Saturday, January 31, 2009


I was supposed to attend a meeting tonight featuring all the candidates for the upcoming Israeli election. They were to speak in at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem. I am sure they spoke quite well. In fact, I am certain they said everything that the right wing audience wanted to hear.

I just couldn't go. It doesn't matter so much what is said, politicians have a way of saying one thing and doing another. Anywhere. But it seems especially true here in Israel. I will vote. In fact I will devote some time and postings to the election in the sister blogsite, Today in Israel.

But today when I was out walking, I came face to face to something that is much more durable and trustworthy than any of our politicians.

It was a most remarkable sight - the almond tree (shaked) was in full bloom.

Of course, immediately comes to mind the verse from Jeremiah 1 (11-12). "The word of the Lord came to me: 'What do you see, Jeremiah?' I replied, ' I see an almond tree." The Lord said to me: you have seen right, for I am watchful to bring My word to pass." [...a pun using the word shaked which means 'almond tree' with shoked which means 'to watch"..and the context is that God is watching over Jerusalem and Judah and will bring His word to pass regarding them]

The blooming of the almond tree is always sudden and takes one by surprise. It is an awesome thing and brings hope knowing God will be true to His word over Jerusalem.

Yet, this year I had other thoughts as well. The winter this year has brought very little rain. Only when we began Operation Cast Lead did we have one week of steady soaking rain, and as soon as we began to contemplate the withdrawal, the rain stopped. It is the worst drought since the State was formed in 1948.

I thought "what chutzpah these almond trees have....don't they know there has been no water?" But I was SO proud of them!! In spite of the 'facts on the ground', they were holding to God's word and blooming away anyway. Pay no mind to what the meteorologists and prognosticators say, they trusted in the word of the Lord.

But, even more exciting, a couple of hours later, the skies were filled with the drama of thunder and lightning.... and rain.

That was all I needed. No matter the facts on the ground, Gods word will stand.

No chariots or horses, I'm voting for the almond trees!

(Psalm 20:8 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will make mention of the name of the Lord our God.)

Shavua tov (have a good week)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hugs and Tears

I got to hug my friend today who just returned from Gaza. It was so good to see him. It was hard to hear some of the things he said.....especially because as we talked, our soldiers had just been attacked at Kissufim Crossing -with one dead, three (a newly wed) very seriously.

Olmert says we haven't responded yet. (Ynet) My G-d, how does this man sleep at night?

Our men were so ready to finish the job.. so ready. Now what? What is Olmert going to do?? Keep things dangling again? Send them back in for a few days and then pull them out again?

How can the PM and DM toy not only with the lives of the residents of the south, but with the psyches and lives of our troops?

Two weeks before an election in Israel, the Prime Minister is not allowed to make reaching decisions. ...especially I would think, a resigned prime minister.

What a colossal balygan and a colossal disaster this government is.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

To follow developing stories....

...please visit Today in Israel for continued updates on developing situation.

Attack at Kissufim Crossing kills Soldier & Wounds Three More

Early this morning Hamas attacked our troops patrolling the border at the Kissufim crossing - killing one and wounding three, one of them seriously. Devices laid at the border by Hamas were detonated in addition to mortars being lobbed into Israel. The seriously wounded officer was flown to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva for emergency surgery.

Some response has been taken both at the border and flights into Gaza by our military.

As I reported yesterday on TodayinIsrael, despite the media's obfuscation of the facts, there have been a handful of rocket attacks in the south since the so-called ceasefire.

More as this story updates.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Father's Story - Herb Keinon

When I read Herb Keinon's account (JPost) of how he felt during the 15 days his son was in Gaza, I was struck by how parallel his description was to my own intense emotions during the war, yet I did not have a son, a husband or brother there.

Of course I can't really compare my feelings to both his very personal fears and his very personal pride, but there was definitely an loud echo of what he expressed in my own soul.

As I reflected on this, and on my emotions when I visited the wounded soldiers in the hospitals I realized it didn't matter that they weren't my "actual family" because they and the families and close friends surrounding them - they were also mine. The soldiers belong to all of us and they are part of us; Am Yisrael is a People who, though we fight a lot between us at times, we really are as one.

So when he describes his feelings, it is in a little way the feelings of all of us.

Please click on the link below to read the entire article. It has a very sweet ending.

First Person: A father's story of his son at war

Jan. 23, 2009Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST

"Hello," I muttered into the phone at 7:15 last Sunday morning, after looking at - and not recognizing - the phone number on the caller ID.

"Hallo," a raspy voice answered back, waiting for recognition. When none came, the voice continued: "Abba, it's Yona."

And with those three words a 15-day trauma that began with the IDF's ground operation in the Gaza Strip simply melted away.

"Honey," I giddily screamed to my wife. "It's Yona." The lad was out of Gaza. He was safe and he was sound. Never have I felt more relieved.

Well-ensconced in middle age, I have tasted a good range of life's emotions. I have felt the pain of losing a parent at a relatively early age, the joy of marrying a woman I love, the delight at the birth of four healthy children. I have felt pleasure, bliss, happiness, satisfaction; hatred, pride, envy and disappointment.

I also thought I had pretty much run the scale of all the emotional chords involved in child-rearing. But I was wrong. I never felt anything that came close to the all-encompassing, gut-wrenching worry that comes when one has a child fighting in a war. These were virgin waters, and waters that at times made me feel as if I were drowning. ........

Read the full article here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

In Depth Analysis

Please visit my other blogsite, Today in Israel, for an indepth analysis of the War and it's reasons.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Normalcy and Jewish Wisdom

Normalcy is beginning to settle on the Land once again. The tension in the air has mostly changed into the everyday tension we always feel here....yet not completely.

There is a hesitancy, more a feeling of a lull, in which we can draw a deep breath, take a coffee, smile again, but with a knowing look that...this isn't over yet.

For one thing, elections are around the corner, and the applecart won't be upset again before that...even though Hamas has continued to fire rockets at us.

It's more than that however. This isn't about a territorial dispute and it's as ancient as we are.

The question always remains for me - is there an ending to the saga, or is it a never ending continuum? Are we a People with a history that unfolds into a promised future, or are we an eternal measuring stick for the world and we just go round and round again?

I don't have the answer to such deep mullings. I do know that this morning I have to try to figure out what the Iryia (City Hall) has done with my arnona (property tax) payment. Today, beyond that, my mind doesn't venture.

Perhaps there is some truth to the old Jewish adage: "They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Boys are Home

Well, our boys are home...out of Gaza, and our feelings are mixed. We are elated to see them safe and healthy, (knowing of course there are still those recovering in the hospitals and homes across the country), and at the same time we all know this was a premature withdrawal, and that they will have to go back in at some not too distant future.

We didn't even know sometimes who was in Gaza until they returned. A dear friend turned up at my local coffee home (this coffee shop is not even my 2nd home, but my 1st home :) ) straight from the front, still in gear. I had no idea he had been called up and sent in. Unfortunately I just missed him, arriving at the shop right after he left, but you can be assured I will go see him as soon as possible.

Somehow, you just have to hug these guys ..then... kol beseder (everything is ok).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Morally Corrupt

I have written about the ludicrous position in which our "government" has again placed this country. (See Today in Israel, Empty Heads)

Our thoughts and prayers are for the men and boys Olmert and Barak have left sitting in Gaza, with permission only to respond if attacked, and not to wage war against a vile enemy who is only strengthened and more determined than ever by our stupidity. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the residents of the south, for whom nothing at all has changed.

In spite of our morally corrupt government, we must continue to walk out each day... counting those days when we can finally get rid of this administration.

Are we smart enough yet to elect people who care about this nation?

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I wasn't sure I would, or even could, write about this...some things are just held too close emotionally to talk about them publicly. But, then, some things should be shared so that we are all part of what's happening around us.

I had the unmerited privilege this week, on two different days, in two different hospitals, to sit with wounded chayalim (soldiers) and/or their families. There are not words to adequately express how I felt about it....and I am not going to try.

But I would be remiss in my responsibility as a writer and conveyor of the uniqueness that is Israel, if I did not share at least a few things from these days.

One of the things that struck me the most, and what I carry in my heart, is the brightness of the faces, the brightness in the eyes, even those in pain, of these young men. There I stood, a little shyly, not exactly sure what to say, but wanting to communicate my love and appreciation to the men and their families, and bearing gifts from many merchants in my neighborhood - and there they were, beaming at me, giving love and appreciation to me...and strength. The brightness and eagerness of their smiles conveyed inimitable strength and confidence. As if protecting me/us on the battlefield wasn't enough, here they were, still the strength and defenders of Am Yisrael.

It was not just the soldiers who conveyed this optimism and strength, but also the families of these men. Even when there were very serious injuries, and this day there were 3 such situations, the families greeted me with a calm assurance - yes, some weariness, but no sad faces, no "why me/us?" questioning, but a quiet optimism and determination and strength that was extended from the battlefield to the rooms and corridors of the hospitals.

Indeed, these hospitals are part of the battlefield. Here, I realized, is waged simply another phase of the war.

Israel's army chooses to lead in a way that is foreign to much of the world. The commanders do not send their men into battle, they take them. Follow me is the shout, as the commander leads the way, going first into the fray.

Such, I understood, was the nature of the battles in these hospital rooms. Most that I saw were not commanders, but "Follow me" echoed throughout the hospitals, as both soldiers and families led the way.

It has been said to me several times this week - when we want to give back to the chayalim who fight for us, it's not just for them - it's for us as well. For in the exchange, we are all a part of the battle; we are in it together and we each have a part. But as I have learned so many times here in Israel, when you go to strengthen someone else, you are the one who ends up encouraged and strengthened by the other.

This is the uniqueness that is Israel - we are all family, and when we go to war, we all go to war, when one is hurt, we all hurt. But the ones who lead the way are often bright eyed young men and women and their families, who give us all strength....not afraid to put their lives on the line, not afraid to love their achim (brothers - here, in arms) and not afraid to love the ones they protect.

I have many stories from this week stored in my heart. Perhaps I'll share one or two later. In the meantime, the Jerusalem Post published an article about one of these young men, Staff Sergeant Avi Cohen, 23. Please read it. His story is representative of the rest of our men and women who are out there on the battlefield and in the recovery rooms of the hospitals, leading the way.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Please log onto the parallel blog, TodayinIsrael for a report and pictures of our trip to Nitzan in support of the families from Gush Katif's Neve Dekalim - still living in cardboard trailers (3-1/2 years later), and now under rocket attack from the very communities from which they were expelled.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Silver Lining

As we pushed into Gaza City today, the rains began to gently fall around Israel..soaking into the ground. Thirsty ground. Toda La El.

I went out to wait for the bus, in the rain, and we could see in the southwest an enormous dark gray storm cloud. Amazingly, surrounding the entire cloud was a thin silver lining, reflecting the late afternoon sun behind it. It was a beautiful sight and we all stood in wonder looking at it.

It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. Perhaps this was a sign for Israel.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I apologize for this blogspot not being up to date yesterday with the pictures and information on the fallen soldiers in Operation Cast Lead. They were posted immediately on the parallel site Today in Israel.

The truth be told, it was very difficult emotionally to get through posting the information even one time and I was not able yesterday to go through the posting a second time. Our deepest prayers and thoughts are with the families who have lost their sons and husbands and brothers.....and with their brothers in arms who mourn the loss of their officers and comrades in deep and personal who inspired and taught the rest of us by their lives of dedication and courage.

Here are the three casualties of yesterday's fighting:

Major Ro'i Rosner, 27, commander of 90 men in the Haruv Battalion of the Kfir Brigade, was killed by anti-tank missiles while fighting in the former Gush Katif town of Netzarim. Ro'i was married just 10 months ago, and two weeks ago received the keys to a new apartment. Just before entering Gaza, Ro'i led his men. with Rabbi Asaf Azriel, in an emotionally charged series of prayers and blessings, including the Shema. The Shema (Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad....Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, The Lord is One) prayed by observant Jews twice daily is also a traditional prayer spoken before dying to affirm one's faith in the One God. Full story can be found here.

Sergeant Amit Robinson 21 of Kibbutz Magal was killed by sniper fire. He was a tank crewmen - part of the Armored Corps division of the IDF, in fact, part of Battalion 17, the same Battalion as that of Gilad Shalit. His family immigrated to Israel from Argentina. Gaza was Robinson's first assignment upon completion of his training.

In the afternoon, Captain Omer Rabinovich was killed in close gunfire exchange with Hamas terrorists.

Rabinovich was 23, a resident of Arad, and an officer in the Golani Brigade. He was devoted to this country and worked with kibbutzim youth.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Note: During these days of War, I will be posting many identical pieces on both this blog and the parallel news and commentary blog TodayinIsrael.

Regretfully, we have additional news of a 5th soldier being killed in battle today. He was Sergeant Alexander Mashevizky, 21 of Be’er Sheva. Mashevizky was killed in the fighting in northern Gaza Tuesday morning and was a part of the Combat Engineering Corps.

The most recent developments from the front include the Israeli bombing of three UN schools in Gaza, all of which were used to store explosives, hide terrorist operatives, and from which mortars were fired into Israel and/or into IDF positions within Gaza.

Before the IDF had an opportunity to describe the military action, the world had once again already gone berserk.

Here is one official statement regarding this incident:

Hamas Operatives Killed in UNRWA School

After an investigation that took place over the past hour it has been found that amongst the dead at the Jabalya school were Hamas terror operatives and a mortar battery cell who were firing on IDF forces in the area. Hamas operatives Imad Abu Askhar and Hassan Abu Askhar were amongst terrorists that were identified to be killed.

“We face a very delicate situation where the Hamas is using the citizens of Gaza as a protective vest,” IDF Spokesperson Brig. General Avi Benayahu said following the incident.

Rockets continue to pound the south, and reservists are readying for entry into Gaza, or God forbid, should a northern front open up, deployment there. The Home Command is readying both the Center of the country and the North for emergency procedure.

Photo: IDF Spokesperson/JPost


This was a gut wrenching day in the War. Overnight and today we lost 4 soldiers in two separate friendly fire incidents. In the first incident, a Golani unit had taken over a building, and a tank fired at the building, either with the mistaken assumption that there were Hamas operatives inside, or an accidental is still unclear. Twenty four other soldiers were wounded, one critically, and three severely, the rest sustaining light to moderate injuries. Under extremely heavy IDF protection, the injured were evacuated by helicopter and ambulances to hospitals in Israel. The three Golani soldiers who were killed in this incident were the following:

Staff Sargeant Nitay Stern, 21 of Jerusalem

Corporal Yousif Moaddi, 19, Druze Village of Yerka in the Galilee

Major Dagan Wertman, 32, Maale Michmas

The fourth soldier killed in a separate friendly fire incident was Paratrooper Brigade officer Captain Yehonatan Netanel, 27, from Kedumim
Yoni Netanel left behind a wife and 3 mos. old baby.
All pictures from the IDF Spokespersons website:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

IDF Soldier Fallen in Gaza

I am deeply saddened to report that in the early hours of the incursion first sergeant Dvir Emanualoff, 22, of Givat Zev was wounded and flown to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva, where he succumbed to his wounds.

Please pray for the family of this brave young man.

The funeral will be tonight, 11 pm. Sunday Jan. 4, at Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem

Photo supplied by IDF

Day 9: Raw Emotions

Day 9: Emotions are raw here today, as our boys enter Gaza for the first time since the Gush Katif expulsion. Elite units - Givati, Golani, the Armored Corps, Engineering Corps and Paratroopers - all inside Gaza now, in tanks and on foot, going house to house in some areas to secure the territory from where the rockets are being launched. Some 20 soldiers have been wounded, 2 seriously, with unconfirmed, but reports that dozens of terrorists were killed in the first several hours.

The territories from which the rockets are being launched are in many cases, the former homes or neighborhoods of the Gush Katif families. Our soldiers this morning entered and secured Netzarim to block weaponry from reaching Gaza City. Before the expulsion, the families who lived in Netzarim, just by their presence, kept the weapons from reaching Gaza City.

Our boys and men are skilled and strong, but the question is always, "will our government allow them to do what needs to be done?" While I am so proud of our guys, it makes my heart sick at the same time, as this maneuver should have been totally unnecessary.

"To deal a major blow to the Hamas networks, take control of the areas from which rockets are launched, and to strengthen our deterrence, in order to create a better long-term security situation.”

This is the government's position and every time I hear Olmert or Barak say we are there to take control of the areas from which we are being attacked, I want to scream "but we once HAD control of those areas, there were few if any Hamas networks there before the expulsion, and a better long-term security situation was already achieved."

This is the reality that everyone knows.

The truth is, however, as my mother always told me, "there's no use in crying over spilt milk." And so for the morale of our soldiers, and for the voracious appetite of the international Israel watchers, I will do everything in my power to put my best face forward and do whatever I can in the media war we battle.

Please continue to pray for our men and boys..for the freedom for the IDF to engage for victory, for their courage and of course for their protection. And pray for a miracle for Gilad Shalit in the midst of this balygan.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ground Troops Ordered into Gaza

Today, DM Barak has ordered our IDF soldiers into Gaza for a ground incursion. My hope and prayers are that our government is serious about victory and defeating our enemies.

Please pray for the protection of our soldiers, and that G-d may grant them a swift and complete victory.

See for continued update on the Gazan War.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ze'ev - Our Voice

(Ze'ev - the ongoing saga (previous posts) of my friendship with a man whom some would call "homeless" - and he is...but to me Ze'ev is a man with a tragic story - and a friend from whom I learn about life)

I saw Ze'ev today. He was bundled up with several layers. I had worried about him this past week - it was so so cold here in Jerusalem and I was really happy to see him, alive and sitting on his backpack.

It's been a hard week for the country and a particularly hard week additionally for me personally, but I was excited because I had a little extra for him.

As I approached him, Ze'ev looked up, brightened up, sat up and smiled. I was grinning because I was so happy to give him a little more this time and I'm sure it showed on my face. He saw that grin as I approached and he brightened up even understanding between us gave us both a little warmth on a cold winter's day...

With his hand over his heart like he often does.....he said softly "I thank you from the bottom of my heart".

I paused, concerned about his survival in the cold, and looked at him, "Kol beseder, Ze'ev", "Is everything ok?"

Somehow I knew exactly what he would answer...maybe because I felt the same way.

Looking at me, he said "No, everything is not alright...but I'm here...still alive..." Then he paused and smiled......"Happy New Year."

No, everything is not alright...but I'm here.... still alive. Oh, how I understood.

And it could just as well be said by the nation too...."No, everything is not alright...but we're here...still alive."

A profound man, Ze'ev....Happy New Year to you my friend.