Wednesday, November 15, 2023

An Open Letter to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau

      You note in your recent statement that all innocents are valued equally, and that the price of  war can not be destruction of "all" innocent Palestinians. You, sir, ask that Israel exercise "maximum restraint".

   Let me start with saying that I , too, am concerned about the innocent Palestinians. People who have sufferred harm at our hands (even if that was caused by the policies of Hamas) are more likely to engage in terror down the road, than those who have not sufferred loses. Not only is this a humanitarian issue, but it is in Israel's best interests to be concerned by the plight of the Palaestinians.

   But here's the rub, while all innocents may be equal, not all enemies are. Hamas has proved again and again that they care not a whit about their fellow citizens (or anyone else). They consistently use civilian mosques, hospitals, schools, and homes for military purposes. They use materials needed for local infrastructure and hospitals for war. They have often prevented civilians from taking advantage of any advantages for safe passage to safer areas. They have lied consistantly to the press about  their actions. (Remember when they blamed Israel for the missle that hit Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, which was later seen to be a failed launch of their own? And how they deny having murdered Israeli babies in cold blood, despite their OWN videos showing the same? ) 

   In addition, Hamas has expressed, again and again, a desire to completely wipe out any Jews and Christians, to kill anyone not willing to 100% accept their ideology. They are similar to ISIS, and the horrific tortores carried out on innocent Israelis has shown them to be acting worse than animals, with no mercy whatsoever. 

    So what SHOULD we do, Mr. Trudeau?  In 2005 we took out ALL Israeli forces and citizens from GAZA. We urged the citizen of GAZA to build up the Gaza strip as we did in Israel. They could have done so, but Hamas squanderred that opportunity and showed that building a good life for their citizens was not a priority (to put it mildly).

  What would you have us do today to protect the innocent civilians? We have asked the civilians to evacuate, and now that we are in Gaza, have tried our best to provide corridors to do so. We have even supplied soldiers to help guard the civilians evacuting  from Hamas members who would shoot them for leaving their posts as living shields.  We have supplied food and water. Yes, it is not enough, but unfortunately we know from experience the penchant Hamas has for sneaking in weapons, and trying to take supplies for themselves. We even sent in incubators and Arabic-speaking doctors to al-Shifa Hospital to help in evacuation of civilians. 

    So now you ask for "maximum restaint". We have been doing our best. But we must bring pressure on Hamas, in order to get them to agree to return our hostages.  What pressure would YOU recommend?  Do you really think Hamas will start acting "nice" if we stop attacking them? They will simply crow that they have won! You must realize that the HAMAS leadership does NOT have a mindset like yours. They do NOT desire peace. Look at what they teach their children, and compare it to what we, and you, teach our children.

   I don't see ANY Arab country offering even temporary assylum to Palestinian refugees (understandable, if you look at the history of how past Hamas/Palestinian refugees have formented revolt in every Arab country they went to). 

   I don't see you making any coordinated effert to free Gaza from Hamas, nor to protect us, Europe, and even Canada from their radical theology.  I hate to inform you of this, but if someone wants to slaughter you (and in a brutal way, at that), you can not make peace with them. 

   So  should we just stop the war for several days or more , letting Hamas regroup, so that we can lose a HIGHER percentage of our young (and not-so-young) soldiers when the fight reconvenes?!?!?!?!?

 Or  should we settle for a ceasefire and "enjoy" another repeat of massacre/hostages/war two or three years down the road?  (And the war WILL restart, if the leadership and military strength of Hamas is not obliterated, because their stated objective is to wipe us out!). 

Or should we just lay down and let them slaughter us?* 

WHAT would YOU have us do, Mr. Trudeau? If you have ANY practical suggestions, believe me, we are all ears. 

* Nope, we are not about to let THAT happen. 



Sunday, October 15, 2023

Week 8: October 18 – 24: A “healthy living” insight from the War

    The ravaging impact of the attack a week ago in Israel’s south has hit me, and every other Israeli, hard. Virtually every Israeli knows someone who was involved, in some way, by the attack, or who have family members being called up to serve in the planned engagement with Hamas. My daughter’s ex (my grandson’s father, who I know well, him having lived one floor above me for a few years) is a very shell-shocked survivor of the carnage on Saturday a week ago (he was at the music festival). He is simply glad that by a miracle he survived. (He was shot at; the gun jammed.)  My step daughter’s ex (who I also know very well), is part of the angelic “zaka” crew who went into the burned slaughterhouse the south had become, to collect body parts and provide burials for the victims. I have heard from family some of his horrified descriptions of the sadistic scenes that he witnessed there. I will spare you the details; I want you to be able to sleep tonight. 

     It immediately was obvious that Israel’s response would be large, and would probably take an extended period of time. That made it pretty obvious that I better coral my son to quickly get the door of my safe room into place* (it had been removed, unwisely).  Suddenly, my day became largely focused on surviving real and feared** threats.

-Is it safe to take a walk around the perimeter of the town?

-Is going to Tel Aviv to take photos a good idea, or a slight (but unneeded) risk?

- What are the chances of my being killed (or worse) by an infiltration of terrorists?

- etc etc etc etc

It was hard not to be obsessed about it……

[Image: Composited scene using minitures and an air raid shelter for those who do not have a "safe room".]

  However, my attitude shifted a bit early in the week when I received a notice of the death of a good friend’s husband.  For a moment, I assumed that he had been a victim of fighting somewhere, and then I realized that he was too old to be in the army, and since they do not live in the south, had probably “only” died of natural causes.

   THEN it hit me: My chances of dying in the next month of rocket fire is probably less than the chances of me dying from a heart attack or stroke.***


   I should be working on my sleep and exercise the same way I worked to get my son over here to fix the safe room.


   I should be tracking my food and making healthy choices if I really want to stay alive.


    I should be making a “safe room” of healthy living to protect myself, building it not with bricks, but with healthy choices.





*He did!

**This whole blog is really based on my being afraid of death. In reality, I have realized any fear of death is massively overshadowed by fear of sadistic terrors…..   But I decided that if the comparison mentioned above is helpful to anyone- which includes me-  it was worth writing.

*** If the West Bank walls are breached, however, those statistics may be altered considerably. That is also part of my “feared” threats.  In my mind I know that G-d has His own plans, and that I need to trust him. But ingraining that trust in my heart and feelings is vastly harder than to understand it intellectually.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

   A final note.  I believe that there is a very good way to help deal with the stress of really difficult situations.  One of my “favorite” holocaust memoirs (can a book on the holocaust be “liked”?) is a book called To Vanquish the Dragon by Pearl Beinish. This book follows a group of “Beis Yaacov” (a religious orthodox Jewish girls school) students, as they experienced the holocaust. What is interesting is not only how some of them survived physically, but more than that- how they survived emotionally. The answer is that each of these young women was centered on helping her friends, rather than on her own survival.

   And indeed, those here in my town are quickly realizing that the best treatment for a numbing inactivity of fear is the act of getting busy, and helping others. The amount of support for soldiers and people displaced from southern Israel is massive.



And for anyone who wants to read my views on Israel VS Hamas. please read my post from a few hours ago/

Thoughts On Israel, Gaza, etc.


I know that once Israel invades GAZA, the destruction and inevitable civilian deaths that will occur, even people who were shocked by Hamas’s atrocities last week will start saying that Israel’s attacks are “revengeful”, “out of proportion”, etc.  I would like to address this.

   In the past, Israel has targeted basically MILITARY Hamas, as opposed to the political wing.  Israel wrongly assumed that the political wing would value the lives of Palestinians, provide services, and maybe even one day reach out to make peace. But we were wrong, terribly wrong.  Hamas has shown itself to be an absolutely sadistic growth- a cancer for both Israel AND Gazans as well.

   Does Hamas protect its citizens? No! The footage coming out of Gaza’s hospital tonight shows civilian casualties.  Since Israel is targeting HAMAS installations (that Hamas purposefully puts in civilian buildings, in order to make the Gazans “human shields”- which-by the way- is a war crime), there should be lots of injured Hamas soldiers also arriving at the hospitals. But THEY are in the concrete tunnels, tunnels built with funds that could have built schools, schools, etc. They are even so brazen and callous as to tell civilians not to heed Israel’s pleas (given in leaflets dropped over Gaza) to evacuate northern Gaza.

    Gaza is often termed by the press as “one giant prison”.  Yes, it is.  But when someone consistently commits murder and mayhem, who is guilty, the jailor or the jailed? In 2005, Israel made a significant concession when they closed 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza, displacing over 8000 Israelis.  The result was not a response towards peace from the Palestinian authority, but, ironically, the rise to power in 2007 of Hamas (largely due also to widescale corruption in the PA) and the shooting of rockets from Gaza into Israel.


  Even tonight, the coverage of the news media is wholly on Gaza. There is no mention of the 50 plus  alerts for incoming rockets and a few attempted terrorist infiltrations from just the last few hours that appear on my phone. Each rocket sent could kill many here, but here is ISRAEL, the army is NOT hiding in tunnels under civilians, but tries to protect its citizens with the iron dome system. Also nearly every citizen has access to a safe room or a bomb shelter. We have not been using our concrete to build terror tunnels. It seems that we are only seen as “right” when we manage to allow ourselves to be killed. 

    The reason for the proportionality of higher deaths between Palestinians to Israel and is not just due to Israel striking back harder, but also due to Israel trying very hard to protect their citizens, while Hamas does the opposite, using civilians as human shields. And while sometimes Israel messes up, they DO try to prevent civilian deaths in Gaza- an attitude that Hamas cynically uses against us. As Golda Meir once famously said: “We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us”.   

   I won’t say that the footage of injured children in Gaza does not move me. It does.  But the type of violence visited on us by Hamas on last Saturday, the sheer sadism and evil shown towards Israelis-this shows that any dreams of making peace (which many leftist Israelis campaigned for) is impossible with Hamas. (It is worth noting, that being a leftist, or even an Arab, would not give mercy to any Israeli confronted by the Hamas terrorists.) Hamas must be completely irradicated, like a cancer,  because if you do not kill a cancer, it will kill you.

    Now to the issue of “revenge”. This is not about revenge. This is about irradicating the cancer of Hamas (and by some hope, some dream, of maybe getting our captives back.)  If this was about revenge, we would just bomb Gaza off the map. But no, we are preparing to send in ground troops. We are preparing an assault that will unfortunately undoubtably add to our terrific death toll from last week.  We would not risk our young men and women for revenge. We had more than enough burials last week.

  Now a few cancers have new targeted therapy that will only attack cancer cells.  Now if anyone has a good idea on how to irradicate the cancer of Hamas, or of their extremism, that will not hurt the citizens of Israel or the citizens of Gaza, please let us in on the secret. Meanwhile, it seems that the “treatment” will unfortunately, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, kill “healthy” cells alongside as well. But just like with cancer, do we really have a choice?  We in Israel are not willing for last week’s atrocities to become a “normal” reoccurrence, every two years or so, like the rocket barrages have become.  Forgive us, but we really have no intention of letting Hamas push us into the sea. We will beat this cancer. We have no choice.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Aladdin’s Lamp


The week before last (last week’s album) the 52 frames photo challenge theme was “Lamp”. (I have been doing this weekly for 360 weeks.) I was terribly busy (it was the middle of Passover, and I was cooking for 12 people for the last two days of the holiday). BUT I had a good idea: Aladdin’s lamp. I had thought of the idea ages ago, and previously had purchased a lamp that suited the theme, saving it for when the 52 frames theme would “fit”. I asked my son to come pose as Aladdin, but I guess he forgot, never showing up. So I “posed” myself, using light painting. The results were not that great; hopefully someday I will shoot the idea again, better.
OK, I can hear you all saying: ”Ahhhhhhh- WHAT has THIS to do with weight loss?” Well, here is how:

One of the fellow members on the 52 frames site wrote a comment on the photo: “I hope he granted your WISHES!” I replied: “Actually, it was me, so I guess I will need to do it myself!”

Yep...... there is no fairy G-dmother, no magic Aladdin, no “Wish and it will happen”.
If you want to get the “good things” you wish for, you will need to make a plan to reach those successes, and work on carrying out those plans. There are no shortcuts. The good news is that by changing our actions, we CAN work "magic"!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

A Shattered Peace



[photo:  a glass paperweight of a dove, and a collage of same piece. Photo is mine; do not copy!]

Well, it’s early January, and the traditional attitude is “A new year! A NEW chance! How exciting!”


    But honestly, that ”new year excitement” just didn’t register at all with me this year. And judging from what I have been reading online, I am not the only one.


  Oh last year I WAS excited! After some nine months of virtual house arrest, the vaccines were coming out soon. I had hopes that soon I would be getting the jab that equaled a “get out of jail free” card.  Hopefully this nightmare of COVID would soon be behind us and we would be (pretty much) back to “normal”.

    But of course it didn’t happen like that, and we are facing a brand new 2022 with COVID rates soaring, threats of hospitals collapsing, and again needing to stay away from (or be extremely cautious around) the people we love.  Our anticipated dreams of a peaceful 2022 were shattered as if it were made of glass. And after last year’s big letdown, it is jolly hard to get very enthusiastic about seems a pipe dream of normalcy.


   People are tired of all the restrictions. And all the fighting over politics, COVID, etc has wrecked havoc in many families and friendships, let alone the devastation from lives lost.  So how can we get some of that excitement over life and the opportunities ahead? How can we tap into the shrivelled-up optimist lost somewhere deep inside us?


   The answer is to look on the good side. Yes, the last two years have been tough.  First let us acknowledge that.  But good things have happened too! Can we wash off the black mud of disappointments, stress, death, and loneliness that has dirtied the diamonds of the last year? Can we also note the good things, and be grateful for them?


   If we make an effort, I am sure that we can. And we will be better people for it. And happier ones as well.

Monday, April 26, 2021

“I SHOULD….” OR “How do we get OUT of here?”

    (Photo is mine, all rights reserved)

Do you feel a bit like these figurines? A bit trapped by bad habits, and wondering how in the world you are going to get out?


   Well, if you read magazines, talk to your doctor, or talk with friends, you will probably get a lot of suggestions. Or may you are even telling yourself: “I SHOULD do this and that, I SHOULD do such and such….”


  Frankly, the lists of things I SHOULD be doing hounds me.


And the reality that in NO way can I fit into the day all the things I SHOULD do – at least not without giving up a lot of other stuff. (And then some of THAT stuff will comprise my NEW “I should do” list LOL.)


   So let go of the long “should list”.  Instead make an “I can” list. A list of POSITIVE actions.  And tailor that list  to the goals you want to achieve, and the time and resources at your disposal. What CAN you reasonably do?   


Make a “I can” list, and THEN you will transform it into a “I WILL” list. Because “can” is not enough.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

I will emerge stronger

 Let's face it-we are living in a time of historic challenges, and just about EVERYTHING seems "topsy-turvey".
    But we need to grab the opportunity underlying this situation. Let me explain.

    One of my many (grown) sons has ONE  (15year-old) son whom he has been having trouble to get to conform to "social distancing" rules. [No surprise here. This grandson is the one who somehow ALWAYS  misses the first bus home that the remainder of his family goes on.] I tried to call all of my grand-kids just before or in the middle of Passover; he was consistently "not at home". Finally a week after Passover, I managed to catch him (by phone). 
   We talked for about an hour. Without attacking him directly for his irresponsible behavior  (his father said "been there, done that") I just slowly, on the side fed him pertinent info. I did this all with "My friend who has Corona"... "Did you hear that..."  etc   Info such as:
-the virus can be in the air if someone coughed there 4 minutes ago, and you don't know it 
-a full third of little kids with COVID 19 are asymptomatic
-even a "mild" case feels like being run over by a tractor, can cause lung damage, and even they suspect liver damage (ie, You do NOT want to get this!!)
- that this will not be finished in another week, but that people like me may need to stay indoors until there is a vaccine, and if the rate doesn't go down (due to lack of social distancing),  MANY in the community (like a best friend's Dad- I did NOT say HIS dad) will have no income.
-Even though a very small % of younger and middle aged people die from this, it can happen. I had a 3% chance or less of having a child with Down syndrome, but when I had her, she had 100% Down syndrome. 
   He really paused when he realized that I had NOT allowed my son who lives nearby to come for Passover, and that our foreign worker is scared to leave the house.

    At the end, I told him about someone who had "lost" a year of his life due to cancer- he was too ill too weak, to do ANYTHING. This person's response now was "I am not going to waste a year on Corona", and he is sticking to a daily schedule, albeit at home.: I continued:
      "You know, as I see it, we all have three choices.  ONE: We can waste this time just staying at home, being bored, overeating. TWO: We can say "To hell with this, I will do what I want and go where I want" (But then, if we DO get sick , and infect someone, and THEY die, will we EVER be able to live with ourselves....?) OR THREE: We can make a vision of where we want to be in 6 months, a year from now.  And work on that. I want to exercise daily, study photography every week, spend time studying Bible. You might want to make up a study time with your dad, do a kindness daily  ---like read a story daily to your siblings and give your mom a break ...." (I admit he snorted at that! LOL), "spend some time learning English, etc.  THEN WHEN THIS IS OVER WE WILL BE ABLE TO CONGRATULATE OURSELVES ON A JOB WELL DONE AND FEEL A SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT."

  So I throw the question out to you: Besides just being alive, WHERE do you want to be when  this is over? It won't happen by itself.  What do you need to get there? Are we going to act like a stubborn  (STUPID) 15 year old  or do we want to say a year from now- "I survived; I accomplished". 

   So let us all think of goals for the next few months: personal, ATTAINABLE long term personal goals- and make a concrete plan to reach them!!

(photo is mine, do not copy)

Monday, September 2, 2019

“I’m OK”-Is that ENOUGH?

We all have a tendency to be hard on ourselves- to be aware of our own failings
     “I didn’t exercise over vacation”
     “I ate WAY too much last night!”
     “I weigh too much”

  These self-condemnations lead, in general, to lack of action, rather than attaining our goals of self-improvement.  So society (at least the psychologists) tell us: “You are OK as you are”. These have lead to all sorts of inspirational songs. "You are perfect" etc.....
   But is the serial murderer also telling himself “I’m OK”? Can we really believe “I’m OK”?
   After all, there is a flip side, too. As much as we may tell ourselves that we are OK as we are, society still honors the athelete who attains success at great sacrifice.  Our women’s magazines will hold aloft that inspiring story of the couple who adopted  10 kids, and the clothes catalogues do not post photos of size 20 models.

    I have a lending library of English books in my house. One of the books is Sarah Rigler’s Emuna with Love and Chicken Soup, about the incredible Henny Machlis, who regularly hosted 150 people for shabbat each week, and who extended love and hospitality to all she came in contact with. Most women return the book with comments about how inspiring it was. But a few women react differently.  “Gee, I could NEVER do that. It is so far beyond me….”

    [Caveat: I am bringing in Jewish sources 
(because that is what I am familiar with),
 but you can take these lessons and apply them,
 no matter what your belief (or lack thereof.)]

    This month is the Jewish month of Elul, the month leading up to the Jewish New Year and the day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”). And we are expected to try and improve ourselves in some way.
   But if ‘I am OK as I am”, why should I change? And if I should be a perfectly righteous person, how can I say “I’m OK”? How should we view this dichotomy of ideas?

  The word “ELUL” (remember, that Jewish month) is spelled  (inHebrew) alef-lamed-vav-Lamed. These letters are also the first letters (in order) of the Hebrew phrase “Ani L'Dodi V'Dodi Li"), which is Song of Songs 6:1-4.  Loosely translated, it means "I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine". Now many see the Song of Songs as a simple love song. So how did it end up in scriptures? Because it is also an allegory of the love between man and his creator. Therefore, say our ancient sages, we can see that ELUL is a good time to work on ourselves and draw closer to G-d’s expectations of us.

    However, Rabbi Leff, the Rabbi of our Moshav, points out that the first word is “ani” (I)!  If we want to improve, we first need to know our “I”.  What are my strengths? What am I capable of? What are the things that realistically are limiting us?

   So as I see it, when we enter a (any) period where we want to improve, we need to know our strengths. Yes, “I AM OK… I don’t need to be perfect”, but I am also capable of SO much MORE!!  I have capabilities, and with these gifts that I have come a responsibility. A responsibility to improve. For my family. For the world. But especially for myself. The moment we realize what we are capable of, we realize that staying in a static state is not enough. I do not need to be perfect. But no, “I am OK” is NOT enough. Because you are capable of SO much more!!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Totality was TOTALLY Awesome! Photos from Total Eclipse USA August

One Of Us - a review and remarks on "children off the derech"

Last night I had occasion to see Netflix's new movie "One of Us".  This movie follows fragments in the lives of a few individuals who have left the Chasidic Satmar community in the United States.
    I am writing this from the viewpoint of  an Orthodox woman (although not chasidic), who is the mother of four children who have "left the 'derech' (path)" of Orthodoxy. I will add that I have an excellent  connection with these children, as good as I have with my religious ones. This doesn't mean that I always agree with them, but occasionally I disagree with all of my children.
     First I must mention that I have absolutely no knowledge of the families/cases/ incidences portrayed in the movie, or any deep knowledge of the community involved. I HAVE seen how the community here has reacted to children "leaving the fold", reactions which can be quite diverse.

[Photo: two of my children, quite diverse, but who love each other despite it all....]

 I was happy to see that the director did allow some coverage of community members who apparently were open-hearted enough to befriend the subjects, realizing the underlying pain there. On the other side, we do see incidences of apparent violence directed against a woman who had claimed abuse from her husband.
       Unfortunately, in every religious group there are people who are not living up to the ideals of the community. Every community has its rapists, child-molestors, and peodopiles.  Yet this is NO reason to condone it. However, Orthodox Judaism and chassidut is a FAR cry from cult-like groups such as that run by Warren Jeffs and his ilk. (Even if the dress of the women may at first appear similar. )
       Unfortunately,  there ARE those who take advantage of the groups reluctance to involve the police, the tendency of people to blame the victims, etc. And rarely there ARE women who may falsely accuse men of certain acts, if it seems expediant to do so- for  reasons of financial gain, political expediency, custody battles, or perhaps revenge....  Yes, there are two sides to every coin, and unless there is some type of coaberating evidence, it may often boil down to his word against hers.
       And as much as outsiders often cannot fathom the mindset of arranged marriages, the system does work in general... and I suspect that the rate of satisfaction and happiness in such marriages is no less then those in the general population. Yes, there ARE cases where young women were coerced into marriages by parents who did not have their daughter's best interests at heart- but these are few and far between. Most parents are committed to finding a spouse who is not only fitting religiously for their child, but fitting their personality, and dreams as well.
    All that being said, there are problems of abuse in the community that need addressing. Part of the Orthodox world have started addressing these problems, although these efforts are not nearly enough (something shared, incidentally, by the secular world). How much of these efforts have filtered into the more closed community of Satmar, I do not know. What I would have liked to see in the movie "One of Us" would be some exploration of these topics.
   Another thing that needs noting is the high rate of drug abuse and poor job opportunities for those dropping out of the community, and indeed in some cases, for those in the community. These problems are also being dealt with to some degree in parts of the orthodox world, although probably less so in the more closed community of Satmar.
    Much of this all boils down to a cultural battle between those realizing that the world has changed, and we must adapt carefully to those changes, in order to preserve our underlying values, and those who believe that the only way to deal with society's headlong pursuit of hedonism (like lemmings running into the sea) is to detach themselves from it as much as possible.
     Quite frankly, there is what to say for both sides of the argument.  For example, I use the internet, knowing that I have no desire to use it for sexual purposes- I use it, theoretically at least, solely for staying in contact with my non-religious children, to stay informed about various things (wikipedia, "how-to" articles,and the like), and for weight-loss support. However, I have gradually seen a slipping lately into using it as a source of entertainment, and I am as likely to watch a movie today as to pick up a book.  And this I am realizing needs to change... too much time online is definitely anti-family, and the often warped values of secular society impregnate every inch of  the entertainment industry. Yet I find tearing myself away from the screen  extremely difficult. It is indeed a mud puddle with quicksand propensities.
    Where do we draw the lines between educating our children enough so that they can work as something more than a clerk at Target... and embracing the vulgarities  of secular culture?  How much do we need to protect ourselves as a community vrs being confident enough that if a potential Torah scholar is exposed to the opportunity to use his intellect in other ways, he will still chose to remain a Torah scholar because of the beauty of Torah? How do we promote acceptance of individuals who are NOT cut out to stay in Kollel for life, and retain them as valued members of the community, while not making children of Torah scholars feel left behind compared to their richer classmates whose fathers are professionals? These are all areas that need discussion, and sadly the Orthodox community will probably often have divisions within due to discussions and conflicts along these lines.
   Re the movie "One of Us" , I found it rather disjointed, with no clear explorations of  any of the above topics. The movie was sorely about the pain felt by those who left the community, but even that exploration was rather haphazard.
 My personal advice to parents in the Orthodox community:
1) (And this is by FAR the most important!!) :
 Spend time with your children, let them know that you love them.   Always. (You can disapprove of actions but not stop being a parent.)
    And doing stuff for them is not enough. They need hugs and good words. Value their individual skills and talents. Be willing to leave the house a wreck at times in order to get out and do stuff with them. Discipline without anger.

2) If your children do not get any English/ science/ geography education, supply it at home. Do science experiments for fun. Teach them about the wonders of the human body. (Just this last shabbat, by granddaughters had a blast listening to their own heart beats with a stethoscope.) Have frum books about science, history, etc. around. And talk with them about them! Buy and play games which teach basic cognitive skills.

3) From even a young age, teach children (gradually) about their body, modesty (in talk and action), and appropriate social boundaries. Be sure they have enough vocabulary to report abuse/ crossing of  bouldries/ "bad secrets"
[My previos posts on this topic gives some ideas/info:
see HERE
and here   ]

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Where to, America?

    I haven’t been posting here in quite a while. And when I do it generally isn’t about politics. There is a lot involved in the political sphere, and generally I feel, both in Israeli and in American politics, that I really have nothing to add to what is already being said by people who are more well-informed than I.
-I tend to vote conservatively.
- I am a supporter of Israel’s right to exist.
- I PERSONALLY believe in family values. (However, I have learned over the years that people who are gay are real people, and while I do not agree with them, I do not feel it my right to bash them for this, nor to deny them the right to make their own choices.)
- I believe that there may be at times a need for capital punishment, but believe equally that  the way to decrease crime  in the long run is to make having a job feasible, and good education.
-I believe that we need to help the poor and insure health care for all, without encouraging people to just ride on the backs of people who DO work.
- In addition, I feel that America must wake up to the dangers of terror attacks without vilifying everyone who is extremely religiously observant, or non-Christian.

   All of the above is to give you an idea of where I am coming from. But now to my main point.

     I have often wondered how the American political system manages to choose candidates that are so inept at times for the job. I often have said, “My Mom has more common sense than all of them together.” (Not that she would want the job!)  Over the last few years I have become much more aware of the roles that big business and funding plays in elections. I understand that big business wants to protect their interests, and frankly we need business for the economy.  We need somehow to find a way to protect business’s legitimate interests while not letting them trample pell-mell over the little guy.  And I hope that we can control the power of business without becoming a socialist state. These are all important election issues this year, ones which I feel inadequate to address fully.
      But there is a point that I feel must be made. For the first time I am wondering if America is on the brink of disaster.  (I felt a bit like this after Hurricane Katrina, but not as much as now.)  I see society becoming more and more fragmented, more and more extreme (in BOTH directions). When we have movements like the BDS refusing to let Israelis tell their side of the story, and on the other side, a candidate like Trump condoning violence, it seems to me that we are becoming more and more polarized.  How have we managed to become a society where if you disagree with me, I am your enemy?
   I used to think that the radicals were the fringe of the society. That most people had more sense.   But as Trump wins state after state, I am, quite frankly for the first time in my life embarrassed to be an American. When did we become so decisive? (And this is not just a criticism of the conservatives. Super liberals who go around with an air of “free speech for all unless you disagree with me” are equally guilty.)

   And if Trump  gets elected, I dread to think what would happen, with his ineptitude at diplomacy, if there would be the equivalent of a Cuban Missile Crises on his watch. I think that we better all re-watch  Fail Safe and The Day After.

   But equally dangerous is how our society will self-implode if we cannot learn to help and care for each other, even when we disagree.  AND to  work on making basic health care, education, and economic security  available to all, or most, of our citizens. Even if that means not being able to afford the latest iphone.

   And, just for the record, I DID take the time to vote, and plan to do so in November. I just hope that the “least-terrible” candidate that I vote for will be someone I can stomach casting a ballot for.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Why Is the World so Blase' About Terror in Israel?

   One thing over the last week has rankled many Israelis over the last week.  While we also showed our support for France after the last attack, we noted very carefully how that type of  support never seems to come our way.  Yes, the terror attack in Paris was larger, but population percentage wise, probably not.  The world noted that Parisians have to deal with a new reality… a reality that we in Israel have been living with, 24/7 for a LONG time.  Why is there such a discrepancy in the attitude towards Paris/Israel by the world at large?

   While some may be because of anti-Semitism, I think the answer is much simpler.
   The average American, while he may sympathize with Israelis who experience terror, probably does not feel threatened by it.  The Israelis, by their thinking, are experiencing terror because they do not reach peace with the Arabs, because of the Gaza wars. They theorize that the Arabs, reacting to their situation, attack Israelis. This is no threat to the American in Indianapolis, Memphis, or Chicago.
   However, when Arab terrorists hit Paris, the gut reaction of the average American is probably, “there, but for the grace of G-d, goes I”.  The target this time was not soldiers, not Jews, but your normal-everyday citizen.  I suspect that this feeling of vulnerability is what led to the wide outpouring of support for Paris this last week.
   Well, Americans, please note that the Islamic terrorists are set on wiping out Western culture. This is not a political issue, but a religious/cultural one. And when you side with terrorists, WHEREVER they strike, “legitimizing” their actions, you just help to spread their lies.

   Folks we are in the long haul here. America and Europe will need to do what is standard here in Israel: search bags of people entering malls, movie theaters, government buildings, and the like. But if we want democracy to survive, we will need to call terror what it IS, and work against it. That does not mean that political solutions can not help. They may at times. But the extremist will not be satisfied by these “solutions”, and we need to wake up to that fact, FAST.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Hikers

    I have done a fair amount of hiking in my life, a lot of it in the Rocky Mountains. There, on the trail, it is quite common to give a nod or a good word to fellow hikers you pass. Sometimes as you “leap-frog” each other on the trail a few times, one can even strike up a conversation, ask them to take that perfect photo with you in the foreground….
      While we would never do such a thing in the city, somehow in the park trails we do. Perhaps part of that is because in case of emergency, our lives may well be saved by that fellow unknown hiker. 
        [Once when I was young, my parents and I, along with my older brother  (who was  about 14-years old????)  went on a hike to either Fern or Odessa lake. Suddenly we heard an SOS whistle from the “little Matterhorn” which towered above us. My Dad quickly pulled out HIS whistle to signal them that they had been heard, and my brother ran the (considerable) distance down to the trailhead in order to alert the park rangers. We heard later that one of the rock climbers had broken their leg.  Our hike for the day was interupted …  but we would have never dreamed of not helping another hiker.]
    But the hikers who always puzzle me are those I see sprinting along the trail. I realize that they are doing it for their fitness goals…but besides the dangers** of running along a rocky trail, I am flabbergasted that they would willingly let such gorgeous scenery pass by in a blur.  Even when going up rocky paths slowly, I need to remind myself to occasionally glance up from the stony path at my feet, and note the beauty and wildlife around….(That’s one reason hiking I enjoy so much hiking with my brother. Besides the added safety, and his knowledge, even if one of us is oblivious to the deer ahead, the other will often catch it and cue off the other!)

[image: deer near the trail]

** It is easy to fall if running, and generally the few big cat attacks in the Rockies have been on runners.
   OK, ladies, you may all be asking by now, “OK, nice story, but WHAT the H*LL does this have to do with me?”
   The point I am going to make is this:
      Often we set goals for ourselves. Whether it is to climb a peak, fashion the greatest Halloween Decorations on the block, or loose ten pounds….. we often get so set on our goal that we miss the wildflowers growing at the side of the trail.  We often think “When I get to my goal weight, THEN I’ll be happy!”  We envision being pleased with ourselves and having peace of mind upon reaching our goals…

[image: bee on flower, with saying: "Enjoy the journey".]

     But allowing ourselves to only be satisfied on reaching our goal will only lead to frustration. YES we will reach our goal, but then we are likely to set a new goal for ourselves… and once again we will be “hiking with our eyes stuck to our boots and the rocky path”.  
   We must allow ourselves to revel in the joy of the journey… celebrate even small successes….. to enjoy the journey itself as part and parcel of the entire package! 

[image: view from Flattop mountain]

   However, as a final note, let me add that there is a flip side to all this.
     Last summer I managed to hike to two places I had never been able to hike to as an adult: the summit of Flattop mountain,  and blue lake.

    I accomplished neither of these with wishful thinking. It took daily walks to increase my stamina, and to acclimate a bit to the altitude. It involved getting up well before dawn so that we could reach our goal and get below tree line before the rains might arrive. It meant climbing Twin Sisters as a preparatory hike, even though the trail there was rough in places due to a washout.
   Yes, we need to enjoy the flowers on our way to the summit of weight-loss and maintenance. But we also need to tread the trail, even when doing that is a bit difficult.
     Set that alarm for an hour early so that you can get a quick jog in.
     Buy that good windbreaker so that the rain won’t stop you.
     Decide that you can celebrate Shabbat without gorging on sweets and nuts.
     Do a slightly better strength training than last week…

Please share  something you ENJOYED this week .

[image: wildflowers, with saying: "Your best moments are those you live in, not those you rush through."]

Monday, October 19, 2015

No Other Words: a Lynching

   Last night a foreign worker was mistaken for a terrorist and was basically lynched .  I remember how in a previous terrorist attack a sephardic Jew was also killed when mistaken for a terrorist.

   And here comes the rub: quick reaction to terror is needed to prevent further casualties. Yet caution is needed to avoid mistakes.

   HOWEVER, the foreign worker who died yesterday was killed not just because of being shot, but due to the subsequent lynching.  ONCE A TERRORIST has been unarmed, there can be no excuse for a lynching. We are allowed to defend ourselves, but we should never descend to the level of our enemies.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Simple Truth

   There is a lot of accusations flying around about the video showing the Arab youth bleeding while passer-by curse him.  First, let it be clear that the youth is alive.
   I saw the video, and yes it appears at first glance to be shocking. HOWEVER let us look at the simple truth:

Every culture has people who get excited and curse during conflict.Yes, there is someone cursing him. That someone is being kept away from the youth by the police.

  But the way our societies view these hotheads is VERY different:

    I would add that if a Jewish extremist were actively involved in a terror attack, and would not stop, he would also be shot by responding police or soldiers.

   And yes, the ambulance passed the Arab in the video. Does he really deserve to be treated BEFORE his victims?!???!???!  Eventually he was taken to the hospital, where he receives the same care as any Jewish patient. (Although he IS handcuffed, so that he can not carry out any further attempts to hurt others.)  [And he is in better condition than his victim..........]

Monday, October 12, 2015


   I saw a post on the NBC news site today. While I am used to a lot of slanted reporting, I must say that NBC outdid themselves.

Some samples:

NBC:  "So far, 23 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed. Around 20 Israelis and more than 500 Palestinians have been injured."

NO mention that the Israelis killed and injured were all hurt /killed as victims of terror attacks. Many were innocent civilians just minding their own business,  NO mentiion that almost all the Arabs killed and injured were hurt/killed while they were either committing a terror attack or engaged in VIOLENT demonstrations, doing acts which can be lethal to others.. 

NBC: "On Thursday night a right-wing mob marched toward the Old City in East Jerusalem, many of them chanting "Death to Arabs" and with the stated intention of looking for Arabs to attack.
"They chant 'Death to Arabs' and nothing happens to them," says a Palestinian man from East Jerusalem who asked not to be named. "If I said 'Death to Jews' I would be killed."

REALLY?  The Arab clerics and media are full of incitement, urging arabs to kill Jews.  In the few cases were Jews attacked Arabs, they were stopped by other Israelis, and these acts were roundly condemned by Netanyahu, and the IDF. (Israeli army). 

3) The piece is full about Arabs being afraid to walk the streets. I guess we Jews are not afraid; we are used to to getting stabbed outside of the local shopping mall.

Note: since I wrote this, the article has been changed a bit.and is a bit more balanced. RE the  stabbing attack in Pisgat Zeevthe  13 year old victim is  barely hanging on to life. He was BIKING home, and on the way stabbed 25 times!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

On Terror, Life, and Prudence

 Yesterday (Wednesday)  a terrorist stabbed a man at the bus stop (in Petach Tikva)next to a mall that I occasionally go to. Also buses in Jaffa got stoned (I travel by bus on that street to go to Rina's grave, and often I walk in Jaffa).  (And as I write this, I hear of another attack, noontime today (Thursday). A yeshiva student is stabbed in Jerusalem. I pray that it is not my grandson. Or a friend of his.  Or the son of a friend of mine.)
   While I always know in theory that terror can happen anywhere, and that no one is guaranteed immunity, the sheer number of attacks yesterday (and this week), along with the proximity of the attack in Petach Tikva, drove home the gut-wrenching realization of “There, but for the grace of G-d, goes I”.  Just two days before I had called my “ultra-Orthodox” son and daughter-in-law in Jerusalem, who do not listen to radio news, to be sure that they aware of the escalating violence and atmosphere.  Luckily, the word-of-mouth-news  network works quite well in their neighborhood, and they knew of the need to be extra vigilant when outside.
   Later on Wednesday, my husband informed me that I need to be more careful when out “walking”.  Knowing that any belittling of the danger would only increase his anxiety, I agreed with him. But, realistically, I thought to myself, I am much more likely to be hit by a SMS-messaging car driver than to be killed by a terrorist.
   Yet, despite the clear calculation just mentioned, I was much more alert on my walk to and from the swimming pool last night.  It was not a disabling fear, but an extra awareness of my surroundings.  “Why,” I wondered to myself, “am I apparently more afraid of the miniscule risk of terror, than the possibility of a car accident, or of having a heart attack in the pool, both of which are statistically much more likely to occur?”
   The answer, I believe, is that with accidents and health concerns, we feel that at least to a certain extent, that we can take precautions.  If we eat healthy, exercise regularly, don’t text-and-drive, and cross the street carefully, we have a fairly decent chance of reaching 80 or 90. With terror (whether in Israel or elsewhere) we are much less in control. Yes, there are things we can do as a country perhaps to decrease these incidents, but when a fanatical or deranged individual goes on the rampage,  only chance, or by G-d’s grace, are we not among  the victims. Realizing that vulnerability can be quite unsettling.
      Then today, a friend sent me this link:  This is a Ted-Talk about a dance group of “senior citizens” the “Hip Op-eration Crew”( and the philosophy behind it). The organizer was asked (seriously!) “What if one of them dies (ie. dancing, or on the plane)?”   And the response of the organizer (“Well, what if they did?”)was correct. After all, if we let fear of dying stop us from living, what worth is living then?
    Yes, as countries we need to work on security, mental health, and combat terrorism.
    But as individuals, in our private lives, the reaction can only be one:
MAKE TODAY COUNT. We don’t know-ever- how long we have to remain on this globe.   

[As religious believers, we can try and “curry favor” with G-d, by doing good deeds. These activities may perhaps affect things in a spiritual sphere. But we should not kid ourselves that those deeds will guarantee our safety. Sometimes G-d feels the best thing   for us is to experience suffering.]