The Hard Part Is Over

I don’t know about everyone else, but I always heave a sigh of relief when I finish scrubbing the house for Pesach. Now we need to kasher, cover everything, set up the kitchen with the Pesach dishes, and do all of the laundry before the chag….but at least I don’t have to clean anymore!!

I want to wish all of my readers a happy and kosher Pesach, and a happy Easter to those who celebrate that spring holiday!


Time to Bake the Matzot…

Pesach is approaching and it is time for the men to bake the matzot (at least what we need for the seder). Someone made a clip of last year’s baking. (Westbankpapa and sons baked on another day, so you won’t see them here…) It is all in Hebrew, but the pictures speak for themselves….

Something’s Cooking…..

Something’s cooking – and I don’t mean the preparations for the Seder night.

Wednesday morning there was a series of tests of the air raid signals in many places in Israel, including our yishuv. The siren went up and down, signalling that it was a test and not a real warning of incoming bombs. What was very strange is that there was no advance warning of this test.

Usually these things are publicized well in advance in order to calm people’s fears. This time it just went off. I was in a store buying some housewares for Passover, and the storeowner and I just looked at each other at first – not knowing what to say. He then told me that his son was in miluim (reserve duty) and they were also practicing for imminent bombing. “We’re going after Iran finally – probably after Pesach”  he said.  He then suggested that I buy twice as much matza as usual this year. “Matza doesn’t go bad, you can put it into your mamad (safe room) and it will last”.

Personally, I can’t stand to look at matza after a week of eating it – so I wasn’t thrilled with this idea.  He did have a point though. After Pesach I will put a few bottles of water and some canned goods in our mamad just in case.

Some Music for Rosh Chodesh

Please feast your ears on some old fashioned Jewish soul music. Itzak Perlman plays klezmer. (and excuse me while I do some Pesach cleaning….)

You Can Be A Victim, Or You Can Build

Today is a very special day in Israel, and it highlights one of the main differences between the Jews and the Arabs.

There will be a hachnasat sefer Torah (bringing of a new Torah scroll to a synagogue) in the Old City of Jerusalem today. The Churva synagogue has been rebuilt and will receive its new sefer Torah this afternoon. (You can see the beautiful interiors and hear a historical recap here).

The Churva (meaning “destroyed”) synagogue has a long history. It was built originally in the early 18th century by Ashkenazic Jews who had just come to live in Israel under the leadership of Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid.  They had borrowed money from the Arabs, and when they could not pay the debt the Arabs rioted and destroyed the synagogue.  It was rebuilt again in the mid-19th century with the help of Moshe Montefiore and Baron deRothschild, who stipulated that the synagogue be named after his father. Although the official name was “Beit Yaakov”, the “Churva” name stuck.

This beautiful synagogue was destroyed again during the War of Independence, when the Arab League ordered it bombed to the ground. It was thought that this destruction would symbolize that the Jews would never return to the Old City of Jerusalem.

After the liberation of the Old City in 1967, there was controversy as to what to do with the synagogue. The arch was built in 1977, and the final future of the Churva was debated. Some, including Teddy Kollek, wanted to leave the synagogue in ruins, to show to the world how the Arabs wantonly destroyed our holy sites. Others, who ultimately won out, wanted to rebuild the Churva and restore it to its original beauty.

Why do I say that today highlights one difference between the Jews and the Arabs? It shows how we respectively react to misfortune.

In 1948 during the War of Independence many Arabs fled and became refugees. Despite billions of dollars in foreign aid over the past 60+ years, most of them, and their children and grandchildren, are still living in hovels. The Arabs use their poverty as a propoganda tool in order to gain pity and to bash Israel.

And what about the Jewish refugees? Many people hear the phrase “Jewish refugees” and are confused.  A quick history lesson: after the end of World War Two, Israel absorbed many Jewish refugees from Europe. In addition, between 1947 and 1948, hundreds of thousands of Jews who lived in Arab lands were persecuted and were made to flee these countries. Israel absorbed 586,000 of them. Israelis had to endure food rationing for years in order to pay for the expense of this absorption. Many immigrants were forced to live in tents for a few years, but then permanent housing was built for them.

In short, the Jews took care of their own. They did not force their own people to live in misery in order to “show the world” how cruel the Arabs were.

Today we celebrate the rebuilding of a beautiful synagogue, which will be a place for prayer and learning Torah. In short, Jewish life will go on there. The ruins will remain in pictures and in history books.

You can have your victimhood – we would rather build.

I’m A Woman Driver, and Proud of It!

There have been a few absolutely horrific car crashes here in Israel lately, where parents and children both have been killed. In general, Israeli drivers (or more accurately, Israeli male drivers) are known for their reckless driving.

Now it is official. According to this article in the Jerusalem Post, it turns out that Israeli women are only responsible for 16% of car crashes, although they make up 50% of the drivers.

I see this in my own family. My kids love to drive with westbankpapa, but they complain bitterly that I drive too slowly. I once passed a truck with them in the car, and they asked me “Ima, did you learn how to do that from Abba?” I could not tell if they were being sarcastic or not!

I always say to them, when they get impatient when I don’t pass a slower driver ahead of me (until it is completely safe to do so, of course) that it is better to get there a few minutes later than not to get there at all.

Granted, westbankpapa can park the car really well. (I guess it was all that practice parallel parking in New York – especially when were dating). My kids laugh at me because I choose the parking space as far away from other cars as possible – and I sweat a bit if I must park between two cars, especially if there is not a lot of room to maneuver.

But I am a safe driver – and I see that my Israeli sisters are too. I think the men have a lot to learn from us.

More Posts Appropriate for Israel Pride Week

Update: I received this following video from Bob at the Boudica blog (and I learned a bit of history looking up this interesting name!).

Both DaledAmos and Soccerdad have been kind enough to keep sending me appropriate posts for this week.

An alumnus of the University of Toronto sends a scathing letter of protest. Combating the apartheid slander is the title of this great post which contains many sources.

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs also has printed an excellent refutation.

Stand With Us has a downloadable booklet about the real apartheid in the Middle East.

Professor Irwin Cotler, former Canadian Justice Minister, spoke on this topic at the invitation of Hadar – Israel, Council for Civic Action. You can see the video here.

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