Friday, October 31, 2008

Sunset on the Mediterranean

By the sea... I had a meeting in Tel Aviv last night, and as I usually do, I went early so I could take a walk by the sea, refreshing both my feet and and my mind. It was lovely, even when a sudden rain surprised us after sunset.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


As I have reflected on the events of this past week, a couple of things stand out in my mind. The night of the terrible destruction at the Federman Farm, the media picked up and highlighted an anguished cry from a by-stander, who basically cursed the IDF. It has been the topic of discussion, anger and accusation by all levels of the government. Everyone has been focused on this unfortunate statement, and no one noticed that the government violently destroyed the homes of two Jewish families, without warning and without an iota of concern. I don't know if the by-stander was simply overcome with emotion as this heinous crime was being carried out, or if he was a planted provocateur. Either is a possibility.

But my thoughts were really turned to the IDF and their role in this....I wondered how and why they were involved at all.....and because I know these soldiers in Hebron, I was quite perplexed that they would be party to this terrible happening.

Midweek I found my answer....the young soldiers were lied to and tricked so that they would protect the destruction....they were told that a terrorist had been spotted and no one was allowed to enter the Farm....including journalists (who would of course report what was going on.) On Wednesday the Army admitted they had tricked the soldiers because they were asking them to do something immoral and illegal and they knew the soldiers may refuse the orders. Many of these soldiers were very dismayed and one young man in particular was devastated to learn he had been a part of such a travesty.

I go back to my earlier post, that our young men are tender. The Army knew they wouldn't violate their charge as soldiers to protect our citizens, so they were tricked into protecting the yassam police, who apparently have no conscience, while they (the yassamniks) did the evil deed.

In the end, the attempt to brainwash our young people and eradicate this gentle compassion will backfire on those who are so determined to do so. Our compassion is a part of who we are as a people, and though it has been misplaced by this generation of leaders, it is bright and shining in our young people .... and this gives me great hope for our future.

(See TodayinIsrael for more on this subject)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Destruction of the Federman Farm

Sometimes things happen in Israel that bring great anguish and anger. It can be a pigua (terrorist attack) or some other tragedy. We are such a small country and we are so interconnected with one another that when something happens to one family or individual, it is if it happened to the rest of of us. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true if that tragedy happens to Jews in Judea and Samaria...and more and more lately, so many tragedies are perpetrated by our own government against our own people.

The media has done such a successful job of demonizing the settlers who are our pioneers that often other Israelis are either unaware of the event because the media neglected to even cover the story, or they cover it with such hatred and bias towards the settlers that the general population is left confused. Confused and feeling guilty. Confused because they see the travesty done to these families yet they are told not to care. Feeling guilty because they know in their own hearts that these brave pioneers are the backbone of this country, the courageous ones, and they (the general population) have done nothing to protest.

Saturday night, Oct.25, after Shabbat, at 1 am., our Defense Minister (who is supposed to be defending us against our enemies) ordered an unannounced middle of the night raid to destroy two of the homes of it's own citizens, tearing terrified young children from their beds, and taking a year old baby away from her mother. Unbelievably, children were beaten and even arrested and the homes and all the belongings of 2 families were totally obliterated.

Why? Because Jews dared to settle their own Land. What happened that night was a statement by a departing prime minister that even though he personally is fading from view, lovers of Eretz Israel need to take notice... they (we) won't be tolerated. (Please visit my parallel site Today in Israel, where I discuss this and other events more fully)

We went to the Federman Farm in Kiryat Arba where this tragedy occurred. Their story is almost beyond description. Because the homes and belongings of the Federmans (9 children) and Tors (4 children) were completely destroyed we brought a truckload of food, clothing, furniture, household and personal items they no longer have. It will be a beginning of rebuilding, but as we all know, there are so many personal things that can never be replaced. We went as a team to show support, solidarity, and bring chizuk (to strengthen). As always in these situations, we were the ones who left strengthened and amazed because of the extraordinary emunah (faith) of these remarkable people.

More on this later...........

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Uneasy Silence

There was a silence in the City this morning...broken early enough in my neighborhood by the familiar sound of the police bullhorn as they stopped pedestrian and vehicular traffic so that expert sappers could examine, and perhaps detonate, the suspicious object in the bushes near the coffee shop. B'H, there was no danger, and traffic soon resumed. Yet, as I ascended the hills of Jerusalem to reflect on the days ahead and inquire of Heaven, there remained an unusual silence permeating the air. What was it? Were we just weary after 3 weeks of chagim (holidays) and somewhat sober about settling into our normal routine again? Were we a bit in awe of G-d because a day after the prayers for rain, (on Shmini Atzeret) our skies today were cloudy and gray? Had He indeed heard and heeded our prayers?

While all these things were possible, the silence was an uneasy one, as if we were waiting for something...but it was something that didn't feel good.

By early afternoon I knew why....In the Jerusalem suburb that I can see so clearly when I look out over the western hills, at almost exactly the time I was feeling this uneasiness, an arab terrorist attacked police and murdered an 86 year old man on a street in Gilo. In the hills where my ancestors lit rosh chodesh fires and camped for the chagim, and where my neighbors and friends live today in a return to our Land, a palestinian arab in his 20's re-enacted the ancient jealousy and hatred against Am Yisrael (the people of Israel), and carried out this evil act. A young mizrachi Jew (Yoav Mizrachi) pursued and subdued the killer after police shot the terrorist in the stomach. The koach (strength) and courage of the young Jew must be viewed as a shining light against the depravity of the other.

Last Motzei Shabbat

His name is M. and he is a young Israeli artist. As he sat in my living room describing his feelings about the art that he creates and why, I was touched by the earnestness of this young man. I was reminded of another young man, who after my home was robbed, and my life fell apart on several other fronts, took my hands in his, looked into my heart and tenderly said "God .....He test you" . And I remembered another whose tenderness and love for wheelchair bound individuals outshines anything I have seen. I thought of the young Israeli soldiers that I know and how many times I have witnessed their compassion towards those they protect and those they inspect.

It is one of the great strengths of Israel that her young men are tender. Someday this will be recognized by the rest of the world and they, the nations, will be "startled" at what they have missed. ...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Journal portion written June 25, the day of the dedication of the "String Bridge" as it is called - at the entrance to Jerusalem. Suspended in air, it's modernistic appearance seems out of place - an unbefitting symbol for the entrance to this unparalleled City, even a bit superfluous and pompous. But that's neither here nor there... My mountain top experience put things in perspective.

I was not thrilled with this monstrosity at the gateway to kind of looked like an accident waiting to fact, there have been some engineering issues with it already. I can see it from my window....or at least part of it, sticking up above the buildings and totally out of place in the Jerusalem landscape. At night there is a flashing white beacon at the top, presumably to alert low flying aircraft. Ahh. modernizing this ancient city is quite the task, and everyone wants input. Interestingly, now, months later, it is beginning to look like a familiar landmark - but one that highlights the struggle between imposed modernity and the unique character of Yerushalayim.

That night however, I was out walking in the hills, overlooking the City at night as I love to do. I was depressed and tearful about matters unrelated to the bridge and had actually forgotten about the dedication. Yet, even from my place in the hills, one could feel the festivity. There were fireworks, songs and speeches and it was that kind of warm Jerusalem night where the sounds and activities that are taking place in the City reverberate throughout the hills and neighborhoods. My spirits evenutally lifted but it wasn't the bridge that did it - it was a 6 year old girl and her abba, and a beautiful 29 year old man whose spirit could not be broken. Here is a portion of my journal entry for that day:

"Tonight as I stood on the mountain top and saw the bridge being dedicated across the way with fireworks, lights and hoopla, somewhere the songs of Zion were being sung. I'm not even sure if they were coming from the bridge dedication or from closer by...on warm Jerusalem evenings, the sounds of the night mingle together as they reverberate throughout the hills. The songs were beautiful and they filled my heart with tears.

My thoughts at first were of the phony politicians there, giving Zionist speeches at the same time that they are betraying the country. How dare they depression deepened.

And then I met a young man and his little daughter. The man - about age 30 - stopped me and pointed to the bridge; he and his daughter were both so excited to see this magical creation floating the air. The little girl, about 6, said to her Abba, "Daddy, will it stay up in the air, or will it just fall down?"

It was not the first time I have observed in Israelis a simple wonder at ordinary things......To hear the sweet innocence from a 6 year old is one thing, but to see it in the general population is another... In the midst of the balagan, the turmoil and an enemy crouching at our door, Israelis still believe in the magic of life, and with it comes hope.

Then I remembered something else even more important that I knew was taking place just a few blocks away - in the other direction from the bridge. A very special 29 year old man, in spite of his pain from a difficult year of personal hurt and betrayal, wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who needed affection, and he was making a room full of handicapped men and women feel important and happy and loved by throwing them a party.

It was then I knew that in spite of the olmerts and the pereses, Israel would survive.

The ability to marvel at the magic of life and the strength to take hardship and pain and turn it around by reaching out to others is a unique combination that Israelis possess.....and I knew that in spite of everything traumatic that goes on here, we will make it.