Thursday, June 29, 2006


New Post

Yesterday, I got to play tour guide to a 42 year old Jewish woman who had never been to Israel before. We met at the central bus station and walked down Yaffo Street. We stopped at the Ben Yehudah shuk, walked through the Ben Yehudah mall (Midrachov) and detoured about 45 minutes for a doctor's appointment I had. I think the lure of air conditioning closed the deal for her.

Then we continued down Yaffo Street.

The first time I had ever been to the Kotel (Western Wall), was the summer of '86. I was visiting my aunt and uncle and cousins. Sad to say, I don't remember it. I don't remember what kind of impact seeing the holy site for the first time illicited in me. If we walked through the Old City or not...

I do know that when I go to the Kotel, I prefer to walk in from the center of town. It puts things into perspective... of the massive history or the place. Of what it means to millions of people. That by the simple act of walking to the Kotel, I am following in the footsteps of my ancestors.

We walked through Jaffa Gate, up around the Tower of David and through the outskirts of the Armenian Quarter to the Jewish Quarter. We passed the Hurva Synagogue, which is being restored and headed down the steps to the Kotel itself.

We paused at the top of the steps to take in the site. The South Wall excavations, the site of the Western Wall, with the mosques rising in the background, the people heading to pray. And then we went down to join them.

Whenever I go to the Kotel, my first order of business is to thank God for keeping my family safe. Yes, I realize one does not need to be at the Kotel in order to do this, and I realize that I thank God rather often during the regular week, while at home. But there is something about the Kotel that... I don't know. Maybe it's the fact that there are other people there praying and crying. And I don't feel strange joining them. I said a prayer for the two kidnapped boys, and I asked God to give me strength. Then I sat and people-watched as my friend said her own prayers and experienced the Kotel for the very first time.

I was honored that my friend (who until 2 p.m. that very day I had never actually met) allowed me to share her first experience at the Kotel. And I won't insult or embarrass her by saying anything about her own experience. That is for her to tell.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I JUst Want To Go Hooooooooome

Sunday, August 13, 2000

There are two big deal fasts in Judaism. Yom Kippur in September is of course the most widely known and then in August is Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av, Av being a month in the Jewish calendar).

Yom Kippur is when we stand already judged by God, ready to receive whatever punishment and/or reward He has deemed fit for us. It is a sundown to sundown fast, basically 25 hours of no food or water, standing for the most part in prayer for the better part of the day.

Tisha B'Av is when the Jews commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples. It is also a 25 hour fast, but for most of us, it just another day of work. Like me. Last year, I got lucky and I managed to get off from work. So the night the fast started, I stayed up until 5 a.m., went to bed and woke up at around 1 p.m. Most of the day had gone, the fast was over at around 8 p.m. and I stayed in bed.

This year I wasn't so lucky. I had arranged to work only half the day though. I'd take the 12:30 bus that first goes to where my ex lives and where the kids were that day (we'll call this place S) and then the bus goes to where I live (ML). 12:30 bus. The guy who told me about it didn't realize that in the summer there WAS no 12:30 bus. I called my ex and arranged to have a neighbor of mine pick up my kids. I would take the 3:30 bus I had been told about.

So I went back to work, it was only a 5 minute walk from the bus stop (ok, it's ALL uphill). At 3 I left and meandered down to the bus stop. Mind you, I hadn't had so much as a sip of water since 7 p.m. the night before. The bus pulls in at 3:15 and the driver tells me that he doesn't go to ML, it goes to E and I'd have to call ML and arrange a shuttle. It being a fast day, I wasn't going to count on the shuttle working and I figured by the time I got to E, called the shuttle and have it pick me up, I could be home if I took the 4:30 bus (which I KNEW ran because I took it regularly).

So I thanked the driver and sat at the bus stop for an hour.

Three other people and myself get on the 4:30 bus that will take us all home.

Or so we think.

Halfway to the halfway point (25 minutes into the ride) the Bus. Breaks. Down.

The bus company didn't want to send a new bus for just four people. Said that there was a bus leaving Jerusalem at 5:45 that would take us where we needed to go. So we flagged down a passing van and hitched to the halfwaypoint (O). An hour and a half later (and still fasting) the 5:45 bus out of Jerusalem showed up at O. The only shinning point of the whole thing was the driver didn't make me pay another fare. I showed him the receipt from the broken down bus and was ready to cry if need be. But he waved me on.

I unlocked my front door at 6:45. I had been trying to get home since 12:30. And I broke my fast with friends at 8 p.m.

How Do I Explain?

Friday, August 11, 2000

Something happened last night just struck something in me.

I happened to have been talking about the situation here with 2 friends in a Werewolf roleplay channel I play in yesterday morning. Once again, talk turned to solutions. This time, the conversationalists were a bit, if not more intelligent at least they spoke and asked intelligently. I told them that living in the middle of it all, without the media's skewed spin on things, no matter what the descission is, there will be a war.

After finally getting home (I had tried for 6 hours, see next entry), my kids and I went to a neighbor's house and hung out till 11 pm when the kids finally said they wanted to go to sleep. We walked home, living on a settlement of 100 families no one lives far from another and we passed concrete U shaped blocks that had been set up on an outlook of the settlement. Fresh sandbags had been piled on top.

We're in the middle of the worst drought in 80 years. These weren't set out to stop floodwaters. Also, the settlement is perched on top of one of the higher hills in the area and we'd be in big trouble if the valley flooded that much that WE'D need sandbags.

No, this wasn't to fight Mother Nature. This was to fight out enemies.

And my daughter, the almost 8 year old, asked as we passed these by what they were.

How do I explain to a child what fortified trenches are, and why we need them without instilling in her a blind hatred, a general hatred rather, of an entire people?

So I told here that there were some Arabs who might want to start fighting with us and these places were so that our soldiers can stand with guns and make sure the Arabs don't come.

The settlement sent out memos to the residents that we should stock up on bottled water, tanks of propane, food and perscription medication. It's sad that I know exactly where my gas mask is...

A Prayer

Sunday, December 31, 2000

Prayer of the Jewish Soldier

Lord of the Universe
We, the soldiers of the people of Israel
Come to You in humility
And pray for your help

Once more, we are asked to defend our
People and
The Holy Land against our enemies

We ask You to have mercy on us and
Help us watch over our people
With clean hands
And with a heart filled with mercy

Let our people have the strength to
Stay in good spirits
And live in unity and
Walk in Your ways
The ways of Justice and Truth

Let us not make mistakes
And hurt those who are not guilty
Who do not understand
And have no part in this conflict

Let our bullets not hurt those children of our enemies
Whose parents place them deliberately in dangerous spots,
Fire on us
And then shield themselves
Behind their own offspring against
Our forces so as to fault us when their children
Get hurt or even killed

Remove the evil spirit of these parents
And make them realize the wickedness of their actions
Stop their teachers from manipulating their students
With hate for us in their schoolbooks
On the radio, television and

O God,
You know what one of our Prime Ministers once said:
"We may forgive our enemies one day
For hurting and killing our children
We cannot forgive them for having made our children
Into those who needed to kill"
We beg You, do not let our Jewish souls have to undergo
This ordeal which we cannot bear

We are the children of Avraham, your servant, who
Prayed for the evil people of Sedom with the hope that
They should repent and live a decent life

So, we beg you
Make our enemies repent
Force them to understand that
We are good people
Who wish to live in peace with
All our neighbors

O Lord,
Remove from their thoughts atrocities such as those
In which they dip their hands
In our blood
As Jews, we
Cannot fathom
Doing this even against our worst enemies

You commanded us to live in a country which
Is little more
Than a tiny island
Our population is smaller than that of
Many single cities

You asked us to live there so as to send
Your holy Word to all the corners of the world
We are surrounded by many nations who
Embody more than a hundred million people
They inhabit one of the largest regions of the world
But deny us the right to live in even the smallest corner of the world
They do not want to listen
And only wish our death

Give the Arab nations
Who are men of justice and who really
Care for their people
And do not wish to bring their own brothers to despair
And unbearable pain
With the intention
To accuse us
Of grave injustice

After thousands of years of our dwelling
On this globe and after many exiles, tortures, pogroms,
Expulsions and Holocausts
We finally found our way back to our
Small homeland
Which You promised to our forefathers

But once more our dreams of peace
Have gone up in smoke
While we were trying, at the risk of our own lives,
To find a way to
Allow our Palestinian neighbors to
Live their own lives
While we were prepared to make sacrifices
For the welfare of these people
As no other people ever did
While we offered them land, peace, finances
And even firearms so as to defend themselves
We once more pay the price for being a people
Who believe in the honesty of another nation and its leaders
And once more we feel misled

Oh Lord, remove the evil intentions of the
Security Council which distorts the truth
Remove the deliberate lies
From the hearts of those who head the

Why do they want to portray us
As an evil people?
They do so
To deny Your existence and Your moral
They hide behind their own wickedness
And cover up theirs and their fathers'
Immoral acts which they brought on us
And our forefathers for thousands
Of years

O, God You know
No army in world history has used so much restraint
As ours.
No army is so careful not to hurt or kill
As ours
But what shall we do when they are not even prepared
To give us the option
To prove this to the world?

Please God,
Bring peace into the hearts and minds
Of our enemies
Let them be uplifted with a spirit of righteousness
Stop them from hating us because we are Your people
Let us sanctify Your name as this is our
Mission and our dream
Give us the possibility once more to teach
Your ways to the peoples
Of the world
And make them hear and

We hate war as nobody else does,
We abhor the need to wear weapons
We cannot stand the sound of our own artillery
And our tanks

We are the people of the Book
The Book which demands holiness,
And integrity
Our heroes are not the generals or the marshals
But our prophets and our sages
Men of righteousness

So, deliver us from this anguish
Bring peace to the nations
Let us not be forced to use our strength against them
For they will have no escape
Let the blessing which you gave to Avraham come true,
"And through you all the families of the earth will be blessed"
For this is our hope

Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The usual suspects

Tuesday, December 19, 2000

I realized I'd been in Israel too long while on a recent trip back to NY.

I'm standing at the back of the city bus by the door as the bus pulls into my stop. And I stand there like an idiot for a few seconds.

I'm about to call out "Nahag!" (Hebrew for 'driver'), to get his attention so he'll open the door for me when I remember that in NYC, you have to work to get off the bus. You have to press the yellow tape to open the door. In Israel the bus driver operates all the doors.

I finally managed to find my way off the bus laughing.

Another thing that made me realize I'd been here too long was my surprise upon entering a mall in NY and not being stopped by a guard so he can fondle my bag, swish the contents around with a ruler or pen and otherwise pass this Star-Trekkie type device over the bag looking for a bomb.

This morning, we were met with yet another facet of Israeli life...the "suspicious package".

8 times out of 10, someone running after a bus or trying to catch a ride will forget the day's shopping or laundry and since no one is stupid enough to go through it (because times 9 and 10 are bombs) the Army Bomb Squad is called in.

Traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, is stopped in all directions. Now once the bomb squad arrives, it should take no more than 15 minutes to clear the package. You've got the guy in head-to-toe flak jacket controling the little robot with video camera...

It usually takes longer than 15 minutes because the bomb squad guy usually has to stop because there's some oblivious moron walking through the cleared area...Either he's lost in his own world and doesn't notice the dozens of people milling about and the stopped traffic, or she thinks she's invincible and won't get blown up.

Personally, I think those people should be given a ticket for hundreds of shekels....

Anyway..this morning we passed French Hill just before they closed the streets. I think somone for got their laundry at the hitch-hicking station.

Sunrise Observations

From Sunday, December 12, 2000

5:45 a.m. and I'm at the bus stop at the settlement's entrance. At the gate and guardhouse 6 a.m. means duty change.

The Sun hasn't risen and I wish I hadn't either. The guards seem a bit punchy at this point and they've got the radio playing. Since there's no other sound anywhere close by, whispers seem noisey. The guards are singing loudly and terribly off key and every time one of their voices' crack I look up from the book I'm reading by lamplight and chuckle.

At 5:55 a.m. a pair of soldiers come walking down from their barracks, helmets swinging in hand, M-16 slung across their back and wearing a flak jacket. When they reach the guardhouse, the night boys step out, unload their own machine guns and aim their weapons to the lightening sky. Instead of singing I hear the click-click-click of someone pulling the trigger of an unloaded weapon.

The two weary boys trudge uphill and pass me on the way to their beds. I wish I were in my own bed.

Eventually someone stops and I get in, and I'm on my way to Jerusalem. We drive down the hill where the settlement tops.

Did you know that when a tire burns, the remains look like black licorice ropes? They leave a stain on the asphalt.

A few days before, IDF soldiers bulldozed an olive grove that Arabs were sniping from. The trees lay broken and dying on the edges. I felt sorry for the trees. Not for the Arabs' loss of income.

A lot of Arab houses are enclosed with a high wall and gate. Today, one of those houses had it's wall and gate torn down. It sits right on the road and they were probably sniping from there since they didn't have tree-cover anymore.



I'm moving blogs. What's coming are post-dated from the original blog. Original posting dates will be put on.

This blog isn't so much about me personally - about my daily life per se, or about my background.

It's about where I live, what I see and my opinions about the craziness that goes on around me. Which I suppose is shaped in part of how I was raised.