Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Local elections

Big day in Israel as all municipalities hold their local elections. In our village, there are 13 seats on the city council up for grabs and the mayor's seat. We have a local religious party that is expecting to do very well this year. I am voting for them. I haven't decided who to vote for mayor yet. My choices are the incumbant, who has been the mayor for 30 years and is a dictator and a Likud guy who's running under Gaydamak's banner who has been trying to throw out the current mayor for years.

We threw a small get together for the current mayor at our house Saturday night. About 30 people showed up and we listened to the mayor tell us that he liked religious people and we really didn't need to vote for our party because his party would take care of us in any case. I agreed to have the get together because someone in our community asked me to do it so that the mayor feels he has support in our community. That way when we approach him after the elections, if he wins, he will feel that at least some of us are on his side.

The reaon we don't like the other guy is because he has been running an incredibly vicious, negative campaign. He hasn't said anything good that he will do, he just focuses on how corrupt the other guy is. Now for the past 5 years that I have been living in the city, it has been run very well. The city looks good and no matter what everyone is saying about education, the children are getting a decent one. There is growth and most of the problems that the other guy tries to throw on him probably aren't his fault. He did remove a 30,000 shekel debt that his daughter owed to the city and his son-in-law is making a nice salary on a job that he probably doesn't deserve, but I can't imagine that sort of thing would change with any new guy.

Also I like local dictators. I think they are a very efficient form of government. The religious politicos say that the current mayor has been giving them hell for the past 5 years and I should vote for the other guy. Other people in the community have been telling me that the mayor has helped us out in the past and because he's going to win anyways, we should support him so that he doesn't take it out on us later.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yitzchak Rabin

Today is the yahrzeit, the anniversary of death, for Yitzchak Rabin, the former prime minister of Israel. It is a sad day for the Jewish people in a number of respects. The government instigators, lead by Avishai Raviv, have never been brought to justice for their role in the assassination. The left have used this incident to massively incite against religious Jews. But the saddest part of the day is that when we felt we didn't have enough political power to stop the terrible things that Rabin was doing, we decided to try and change history by killing him. In the year before Rabin was killed, I heard a number of people, rabbis and laymen, talking about how he had to be stopped, but I took it as empty rhetoric. Sometimes our talk is very tough, but we do not expect anything to come of it.

There are two very important things to remember on the day of Yitzchak Rabin's murder. The most important thing to remember is that killing someone you disagree with is not the answer. Obviously there are people who are worthy of death. Killing a democratic prime minister who is doing something that a large percentage of his electorate want him to, will not change the direction.

The second important thing to remember on this day when Rabin is idolized by the masses is that he was wrong. His policies were wrong, his answers to any questions against what he was doing was wrong. The peace process was wrong. What he did brought harm to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. How many of us heard him say, "If they use the guns against us, we will take them away." When they used the guns against us, the answer was "it's too late." Had he ever heard of foresight? When Sharon gave away Gaza, years after Rabin's death, he said the same thing: "If they shoot on us from there, we will take it back." The people didn't laugh at how stupid he sounded. Now we are getting it from Gaza, and we are getting it from the guns we gave them.

Because of the path that Yitzchak Rabin followed, the Jewish People live in fear in their own land. But killing him was not the answer. The killer also did not have any foresight. The automatic prime minister after Rabin was killed was Shimon Peres, who is far worse in concessions to the arabs then Rabin ever was. If he killed him to, there is the political party that backed those ideals. In order to truly end the process, he would have had to kill a large percentage of the people in Israel, which would have been far worse then anything Yitzchak Rabin could have done.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

blame obama

There have been a bunch of weird things happening to the computers at work this week and I've decided to blame Barack Obama, the new President-elect of the US for this. For every unexplained incident, for example, an icon disappearing from the desktop. I have blamed cosmic factors and Obama being elected.

It's going to be a long 4 years.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

local elections

In our national elections, the NRP has decided to merge with the a number of right wing parties to build a united "right-wing" front. From a political perspective this is a great idea, if they can form some sort of agreement on policy. From a Jewish perspective, it is marketed completely wrong. The Torah says very specifically that we should go straight and not turn right or left. Therefore the party should market itself as a centrist party, in keeping with the Torah, instead of saying they are a religious party that believes that right-wing is better, against what the Torah says. They should market every party that is more left-wing then themselves as right-left (Likud), center-left (Labor) and left-left (Meretz, Kadima). If there are other parties that are more right wing then them, they can be marketed as right wing.

It's all in the marketing. Kadima marketted themselves as a centrist party and then apologized to the Palestinians for the refugee problem, something that not even President Peres would consider.

In our local elections, the supporters of the guy running against the current mayor called our house to convince us to support them. MY wife, who is mostly apolitical, answered the phone. They started telling her what the problems were with the current mayor and that their guy was going to fix it. Instead of hanging up on them or passing the phone to me, she asked them how they were going to fix those problems. They replied that there are a lot of problems. So again she asked HOW they are going to fix them. They had no response so the candidate himself got on the phone. He told her that the current mayor puts a lot of money into making the city look nice, so he would take all that money and put it into education, as an example. She finally hung up without making any commitment to vote for him.

She didn't ask him this question, but according to what he is saying, the ugliest cities should have the best education. Does he have any statistics to back that up? The facts are that the more beautiful cities generally have better education because the way a city looks says something about the population. I wouldn't want to live in a city that looks like a ghetto and I would bet the level of education would sink very rapidly if the city stopped investing in its looks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

more spam

I just saw the most shocking video of Barack Obama talking about his ideas of redistributing wealth to poor people. That means that if you earn $100,000, he wants to take it away from you and give $50,000 to someone who did not earn it so that you are both even. Now after the poor person has the money and loses it, he would then take the money away from you again and give it to him to lose again. As he says "I don't want to punish you for success, I just want to give the people behind you a chance as well"

Watch it and weep: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iivL4c_3pck

I keep getting this email at work from Chinese domain registration companies that someone is trying to take our company's domain name with a .tw or .hk or .cn at the end. They, being a morally upright company, want to give us the first chance at it because it is our trademark. I generally either ignore the messages as spam or I send them back a ridiculous message that makes no sense. It is fun because they generally respond.

Today, this is the email I sent them:
"I will file a lawsuit against you in the International Court of Justice that sits in the Hague. This is outright licentiousness and we feel that you are causing international strife. We insist that you cease and desist at this very moment. Chinese domain names, as you well know, are like the big dog that barks twice and then howls long and loud. I believe that you are Kevlin and you are not Will and you begin this process of squeezing us out of all of our hard-earned profits so that you can take over the world and get a Chinese American woman elected to President. We will not stand for this."

I got 2 responses back from them. The first one said that if I didn't register it soon the other group would because of the law: "who is first, who is the owner."

The second response I got back from them was surprising:
"Thank you for your reply, we have rejected their applications,but they will most likely register and snatch those domains in other approach.In that case we will not be with responsibility for any result about the matter."

I replied and invited him to tea to discuss world arbitization.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Acco in flames

Acco has been a "model of Jewish/Arab relations" for the past number of years. They shop at each others stores, eat in each others restaurants and drink coffee together like brothers. At least that's how it was until Yom Kippur. In an obvious attempt to incite a riot, the Arabs sent a driver playing loud music into a Jewish neighborhood on Yom Kippur evening. The Jewish residents asked him to stop and when he refused they roughed him up a little bit (He was not sent to a hospital and had no serious injuries).
At the same time, the loud speakers at all the mosques in town started blaring that the Jews were attacking Arabs for no reason and they should all get over there. 2000 arabs attacked the Jewish section of Acco, smashing car windows and shops, beating up people and burning things. Arabs were yelling "itbach al yahud" "slaughter the Jews."

God told the people of Acco, your prayers were ignored.

After Yom Kippur, the Jews had had enough. They went on a rampage and starting their retaliation. Apparantly, the police had forgotten that it was their job to stop the Arabs and they didn't much stop the Jews either. Houses were firebombed and people were beaten up. There is a call for an economic boycott of all Arab businesses in Acco.

I heard from an Acco resident that her eyes stung on her way home from shul after Yom Kippur because of the amount of tear gas that had been fired on the crowd. She said she doesn't even live in that neighborhood. Right now she is completely freaked out and is thinking of moving in with her grandma in Haifa just to get away from the madness. The Arab leaders have agreed to condemn the violence but they do it in such a wussy manner that it is telling the Arabs, you go slaughter some Jews, and we'll say "noo noo".

Sunday, October 05, 2008

my shabbos shuva drasha

In our shul we have a speech on Friday night in between kabalas shabbos and maariv. The rabbi only speaks on shabbos mevarchim and the other 3 weeks a month, they ask a member of the community to speak. We have a lot of rabbis in our congregation so most of the time we do get a rabbincal speech, but every once in a while they ask someone who is not a rabbi to speak. This week they asked me. This was not just a regular shabbos, this was shabbos shuva, the shabbos between rosh hashana and yom kippur. During the day the rabbi gives a long drasha that is supposed to fill your heart with thoughts of repentence. I turned him down at first, but he insisted and wouldn't accept any of the alternative speakers I suggested. Generally, I speak in shul one day I year, shabbos zachor. We sell Aliyahs on that shabbos and a couple of years ago they decided it would be funny if someone who didn't speak hebrew very well would sell them.
In any case, I agreed to speak and prepared my 5 minute shabbos shuva drasha. Everybody seemed to enjoy it. I could tell by the shock on people's faces when I started out yelling "Repent! Repent or you'll burn in the fires of hell" and the smiles that broke out when I said people must have considered Hosea a hypocrite for talking about repentence that it was a success.

The only negative comments I got were a couple of people who thought that maybe instead of saying "go forth and sin no more" I left out the "no more" and called on people to just sin. All of the other people just said they really enjoyed it. My Hebrew has drastically improved in the past 5 years and everyone actually understood me.

If anyone wants to see the English translation, let me know.
Here is my speech in Hebrew, for your enjoyment:

שובו! שובו פן תשרפו באש של גהינום!

כך אמר לי איש – יחף ומלוכלך - ברכבת של ניו יורק לפני 15 שנים. עכשיו אני עומד פה מול קהילה של רבנים, תלמידי חכמים ואנשי ציבור וחשבתי לעצמי מה אני יכול להגיד לכם על תשובה?

ההפטרה שלנו מתחיל עם הושע אומר לשבטי ישראל, "שובה ישראל."

מי זה היה הושע? הספר מתחיל אם סיפור שצווה אותו לקחת אשת זנונים ושיהיה לו ילדים. לפי כמה מפורשים הסיפור קרה בדיוק כמו שכתוב. בעיני העם חייב להיות בעיה דתית עם הושע. איזה צבעוני לדבר על תשובה בנאדם כמוהו שמםתובב עם נשים כמו גומר בת דבילים.

הייתי מדריך בתנועת נוער בארה"ב שעסק בקירוב רחוקים. היה להם אירוע לגייס כספים וכמה מהבוגרים דברו. נער אחת ממשפחה דתי עמד ודיבר על החווית החיים ונסיונות שלו וגם דיבר על ענייני מוסר ותשובה. הוא אמר שעכשיו הוא התאושש וחזר לדרך הטוב והישר אבל הוא זכר שבתון אחת במלון שהוא גילח עם סכין גילוח והזמין פיצה לא כשרה. היה שוק והלם שנער ממשפחה דתי יכול להגיד את זה, במיוחד שההורים שלו ישבו בקהל.

מה זה תשובה – זה תהליך שחייב לעסוק בו רק אחר שעושים חטא

ומה זה חטא – זה פעולה נגד רצון ה'

ומה זה ה' – הוא מלך מלכי המלכים, בורא שמים וארץ, שנותן לנו הכל, איש כפי צרכיו ולכולם יש תכלית אישי ומסלול החיים שהוא צריך ללכת.

איך אפשר לדמיין בן אדם שעובר על רצון השם? משוגע הוא? אחר הפרשיות הקודמות שתיאר מה יקרה להעם שלא הולך בדרכו. “בהמתו שחט לפניך ולא תאכל ממנו" "גלות" “עונש" “נשים אוכלים בנם"

אבל בסוף פרשה שלנו משה רבינו אוסף את כל המנהיגים של כלל ישראל ואמר להם:

כי ידעתי אחרי מותי כי השחת תשחיתון וסרתם מן הדרך אשר צויתי אתכם וקראת אתכם הרעה באחרית הימים כי תעשו את הרע בעיני ה' להכעיסו במעשה ידיכם"

משה ידע שיש חטא, היה לו הרבה נסיון מאז שהוא התחיל להנהיג את בני ישראל. חטא דבר טבעי

וזה מה שהוא רצה למסור למנהיגים של העם. תנהיג בסבלנות. יהיה עונשים. וזה גם תהליך של חיים - של לומדים מהשגיעות שלנו.

לפעמים קשה לקבל דברים כאלה מרבנים שנראים בעינינו כמו לא מהעולם שלנו, רחוקים הם. כך היה לנו את הושע, היה לנו הנער ההוא, היה לנו את האיש היחף ברכבת ועכשיו יש לכם אותי. ואני אומר לכם תהיה לכם סבלנות. אתם תחטאו, בני זוג שלכם יחטאו, ובניכם ובנותיכם יחטאו. זה נורמל, וזה טבעי.

יהיה עונשים גם לכל אחד פרטי וגם לכל העם.

לדלג לפרשה הבאה:

הצור תמים פעלו כי כל דרכיו משפט א-ל אמונה ואין עול צדיק וישר הוא"

שבת שלום

Friday, October 03, 2008

after shmitta planting

Well the new year started and shmitta is over. Like Yom Kippur, where you start building your sukka immediately after, we tilled the land and planted carrots (That's the only vegetable in season right now). I will not be surprised if they do not grow, because we were supposed to but them 2 cm in the ground and 20 cm apart from each other and my children have a hard time following instructions. It's not simple to just go out and plant now that shmitta is over. If the plant was created in a forbidden way during shmitta then you can't plant it after shmitta either. This is the reason we got seeds. (Also because they didn't have any flats of what I wanted.) I don't have a tiller, so I did it with a shovel. It was pretty difficult. I think the reason the vegetables didn't work 2 years ago when we tried (aside from the fact that we were chased away from our home by Katyushas and our watering system stopped working) is because I didn't till the land. So this time, I made sure to till first.
It will take 1-2 weeks until the buds start coming out and then 2 months until we can eat them. These are organic carrot seeds, and I dodn't spray them with anything, so these will be real organic carrots. I was very excited to be able to plant right after shmitta. It's like saying that the only reason we didn't work the land the entire year was because God told us not too. As soon as the prohibition ended we went and planted.

Now I have to work on my sukkah.
BTW, does anybody know what days the chol hamoed concert in Bet Shemesh is this year?

Monday, September 29, 2008

shana tova

Rock of Galilee wishes all of our readers a happy, healthy sweet new year.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

shabbos in the hospital

My daughter fell down the stairs in school and hurt her neck and was sent to the hospital. They put her in a neck brace attached to a pulley on top of her bed with a weight at the end. It seemed very old-style medicine, but I really don't have any way to judge that. She went in Thursday afternoon and they decided to keep her for shabbos. We weren't happy about it, but we didn't really want to decide on our own that the doctor didn't know what he was doing.
I stayed with her and my wife had shabbos with the other children at home. They got invited out for all 3 meals and we got tons of other offers. It is really nice living in a caring community.
The hospital doesn't provide meals for parents staying with their children so I brought all the food I needed myself. I bought
  • a bottle of Efrat Shiraz, not as good as Carmel, but better then Domaine.
  • A bunch of small challahs
  • a Rotisserie chicken, I reheated it before I left for the hospital at 3:30 double wrapped it in tinfoil and put it into a thermal bag and it was still warm when we ate it at 7:00.
  • A lot of water
  • Chummus
  • Potato Salad
  • A Turkey salami
The neighbors made me a couple of delicious kugels as well.

We drank wine, ate bread, had meat and sang shabbos songs. There is a shul in the hospital, so I took her for kabalat shabbat. It was a very difficult shabbos for my daughter, who was tied down to the bed for most of it. She stayed in a very upbeat mood until the evening when they told her that she had to stay for another night. We read books and talked and tried to play games, but it was very hard for her to play chess and checkers with her head attached to the bed. She was looking horizontzally at the pieces.

They let her out this morning and now she has to wear a brace until the end of the week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

To the Dead Sea

The company is taking us on a vacation this weekend to the Dead Sea. Tomorrow afternoon work ends early, I'll probably just work from home, we'll take the kids out from school early (they'll be so disappointed) and we head southbound.

The dead sea is an interesting experience. Very few people actually like to go into the salty water. It can burn your eye out and tastes disgusting if you get any in your mouth. It hurts a lot if you have any scratches on your body. But it is supposed to be good for healing. So it might hurt a lot now but then it will feel better later, so it is worth it.

Friday, the scheduled activity is Masada and then a Bedouin lunch, they ordered Mehadrin for us (which means the Bedouin stole a rabbi along with the kosher sheep). We're not going to do Masada because the kids have already been there and no new ruins have been "found" since then. We'll probably do something like Ein Bokek, which is one of the Shabbos activities, because we are not participating in any of the shabbos activities.

We're driving ourselves, as are the other religious families. The buses were supposed to leave from there after shabbos ended, but then they changed their minds and said they would leave on shabbos. I argued against the buses leaving on shabbos because we're a Jewish company. I went through the list of people coming and pointed out a couple people who might prefer to leave after shabbos even if they are not publicly shabbos-observant. In the end we compromised and one of the buses is waiting until after shabbos to leave. I told the HR manager that I was watching out for the people who didn't know they were shomer shabbat.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lousy Dinner

Yesterday my wife, God Bless her, was not feeling very well, so I came home a bit early to help out with the kids. The kids were all very hungry when I walked in, so I decided to make them dinner. We had twice leftover chicken in the fridge, so I decided to make them a chicken dinner.
I cut the meat off of the bone and put it into a tin foil pan. I then covered it with bbq sauce and mustard. I added a touch of spicy chily sauce. We had olives and grapes in the fridge, so I put those in as well. Then I found some spices on the counter and put some in (I don't know exactly which spices, but one of them was kind of off white). I stuck it in the oven for about 20 minutes and then voila, I had a delicious meal.

My oldest daughter actually liked it. The other ones wouldn't even look at it. "Ichsa. That's disgusting" and "I'm going to throw up" and "That's not food" were but a few of the statements coming from the children. I told them they had to try it and then they could have a peanut butter sandwich. So they tried it and decided it was more disgusting then they could have possibly ever imagined.

I actually thought it was pretty good.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Olmert kneels to Arabs

A recent Haaretz article quoted PM Olmert as expressing sorrow for the plight of the Palestinain refugees who lost their homes as a result of the forming of the state of Israel. He equated their plight to that of the Jews who were expelled from Arab lands at the same time. There is an expression that Olmert would have been wise to adhere to: "Better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are stupid then to open it and let people know it."

This type of comment incorporates so much historical revisionism it makes one want to throw up. There is no comparison between the Jews being thrown out of their birthplaces and the Arabs who left so that they would not be in the way when the Arab armies crushed the Jewish people and made them all very wealthy. Olmert is expressing sorrow that we won a war that was forced upon us. He is expressing sorrow that we were not swept into the sea, as was promised to the fleeing Arabs.

After apology, the next step is compensation. Now that we see where the PM was going with this, we should rejoice in our fortune that his corrupt dealings were found out and that he will spend a couple good years in jail. This kind of talk is most damaging to the State of Israel. It delegitimizes the right of defense and the right of the Jewish people to live in the God's country. He has effectively kneeled in front of Mohammad and kissed his shoes. Alas, The depths to which we have fallen.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vigilante Justice

This past shabbat a 9 year old boy was stabbed by an Arab Terrorist (is that redundant) in Yitzhar. The Arab also burnt down a house, but thankfully it was empty. Some of the residents of Yitzhar, in an act of vigilante justice attacked the village where the terrorist had escaped to.

A number of left wing nutbags have condemned the attacks by the Yitzhar residents. They completely ignored the terrorist crime commited by the Arab. This is for an obvious reason. Left wingers don't consider Arabs to be people. They expect Arabs to try and harm people and when they do it is not a surprising occurrence. It doesn't matter if it is a child or an adult or blowing up a sidewalk cafe. Left-wingers will not condemn it because "what do you expect from an Arab." They do however condemn Jews who try to protect themselves or seek justice, which the police sometimes fail to do. I thought about the reason for this and it is probably because they have such a high regard for Jewish people that they expect them to react in the way an adult would if a retarded child hit him.

Right wingers, on the other hand, consider Arabs to be people and expect them to be held accountable for their actions. When an Arab village protects a child killer and/or terrorist that village has to be held responsible. Anybody who protects a terrorist is a terrorist themselves. They show by their actions that they support killing and harming Jewish people and must be held accountable. In the biblical story, Shimon and Levi wiped out the village of Shechem when the prince kidnapped and raped their sister. They decided the entire village was guilty because they did not protest. Their father, Yaakov, was angry at what they had done. He was not angry that they wiped out the village, they deserved that. He was angry that the other nations in the area would turn against them and he would have to fight them all.

Maybe our situation is similar in that the nations of the world would turn against us if we wiped out a village because of their sins. That does not change the fact that justice would be served if the village were completely wiped out and all the people in it killed.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

beautiful insult

My daughter has been having some problems with some of the girls in her class. Since she came back from her trip abroad a number of girls have teased her that she speaks with an American accent. One girl was talking to her very nicely and my daughter had enough and she said to the girl in English, "You're beautiful." The girl, not understanding, was very insulted and went to complain to the English teacher that my daughter was cursing her out in English. The teacher called my daughter over and asked her what she said. My daughter answered and the teacher burst out laughing and walked away, leaving the girl who complained open-mouthed and speechless.

I'm proud of her that she finally has learned to use her language skills to her advantage.

Israeli school politics

There are members of my village who read this blog so I tried very hard to not include anything that can be construed as lashon hara.

I'm on the board of the PTA again this year in the girls school (vaad horim in Hebrew). One of the functions of the board is to approve the amount of money that each parent must pay. There are obligatory payments and optional payments, and some gray areas, such as the class trip.

The principal presented the payment sheet to us a week before school started. We accepted it all, changing some minor details, such as having 5th and 6th grade go on a 2 day overnight trip together, which would make it slightly cheaper for both classes.

One of the payments that was presented as obligatory was 30 shekels for dental insurance. A number of parents complained that there is no dental service so why are we paying for the insurance. One of the members of the board checked the law and found out it was only obligatory in a city that provides the service. He sent an email to the board and the principal explaining the law and requesting that the principal issue an apology and credit all the parents. He also suggested that the board was at fault for not verifying this information before-hand. I replied that I agreed with what he wrote, but it is not the board's responsibility to know all the laws and procedures and it was 100% the principal's mistake for presenting it as an obligatory payment. I explained that I don't have time or desire to verify that what the principal presents to us is true, and I suspect the other parents do not either. I don't have any problem with accepting that a mistake occurred, just accept it refund the money and get on with life.

A person who is not on the board saw the emails (looked at a board member's email) and wrote a nasty reply. A very cynical email was sent that the board is anti the new principal and that we are jumping on her for making a small mistake and we're all hypocrites. The email seemed to indicate that we are driving our children to hate the principal by having loud public discussions and we are harming the children and the school by doing this. (He knows about this because he went to university and read the books).

A minute after I read this a board member called me and asked if I read it. He had already prepared a response and he wanted me to sign on it. I told him that I would have to read it first. He sent me the letter which was a nasty personal response.

I sat down and modified his response to be much more diplomatic. I wrote that I will ignore your cynicism and hurtfulness and just answer the issue at hand. I then explained the situation and why his concerns were not justified. I also explained to him that the emails he saw were sent only to the board members and the principal and were not meant for the entire parent body.

In the end he apologized for his tone and his content and said he had taken things out of proportion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Honor the office

PM Olmert will be indicted for accepting bribes, corruption and in general being a jerk. When we were at the NBN ceremony on Monday, they requested that we honor the office of the PM, no matter our feelings for the man himself.

I thought about it for a while, whether that is chanifa (hypocritical flattery or ingratiation) and this morning while I was driving with the dayan, I discussed what he thought about it. He actually brought up the topic, as he was telling me about a young woman who made aliyah on my brother's flight who came to the court to get a letter of exemption from the army for being religious. She told him about the ceremony and mentioned that someone was holding up the newspaper with his picture on it the entire speech. I said I thought that no matter personal opinion of him or level of corruption there still needed to be respect for his position. That is not to say that we shouldn't protest against his staying in power after it becomes apparant that he is corrupt, but we have to do it while still honoring the office.

The rabbi agreed with me and brought down the proof from the way that the prophets dealt with the corrupt kings. The specific example he gave was Eliahu and Akhav. No one will argue that Olmert is more corrupt then Akhav was, yet the seat of monarchy was respected by Eliahu. We have similar proofs from the way Moshe spoke to Pharaoh, no matter what he had done, he held the highest position in the country and that seat demands respect.

As long as we accept the rule of the State of Israel, of which the Knesset is representative and which is headed by the prime minister, we have to show respect for the institutions by showing respect to the people who are sitting there.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

NBN ceremony - brother rock has arrived

My little brother made aliyah yesterday with his wife and 2 kids on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight filled with new olim. The flight arrived at 7:30 AM and they have a ceremony to greet the new olim. We stayed at my older brother's house Sunday night because he lives close to the airport and got to the airport at around 7. Security was tight because the prime minister was speaking. On every seat was a newspaper, either Jerusalem Post or Haaretz (in English). On the front page of both newspapers was a picture of the prime minister, probably so everyone would know who was speaking to them. The headline next to the picture (in the jpost) was "Police recommend indicting PM for bribery and a host of other charges." NBN requested from the guests to treat the PM with the respect due to the office of the PM because they work together and they have been very helpful to NBN. When he spoke he got applause when he spoke of Zionism and moving to Israel etc.. But whenever he tried to insert some politica, he got booed. He mentioned the word Kadima and at least half the room started booing.
The ceremony itself was great. They had lots of food and drink, were friendly and only asked my kids to stop making a lot of noise about 2 dozen times.

The new olim will be starting out in Ariel, a large West Bank settlement. We wish them the best of luck in their new home.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Settler girls

The new school year has started (in preparation for the new Jewish Year) and with it the bnot sherut (National Service girls) have come in force to our village. Last year the majority of the girls were sefardim, a bunch of them coming from the lower north (Haifa Krayot etc..). This year we have a complete turn around. While we haven't met all of the firls yet, it seems that the girls are predominently ashkenazi. We had 2 of them over for friday night dinner, very friendly girls. The 2 we had over, and at least 3 others, are settlers from Karnei Shomron and the Kochav Yair area. I asked them if they noticed a significant difference between where they are from and the Galil. The surprising answer was -- There are a lot more Arabs in the Galil. I don't know if that is true, but the Galilean arabs are a lot more visible then those over the green line.

Before Oslo, the Arabs over the green line were visible as well. Life was similar to how it is now in the Galilee, Jews and Arabs were on friendly terms they shopped in each others stores and drank thick, bad-tasting coffee together. It was only after we started the peace process that the real hostilities began (Thank you Meretz et al). Now the Arabs and the Jews on that side of the country are openly hostile to one another. Jews entering Kalkilya, once a popular shopping spot for Jewish settlers, are in danger of getting physically attacked and ripped apart, as happened a couple years ago in Jenin. Lets hope we don't try and make peace the the Arabs in the Galilee, that will really open up a can of worms.

There is a big demographic problem in the Galilee. 52% of the population is Arab, including Muslim, Christian and Druze. They are not content to live in their villages and build illegally as they have been doing for years, now they are trying to take over Jewish villages by buying homes and apartments. The real problem is that not enough Jews are moving to the Galilee and that leaves the space wide open for Arabs to buy apartments in Jewish cities. There are a couple programs working on strengthing the Galil and increasing immigration. Lets hope it's not too little too late.

In any case, there is a bet in the community how long it will take the settler girls to bring in a couple caravans, put them on the wadi and call it our outpost.

Pray for the MIL

My MIL had an operation last week and the initial results seemed positive. Last night my BIL called us at 1:00 AM to let us know that there were complications and she was back in the hospital. She is stable at the moment, but we are still very concerned.

Please say a prayer, tehillim or give some charity for the health and well-being of chana rachel bas tzivia

Friday, September 05, 2008

no biking in the galilee

Today we took the children bike riding down by the lake. Since we live on a mountain, it is very hard to teach the kids to ride on our street or around the block because they have to start off in 21st gear. So we like to go down to the lake which has a very nice ride around it. I sometimes take my roller blades, because the kids aren't fast enough on their bikes yet to go faster then me, though the older two have overtaken me running.

Anyways, we got down to the lake and the road was blocked because of a bike race. Well that didn't bother us that much, we just parked our car and left it.As we started walking down the rest of the hill to get to the biking route, racing bikes were whizzing by us and people were yelling that we were in the way. When we finally got down there, we realized that most of the lakefront was blocked off for this bike race. We go down there a lot and there were no signs posted in town stating that the lake was closed. We let the kids ride around in the narrow space left for them for about 10 minutes until we just got frustrated and left.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

right wing policeman

This morning I picked up a soldier in the Border Guards who was hitchhiking. Technically he's a police officer, but I think they seem to be more military then law enforcement. He spoke with an Arabic accent, so I assumed he was a druze (I was wrong). We were listening to an interview with Haim Ramon about a government discussion whether to offer settlers compensation now for leaving their homes in Yoosh (Judea and Samaria) before the negotiations over final borders. It is a ridiculous proposal because it is based on the idea that Ramon has already decided pre-negotiation what we are giving up and to make it a fact on the ground so that there is no discussion. Obviously, if the Arabs are not going to have to negotiate for Jews being thrown out of their home, they will have more chips to negotiate with, so whether it is true or not it puts Israel in a much worse position.

In any case, I mentioned to the soldier that these discussions are useless because the gap is too large between the 2 sides. They should just have a vote and see if more people support the stupid idea or not. He pretty much exploded and said that there is no one to talk to and this whole process is ridiculous. He was born in Morocco and his father told him that the only way to deal with Arabs is by strength and force. If you say good morning nicely to an Arab he will assume that you are afraid of him. His suggestion was that for every Israeli killed we should kill 10 or 100. If they shoot 1 rocket at us, we should flatten all the land in the area so that they learn that we are not to be played with. He said that when we left Lebanon, we ran away leaving tanks and equipment (I don't know if he was talking about the first war or the more recent one). He said, can you imagine the most powerful army in the world running away from nothing. (Reminds me of the story of Sancherev when the Assyrians ran away from the loud noises that God sent towards them).
I agreed with him, but mentioned that we were discussing right vs.left and not Israeli vs. Arab. He started ranting again that Israelis are too dumb to know what to do with the enemy. How the left wing tries to be fair in the stupidest cases. He mentioned a story of a terrorist, a father of 8, who bombed the train station in Nahariya. That family is still today collecting National Insurance. He said that was a direct support of terror.

I let him off at Tzomet Yagur and wished him well.

New Format

We've decided that two years after missiles have stopped falling on the our Galilean village that the war has taken a long-term break. Our format has changed back to pre-war issues and (as you can see) we have given the blog a face-lift.

There are a number of plans for the blog in the coming months, aside from the regular stories, and I welcome comments on the new layout and format.

Check out the selected daily news stories in the What's Happening section on the right side of the page.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

bombing Iran

I generally don't like to write about work, but this is too funny. We got an email with comments about one of our products. At the bottom of the email he wrote: "You guys better not bomb Iran. It will be your undoing. Wake up fellow people. This is the Universe speaking."

We discussed whether the reply should be:
a) We hadn't thought about that, we'll call back the missiles.
b) We'll forward you concerns to CEO Olmert.
c) It's top secret that our products will be used to bomb Iran. Watch out for the Mossad.
d) Too Late.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Rock's View on Politics....uh oh

I spoke to an Israeli yesterday about the US elections and he told me the Americans are b'tzurot (in trouble). He said that until now there was no question that people would vote for McCain because nobody wanted a black man in office. Now that McCain picked a woman as his VP, there are no more options. He then said, "Do you have any idea what Golda Meir did to this country?"

Sever Plocker, an Israeli left-wing nutcase, writes about why choosing Sarah Palin as a running mate is showing up all of Obama's faults. In other words they can't say anything about her without showing up their own candidate. Well worth the read.

As I've said in the past, I would vote for a black person to be the president before a woman and would have no inherent preference between a black man and a white man (if everything else was even and that was the sole factor) and I would vote for a woman before an Asian. If I wasn't Jewish, there is no way in Hell I would ever vote for a Jew. The reason has little to do with race and a lot to do with practicality. Black people are 100% American, they have no inherent ties to any other country. Even if they are called African American, most of them (as is true with most white Americans) couldn't find Zimbabwe on the map. Women are fickle and emotional. Its how God created them and we love them for it. That's not to say that no woman would be better then any man as the President, but given the choice, again with all else being even, I would go with the male. Sarah Palin against Obama, for example, I would vote Palin because all else is not even close to being even.
Asians have a different mindset then Americans. They come from places where a 500 year plan to reach an objective is not uncommon. To have a 3rd or 4th generation Chinese-American sleeper agent would not surprise me. Maybe I'm a racist, maybe I've read too many books - I don't know. I have nothing against Asians as a whole. They may cheat in the Olympics by putting 13 year old girs in place of 16 year olds, but they do play a mean game of Ping Pong. Jewish people, whether they admit it or not, have a dual identity. Whether they are Jewish first or American first, if part of their Americanism had to cross part of their Jewishness they would have a serious dilemma. Plus they would not be able to handle Tante Zelda biting off their ear that not only did they have to go and marry a shiksa, but they had to bomb Israel. Oy if only Bubbe Hinde could see you now. She's probably rolling over in her grave...

In Israel the Kadima race is heating up. The choice is between the foreign minister, a woman, and a former general. For some reason gender is not mentioned much in Israeli politics. Maybe its because we have already had a woman vice president who shattered the glass ceiling. Maybe its because in Israel the more corrupt a politician is the better the chance he gets elected and corruption doesn't depend on gender.

Monday, September 01, 2008

bbq on the beach

All 5 of my children are busy during the day now. The youngest one started playgroup today. As could be expected the problems in my oldest's class started on day 1, so we will be meeting with the teacher right away and try to deal with it immediately before it gets out of hand.

Today PM Olmert went to an Arab school to bless the first graders and he was met by protesters. They said that he was being investigated by the police for corruption and didn't want him teaching their children anything. I guess there are some things we can learn from the Arabs.

Tonght we are celebrating the start of school by having a BBQ with friends on the beach.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

the tire

After the starting school ceremony, the girls got together in their classrooms for a meet the teachers. My speech was cut down from what I wrote to a skeleton of it by my friend who told me that a lot of people would be insulted by what I had planned to say because I didn't understand the bad history in the school. Also I had forgotten that this was a welcome for first grade and didn't include anything about the darling new students. I also didn't throw in any sefardic phrases like yehi ratzon... and kapara alecha or chamsaa. So it was rewritten, but the new version didn't have a dvar torah, so he told me that the rav bet sefer was going to talk torah and I didn't need to. The subject of my dvar torah was taken out also so I couldn't use the same thing I had. Which left me with the opportunity to say what was on the top of my head which may have been appropriate for first graders "Look, I have put before you a blessing and a curse" but may not have been taken well, so I left out the Torah.

When we left it was already dark and as we were walking towards the car my wife, GBH, noticed someone changing a tire and suggested I go and help him. So I went over there and asked if he needed help and he said no, but it was a guy I knew and I assumed he really did need help so I sent the wife and kids home without me and stayed to help him change his tire. Something looked weird about the jack, so I asked him if he put it in the right place and he said yes, he knows how to change a tire. At one point the car slipped a little bit and I actually looked at the jack. What I found was that he really didn't know how to jack up a car and he had put the jack on upside down. The bottom of the jack is a flat panel that rests on the ground. The top of the jack is a little square piece with a ridge where the piece of metal sticking down from the car is supposed to fit into. Well he had the bottom braced on the bottom of the car against the door and it was balanced on the little square on top. When the car had shifted it was because he had dented the door of the car. It's a good thing that I went to help him or he might not be with us anymore. God works in wonderful ways.

As I was helping him change the tire, we were talking about his ethiopian project. He is an ethioipian himself (a kolel boy) and is now running a program that is trying to bring their teenagers off the street in Karmiel. They seem to be having a lotof what we would term "at-risk"kids. He needs money for the program and they are opening a non-profit org in the US so they can collect money. If any of my readers is interested in donating to a good cause that helps normalize ethiopian jews and teach them a bit of torah in the process, please let me know in the comment section and I will get you contact information.

I told him to send me the flyers he has in English and I will post them here as well.

new school year

The new school year starts tomorrow and tonight is the welcoming ceremony for first grade. I'm speaking as a representative from the parent body - in hebrew. I've spoken publicly in Hebrew a number of times. One time at a sheva brachos I said that I didn't know either the kallah or the chosson, and everyone started laughing, I used the word for "biblical knowing." Another time I used the mishnaic word meaning opposite and got yelled at by someone who couldn't understand why I would be against the gan (we live across the street).
This time I sent my speech to a friend of mine to proofread and make sure that when I thank the mayor for his help I don't also call him an ape.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How far to go?

We're technically already finished with parshas eikev as halfway through the week we switch our mindsets to the next parsha. That makes us solidly sitting in Re'eh territory right now. However, I wanted to share something that I spoke about at seudat shlishit last week in Chevron. You'll have to forgive me for being "so last week."

The activists who were talking to us were describing the obstacles they face while trying to redeem Jewish land. At one point someone told us that they had taken over a block of apartments for a couple weeks when 3000 yasmnikim came in to throw them out.
Yasamnikim are special police who are about as brutal as one can be. When they get taken out for a day of fun, they go to a settler beating instead of tubing on the Jordan river.

Anyways, he said that he and his son barricaded themselves in the apartment and gave them a really hard time before they were dragged out.

As I read through parshas eikev, I felt that the parsha was talking directly to us. It is easily understood in mostly modern hebrew as a musar shmooze from Moshe to us. He writes "Don't think that you are getting this land because you are so good and they are so bad. You are only getting the land because they are so bad. And you are a stiff necked people."
He also uses the famous line. "It was the strength of my army that won the battle." (כחי ועצם ידי עשה את החיל הזה) As it was in Egypt and in all the Jewish battles throughout history it is God who runs the battles and decides who wins and who loses.

Now I am pro fighting for our land. I think that we have to put in the proper effort to get it. I just don't know how far we have to go before it becomes a lack of faith in God to fight our battles. This seems to me to be the question that the Hagana, Irgun and Lehi faced (though they may not have known it).

I think that we have to fight the battle on many fronts, but at some point we have to take a step back and look at the forest. As it says in the parsha, we only deserve the land if we do Torah and mitzvos. If the people do not deserve the land, the actions of a handful of people will not change that fact.

I think that if some of the money that goes towards enhancing settlements went instead towards teaching non-religious people here about the importance of the Land of Israel and in keeping mitzvos then we wouldn't need to spend all that money on enhancing the settlements, it would come by itself.

no camping

We were planning a final camp-out of the summer tonight, but it is not going to happen. The boys school has their big school initiation tonight, which we go to for some strange reason, and the girls initiation is on Sunday night.
Part of the meeting is an election for the parents board and I would like to remain on the board this year as we push for excellence. I don't have a problem pushing my ideas on the principal in any case, but it seems like I have more of a say when I'm on the board.

Instead, I'm looking at having a bbq on the beach on Monday evening to celebrate the start of school.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

chasing out the hareidim

There was an article in ynet about a hareidi family being chased out of a park in a secular neighborhood in Bet Hakerem in Jerusalem. Rafi G has also blogged about the story.

At first I felt badly for the poor family that just wanted to play in the park and got chased away by "self-hating jews", the classical term for Jews who don't like hareidim. But on second thought, this is what has been coming to the hareidi community for quite some time. We are talking about a community that ostracizes anyone who does not fit their mold. A yeshiva boy who stops wearing a hat or doesn't talk yeshivish, or wears a colored shirt is considered having gone to tarbus ra, bad culture. A non chareidi person, whether secular or dati leumi is considered to be impinging on the sensitivities of the community if they walk in a chareidi neighborhood.

The infamous tznius patrol, which has been arrested recently, has been going around destroying all non-hareidi things, even though the gedolei hador say that it is inappropriate to do that.

Hareidim can walk into any dati leumi shul and be comfortable davening there - that is unless they can't handle the tooma. On the other hand, a friend of mine walked into a toldos aaron in bet shemesh with a kippa sruga and they wouldn't daven until he left. One boy came over to him and said "we don't pray with Zionists."

Now I'm not going to comment on the hareidi family that this happened to, for all I know they are a very welcoming family and full of gemilas chesed. But the community has been asking for this for a long time.

I recently spoke to a friend who is thinking of leaving the yeshiva world and getting a job. I suggested that he check out dati leumi neighborhoods instead of chareidi ones. He was uncomfortable with the idea.

plexiglas experience

My in-laws were just in from the great white north and my FIL loves helping out around the house. One of the projects that we had was to put a plexiglass wall going up the stairs. We had 2 wooden railings and nothing in between and my wife, God Bless Her, was afraid that the children would fall through. This fear was not without cause as the baby did fall through a hole so small we couldn't imagine that she could fit through it. She fell straight down from one floor to the next (about 15 feet) and apparantly landed on her diaper. It freaked her out ( and my wife as well) but, Thank God, no damage was done.

The first challenge was finding out what plexiglass is in Hebrew. They didn't know what we were talking about at the hardware store. After a number of inquiries, we found out that there is a glass store our industrial zone, so we went there. They make plexiglas, it is called perspex in Hebrew and it costs 300 shekel a square meter for 6 milli width.

We explained what we wanted including the measurements. We needed a parallelogram, the same height and width but at an angle. My FIL even drew a picture showing the angle. They explained to us that it was impossible and our drawing was wrong. It had to have a right angle and one side was shorter then the other and that would be the angled side.

We drank lousy thick coffee while they tried explaining this to us and then my FIL tried explaining why they were wrong and we really needed the parallelogram that he drew.
The manager was a Druze and the worker was Russian, I decided we needed some extra help, so I called a friend who is a native Hebrew speaker to try and explain it to them. After they discussed it for a bit, he asked them why they couldn't do it at an angle. They replied that they didn't have a protractor, so the only angle they could do was 90 degrees. I asked if I brought in a protractor and drew it on the glass would they be able to cut it. They said yes no problem, but it was late Friday, so I should come back Sunday. Sunday we went out for a tiyul and when we got back they said it was too late but that they would do it the next day before noon. I asked if we needed to draw the angle for them, and he said no need. He can do it, no problem.
The next day at noon, it was ready. My FIL picked it up and installed it on the stairs.

The only explanation I can think of is they went out on Sunday and bought themselves a protractor.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

programming help

I am in the middle of writing medical software and I really don't have the time to finish it. I am thinking of calling GlobeTask again to have a virtual programmer write it for me. I don't know if Globetask does programming, they are more of a virtual assistant company, where you call them to do time consuming tasks. The research they did for me on telemedicine devices was spot on and really saved me tons of hours.

The software piece that I need done is a GUI client that is to be written in wxPython. It is the part of the software that will allow the doctor to download the current patients to his laptop so he can work in a disconnected environment. I actually wanted to learn the library, whjich is why I'm writing it using wx, but I am so far behind schedule. Hopefully, GlobeTask or someone like them can pull it together quickly.

Livni, Mofaz, Barak or Netanyahu

The Kadima elections are coming up and the people of Kadima are going to choose their next leader. One problem that they might find in trying to determine who is the best leader for the party is that the party officially has no ideals. Since there is no one who can convince anyone else that they will best represent the vision of the party, it all comes down to who has the most personal supporters and who can get the least dirt thrown at him.

Livni and Mofaz are both from the Likud, but they seem to have veered leftwards in their struggle to gain or remain in power. We will all remmeber that when Mofaz lost the Likud primaries he said that the Likud was his home and then went and switched parties.

Barak has been playing Kadima politics for the past couple months as he forced Kadima into primaries, is forcing Olmert not to run and is now suggesting the Livni is not qualified to be prime minister. It looks like Barak is really running the show for the no-ideal party.

Obviously this is all in self interest, as Barak wants Kadima to fall apart at its seams and he will become prime minister as Kadima and Labor merge,leaving those right-leaning kadimaists to move back into the Likud. This is the only real chance that Barak has of becoming prime minister, and he is certain that if Mofaz wins the election, the former Laborites will come swimming back to him.

Barak won't be any better of a prime minister then he was the last time. After he lost the premiership, he realized that he was swimming without an inner tube and quit politics for good. He only came back to the party when they realized that none of the other wannabes in the party were worth their weight in straw.

Ditto for Netanyahu. Now Netanyahu talks the talk, but gave 80% of Hebron to the Arabs. He gave them guns and bullets, from which they shoot at Jewish people. He has shown that as prime minister he will not take an ideal stand. That being said he belongs in Kadima, the party without ideals. At the blogger convention he talked tough about Jewish history, but he didn't give the authorization for the Jewish community in Hebron to move into the homes that are Jewishly owned.

All in all, there is a serious lack of quality leadership in the country. This seems to be a problem around the world, as we look at the US elections and see the choices are Obama or McCain. With the democratic runner-up being Hillary Clinton. Those 3 names just shout out, "No leaders. Please barf."

Meanwhile, I am not a member of any political party. Last general elections I voted Chareidi because I couldn't stand the thought of voting for anyone and I figured that each vote they received was like $2.00 to charity. I may not agree with their lifestyle/philosophy, but I do believe in giving charity and their organizations are worthy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

To whine or to act

I mentioned last week, we just got a new principal for the girls school. I'm on the PTA board and we had a meeting with her last night for 3 hours. One of the problems we are facing is that the Education department does not want to approve 2 of the younger teachers for positions this school year, even though they had already been assigned classes to teach. We have a bunch of old teachers who are not able to teach anymore, because they're all burnt out and are bad for the students. For some reason, they can't fire them either. So the solution has been to give them minimal hours and bring in new teachers to teach the classes until the old goats either retire or die.

The principal requested that the PTA board write a letter to the education dept. explaining that we won't accept a school year without those new teachers. Our big threat is that we're going to strike the school year. None of the parents want to do it, but we don't feel we have much of a choice.

I recommended raising money for new playground equipment (again) and suggested that we have 2 options, either to continue to cry that the city won't give us what we deserve or to take pride in our school and raise the money ourselves. The opposing board member said that she isn't a fryer (Hebrew for sucker) and she is not contributing anything to buy equipment that the city is required to buy for us.

The most surprising thing was when I suggested we bring in Bat-El Gaterer, the religious olympian, to speak to the girls, none of the other board members or the principal had heard of her.

Is there no pride in our community?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Shabbos in Chevron (Hebron)

There are a number of places that elicit emotion in Jewish people just by hearing their names. This past shabbos we had the pleasure and great opportunity to visit one of them.

Chevron, or Hebron, the land of our forefathers.

Chevron symbolizes the Jewish connection to the land of Israel. It is the place of our roots, from where Judaism sprouted. This is the place that Avraham Avinu, father Abraham, settled in. The location of the cave of the patriarchs, which Avraham bought for 400 pieces of silver. Chevron was the capital of the King David's kingdom until he moved it to Jerusalem, 7 years after he began his rule.

While we didn't know it when we decided to go, this week was the anniversary of the 1929 Chevron massacre, when centuries of Jewish presence in Chevron was ended. This was indeed a symbolic shabbos to go and experience the renewed Jewish presence that has been facing an enormous uphill battle since we recaptured the city in 1967. We got to see first-hand the struggles that the Jewish residents have to go through on a daily basis.

We left our Galilean village Friday morning at 9:00 AM to head down to jlem where we were meeting the group. Most of the group came from Kochav Yaakov, a settlement between Jlem and Ramallah. We had actually considered moving there when we made aliyah 5 years ago, but for a number of reasons chose our Galilean mountainside instead. We got lost in jlem and showed up 15 minutes late to the spot we were supposed to meet the bus. Fortunately for us (unfortunately for them), their was a problem on the highway and the bus was delayed for about an hour, so we waited for them for 45 minutes. The group was very friendly and we warmed to them immediately. I think all of the other families were at least partly Torontonian (coincidentally), so it gave my in-laws a lantsman connection right away.

The first place we headed to was Kever Rachel, where mother Rachel was buried on the side of the road so that her children could stop by and pray while they were on the road. It used to be a quaint little building at the side of the road where you could pull off, pray and continue on your way. Since the peace process there has been no access for Jews to Bethlehem (because of the peace) and Kever Rachel has become a huge military compound completely surrounded by 30 foot walls. I said a couple chapters of Tehillim and went to deal with the children so my wife could have some quality prayer time. One of the ladies on the group brought a huge length of red string with her. There is a tradition that if you wrap a red string around the kever marker 7 times and then cut it up into little pieces and tie it around people's hands then good things will happen. A lot of people feel that the red strings that are handed out at other locations never actually got the kever rachel treatment and is therefore invalid. This is A1 kosher red string that got the full 7 times around and therefore can be worn by people who are into that sort of thing.

The bus was not ready when we left the building and the soldiers told us to wait in the building. We were a bit concerned at first that the bus got kidnapped, but eventually it returned.

The next stop was at the guest house in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood in Chevron (Hebron). We got our rooms and the kids played barefoot outside. The park next to the guest house was under renovations, so they made do with running around senselessy like kids do. The park that was being renovated was the place where a baby, Shalhevet Pas, was killed by an arab sniper a couple years ago. The rooms were decent, we had 2 bunkbeds and a cot for the kids, the air-conditioning worked well and the bathroom was ok.
I watched the kids play outside while my wife got them ready for shabbos one at a time. It was nice to see that the kids all made friends with the other kids on the trip right away. They were all English/Hebrew speakers and the kids spoke a mixed language amongst themselves.

We went to the Maarat Hamachpela for maariv, the evening prayer. It was done in a Carlebach style, led by Simcha Hochbaum, a local activist.

The Maarat Hamachpela, known as the maara, is not much of a cave. It is a huge building designed like a fortress. I believe it was built in the 1400s by the Turks, but I don't have Internet access at the moment to verify that. There are 3 rooms inside, though it looks much bigger then that. The Abraham room is the smallest and it could hold approximately 30 people. The Yaakov (Jacob) room is where we davened and it could easily hold a couple hundred. The largest room is the Yitzchak room, but at the moment it is only accessible to Muslims who believe that it is the Ishmael room. I don't know if they really believe that or if they just say that to bother the Jews. The Yaakov room is actually outide in the courtyard with a tarp covering. There are tombs with names of the partiarchs

Outside the building, the courtyard was filled with women and children, everyone easily relied on the soldiers standing guard for protection. Our kids were a bit nervous because we had told them that they had to stay near us at all times because it was dangerous if they went to the wrong area. We saw the local kids walking throughout the neighborhood by themselves and that relaxed us a bit. Dinner was excellent, Morrocan food, and we had a chance to relax and meet the other families in the group.

In the morning, I overslept a bit and went to the 9AM tefilla at the maara. This was a mistake, t was the fastest davening I've ever been to. Normally this is not a problem, but they started from áøåê ùàîø and davened sefard (in other words they skipped the entire thing). Davening finished within an hour. When we asked one of the policemen at the gate, where the 9:00 was, he pointed and and said in hebrew, it's full gas. No kidding.

Lunch was good. They put eggs in the chulent, but that's what I would expect from Moroccans. Before dessert we had our first propoganda speech by David Wilder who told us about the community, what they were doing and what the challenges were in trying to convince the government to let them live in homes that belong to Jewish people. In 1929, after the massacre the surviving Jews were expelled from Chevron. But they still kept the deeds to their property. This property is mostly now controlled by the Arabs and even the properties that are controlled by the Jews, the government won't let them enter. It is a fight for every inch of land and for every new family to move in. The expulsion from Gush Katif showed them how successful they can be and they are bringing all their weight and money down against little Chevron.

After lunch we had rest and relaxation time until 4:30, when we went on our tour of the community with Simcha Hochbaum as our guide. We went to first see the graves of Yishai and Ruth. We couldn't see the former Slabodka yeshiva because that is in the 80% of Hebron that Netanyahu gave away to the arabs when he was the prime minister (And tafka pp doesn't like him...)
We saw some excavations of what might have been the gate of the city where Avraham bought the cave from Efron the Hittite. We saw the hospital where the women and children hid during the 1929 massacre and the arabs came and may they all be cursed for eternity for what they did there. A group of women and children took it over in 1979 and it is now a permanent residence. We saw and davened in the Avraham Avinu shul.

It was a great experience for the entire family, and I'm really happy we went. We arrived home at about 1:30 AM, exhausted.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bronze Medal

Israel captured its first Olympic medal yesterday as Shachar Zubari from Eilat took the bronze in Wind-Surfing.

In today's Taekwondo match, Batel Gaterer Israel's religious taekwondoist lost 4-3 to the Czech girl, Martina Zubcic.
Martina then went on to defeat the Brazilian kicker, Debora Nunes, 3-2.
She finally lost to Turkey in the semi-finals.
Turkey lost to the Korean who took the Gold Medal. I guess it would be a national disappointment if Korea didn't win the gold medal in their own national sport.

Losing in the first round of the olympics is still a huge accomplishment. We are proud of Bat-El for representing Israel and not compromising on her religious standards. I think she can serve as a role model to all religous Jews that it is possible to keep our religious values and still strive to be the best.

Linked In networking group

A couple months ago I started a Linked In group called Israeli Anglo Network. The purpose of the group is to help English speaking olim build proteczia in a country where jobs more often go to the buddy of someone then the person most qualified.

This is not a mailing list or a discussion forum, it is just a group where other Linked In people who are in the group can find you. It is not the most convenient interface and they have screwed up a number of features as they are "improving" it.

At the moment, I have more then 220 members. Everyone in the group either lives in Israel or lied and said they did. I wanted to keep the group from being watered down, so I didn't let in anyone who wanted to be linked with everyone in the world (yes there are a lot of those people) or people who support Israel, or people who think that being in Linked In groups is the only way to be cool. If 10% of the group was not relevant to the group's purpose (which is to help ourselves) then it would lose a lot more then 10% of its value.

If you live and/or work in Israel, speak English and would like to be part of giving/getting proteczia even though you weren't in Unit 51 or a cherry, please join the group: http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/42658

blogger conference

I must be the last person at the conference to blog about it. I actually considered live blogging it, but I didn't want to even think about holding my laptop in one hand and a plate of deli in the other, while balancing a drink somewhere in the middle. So the laptop remained in the car.
It's about a 3 hour drive from the heartland to our Galilean village, so after visiting with my sister and brother-in-law for 10 minutes, I hit the road. It only took me 2 hours to get home and as I told my wife, "maybe I drove a little bit faster then a could've"

It was a great conference, but somehow I think the organizers missed the boat (or at least part of it). For me, and for a number of the bloggers who I spoke to, the main reason they came was to hear people like Zavi Apfelbaum, the Director of Brand Management at the Foreign Ministry. How can our blogs help the state of Israel. The problem is that she ran out of time in the middle of her presentation and skipped through a number of the relevant points. When they called her on time, there were protests from the entire crowd. Her Q & A session was disrupted by a wack job yelling about Israel's Jewishness. Now I am pro-Jewishness in Israel. It is a main part of the content that I write here, but there is a civilized way of discussing it and a non-civilized way. Screaming "What about the Jewishness" a dozen times until they end the session is not the way, especially when she never came out against Jewishness. She just came out for a multi-faceted approach to how we would like Joe Goy to think about Israel.

I pretty much skipped the last group of panelists and went and spoke to Zavi. I explained to her what bloggers would like to do to help her and a little bit of the power of getting the message out if she had 1000 bloggers including some topics that she sends out in their normal blogs. For example, if I get a message that says: There are dinosaurs from Argentina in the MadaTech science museum in Haifa. I would be happy to write about that, I might even include differing viewpoints on creationism vs evolution and how old the world really is.

Another high point of the convention was the surprise speaker, blogger Benyamin Netanyahu. It is not updated all that often, but he explained that as an aversion to ghost writers and the lack of time to actually write himself. These are sentiments that I fully understand. Netanyahu spoke very well and answered questions, most of them political in nature. What he failed to do, was address how bloggers could unite to get a message across. I wasn't called on to ask a question and when I finally decided to ask without being called on they were just ending the session.

The first group of panelists were interesting, discussing what the purpose of their blogs was and how they became big traffic players. All of them without intent. In other words, write passionately, engage the community and quite naturally traffic that is interested in your topic will come to your site.

I saw a number of bloggers who I recognized from the online world including: Rafi G, Jameel at the Muqata, Joe Settler, Batya from Shiloh Musings. I was sitting in the same row as Lurker, the guy who doesn't have a blog but comments, and RivkA from Coffee and Chemo. I had a great discussion with Ted from IsraPundit about politics and life in general.

To sum up, it was a great convention and I would go again next year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

going to Chevron

Last night we dined out at Arnolds in Netiv Hashayara. nice food and atmosphere, but they told us we had to eat outside if we wanted to come because there was a party there. It was a bit humid, but not uncomfortable. The food was good but not as good as Morganfeld's in Moshav Liman. It's hard to compare because at Morganfeld's we generally get the sirloin steak and here the only glatt meat they had was the Entrecote. It probably changes depending on the week, you just have to ask each time.

In another hour or so, I will begin the trek down to jlem for the big JBloggers conference. A number of my anonymous blogging colleagues will be there, but I will not be reporting on the unmasking.

This coming shabbos it looks like we will be heading down to Chevron, the city of the avos. Very exciting. I haven't been down there in forever.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

klezmer festival - done

The KlezmerFest was a lot of fun. For those who didn't make it the first night, there are 2 more nights for you to get on over there. As planned, we saw Simply Tzfat, which is mostly Breslovers, and 1 chabadnik. (I think the chabadnik was playing drums so he wouldn't actually be seen on stage. The mad fiddler was excellent.

The free concert cost us about 150 shekels. 70 shek for parking. (They changed it so you don't pay for parking with a free shuttle, you get free parking and pay 10 shek a person for the shuttle.) They charged us for our 1 year old, which made me a bit angry but I paid without a fight because there was no point in fighting, they determined the price and if we want to use the service we have to pay it. I did mention that was unreasonable and he shrugged his shoulders. 54 shek for pizza. 20 shek for popcorn, 37 shek for drinks. Not bad for an evening out with all the kids.

We walked through the carnival atmosphere for a bit. It was a nice mix of religious/non religious people. We heard a couple of other groups performing, but don't know who they were. We got back home at 11. An enjoyable evening out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tel Dan burnt down

This past Shabbos was very nice. My in-laws are in from anada and my bro-in-law came up with his wife and 2 kids. Everyone got along very nicely.

Sunday I took off for the day and we all went to Tel Dan, which is on the border of the upper galilee and the Golan Heights. It is a beautiful nature reserve and had a nice wooden path that is available for strollers, wheel chairs and people who have trouble walking. Unfortunately, there was a forest fire in Tel Dan a month ago and it destroyed, among other things the wooden path. They hastily formed a new trail that allows visitors to see most of the attractions in the nature reserve. It was nice, but not exactly what we expected. I explained to my children in my best Smokey the Bear voice that "Only you can prevent forest fires."

We hit Pizza Meter in Kiryat Shmona for a late lunch - delicious pizza. A half meter is about the size of a normal pizza, for 44 shek and it comes with a bottle of pop.

Tonight we are heading to the mystical city of Tzfat to hear the klezmerim play their music. You can see more information about the klezmerfest on their website.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Klezmer Festival

Next week - Mon, Tues and Wed (Aug 18-20) is the big annual Tzfat klezmer festival. I highly recommend it. We have gone and had a great time the past 3 years. (Except for one of the girls who thinks she remembers it and thinks it was boring). 4 years ago (or was it 5) we were supposed to go with the neighbors, but after driving for about 10 minutes they got a call from their mom that the baby just wouldn't calm down, so we returned home.
The Rock of Galilee will be going on Monday evening. We are planning on starting off the evening at the Municipal Stage to listen to Simply Tzfat for an hour. We might stay in the same place to listen to Maksim Klezmer afterwards, but we have not made a final decision on that yet.

The official klemer fest website is http://www.klezmerf.com

On Wednesday evening is the big international JBlogger convention in jlem, and I am planning on attending.

an evening in the forest

Only in Israel will the driver of an 18 wheeler decide that traffic is going to slow for him and pull onto the should top pass a couple cars and then cut back in. This is an example of what I put up with on the daily commute.

We had a fun company event yesterday. They set up in the Carmel forest with an open bar for the adults and bouncy things, a climbing wall and arts and craft activities for the children. There was also a pool table, air hockey, foosball and board games such as checker, chess, backgammon and cards.
I started out letting the kids jump around on the bouncy things, then I hit the bar. A long island for myself and a Tom Collins for my wife. The bartender replies that he doesn't have any ice tea and he doesn't know what a Tom Collins is. So I tell him how to make a Tom Collins and then how to make a long island. He asked if I wanted to take over.

Dinner was delicious, even though we had specially packaged "Super Kosher" food, so we didn't have to eat the regular kosher food that the non-shomer kashrus people were eating.
Towards the end of the evening, a co-worker (non-religious sefardi) told me that I should have gotten a minyan together for mincha so that he could say kaddish. I told him that I daven by myself at these types of events as there is no one else who is generally interested in davening. Also I didn't know he had to say kaddish.
I told him no problem, we'll gather 10 people, I'll say a mishna and then you can say kaddish. So he went back to his car and got his kippa and we gathered 10 men. I said a mishna from Avos, then some rav chananya ben akashya and he said kaddish. Excpet he didn't know kaddish very well so I had to help him. I told him he couldn't say kaddish dirabbonim because I didn't know that one by heart. It was still funny because I had to help him out with the extra sefardical words that he says. It's a good thing that I have experience davening with sefardim or I wouldn't have even known that they have extra words.

Next month - Dead Sea for shabbos.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

we saw an owl

This evening I took my girls out for a roller-blade. Well they roller bladed and I walked. They still aren't up to the level where it is worth it to put on my roller blades.
As we were walking we saw 2 very cool things.
The first was a helicopter that was standing in mid-air in the middle of the wadi. It was very dark and we could only see its lights. Suddenly it turned off its lights and we heard it moving, but we couldn't see it at all. I wonder if it saw something, or what it was looking for. A bit scary, I suppose. Generally when we see or hear things like that, we don't read about it in the morning, but I always wonder what is really going on.

Far cooler then that, we saw a bird with an incredible wingspan flying out from the wadi. I said it was a bird, but my daughter looked closer and yelled that it was an owl. I looked again and saw that she was right. It was an owl and it was just flying around in circles, higher and higher. I think that was the first time I've seen an owl flying free in its natural habitat.

Monday, August 11, 2008

hiring a principal

Well Tisha B'Av is over and I'm eating a late lunch with another religious person at 12:45 so we can eat meat. Tomorrow is shwarma day, so we're not going to go there, probably just to the local cafeteria and get a chicken leg or something.

Our girls school principal decided to retire. He had a heart attack during the year last year (A couple days after I had a disagreement with him, though I don't blame myself for the heart attack). But he gave notice very late, so they don't have time to go through the normal hiring procedure, so they are doing a shortened, less open, procedure.

I am on the board of parents of the school and I tried to find out how we could be involved in the hiring process, so we don't end up with a monster. I was told that the best we could do is give a recommendation for a specific candidate. There are 3 candidates from our community who are vying for the position.

If anyone is qualified to be a religious girls elementary school principal and wants to move up north, now is the time.

The current candidates are:
* the former assistant principal who left the school last year to become principal somewhere else.
* The assistant principal at the boys school
* The teacher who was already appointed to be assistant principal this coming year.

They all seem to be qualified for the position, though we aren't doing any interviewing of the candidates, so I don't really know that. One of the members on the board wanted us to send a letter recommending the former assistant principal for the job. Apparantly, a number of people have called up the supervisor and said some nasty things about her.

The board member who wanted to send a letter is also the best friend of the former assistant principal. She was not interested in sending similar letters in support of the other candidates who are community members.

My first thought was that it would be ok to say that we do not agree with nasty rumors and that in our opinion she was a viable candidate, but no more support then that.

After thinking about it for a while, I changed my mind and said that if people are complaining about her, I am not giving any recommendation unless I know what people are saying and to check if there is a problem. As a representative of the parent body, I can't just ignore the fact that people are unhappy with her candidacy.

Most of the board agreed with my assessment and we decided that if the supervisor is not going to include us in the hiring process then we will not, as a body, do any recommending.

God help us.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

tisha b'av

I got off the floor about an hour ago, a little bit after chatzos. While the fire is still burning in the bais hamikdash, we only have a small, symbolic amount of mourning to do. The beard that I have been growing for 3 weeks, the not going to public events, no live music, the refraining from water activities, the vegetarianism etc.. all say that I am symbolically part of the mourning. It would be impossible to truly mourn, for if we knew what we were missing, we would never get off the ground. As it is written, "those who mourn Jerusalem and the temple will take place in its rebuilding.

My shul says 14 kinos on Tisha B'av morning, ending with the traditional Eli Zion. We started davening at 7:30 and finished at around 9:30 I thought that it was a good amount of time. In our shul, a different person reads each kinah out loud and then the congregation says out loud the congregational point, so during one kinah everyone is saying Oyah together. I read one kinah, stating that God is great and we should be embarrassed as it went through some of history saying nice things that God did for us and how we screwed it up. I thought that it was a decent amount of time for kinos. In Detroit, where they said all of them, someone generally brought a backgammon set and when we got bored of kinos we would play

I took my little girl for a walk today because she needed to get out. It was so refreshing breathing the fresh air and looking around at the Galilean hills. May we merit the bais hamikdash to be speedily rebuild, in our days.

Friday, August 08, 2008

friday hike

Today were planning on going to Tel Dan with the family for a nice little non-intensive nature walk. 2 kids refused to go and then the family we were planning on going with decided not to go, so I ended up sitting on the couch working most of the afternoon. This was good because I have a lot of work to do to finish the application I'm writing. But OTOH I really wanted to go out. After working all week, I like to enjoy Friday and get ready for shabbos by seeing the rivers and streams in our nature reserves and say מה רבו מעשיך ה.

Have a good shabbos

Thursday, August 07, 2008


A couple of days ago my eldest returned from her visit in the US/Canada. She was gone for about 5.5 weeks and I think everyone agreed that it was 2 long. My wife, God bless her, took all the kids and went down to pick her up from the airport. My in-laws came in as well, and they planned on having dinner with at my BIL's in bet shemesh. The problem was that after a long, exhausting day with the kids, my wife was a bit nervous about driving 3 hours back home. I don't blame her at all, because it's a long drive and very dark and the kids tend to fall asleep. So I offered to take the train down after work and drive back with them. It's not that I'm so gallant, but the last thing I need in my life is a trip down south to identify the bodies.

I was going to go all the way to the Bet Shemesh station, but that included a layover in Tel Aviv and I was not in the mood of that, so we agreed that I would go to the Azrieli mall and wait for her there. I brought my laptop with me, so I could work on the train, I am learning wxPython right now and it gave me a full hour on the train to play around with it.
--Did you know there are outlets on the train to plug in laptops? You have to sit in the right seat though.--

I got to Azrieli at about 6:15 and my family was supposed to leave Bet Shemesh at 6:30, which gave me time to find something to eat. Unfortunately it is the 9 days before tisha b'av and we are very sad that we cannot put our cows on the altar so we don't eat meat to make the memory real. So I had to settle for Sbarros. Not bad food, but not exactly a shwarma either. Then I walked around the mall. They were having the 10th Bday party of the azrieli center, and the place was full of clowns, music, and other events for kids. They had a bunch of stuff that was very cool, like people doing flips (I like flips).

The azrieli center is right on top of the Ayalon highway, so the plan was that when the family drove by, i would walk down to the highway and get in. If I timed it right, they wouldn't need to pull over because of the horrible traffic situation on the Ayalon. Thank God we live in the Galilee where there is no traffic.

When the wife called to say she was enterring Tel Aviv, I went and bought a couple of fruit shakes from Juiceland. They had grapes, watermelon, cantelope and pecans crushed into an orange juice base (the 2nd one had a milk base). Drinking this is also part of the 9 days, by the way. By the time they finished, I walked down the entrance ramp of the highway and my wife had just passed. She pulled over to the side and I got there a couple minutes later.

The rest of the ride was relaxing and enjoyable. It was very nice to see my daughter again.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I think the war killed my blog. Yes, that war that happened 2 years ago for a single summer caused a lot of casualties. I've been meaning on getting back on track since then, but I always feel that my content isn't on par anymore. Beforehand, I had no problem writing about random events and thoughts. Then the war came and I was focused. I had a topic, and I wrote about it every day. Real events that were happening, letting my readers around the world know how a Galilean family had turned into refugees and was living in the Jerusalem refugee camp.
After the war, I felt that my regular content wasn't as good anymore. It seemed to lack the purpose that I had beforehand.

Now is time for the resurrection. Resurrections are important during the 9 days before tisha b'av. It can remind us that just like this blog is coming back from the dead, the beis hamikdah will be rebuilt.

During this period of time we don't eat meat to remind us of the korbanos that we do not have any more. We don't eat chicken because it reminds us of meat. This is a time to cry and to pray, but most importantly to resurrect ourselves and bring ourselves to the glory that we once were.

We have suffered through so many tisha b'avs and the redemption is now near.

The Rock of Galilee will now restart blogging about the future as well as the present and the past.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jameel's pro YU problem

Jameel Rasheed, of muqata fame, with his pro-YU hashkafik acceptance of the fact that a book written by the nephew of the Netziv said that Volozhiner's learned secular studies , has driven away potential olim. A commenter on the Muqata blog specifically blamed Jameel's hashkafa as to why he would not move to Israel. In order to promote aliya, Jameel has to make a choice. Should he stop spewing his hashkafic opinions and driving off potentials or should he say to hell with him, we don't want those kind of olim anyway.

It is debatable whether accepting a statement written in the book "My Uncle, the Netziv" would be considered YU hashkafa. Another way of looking at it is that a hashkafa that bashes secular learning is not following the Volozhiner hashkafa and using the story of why the Netziv closed the yeshiva is misrepresenting the facts which would indicate that they are violating the commandment "Stay far away from the untruth."

It could be that the anonymous commentor simply does not know how to read and assumes that if his rebbe said something it must be 100% true and therefore it is Jameel who is lying by quoting the book.

I would bet that Jameel will not change his pro-YU hashkafa until aliyah slows down about 50-70%. Once that happens you can expect more posts from Jameel about the evils of reading and thinking. He will probably post more anti-army posts and talk about the benefits of burning trash in the streets to let people know you are angry about something.

i said I wouldn't...

When I moved to Israel 5 years ago, I didn't have any intention of leaving. ever. And I said it a number of times, in front of a number of people.
This coming week, I am leaving the land of Israel for a short much needed vacation. We are leaving all of our children, something we have only done for a single night in the past 10 years, for a full week as we head off to Rhodes, Greece.
I wanted to go for 3 nights, but the specials were all for 4 nights. My wife didn't want to go to Turkey and there was a good deal in Greece, so we booked.
I don't know what we're going to do there, but it will be a lot of fun. There is no kosher food there, so we will live out the week on the food we are bringing and fresh vegetables. I've heard you can get international kosher food in the supermarket, but we'll have to wait and see about that. I think I can live for a week on carrots and cucumbers if they confiscate my salami at the border. There''s also fresh fish, that only need fins and scales to be kosher, you can kill them any way you want.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

pesach final camping day

I look at the news today and Gary, IN has made the headlines. !@#$ing Gary, IN.
Everyone I know who drove by Gary, IN on occassion had the same thing to say about it. It was as if a haze hung over the city and you would just look at it as you are driving into Chicago and just blurt out, beeping Gary, Indiana. You knew you were getting close because an awful feeling comes over you and you look at this place and think, nuclear salvation, and then you see the sign that says Welcome to Gary.

Back to Pesach.
We woke up in the morning and planned on heading over to Nachal Elal. This was supposed to be our major hike, 4 km, 2 waterfalls and walking alongside a flowing stream. Some friends told us they wanted to join us, but they hadn't made it to the campgrounds because their baby was sick. They called and said they were coming and it would only take them a couple of hours to get here. We went slowly and found stuff to do, we had to stop in a grocery store to get stuff for lunch, etc.. But when we finally got to the start of the trail, our friends were still nowhere close by and they were then thinking about another tiyul because it was so hot. It was 100 degree heat, but very dry so you really didn't feel it. We bathed the kids in sunscreen and brought 12 liters of water and started down the trail. It was a lot of fun getting down into the wadi, not a simple grandparents trail, but a real climb. We made it to the first waterfall and everyone dunked their heads and got sprayed on and after playing for a bit, it was time to head on out. We started walking and soon in, we saw that the forest had burned. Someone had told me that there had been a fire there, but I wasn't expecting the destruction that we saw. Everything was black and the ground was covered in ash. There was no shade. We continued onwards and after about half an hour past through the burnt part. Other then that, the scenery was amazing. We found a nice large spring of water to eat lunch at, and the kids played in the water for a nice amount of time. We continued onwards, it was hot and the kids were a bit cranky. By the time we got to the 2nd waterfall, my wife looked down at what we would have to do to get to the waterfall and then get back up and said there was no way that we were going down there. We were standing at the top of the waterfall and we would have to climb all the way down and then all the way back up.
We bypassed the fall, though it looked very refreshing and I would have loved to jump in. By the time we reached the end, we were n our last lit of water, or so. The kids were all beyond exhausted and I was happy we hadn't gone down to play in the last waterfall.
We all got popsicles at the end of the tiyul (which makes it all worth it) and our friends who had only done a small tiyul in the area picked us up and brought us to our car. (Which was really nice because I didn't want to start hitchhiking at that point.

After that we headed for home for a relaxing end of chag. We went to the beach the next day and found a giant dead turtle floating in a small cove. The final day of chol hamoed we went to nachal kziv and walked through the stream for about an hour.

Good times.

Friday, May 02, 2008

pesach cont.

Have you ever chamsaed someone while driving? It is much more gratifying then giving someone the finger, because first of all it is 5 fingers and a palm you are giving them which is 5 times as much and also because when you chamsa someone the curses that go along with it are much more severe. For example, a truck (yes an 18 wheeler TRUCK) decided that the line of traffic in front of him was going too slowly so he pulled onto the shoulder and sped past. I chamsaed him twice and among other things that I yelled at him was that he should get raped by the same camel 50 times.
To throw a chamsa at someone you put your 3 middle fingers together and strewtch out your thumb and your pinky and yell chamsa alecha (חמסא עליך in hebrew) Then while your fingers are still in the chamsa position you yell ridiculous curses containing what you would like to happen to him, his mother, his wives, his mistresses, his children, his posessions,...

In any case, I digress. Back to the pesach tiyul.

After Ein Tina, we were discussing the next plans with ourr friends and they decided not to continue with us, but we were going in the same direction so we continued onwards together and then one friend said that yesterday the bridge crossing the Jordan river was out and he found a dirt road through the fields that connected to another bridge and we could cross there. So we cut onto a dirt road and drove through fields until we found the second bridge and crossed the Jordan. We had planned to stop along the river for lunch, but there were no places with shade so we kept going onwards. We considered various options and decided that instead of BBQing we would just eat when we got to Keshet Yonaton, which was supposed to be a kosher lemahdrin place. When we got there they told me that it was too late to order and that they don't eat until 7PM anyways. So there we were without meat (except for deli slices) and no restaurant. So we decided to head on down to Ein Gev, where there was supposed an eretz yisroel festival. We drive down towards Ein Gev, or how we thought the map showed would be a good way to get there, and we didn't see any kosher restaurants on the way and there was no road to ein gev. We finally turned into what looked like a parking lot right where the road was supposed to be and it was blocked by police and soldiers. They asked what we wanted and I said we were trying to figure out how to get to Ein Gev. After discussing it they said that this was a road and it went to Ein Gev, but we should drive very carefully. So we went down a windy, steep road filled with potholes and surrounded on both sides by a barbed wire fence that had signs be careful of land mines. It was a fun drive and we finally got to Ein Gev and the children are starving. We walked through Ein Gev and there was no festival. There were signs that there was going to be a festival, but I think it was a Music Festival and it was only after dark. When we got to the end of the sidewalk there was a restaurant and a lot of ashkenazic looking religious looking people were walking in. We decided it probably wasn't our kind of kosher and offered the kids matza and meat slices. None of them were very happy. I finally decided to check out the kashrus of the restaurant and walked in and asked. They had a rabanut kosher for pesach without kitniyos. So I decided that we could eat there. Another religious person came and decided to tell me about the restaurant. He said that about 10 years ago the restaurant made a deal with the rabanut that they really wanted to be kosher, but they needed to be open on shabbos. The deal was that they use different dishes and an Arab cook on shabbos, so it is as if it is a separate restaturant. He said if I considered that toi be kosher then I could eat there. I thanked him for the information and said that I thought that was a great compromise. Who knew that religious people knew how to make that kind of compromise. So we went in to eat.
We had fish, the kids mostly ate salad and everyone was happy. President Peres walked in the door as we were walking out, so I wished him a happy holiday and he responded in kind.
We then headed back to the campground (we went the other way back) and slept well.

We counted Day 3 in the omer.

To be continued