For Those of You Who Have Missed Music for the Past Nine Days

I haven’t listened to music for the past nine days, as is customary for observant Jews who mourn for the destruction of the Temple. From the first through the ninth (and part of the tenth) of the Hebrew month of Av, we refrain from listening to music, eating meat or drinking wine (except for the Sabbath), and swimming for pleasure. The ninth of Av is a 24 hour fast day – starting tonight at sundown and lasting until tomorrow night.

The following video is for your listening pleasure, to celebrate music coming back to our lives…. (some of you will need to wait until Friday…)

Jewschool Hosts This Week’s Havel-Havalim

Ok, I know, it is Wednesday already (at least here in Israel) and I am just now linking to HH. Better late than never, no?

The “Other” Settlers

The New York Times has an interesting article today about the cities of Beitar Ilit and Modiin Ilit. It seems that the talk of natural growth among the settler population has them focussing on some of the places in Judea and Samaria where this is most prominent – namely these two Charedi (Ultra-Orthodox) cities.

I find the article fascinating for a number of reasons. It is obvious that Peace Now and other left-wing organizations have provided the author with statistics (just look at the graph provided of population numbers), and a bit of spin. The spin is the attempt to “water down” the impact of the overall number of 300,000 Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria by dividing the population into “Ultra-Orthodox” in these two cities, and the “Jewish nationalists” everywhere else.

I also think the apparent hypocrisy of the left-wing is very intersting. An official of Yesh Din, in justifying a possible compromise where the border will be redrawn to include these two cities, claims that “From a purely geographic point of view, construction there [areas very near to the pre-67 border] is not as destructive as elsewhere”. Which means what exactly? That it is ok for Jews to build in Judea and Samaria if it is “near” the pre-67 border? How near is near? 5 kilometers away? 10 kilometers away? That it is ok to build houses for Ultra-Orthodox Jews because they are not necessarily right-wing Zionists, or to use their euphemism, “Jewish nationalists”?

The overall premise of the article, that in these two areas there is a “surprising potential for compromise” made me laugh out loud! Yes, the author is correct in assuming that most of the Charedim who live in these cities moved to them because the housing was cheaper. But it is a tremendous leap from this fact to the idea that all of them would move somewhere else, and it shows a lack of both information and perspective by the part of the author. There is a huge lack of affordable housing for everyone in Israel, and the problem is acute for Charedim, who have more children on average than other Israelis. The idea that somehow there would spring up a cheap place for these 100,000 Charedim to move to is a laugh. And the idea of them leaving their homes, without somewhere else to go (like the Jews from Gush Katif) is mind-boggling. Anyone who has read the news for the past few weeks and heard about the riots in Jerusalem over opening a parking lot on Shabbat would see that.

The biggest lesson for me from this article, is the very practical fact that NUMBERS COUNT. Places in Judea and Samaria that would theoretically become approved, or, as the Israelis say “in the consensus” are judged by one criteria only. THE SIZE OF THE POPULATION. Whereas those of us who are “Jewish nationalists” see Judea and Samaria as part of Israel because it is G-d’s gift to us, those who don’t hold that view use different ways to explain what parts are “ok and not ok”. East Jersualem is ok now because of the Kotel (Western Wall). And certain places in Judea and Samaria are ok because they are cities.

Every Jewish family that moves to a yishuv makes a difference.

Are There Other “Normal” Frum People Out There?

Jameel points out that there are some Chardal (Charedi Dati Leumi – which refers to people who are on the border between Israeli modern Orthodox – men serve in the army – and Charedi – who follow most of the stringencies in Jewish law) Rabbis who are now coming out in favor of the separate buses.

This development scares me a lot.  I don’t consider myself to be “left-wing Orthodox” or very modern. We don’t own a television for religious reasons, I am not attracted to women’s minyanim and frankly don’t understand others who are, and I cover most of my hair (just about two inches showing in front). But when I hear about the buses where women must sit in the back, it makes my blood boil. If this happened where I lived, and I needed to take the bus, I would buy myself a can of pepper spray and would sit in the front, come what may!

There is no halachic reason why men and women must avoid each other at all costs.  Men and women interact on a daily basis at work, at stores, etc. Most religious men and women figure out how to do this in a modest way. Part of teaching your children the basics of derech eretz is showing them by example – and interacting with the opposite sex in a correct way is one way of modeling correct behavior. A bus is a means of public transportation – and not someone’s personal private space. If someone wants to impose upon themselves a very stringent code of behavior, then this is his perogative – but he has no right – and the community has no right – to impose this behavior on others.

I always thought that those of us who are Dati Leumi were immune from the craziness of the never-ending search for more chumras (stringincies) (ok, ok, on Pesach we all go nuts, I admit, and I follow chumras here too). This development worries me.

What do others think?

Kosher Cooking Carnival with Eye Appeal

Leora does a great job of hosting this month’s Kosher Cooking Carnival, and includes some nice pictures…..

My Elbows Aren’t Sharp Enough!

It’s summer time, and although my kids have a nice number of activities planned, they also spend quite a bit of time on the computer. So does westbankpapa.

That’s why it takes me forever to get onto the computer, and therefore my posting will be light for the next month or so….I also joined the library near where I work, and a whole new set of English books have now become available! Books still beat blogs for me, any day….

Meanwhile, enjoy Jack’s version of this week’s Havel-Havalim….

Liberals Can Be So Annoying

The Minister of Transportation has decided recently to change the roadsigns in Israel, and the liberals are up in arms. Until now the signs have been written in Hebrew, English, and Arabic. He wants to change the signs so that they are written in these three languages – but that the English and Arabic will be transliterations of the Hebrew name. The liberals think this is racist.

It would be funny, except for the fact that they are really taking it very seriously. I just read this morning that a Knesset Member from Meretz has asked the Attorney General Mazuz to look into the matter.

Can you imagine something like this happening elsewhere in the world? I mean, really, in America the signs are all in English, despite the many minorities in the country who speak other languages. Noone questions whether the Americans can call their capitol Washington, and not another name. Why do we need to even wonder if we have the right to call our capitol Jerusalem, and not Al Quds?

War Games

I have lived in Israel for a long time (18 years plus) but every once in a while I learn something new.

Yesterday my middle son went to “play” paintball. This was organized by the youth group leader and was open to teenagers 14 years old and over.

In my naivete, I thought that paintball was just a messier version of a water fight – where the kids shoot paint pellets at each other instead of water balloons. When my son came home and described it, I learned that it was much more intense than that.

First, the participants are given helmets, masks, and protective vests (bullet proof?). This protects them partially, but their legs are completely vulnerable. Then they are given 120 paint bullets. When their ammunition is used up, their part in the game is finished.

My son had a great time, although he complained that some of his friends just stayed in a protective area and hardly participated at all. He said that this was because getting shot at hurt (!)  He showed me where he was hit – including the places on his legs – which this morning sport nasty looking bruises.

It turns out that the IDF uses paintball for practice sessions.

If I were still living in America the idea of my 14 year old playing war games would probably freak me out, especially after seeing the bruises on his legs. But the reality of Israel, where my son will probably serve in the IDF, makes these games just another part of the process of growing up. (The girls played also, by the way).

I Love Feisty Women

I really love feisty women – perhaps because I am such a creampuff (opposites attracting and all that). So I got a kick out of this article about an 89 year old woman who decided to take up “flying” – and raised money for a good cause doing it.

This woman may not necessarily be feisty, but she did make the record books by giving birth to her eighth child – as an Israeli Knesset Member. (Which just goes to show you that we need more younger women in the Knesset….)

I don’t know if Toby is feisty, but she does a great job hosting this week’s Havel-Havalim, right here.

And last, but definitely not least, the feistiest woman in the blogosphere must be RivkA, who is battling cancer. Go on over and give her your support….

Enjoy your reading…

“Ima, I’m Bored!”

School is out for everybody now – the middle and high school kids get out around the 20th of June, and the primary school finishes on the 30th.

Which means that, barring a complete change in human nature, mothers will be hearing “Ima, I’m bored!” many times during the next two months.

Our yishuv sponsored a series of workshops the past month for parents on how to prepare for the summer, and it focused mainly on the potential problems faced by parents of teenagers with too much time on their hands. The younger teens are especially at risk, because they are too young to work (the summer camp counselors locally need to be graduates of 10th grade minimum) and are too old for organized day camp.

The yishuv sponsors a bus to the local pool once or twice a week, and the youth counselor (a hired position on our yishuv) organizes some activities, but many parents organize “parent camps” to fill in the gaps. The problem with this is that each group is a world unto itself.

My seventh grader is set – the parents in this group are super organized and we have five days of activities planned out (today is the separate beach in Tel-Aviv, next week is a walking tiyul, etc.). My eighth grader is not so lucky. There is no one “leader” amongst the parents – and I couldn’t take it on since I was so busy at work until yesterday.

In addition to the activities, the educators who spoke during the workshops emphasized the importance of having some structure to the day – even a minimal one. Too many teenagers turn night into day, and end up sleeping most of the morning away (or the whole day!) and then hanging out at night.

We put our foot down and insisted on a curfew – of 12:00am. For those of you who live in a city it may seem pretty late for a 14 year old – but here in yishuvim it is considered “normal” or “early”. The “problem” that we have in yishuvim is that the kids, and some parents, assume that it is safe here, and there is nothing dangerous about the kids hanging out until very late. I am lucky in that I have only boys – and they have a halachic (pertaining to Jewish law) obligation to pray with a minyan (a quorum of 10 men). The latest minyan here is 8:15am – so that morning deadline keeps them from sleeping too late (and yes, we have to wake them up, occasionally with the warning that if it is too hard to get up in the morning, then you’ll have to go to sleep earlier at night….).

My kids are reluctant to go to the library, so I go for them, and make sure to bring back four books at a time. That way I know that at least one will catch their interest. Of course the DVD gets an extra workout during the summer, too.

A little boredom is not bad. Two months of boredom is not good for anyone. I wish my readers an enjoyable and safe summer!

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