Sometimes A Guys Gotta Do What A Guys Gotta Do

A traditional part of the Yom HaAtzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) celebrations where I live is the performance during the evening. Instead of lighting torches, listening to speeches, and seeing fireworks, the volunteer thespians in our yishuv put on a play. It usually contains some humor, some drama, and some dance numbers where the children show off their talents.

This year was no different. We enjoyed the play very much (although it was a bit cold and windy on the improvised theater – the outdoor basketball court). One small part turned out to be everyone’s favorite, though.

The first grade boys were doing their little dance number – including some fancy hand motions to go along with the usual hora in a circle, when a “dramatic” thing happened. (At least it was dramatic to the six year old boys) It turns out that a few of the boys noticed a creepy-crawly thing on the stage.

 Now most of the boys kept dancing. For some, it appears, the “show must go on” took precedence, especially when they knew that grandma and grandpa were in the audience, and daddy was filming it all for posterity. But some of the boys obviously thought that “a guys gotta do what a guys gotta do” was more important. Three boys decided to break out of the circle and stomp that intruder into oblivion. Most of us laughed, of course, but what really brought down the house was when one of the three picked up his shoe to show off the results of his stomping to his friend. That certainly was one dead bug.

On a serious note, we could all probably learn something from this incident. Unfortunately for us, we live in a country where too many of our leaders care more about how things look than doing what needs to be done. The photo op is the most important thing – and G-d forbid you should do something to mar the pictures. Sometimes, though, (and especially here in Israel) you have to do things that don’t look good to the outside world, but are necessary just the same. I think we need more people at the top who will break out of the circle and just do what needs to be done.

Links and Things

I can’t think of a more appropriate blog to host the Kosher Cooking Carnival than someone who calls herself ABaleboosteh. Everything looks great in this edition….

It may have been delayed, but it was worth the wait! Havel-Havalim hosted by Soccerdad, that is. And speaking of Soccerdad, he is up for a number of blog awards at the JIBs, but the one he wants most of all is the Best Contribution, for none other than Havel-Havalim. He’s got my vote for that one, for sure! Why don’t you take a minute and go over and vote too….

Remembering the Past, Feeling Grateful in the Present

Tonight at 8:00 pm, a siren will sound throughout Israel marking the beginning of Yom HaZikaron, Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and those killed in terrorist attacks. It represents a difficult day for the families of those fallen, and a somber day for the whole country, but an important one. It is necessary to remember and feel grateful to those who have fought for us, before we celebrate Israel Independence Day. Ceremonies will take place in cemetaries, special pieces are aired on television and radio in memory of those fallen, and twice the country will stop for two minutes of silence – once this evening at 8:00 pm, and once tomorrow at 11:00 am.

We Jews, especially those who live in Israel, don’t just remember the ones who died. We also remember those who killed them in the first place, and even if it takes a long time, we sometimes see justice done. The Jerusalem Post has a report about a raid in Schem (Nablus), where a wanted terrorist was killed. This terrorist, a top bombmaker, has been pursued by the IDF for more than three years.

We are not just grateful to those who have fought for us in the past, but we are grateful for those who fight now. When we stand in remembrance tonight and tomorrow, and when we enjoy our celebrations on Tuesday, there will be thousands of soldiers and police keeping eyes open, protecting us. There have been scores of general warnings about terrorist attacks in the works, and many are going to be working hard to make sure that these don’t get off the ground.

Religious Jews thank G-d every day, in many different ways. We say blessings for our food and for our health, and this helps us to remember the source of these good things. I personally try to keep the soldiers in mind every day, because I know that my safety is because of a lot of effort by others. Perhaps my readers will share this feeling today too.

Are Your Tax Dollars Funding Terrorism?

If I asked most people if they thought that their tax dollars were funding terrorism, they would probably answer with a shocked “no!” According to this piece in the Jerusalem Post, the answer is not that simple.

The United States government has an official policy to boycott the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, but has relaxed its restrictions on aid to the tune of $59 million dollars. This is supposedly to “avert a humanitarian crisis”. Instead of holding firm and insisting that there will be no money, period, until the Palestinians renounce terror, the Americans and especially the European Union are caving in and providing funds. These funds inevitably end up in the hands of the corrupt officials, and are used to support terror (otherwise I wouldn’t object, either).

When my children were small and we went to the grocery store, they knew that just once a week mama would buy them candy. If they still wanted candy, and decided to have a tantrum, I would not react. Smart little boys that they were, they quickly learned that the tantrum got them nowhere and they stopped the behavior. Every parent the world over knows this, and most are successful in implementing it. Why is it that the United States government has forgotten this plain common sense?

It Is Not A Coincidence

It is not a coincidence that an Israeli photographer won the Pulitzer Prize for his picture of a woman battling the police at Amona.

Yes, it is a great visual. And yes, it was taken at a dramatic scene. But I am sure there were hundreds of other pictures with these same elements up for the prize.

The Jews, especially those in Israel, are a magnet for world attention. Those of us who live in Judea and Samaria number (ken yirbu – we should only increase) roughly 260,000 people, and we live on a tiny sliver of land, relative to the world as a whole. The media attention we garner, though, would make it seem that we are a major world power.

Something to think about.

Just In Time For Sefirat HaOmer

I don’t know if it was intentional, but I think it is very ironic that the JIB Awards are happening during this specific time of year – the time of Sefirat HaOmer. (Those of you who are not familiar with some of the finer points of Judaism may not know that the seven week period between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot is called Sefirat HaOmer, where we count each day. The period between Passover and the 33rd day, called Lag B’Omer, is a time of semi-mourning, because 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died during this time. There is a tradition that they died because they did not treat each other well.)

 I watched on the sidelines last year as this Jewish blog competition slowly turned nasty. People who thought the process was unfair, and those who took the competition too seriously, made it somewhat unpleasant. I was glad that I had just started a blog the month before so that I was not involved. This is why I have hesitated until now to mention it and plug it here.

Then I thought of the hard work that the committee put into it, and I came to the conclusion that it was unfair to them to ignore it completely. So go on over to the JIB Awards Blog, take a look, and take part.

But listen to mama, and please play nice!

Lost In Translation

Before taking on my current job I used to do a number of things to help make ends meet, and one of them was to translate from Hebrew to English. One of my clients is someone who specializes in music therapy, and works with terror victims and those who were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif. She has spoken on the latter topic at international conferences (this is where my services came in), and she was contacted last week by someone at the UN. It seems she is to meet with the vice-chairman of the committee in charge of youth and children – worldwide. She called and asked me for some help in preparing for her meeting, which is to take place today, on Yom HaShoa.

“How would you say..?” she would start, and I found myself trying to find words for a host of painful things. “The trauma of being expelled from their homes came after the trauma of terrorist attacks that haven’t been…absorbed.  Many children, who used to be very active, don’t care about anything anymore…depressed.  After two years of living in temporary housing, no plans for permanent housing solutions have….been authorized. Many people, who would give of themselves to the community are now….needy. Many students are far behind their peers in their schooling….lag. “

The last thing she asked me to help translate made me heave a huge sigh. She wanted me to help her convey that a lot of the emotional problems that the Gush Katif refugees still have are due to the fact that they don’t feel that the place they are living in now has….meaning.  I then told her that just finding the correct word in English would probably not be enough to make someone else understand. Most people the world over choose a place to live based on many different factors. Financial, emotional, and practical reasons make up most of these factors. Idealogy usually doesn’t factor in. Those of us who are Orthodox Jews and live in Israel have another reason in addition to the others. We chose the place we live based on the religious commandment to settle the land of Israel. (yeah, that word isn’t an epithet, it is something to be proud of!) Those of us who live in Yehuda and the Shomron (Judea and Samaria) and those who used to live in Gush Katif chose to make their homes there because they thought they were taking this commandment to the next level – settling the parts of Israel that have been lost to Jews for centuries. It is hard to explain the deep emotional pain of losing this.

Definitely lost in translation.

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