Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Rains .....Something to Think About

Has anyone noticed that ever since we started to defend our Land and our People, at least a little, the desperately needed rains have steadily fallen - a gentle absorbing rain, just the kind the thirsty earth needed?

As I referred to in an earlier post (Sunny Days and a Thirsty Land), Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:10-14 says the rains for Israel are not like those of other lands where there is man-made irrigation, but the rains for Israel are brought by the Heavens when we love God with our whole heart.

Loving God with our whole heart would include not rejecting this Land that was His gift to beginning to defend it we show we do not despise His gift..... is it possible His blessing are free to follow now.....?.

...has our response, even if for political reasons, nonetheless had an effect on the very Land itself, and the air around it...and by changing the atmosphere, brought the last?

Something to think about.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tsafrir Ronen

Last Shabbat, not only did the surprise attack on Hamas take place, but a dear dear man, a strong and remarkable voice for Eretz Yisrael, was taken from us. Tsafrir Ronen, of the Galil, died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack.

His funeral was Sunday, and those who knew him are in shock and mourning. I had met him only once, but his love for this country is legendary. When I heard him speak a few months ago at Bet haShalom in Hebron, both he and his message were electrifying. His words, his knowledge, his passion grabbed the hearts of everyone who ever knew or heard him. A remarkable man.

There have been many tributes. This is one of them - a beautiful and personal tribute by Adina Kutnicki

Israel’s Hero, My Hero
Tevet 2, 5769, 29 December 08 11:50by Adina Kutnicki
(excerpts... full tribute can be seen at Israel National News)

( While all lovers of Zion anxiously scan the news regarding the IAF’s ‘shock and awe’ operation against Hamas, those who received the shocking news of Tsafrir Ronen’s untimely and very sudden death this very same weekend could not help but be shaken to the core of their souls.

While every death deeply affects family and friends, few of those deaths can be described as a monumental loss for Zion. The passing of Tsafrir Ronen - a stalwart, non-intimidated defender of Zion - will surely register as such when the history of modern Israel is told in full.

........On a national level, his loss will most likely be appreciated when history is written. In the same manner that few understood the profound essence of all of Ze'ev Jabotinsky’s efforts for our homeland while he was alive, so too will Tsafrir’s undertakings resonate in future generations. I suspect that he will be the model that future generations of Zionists will emulate when his activities on behalf of Zion become more widely known.

Rest in peace my dear friend. May your memory be for a blessing.

With eternal friendship.

© Copyright

War Update

Please see TodayinIsrael for updated information and questions about the situation in Gaza and the south.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


On a lighter note, on this last night of Chanukah I suddenly realized I had NOT had any real sufganiot. That is, I did have a part of a large fried doughnut, oozing with chocolate and caramel......BUT it wasn't truly a sufganiyah - a jelly doughnut - the Israeli/sephardic Chanukah specialty.

I have a confession to make...I am really a latke person.

It is probably the only ashkenazi tradition I prefer over sephardic ones, but the truth is, I didn't have any latkes this year either. I don't know what happened to me in the food department. I was enjoying so much the various candle lightings with friends all over Israel, from Peta Tikvah, to Maale Adumin, and here in Jerusalem, that somehow the food just slipped by...until today when I realized I needed to have at least ONE sufganiyah.

Some friends of mine own a wonderful coffee shop, and they did an amazing business this year with their sufganiot....order after order after order passing from the hot oil cooker, to being decorated with flair, to countless boxes filled with the warm and fragrant jelly doughnuts, then carted off to hungry children and adults alike for their Chanukah fun.

So when I inquired this morning about their sufganiot I was not surprised to discover they had RUN OUT!!.. Not to worry, though, more were coming for this last day of Chanukah. After being assured the sufganiot would be fried there in the shop kitchen (and not a store-bought replacement for these last few hours -which I would totally understand!), I promised I would be back later in the day to have my one jelly doughnut, "in the spirit of the holiday!"

Well, I guess I waited too long, for when I arrived at the coffee shop to partake of my treat, I found one of my friends draining the cookers, and literally standing in a lake of oil which was spreading out over the floor of the shop's kitchen.... omg, it was a balygan. It looked like a disaster.

But then.... that meant...oh,oh...LO (NO) SUFGANIOT!!

Seeing the mess of cleaning up that oil....(I did offer to help!).....I appreciated even more how hard my friends had worked to provide such scrumptious treats for their customers....and I had missed out! For goodness sake, I had 8 days to claim one sufganiyah for the holiday!!

Oh well...except now I really missed the taste of that jelly doughnut....already longing for it for next year. time I will plan to have the first ones out of the cooker.....and...a latke or two with sour cream and applesauce...

Next year...still in Jerusalem!

Aza to Jerusalem

To illustrate how tiny this country really is - and why the uproar over our settling this very small amount of Land is so ludicrous - when the first two ordinances were dropped on the Hamas police and terrorist training facilities yesterday - at approximately 11:30 am and 12:15 pm - the ground and buildings shook here in Jerusalem and the booms were heard here as well.

To clarify further, Jerusalem is on Israel's eastern border, the coast is our western border....and that's how close the coast is, my friends...

Remember how it is that everything that happens here in Israel affects the rest of us as if it is happening to us?.... Those who heard and felt the attack....felt like, YES! ... they were a part of the manuever.

It was a great feeling! Let's pray we continue to defend this beautiful Land and our people.

A Chanukah Surprise

In a fitting Chanuka gift to the nation and to the world, our government, over Shabbat, finally ordered a strike on Hamas in Gaza - a pretty powerful one at that. One hundred tons of ordinance were dropped on terrorist targets, police and terror training facilities, in an operation that took Hamas by surprise. Over 250 were killed, nearly all of them Hamas officials and terrorists including the senior commander of Hamas' police force, Tawfik Jabber, his military assistant, Ismail al-Ja'abri, commander of defense and security, and Abu-Ahmad Ashur, governor of the central district.

Operation Cast-Lead, as it is called - from a Chanukah poem by H.R Bialik (see below) - continues this morning with rocket launching sites, Hamas government offices and television stations being the recipients of today's IAF bombings.

Very few civilians have been casualties, but I must remind our readers that we are at war. Unfortunately, some civilians casualties can happen. The people in Aza elected this terrorist government, and unfortunately, the terrorists hide behind and in the midst of civilians so that they can manipulate the media PR against Israel.

Within Israel, power and other utilities are being affected for whatever reasons, and areas along the Gaza corridor and much deeper into Israel are now hearing the Tzeva Adom (Color Red Alert), some for the first time....places like Gan Yavneh and Ashdod.

In an attempt to placate world criticism and demonstrate that our target is Hamas, not the civilian population, our government this morning ordered crossings into Gaza to open - to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and to receive out of Gaza, and into Israel, some of the wounded who will receive treatment in Israeli hospitals.

This is what makes the situation so crazy. What other government or country in the world would feed and heal the enemy? Many think this is exemplary and laudable, showing the world that we are compassionate people above all else; others think it is insanity.. aiding and abetting the enemy is, after all, treason. While I tend to lean towards the second opinion, some things happen in spite of ourselves that are beyond understanding... thus I will leave this matter untouched by much commentary.

Of course, all of this could have been avoided had we not destroyed the lives and homes of the beautiful and brave Jews who lived in Gush Katif. Beyond that - given the reality of that cowardly deed by our government, had we gone in many months ago to destroy the terrorists activities and developments, we would find ourselves in a much less dangerous situation. By our appeasement, we have allowed the poison of Hamas to fester and grow to a much larger problem.

Of course, the timing of this coincides with the elections, and one worries that the elections may now be postponed and Olmert will continue to operate as Prime Minister, indefinitely....even though he resigned weeks ago. It's a sobering reality, and a sickening one. However, the words of my friend, Moshe Kempinski, whom I often quote in this blog, sum it up in an encouraging way. Believing that rising up with courage to destroy evil and defeat our enemies, is indeed the G-d given mandate for Israel in this hour, he said this: ".... when a nation is led into a path that coincides with their destiny and survival, the reasons behind the move are less important."

One last piece of information. Our strategic operations are given names that have significance. It is important to us that this courage to act against Hamas came in the midst of Chanukah. While the more popular celebration of this holiday focuses on the miracle of the oil burning for 8 days in the recaptured and cleansed Temple, (Chanukah means "dedication", i.e. the (re)dedication of the altar in the Temple), an equally significant importance of Chanukah is to remember the miraculous victory that God gave us, and to remember the faith and bravery of the Maccabees, whose victory over the Greeks was profound, unexpected and dramatic.

Through the ages, Jews have remembered this miraculous victory in ways that aren't observable to the world. One way is in the spin of the dreidle...its letters in Israel are נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hei), פ (Pei) "A great miracle happened here."

One of our beloved poets, Haim Nahman Bialik wrote this poem, which on the surface is just about tops and pancakes, but at a deeper level recognizes the importance of this remembrance. The finest of victories is exemplified by the finest of dreidles - one made of solid or cast-lead.

Here is his poem. May our soldiers be protected by the Almighty as they go to battle.

For Hanukkah

Father lighted candles for me;
Like a torch the Shamash shone.
In whose honor, for whose glory?
For Hanukkah alone.

Teacher bought a big top for me,
Solid lead, the finest known.
In whose honor, for whose glory?
For Hanukkah alone.

Mother made a pancake for me,
Hot and sweet and sugar-strewn.
In whose honor, for whose glory?
For Hanukkah alone.

Uncle had a present for me,
An old penny for my own.
In whose honor, for whose glory?
For Hanukkah alone.

(This post is also on the parallel blog TodayInIsrael)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chanuka Sameach

Chanuka Sameach! Happy Chanuka!

From the first to the last lighting, may this beautiful holiday bring a blessing. And may the courage of the Maccabbees inspire us, when things look impossible, to pick ourselves up, and with faith and determination, set our faces into the wind and keep moving towards the goal. Miracles can..and do..happen.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

More on Ze'ev

Last week I stopped by to speak with Ze'ev (post of 11/21/08). Before I could even say much, his frustrations and anguish bubbled over, and his words of pain came tumbling out. I listened while he poured it all out, the cold, the ill health, the theft and abuse from other needy people in the shelters, and I could sense the fear, even panic, in him as he faced another night in the cold, on a bench somewhere.

When his words were spent, he looked slightly embarrassed, but my smile and acceptance assured him it was was ok. I am sure few have ever stopped to least without preaching at him. I've seen and heard those unkind words to Ze'ev and to others, and I have to imagine how humiliating it must feel. I heard in Ze'ev's words the profound affect those words from passers-by had on his soul.

Not that I've always been so forgiving. At times in the past, forgetting lessons already learned, I too could be found making assumptions I had no right to make. When he calmed down a bit, I gave him what little change I had in my purse, and ran to the nearby merkolet (little convenience store) to buy him a couple of cigarettes.

Aside from the amazing fact that you can buy individual cigarettes here in Israel ....there is the more amazing fact that I, as an ex-smoker who used to freak out at the mere whisper of cigarette smoke, was happy to run and buy him some..... (but that's really another story, for another time.)

As for Ze'ev, I just hope he collected enough money last week to put him into a room somewhere, if only for one night - Erev Shabbat, a night when everyone should be safe and warm.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Life's chom

Last week I finally got up the nerve to get my hair cut again. I was terrified to have it cut, but omg, it was either get it cut or stay in my dira (apartment) and never come out! Of course, that was the situation the last 2 times I had it cut, so it couldn't be much worse that it was already! Still......

You've heard of bad hair days? Well, lately I have been having bad hair weeks, and months...

I knew the problem, and I knew what I had to do... I knew that it had to be cut by a sabra...a native Israeli.

Ma? you say, but why? Well, it's a little hard to explain, but let me try. Or better, let me tell you about what happened, and then maybe it will be clear. It all has to do with me and Israel. Or more precisely, with me and Israelis.

You see, even though I am a recent immigrant, and am now an Israeli....the people I seem most heart to heart with are the Israelis, the sabras. It's hard to put into words, but this is where I connect.

So, I knew I needed someone with whom I could relate, heart to heart, who would just "sense" the real me....or at least a little part of who I am....enough to cut my hair to fit me anyway.

I went by a shop that had been recommended by a friend... Motti was standing in the doorway, smoking a cigarette. I stopped, we chatted, his face smiled and we agreed on the price.

His co-worker welcomed me and motioned me to a chair.. No, no, I said, Motti is going to cut it. It turned out this was a young man in training and he was just going to wash it. Ah, slicha (sorry, excuse me) Well, let me say, I have never had my hair washed with such a gentle tender loving touch. I mean, it would be worth it to go there just for that!

I told Motti I was terrified to have him cut it. We laughed, but I was serious. As we talked, I told him of a former stylist who had moved to CA, and that I was sad about that. We had a long discussion, over hot turkish coffee, and between sips and snips, about Israelis, ex-pats (those who move to another country, usually America, to make more money) and returning home to Israel. Motti talked at great length about why Israelis go to America to make money and he wanted to know why I came here, and what I did. We spoke about that and he said "I can feel your love for this country." Yes, I said, I am in love with this country and that's why I am here, but also why I am sad that people leave.

He tried again to explain to me why people leave and why it was ok. I told him I understood that it was so hard to make a living here, and how America's ease with money was attractive, and I really did understand that, but...I said, Motti, life in America is pretty surface, there's little depth can find it,'s just different. He looked at me for awhile, and then he smiled. Yes, he said, life here is chom (heat, warmth -but not in temperature, which is cham) and his face lit up. Yes, he said, turning it over in his mind.... "life here's's hot." We both understood.

Life in Israel's chom.

(Oh, btw, it's a great haircut.)


Please listen to the beautiful niggun (holy verses put to song) created and sung by the uncle of Rivka Holtzberg, murdered in Mumbai. The niggun is sung to give thanks to God for the rescue and survival of the couple's little boy Moishe. The video and story is posted on my other blogsite Today in Israel

Friday, December 5, 2008

Please read the posts on my parallel site to know what is happening with the travesty in Hebron.