Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rocks and Rolls

You all win. I cannot let all of November go by without blogging once. Being very busy is no excuse. I mean it kinda is, but if I was more organized I could do this as some of my faithful readers get on me to do. I guess I figure that people have much better things to do than read my blog, so I'm being self fulfillling by letting this die a natural death. Or just looking for an excuse for not keeping up. Whatever.

A good part of my busy-ness is due to my tour guide course which is a lot more time consuming- and a lot more intellectually stimulating- than I thought it would be. We have had incredible lectures on geomorphology (yes, really!) so that I can now explain the chemical process that leads to holes in limestone and stalactite caves, how gorges are formed, that frost can cause landslides and why granite is found in pillars and not layers. Yawn if you must but for me it's fascinating stuff. Even as I broke every nail and bruised both knees on our hike through Wadi Kelt last week I was lovin' it. (Okay, could have done without the mudstains on my new shirt but that was my fault for wearing it.)

Last Friday night there was an earthquake at about midnight. Earl woke me up to ask if I'd felt it (??????) and proceeded to roll his eyes in his head along with the Richter scale, because while still half asleep I told him that the Jews started to rebuild the Third Temple at some point but when an earthquake hit they took it as a sign from God that the time was not ripe and dropped the project. I then got annoyed with myself for forgetting the date this happened. All while not yet fully conscious.

So he's convinced that I'm obsessed and my kids want to know if every Shabbat meal they will be regaled with some little known detail of our nation's history and my friends got glassy eyed at dinner out the other night and I have rediscovered how much I dislike doing homework.

Hmphh. As midlife things go I thought this was cool. Was I wrong?

Maybe I should have gone for the manicures and the vapid 'let's do lunch thing' and the kind of life a lot of other women my age have. I don't think so, just not me.

Although the manicure is sure sounding good right about now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Three Foreskins

What with my radio show expanding to 2 hours and the first week of my tour guide course (more on that another time; suffice to say that I'm soaking up so much information that my brain hurts) I had a busier than usual few days last week.

I did make time to go to 3 brises (how do you pluralize that?) also known as ritual circumcisions, obviously on newborn boys. Islam does a version on girls, horrendous as that sounds and is, but we Yiddles just whittle away at the males, which apparently protects against a host of nasty diseases like HIV, although that's not why we do it. As with Shabbat and kashrut and the laws of family purity and/and/and..... there's a bunch of modern, scientific support for what we've done simply as a show of faith for a few millennium. I guess Whomever (note the capital W) asked us to comply with all these laws was actually and unbeknown to us doing us some favors, as well.

But, as usual, I digress. The first bris was that of our nephew's son, and they gave him my late father-in-law's name in the hope that he not only live a long life but a very accomplished one. As with so many joyous occasions in this country, it was also a victory of life. The baby's mother lost her cousin and uncle in a terror attack a few years ago, murdered the night before the cousin's wedding. The Spero/Applebaum family will never be the same, and every addition to their family- and our mutual one- is cause for celebration.

The next was the bris of the child whose parents I met a few years ago when the husband and I took a course together on building tolerance in Israeli society. (Great course, we all like each other. Wish we could extrapolate the relationships of the 20 of us of to the rest of the country. Oh, well.) She was in the midst of years of surgeries, including brain, for injuries suffered in a car crash which she barely survived and which cruelly terminated a pregnancy, leaving them with a toddler daughter. Well, despite her complete lack of abdominal muscles (she has mesh holding her body together) a son was born to them, an absolute miracle, even made the papers. That was one bris I was not missing, not a dry eye in the house when the blessings were said.

Last but not least was the bris of my cousin's first grandson. He's the cuz closest to my age and the only one to make aliya, pretty much because his 2 oldest sons came to do army service and refused to return to America. So they're all now here and these 2 boys- I guess to sweeten the move for their parents- married and both had babes this last month, one girl and now the little guy. These are the first children born to their family in Eretz Yisrael- that they know of -in about 2000 years. Pretty big stuff.

Since no less than Avraham Avinu had his bris (see the Torah portion for yesterday) too, I suppose it was an appropriate way to spend the week. I certainly had my fill of bagels and lox.

Now I'm going out to take 12 Christian German pro-Arab women on a tour of the Gush to try to show them a side they're not at all familiar with. This should be interesting. That covenant that the bris implies is the one connecting the Jews to this place promised us so long ago. But something tells me that they may not get it.

Sigh. Wonder what their grandfathers did in WWII, and when I let them know that I would not have been born had my dad gone to Auschwitz as did a good chunk of his family. And all the while wondering how much they even care now. I do so want to believe in the inherent goodness of mankind, a la Ann Frank. Surprise me, please.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

To Believe or not to Believe, that is the Question

I just read Debkafile, the website that has sources in Israeli intelligence. According to prevailing wisdom, they are right about 50% of the time, which makes them essentially worthless. I mean, how do you know which 50% is correct and which isn't? So by all rights I shouldn't read it, but just like one is drawn to the slot machine- with a lot lower odds- I find myself checking in every couple of days. Ya never know. More than once I read something there and days later it was validated in the mainstream media. Not that the msm is so reliable, but at least it means that the disinformation is consistent. Or whatever.

Today they are reporting that Syria has called up their reservists and put their hospitals and civilian defense systems on alert. So what am I supposed to do with that tidbit? Clean out the bombshelter? Stock up on water? Say Psalms? Eat cheesecake because what the hell, might as well have a pack it on before the cockroaches munch on what's left after the chemical/biological/nuclear fumes dissipate? All of the above?

So since this added info is not adding to my general state of mental health, I should probably stop reading the site. My problem is that I'm an information junkie. Not necessarily news- I stopped that long ago- but I do like knowing things so that I can make my own mind up about them. That's why I just watched the Ann Coulter interview (I think Donny Deutsch went overboard, she's no anti-Semite, she's just a believing Christian. It's not the same thing, in my mind, anyhow) and read the Bar Rafaeli interview (she clearly has more beauty than brains, what a self centered twit) and am in the middle of a color book (not coloring book). It's so that I'll understand what different colors represent in cultures and tradition before I buy a new bedspread and reupholster my living room chairs. (For example, never do a kitchen in purple; it's the color of royalty and mystics, neither of whom hang out in the scullery. Yellow, however, wakes people up and whets the appetite so go with that.) The color of my room could have far reaching effects so I have to be careful.

Why do I believe the color stuff? Dunno, just makes sense to me. So if that's my guideline, then on reflection Syrian aggression makes sense, too. Sigh. Guess in that case I'll have to buy some H2O sixpacks and recite some 'yea's, 'thou's, 'art's and 'Lord's.

I'll hold off on the dessert, though. Don't want to explain to anyone that I can't fit into my skinny skirts because I thought we were heading for Armegeddon . That's too bizarre. Even for me.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Irony Age

We spent yesterday afternoon trekking back and forth to the Eitam Hill, one of the 5 new outposts that were established by those who have not yet given up on the idea that Jews should be able to live in all parts of Israel. No one is under any illusions about the viability of these places in the short term. (Meaning, no way this government is going to let some ideologues- nasty word- interfere with their pathetic groveling to our enemy to please, please take our land away from us and establish another terror state there. Excuse the run on sentence; what are the chances that former English teachers of mine are reading this blog, anyhow?)

So we walked, and walked, and I was happy that the sciatica that has plagued me for nigh, over 2 months now, has mellowed into just an occasional tingle and numbness, and that we were collectively doing a little tingle to counter the national numbness that has affected the vast majority of Israelis who despise this government but can't do much about it. For me it's all about my kids and exposing them to the good people who are dedicated to this country in the ways that count. So we went.

Today's news carries a quote from some defense official claiming that our activites distract the security forces from fighting terror. Perhaps he should direct his concerns to the Prime Minister who has, in a "good will gesture to moderate Abbas", agreed to release nearly 90 terrorists from jail today, including the guy who handed Saddam's incentive cash out to families of suicide bombers. Me thinks that may actually be more detrimental to the ongoing battle against terror than some enthusiastic Zionistic teens and young families who go up on vacant hills. Not to mention that the forces out there to either protect us or evacuate us- depending on orders- are not the terror fighting units. But maybe that's just my illogical thinking.

It does makes for good copy to blame settlers once again for everything. Getting kinda stale, though.

Off to take a bus from a tour group through the Gush today. Hope I can sit for a bit.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Whale Watching

On Yom Kippur we read the book of Yonah, the prophet who tried to get out of his celestial 'mission impossible' to travel to Ninveh, an enemy of Israel, to warn the locals to repent so that God wouldn't destroy them. By trying to hide from God he got a 3 day whale of a ride and had to go anyhow. Adding insult to injury, they actually did repent (at least for awhile) and so he had to deal with that, too, along with a lesson in God's mercy to all humankind.

It's obvious why we read this (allegorical?) tale on our own Day of Repentance, coming to a synagogue near you this Shabbat.

It's less obvious but becomes clearer with time (read: age) that there is no hiding from God and it's best to acknowledge Him, even, or maybe especially, when we'd rather He wasn't watching and/or listening.

It's just flat out strange that the name Yonah has been appearing in our local media all week. You see, the day after Rosh Hashana 8 Israelis were killed in a plane crash on the Thai island of Phuket. The entire week has been devoted to the tragedy and the attempts to identify their badly burned bodies. In addition to the sorrow of 8 young lives ended, there was tremendous poignancy regarding 2 honeymooning couples, all friends, who died together. Coverage of their families focused on, yes, Kfar Yonah, a small and little known community where 3 of the 4 grew up and still lived.

What I used to see as coincidences I increasingly interpret as signs. What they mean, though, often eludes me, although since I love to talk to people I get a lot of interesting ideas back when I share my thoughts. I don't know what's right (I'm not young enough to know everything anymore) but lfe is certainly a whole lot more meaningful.

Off to scarf some food, since it's considered as big a mitzva to eat on the day before YK as it is to fast on YK itself. (Ya gotta love this religion).

A meaningful fast to all. May our sins be forgiven and forgotten, and may all of mankind merit the mercy of our Maker for the coming year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Eve of Rosh Hashana

Yes, 'tis the season of soul searching and repentance, the anniversary of the creation of mankind.
With that I ask forgiveness from you, my loyal readers, for this month long break in my postings. There are a few good reasons and more than a few so-so ones, but my Jewish New Year resolution list includes breaking my bloggers block and getting back to business here. This post will be short and to the point. (Mainly since there is still much to do before this 3 day holiday commences.)

I just heard yesterday that as the astrological sign for this month is Libra, symbolized by scales for justice, it's clearly not only the tribe of Israel that saw this time of year as one for reflecting on one's own life and vowing to do better in the future. Would that we all will succeed in doing some tinkering, since being a better person is inherent in becoming a better Jew.

Ah, Dani is home from the base. I hope that means the tension has lessened and war is not imminent. If it is, may our leaders make the right decisions and for the right reasons, and may it end quickly with no casualties and in a decisive victory over those who wish to destroy us. Please G-d. So now you know what is on the top of my wish list, ahead of blogging regularly. Just.

Shana Tova to all Am Yisrael. May Hashem grant us peace in our Land, whether we deserve it or not. Hopefully, though, because we do.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

California Dreaming

We're in San Francisco for a few days, leaving tomorrow back to LA to finish our trip before we head home next week. It has been very busy hence the non-posts. I know, no excuse. ('Resistance to blogging.' Is that a new psych term, like resistance to therapy?)

Anyhow, we're having a great time, even Earl who runs to shul 3 times a day to say kaddish. The only Orthodox minyan here is a 45 minute bus ride away so he gets up at 5:30 and is away from us in the evening for 2-3 hours as well. I feel badly for him but am amazed at his devotion. Tonight is "Jewish Heritage Night' at the baseball game; he probably should have gone and would have had an easier- and better- time praying there. Last night he rounded up 9 guys at the kosher deli downtown which was quite a feat. The Vancouver rabbi was very happy and the other Israeli- Americans were pleased, too. Came for pastrami on rye and got G-d. The missionary outside in the plaza under the 'Open your heart to Jesus' sign wailing 'Knock, knock, knock on Heaven's Door' completed the scene. Guess you had to be there.

Today we walked around Nob Hill, hit the aquarium, the sourdough bakery tour, the cable car museum, Chinatown and the wharf to see the sea lions who have mysteriously taken up residence there. It has been cold- 15 C, 60 F, but while we shivered the sea lions looked happy. We think. For some reason we seem to be findiing the Northern hemisphere cool zone this summer, very odd. I know, it's hot in the Holy Land, we'll be sweating soon enough. The first night we hit the 3 story Old Navy store- now that was exciting. Luckily I had a 20% discount so while Earl wasn't as happy as a sea lion he could have been more miserable. And there are still some shopping days left in LA.

Yesterday was the Golden Gate bridge, Muir Woods, Sausalito and Alcatraz. The latter was really terrific. There's a ferry out to the island- sold out 2 weeks in advance but since I was warned we bought tickets last week-and an excellent audio guide walk through tour of the prison that makes the whole place come alive with what it was like in it's 'heydey'. Pretty scary. Of course Mickey Cohen was an inmate (what makes us Yids look for members of the tribe- no matter where we are?) as was Al Capone before he died of syphillis. Yech. The big debate was if the 3 prisoners who escaped survived the frigid Pacific waters, murderous currents and occasional shark, since they were never heard from again. I think they drowned, that water is mean, but who knows. Really a great tour, though. Wish we had some place like that now for some of the murderers in our part of the world.

Lots of bikers here, too, but they wear helmets and have mountain bikes so they lean unlike in Holland. Suddenly I'm an international biking expert. Makes me miss my spinning. I'm gonna pay for this trip but good.