Siege by Snow


We thought we were leaving this kind of weather behind when we left America for the Middle East, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. Then again, the last time a blizzard this size fell down on Jerusalem, it was the roaring ’20’s. Either way, this is my account of what it was like to be under siege by snow.

A little background: The entire upper administration of the school where I work was away in America for recruitment and interviewing applicants for next year, meaning I inherited the entire school (and all of the responsibility that goes along with it) for two weeks. To ease the amount of work and time I needed to put in, we told all of the girls that they had to find housing and meals for themselves outside of our neighborhood for Shabbos, to give both me and the madrichot Shabbos off. That all changed when we saw the weather report.

You have to understand, when the weather report predicts snow in Israel, the average person doesn’t believe it for a second, until they get to the supermarket and it looks like the apocalypse is about to hit. Picture it – nothing on the shelves, a line out the door, not a single empty shopping cart to be found…

“SNOW?” they’ll say incredulously; “Last year it snowed and by the time it hit the ground it started melting!”

So when the forecast was calling for snow from Thursday to Sunday, I knew we had to come up with a backup plan. The only automobiles that have snow tires in Israel are ambulances and firetrucks; buses and especially the average car certainly don’t qualify, which meant getting out of the neighborhood was most likely going to be out of the question, even if the forecast was wrong. Thank goodness I had the foresight (siyatta d’shamaya) to send the handyman to the supermarket on Tuesday for enough food for 50 people for three meals — which we ended up having to prepare ourselves. I even thought ahead to ask the cook to prepare enough kugels on Wednesday, with the plan to freeze them if we didn’t end up needing them.

Waking up on Thursday morning was like a dream. I woke up at around 6:30 and let Lucy outside, already appreciating the gorgeous undisturbed ground the snow was falling on. At 10 till 7, the first period teacher called me to say that he would be able to come in to teach if we were still having school. After getting a hold of the other first period teacher who also said she’d be able to come in, I decided we would open school so that the girls could eat breakfast and maybe have some class. The girls meandered in, excited about the snow, while I made hot chocolate. After first period, the rest of the classes were cancelled, and the girls busied themselves with snowball fights and snowman making contests.

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#whiteout

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and it was just the beginning…

We ran home to get Lucy and Simba, who really enjoyed playing in the snow! At first, Lucy was a little afraid, but warmed up to it a lot once she realized how much fun it was to dig and play.

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YAY! Snow!

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Lucy found a flower in the snow.

At this point, we knew that if the snow kept up (and even if it didn’t) it would be very unlikely that the girls would be able to go anywhere for Shabbos, so we told them to call their hosts and cancel their plans. We went home to rest for a few hours and then went back to school to start cooking.

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passed out after playing in the snow.

As the snow continued to fall, another staff member volunteered to make challah with the girls while Jonathan and I got started cooking. Thinking (in our naive American mentality) that people like the cleaner and the fix-it man would be able to get into school to straighten up, we didn’t think much about logistics as we went along with our business, making tray after tray of chicken, pots of rice, and green beans. We were making three meals for 50 girls at each meal, so we had our work cut out for us. We decided to make two giant pots of chicken soup (one for night and one for day), cholent, and lots of yummy sides. Satisfied with all we’d accomplished, we decided to call it a night and went home to rest for a day of work to follow. Meanwhile, the snow kept on falling.

Friday morning, I woke up to a phone call and a text message that the store wasn’t receiving any challah deliveries, and the challahs that the girls made the night before were sent home with them to the dorms for them to eat. This resulted in a lot of tears from me, frustration that we had no challah, flour, or eggs to make our own. I sent a text to all of our students and told them we needed them to save Shabbos, and a madricha pounded on the doors to get everyone out on a trip to the makolet, where they would pick up pitas, loaves of bread, and grape juice by the case to carry back (in a blizzard) so that we would have enough bread and grape juice. In a minute, went from crying tears of frustration and feeling like I would never be able to pull it together to crying tears of joy from how impressed I was from all of these girls. Within 20 minutes, the school was sparkly clean, the tables were set, and the food was put up on the hot plates. We went home in the falling snow to get ready for Shabbos, and the girls did the same.

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the calm before the blackout.

We got home just in time for our power to go out, along with all of the power along our street. We live on the same street as Baer Miriam, but miraculously, the school still had power that held over Shabbos, but we had no hot water, no heat, and no lights. We piled on the blankets and invited the dogs into bed with us, and somehow stayed warm at home, but definitely took refuge at school, where the heat was pumping and it was very comfortably warm.

Shabbos afternoon, the power came back and stayed back, unlike for many other people in Jerusalem. After Shabbos, we found venturing outside was dangerous and made us feel like we were in a third-world country – cars were abandoned in the middle of the road, the streets went unplowed, trees fell in the middle of the roads, and nothing was done about it for days. Our neighborhood is on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and doesn’t lead to any major highways or hospitals, making it the last on the list to get plowed (by the three snow plows owned by the country). That, and very few people own snow shovels, making clearing your car out (not that we have a car, but wishful thinking) or clearing the sidewalks next to impossible. The city brought in army tanks and policemen to clear the roads, plow the streets, and direct traffic.

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Even now, the majority of the trees on our street are still on the sidewalks, making walking very cumbersome, even a month after the storm.

Israelis are notoriously bad drivers, and that makes driving in the snow here a dangerous activity as well. Jonathan and I needed to go out a few days after the storm (cabin fever had started to set in), so we walked to the commercial neighborhood next to ours, where we set up a cell-phone plan for Yael, Jonathan’s sister. We hitched a ride on the way back with someone from our neighborhood, and spun out into the snowbank as we slid over black ice. Car rides that would have taken 5 minutes took close to 2 hours or more as more people began to venture outside, and the owner of the supermarket in our neighborhood took it upon himself to sleep in his store rather than have to commute from his home. The roads got so bad (and Israelis drive so recklessly) that the city had to close the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway after 8PM for a few evenings to prevent people from driving on the ice.

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The snowfall started on the 9th of Tevet and fell through the 10th of Tevet, which is a minor fast day for the Jewish nation. The 10th of Tevet was when the walls of Jerusalem were breached, and the siege of the city was complete. No longer could anything be imported or exported from within its walls. We fast on the 10th of Tevet to remember that it was the beginning of our exile. This year, on the 10th of Tevet, we were also under siege. Nothing could come into Jerusalem, and nothing could leave. Nothing could even come to the makolets, and we didn’t even have heat or light in our homes, except for our Shabbos candles. It would take days for things to return to normal — cell phone towers were running interference for days, buses were suspended for almost a week, school was cancelled for 5 days, and we were confined to our little homes and neighborhoods within walking distance. For just a minute, we got an understanding of what it felt like to be under siege.

Where in snowfalls past, the snow would melt within a day or two of the storm, this snow held on for weeks, even as the sun beat down on it. Life slowly but surely started to get back to normal, the roads thawed during the day and re-iced over at night, and after a while, the normal routines resumed. But people (including the New York Times) continue to speak about the snowstorm of a century.

We’ll definitely remember it forever.

*(I just have to take this moment to give a shout-out to my amazing Husband and other half, Jonathan, who helped me hold it together during this very stressful and high-pressure time. I never would have been able to pull off the snow Shabbos, or the week of running a seminary, without his help, expertise, and everlasting love and support.)

 

Hello, 2014! You’re Looking Mighty Fine.

Hello, 2014! You’re Looking Mighty Fine.


Friends, Family, and Loved ones,

I am sorry for being so out of the loop — we’ve been going through a time of transition, and can’t wait to tell you all about it! Since I don’t know exactly where to start, I think I’ll start from the beginning…

All of you know that Jonathan and I spent the year in Israel last year, and at some point throughout that adventure, we decided we wanted to spend more time here. Like, move here. So we did. After months of bureaucracy, waiting for the Israeli Consulate to end their four-month long strike, and a photo finish to the plane (literally a photo finish: my visa came in on the Thursday before the flight left…on Monday), we made it to Israel.

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Fresh off the plane and only a little worse for wear. Our row had two toddlers in it for half the flight and then the row behind us inherited them..I’m not sure which was worse.

Somehow, we’ve been here for three months. I’m going to do my best to fill you in on what they’ve had in store for us. (Hint: it includes a puppy!)

For the past three months, we’ve been renting a small apartment in Har Nof, the same neighborhood we lived in last year – actually, right across the street from our old apartment. It’s quaint with “American” fixtures, meaning nicer ceramic tiles and crown molding, which aren’t considered standard by any means for rentals here in Israel. It’s not where we’re going to be long term, but it’s cute, comfortable, and we’ve made a semblance of a home here for the short while we’re here. We (finally!) found a long term apartment, across the next street, complete with a large porch and extra bedrooms we’re planning to move into in the middle of February. Until then, we’re using this apartment half as storage and half as living space — and missing a proper kitchen.

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This is it – in all it’s glory. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with?

We’d only been here about a month when someone mentioned to me that they saw a puppy on facebook that was found abandoned on the street. Since they weren’t allowed animals in their apartment, I went home and discussed (re: begged) with Jonathan about getting a dog, something we’d been wanting to do for a long time, but never felt settled down enough. He told me, “Go get him (at the time we thought she was a him) before I change my mind,” so off I went to Hebrew University, where I met the dog who would later be called Lucy, once we unwrapped the towel she was swaddled in and saw she was in fact…a she.

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She was as shocked as we were!

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Loving on some yogurt as big as her head…

Lucy was tiny, only 4 weeks old, malnourished, and covered in fleas. I ran to the store and bought some goat’s milk and a baby bottle, which I fed her by hand, and tried to feed her some scrambled eggs, which she didn’t have much interest in. She slept the entire night (I woke up a thousand times to check on her), and in the morning discovered yogurt, her all-time favorite food. After trips to the vet, vaccinations, and two months of TLC, she’s a little demon, alternating between snuggling and chewing on my shirt-sleeve to get my attention as I’m typing this right now. Oh wait, now she’s asleep.

case in point.

case in point.

We love having Lucy, but we definitely underestimated the amount of responsibility involved in adopting a 4 week old puppy. Let me spell it out for you: basically, puppies can hold their bladders for 1 hour for every month they are alive, plus one hour. That meant that little Lucy could go a whopping 2 hours between being taken outside to go to the bathroom, or she would pee wherever she was. So for about one month, we’d set alarms for every 2 hours to take her out in the middle of the night, and make sure we never left her alone for longer than that. Then, the 2 hour rule got expanded to 3 hours when Lucy got another month older, except for one week that she was sick and had no control over her muscles at all. Thank goodness we tricked her into thinking her antibiotics were treats. Now, Lucy is an energetic, healthy, three and a half month puppy who keeps our hands and hearts full, and guards our home with her surprisingly loud bark.

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guarding our home from invited and uninvited guests.

Other than Lucy and our house-guest as pictured above (Simba, courtesy of our friends S&B), we had another amazing surprise so far in Israel – SNOW! I’m going to save the details for another post about what it’s like to experience a blizzard in a country with no snow plows, but I couldn’t resist adding a sneak preview of what’s to come…

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and that was the first day…

So, now that I’ve told you about our living arrangement and our new addition, what else occupies our time? Work. Which we do a lot of.

I LOVE my job. I work at a seminary called Baer Miriam, where I serve as the eim bayit, or house mother. This role entails everything from kissing boo-boos to studying with the girls, leading seminars, and even teaching a class for college credit, which I will be doing next semester. The best part of it all: inheriting 40 or so 18 & 19-year old pseudo-daughters for the school year. The girls keep my life fun and busy, with plenty of drama to boot. As someone who was a bit of a drama queen in high school, I think it’s a perfect fit.

I also work for another company called Pearl & Clasp, a luxury jewelry company that specializes in custom pieces, necklace clasps, and pearl restringing, where I am the Social Media Manager; meaning, I do freelance writing for fashion blogs and business websites that make mention of the business, and manage the facebook, google+, and twitter accounts for the company. This job helps me itch my writing bug, which also makes me feel guilty for not writing here, something I hope to change.

As for Jonathan, he’s putting his degree to good use by cooking for a girls’ school in our neighborhood and is trying to start his own personal catering company, Jerusalem Catering. He’s also studying a half day and helps me with pretty much everything (my girls call him Mr. Carly), so we’re definitely keeping busy. We’re also writing a cookbook with 52 cholent (overnight Shabbos Day) recipes. I’ll keep you posted as we’re looking for people to test out recipes in kitchens other than our own.

I think that pretty much sums up the past three months in 1000 words. I’m going to try to update more regularly (I’m starting to sound like a broken record) to keep everyone included in our life overseas.

Happy New Year, everyone! Especially Mom, Dad, Mom Mom, and Becca, who I miss very, very much and hope to see soon, even though you’re turning my bedroom into a gym. And Chelsea – can’t forget her.

 

Yom HaZikaron – A Day to Remember


Today was a very bittersweet day. Living in Israel is a paradox. It’s a country where there is a huge sense of faith in Hashem, in G-d, but also many people that run away from their Jewish identities. It’s a country where every young boy goes to the army as soon as he is old enough, and fights to protect our country from the enemies that surround it. Today was Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance.

In America, Memorial Day means a lot to a select few. In Israel, today means a lot to everyone. There is no one who doesn’t know someone who fell, or at the very least, someone who knows someone who fell. Today, I heard a very moving story that I am going to try to remember here.

A Rosh Yeshiva survivor of World War II had a teacher at his school who had a son serving in the army that fell during the first Lebanon War. After the Levaya, the Rosh Yeshiva turned to the bochurim (yeshiva students) in the van taking him back to school and said, “He was Kadosh.” He was holy. One of the other students in the van turned to him and questioned, “Rebbi, even the non-religious soldiers?” Without hesitation he responded, “They were ALL kadosh.” Then, without explaining himself he asked the driver of the cab to take him directly to the house where his colleague was sitting shiva, mourning for his son.

His colleague was shocked at the arrival of the Rosh Yeshiva, who was never known for spending any extra time out of his Torah learning, and said to him, “Thank you for coming, but it is time for you to return to Yeshiva.”

His superior turned to him and relayed the following story:
“You don’t know this about me, but I had a son who was taken out of my arms and executed. He was five years old, and I was not able to do anything to save him. Later, I traded my five-year old son’s shoes for food, but I could never eat it. I gave it away to someone else. When my son was taken, I knew he was a tzadik (righteous) but he went singularly; he didn’t save anyone else in the process. Your son was also taken from you, but he did so saving the lives of all of the Jewish people that live in the Land of Israel, making him a tzadik in his own right. I know that in shamayim (heaven) right now, my son is welcoming your Shlomo to a heavenly minyan, where your son is the Shaliach Tzibur (the leader of the group) in heavenly prayer. I never got to sit shiva properly for my own son, so please let me sit here with you for a little while longer.”

The Rebbe (teacher) replied, “Rebbi (my teacher), I didn’t think it was possible to be comforted, but you just comforted me.”

Two sirens sound on Yom Hazikaron, one in the evening and one in the morning. The sirens evoke emotions that are larger than life, bringing in images of soldiers knocking loudly on doors to deliver news that no one wants to receive; wails of mothers burying their sons, and an intense silence falls over the country: the silence of laughter that will never be heard again; the silence of a wedding that will never occur and children and grandchildren that will never be born.

The director of my school said that while the national response to these sirens is to stand in a moment of silence, she doesn’t think that it’s a very Jewish response. She said that a much more Jewish response would be to stand up and to pray to G-d on behalf of the fallen soldiers, to say tehillim for their souls to help them elevate higher and higher; that our prayer should enable them to daven in their own heavenly minyan.

People often criticize the religious population in Israel for being unwilling and ungrateful to the soldiers of the land of Israel, but this powerful story shows that the opposite is true – we ALL owe our lives to them. We owe our safety to them. Our ability to daven at the Kotel to them. But we also owe it to Hashem, our Father in Heaven, who made it possible for them to strengthen this country to be able to defend itself from it’s foes. Without this understanding; without soldiers in the army and soldiers learning Torah, the Jewish state loses all of it’s Judaism – it becomes a secular state with a mainly Jewish population, the antithesis of anything Jewish. that is the essence of Yom Hazikaron, which always falls during a time of mourning for the Jewish people. It’s not a coincidence that the date is during sefira, the counting of the Omer, when we are challenged with working on our character traits specifically concerning “ben adam l’chavero,” between a man and his friend. During this time it is essential that we recognize the kedusha, the holiness, of each and every one of the soldiers defending Am Yisrael (the Jewish people), and also that we realize that ultimately, everything is in Hashem’s hands.

A Little Peace and Thanksgiving


Baruch Hashem, it’s been quiet here for the past week. We all had a few mixed feelings when the cease fire was announced last week, because we partially wanted Israel to just go in and finish the job they started, but thankful that we wouldn’t hear the wail of the siren in the coming days.

We were unhappy for several reasons. First of all, Hamas learned some lessons during this war that are not beneficial to Israel. Primarily, they learned that they can fire over 1500 rockets into Israel in an 8 day period and not get so much as a potch (smack) on the wrist. They also learned that Egypt (see below: the real winner of the “war”) and the United States will push for a cease fire and try to get Israel to not ‘invade’ by foot. (I put the word invade in parenthesis because can a country ‘invade’ a part of their own borders? Would the U.S. be ‘invading’ Puerto Rico? Arizona? Just something to think about.)

Egypt really won this war because the world recognized their leader (an open member of the Muslim Brotherhood) as a vital contribution to the “peace” process between Israelis and Palestinians. No surprise that less than a week later, he declared himself a dictator by saying that none of the courts can contradict any decision that he makes as leader.

As for the amount of quiet we’ve had, there’s still some unrest along the Gaza/Sinai border, and not all of the soldiers that were called up from the army have gone home. Most recently, there was some distress on the Gaza/Israel border (see above comment for why I sigh/roll my eyes while I write this) and Israeli soldiers were needed to calm down the situation. We haven’t had a siren in Jerusalem, and I don’t think there have been sirens in the south since the day after the cease fire either.

Even throughout the whole ordeal, we weren’t fearful. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t afraid, but we weren’t full of fear. A friend of mine, who I’ll tell you about in a second, almost found herself outside during the second siren, because she had to go to the butcher. Once the siren was over, she ran out, and while she was waiting for the butcher to ring up her food, she let out a sigh, almost as if she’d been holding her breath the whole way there, afraid there would be another siren. The butcher (a Chassidic man), told her it’s okay to be scared. He said, “You can be scared because it’s scary. But to be paralyzed in fear is not good. To not do things because of the fear is bad.” In other words, being paralyzed because of fear makes you think that you are in control. To be aware but unparalyzed is to see that you are most certainly not.

We’re coming to visit America next week for two weeks, and my mom asked me if we’d had a conversation about not going back because of the war. I told her no. She asked if we would be having that conversation — and I told her it wasn’t in our radar. That it was a conversation that would not happen.

There is a clarity that comes from being in a time of crisis. Over the past week, we were scared, but we still felt safe. We’d have to be idiots to not feel safe after seeing all of the miracles that happened all over Israel. To say that over 1500 rockets fell in and around highly populated cities all over a country that’s the size of New Jersey and only six people died is miraculous. A bus blew up in Tel Aviv and only injured some of the people on board. That rockets aimed at the holy city of Jerusalem landed in Arab territory; there’s no other way to understand it. The army might say it’s because of the Iron Dome, that they are strong, and able, but we know that it’s because there’s a greater “Iron Dome” out there, looking out for all of us. We have to hold on to this clarity.

These are all things to be thankful for. Since Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Israel (not even in Har Nof, which is made up of A LOT of Americans!), our group of friends from Philadelphia decided to get together for a Shabbaton and eat Thanksgiving-themed food. Everyone made a dish or two, and it was a lot of fun. Jonathan and I made the turkey and gravy, and others contributed stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and onions, butternut squash soup, and salad. For dessert, we had our choice of either lemon meringue pie, pecan pie, pumpkin bread pudding with a dulce de leche sauce, or chocolate chip cookies. To say that we were full at the end of Shabbos would be the biggest understatement of the year, probably.

Throughout the whole experience, all I could think about is how grateful I am that all of our best friends got the opportunity to come to Israel at the same time, and that we’re all quite literally in this together. Just to give you a little bit of background: In college, I met two girls who very quickly became my best friends. They are now here, in Israel, with us. One of those girls, Hannah, is married to a guy that I grew up with, from kindergarten through college. Obviously, he’s here too and he is one of Jonathan’s best friends. Another one of our very good friends from college is here also, along with one more couple. And we all went to college together. Now, we’re all in seminary together. Quite literally, Hashem gave us this incredible support system in college as we were becoming more observant together, and continued to give us this support system through getting married (for some of us, and for others, soon!), and now, going to Israel.

So when we want to go to the supermarket and have to take those four buses to do so (and to share a cab home!), there’s someone to do it with. When we want to go shopping for a skirt, or for gifts for family and friends, there’s someone there. Need to vent? Not a problem. Missed a class? Here’s the notes. And all coming together for a meal that we all had a part in was a beautiful materialization of that reality. And it was a lot of fun.

We missed our family and friends in America, but we’re lucky to have a kind of Philadelphia, mismatched, quirky, and fun family here. And a lot of things to be thankful to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for.

Update from Israel


We weren’t here when the sirens wailed on Shabbos. We, with my seminary, went away to Moshav Matityahu, a mostly American closed community somewhat like a kibbutz, but without the communist ideology and specialized industry.

My best friends were here, though. And they heard the siren for the first time. Jerusalem heard it for the first time since the Gulf War, and many people didn’t know what to do. Was it a mess up? The Shabbos siren had just wailed fifteen minutes previous to announce the start of the holiday. Where should they go? How long to stay?

Lessons learned quickly in times of war.

But it’s strange, because in Jerusalem, at least where we live in Har Nof, it doesn’t really feel like a war. We’re closed, in our small neighborhood, we have buses that are safe, and we don’t hear the wail of sirens every few minutes like they do in the South. We think constantly about Jonathan’s aunts and uncles and cousins who were called into the army, who are mobilizing on the border of Gaza waiting for further commands. We cried when we heard about the three people who died in Kiryat Malachi, we say tehillim (psalms) and daven every day for the safety of the Jewish people in Israel, and all over the world.

On Shabbos, Jerusalem got a tiny nibble of what it must feel like for citizens closer to the “danger areas.” We unlocked our Miklat (bomb shelter), made sure we knew what to do, and discussed what we would do if we weren’t together at a time when the siren started to wail.

Over the past few days, I’ve thought about a lot, but mostly — what is it like to be at war with a country that doesn’t exist? What is it like to be at war with a group of people that don’t believe that you have a right to exist? With a people that have so little regard for the sanctity of life, even of their own people, that they haphazardly aim missiles at crowded cities and celebrate when they hit the fields of people who share their culture? The answer is, it’s terrifying. Much more for Jonathan’s family and the Israelis and Arabs (and Bedouins) that live in the South; for the people that have less than 30 seconds to get themselves into a bomb shelter before they hear the boom, and usually have to stay there all night.

But, we have the best army in the world, and one video can illustrate that fact to the utmost. In this video, which was shot today – Israel bombs (from an airplane) a rocket launch center located next to a mosque, and hits it with surgical precision. You can see the shrapnel flying from the rockets, the black smoke caused by the detonation of the explosives, and the mosque – which remains unharmed. Would any other army in the world even bother with this kind of precision?

We’re safe — I’m going to update as much as I can to keep everyone informed, but really, our lives haven’t changed much. We’re staying low, keeping out of crowded areas (not for fear of rockets, but for fear of demonstrations), and avoiding buses that go through Arab neighborhoods, which are most likely to be stoned. Please keep Israel in your prayers.

As usual, here’s some food for thought.

Spare Us the Pieties on Gaza

Say what you want about Dennis Prager – his politics, his beliefs; he hit the nail right on the head with this one.

Media Bias


In a blog update last year, I mentioned the unfortunate tendency that media outlets have to sensationalize political situations surrounding Israel, as well as their consistency in creating “media-hype” that victimizes Palestinians while making Israel seem like the bad guy. The blog I wrote was about what ended up being an isolated incident where an Egyptian was referred to as “Superman” several times in an article because he scaled the Israeli embassy in his country, removed the flag, and threw it to the ground in flames, giving him a new superhero name, “Flagman.”

For the past few weeks, Israel has been experiencing a tirade of rockets parading down on it’s southern cities, including Beer Sheva, where a lot of Jonathan’s family lives, killing three people this morning. For the first time since 1991, sirens wailed in Tel Aviv as rockets threatened the huge metropolis. This has prompted Israel to launch a military response, to assassinate Hamas’ largest military leader, Ahmed Jabari (who commanded the operation to capture Gilad Shalit), and to deal with a lot of unwarranted media bias from the world news.

Israel has been targeting only the areas where Hamas manufactures its weapons, the people who manufacture them, and the tunnels through which they are smuggled from Egypt. They drop pamphlets before they attack, send mass warnings to civilians of Gaza, who are trapped under Hamas’ rule, an internationally recognized terrorist organization that currently rules Gaza. They choose to build their military facilities next to and/or IN elementary schools, hospitals, libraries, mosques, and other civilian buildings.

A sample of the pamphlet the IDF drops in Gaza before every military operative.

Hamas claims that Israel cages them, puts them inside large fences, prevents them from traveling to their holy cites, withholds necessities that they need to survive, and fails to provide them with equal representation in the government. Let me clarify a few of these misconceptions:

  1. Israel left Gaza in 2005 — removing ALL citizens (it is actually illegal for an Israeli citizen to enter Gaza) — in the name of peace. Our reward: rocket fire from Gaza into Israel — over 850 in 2012 alone!
  2. Israel still provides electricity to Gaza (paid for by Israeli citizens/taxes as opposed to — you know — the people who USE it!)
  3. There are (thank G-d) far fewer Israeli casualties than Gazan casualties for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which are: a) we build bomb shelters and USE them, b) we cancel school and non-essential work in the name of protecting our citizens, c) Hamas uses dense population centers from which to launch attacks, thus using their own citizens as shields.
  4. Multiple Israeli rescue and/or philanthropic organizations consistently send aid (in many forms) to global locations struck by natural or man-made catastrophes. Now compare this to the reaction of the Palestinians on/after 9/11 (the streets of Ramallah and Gaza were filled with people celebrating the attack on the “Great Satan” — or have you already forgotten?).
  5. Israelis are prevented from traveling to and living in many of our holy cites, such as Hevron, where the tomb of the forefathers and foremothers is — it’s only open at certain times of the year, and even then, it’s dangerous to go to.
  6. Israel has agreed to countless numbers of “peace talks,” has given back land that more than equals the size of the small country, and has withdrawn military presence countless times for the sake of peace with a country that REFUSES to recognize Israel as a country, let alone recognize that the country has a RIGHT to exist. Here’s a visual:

This was the proposed U.N. Partition plan. Israel would have received an indefensible portion of land that was mostly desert and swampland, with very little access to water and other resources. They agreed to the plan. The Palestinians said no, and 7 Arab countries attacked Israel on the day of it’s Independence. With no mobilized army (the majority of the Army consisted of Holocaust survivors – remember, this was 1948), no budget for weapons, and no machinery, Israel miraculously won the war.

Following the 1967 War, where Israel captured Sinai, these are the concessions of land Israel made for peace, most recently with the disengagement from Gaza in 2005.

People who like to criticize Israel throw around words such as “occupation,” “apartheid,” and urge universities and companies alike to boycott, divest, and sanction thousands of products because they (or a fraction of the product) were made in Israel, by Israeli companies, or Israeli people. Before you get sucked into the hype of BSd, check out this video.

When I taught Hebrew school, many of my students were confused about why Israel would attack their neighbors in Gaza in 2008, and since they got most of their information from the news, they were very influenced by the media bias I want to encourage all of you to avoid. They didn’t understand the damage a few rockets could do. Surely they aren’t made out of sophisticated materials! Surely, they can’t do much damage! Obviously, Israel’s expensive military machines can cause much more, and they do, right?! So I put it in terms I think they could understand.

A brother and sister are on a car ride, stuck in the same place for a very long period of time. The brother starts to play a game my sister LOVED – poke with your finger. On the arm, and he continues to poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, and poke. This goes on for hours, and it starts to hurt. After a little while, the area becomes red, then redder, then redder, and swollen, and more sore. After a few more hours, there’s a bruise starting to appear, and the sister just can’t take it anymore. How does she respond? Does she simply “poke” back? No – she slaps him across the face – the only thing that can get him to stop. If that doesn’t work, she has to try something else, and may even result to kicking him out of the car. This is Israel’s position, except the rockets launched from Gaza, while unsophisticated, HURT. They do damage. They break buildings, burn down cars, and kill people.

Here is a list recommended reading and watching. I urge you to heed the advice of Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesperson, and be careful about where you get your information.

As for us, we’re safe in Jerusalem.

Recommended Reading:

One thing I agree with Eric Yoffe About:
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/a-call-to-u-s-progressive-jews-support-israel-s-get-tough-policy-in-gaza.premium-1.478056

www.ynetnews.com

www.haaretz.com

www.jpost.com

 

Hope and Change


We’re living in scary times. Living in Israel, it feels sometimes scarier than when we were in the United States — feels like all eyes of the nations are on us, waiting for what may or may not be a war.

When a drone entered Israeli airspace last week, there was very little public media surrounding it. As one of my friends posted on her facebook status:

I used to love talking about politics. Even today, give me a topic: let me talk about social welfare, the media’s sway over public opinion, the economy; chances are I probably have an opinion. And I could talk your ear off. But ask me about today’s leaders or current international relations and I’ll probably shy away from sharing ANY sort of opinion I have. And that’s because I’m quite honestly fed up.

There has been a video circulating around the internet for a few weeks which has gotten over 2 million views on youtube and has been featured in many other news articles, and I think it speaks for itself.  If you have time, I highly recommend sitting through this 19 minute video, where politicians from across party lines speak about some of their concerns with the Obama administration.

I can identify with this woman. Like her, I was also inspired by Obama’s message of hope and change, and I was excited to see him implement the new economic plan he outlined during his campaign, felt optimistic about socializing health care, and thought that he would bring the walk to follow the talk once he was in office. This is why I attended rallies and proudly cast my ballot for Barack Obama in the 2008 primary and presidential election. In hindsight, I feel duped.

Many might accuse me of being a one-issue voter because Israel is so high on my list of voting priorities, but I need to set this misconception straight.

Supporting Israel is not ONE issue. It’s MANY issues. It has to do with posterity, the preservation of democracy in the Middle East and around the world, and making sure that America has an ally in the region. It has to do with preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, something that is in everyone’s best interest, and something that this current president has on his priority level BELOW getting re-elected. The time bomb is ticking (pun intended), and Israel is not the only country that’s on the hit list.

To illustrate this point even further, the day after the Benghazi and Cairo attacks, Obama went to a political fundraiser in Las Vegas and was in a jolly mood, not choosing to mention the fallen diplomats or their security team that were brutally murdered. In response to what many countries would interpret as an act of war, Obama apologized for a defamatory video that was later proven to have zero connection to the attacks in the first place, and still can’t give a solid explanation about the attacks, including whether the administration had any previous knowledge of it, or present a plan of action for the future to the families who lost their loved ones in the terrorist attack, let alone to the country.

Just to be clear: I am not only voting based on fears about Israel. Our economy has not improved at all since Obama took office; we are are more in debt as a nation than we were when he was elected. My generation is facing the worst consequences to this current financial situation, and under the Obama administration, thanks to Obamacare taxes are going to increase for everyone, not just the “1%.”

Voting democratic to support a woman’s right to choose is noble, but a republican president won’t have much success even if he vows to overturn Roe v. Wade. They don’t get overturned by veto or by chance — and no president can just snap his (or her) fingers to remove such long-standing freedoms. Voting based solely on such an issue, my friends, would make you the one issue voter.

Obama fooled me once — and as the old adage goes — fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. That’s why when my absentee ballot comes in this week, I’m going to be doing something I never envisioned myself doing. Something that, if you told me five years ago I’d be doing today, I would have never believed you.

I’m voting republican. I’m voting Romney.