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.