn't get used as slang or an insult, and that is definitely the way to go.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

“Alone” On Simchat Torah?

[explanatory note to non-Jewish readers: On the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, which this year fell on Wednesday evening and Thursday day, it is customary for the men to dance and sing with the Torah scrolls. Women often watch from their section.]

     As I mentioned a few days ago, we had no guests for the first day of Sukkot, and only on Shabbat. Then on Simchat Torah we were again “guestless”.
    Somehow, being by oneself for the holiday is worse than not having guests for Shabbat. On the holidays, nearly all my friends had oodles of visitors. Many had to limit the number of couples coming, due to the logistics of fitting everyone into the succah.
    I understand very well why my children were unable to attend. They all had excellent reasons. Yet I still felt rather “stuck”.
    Somehow, we all tend to base our “simchas yom tov” (holiday happiness) on the externals: the food, the clothing, etc, which is OK, up to a point. After all, there is a REASON why our sages tell us to honor the day with wine and meat, and tell men to buy presents for their wives. The externals affect us.
    However, that should not be the entirety of our pleasure in the holiday. A good friend asked which synagogue I would be attending Wednesday evening for the dancing with the Torah scrolls. My reply was that I saw no reason to push myself through a crowd of other women to watch THEIR families dance. If I have no husband, children, or grandchildren there, why should I bother?
   However, on Wednesday evening I felt differently. I decided to YES go to the synagogue, to hear the dancing and singing. The simcha (happiness) of the Torah is also mine. I have participation in my offspring’s Torah study. And I have made sacrifices to keep the Torah as well. My happiness on the holiday should not disappear just because I have no one dancing downstairs to point to (and brag about). Even if no one will notice the delicacies that I cooked for the holiday, nor the new dress I purchased for myself, I can foster my own connection with G-d, based more on internals than externals.

   So I “invited” G-d for the holiday, and I was not alone.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Sukkah Table Porter

    During the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), we eat for the entire week in a “sukkah” (see HERE if unfamiliar with this).
[image: our sukkah]
     Although I had no guests expected for the first day of the holiday (there might be a blog on this later….), for Shabbat (the Sabbath) I was expecting our son and his large family to come spend the day and a half here. So at noon on Wednesday I decided to set up one table, planning to open my second folding table on Friday. One table is in good condition, the second is getting old, and I knew that it was on its “last legs”. I decided to open the second one… and I am glad that I did, as it promptly broke. “Broke” as in: “died”, “croaked”, “kaput” and “terminally finished”.  It was 12:30. Stores were closing, and would not reopen that day , or on Friday.
   Sizing up the specter of everyone partaking the Shabbat meals without benefit of a table, I grabbed my purse and dashed out the door. The first two stores I tried had no folding tables left, with trepidation I headed over to the third (and last) hardware store in the area. It happens to be my favorite; the manager there is both honest and helpful.  He informed me that I was in luck. He had a final table in his storage area, and sent his brother to haul it out for me.
-          “But how in the world will you get it home?”
-          “I’ll carry it. I only live three blocks away.”
-          “You don’t have anyone to carry it for you? It IS pretty heavy….”
-          “If necessary, I’ll take a taxi.”
   Well, the second I lifted it, I realized that a taxi was definitely in order.  I turned around , heading away from home, and towards the taxi, when an eighteen year old asked “Hey, do you need help with that lady?”
-“Oh, I think I will need a taxi.”
-“A TAXI? In this traffic jam??”, as he gestured towards the street. “Which direction do you live?”
-“I live three blocks away, THAT way.”
-“I’ll take it for you.”
   I agreed, after ascertaining that he would let me pay him, although he refused to take more than a Taxi (in non-traffic jam situations) would. In addition he lugged it up the three floors to my apartment, as well as the additional flight to my roof.  I offered him a cool drink and suddenly he said “I know you from somewhere.  Do you maybe know my mother, H___?”

   Yes, I do. And he is just a “chip off the old block”. She is also the active, impulsive type, eager to help anyone that she can. (After he left I gave her a quick call just to let her know how fantastic a teen she has…….)

PS. By the way, HE could walk faster WITH the table than I could WITHOUT it. He kept telling me I didn't have to try so hard to keep up. (I was carrying his bags for him, so I was not concerned that he was going to take off with it.)  Women, men are a different species....

Resilience defines RESILIENCE as:
the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

  In Wikipedia the following points are made:
“Resilience should be considered a process, rather than a trait to be had. There is a common misconception that people who are resilient experience no negative emotions or thoughts and display optimism in all situations. Contrary to this misconception, the reality remains that resiliency is demonstrated within individuals who can effectively and relatively easily navigate their way around crises and utilize effective methods of coping. In other words, people who demonstrate resilience are people with positive emotionality; they are keen to effectively balance negative emotions with positive ones.”

     I believe that a large part of this flexibility and inner strength can come ONLY when you have come to accept yourself as an imperfect human being. When we expect ourselves to be perfect, not acknowledging the pain of certain situations, we are sitting ourselves up for self-bashing. [When talking to parents of new infants with Down syndrome, I worried most about those who were in the “Gee I’m so grateful G-d chose us!” mode; those who admitted to the pain where better able to take the steps needed to keep their families emotionally healthy.] When we engage in overthinking how terrible we are, we waste our energy there, instead of taking active steps to cope.
    Here are my ideas on weathering challenging foibles of life:
    First we need to ascertain exactly what is bothering us, what is the situation. Is this caused by something you have control (even partial) over, that you can rectify? Is this caused by someone else that you cannot control (or choose not to control)?
     If the distressing situation was caused by something you did, you need to forgive yourself for not having been perfect. (This does not mean absolving yourself from taking rectifying action in the future, by the way….) For example:
1)       I think I should have done more fun things with my children when they lived here, and been less concerned on accomplishing my “to do” list. This does not make me a bad parent (I DID do things with them, just not as much as I think I should have) or an evil person. I was trying my best, and there were definite reasons for what I did. (However, this does not mean that I shouldn’t be careful not to let my “to-do list” preempt time with my grandchildren!)
2)      I was terribly overweight for many years, and that was because I made poor choices. It does not mean that I was an un-worthy human being. It means that I needed to take action, but that means NOTHING about my value as a human being.

    If the situation is caused by someone (or something) you can not control (including   G-d), you can acknowledge that the situation hurts, and that you wish things were different. You need to accept the fact that you can not necessarily change the situation.  Your Uncle Al may one day wake up and decide that his low opinion of you is wrong (and therefore stop criticizing you), but it may not be likely. Neither is your teen likely to become more neat, nor are you very likely to win the lottery and become rich. YOU can only decide what you are willing to live with, which may often be things you do not like, but the ramifications of change may be worse (ie, “jumping from the frying pan into the fire). The major point here is that you do not need to feel bad that there IS the situation, that you don’t like it, and that you are doing the best that you can.  For example:
-          Shortly after  Ricki was born, I was at a friend’s new baby’s son circumcision feast. Several people there praised me for being so “upbeat”. I turned to a good friend and confided “Sometimes I feel like SCREAMING that this was not the baby I had prayed for.”   SHE had a baby with cancer; she understood, nodding. She said that “accepting G-d’s will” does not mean saying that everything is great. It is simply keeping your connection with G-d, and not throwing everything out the window.

     Some situations are very painful. Acknowledging that you feel that way is what allows you to move on and deal with it.
    Once we have accepted our feelings, and recognized ourselves as fallible human beings, we can move on to the next step. The next step is to make an action plan to deal with the situation. I will not go into great detail now, as I have covered this before  HERE and HERE:   

    But let me add that when dealing with stressful situations, part of the plan needs to be dedicated to reducing contributing triggers (ie, the need to eat healthy, sleep well, etc). And try to be kind to yourselves as well.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My New Goals for the Next Several Weeks, Plus a Mazel-Tov

    Unfortunately yesterday evening I overate again… this overeating Saturday evening has become a vile habit… I was confident that this week I would lick it, but I didn’t completely. But I am not giving up and I have to try to think up some strategy that will work.
    It’s as if a sudden mood of madness envelopes me.
   Thinking deeper, I think that it is related to being on the computer late at night, which is often a trigger for overeating for me. I always get plenty of sleep Friday evening plus a nap on Saturday, so I am wide awake at 10 PM. So I get on the computer, and the snacking begins.
1)        Set a clock by the computer with a firm resolution not to go beyond a set time. No watching true crime shows (WHY in heaven’s name do I even WATCH this junk??? The plot is always the same: spouse kills partner due to lover…. BLEECH).  I will need to push off ALL non-essential computer stuff until Sunday day.
2)        Don’t rely on my general “be-good before and during-the-holidays-prize” that I have lined up. (Which is expensive enough that it SHOULD be doing the trick, but it isn’t.) Choose a prize to enjoy Sunday if I do OK.
3)        After set time on computer finishes, read a book in BED.

    I really am determined that now is the time to finally get rid of the last two-three  kilos to get to the upper limit of my maintenance weight range. And preferably, I want to reach a few kilos below that.  I plan to maintain my weight over the upcoming holidays (which will be a feat in itself; I always gain holiday time….), and thenover the next month and a half after that to lose and get into, finally, my goal weight range. It’s about time.
*  *   *   *
Mazel tov to me! I have a new grandson!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ballet / Making Time for Ourselves

[Image: Ballet dancer Anna Pavlova]

     When I was a kid, not only was I overweight, but I was “klutzy” as well. My mom, hoping that ballet lessons would help me, sent me to learn to dance. And I loved it. All through the years, even when I weighed the most, I enjoyed dance . And my all-time favorite music to dance to was Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”.   And as a child, I often wished that I could see a REAL ballet performance.
   The reason I put “Anna Pavlova’s picture here was that as a young girl, I had read about her, and I adored the image of the poor girl who by hard work had pursued her dream and “made it”. To me, she is the image of ballet. Yet I also remember the shock of realizing how correct my mother was when she told me that in reality, Anna had made a wrong decision when she refused needed medical treatment (thus hastening her death). Anna said that her life was not worth living if she could not dance. As my wise mother pointed out: She could have taught. Her life did not need to be devoid of meaning just because of physical limitations.
    As our life progresses, eventually we all come to a point where we must face the fact that we cannot physically do all of the things we would like to do…. And when that happens, we need to internalize that our worth is not dependent of our physical body, but on our character.
    There are so many things that keep us busy, and often we get caught up as well with things that other people expect us to do. Those “other people”, perhaps not knowing how “stretched” we actually are, may not see the entire picture. But we DO, and if needed, we need to make our limitations known.  I see so many women my age struggling to “do it all”, doing everything that they have done in the past.  (And often this pressure to do it all is a stress that we put upon ourselves, not  even a burden from outside sources.) Sometimes we may need to re-evaluate our situation and make allowances for our lack of youth.
        In practical terms, as we plan for the approaching holidays, we may need to question if the elaborate cooking (and more) that we do is truly needed… or if this is simply an unwillingness to be less than “stupendous”.  We need to realize that if we overload ourselves, if we make no time to take care of ourselves, the damage can be considerable. An example: this week I have been very busy, so I thought that I could skimp on sleep. The two nights that I didn’t get enough sleep were each followed by a day where I gorged after 8 PM.

    And how did I pamper myself this week? I went to see a performance in Tel Aviv of the St. Petersburg ballet company performing “Swan Lake”.  I figured that it was about time to actualize that childhood dream.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Yelp and a Scream

    Today (Wednesday, theoretically yesterday) I had a busy, lovely day. I started the day by walking to my hydrotherapy session, which is about a fifteen minute walk from my home. Afterwards I circled around my town, removing the special containers of Psalms I had placed at bus stations about two and a half weeks ago (so that people could easily say a quick chapter or two while waiting for their bus).  If the situation here deteriorates I will need to replace the Psalms, but in the meantime at least, I decided to store them away.

[picture: Tehillim (Psalms) at a bus stop:]

    By the time I had completed those rounds, and bought the day’s groceries, it was noon. I started some housework, and put on some music. For the last three weeks I have not been listening to any real music, because of religious custom, and today I was finely able to. I like to listen to music a lot; it encourages me to move around more, and be more active.

    By 5 PM I had finished most of the pressing matters for the day, and I already had my daily step quota of 15,000 steps done. But I was eager to get out for a good quick aerobic walk… so I took off to the Yarkon park. It was so different than in the last three weeks, to walk without serious fears of air raid sirens. I was able to work up to a very quick pace, as I was on the smooth “walking sidewalk” in the park (as opposed to the regular sidewalk next to the buildings at the parks edge). [During the last several weeks, on the few occasions that I walked in the area, I tried to stay within quick running distance of buildings, in case of a rocket attack.] In addition, I was able to play some REAL fast aerobic music on my MP3 player, which also encouraged a quicker pace. It felt SO good to be out walking in a scenic area, without needing to scout out the safety of the path ahead, that I started SKIPPING. And I was gratified to see that I CAN skip…..and it’s fun!
    As dusk neared I reached the beach boardwalk, and turned southwards, to walk beside the beach until I would reach the location where I need to turn inland (to catch my bus home). The boardwalk had a fairly decent number of  both “walkers” (sport enthusiasts) and families. The previous times I had been there in the last three weeks, the boardwalk had been very sparsely populated. Today the numbers were not yet up to par, but even so the improvement was dramatic. At one point the waves were, on occasion, dashing over the restraining wall.  I stopped for a bit to marvel at the expanse of waves before me, and moved on. Then I observed two children standing adjacent to the guard rail, and as a sudden wave doused them, and the two boys yelped in surprise and delight.
    Suddenly my mind flashed back to Friday evening two and a half weeks ago. As dusk fell, I was out walking, in my neighborhood. Suddenly the two girls before me jolted, screamed in terror, and jumped into each other’s arms. As they did so, I heard the “boom” of the iron dome missiles intercepting a rocket attack. [We had not heard an air raid siren, as the rockets were over a town to our north, not over our region.] Several nearby bystanders were pointing to the spectacle they had seen in the sky; I missed the fireworks.

    But here on the boardwalk, I noted the difference in the children’s reactions. In both cases they were surprised. In one the situation was delightfully exciting. In the other, it was a not a yelp, but a scream of pure terror. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Definition of “Cease-Fire”

cease-fire  [sees-fahyuh r]  
1.a cessation of hostilities; truce.
2.Military . an order issued for a cease-fire.

UMMMM I think we need to add one more:

3. Hamas. a possibility of throwing slightly fewer rockets

You see, this is my “red alert” app since 15:00, when the latest cease-fire was supposed to start:

A Smile in the Stairwell

    The day had been relatively quiet in the center of the country, but at 10:13 PM, as I was ladling out some soup for supper, the sirens started their own late evening “lullaby”. I quickly checked that the gas was off, covered the pot, and dashed for the stairs.
     Most of my neighbors suffice with entering the stairwell, and going down a floor or two. I often go down to the underground shelter. However, the last bit of stairwell before the shelter is near the glass entrance, and thus a very dangerous place to stand. As I entered that area, I saw an older man slowly going down the shelter stairs, and there was a woman waiting to go in behind him.
     At this point, time was running out, so I yelled at the lady “You’re near the glass! Come up a floor in the stairwell, away from the glass!”.  Simultaneously I did an about turn and ran back up a half floor, away from the entrance-way.
     The lady , who I didn't know, followed me. I turned and gave her a smile. “You were passing by on the street?” I queried. She answered, “Yes, I was passing by in my car, and stopped when the siren sounded.” She then pointed to her not-so-modest clothing and blushing,  added  “I guess you guessed from my manner of dress.”
    “Actually I assumed that because you’re not one of my neighbors.” Her reaction of visible relief was palpable. I hadn't even noticed her dress (which wasn't all that bad) until she had pointed it out.
       After  we heard the two missiles being neutralized by the iron dome, we waited a few moments, and I started going upstairs. “You should wait a few more moments before going out to the street”, I warned her. “Debris could still fall…… but you’re welcome to come up for a cup of water… or even coffee.”

    “Thanks, but I’m fine.” She replied, flashing me a smile in the stairwell.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Winning Over the Terror Within

    One of the most striking events of the last few weeks was the funeral of Staff Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli. A dual US-Israeli citizen, originally from California, he was a “lone soldier” (ie, a soldier with no family living in Israel). At his funeral, thousands who did not know him came to express their thanks, and support for his grieving family.
    This moring, I turned on the (radio) news, and caught the tail end of the previous program. Someone who had been at the funeral (and apparently who has written a song about it) said (approximately) the following:

“What is terror? Terror is the sowing of fear and hate. Hamas wants us to hate and live in fear. Instead they are bringing out the ‘ahavat chinam’ (love of our fellow man) in us.”

   Unfortunately, this is only partly true. Yes, there is a very large consensus in Israel that we are behind our troops. We pray for their safety, weep over every loss. For most people, there is no such thing as skipping the hourly news updates. There is also a widespread unanimity that this time we need to take enough action that we will not be replaying this movie in another two years… and that the constant “dribble” of rockets aimed to our south needs to be stopped.
   But here’s the rub. “Everyone and his uncle” has a different idea of exactly how to achieve this. And this has brought out a certain ugliness, discord, and polarization between various segments of Israeli society.

   So I call on all of us to not let Hamas reap the victory of building an internal divisiveness amongst us. Let us answer their terror with trying to hear our neighbors, our colleagues, and encouraging more “ahavat chinam”. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Walk, and the Tragedy at the UN School

    This morning I had decided to go walking in Tel Aviv. There had been fewer rockets attacks and thus less chance that I would have to lie on the ground somewhere. (If caught by an air raid in a non-built up area, or while riding the bus, I would need to prostrate myself on the floor to help avoid shrapnel injury; for TEN minutes…..)
   I was about to leave at eleven AM, but exactly then the quiet was broken, and there were, in a few minutes, several rockets over the area. (The booms were pretty loud.) I considered not going, but since I would be in a built up area 97% of the time, I decided that I didn't give a #%&*#** and went anyway. I stayed within running distance of buildings as much as feasible, but I guess Hamas had used up their quota for Tel Aviv for today because until I returned there were no sirens (IN MY AREA; IN THE SOUTH THEY HAD SEVERAL SIRENS, AS ALWAYS).
    The walk was not as nice as I had hoped it would be. I was on the beach area very little (not enough buildings). I also pittied the store owners in the area. The normally bustling boardwalk was not quite a ghost town, but customers were VERY sparse.
    However, while living under air raid threat is disquieting*, I am thankful that I am not a Palestinian.  I just now heard about the numerous civilians killed at the UN school. I don’t care what “side” you are on… it is a tragedy. That said, I will wait until the Israeli Defense Forces makes an inquiry before jumping to any conclusions….
      However, even if an Israeli shell hit the school, it seems that the school had been used by the terrorists. (If so, I trust that we will have the camera footage to prove that.) And even the head of the school admits that they were warned to leave. (Why they did not do so in time remains to be explored.)
     UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commented the other day on Hamas using the UNRWA schools to store weapons:  "those responsible [ie, Hamas] are turning schools into potential military targets, and endangering the lives of innocent children, UN employees working in such facilities and anyone using the UN schools as shelter."  Unfortunately, today’s scenario proved him right.
   Yes, it is a tragedy. It is a shame that this occurred. It is a bigger shame that Hamas seems Hell-bent to stick to their radical ideology, and their desire to destroy Israel. If they desired peace, we would have had it ages ago.  

*In Tel Aviv it is disquieting. In the “sfala” and southern areas of Israel, the constant barrage of rockets makes normal life absolutely impossible.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Walking tests, Sirens, Weights, and Geocaches

Today's aerobic walk was a real comedy of errors.
I had decided that since I was fed up with walking in Bnei Brak (it is NOT very scenic compared to the Yarkon Park or the Tel Aviv coastline...) I would take the bus to Tel Aviv. There I could walk along the built-up part of the Tel Aviv port, as well as the next-to-buildings side of the Yarkon park up to Namir road.  95% of this route would have buildings within a 90-second running distance.  Add to that the fact that there had been no sirens in Tel Aviv for about 24 hours, I felt I could risk it. I wasn’t going to walk in the open areas of the Yarkon park, after all. I was itching to go, and considering the very low level of risk, I was not going to let unwarranted fear (or Hamas) to rule over my life.
   In addition to the above, I wanted (for an online group I am in) to do a one-mile walking test. I do these tests periodically, always along the same stretch of the Yarkon Park. And while that area was off limits to me (ie, an open area with NO buildings), I decided that I would do the test in the other, built-up end of the park. Maybe the results would not be exactly accurate, but it would be good enough, considering.  I felt good about this, as I had told my friends not to expect me to do the walking test, as my running track was shelter-less.
   I took a bus most of the way to the port; I got off about a forty minute walk away, in order to “grab” a geocache. The cache was blessedly easy to find, and I was off walking down an avenue in the direction of the port. On reaching the port area I was enjoying the view when the air raid sirens started screeching away. I dashed into the nearest building, and a couple exiting from an office told me “This way!” as they (make that “we”) dashed down the stairs to an underground parking area. The area filled up quickly as tourists and locals hurried to safety.  In sort order we heard two missiles being shot down. At that point one man tried to leave, but he was restrained verbally by someone who reminded him that we need to spend ten minutes in the shelter, until all the debris from the rockets and anti-rocket  hardware would fall. So we waited, and people slowly relaxed from the tenseness that had been there a few moments before.  When  I finally was able to leave, I saw a bunch of ten year olds,  exiting from a different building. They were starting to set up chairs for what appeared would be their lunch break, chatting away. If you had not been there you would never know that they had just emerged from an air raid shelter.
    From there I turned north, striding  along the sea shore……. and on reaching  the glatt kosher coffee store there, I bought a coffee “to go”, just to give them some business. (Business is down there due to the “situation”.) Then I passed a sports store, and I remembered that my 4 kilo weights are getting too light for certain arm exercises. So I entered the store, bought a 5 kilo weight, and, in addition, an itsy-bitsy one kilo weight for when I will be allowed to start doing weight lifting with my left arm. (Two months ago I had surgery on that arm due to torn tendons.)  As I exited the store, 6 extra kilos weighing down my back pack I swiftly realized:
1)      There is no way that I will be able to get accurate results on a walking test, schlepping along an extra 6 kilos of weight.
2)      If a siren would sound again, those 6 kilos just might make running to shelter a *bit* more difficult!
    I decided not to fret. When I reached the Yarkon park area (where the buildings would be running distance, rather than closer, as previous to then), I simply held my (expensive) phone in hand, and decided that I would merely pitch my backpack into some bushes if needed (ie if there was a siren).  [I trusted that no one would haul it off all that quickly anyway, and the contents were not all that expensive.] I DID time my walk… it was definitely longer than my previous score of 16&1/2 minutes, but was a decent (considering) 20 minutes. What DID strike me was this: if a measly 6 kilos can slow me down that much, HOW in heaven’s name, did I manage to even MOVE when I weighed 80 kilos more than I do today!?!?!?! (After all, 80 kilos = 13 times 6 kilos!!!)

   So that was my “saga” for the day!

Friday, July 18, 2014

My Son's Facebook Post..&. NOW is the Time

   A few days ago one of my sons posted an item to facebook.  The source of the item was a left-wing Israeli newspaper, and it seemed to indicate him being against Israel's actions up to that point in Gaza. 
    Immediately several of his Israeli friends posted some very nasty comments, including "death to the leftists", and cursing him and his "neturi karta" family. [The "neturi karta" group is a very small anti-Israeli Jewish Orthodox group. It is not representative of the general attitude of the Orthodox community, even of those who do not "hold" by the Israeli government (like Satmer).]
    I know my son well enough to doubt that he meant his post the way it was being taken, and in the end, I was correct in this.  I wrote a comment, mentioning three things:
1) I was pretty sure that the post was not meant as it was being taken
2) statements like "death to the leftists" are loathsome. Groups like Hamas like to kill people who disagree with them; we need not fall to this level.
3) My son's family are NOT "neturi karta", and even my son who does not "hold" by the Israeli government, is NOT pro Arab, and is worrried and concerned for all the Jewish  residents of aretz (Israel). He said Tehillim (Psalms) daily for Gilad Shalit, and was heartbroken over the death of the three teens. [I have no doubt that he will be saying Tehillim tomarrow for the safety of the soldiers who are entering Gaza.] 
   The reaction was swift in coming. ... further explosive statements, name calling.  [This is typical of online discussions. People VERY RARELY listen to each other online. It tends to generally be a simple shouting match.]
   At this point my son noticed the hornet's nest that his post had caused. He posted an explanation, and shortly afterwards deleted his post. (This was probably because he wanted both not to be misunderstood, as well as to keep his crazy mom from mixing in.....).

*    *    *    *    *    *

    I feel very strongly that right now as Israeli troops are entering such a dangerous action, we need G-d's favor.  Sinking to the level of prejudice, hate, and name calling is not going to endear us to the Almighty. Now is not the time to be divisive, but to unite.