Thursday, December 29, 2005

where to light

Tonight we are beginning our journey southward, towards the holy city of Jerusalem.
The itinerary includes Ramat Bet Shemesh, where we will visit the recovering brotherinlaw and his family. We are planning on visiting some other friends there as well, if it isn't too late.

As it is written, you should stop in the courtyard to prepare yourself before entering the holy.

We will then head into the kedusha itself where we will be staying in Har Nof. (Up to this point we will still not seen any native Hebrew speakers). Hopefully, I'll be able to make it to the kotel, but it depends on how the family settles. The big question is where to light candles. Harav Yoylee, (he performs weddings for a small fee but isn't licensed so it has no weight in this country) thinks I should light candles where I sleep. But I can't eat until I light candles. So I may light at brother benji's. I don't think I'm planning on eating before I get to jlem anyways, so food may be a non-issue.
Friday morning we have the haylika family chanukah party. We have adopted a no-presents policy this year because the 20 shekel grab bag is the only thing that makes sense and I feel that if any if the atendees wants something for 20 shek, he should buy it.

The location of the party will not be mentioned here for security reasons.

After the party we will be heading into the Israeli territories near Hevron. We will be returning the the Galilee, God Willing on Saturday night.

We shouldn't be missed.

key to happiness

As everyone knows, except women, the key to happiness is meat. Women have an affinity for chocolate and ice cream and that makes them incapable of true happiness. In the good old days, when we were allowed to sacrifice animals to show ourselves and God how much we love him, the gemara says that there is no happiness without meat.

Israelis don't understand meat. They think that chicken and meat are the same. Chicken is not meat. Chicken is a bird. It tastes good, if prepared correctly, but it doesn't bring the eater up to the highest levels of spirituality and pure unadulterated joy that a side of beef does.

Chicken is the sitra achra. It looks kind of like meat and can be prepared similarly, but it doesn't have the חיות that meat has. Chicken, and even turkey (the buffalo of the chicken family), are scrawny little nothings. It is a trick. Don't be fooled.

I feel that when the rabbonim put chicken (and other birds) into the same category as meat they did Judaism a great disservice. They were trying to protect us from mistaking a chicken for meat and then seeing people eat chicken with milk would eat meat with milk. They had good intentions, but you know what path is paved with good intentions.

Monday, December 26, 2005

happy chanukah

It's the first day of chanukah and it is going very well so far, though I forgot to say al hanisim this morning.

The kids didn't cry when we gave them presents, even though we got them sharing presents and not individual ones.

My wife surprised even me when she bought our daughters a self-piercing kit.

We have friends coming up tonight from jlem for the second lighting and a festive holiday meal. Hopefully, we'll figure something to do with them tomorrow afternoon.

Friday morning is the official Israeli family chanukah party. Brother benji might not make it, because of his convalescing. (BTW did I mention they freed him from the confines of the hospital?)We are planning on having the greater part of the Israeli family there. 2Ares (who is single by the way if you happen to know anybody), and SRA will be there with his wife and cousin Justin (TUGS) will be showing as well. On the other side of the family, Yoylee and family and Shira with her new hottie (or so she says) husband will both be attending as well.

We have drafted a no-presents policy for the adults because the grab bag makes sense financially, but if you really wanted a 20 shekel item, go and buy one.

For shabbos chanuka we are going to be leaving the galilean heartland and go visiting settlements. While we are not going to heading towards Muqata's beloved Samaria, we are planning a foray deep into the jungle of Judea. A little village about 10 minutes from Hebron is the destination. The last time we were there, about 3 years ago, we heard helicopters all shabbat and found out afterwards that a multi-felafel soldier was killed in Hevron, the highest ranking soldier to be killed up to that point. May his neshama have an aliyah and may the wicked enemies of Israel rot in pig guts till eternity. (and let them go to hell and have shoes thrown at them. Amen.).

For those who don't know, a felafeled soldier is one who has gotten more stripes then fit on his shirt, so they take off all his stripes and congratulate him by giving him a felafel.

Hopefully, though I don't know if there will be time, we will make it to Hevron to discuss political, social and religious issues with our forefathers in the maaras hamachpeila (cave of the patriarchs).

Sunday, December 25, 2005

my Jewishness.

They've never been able to categorize me before, I don't know why they thought they could do it now. User Test: The Orthodoxy  Test.

Left Wing Modern Orthodox: 15%
Right Wing Modern Orthodox: 49%
Left Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi: 61%
Right Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi: 29%

This means you're: Huh?

What does it mean?
I give up. What are you?

Comparison Summary:
Of the 1875 unique test takers...
For: Left Wing Modern Orthodox
76% scored higher, and 22% scored lower.
The average Raw Score is: 30.3, your's was: 12.

For: Right Wing Modern Orthodox
75% scored higher, and 23% scored lower.
The average Raw Score is: 46.3, your's was: 36.

For: Left Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi
44% scored higher, and 54% scored lower.
The average Raw Score is: 40.3, your's was: 43.

For: Right Wing Yeshivish/Chareidi
44% scored higher, and 54% scored lower.
The average Raw Score is: 24.0, your's was: 23.

a shabbos from heaven

This was supposed to be a very laid back shabbos for us. It had been a stressful week and I was looking forward to the relaxation that shabbos provides.
My mother-in-law came to visit, as she was in for a week visiting my hospitalized brother-in-law, who is doing very well. He is hoping to get released to today. The tehillim are working (or else God didn't really want to kill him this time.)
Anyways, back to the story. So my mother-in-law was sleeping in our guest suite downstairs, which isn't really a basement because it is on the lower groound floor.
The rain was coming down like gishmei bracha (rains of blessing) is supposed to. At 6:30 AM there is a loud bang and all the power went out. No, we weren't attacked by terrorists - it was God himself. The main breakers had jumped so we were without lights or heat for all shabbos. My motherinlaw gets up at 7:30 and steps into - not just a puddle of water, but a full lake. Two inches deep, in the shallow section. The entire guest suite had flooded. But none of the walls were wet and there are no drains in the floor. We couldn't figure out where the water could possibly be coming from.
I ended up davening at home because shul was mostly over by the time we gave up sweeping the water out of the house.
Our neighbors invited us over for lunch, because they had lights and heat, so we brought over all of our food (the chulent was still warm) and had an enjoyable meal.

All in all it was an enjoyable, though stressful, shabbos from shomayim.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

democracy does not equal morality or intelligence

First of all I want to let everyone know that I spoke with my brotherinlaw Benji and he thinks he is recovering nicely.
Beseech God, you never know when he may listen.

I've been hearing a lot of comments on various blogs that Netanyahu's move to ban Feiglin from running on the Likud list is undemocratic. This follows all the comments that Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza was undemocratic. People seem to mistake democracy for morality or intelligence.

Democracy means the decision rest on the votes of the majority of people eligible to vote. In a representative democracy (such as the US), the people vote for representatives and then anything that those representatives vote on reflect the will of the people. If it doesn't reflect their will, the people are not supposed to vote for them again. In a parliamentary democracy (such as in Israel) the people vote for a party, the leaders of the party determine who the representative list is. In this system, someone who has a lot of supporters among the leaders of the party will be sent to the parliament, even if all the people who support the party hate him.

Removing Feiglin from running on the Likud is a dumb thing to for netanyahu to do, because after losing who knows how many votes to kadima, he is now trying to alienate another large group of people (17% of the party voted for him).

Blackmail and making deals is also part of the democratic process. The way that you get people to vote for your proposal is by promising to vote for their proposal. (quid pro quo)

On that point, there was nothing undemocratic about the withdrawal from Gaza. It may have been unethical. It may not have been intelligent, but the majority of knesset members certainly voted yes.

On that point, if the majority of Germans vote to kill all Jews, that is also democratic. Wrong, but democratic.

If the majority of voters vote that black people should be enslaved, it is a democratic decision. Wrong, but democratic.

People were not given the ability to determine moral societal values. Those were given to us by God, in an unalterable book. The model of the world is based on God, a single ruler over everything. In the animal kingdom, we have the Lion is the king of beasts. The human world used to believe in the "Divine right of Kings" (Charlamange).

When Jesus said (or so I've heard), "let he who is without sin cast the first stone," he was basically saying that the laws of God are not meant to be followed. We, as Jews, instantly rejected him because of that. That is saying that it is impossible to punish anyone, thereby creating a lawless society, because who among us is without sin.

While democracy is not inherently good or bad, it is based on the values of the voting population. Therein lies the intrinsic problem of a democracy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

israeli categories

When I came to Israel, I was told I had to define myself in a sociopolitical category.
My choices, as a religious ashkenazi, were either:
  • dati leumi (national religious), which apparantly means that I believe that the State and the Messiah are one. We were already redeemed, just the guy who was supposed to tell us never showed up.
  • Chareidi (ultra orthodox), which apparantly means that I believe the state has no right to exist, I don't work, don't go into the army, leech off of society, and am generally despised by everyone.
There is a sub-category of national religious called "mustard" which are people who are as religious as an ultra-orthodoxer, but even so believe that the state is the religion. But we won't get into that.

It seems to me that there are a lot of religious Jews out there (maybe mostly from midwest America, though one of my readers will claim that in the south there are normal Jews as well, but we just look at them funny and say, "inbred") who do not fit into any of these categories. This leaves us as ill-represented. I moved to Israel because of religious reasons, secular zionistic reasons played a part in it, but religious zionism was not part of the decision process.

I would guess that makes me chareidi. Except when people ask me what kind of Jew I am and I tell them chareidi, they laugh. Apparantly, I don't much look like a chareidi. And I work. I didn't go to the army, but they didn't ask me nicely to go. Also I use a suf when I daven and layn. And I don't know the rambam by heart. I tried going through two of rav kook's sefarim and didn't understand a word.

My children are going to be dati leumi because we moved to a dati leumi community and send them to dati leumi schools. But I'll probably be able to give them a little perspective, which they'll happily ignore.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

israeli politics

The big question in Israel for the next few months is who to vote for. This is not at all similar to the same question in the US, where you have 40% conservatives who always vote Republican and 40% liberals who always vote Democrat and then 20 percent of the population are swing voters. They tend to vote for the person who they like personally, irrelevant of the actual issues.

In Israel it does not work that way. The platforms of the political parties in general do not represent a broad spectrum of policy, but rather they focus on an issue and everything else is ignored. For example, the Likud is known as a right-center party. I believe that specifically means they are anti giving land to the Palestinians, but not so much. How do they feel about abortion? It's probably split. How do they feel about social programs? also split. Difference between big government and privatization? Most of them don't know what that means.

How are these people supposed to agree on a budget if they don't agree on any issues? What happens is the head of the party decides how he wants to vote on these issues and if it's considered important he imposes party discipline making everyone in the party vote his way.

Shinui, on the other hand, is anti-religious. That is their platform. They officially have no policy on disengagement, or government or anything else, except that they don't want to be told whether they can eat pig while driving on shabbat or not.

Labor looks like it is shaping up more as a replacement for meretz as a true social-democratic party, where they are interested in creating a bigger welfare state then already exists. Except if you hear the voices coming out of the party, it is Peretz, the new leader, who is advocating this and no one else is really sure what to make of it.

Shas's platform is black people are cool, and give us money for our own school system. And you're all a bunch of racist bastards, and we need more money for our schools.

There is no party that I like in Israeli politics, I don't think they focus on issues at all and even when they do it is generally a one person opinion, not a party platform.

With this vacuum in who to vote for, degel HaTorah, whose sole purpose in the government is to strengthen Torah institutions, is looking more plausable. Since there is no viable party to vote for, why not vote to strengthen Torah Judaism.

A vote for degel haTorah is a vote against Shinui.
A vote for degel haTorah is a vote against Labor.
A vote for degel haTorah is sending a message to the NRP
that they're a bunch of hypocritical dogs.

I don't know who I'm going to vote for yet, but I'm leaning heavily in this direction.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Day 2 - At Home

Day 1 went significantly better then day 2, as my monitor would not even turn on this morning and after I gave up waiting for it, I switched monitors. 2 hours later the old monitor finally turned on and I was able to switch back.
Getting the kids up, dressed and to school is no small matter. Mom's probably already take this for granted, but to me it is a new experience. The girls are up for 20 minutes. They are in their room after I asked them to getr dressed, I walk into their room and they are both in pajamas. One of them (2nd grade) says it is because she could not find socks, the other (1st grade) had no excuse but was going through her closet for the third or fourth time trying to decide which skirt to wear for her tiyul today.
Playing with the kids is going fine, except that the motorcycle guy's head got kicked off and that upset number 4.
Tonight we have the gan's chanukah party and I have to find a babysitter and go, now that my wife is unable to be here at that time.
My motherinlaw is due to arrive today to visit with my brotherinlaw. He seems to be doing ok and they'll probably know the results today at some time.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

busy busy

For those who haven't heard, my brother-in-law Benji had a stroke on Thursday and is in the hospital Hadassah Ein Kerem. His hebrew name is benzion yehuda ben chana rachel. If you have the chance to say a kapital tehillim or give some tzedaka or something, it can only help. The Rock of Galilee blog wishes him a refuah shleimah, a refuat henefesh and a refuat hagoof.

My wife went down to jlem to be with her brother and his wife. From what I understand, it was not a serious stroke and he seems to be recovering, though they will probably figure that out over the next few days/weeks.

The hospital doesn't seem very competant to me, though I suggested a policy of assuming competance until proven otherwise. I think they have pretty much proven otherweise.
The prime minister, Ariel Sharon, also had a stroke and is in the same hospital. I am not sure why it didn't take them 72 hours to figure out that he had a stroke.

If he is out of politics, even for the short term, that will remove a good portion of the old cancerous cells of the political establishment. Kadima's only platform is Sharon knows what he is doing. None of the people who left their political homes for kadima would be allowed back in and since they have no platform without their leader, the party would fall apart and all those people would be out of the Knesset. Of course the new crop of people is likely to be just as corrupt, if not more corrupt then the current crop. But as my rabbi likes to say, new shmootz is not like old shmootz.

Anyways, while my wife is hanging out on ben yehuda, I have assumed the mantle of Mr. Mom, once again. I am working from home, which gives me a solid 4 hours in the morning before the baby comes home from gan. and a little bit of time after they go to sleep. Today was pretty good. We played inside and out and read stories. I hope tomorrow will be as productive.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Yeshivishe pritzus

I received this apology note in my ad-sponsored hotmail account.
Oh the irony.
The text of the email says:
Dear fellow Alumni,
Regrettably, I too have fallen victim to the hidden dangers of the Internet. Unfortunately, the Evite I sent you was linked to non-tznius material. this was done by the vendor, and I of course had no idea this would happen. I apologize and commit to being ever more diligent in the future. I have terminated my association with Evite. Further information about the Melava Malka will be arriving in your home mail box and is always available at our controlled Website, I sincerely regret sending that email. Please discard the EVITE if you have not yet opened it .
Thank you and my apologies,

Stop The Trial...

Omri Sharon, the corrupt son of the corrupt prime minister of Israel requested that his sentencing for violating the election laws should not be held during the election season because it will be damaging to his political party.

Omri, Have you ever heard of chutzpah?

As if announcements that Sharon is planning on dividing Jerusalem isn't bad enough, his son is going to jail for helping his dad win the election last time.

The only thing more surprising then the request itself is that the court rejected the motion. I would assume that the powers that be are sending a message to Sharon senior, by gently squeezing his election nuts, not to vehemently deny reports of giving the Jewish capital to the Arab murderers.

Who really won here? Sharon in grabbing Peres away from Labor, or Peres in grabbing Sharon away from the Likud. Sharon's platform, kneel and kneel good, is fulfilling the wet dreams of Shimon Peres in his goal at becoming a destroyed European country. Peres who has lost at everything he has ever tried is now, with the help of the Sharon mob, finally succeeding at losing our country.

As the Iraqis like to say... "they can go to hell".

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

2nd grade f-word

My daughter came home from her 2nd grade upset because some kids weren't nice to her again. She finished her homework (or didn't have any) so my wife allowed her to have a friend come over. While she was out getting her friend one of the girls in her class (Israeli with no English speaking blood) called and told my wife that she was very upset because my daughter called her a F****** B****. Now this was very upsetting for my wife to hear, because we don't approve of that kind of language. This is the same girl who stole my daughter's belt one day and then blamed someone else for giving it to her. (her belt was off for a good reason, having to do with gym day, but I didn't fully get that part)

My wife asked my daghter about it later and apparantly she had never heard those words before the girl said them to her and she didn't remember the words. This is very believable because we never use those kind of words in our house, the children don't watch television and they only speak and Hebrew except in the house.

My daughters story was the girl was being very mean to her and yelling at her in Hebrew and then she said F******* B**** to my daughter who said there were no such words in English.

So my wife went to the girls house with our daughter this evening to discuss the animosity between these girls with her mom and the girls together. The girl changed her story and said actually another girl said that to her and said my daughter told her to say it. My wife has the feeling that she still wasn't being completely honest, and since she is from a non-religious family with older siblings and a television that is never shut off, she has probably heard that kind of language before.

In any case, after discussing the problem, the girls decided that they can try to be friends in school from now on.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

end of an era

He who made women into into widows and children into orphans.
He who founded a movement based on senseless violence and killing .
The man they call tookie.
He's dead.

But his legend lives on.
While children read the books that tookie wrote saying how bad gangs are, his gang followers are knocking down old ladies and steraling their purses.

What is most surprising is that he did not win the Nobel Peace Prize. After all, they gave it to arafat and peres, two of the most notorious self-centered, enriching themselves on the back of the poor, individuals that should never have had the honor of standing in the same room as Yitzchak Rabin, an honorable general (who I politically disagreed with), forget about winning any degree of respectability.

Tookie represents a lot of things to a lot of people. To me he represents a silly nickname. Like the guy taking the heat in the CIA leakage case. What kind of 60 year old is called Scooter in the international press?

To born againers and NAACP folks he represents the best that their society has to offer. A bad person who is sent to life in prison and execution and then decides, maybe he'll soften up a little so God won't laugh so hard when he asks if he can get into heaven.

I'm happy that tookie is dead. But I think our death penalty system is messed up. I don't think he should have had the opportunity to write so many books or present himself as a changed man. I think he should have been dead within a week after the sentence was handed out.

Here's an ode to Tookie:

There was a fine fella named tookie
killed someone who wasn't his bookie
When arrested they said
y'all gonna be dead
He said I'm so peaceful now, lookie.

Monday, December 12, 2005

line dancing in gan

This past Saturday night number 3 had a havdala party in gan. I'm not sure what the point was, but they may have wanted to do something interactive with the parents and children. Number 3 got to choose which parent got to go with him and he chose me.

It was an entertaining evening. He didn't want me to dance with him, so I sat down and watched. The morrocan deejay (if you could call him that) turned the gan into a honky tonk and led the crowd in line dancing to Jewish music.

three steps left, kick your feet, two steps forward two steps back swing your partner round - kid slides through parent's legs. now back to back...

It was a lot of fun and the kids had obviously been practicing for a while.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

counterculture and local Bnei Akiva

Did you know that counterculture is one word? Both and babylon list it as such.
Todays conversation on the train revolved around israeli counterculter or the lack thereof. I suggested that the religious culture in Israel was in fact a counter culture while my esteemed colleagues argued that anything that is part of and funded by the establishment could be considered counterculture.
First a dictionary defintion:
coun·ter·cul·ture Audio pronunciation of "counterculture" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (kountr-klchr)
A culture, especially of young people, with values or lifestyles in opposition to those of the established culture.
Lets look at an incident that is in the middle of happening in our Galilean village.

A matnas is a community center, kind of like a JCC. I don't know exactly how the matnas is funded or what their mandate is, but they have been providing certain services to Bnei Akiva. There was a notice posted in shul that for shabbos Irgun, which is some international hokey shabbos that bnei akivians have. The letter said that the matnas refused to print their invitation because it had the words gush katif on them. The subject of the shabbos was "continuing the spirit of gush katif" After the youths printed it somewhere else the matnas told the Komonarit (head communist girl) that they would not be supporting bnei akiva anymore and they would not be able to use their facilities in the coming year for their shabbos irgun. The letter noted (and I don't know how factually accurate this is) that the matnas is supposed to support the organization on an oirganizational level and not at a detail level. The matnas is not supporting them out of kindness, but rather it is a right of bnei akiva as a local organization to expect this support.

While this is a specific example of youth, I see this as an uphill battle for the entire dati leumi communty. To me, it seems like the dati leumi (national religious) is in fact a strong counterculture as the established culture is trying to railroad them into leaving their culture and values behind, while they are fighting to instill a distinct seperate set of values into themselves.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

My Kind of Music - Ray Scott

Oh, I met this girl I swore was close to perfect.
I could see the ring, the dress, and the whole nine yards.
I had a country station on and she reached and turned it.
Said she couldnt stand the sound of a steel guitar.

We hit the town to catch an early movie.
And ol' Kris Kristofferson played the leading role.
I said "That's my man!" She said "Who's he?" I jumped up and said "Girl, we gotta go!"

She dont like to play my kinda music.
She's never heard a Waylon Jennings song.
She's never been a fan of Willie Nelson.
So there aint no way in hell we'll get along.

She told me she thinks country musics hokey.
She said "You can't dance to it, and all the songs are sad."
I cocked my eyebrow and said "You must be jokin!"
"Ain't no excuse for havin taste that bad."

Then I asked her if she'd heard of Alan Jackson.
And she said "Didn't he sing that song called 'Where Were You?'"
I said "Ya, but girl, that man's a livin' legend."
And she said "Really? I thought he was new."

She dont like to play my kinda music.
She's never heard of David Allan Coe.
She can't get enough of Whitney Houston.
And I'm thinkin "Lord, that's all i need to know."

So when the night was over i walked her to her door.
And i bid that girl an overdue farewell.
And without a good night kiss i jumped back in my truck.
Turned on some Hank and cranked it loud as hell.

She don't like to play my kinda music.
She don't know Sunday morning comin down.
She can't see what's so cool about he stopped lovin' her today.
Or angel flying to close to the ground.

She told me that she sorta likes the Eagles.
She couldn't name one hit by Johnny Cash.
No, she don't like to play my kinda music.
So i had to tell that girl to kiss my ass!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

speaking in hebrew

Last night's sheva brachos was very enjoyable. The chosson walked in wearing a sling because he dislocated his shoulder during the wedding. He took some good natured ribbing for that, but he may not have understood it because it was American ribbing which Israelis, even those who speak English very well, just don't get. The Israelis wished him a refuah sheleima.

I was originally told that I could speak in whatever language I chose, but there were actually Hebrew speaking Israelis there, and people requested that I speak in hebrew, so I did. I was the entertainment for the evening. Speaking in a different language isn't just about the words that you use. I had planned an opening in English before I got started and I couldn't think of a good way to do it, so I said thanks to the people who made the party and the chosson and kallah for getting married and then launched directly into my dvar torah, which was a unique perspective on mixtures, both permitted and forbidden.

My point, which was probably lost on all, was that men and women are completely different beings and when you put them together in marriage you form an unbreakable bond. Milk and meat are prohibited together and one could say that it is similar to walking into a graveyard with your tzitzes on, milk gives life to animals and meat is dead animal. So putting a life giver with something dead is a contradiction that can't be resolved and that is why it is forbidden. Men and women are very similar in that respect. Men and women are a contradiction that is almost too great to overcome. They walk on the line of permissibility. This is why men and women can only have a real relationship after they are married, because an unmarried woman is a complete contradiction to an unmarried man. This is also why during the time of nidah, that men and women cannot have a physical relationship, because women go way over the line during that time of month and cannot coexist with men.

My bracha to the chosson and kallah was that they would be able to find the balance (they understood that I wanted to say balance because I asked how to say it in Hebrew) in marriage between the permitted and the forbidden and that they should enjoy a life of kosher mixtures.

This is my original interpretation marriage and kashrus mixed in with some life philosophy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

sheva brachas

I'm going to sheva brachos tonight for a couple who I don't know. This seems to be a very Israeli thing. The stranger thing is they asked me to give a dvar torah. I have spoken at plenty of sheva brachos before, but only once before when I didn't know the chosson or the kallah and that was a couple months ago. At least this one will be in English. Last time they didn't tell me in advance, so I gave a nice quick vort in Hebrew. What I learned from that experience is that the word intimate in hebrew is intimiut. Maybe I'll post tonight's vort here tomorrow, depending on how it turns out.

My wife has the cold that I am almost done with, so she will probably be staying home, miserable. This is not a fun cold. The cold completely blows. It's the kind that goes up to your head and encircles your brain and squeezes so that you can't think and anything that you say is suspect. It's the kind of cold where you sit at your desk with your hands over the keyboard for 5 minutes before you realize that you should probably be typing something, but you don't know what.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

internet, aliyah and a little rashi

One of the primary reasons people have for not making aliyah has been solved by the Internet. A lot of people make various excuses as to why they would not or could not move to Israel. Most of these reasons are secondary. People work here, people make friends here, and people get new relatives here.

The one thing that truly scares people about living in Israel, though they may not admit it, is the lack of a country music station. Via broadband Internet, you can get high quality country radio, streaming into your computer. Now, I'll be the first to admit that it isn't the same as having a real local country station. You can't listen to radio while you're in the car. There are no Hebrew deejays or advertisements or news-breaks. But at least it's a start.

Surprisingly enough, I forgot to mention this fact to someone who was recently asking about aliyah. I think he's a reader, so now he knows. You can live in Israel and still listen to country music radio.

Parshas Lech Lecha was a few weeks ago and it deals heavily with aliyah. Rashi asks a question on the first pasuk and until I started planning my own aliyah I thought it was a great question.
The Torah says "Go for yourself from your land, your birthplace and your father's house to the land which I will show you." Rashi thought it should be the other way around, first leave your home, then your city and finally your country. Then he gives a nice deep explanation of why it is supposed to be this way.
While I was making aliyah, the thought occurred to me that the pasuk makes the most sense the way it is. God was talking to Avraham, the man of the family and the head of the household. The primary thing that he would have been concerned with was (no, not country music. All music was country back then) the economy and his earning potential. Is it possible to breach the culture gap and language differences of a different country and still put food on the table? That is what was waying on Avraham's mind. After that his concern was the local customs, friends, contacts, knowing what time the bank was open and general familiarity that he was leaving behind. That was his birthplace. Finally, the last thing on his mind was that he was leaving his family. Very important and emotional, but not somethng that would hold him back.
The pasuk is stated in a very logical order.
Now, if God was talking to Sarah then Rashi has a very good question because as a woman her priorities would have been exactly the opposite.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

norman and bens path

Being sick is not fun, even when it is just a stupid cold. Last week, I did nothing when I got home from work. Just sat on the couch and was miserable. I did finish the first Harry Potter book. My 2nd grader was reading it together with my wife, and they seemed to enjoy it, so I figured I would too since I wasn't doing anything anyways. Not a bad book, though I don't know if it wasn't a bit too scary for a 2nd grader. Good author, and that little twist at the end as to who the real bad teacher kept it alive at the end.

That's the book report.

On Friday while my children were in school, my wife asked me if I would like to go hiking. We decided to go to shvil Norman, which has a sign on the side "Norman and Ben's path." It seems that Norman and Ben are/were 2 teenagers from Kfar Vradim who decided that it was more fun if you didn't follow the standard blue trail, so they painted theirs in yellow. It deviates from the official path and they marked a number of places of interest such as snow whites home and the camp of mitz petel among others.I got to do a little mountain climbing and that was fun. There was a little mifgash with a nice sign that this was in memory of Amir, who died in a biking accident.

I recommend this path to hikers who are looking for an enjoyable, not very strenuous hike, with some minor, non-required mountain climbing available. Great view. Good for children. Better without.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

got a cold

We met some friends in Tel Aviv on Monday night for all you can eat steak. They forgot to cook the meat so we had to keep sending it back. Apparantly you have to tell them burnt in order to get it well done. To them "medium-well" meant mostly rare.
I should have known something was wrong because I only ate 3 steaks, a plate of chicken wings and fries.
Next morning I woke up and my throat was hurting a lot. Not because of the meat. I just got a dumb cold.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Time for prayer

As an aside, my little brother (not any of my sister-in-laws) went shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Not only did he go shopping, he woke up at 4AM to go. Once he got to the the store, he saw that there was a long line. (like, duh) He then called a friend (also a guy) in a different state who went to stand on line at midnight and asked him to buy the item that he was hoping to get and went back home and back to sleep.

Have you ever heard the phrase metrosexual? That's what you call a guy who gets up early because he heard there's a sale. He also usually brushes his hair before going out and makes sure that his clothes all match. On his blog, he only mentioned the shopping part so we don't know about the rest.

Back on subject.
The sun is getting ready to come up over the hills of Meron. The beginning of light is starting to creep over the horizon. My #2 daughter is upstairs in the bathroom throwing up. The baby started crying that he wants his mother and will not take water from me. Number 3 asks if it is time to get up yet...

The time for prayer. Leaving behod all that is precious and dear to spend time discussing life with the creator. One of the problems living in Israel, and this could be a Galilee specific problem, is that they don't have tikkin very often at shachris. Tikkin was one of my favorite parts of American shacharis. The idea of tikkin is that someone died a couple years ago and it's a mitzva to have a shot of whiskey and a kichel instead of breakfast. Maybe it's better that they don't have tikkin here, because Israelis would probably put out some form of arak or disgusting brandy that isn't fit for anything except mixing. and heavy mixing.

The countryside is beautiful and you just know God is going to answer your prayers.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

adopt a chiloni

In order to continue moving forward to the new world order, we must be prepared to move on to the next step. While we are still in the process of normalizing relations between chareidis and datis, which is happening at an exceedngly quick pace, we must prepare for the next stage, which is bringing the secular Jews on board.
Adopt a Chiloni is all about showing love to fellow Jews who are missing what we have. These are people who should be treated with respect, but at the same time we should pity them for not being able to see the forest but for the trees. It is time to break down the barriers and bring them back to the fold where they belong.
Hug a chiloni (but only of the same sex as you and in a non-intimate way). Just a random one, on the street. Tell him that you love him and you understand that he has an inner conflict. We all have that inner conflict and we can all learn to overcome it by working together. Tell that chiloni that you will be his friend from now on and that he should feel free to call you if he has any questions.

As REM once said, "shiny happy people holding hands"
Attorney General's Warning:
Random people breaking out in "We are the world" has been known to encite mean, gun-toting, meat-eating people to start shooting randomly.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

what a week

Sunday morning I get to work and my production database server has crashed. I got it back up, but am not exactly sure what the cause of the problem is so during lunch I moved the database and fileserver to our backup server. No big deal, we lost about half hour of work.
I started looking at the machine and quickly figured out exactly where the problems had occurred, if not exactly the reason why the occurred. But then after looking around for a minute I realized the computer didn't have RAID, and the second harddrive was sitting there idle. I stayed an extra hour at work and pretty much things were back to normal. This is all hashgacha pratis, as you are about to find out.
Monday, I had planned on getting together with a friend in Tel Aviv. But my wife planned on taking the kids to a bambi play on monday and since the wives also wanted to get together we postponed our get together for a week.
Since I had worked late on Sunday I came home a little early on Monday (I had some things I wanted to do anyways). I stopped off and got some wings and shwarma to cook up on the grill because after an excursion with the kids my wife generally does not have time to make dinner.
As I am walking towards the house, my wife calls me. Bambi has been postponed due to inclement terrorism. They were supposed to go home and go into the bomb shelter. What should she do. Well, I got home first and looked at our bomb shelter and decided that we were not going into it. I had just moved a ton of boxes into it and I certainly was not going to move them out. It is also a very small room and we wouldn't be able to stay in there for very long without going stir crazy. I called a couple friends and they said that they don't go into their bomb shelters either. I figured that if I heard rockets hitting our neighborhood we would go in, but otherwise the odds of us being the first hit were pretty small and also an indication of God's being very pissed off at us.
No rockets hit Maalot and we had a nice bbq dinner. I made a mean spicy honey mustard sauce for the wings, and we broiled them instead of using the bbq (cause it is outside). The children slept in our room, so that we would all die together if it came down to that.

Just think for a moment about the panic that would have ensued if we had gone to Tel Aviv and left the kids with a baby sitter. Or if I would have come home at the regular time without dinner. I can just imagine them all huddling in the bomb shelter - hungry and crying.

Yesterday was pretty much a normal day, though I was too busy to write. So I wanted to let y'all know that we are still alive and well. And to think רבות מחשבות בלב איש ועצת ה' היא תקום

Thursday, November 17, 2005

starving children

Sometimes when I hear about children who are starving, I get sad. Little people that rely on adults for their sustenence who, for whatever reason, don't come through. There are starving children all over the world, including in Israel.
Do I think the government is responsible for feeding them? No.
BUt I do think it is each one of our personal responsibilities to reach into our pockets and give a little something to an organization that works with people who are lacking to give them back their basic dignity and helps them feed their children.

On the other hand, when you hear about starving children it can make you smile. Who would be talking about starving children if it was commonplace? The fact that it even gets mentioned means that it is a rare occurrence.

Then there are times when I get angry. I met someone who told me he was not going to look for a job because he can't stand the Israeli government. No, not specifically the current government, the way the country is being run. So he is on welfare and planning to stay on it. And his children are hungry. And its his own damn fault.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


My eldest daughter refused to do her homework a couple days ago. When my wife got too frustrated to rationally deal with it she put her on the phone with me to see what could do. After asking her what the problem was, she burst into tears. Apparantly she was still refusing to do her homework even with threats of not being able to go to friends houses, no Harry Potter reading and no learning English reading. 10 minutes later, after she calmed down, she called me back. I again asked her what the problem was. She told me that the homework was too hard and it really made her angry. We discussed the problem for a little bit and we agreed that she would sit down with her mom who would help her go through them one page at a time. When I got home that evening , she only had 15 pages left. Apparantly, she had not been doing her homework for a very long time. She's almost finished and we all learned our lessons. My daughter learned that it is easier to do 2 pages of homework a day, then 10 pages a night because you didn't do it when you were supposed to. She may have learned that it is ok to ask for help, but I doubt that sunk in yet. That usually doesn't sink in until well after the teenage years are finished (my daughter is 7). We learned that instead of getting frustrated and making threats, it works a lot better to try and find out what the originating problem is and solving that. Of course threats are often still neccessary. I did find it hard to believe that she was willing to accept all the consequences I mentioned before, though it hurt her to think about it, rather then give in and do her homework that had made her angry.

Last night #2 wasn't feeling good and after she threw up at 3:30, I took her into the living room to read her a book. She went and chose "Don't cry big bird," and explained that it was appropriate because she was crying and big bird was crying.

Monday, November 14, 2005

israeli pluralism

With the Bolshovik's (read Amir Peretz) victory for the leadership of the Labour party people have started talking about pluralism, to the tune that sefardim are people too, and so are arabs, and that he will completely end discrimination in our newly pluralistic country. The problem here is seperating the various pluralisms that exist. Israel has to keep a close eye on reality and not become multi-pluralistic. Uni-pluralism, that is pluralism in one specific segment, that being the various Jewish sects ashkenazim and sefardim, datiim and chilonim, charedim and shinuim, poor and rich, women, men and children, is a very important thing for this country. After all, God gave the country to all of us.

Multi-pluralism, that is being pluralistic with different not-related sectors of people can be very dangerous. Being pluralistic and treating enemies of the state like brothers will very quickly get us stabbed in the back. You don't want to be pluralistic towards Palestinians who have declared their intent to take over Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa and Acco while chasing the Jews into the sea. You don't want to be pluralistic towards Iranians who have declared Israel a danger to the world and feel that we should be wiped off the map. You certainly don't want to be pluralistic towards animals. Some of which should be eaten, or sacrificed on a altar to our loving God, in better times and others which are meant to serve people in less tasty ways.

PLuralism, as long as it is applied correctly is a very powerful and very encouraging step. But multi-pluralism will just lead to more suicide bombings, and open hatred towards our extended hand. Let's be uni-pluralistic towards our people and monistic towards those who hate us. We can give a little love to all those in between and long as long as it has a healthy dose of reality sprayed in as well.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

old friends

Two of my old high school friends have graduated an Orthodox Rabbinical school, RSA Chofetz Chaim, and became Rabbis. It is the end of a long process and the school has a big fund-raising dinner to celebrate. Each of the new rabbis sends out a letter to everyone they know in the world asking them to put a congratulatory message in the school's ad journal. It didn't say so in the letter, but assumedly they only graduate if they can raise more then the minimum amount. This is the final test as to whether they will be good rabbis or not. Some rabbis are too good, like those from the Kabbalah Center in Israel, and they go to jail. Others are just not shnorrers and they are relegated to a nice seat in a kolel. The rest learn how to play the game and collect just enough to stay happy and healthy without raising any eyebrows.

I have the feeling that my old friends are failing. The personal letter I got asking for a donation started off Dear Mr. & Mrs...,
I am not a friend of his parents who watched him grow up. I was not a senior in school when he was a freshman who forced him to call me Mister. We were in class together. We are the same age. We were friends. It is not respectful of him to call me Mister, it is down right insulting.

Maybe they don't know how to use a computer well enough to say, write first names on certain records and titles on others. Maybe the yeshiva sent it out for them and they have a stupid requirement for titles. Whatever reason they had for doing this, I am confident that the letter didn't give the feeling of "my buddy's done good, I'm going to send some money and congratulate him." The letter gave a feeling of, "We haven't talked in 10-15 years and he is sending a form letter to everyone he knows."

So why am I splitting an ad with a couple of friends? I think sometimes you have to ignore what is on the outside and realize that what has happened is that "some old buddy's done good."

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I joined a learning program last night which is a mixture of daatim and people who do not follow the daat, learning mesilas yesharim together in a small group atmosphere. First, everyone sits around the table and we discuss the topic and then we break into smaller groups and discuss the text sheet (there were 8 paragraphs from different sources last night) and how we can understand it in our everyday life. Someone coined the phrase datloni for self-described chilonis who were interested in performing mitzvot as long as they didn't interfere with their lives. We also had a deck of cards under the table so if the topics weren't so interesting we could always change the format to strip poker. My wife, God bless her, is against the possibilitry of strip poker, so I probably won't be going back.

In other news, the Israeli version of Jimmy Hoffa has just been made head of the Labor party. The only reason that isn't necessarily bad news is because Peres was sent home (again).

On the rock of galilee, we believe that it was Peres who killed Rabin and we are anxiously waiting for the ballistics test to prove that.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

the siddur party

Last night number 2 got her siddur. In an age old ceremony she joined her class in singing songs, putting on a show and receiving her siddur. I was there for the getting the siddur part. I missed the beginning of it because I am among the demographic of people who work for a living. I left work an hour early to get home on time, but due to a number of random acts of god, including weather, bus being late and train being late, I got there an hour and a half late.

I don't think the part that I missed is relevant. What is relevant is that before the end, my daughter saw me and got very excited that her daddy came to watch. She couldn't care less if I was there for the first part, second part or last 5 minutes. The important thing is to show up. One parent or older sibling is then supposed to help their daughter in the siddur party project. This year we made a paper brick to go on a paper bet knesset with a prayer to hashem. Each child got to make up her own prayer and with a little help from me, she chose to pray for peace in the land. It was a hard decision though, she was really leaning towards a prayer for good food before I gave a couple new suggestions.

All in all it was a fun, non-holocaustical event in which no one got thrown out of their home, murdered, spit at or in general abused for the sole reason that they were Jewish.

Monday, November 07, 2005


My wife's friend got thrown out of her home in the former gaza strip. She was one of those people who believed that mashiach would have to come before they gave away the strip and didn't do anything to prepare for the inevitable. We now know that just as pigs must have flown as Pink Floyd got back together for the Live 8, Mashiach must not have come as the Jews got expelled from their homes.

The reason I bring this up now is that the same friend is now in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. She has 2 goals while she is there, the first (and primary reason) is to pump an Israeli seminary that recently opened its doors to American students. The second goal is to raise awareness about the Katifian Holocaust and to tell her story. She is an idealist, and probably will not charge a shul for standing in front of a crowd and telling them how it is.

I think idealism has a role in life as long as there is a big chunk of realism thrown in, so the idealist actually stands a chance. Too much idealism and they will accomplish nothing. There is no such thing as all good. To accomplish a goal you must understand how the world works in terms of that goal and play the game correctly so that you will be able to take advantage of the weakness of the opposing side and turn it into a small victory for you and your idealistic goals.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

whats in a lunch

I am sitting here once again eating a mixture of beans, potatos and zucchini wondering, as always, why I didn't order pizza.
The short answer is because eating a whole pizza at luch everyday makes you fat. No, there's no such thing as eating only one or two slices. If you order the pizza you eat the pizza.
In Israel companies give away a free lunch. What about the adage that there is no free lunch? Well before I came to Israel I didn't eat lunch, and I didn't get fat. Now I am eating lunch and paying for it. Except that I stoped eating pizza and I lost a lot of weight. But I would prefer to eat the pizza.

Now I understand smokers who say, I know it'll give me cancer and that doesn't bother me in the least. Give me the cigarette. I also understand why I've never smoked. It's the same reason I'm eating the beans and potatos, which are not even a quarter as enjoyable, instead.

What kind of person trades his life for a moment of pleasure?

Another random thought on the rock of galilee.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

are you a fraud?

Do you pretend, at times, and portray yourself as someone you're not because you think that is how the people you are with would like you to be? Is your life lived behind a mask, living your whole life to the expectations of others? Are you two-faced and hypocritical, behaving one way in one setting and a completely opposite way in another?

If the answer is yes, then that's sad.

You have to live with yourself and be ok with yourself because in the end you will die with yourself. Nobody wants it written on their headstone - "Did what he thought was expected of him."

Or do they?

Wouldn't a very similar epitaph be, "Served God to the best of his ability"?

Maybe it is the correct way to live, taking a high goal and pretending that is who you are.

Or maybe it is more correct to take the high goal and strive towards changing yourself so that you reach the peak of existence rather then turning into a miserable vestige of a human being living a life that you are not prepared to lead.

Or maybe not.

I think that at the end of the day, no matter what you do or what you believe or how you act or what you wear, the important thing is to be one with yourself, to be able to look into the mirror and know the person looking back at you.

Random Thought on the rock of galilee.

Monday, October 31, 2005

it's been a long week

I didn't think that Maureen Dowd had it in her. Who would have thought that women want to be sex objects?????? It's a worthwhile read.

It's been a couple weeks since I last had the opportunity to bang on the keyboard here. We moved into our new house, the Friday before Rosh Hashana and things haven't stopped moving since then. Rosh Hashana was very nice, we got invited out for a ll 4 meals. We had a house warming party, about 100 people showed up and we got some very nice gifts (including a bottle of Southern Comfort, my favorite gift). Sukkos was fun. I decided against buying a prefab sukka because I wanted a real wood sukka. But I bought the wrong kind of wood and my attempt at a frame didn't work, so after a couple of near disasters, a friend gave me a good suggestion for handling it and the sukkah was put up. Hopefully over the next number of years I'll be buying better wood as each of my boards slowly break.

In the move, all of our dishes broke (I don't remember if I mentioned that or not), but not to worry we won a new set of dishes in the country auction. As soon as they arrive, we'll be able to have a nice look shabbos table again.

We tiyuled around the north over sukkos, I had taken off all chol hamoed and the day after as well. one day it was raining and we took the kids bowling in Karmiel. My eldest almost beat me, as we were playing with bumpers.

Brother Airtime and Veev were up visiting this week. They don't want to move to Maalot because it is too far away. Too far away from what? Nobody really knows, but we're still happy that they will be relatively close by. Even if they move to Mizpe Netofa to hang out with the the missing Morgantonian, we'll still see them once in a while.

In other news mazel tov to Yonah Klein and the Mondroe girl (I forget her name). They are (hopefully happily) engaged to be married and I wish them and their families our best wishes. Sounds like there are wedding bells in the air.

I noticed someone on Only Simchas who's name was Sa2ra Rov, but what was most interesting is that she spelled her name saara. How weird is that. In our familly we tend to double the letter after the number, not before it.

Monday, October 03, 2005

shana tova

We're in the new house!!!!
Friday night we slept there for the first time, the old lady finally (finally) left and gave us the keys. I hope never to see her again. I took off yesterday to try and help arrange things, and we got a goo amount done. The kids have their bedrooms and the playarea all set up and the kitchen and living room is mostly done. Now I need to set up the computer stuff and clean out the basement and we're good to go.
Starting out the new year in a new house is definitely a good sign.

Speaking of good signs, I saw a sign in shul this morning that you would never see in America.
The local police requests members of the congregation to bring weapons with them to shul for the high holidays. Doing this will allow you to fulfill the mitzva of "You should guard your souls."

I hope you all have a great rosh hashana, enjoy the apple and honey, and get written in the good book of life.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

dead sea vacation

My company went on vacation this week to a nice hotel at the Dead Sea. The whole family was invited. Last year during the company vacation, the other employees stayed at a non-kosher hotel so we stayed with the other religious family at a religious hotel. This year the hotel was kosher, and the other religious family opted to go to a hotel in Jerusalem instead because they felt there would not be a religious environment at this hotel. I decided to stay at the hotel with everyone.
It was a nice place, everything included, food, drink, alcoholic and regular, popsicles... My wife's massage cost extra, but that was the only thing I paid for. The free bar was open 24 hours a day and there was a night club as well.

Shabbos may have been a bit much for the children. It was hot outside so they didn't want towalk around. Everyone else in the hotel was out at the pool, and we wouldn't go out to sit there because it was a non-shabbos and non-tznius environment. We got around a lot of the non-tznius issues on Friday. We got up early and floated in the dead sea when no one else was there and we swam in the pool before most people woke up. I don't wear my glasses and my wife wears a long teeshirt that covers her knees. But in the afternoon when it was hot as hell (it is the closest place to hell on earth) the kids were dying to go in the pool and I wouldn't let them because it was too full of people. So we finally agreed on a compromise and we went into the kiddie pool, which was empty and the kids had fun spashing around in that.

On one level I understand my religious colleague's view that it was better to go to a religious hotel. On the other hand, that is basically saying that we must completely seperate ourselves from non-religious people. My decision was that in the name of Jewish unitywe could handle a little bit of discomfort and show the rest of the company that we are willing to mingle as long as it doesn't break any of our red lines. Using the same reasoning, I go out for lunch with the guys every Tuesday because they go to a kosher place. Don't think that is a no-brainer in Israel. In Haifa there aren't that many kosher places. Thursday they go out for treif. So Tuesday is the day that I set aside to be one of the guys. The message is basically, if you do something that I can do, then I will be happy to join in. I think that does cause some influence, because they think about us when planning certain activities and just assume the other family won't come.

It's very hard on the kids though to try and explain the beauty of shabbos while everyone else is having a seemingly good time. It's like a lung cancer doctor watching a crowd of people smoking and having a great time and then trying to convince his son that smopking is bad, even if it looks cool. When you are so certain that what they are doing is harmful to themselves as well as to others, even if it is not apparant, it is just like smoking and secondhand smoke, where the damage is not apparant, but it is very real and they say the secondhand is worse.
So my daughter wanted to yell shabbos at them, and my wife wouldn't let her. So I told her to throw rocks when my wife wasn't looking.

It was an interesting and fun weekend.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

stories from school

My 2nd grader came home yesterday very upset because she didn't eat lunch. We pay for school lunches, so my wife was furious. I checked into the story a little more so I could find out exactly what happened. My daughter said there wasn't enough food so the teacher sent her to the Janitor. The Janitor told her she didn't get food because she didn't pay. When she went back to her classroom, her teacher said "מה לעשות" or "Oh Well." There was a school meeting last night, so my wife thought that I should discuss the problem with the teacher. I went and asked the teacher if I could talk to her before the meeting and asked her what happened at lunch today. She looked surprised and said, why, what happened at lunch? I told her that my daughter said she didn't get any lunch today. She thought that was surprising because she thought she remembered my daughter eating. I told her the rest of the story and she thought it was especially strange because she remembers there was definitely extra food that day because one of the children didn't come. She also pointed out that there was kuskus remnants at her seat, which is generally indicative of having eaten. She told me she would discuss it with my daughter the next today (today) and hopefully we'll figure out what exactly happened.
This morning my daughter again insisted that she didn't get any food, and my wife (in her wisdom) decided to drop it.
My assumption is that my daughter either made up the story completely or was so hungry by the end of the day that she forgot she ate.
I told someone else the story and he assumed, based on his experience with the school (though not specifically with that teacher), that her story was pretty much accurate.


Monday, September 19, 2005

socialistic capitalists

I wrote an Employee Furthering Technology Plan the other day for my company.
Maybe I should start at the beginning.
I am considering buying a new computer. Income tax in Israel is outrageously high and aside from that you have to pay a 16.5% surcharge on anything you buy (VAT). I decided that I would buy the computer in Israel if I could do it pretax and without VAT. So I asked a friend who's an accountant how I can get around the tax laws and made a number of suggestions which he promptly shot down and said there is no way to do what I want. So I ignored him and found a way. I came up with the idea that if employees would voluntarily cut a portion of their income and be allowed home-use R&D equipment of an equal value then it would work.
The example I gave was as follows (The numbers are all made up):

John earns 20,000 shekels a month and is at a 20% tax rate. He decides to drop that to 19,000 shekels a month, and is allowed 1000 shekels per month for home use R&D purchases. After 4 months John opts to get a computer for 4000 shekels.

Without the plan:
80,000 (4 months salary) * .80 (after taxes) = 64,000 shekel net salary
4000 * 1.165 (VAT) = 4660
Total left after computer purchase: 64,000 – 4,660 = 59,340

With the plan:
76,000 (4 months salary) * .80 (after taxes)= 60,800
Computer is paid for by company with money reduced from salary.
Total after computer purchase = 60,800

Savings for employee: 1460
Cost to company : 0
Savings To company: Pension plan and tax share on the salary reduction.

The company does get a benefit when I buy technological equipment because I use the knowledge I gain on my own time when I am at work. So it is perfectly logical that the company should help me with the purchase, especially as it doesn't cost them anything.
I decided that it would look petty to just come up with this purchase plan out of the blue so I wrote a furthering technology plan including various ways that the company can help the employees advance, including an introduction about why it was good for the company for the employees to advance. I included in this plan: books and magazines, education, buying emerging technologies and seminars and workshops. I sent the document to my boss and within 15 minutes he was in my office to discuss my new plan. He liked the fact that I took the initiative to write it and said one of the reasons he doesn't like turning down ideas like this are because if he does then I might not write out the next idea that I had. I told him not to worry. So we went through each item listed in the plan. Some of them we are already doing, others he liked the idea of publicizing it to the other employees and then we got to the employee purchase plan.
He said it wasn't going to work. Because it is a benefit for the rich. The less affluent employees can't afford to take advantage of the program. They will want to go on the program when they want to buy things and then go immediately off and they will want to buy things that we do not currently order. So he turned it down. I can accept that, he had a somewhat valid point that a company benefit shouldn't cause hard feelings among those who can't afford to use it.
But on the other hand, here is a company that has the ability to help some of its employees in a no-cost program and won't do it because it won't benefit everybody. WTF? I came up with a perfectly legal way of saving a ton of money on components and I can't take advantage of it because there are other people who don't have the ability to.

Something to think about.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

ashes to ashes...

ashes to ashes, dust to dust the lord giveth the lord taketh, blessed is the true judge.
mom sent out an email that grandpa isy died. That sounds like a strange way to get a death notice. My bubba (jewish grandmothers in West Virginia are called bubba) married isy about 15 years ago, when I was going into 9th grade. It was hard to think of him as a grandfather because I still had strong memories of my papa who died a year or so before. But we welcomed him into the family, because he made my bubba so happy. Bubba died 2 years ago, just before we made aliyah and Isy was moved to NY to be with his son and family. He had bad case of Alzheimers and couldn't remember anything, but he had a great sense of humor about it. Our family has many Isyisms now, sayings that will stay with us forever.
It's strange how he was both a family insider and an outsider at the same time, kind of like an in-law who you don't really know. He was warmly welcomed at all family events but we related to him as my bubba's husband, not any real relation to us.

I was sad to hear that he passed away, but not emotionally so. I think they themselves considered the marriage more of an enjoyable convenience then a real marital bond. In their house, he had a room full of his memories of his first wife and history, and bubba her memory room. They each observed the yahrzeit of their first spouse. Neither of them tried or wanted to take away the history from the other.

They are burying him today next to his first wife. My bubba is buried next to my papa. The families grew up together and remained good friends till the end. I'm sure that papa kept isy's first wife company in heaven and isy has now completed the foursome for a game of poker and some wild turkey.

Monday, September 12, 2005

the shul is burning

Would it have been better to take down the shuls in the former Gaza Strip or to allow the Palestinians to destory them as we knew they were going to.

From a realistic perspective, we were not going to have soldiers crying as they carefully dismantled the buildings. The Israeli army was going to blow them up. It would have been more controlled then letting the arabs loose on them, but the result would have been the same. There is nobody who realistically thought that putting up signs in Arabic listing these as holy places would amount to anything besides laughter. From an Israeli polical perspective, completely ignoring the religious reasons, if someone had to destroy the shuls in a cold, uncaring matter, let the world see the kind of animals that we just gave the strip to.

One of the reasons brought forth not to destroy the shuls was because the world would see that Israel destroy shuls so they can too. They lost this moral high ground when they discussed destroying them. Their moral claim was completely decimated when the Supreme Court ruled that there is no problem with destroying shuls. When Krakow decides that it's 7 synagogues can be better served as housing units, using the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court that there is no problem destroying them. Individuals may complain, Organizations may complain, but there can be no poltical pressure brought on by Israel. She will have to remain silent.

Israel, the country, would like to represent the Jewish interests in the world, yet they have once again proven that the country is ruled by narrow political interests and is not concerned with the Jewish world.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


I have been thinking about idolatry recently, not practicing rather conceptually. Mostly this is because of a James Michener book that I am reading right now, The Source, where he goes into great detail his opinion on the sources of idol worship.

Jewish tradition has it that God removed the urge within us to worship idols around the time of Ezra (I believe). There is a story about a rabbi in the gemara who spoke degradingly about one of the Jewish kings who worshipped idols. The king came to him in a dream and said if you had been there, you would have lifted your robes and ran to worship, that's how powerful the urge was.

In a society without idolatry, excepting the Hindus who are a minority in parts of the world that I have been, it is very hard to understand the concept especially for people who have a very powerful tradition and scoped out way of life.

After thinking about it for a while, I have rejected Michener's theory, or rather what I suppose his theory is based on reading his book. I think we have to understand what the draw was and see what God removed from the world in order gain a deeper understanding of what went on back then. I also feel that removing the urge for idolatry also gave way to the birth of the atheist who believes there is no God at all.

From the beginning, there was 1 God who created the world, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How exactly God created the world, was there evolution, a big bang, some sort of mixture or whatever is completely irrelevant to this discussion. God created various forces in nature, such that when God wants it to rain he doesn't turn on the faucet but rather he sends one of his angels, the minister of rain as it might be, and he turns on the faucet. These angels, while they don't exactly have freedom of choice, do have some level of freedom as the midrash brings down that some angels decided to come to earth because they couldn't understand how men could sin and they sinned as well. All that without the freedom of choice.
The way that I am understanding this is that the forces that controlled nature were more visible to the people living at that time. They saw that there was a different force controlling the rain then controlling the wind. When they saw or felt that there was a force controlling the needed resource they felt the need to show gratitude. The big mistake here was that God, hidden from view because he had assigned all the tasks to his "servants" was really running the show. Thanking a slave for doing something his master had ordered him to and ignoring the master is insulting to the master. The angels couldn't do anything without it fitting the plan that God had created. People were created with a need to show gratitude when something good happens, they have a need to pray when something bad happens or they want something. This is a builtin feature of humans that allows us to serve God. The people when they realized that there was something else besides them and God assumed that there were other Gods who controlled their own territories. Being that God, himself, was hidden from view, the people assumed that he was unreachable. Maybe they could pray and offer gifts to the lesser Gods who in turn would have a relationship with the Ultimate God.

When God removed the urge for idol worship, I believe he took away the ability to see the powers that control the forces of nature. When you can't see that there are differeing forces then it is much easier to step back and see that everything is run in concert by a single God who is in charge of everything. On the negative side, there is no visible spirituality in the world anymore because of that. That gives people the ability to say, this is natural, there is nothing spiritual about the world. It gives the world a "run-by-itself" kind of look and people started feeling that God has left us, or that there is no God.

This is the situation that we find ourselves in now. When spirituality was visible, people worshipped what they could see, when it became invisible, people started thinking there was nothing there.

God had a reason for creating the world in this way and we may not understand it at all. That, however, does not change the fact that it was.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


I have never written about JP, and I have been thinking about him recently. I figure his efforts on behalf of the Jewish nation deserves at least one article on the Rock. JP, for tholse fo you who are uninformed has been in jail for quite some time now because he told Israel that the Iraqis were building an atom bomb. Maybe it was a bit more then that maybe he was also a spy for Israel for some time period. In any case, he had a deal with the prosecution for a couple years in jail if he pled guilty. He pled guilty and they hit him with the book. Lifetime imprisonment.
There are those who said that he was also a spy for the russians and got a bunch of US spies killed, but that has been proven false by the Aldrich Ames story, the real spy who got US CIA agents killed.
Why is JP in jail and why isn't the Israeli government doing anything about it? How is it that a spy for a friendly country gets a life imprisonment with no chance for parole while spies for foreign countries routinely get out in a couple years? Is it anti-semitism, anti-Israel, just plain stupidity?
Is there more to the story then people know?
I think that it is none of the above. I think the Israeli government is mad at Pollard for getting caught, or something like that, so they are letting him rot in prison. The US government has no reason to let him out if they don't get a real request.

I feel that the Israeli government is to be blamed 100% for the JP situation. If I was a bracelet wearer, I would add blue to my collection.

At the final reckoning, I hope God asks each Israeli prime minister why he didn't help his buddy Pollard and when they can't answer they will find out what the God of Vengeance really means.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

religion at the Israeli workplace

At work there are certain rules about behaving religious and interacting with the other employees. In Israel this is compounded by the fact that secular Israelis are also non-practicing religious Jews.
I was the second religious person to start working here so a number of the religious rules were already established. For example, the other religious person doesn't use any of the kitchen utensils, so they get plastic for us. This includes the glass cups, which I wouldn't have any problem using. I don't know if she doesn't use them because she thinks it is wrong or because she didn't want to differentiate between using glasses and using forks. Also when we have birthday parties, she'll only eat cake if it was cut with a plastic knife - even though the cake is cold and the metal knife is clean.

In any case, I accepted her restrictions on that without any comments. One of the challenges of being religious ion a non-religious workforce is to try and seem somewhat normal while not compromising on traditional values. At the same time, you don't want to marginalize the other person by implying that they are stricter then they need to be or that their stringencies have no basis. We need to have a strong united front so that people see that religious people do similar things and don't assume that everyone can decide what they want to do.

The other co-worker eats only food with a mehadrin certification, while we are strict only on meat with a mehadrin certification. Dairy, we eat with regular certification if they don't have it with. Chicken is a middle ground, because there is no glatt by chicken. Also, most of the chicken in this country seems to be mehadrin.

Our company is going on vacation down to the Dead Sea for a Thurs,Fri,Shabbos outing. Last year we stayed at a religious hotel and all the other employees stayed at a non-religious hotel and had activities on shabbos. This year we are all staying in the same hotel. I told them that we could participate in anything that did not involve chilul shabbos. For example, they are having a juggler. I said we would come if there was no fire, music and such. The other religious family isn't coming for shabbos because they feel it is not a shabbosdic environment. I agreed with them and said we were going to go anyways and make our own shabbos environment. The hotel is an all-inclusive place so you don't pay for anything. I think it will be educational to explain to the kids why we are allowed to play mini golf on shabbos in this hotel.

I think the other employees have pretty much accepted that I am a more liberal religious Jew then my co-worker, though I haven't compromised on anything that I feel I shouldn't do. One time I was with a bunch of co-workers who were going to a nonkosher restaurant. They asked me to sit with them and not eat and I refused, explaining that it is maarit ayin (morris ayin in english). One of the guys looks at me and says, "Is that written i the shulchan aruch?" I explained that it was and then he was fine with me not sitting there. Only in Israel do you have a guy eating at a notkosher restaurant who feels the need to question if the stringencies of someone else are based on something that he doesn't feel means anything anyway,

the house

Set on a dunam of land in the middle of the northern paradise, surrounded by a natural bush fence, is the new Zacks estate. Standing 3 stories tall, build on a mountainside, she has 250 square meters of living space. 4 Bedrooms, 2 on the top floor for the children, the master bedroom on the main floor and an apartment with bathroom, shower and kitchentte on the bottom floor. A woodburning stove is in the center of the salon (read living room), to keep the house warn and cozy in the winter. There is also central heat supplied by radiators for extra warmth. A/C is located in the Salon to help make the summers a breeze. There are 4 bathrooms in the house, including a very large master bathroom.
The Jacuzzi on the upstairs porch has not been used in many years, but we plan to give it a little exercise within the first couple days of moving in.

Pictures will follow when we get back our digital camera.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005



thought i would share

Instructions on upgrading firmware for new 3Com router (just so you kow restting the device to factory settings erases the configuration)

- After upgrading the software on the Router, 3Com recommends
resetting the device to its factory settings. This will ensure that
the Router will operate normally.

- Back up your existing configuration. The upgrade will not erase
your configuration, but 3Com recommends backing it up, in case
there is a problem with the upgrade process.

- Resetting the device back to its factory default settings is required
for proper operations.

- Do not reuse configuration backup's from a previous version after
an software upgrade.

Monday, September 05, 2005

the numbers don't lie

I didn't want to write this post. I have been pushing it off for days. Now I feel that I have no choice. It will make my wife and mother very happy to see the statistics, in any case.
Approximately 9000 people lost their homes in the great Gush Katif escapade.
There are approximately 6 million people in Israel.
The percentage of people who lost their homes due to the disengagement is 0.15%

Let's move over to the Tsunami. It hit 7 countries (populations found on CIA World Handbook)
Indonesia, population 241,973,879
Sri Lanka, population 20,064,776
Maldives, population 349,106
Myanmar, population unknown, but not that high
Somalia, population 8,591,629
Thailand, population 65,444,371
Yemen, population 20,727,063

Total population: 357,150,824
Total killed in tsunami: 144,970
Total refugees (people needing assistance from UN): 473600
People very affected: .17%

The destruction in the US was much worse per capita, as more then 1,000,000 homes were evacuated or 0.3% of the population. I was looking for some number in the US of 450,000 which would have been proportianate to te people in Israel who lost their homes, but unfortunately, it seems that even more have lost their homes in the US.

Nowhere in Jewish writings does it say that God is the God of Love, but it does call him the God of Vengeance in a number of places.

I am not going to say that these tragedies happened because of the disengagement, in fact another way to look at it would be that a small percentage of a number of countries are getting smacked. Or you can say that it was because of the disengagement, and since people decided to throw Jews out of their homes, God decided to throw goyim out of their homes.

Or we may be experiencing the supernatural fight of Gog and Magog.
Or this could be because Bush didn't sign the Kyoto treaty. Or maybe God is on the side of cindy and camp Casey.

My Final Assessment of the situation is that God is angry. They say that hell hath seen no wrath like a woman scorned. Step aside women and watch out hell, God has been scorned.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

one problem with disengagement

I was on a high, writing every day about something that interested me, that fueled my passion for writing. Disengagement was a battle that could be fought against by bloggers. Helping people mold their opinions. I probably should have come out for it because I have heard from a couple of readers that they read my opinions and immediately decide the other way.
Now the disengagement is over, at least the first stage, and I am finding it hard to get excited about more mundane topics. Sure, there is more disengagement to write about, the lives that have been broken, the success stories, the corruption, the lost innocence... But this is not a disengagement blog. This blog likes to cover current topics of all sorts and the disengagement is not current anymore - it is so last week. Like get out of Tel Aviv and start your life, for crying out loud. In my opinion they should move to Tel Aviv and start a nice outreach group. After a couple weeks the Tel Avivians will be demanding that we take Gaza back and send these settlers away.

But until that happens, I am going to have to come up with fresh topics that I find interesting. It is just hard to do after a rush of disengagement adrenaline. As with all adrenalines there is a down period until the next spurt. Hopefully I'll be able to come up with some new exciting topics over the next couple weeks.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

picking berries

This friday we went blueberry picking in the Golan for our weekly tiyul, which I have finally roughly translated as outing. This was the last Friday of summer vacation for the kids and the last week of kids before my wife's vacation, otherwise known as school. It's hard being a fulltime mother in the summer because you get absolutely no time to yourself. Once the kids start in school she's going to try putting together and selling gift baskets to the natives. Hopefully that will put a couple more shekels on the table.

Before I go any farther, what kind of idiot calls a suicide bomber in beersheva an "indication that the Palestinian Authority must take proper steps against terror." The BBC reports that as coming out of the mouth of the Prime Minister's spokesman.

That was my rant for the day. Back to the blueberries.
So we headed out towards the Golan on a beautiful, sunny day. We decided not to take the bnos yaakov bridge this time and instead headed on the brown Jish road and upwards towards Kiryat Shemona. We passed through Lahavat haBashan and I told my children about Og, King of Bashan. I told them how Moshe was 10 amos high and his stick was 10 amos high and he jumped 10 amos and rapped his ankle and the giant fell down dead. My older son (not that he is older then anyone but his little brother) especially enjoyed that story. I don't know if Og was from this area, but there is also a gemara that some Amora found the bones of Og somewhere near Tiberias and walked 3 miles and still didn't come to the end of his hip bone. (I may be slightly incorrect on the details of that story)
I don't really know if Lahavat Habashan has anything to do with Og or not, but I feel that one of the great educational opportunities in living here is telling my children stories about the Jewish history that happened in all of these places. Whether it is Taanaic, or even biblical, it doesn't matter if it is really true, as long as it is possible to be true. And what isn't possible.

We also drive by the Chulda Valley, which is very famous.

The blueberry picking itself was fun, we ate a lot of them and then brought back a container full. My wife made a blueberry pie for shabbos (yes we took off truma and maaser beforehand this time) which was delicious.

For those who are wondering about the halachos of truma and maaser when in an Israeli U Pick orchard (Jewish owned), this is what my friend said the rabbi told him.
You can eat off of the trees without any problem. But if you have a basket then once you put it in the basket it is like completing the process because you already paid for it. Therefore if it goes in the basket, even if you are walking around with it, you can't eat until you take off truma and maaser.
I have issues with that ruling because you pay for free access to it all and it doesn't matter if you eat 1 or 100, so obviously you are not paying for the blueberries with the admission fee and therefore it is not gmar malacha. I'm going to speak to the rabbi about it this week, if I have a chance.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

the lighter side

Posting about Disengagement issues is fun because it makes me think and put into words how I feel about the issue. But there is another side enjoyable side to posting, a blog was originally a weblog of things found on the interesting with the bloggers comments on them.

On today's ynet page they speak about a tradition among the local students to have sex on Ben Gurion's grave. They interviewed someone who said while he, personally, has never had sex on Ben Gurion's grave, his close friend had.
"One friend told me all about it," he said. "He called his girlfriend and asked her to come with him that night to the graves. Two hours later, he came back and told me what they'd done."
Can you imagine that. A guy decides it is time so he calls his girlfriend, who is probably not ready for this yet. They get over to the graves and just start talking, maybe having a beer or two (that's what southerners everywhere do in graveyards) and suddenly she was like, Oh my god. is this ben gurion? and his wife? I need some now.

Somehow I just don't see it.

Ben Gurion's grandson thought it was great, and suggested that his grandfather would approve.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

what next

The forced eviction of gazan Jewry from their homes has been completed. The towns in northern Samaria are just about empty. There is a world of hurt felt by people who feel they were betrayed by their country. The soldiers (at least those with a conscience) who were given orders to evict these people are going to have nightmares for the foreseeable future. The Israeli government is going to fall as soon as Sharon says that he has finished throwing people out of their homes, as that is all his Labor partners are interested in.

What next? Do our people need time to heal? Is the rift in Israeli society between the religious and secular bridgable? If these evictees move into the West Bank now, are they asking for more hurt?

This past shabbos a friend (religious zionist) told me he was not ready for comfort yet. This was shabbos Nachamu, the shabbos of comfort. I told him that he was wrong. Jews aren't allowed to stay depressed. Look at the Arabs who have remained in refugee camps for 57 years and compare that to Jewish people who within 1 week of having the bais hamikdash destroyed, 1 week after the greatest tragedy that could happen to the Jewish people, we have the shabbos of comfort. Because we have to get on with our lives. You would think for a tragedy that big, we would need time before we are ready for comfort. You might think that it needs to settle in first and that you have a right to stay depressed until you are ready to reenter society. We learn from shabbos nachamu that we are not given that time. We have to take what has happened and accept that it was decreed from heaven. On tisha Ba'av we read about the 10 martyrs, the midrash tells us that Rav Yishmael the high priest went up to heaven and asked if this was a real decree, when it was answered in the affirmative, he and the other 10 accepted it. That is not to say that it was not a tragedy. It was a tragedy and because of reasons that we do not understand, God decreed that a tragedy had to happen. So we cry over the 10 martyrs, and within a week we have shabbos nachamu to say no matter how bad you think it is, we have to stand up and continue our lives.
It is true on the personal level as well. No matter how distraught you are over the death of a loved one, comfort has to start the same day that you bury the person. In pirkei avos it is written, "don't comfort someone when their dead is lying in front of them." However, as soon as the dead is buried, the mourner has to come out of his cocoon and reenter society. There is a mourning period, but it is a reentering filled with comfort and talking about the deceased. And after a week he has to get up. He may continue mourning for a long time for his loss, but at the same time his official mourning time has ended and now its time to get on with life.

Monday, August 22, 2005

a day in the fields

I now look like a redneck, having been out in the field working in the sun all day, my neck is about as red as it can get. Talk about an physically exhausting day.

We didn't build greenhouses like we were supposed to. We got to the Mavrichim mishtala area ,right outside of Nitzanim, at around 11 and were split into 3 groups. I was part of the heavy physical labor group (along with Rav Boaz Cohen, who said if I write his name in my blog he would find it). We carried iron tables to put plants on, once they are built, and iron gates for some other purpose. I realized what lousy shape I am in, and after a little more then an hour couldn't walk another step. After that we decided to move on to less strenuous work and carried trees from a truck to their place in the mishtala. It was still strenuous, just there were no iron bars digging into your hands as you tried to walk on sand.
After about an hour we emptied two truckloads of trees and I went back to carrying the iron fences for another 45 minutes or so. After that I decided to take a break for a little bit and instead of very physical labor, I got a pair of scissors and trimmed plants for 2 hours. At least that was partially in the shade.
We left at around 5, after being there for a good solid 6 hours. I was a little bit dehydrated, though I had been drinking on a regular basis - apparantly just not enough.

This place was taken down from Jewish Gaza before the eviction and that it why it was ready to go. The owners planned this in advance, having accepted the reality of what was happening, even though they were unhappy about it.

I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish:
1) Not to just complain about the problem, but be part of the solution
2) I taught my children how to behave by my actions
3) I helped the former people of Gush Katif, who I felt needed to be helped.

It was definitely worth the vacation day that I took, I feel like I did my civic duty.

Friday, August 19, 2005

nitzanim ho

The Rock of Galilee has sat for too long, contemplating the help that needs to be given to the former residents of the gush katif. I have commented on what needs to be done and have not done a thing.

Sunday that will all change. I am heading down to Nitzanim with the Maalot faithful, only men and teenage boys are invited, to help build greenhouses. I am looking forward to being part of the solution instead of just another armchair criticizer/commentator. This is a historic process where the northern Jews of Israel go help the southern Jews of Israel.

While we may be Zacks, we certainly don't have the problems of the North Going and South Going Zax. When we hit a problem we help each other through it instead of standing there staring at each other for 59 years.

(For those of you who do not know the story of the Zax, read it now.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

there is hope

My little sister (26 and available if you know anyone) told me a couple days ago that she was heading down south to the disengagement after disengaging from my parents who were here visiting. I called her yesterday late afternoon to find out if she was in jail yet.

She surprised me.

She was not only not in jail, she hadn't even tried to break into gush katif. She was in Nitzanit where a lot of the families were evacuated to. She went there to volunteer to help out. The idiots running the place said they didn't need any more volunteers and she should come back in 2 weeks when there might be something to do. Thankfully my sister has at least some degree of intelligence and went out to find people who needed help. She found a family that moved from a nice sized house in South Central Gaza to a tiny little caravilla that wouldn't hold most of their stuff. She and her friend helped wash the floor and straighten and then played with their kids for a while. They then went off in search of more people who might be able to use a little help.

This is the light of klal yisrael shining through. We take the drek and try to put a positive spin on it. Instead of being miserable and bitter that people are causelessly getting thrown out of their homes, doing something positive. You have to take a lousy situation and put a smile on it in order to survive, and that is what we're doing here.

I'm proud of my little sister. You can read her blog to get first hand accounts.

BTW, does anybody want to bitchslap Yossi Sarid? What kind of idiot says publicly, while people are being thrown out their homes, that he feels they should apologize to the arabs who terrorized t