Family Update – Both the Nuclear Family and All of Israel

A short update on what is happening with our family.

My son was transferred to what in Hebrew is called “maatzar patuach” in the Tel HaShomer army base, until the court decides if and how much time he needs to spend in military prison before he starts his regular army service. This means that he has to stay in the base and can only go out when he gets official leave, which for the past 6 weeks has been every few weeks for Shabbat.

His wife can visit him by standing at the gate of the base, but she does not have official permission to enter the base to see him. As you can imagine this situation is not ideal for a newly married couple, but they are both dealing with it as best they can. We are hoping that the military court will finally come to a decision so that even if he needs to do some prison time we will know when it ends.

As far as the security situation, when we are home in our yishuv things are very quiet, but when we are at work we are like everyone else in Tel Aviv – periodic sirens where we need to go to the miklat (in my case an inner stairwell in our office). In general people are feeling secure since the Kipat Barzel system is shooting down the bombs before they fall, but there is still a danger from the shrapnel that falls to earth after the bomb is destroyed, so being in an open space is scary. The sound of the sirens themselves is also frightening.

There is a general increase in anxiety though. After a siren in a specific place the phone system goes into overdrive because everyone needs to call their family to make sure everyone is ok. Watsup is my tool of choice for this.

Many people have soldiers in their family who have been called up and will be going into Gaza when there is a ground invasion.

As usual we react to the stress with a lot of black humor, increased prayer, and the repeating cycle of obssessing with the news/Facebook and then taking a news fast when it gets to be too much. Working full time happens to be a positive thing – the work still has to get done, no matter what is going on outside, so people can’t obssess too much.

We should only hear good news!!!

Mazel tov!

I’ve disappeared from the blogging world for a good reason – looking for a shidduch for my oldest son. Baruch Hashem he got engaged this week and we of course are thrilled.

I will probably disappear again until after the wedding and Sheva Brachot (the week of celebration afterwards), but hopefully I’ll be back…..

Faster Please

There will be a new air defense system to compliment the Iron Dome that Israel has deployed against the kassam and Grad rockets fired from Gaza. This system, sometimes called Magic Wand, is supposed to be ready for deployment within two years, and was unveiled at the Paris Air Show rcently.

This system will be very much needed if Hizballah decides to start firing rockets at us from Lebanon. The craziness in Syria has its affect in the other countries surrounding Israel – as this interesting analysis of last night’s rocket fire from Gaza points out.

A Tribute to Our Soldiers

I would like to share this beautiful tribute to the IDF soldiers that I found on the IDF Facebook page. My two younger sons are now in the process of going through the various tests to figure out where they want to serve, so this is becoming more and more relevant to our family.  Enjoy!

The Forgotten Refugees

Today is the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet – a minor fast day in the Jewish calendar. It is also called the Yom HaKadish HaKlali in Israel. This means that today is the official day of mourning for Jews who do not know the exact date of their relative’s deaths, and they say Kaddish for them today. Most of the people who fit this unfortunate category are Holocaust survivors, and the day is sometimes used to educate the younger generation in Israel about Holocaust history (usually in the Orthodox community, since it coincides with a fast.)

Today, in contrast to past years,  I would like to share a interesting video about the survivors of anti-Semitism and persecution from another part of the world – specifically from the Arab countries. They call themselves the “forgotten refugees” – since there is very little written about the million Jews expelled from the Arab countries around the time of Israel’s independence in 1948. Very little is written also about the riots and massacres carried out before the expulsions.

Why Are The Number of Israeli Casualties So Low?

The IDF spokesman’s blog asks the question, whey are the number of Israeli casualties so low – and answers here. The short version, we have the Iron Dome System that destroys some of the rockets before they fall, and the people have access to bomb shelters – either in their homes (the safe room, or mamad in Israeli slang) or in public shelters in their apartment buildings.

The long version of this answer is our society and its values. We Jews value life above (practically) all else. We use our human and physical resources in order to do whatever we can to save lives. We use our superior technologies to help us survive. Unfortunately we have had a lot of experience in warfare and defending the homefront, and we try to learn from every war. The fact that we have safe rooms in houses came about as a reaction to the Gulf War in 1991. After that war a law was passed that every new residence was required to have a safe room built into it. These safe rooms have literally saved thousands of lives, just in the past week.

The IDF youtube site has a short video showing the incredible damage to an apartment in Rishon LeZion hit yesterday, and at the end it shows how the safe room is completely intact.

Creative Ways to Get the Message Across

The public relations effort to support Israel during the Pillar of Defense operation takes many forms, and the new media is a major player. One new group doing its part to help is called the Israeli Explanation Art Project. They have a Facebook page and they have been publishing artwork and video clips. I am including a video and picture for my readers to get a taste. I urge you to support them.

Artwork by a member of the Israeli Explanation Art Project

Kfar Blum and Tel Aviv Come in Second

Kfar Blum and Tel Aviv have tied for second, in terms of receiving the yearly amount of rain. As I predicted before this was easy to anticipate.

Zfat received a lot of rain also – and is now at 98%, and we are only one day into the three days of rainstorms that are predicted. It could go over the top tomorrow.

The biggest surprise though is the whopping amount of rain that fell in Jerusalem. Yesterday 51mm of rain fell, and today it is already up to over 30mm, with 15 hours to go…..Jerusalem is at 89%, and could go over the top either tomorrow or on Shabbat.

The Kinneret has risen 9 centimeters, and is just 2 centimeters short of last year’s high. The rain is still falling, and the snow that fell in the north of the Golan and the Hermon will eventually melt and rush into the streams that feed the Kinneret.

On a local note, our yishuv is located north of a wadi (dried stream-bed) called Nachal Shiloh (we are at the very western part). There is a section where the road crosses the wadi, and once in a decade or so, the road floods. The road flooded today.

Thank you Hashem for your blessing of rain!

More Alike than We Realize

When the news day is boring, the journalists like to spice things up by focussing on our differences. After all, you can always find some story about Jews fighting amonst themselves, and sometimes it makes for great copy.

So it is easy to forget, at least in Israel, that we have more in common with our fellow countrymen than we think.

This study shows that we believe in many of the same things, even if our behavior is not exactly the same. I was surprised and pleased at some of the findings. Even though “only” 22% of Israelis define themselves as “religious” (7% Charedi and 15% religious), 80% believe in G-d and 65% believe that Torah and mitzvot are a divine order. 72% think that praying can improve a person’s situation, and 80% think that good deeds are rewarded.

The numbers of Israeli Jews who believe that it is extremely important to mark milestones in life with traditional Jewish ceremonies is very high. Brit milah (circumcision) gets 94%, shiva (the seven days of mourning) gets 92%, and 91% believe in bar mitzvah.

I find these statistics very reassuring.

Jameel Nails It

The Muqata blog has an excellent post about the recent violence by out-of-control “hilltop youth” against IDF soldiers. Go over and read for yourself.

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