7 Movies and Rituals

7  Movies and Rituals

Dec 21 – 24

“Someone” fired a rocket from Gaza into Israel and Hamas says it wasn’t them, and are indignant that Israel responded.  I guess we’re just supposed to let them fire rockets if they say it’s by renegades…. Would you believe that from someone who proclaims repeatedly they intend to DESTROY you?

Movie night: Those of you who’ve tried to talk me into movies, know the big screen is not my preferred mode of entertainment, and yet I found a subject that drew me eagerly into a 4-hour experience.  The Prime Minsters: Pioneers and The Prime Ministers: Soldiers & Peacemakers – are separate brilliantly designed productions based on the best-selling book by (now retired) Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Avner, The Prime Ministers.  The story told is the inside story from his perspective as a senior advisor to Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, and Shimon Peres.  These documentaries are not like your 5th grade history class, and better than many PBS productions.  The famous quote about those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it, is a compelling reason to watch for the films’ Netflix release, or availability on Amazon.  The book is available now and guaranteed to satisfy you history buffs, while the movies will entertain and equip both novices and sophisticates with a new level of understanding of the Middle East conflict and the entertaining/human interest value of the personalities, leadership styles, and humanity of these real-life heros of OUR TIME.

http://www.amazon.com/Prime-Ministers-Intimate-Narrative-Leadership/dp/1592642780/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419259865&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=The+Prime+Minsters%3A+Pioneers+and+The+Prime+Ministers%3A+Soldiers+%26+Peacemakers

 

The following falls into category labeled “I know you don’t care, but it’s all part of navigating a big move”

My washing machine is finally installed so clean clothes are possible.  I was beginning to feel like Pigpen from the Snoopy & Charlie Brown comics.  Anyone old enough to recall the swirl of dust that enshrouded him?

 

The installer kindly visited at 12:30 after several phone calls from me to follow up about our 8:00 – 10:00 “window”.  Since the washer had been delivered a week earlier, and I’d been staring at it longingly from my dirtier and dirtier daily wardrobe, I could have KISSED him.  He was efficient and I was nothing but grateful.  First new washer I’ve ever bought, seems a funny thought.

 

I listened with my best discernment to his pitch, which I invited, about the water filter and surge protector.  The unit is digital and apparently Jerusalem’s frequent electrical surges can blow it, and the water in Jerusalem is very hard (they say, “it has many stones”) so the filter protects the machine’s parts.  (Water softener for the clothes would be an additive, like in the U.S.)  So, I negotiated the price and then ok’d it for both; this week I’ll ask at appliance stores and check prices of the add-ons I purchased to grade my judgment, whether good or bad, and learn for the next time.  Some of you may think, “what’s the point?” but for me, that’s the learning process and to that extent, not much different than I’d do in the U.S.  It’s part of my decision making.  There were times in my life when I relied on someone else to make those decisions.  Not now.

 

Many here have said winter is so short, and it’s so “dry” that I don’t need a dryer.  “Dry”?  You call this dry?  Visit Denver, and then we’ll talk “dry”.  Thus far, my jeans and the very un-plush towels I’ve borrowed are not drying quickly, but we have rain coming, so we’ll see.

Tuesday was a hard day. I took a tour which was fine – interesting, not dazzling – but wrestled with that alone-in-a-crowd dynamic, feeling so very, very different and an outsider.  I couldn’t quite shake ALONE, not an uncommon vibe for me that shadowed the day’s otherwise mostly fine events and encounters.  To put it in perspective I’m listing a few of the positives:

  1. Exchanged contact info with a gal who is interested in meeting to practice Hebrew, and seems like an interesting person. I suspect we have some shared history of betrayal and disappointments.
  2. Nothing bad happened – no accidents or emergencies, etc.
  3. At our final stop, the tour guide had a skit for us to “perform” and I found myself one of the four volunteers, and received the designation narrator. I love the stage, you may know, in most any form and you’re probably already laughing with me. Many of the 50+ on the tour commented afterwards on my performance and asked whether I act or what…  I definitely am missing that outlet in this season of my life.

 

I returned with a tension headache from too-long without water or food simply because of the logistics, combined with unsettled emotions swirling within. Early in the day, a woman had asked me a personal question, literally because I was different from “them” even though most of us were from the U.S.  I was apparently the most recent immigrant, which usually is like being a newlywed – a position that garners happy congratulations and “wow”.  But with this group, somehow, I felt more outcast.

 

So, why the internal crisis?  Did one stupid question have that much power?  Even though at the time I knew it was an attack of the stuff of being alone: not belonging to this culture in countless ways, being away from loved ones who KNOW and love me, sleeping on my sofa and weary of camping in this apartment.  Don’t get me wrong: New friends are wonderful and caring.  I have the core creature comforts, but miss the things that make home “home”.  Since I don’t have my peeps or routines of friends and dancing and singing and hiking and such, I’m more aware of missing the comfort esthetics of “home”. My art is a big part of that, and I’m especially looking forward to being surrounded by the “people” and scenes and colors that have been the constant in my past homes, through different seasons of my life.  My eyes don’t like bare walls and these echo-y empty rooms.  I have a folding table and outdoor plastic chairs as a “desk”, and the new sofa, and really, it’s fine.  My mattress along with a few other furniture pieces, some kitchen items, and art are scheduled to arrive at Israel’s port on January 5th, and should make its way to me some days after that.

 

That’s only a few weeks away!  I chastise myself for whining because I’m not sleeping on the sidewalk or even the floor.  Still, yesterday my ugly self was manifesting self-pity, wanting to disregard that I am loved and included by some, and have had a lifetime of roofs and food and warmth, even during times of limited income and tight budgets. In moments like these, besides being really oh-so-very grateful for my amazing blessings, I take inventory:  the preceding few nights had been more difficult and I’d not gotten enough sleep.  I’m lonely.  My metabolism was out of whack and the headache was relentless.  That day was one of many instances when I ask myself why I’m here and what was I thinking, while at the same time telling my same self that this is all part of the process.  If this makes any sense to you, feel free to explain it to me!

 

Thankfully, I had an acupuncture appt that evening, slept 10 hours, and enjoyed the next day’s sunshine, grateful that my clean sheets dried quickly, even on the shaded clothesline.

 

Rituals:  From a distance, I observed many new rituals surrounding the holiday, Chanukah.  I’ve been reading and listening to find the back-stories, but have only been able to sort out a few.  When others’ don’t understand why we do what we do, they can think us very strange.  I’m aware of how little I understand of others’ family, faith, and other traditions. Even daily personal rituals…traditions.

 

Holidays and everyday life dictate unique rituals for generations.  Do you know yours?  Do you know the “reasons”?  I don’t think my family had much in the way of traditions, and my memories are more along the lines of: for some years it was this way, and then this happened instead and so things changed…   In my 30s, I tried for several years to establish traditions, but didn’t seem to have the knack. Eventually, I accepted the reality that what I was trying to start up was only meaningful to me.  I still think traditions must have some meaning to the participants; I really didn’t want people doing things only because it mattered to me.

 

The Denver ladies who’ve been gathering at my home monthly for the past 1 ½ years developed into a sort of tradition I loved.  That was precious to me.  Many years ago, I had something similar, but with time learned it really meant more to me than the others.  I don’t think most traditions can be done alone.

 

I have some traditions I enjoy without any other people, though, and know for certain God’s presence in those moments- for me it’s a very dear time, but then that’s different from sharing with people known and loved.  Many years ago I realized gratitude (to God, for LIFE) was lacking in me – and sought Him to change my heart to one of thankfulness, rather than counting the empties.  I welcome the joy of the moment as my tradition of joy… of life… grateful that I can LIVE it.  Though the moment may never happen again, or every year with the same people with genuine relationships, I savor the memories and revisit them, AS my traditions, while living today.WP_20141220_010

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6 Friends and connection

Dec 16 – 20

Friends and connection

A friend visiting from Denver made time in her relentless business and family schedule to include me.  This friendship, and our conversations’ depth is surprising at many levels to me – dramatically different backgrounds somehow don’t keep us from being able to talk about our growth and faith, how we’re learning to trust God in new ways, lessons learned through seasons of great disappointment and disillusionment. I hope the fragrance of our lives will continue to make eachother more lovely, even in our too infrequent communications.

These days, I’m relying on infrequent communications. Because of everyone’s busy-ness and time zone and day-to-day to-dos, phone or detailed email messages have been nonexistent or minimal at best, compared with how often we interacted before. The Denver ladies who met at my home monthly, the meals and walks and such with others… long phone calls with dear OLD California friends… I’m trusting we’ve built solidly and when we’re together or on the phone that it’ll be like it is so often with dear friends: “as though no time elapsed.” What is the stuff of friendships that creates that dynamic, when other relationships fall away with time? And those friendships that were just beginning to take root…I hope the foundation is not too fragile to survive this distance.

Sleeplessness and the move: The acupuncture apparently jolted my nervous system back into alignment and I slept as-though-drugged (AKA: passed-out!) for some portion of the 20 minutes with needles in my feet, shins, neck and shoulder and forehead. I returned to my freshly painted, reasonably undusty apartment (isn’t dust is like ants? You wipe it away, and then from somewhere more comes). I slept well for my first night on the sofa, notwithstanding the lingering paint fumes. The next day’s Shiatsu massage addressed neck/shoulder tightness from the heavy lifting, cleaning, and sleepless of preceding days. Have you had Shiatsu? It’s very aggressive massage and I was sore for several days, looking for bruises on my upper back, but it seems to be effective.  Both the acupuncture and massage were without undressing, and different in approach from my U.S. resources, but then most everything is different here, so why not?!?

I do feel better, seem to be sleeping, have joined and am already enjoying classes and weights in the nearby (ladies only) gym. Miles and miles of walking just isn’t enough. I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the biweekly personal trainer session included in the membership. The varied, frequent classes look like the list anywhere, with one addition: Folk Dancing. I’ll check that one out, and most certainly the Greek, Israeli, and other Folk dances offered at a local community centers. I haven’t found Ballroom yet, but have been told it’s there. I visited a “Sing along” but otherwise haven’t found any potential groups. That may have to wait until after language classes.

I was reading about King David passing the Kingdom to his son, Solomon, who is later invited to ask God for whatever he wants. Traditionally, Solomon is considered a wise king, having asked for wisdom instead of riches or other silliness, but the thing that caught my eye in reading this time is that BEFORE Solomon asks for wisdom in that encounter with God, David commends his son’s wisdom. I have a vivid memory of the 28 year old me facing how desperately clueless I was, and brazenly asking God for wisdom – for a portion of what He gave Solomon. I’ve been pondering why we want the virtues or talents we want. I find that the more we learn of something, the more we realize how far we are from knowing much at all about it. In Solomon’s case, he had already demonstrated wisdom, and so perhaps having some made him want more, realizing he was only skimming the surface of a deep, deep well.

On the other hand, haven’t we all known people who try desperately towards ambitions for which they lack the basic “gift”. No amount of mentoring or study enables them to reach their ambition. I’ve certainly prayed to do things, or be someone, only to later face the reality those dreams were far from my core talents. A simple example is that I could practice and play the piano hours on end, and never have the true talent of others. The learning and practice, however, later helped me develop my singing voice, which was also a dream, unfortunately squashed when I was young. Even as a late starter, the singing opportunities have been a blessing and have brought richness into my adult life for which I’ll always be grateful. So, learning something for which I had minimal talent(piano) enabled another skill that had a bit more potential. Lesson learned: learn lessons because they’ll apply to areas that might surprise you later. Learning is most often generalized to many areas of life. We could have lively discussions of lessons learned through careers, “good” and “bad” bosses, challenging close relationships, FAILURE, etc. Returning to the subject, which virtues or gifts do you now or have you craved? Where are you in that continuum from “mission accomplished” to “guess not”?

 

My neighborhood is filled with lovely Chanukah candles, many on the streets, outside the homes. The families gather around and light their candles, read the prayers, sing, let the children rabble-rouse a bit to burn off the sugar of the traditional, filled-donut treats. On the 2nd night of Chanukah, the kids on my street were playing a game or something wonderful around 9:00 and I was wondering if it is part of the tradition, and what time they are roused for school in the morning. I’m hoping an Israeli can explain whether kids stay up late on the 2nd night of Chanukah, or was it simply unique to my neighbors, that night. Learning this culture is full of sorting out the “norm” from idiosyncrasies.

Thursday evening I went to watch Chanukah music and dancers for a special “Olim” night – that references those who have recently immigrated to Israel, which includes me! I’ve been trying to attach the 7 minutes of videos to this site but no luck yet. I’ll keep trying.

Establishing a rhythm: My days include excursions plotted geographically with errands, to explore new areas’ and shopping for particulars as well as price comparisons; buying almost always mandates negotiating for lower prices. It’s kind of fun. The last few days’ projects was visiting the agencies I need to set up my language class and change of address, but was complicated by having been misdirected, was turned away from closed offices because of Chanukah, and, get this: I waited for my turn at the Central Post Office with a number of ‘190’ when the number currently being served was ‘107’ (TRULY!). There were 5 clerks working, so I ran a few nearby errands rather than just sit the entire time, and when it was finally my turn, learned the entire effort was unnecessary because of procedures changed years ago.

Every day something happens that reminds me to wonder again how people do this with bunches of kids and jobs. I miss my friends and routines. Even as hospitable and warm that my new friends are, I get lonely. But then, I suppose so do the folks with loving spouses and all the beautiful children, right? Loneliness is a bigger subject, but I’ll give the teaser that I think everyone gets lonely at times… I believe it’s a yearning of our hearts, not for chocolate or the other vices as it often manifests, but for a far deeper knowing and being known than any human can provide. Should we talk about that?

I love being here. Will war start up again? When is probably the better question. Stay informed: http://www.timesofisrael.com/

Email me if you have something you want to hear more about in an upcoming blog.

 

5 Aromas and Morning’s after

Aromas and Morning’s after

Dec 12 – 15

After a very very long phone conversation navigating my extremely limited Hebrew and the rep’s equally limited English (imagine THAT!!), I received an email confirming the order I’d placed, written in Hebrew. After a friend was kind enough to look the email over, I made my way to a popular-but-distant shopping area in another section of Jerusalem to visit the store/service center to resolve the crucial errors of my address and name for home internet service.

The 1 ½ hour visit included a variety of encounters directed by staff: making another very long phone call from the “black phone” in a corner of the store to reach a rep. in some other office, plus two waiting-line “numbers” drawn from a machine. One led me to a rep who was not designated for my issue, and the other who didn’t speak English. She told me so in a nearly perfect sentence, which happens fairly often. I do the same thing when asked for directions or whatever – in Hebrew: “I don’t understand Hebrew very well so can’t help you.” However, I’m under no illusions that my Hebrew is as precise as her English. The process in the service center was finalized when I brazenly approached a rep who was momentarily without a customer. It took 5 minutes to fix. I left –Mission Accomplished! I hoped.

What I knew with absolute certainty was the moment I made the choice to give each rep I encountered genuine kindness and appreciation. What of my heart do I want to give people? What aroma do I want to leave behind.

 

My prayer? Let me leave the aroma of You, and be a pleasing aroma to You.

 

This distribution is the first from my new digs. Another step forward. And yes, the installer appeared at the correct address, at the appointed time, looking for me by name!

 

Morning After

My first morning in my new apartment followed a busy day that began with schlepping my bags and few accumulated survival-groceries from my 3-week temporary rental to my new, 1-year-lease digs. I was warmly greeted by the former tenant and we finalized electric and water readings, the hand-off of the keys, etc. The apartment itself was a bit less loving, filled with the painters at work scrapping and prepping the walls. The floors of every room were filled with large and small slices of the damaged wall scabs – kinda’ like snow, but not so much.

The record breaking, Noah-like rains washing Jerusalem my first week here left many Jerusalem homes (apartments, rather than free-standing separate structures) with leaky roofs and damaged walls. I’d thought the damage and repair was limited to one small area, and that the work would be a short process. However, the damage was more extensive and since painting the entire apartment would leave a nice freshness throughout, I was content for it to be finished on Sunday. More good Hebrew practice talking with the painters throughout the day as I ran in and out to pick up core essentials: TP, the swell Braun juicer I’d bought from the shopkeeper who’d been holding it until my move-in day (I’ll let you know how it compares with the Jack LaLanne juicer I left behind) , a few cleaning supplies, etc.

same but differentHow do you select cleaning supplies from rows of indecipherable products? Which will be most like my favorites in the U.S.? WP_20141211_001Are pipes different here, and therefore procedures? Are there other expectations, or precautions I should know? And what have I not even thought of yet, since once Shabbat store closures begin Friday afternoon, there’s not much in the way of “emergency” supplies until late Saturday night.

Another concern I may as well confess: I have no clue about the most efficient method to keep these beautiful tile floors clean, or what the strange smell was in the bathroom.

The workday left everything dusted by the wall-scraping – my suitcases, purchases, skin, all horizontal and vertical services… I swept, only stirring up more with each effort, and collapsed on the borrowed air-mattress for a power nap, awakening grateful to have momentarily left the too-much-dust headache behind, and dressed for Shabbat dinner at the home of new friends’. We had an amazing dinner with prayers and blessings and love and friendships new and old (all new for me!)

The air-mattress needed attention when I returned. Those of you who’ve slept on one, only to awaken without air between you and the floor surely know what went through my mind: if it had collapsed so dramatically without me on it over the course of several hours, I might be in for a long night on the cold stone floor. You guessed it. I was re-inflating every 1 ½ hours throughout the night. I dealt with it a second night as well, rationalizing that my sofa sectional would be delivered the following day. Not a good idea, because the inadequate sleep, chronic dust, unmet painting goal/deadline, and the stress of navigating the issues of communication and expectations with both the apartment owner and painters left me pretty depleted. I’d learned the apartment owner had no plans, and would not consider, bringing in cleaners after the painters left, since “they clean up after themselves”. In addition, I’d discovered several things that needed attention and the painter had a mishap which broke the glass top and dented the stove I’d bought from the previous tenants. The painter’s or owners responsibility to replace the glass was an issue I had to press. Nothing can be done about the dent. The responsibility of the mishap would be a different process in the U.S., but that’s not where I am, so I have to deal with processes here, listening, learning, and readjusting my expectations along the way.

The painting was extended to Monday, so I opted OUT, and re-rented the temporary apartment for 2 nights in hope of sleep and clean air. Unfortunately, by then I was in a “no sleep” zone and downhill slide into my teary, sleepless-self, my neck and shoulder were aggravated by the heavy lifting and hard-work cleaning, missing my Simmons’ mattress, my emotions stressed. What a wimp! Without dragging you through the entire process, I was prompted into my first encounter with Israel’s healthcare to see about therapeutic massage options for my neck (we’re not talking luxury spa massage, but more like physical therapy, since that’s what’s worked in past)

Some of you have asked about terrorism concerns and the attitudes here. Life absolutely goes on and feels more undisturbed than it did a few weeks ago. The stuff of LIFE gets in the way of keeping up on the news and I got lost in my little-world’s project of gathering sticks and twigs for my “nest”. My saga of tiny disruptions are just that: tiny. Our day to day bumps, the misunderstandings, disappointments, and sleeplessness momentarily take our eyes off of the bigger picture. It’s a blessing to peek into a stroller and find a tiny bright-eyed baby, and the sparkle of the mom watching me light up at the sight of HER baby. I’m counting the many joys, gratitude to God for this amazing opportunity, my many blessings, and loving and being loved, even though never enough.

Navigating the streets late at night, unlocking my door in neighborhoods I’m still only learning… I feel safe, for whatever that’s worth. I am generally more attentive near traffic, but mostly I wish I could see into the hearts of those who pass by me on the street. What is their intent? How can we ever know.

I’m going to try to post some pictures – grocery aisles confounding the shopping process even as my reading skills are improving

 

 

UN Speech November 2014

Subject:    s speech Israeli Ambassador – Interesting

If you want something worthwhile to read, spend a few minutes and read this speech delivered to the UN General Assembly by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN.

Question of Palestine Debate

 

November 24, 2014

 

Delivered to UN General Assembly at around 4:00 PM today (Nov 24/14) by Ambassador Ron Prosor

 

 

Mr. President,

 

I stand before the world as a proud representative of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I stand tall before you knowing that truth and morality are on my side.  And yet, I stand here knowing that today in this Assembly, truth will be turned on its head and morality cast aside.

 

The fact of the matter is that when members of the international community speak about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a fog descends to cloud all logic and moral clarity.  The result isn’t realpolitik, its surrealpolitik.

 

The world’s unrelenting focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an injustice to tens of millions of victims of tyranny and terrorism in the Middle East. As we speak, Yazidis, Bahai, Kurds, Christians and Muslims are being executed and expelled by radical extremists at a rate of 1,000 people per month.

 

How many resolutions did you pass last week to address this crisis?  And how many special sessions did you call for? The answer is zero. What does this say about international concern for human life?  Not much, but it speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of the international community.

 

I stand before you to speak the truth.  Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, less than half a percent are truly free – and they are all citizens of Israel.

 

Israeli Arabs are some of the most educated Arabs in the world. They are our leading physicians and surgeons, they are elected to our parliament, and they serve as judges on our Supreme Court.  Millions of men and women in the Middle East would welcome these opportunities and freedoms.

 

Nonetheless, nation after nation, will stand at this podium today and criticize Israel – the small island of democracy in a region plagued by tyranny and oppression.

 

Mr. President,

 

Our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state.  It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state.

 

Sixty seven years ago this week, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. Simple. The Jews said yes.  The Arabs said no. But they didn’t just say no.  Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon launched a war of annihilation against our newborn state.

 

This is the historical truth that the Arabs are trying to distort. The Arabs’ historic mistake continues to be felt – in lives lost in war, lives lost to terrorism, and lives scarred by the Arab’s narrow political interests.

 

According to the United Nations, about 700,000 Palestinians were displaced in the war initiated by the Arabs themselves.  At the same time, some 850,000 Jews were forced to flee from Arab countries.

 

Why is it, that 67 years later, the displacement of the Jews has been completely forgotten by this institution while the displacement of the Palestinians is the subject of an annual debate?

 

The difference is that Israel did its utmost to integrate the Jewish refugees into society. The Arabs did just the opposite.

 

The worst oppression of the Palestinian people takes place in Arab nations.  In most of the Arab world, Palestinians are denied citizenship and are aggressively discriminated against.  They are barred from owning land and prevented from entering certain professions.

 

And yet none – not one – of these crimes are mentioned in the resolutions before you.

If you were truly concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people there would be one, just one, resolution to address the thousands of Palestinians killed in Syria.  And if you were so truly concerned about the Palestinians there would be at least one resolution to denounce the treatment of Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps.

 

But there isn’t.  The reason is that today’s debate is not about speaking for peace or speaking for the Palestinian people – it is about speaking against Israel.  It is nothing but a hate and bashing festival against Israel.

 

Mr. President,

 

The European nations claim to stand for Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité – freedom, equality, and brotherhood – but nothing could be farther from the truth.

 

I often hear European leaders proclaim that Israel has the right to exist in secure borders.   That’s very nice.  But I have to say – it makes about as much sense as me standing here and proclaiming Sweden’s right to exist in secure borders.

 

When it comes to matters of security, Israel learned the hard way that we cannot rely on others – certainly not Europe.

 

In 1973, on Yom Kippur – the holiest day on the Jewish calendar – the surrounding Arab nations launched an attack against Israel. In the hours before the war began, Golda Meir, our Prime Minister then, made the difficult decision not to launch a preemptive strike.   The Israeli Government understood that if we launched a preemptive strike, we would lose the support of the international community.

 

As the Arab armies advanced on every front, the situation in Israel grew dire. Our casualty count was growing and we were running dangerously low on weapons and ammunition.  In this, our hour of need, President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, agreed to send Galaxy planes loaded with tanks and ammunition to resupply our troops.  The only problem was that the Galaxy planes needed to refuel on route to Israel.

 

The Arab States were closing in and our very existence was threatened – and yet, Europe was not even willing to let the planes refuel.  The U.S. stepped in once again and negotiated that the planes be allowed to refuel in the Azores.

 

The government and people of Israel will never forget that when our very existence was at stake, only one country came to our aid – the United States of America.

 

Israel is tired of hollow promises from European leaders.  The Jewish people have a long memory.  We will never ever forget that you failed us in the 1940s.  You failed us in 1973.  And you are failing us again today.

 

Every European parliament that voted to prematurely and unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state is giving the Palestinians exactly what they want – statehood without peace.  By handing them a state on a silver platter, you are rewarding unilateral actions and taking away any incentive for the Palestinians to negotiate or compromise or renounce violence.  You are sending the message that the Palestinian Authority can sit in a government with terrorists and incite violence against Israel without paying any price.

 

The first E.U. member to officially recognize a Palestinian state was Sweden. One has to wonder why the Swedish Government was so anxious to take this step.  When it comes to other conflicts in our region, the Swedish Government calls for direct negotiations between the parties – but for the Palestinians, surprise, surprise, they roll out the red carpet.

 

State Secretary Söder may think she is here to celebrate her government’s so-called historic recognition, when in reality it’s nothing more than an historic mistake.

 

The Swedish Government may host the Nobel Prize ceremony, but there is nothing noble about their cynical political campaign to appease the Arabs in order to get a seat on the Security Council.  Nations on the Security Council should have sense, sensitivity, and sensibility.  Well, the Swedish Government has shown no sense, no sensitivity and no sensibility.  Just nonsense.

 

Israel learned the hard way that listening to the international community can bring about devastating consequences.  In 2005, we unilaterally dismantled every settlement and removed every citizen from the Gaza Strip. Did this bring us any closer to peace?  Not at all. It paved the way for Iran to send its terrorist proxies to establish a terror stronghold on our doorstep.

 

I can assure you that we won’t make the same mistake again.  When it comes to our security, we cannot and will not rely on others – Israel must be able to defend itself by itself.

 

Mr. President,

 

The State of Israel is the land of our forefathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  It is the land where Moses led the Jewish people, where David built his palace, where Solomon built the Jewish Temple, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace.

 

For thousands of years, Jews have lived continuously in the land of Israel.  We endured through the rise and fall of the Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek and Roman Empires.  And we endured through thousands of years of persecution, expulsions and crusades.  The bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land is unbreakable.

 

Nothing can change one simple truth – Israel is our home and Jerusalem is our eternal capital.

 

At the same time, we recognize that Jerusalem has special meaning for other faiths.  Under Israeli sovereignty, all people – and I will repeat that, all people – regardless of religion and nationality can visit the city’s holy sites.  And we intend to keep it this way.  The only ones trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount are Palestinian leaders.

 

President Abbas is telling his people that Jews are contaminating the Temple Mount.  He has called for days of rage and urged Palestinians to prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount using (quote) “all means” necessary.  These words are as irresponsible as they are unacceptable.

 

You don’t have to be Catholic to visit the Vatican, you don’t have to be Jewish to visit the Western Wall, but some Palestinians would like to see the day when only Muslims can visit the Temple Mount

 

You, the international community, are lending a hand to extremists and fanatics. You, who preach tolerance and religious freedom, should be ashamed.  Israel will never let this happen.  We will make sure that the holy places remain open to all people of all faiths for all time.

 

Mr. President,

 

No one wants peace more than Israel.  No one needs to explain the importance of peace to parents who have sent their child to defend our homeland.  No one knows the stakes of success or failure better than we Israelis do. The people of Israel have shed too many tears and buried too many sons and daughters.

 

We are ready for peace, but we are not naïve. Israel’s security is paramount. Only a strong and secure Israel can achieve a comprehensive peace.

 

The past month should make it clear to anyone that Israel has immediate and pressing security needs. In recent weeks, Palestinian terrorists have shot and stabbed our citizens and twice driven their cars into crowds of pedestrians.  Just a few days ago, terrorists armed with axes and a gun savagely attacked Jewish worshipers during morning prayers.  We have reached the point when Israelis can’t even find sanctuary from terrorism in the sanctuary of a synagogue.

 

These attacks didn’t emerge out of a vacuum.  They are the results of years of indoctrination and incitement.  A Jewish proverb teaches: “The instruments of both death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

 

As a Jew and as an Israeli, I know with utter certainly that when our enemies say they want to attack us, they mean it.

 

Hamas’s genocidal charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews worldwide.  For years, Hamas and other terrorist groups have sent suicide bombers into our cities, launched rockets into our towns, and sent terrorists to kidnap and murder our citizens.

 

And what about the Palestinian Authority?  It is leading a systemic campaign of incitement.  In schools, children are being taught that ‘Palestine’ will stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.  In mosques, religious leaders are spreading vicious libels accusing Jews of destroying Muslim holy sites.  In sports stadiums, teams are named after terrorists.  And in newspapers, cartoons urge Palestinians to commit terror attacks against Israelis.

 

Children in most of the world grow up watching cartoons of Mickey Mouse singing and dancing.  Palestinian children also grow up watching Mickey Mouse, but on Palestinians national television, a twisted figure dressed as Mickey Mouse dances in an explosive belt and chants “Death to America and death to the Jews.”

 

I challenge you to stand up here today and do something constructive for a change.  Publically denounce the violence, denounce the incitement, and denounce the culture of hate.

 

Most people believe that at its core, the conflict is a battle between Jews and Arabs or Israelis and Palestinians.  They are wrong.  The battle that we are witnessing is a battle between those who sanctify life and those who celebrate death.

 

Following the savage attack in a Jerusalem synagogue, celebrations erupted in Palestinian towns and villages.  People were dancing in the street and distributing candy.  Young men posed with axes, loudspeakers at mosques called out congratulations, and the terrorists were hailed as “martyrs” and “heroes.”

 

This isn’t the first time that we saw the Palestinians celebrate the murder of innocent civilians.  We saw them rejoice after every terrorist attack on Israeli civilians and they even took to the streets to celebrate the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center right here in New York City.

 

Imagine the type of state this society would produce.  Does the Middle East really need another terror-ocracy?  Some members of the international community are aiding and abetting its creation.

 

Mr. President,

                                                                                                                                                                       

As we came into the United Nations, we passed the flags of all 193 member States. If you take the time to count, you will discover that there are 15 flags with a crescent and 25 flags with a cross.  And then there is one flag with a Jewish Star of David Amidst all the nations of the world there is one state – just one small nation state for the Jewish people.

 

And for some people, that is one too many.

 

As I stand before you today I am reminded of all the years when Jewish people paid for the world’s ignorance and indifference in blood.  Those days are no more.

 

We will never apologize for being a free and independent people in our sovereign state.  And we will never apologize for defending ourselves.

 

To the nations that continue to allow prejudice to prevail over truth, I say “J’accuse.”

 

I accuse you of hypocrisy. I accuse you of duplicity.

 

I accuse you of lending legitimacy to those who seek to destroy our State.

 

I accuse you of speaking about Israel’s right of self-defense in theory, but denying it in practice.

 

And I accuse you of demanding concessions from Israel, but asking nothing of the Palestinians.

 

In the face of these offenses, the verdict is clear.  You are not for peace and you are not for the Palestinian people.  You are simply against Israel.

 

Members of the international community have a choice to make.

 

You can recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, or permit the Palestinian leadership to deny our history without consequence.

 

You can publically proclaim that the so-called “claim of return” is a non-starter, or you can allow this claim to remain the major obstacle to any peace agreement.

 

You can work to end Palestinian incitement, or stand by as hatred and extremism take root for generations to come.

 

You can prematurely recognize a Palestinian state, or you can encourage the Palestinian Authority to break its pact with Hamas and return to direct negotiations.

 

The choice is yours. You can continue to steer the Palestinians off course or pave the way to real and lasting peace.

 

Thank you, Mr. President.

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4 – Reaching Out

Dec 7 – 12

Saturday’s luncheon filled me from noon until 4:30 with delightful conversation and a delightful array of salmon and vegetables and chocolate and perfect strawberries. My hostess invited a very close friend, and regardless of the obvious years of close friendship they enjoyed, I was not left to feel an outsider – in my book that’s a pretty perfect definition of hospitality to a stranger. I left feeling warmed, and since good things tend to come clustered, meet with another new friend, who had scheduled dinner to introduce me to two of her friends. We transitioned quickly into comfortable getting-to-know you conversation and then discovered that in 2004 they had stayed in the same holiday apartment unit I’ve been staying in since my arrival.

Saturday’s afternoon and evening visits included offers to lend me the various core essentials I’ll need to camp out in my new apartment while waiting for my shipment from the States, as well as delivery of the items I’ve purchased here. On Sunday, I returned to the sofa-sectional I’d found last week. Have you ever thought you wanted to buy something, and then when returning to reconsider or make the purchase, wondered what ever could have made you think you would chose that item after all? I’ve learned to shop and reshop (and sometimes reshop and reshop and reshop…) for purchases. Have I lost a few good opportunities? Yes. I think. But then, had the item been there several days later, I might have not wanted it after all, right?

Following post is the speech the UN Israeli Ambassador made to the UN General Assembly on Nov 24th. It’s brilliant, long but brilliant, presentation of the problem.

Sunday evening I attended a movie/Hebrew language-learning event.   Bethlehem, directed by Yuval Adler, won six Ophir Awards and was named among the 10 favorite films of the Jerusalem Post. Very manageable English subtitles relayed brilliant enactment of the personal bonds and conflicts of the Israeli-Arab conflict, followed by discussion groups: Advanced Hebrew, Intermediate Hebrew, Beginner Hebrew, English. Which did I chose? Beginner.   I didn’t for a moment consider the English group. How did I fare?

Fair. I couldn’t truly participate because of catching only 1 of 10 (??) words, but I learned words and it’s all a part of learning to listen to the language. You see, catching the “music” of the language is part of discerning where words begin and end. One of the hard things I’ve been doing is forcing myself to listen to Hebrew interviews or reality TV shows – not sitcoms (not a natural flow) or news reports (too fast, and vocabulary far beyond my reach at this point). Children’s shows are good, too, since sentences are shorter, vocabulary simpler. Researchers passionately endorce language-learning for the “aging” brain, and the process feels like a terrific workout. I’m enjoying it!

But what if I give it everything I can and can’t master it like I want?

If I don’t try, I’m guaranteed to not fail. Right?

The movies/language groups occur monthly, and I’ll be looking forward to these evenings. Another program they offer is a “little brother/sister” program of pairing adult Hebrew learners with 8th-grade Israeli students (native speakers) as tutors. The kids, I presume, receive the cultural exposure with people from other countries, practice their English, plus the experience of teaching an adult. I’m hoping the program is available to me during, or after, my upcoming 5 month language class.

While there was a time when others’ courage left me feeling defeated by my fears and uncertain, the courageous struggles of others now infuse me. They inspire me to want to support them in the battle, and enable me to navigate uncertain terrain, praying every step of the way. The following is one of the many courageous unknowns. She motivates me. Her struggles would be insurmountable to others, and yet she’s embraced help along the way and chosen to live fully and love.

The CHALLENGE: At 22 years old, married with two small children, ages 3 and 1 ½, “Rebecca” was beginning her third pregnancy when her life was turned upside-down. Her husband had a psychotic break. After months of hospitalization, his prognosis was so poor that both sets of parents and the couple’s Rabbi recommended divorce. Rebecca worked as an assistant in a local daycare facility while learning to function as a suddenly-single parent. Her parents live in the same town and help her to manage, but she wants her marriage, the father of her children, and the life she thought she was building.   She needs support to carry this baby – her 3rd – to term and to go forward with life.

HELP: Nefesh Achat b’Yisrael (Just One Life) provided loving support to Rebecca – with caring counselors, financial and material resources, and referrals – through this otherwise impossibly challenging pregnancy. Her emotions were joy mingled with loss, and fear of the unknown future, combined with the monumental decision about whether ending the marriage is best, all the while shielding her children from her personal trauma. Courage like Rebecca’s inspires me, and I want to help women like her tangibly. When I heard about Rebecca, her baby was due in two months. As her pregnancy progressed, she settled into the confidence of being surrounded with support, and began to see herself as a strong woman, able to cope, to deliver and raise her baby and his/her siblings.

That’s a part of why I’m here. Women and men everywhere tell similar and far worse stories, and history’s chapters are filled with countless unwritten stories of “unknowns” who wrestle with choices and make courageous decisions.

My heart soars to think I could help “Rebecca” and her children, both born and unborn. Had I met her, would I have been courageous enough to take the opportunity to reach out, to be a friend who initiates a call of encouragement, brings a meal or watches her children so she could run an errand? But I don’t know Rebecca, so I support Nefesh Achat b’Yisrael (http://justonelife.org/ for U.S. tax deduction). It costs money only, not time or energy, to help this reputable charity and help moms in otherwise impossible situations, their unborn, and families. Let them know you’re my friend, or better yet, let me know that you’ve joined me.

The days ahead are filled with preparations for my move – finalizing purchases of refrigerator and washer, scheduling deliveries, setting up internet service, watching a plan come together for equipping my new abode for basic survival with a few creature comforts. I’ll have 3+ weeks yet before my shipment from the U.S. will arrive. These amazing new friends are stepping up to the plate with loans: air mattress, sheets towels pillows, a few kitchen items, folding table and chairs, etc. I’m touched by the kindness and caring of others’ – whether long-term well developed friendships or new just-getting-acquainted folks. It’s so very difficult to receive, but even more so to ASK.

3 – The Doors

Dec 3 – Dec 6, 2014

As always, dear reader – read gently, and I trust you’ll find something for your heart. It means so much to have you along on the journey!

Courage. Do you see others’ but not your own? I do. For me, the courage of greatest challenge is decision making – which way is best, should I or shouldn’t I, is this “right” or is there even a “right way” in this matter, is God guiding me to heed my reservations or step over them…

Or, is your courage-challenge about going forth once a decision is made? Are you quicker to establish a plan, but then tend to not implement? Why? If you don’t call it “fear”, then what? I envision someone hiding under the covers from implementation of the plan or decision they have genuinely embraced.

This picture, The Doors, by Xavier Mellery, caught my heart during my visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the few days in NYC before flying to Israel. Typically, I stand gazing at art depicting people – their poses, expressions, and lifestyle filling me with the stories of their lives. Alternatively, realistic nature scenes with paths or rivers going somewhere unknown draw my attention, and this painting obviously fits the latter category. I like the light ahead, the open doors, the peacefulness that feels quiet, and while it’s alone it doesn’t feel lonely to me. I wonder whether any art major out there can tell me anything interesting about Mellery’s life or his other works.

I’m captivated by courage stories, which explains in part my interest in WW2, contemporary, and Biblical heros. The Good risking everything, to overcome evil… I remind myself that Heros don’t always succeed, or survive.

Sigh. This is now a rewrite of a nearly finalized product – we’ve all invested time and concentration to produce a document, only to have the system crash, without any discernable “saves” for hours of wordsmithing. Live and learn is what we say, and I ”learn” the same lessons over and over, until I begin “living” them out – AKA doing them. Don’t forget to save your work along the way. What else does that apply to?

One feat of courage of the past few days was signing the apartment lease. It was humbling to need a co-signer for the first time in my life, but seems to be the way they do things here. I spent some time shopping for appliances (washer, refrigerator) and a sofa/loveseat or comfy chairsm so my anticipated move in on the 14th will allow reasonably civilized living accommodations, while I wait for my shipment to arrive at the end of the month. I was able to buy the current tenants’ stove, but have a challenge for hanging clothes. There is an alcove for an actual wardrobe – typically antique furniture by American standards – a “closet” as it translates from Hebrew to English; I’m not inclined to buy a furniture-closet, but rather considering a simple shelf or two, and bar for hanging clothes. Who will I find to do the work? It looks so simple, and I tried hanging a shelf over the washer in my Denver condo, but the entire project collapsed in the middle of the night, and now I know my limitations.

My soon-to-be new neighborhood is lovely, with mature landscaping and ultra-mature apartments, many on a grand scale. Check out the HUGE grapefruits on a neighbor’s tree! The next street over offers a brilliant view of the Knesset surrounded by great walking trails, plus there’s a decent looking gym just one block away, and I intend to join that right away.

Today I am looking forward to lunch at the home of a new friend. Here’s how it came about: Dolly, who invited me to her home for lunch of yummy Hungarian soup the day we met, passed along my contact information to her friend, Miriam, who invited me to a lecture, where I met the Sarale who’s invited me to lunch today.   How grateful I am to those who have reached out. I’m eager to collect these acquaintances and to develop friendships; their hospitable hearts have already lightened the load of my first few weeks’ adjustment. Along those lines, a woman who’s lived here for 6 years (from Detroit) struck-up a conversation in one of the appliance stores this week. These encounters occur nearly every day, but this was the first time the other person asked for MY contact information so we could meet for coffee. Usually I give my information in hopes they will be interested, and I was so delighted to have her initiate—of course I’ll follow up. I tell these stories so you don’t worry too much about my days alone, to memorialize the gratitude I feel, and to nudge you to reach out the stranger in whatever ways are appropriate.

This week I spent 15 minutes observing the Hebrew class I’ll begin in January – 4 hours/day, 5 days/week, for 5 months. With homework!! Again, how do people do this with busy family lives!? The class was lively, fast paced, led by a skilled teacher using various modalities, and the vibe of the approximately 35 students was mutually supportive and upbeat. The students were primarily women 25 – 40ish, leaving the bell curve fairly balanced at both ends. I left with combined emotions: intimidation, excitement, confidence, intimidation. Oh, did I say that twice?

The teacher in the Hebrew class wrote (scrawled!) phrases and words rapidly on the whiteboard in cursive Hebrew. Are any of you old enough to remember learning cursive letters after learning to print? Consider how the swirls and circles and different lines, further stylized by individual writers’ artsy renditions are used in advertisements and store signage. They confound this child-like reader by effectively hiding words I might otherwise know, or at least be able to sound out. Salespeople have written product information and references in script, and I’ve found myself unable to recognize even ONE letter, much less read words, so I scribble English notes besides their scrawl, for later. My self-assignment from now until January will be to devote serious time to getting a feel for reading and writing with the Hebrew script.

It’s time to leave for my lunch at Sarale’s home.

2 – Letting go & learning to think and fear

Nov 27 – Dec 2, 2014

The first 6 apartments I looked at were each a different version of “I could live here, but…”

Do I, will I miss my lovely condo in Denver? Of course, but time and again as I release the good I’ve received I’ve found my hands and my life blessed with people, experiences, insights I could never have received had I not let go. I’m comforted knowing God fills open hands and hearts that are eager to learn and give.

Apartment #7 viewing was not more of the same. The 50+ square meters (something like 550 sq ft) had everything I was hoping to find, at a reasonable price. The recently remodeled unit on a quiet street of one of the best central Jerusalem neighborhoods (translated for me: “safe”) may become my new address. I probably can’t move in until around December 15th, and then I’m left with a bit of a challenge since my shipment from the U.S. (my good Simmons mattress J, a few furniture pieces, most of my art, and dramatically reduced wardrobe – who needs professional clothing if no longer going into the office every day?!) is scheduled to arrive 2 weeks later. IF these lease contract negotiations can be finalized, I’ll hope to borrow a temporary mattress and chair to use until mine arrive. Unfurnished here means “sans kitchen appliances.” I’ll probably buy the stove/oven of the current tenants, and will need to shop for a few comfy livingroom chairs or loveseat as well as a refrigerator and washer and dryer in order to set up camp. I’m hoping this apartment will be a new home, but if we can’t agree on terms, I’ll begin the search again.

Language learning: at this point, I read Hebrew like a 1st grade child – sounding out words slowly. Painfully. The disadvantage I have over a child learning to read is that many of the words I’m able to sound-out are not yet in my Hebrew vocabulary, whereas by the time children are learning to read, they have extensive mastery of the language. It’s a thrill to sound out words on a sign, and piece enough of the message together to actually understand it. Whooohooooo!!! I try to restrain myself from doing a little jig in public, but can’t stifle the proud GRIN.

Signing countless forms and documents without reading: if you’ve bought a house you’ve had the experience. Most of us sign many documents without reading every word, or even every paragraph, but it feels different if you can’t even glance-read to find the signature line, much less digest the document’s crucial concepts. I’m grateful to the Israeli friends who willingly read, and caught the irregularities in my potential lease agreement.

I occasionally travel by bus or light rail, but most always walk long miles. It’s the best way to learn the area and have more encounters with locals. How are the streets here? Do they feel safe or dangerous? Are my travels in Jerusalem restricted by danger zones, or are there parts of the city I avoid? Yes.

While there are areas throughout the nation where Jewish and Arab Israeli’s work well together, if you follow the real news http://www.i24news.tv/en/  the East side of Jerusalem is the area that tends to generate recent terrorism, and those attacks have occurred in unpredictable Jerusalem neighborhoods. I’ve stayed away from visiting the Kotel (Western Wall) and haven’t yet visited the Old City during this trip except to quickly snag a couple of the great city maps provided by the Jaffa Gate Visitor Center. Will I go to East Jerusalem? Not without good cause.

Am I afraid? A tiny bit for a tiny second, but no more than I would be living life anywhere. I’m certainly more actively aware of my surroundings, but distractions distract so easily. We all know glancing at the phone while driving could be disastrous, and really when walking as well. Liken me to trying to be an “alert, focused driver” 100% of the time while walking the streets of Jerusalem, and you’ll realize that often I let my guard down with inattentiveness. Because of last month’s car-terrorism at pedestrians, I do find myself waiting further from the street at intersections and paying more attention to the vehicles whizzing by.

What about the current conflict? Please check out the links above – educate yourself about the rising anti-Semitism elsewhere. Israel faces unique challenges in multiple arenas: political, oil, nuclear capacity, as well as economic persecution. Jerusalemites live their normal lives modified, e.g. more parents escort kids to school buses. People talk about the dangers, politics, etc while going about their days.   To me, the emotions on the street feel more intense than this summer when the rockets were flying, but perhaps my sensor is confounded by my personal transition. I embrace conversations with Israelis about these subjects, but try to be sensitive in approaching the issue.

I attended a lecture that was about politics rather than what I had hoped would be the subject, and while not agreeing with the speaker’s perspective, I realized for the first time that I’ve learned to think while sitting under or beside a lifetime of both gifted and not-so-gifted teachers, bosses, friends, relatives, and one-time encounters. I’ve learned to hear and most often “feel” their words, process it through the grid of what I KNOW or believe to be true, changed my misconceptions to new information or insights, not accept instruction or insights, and so forth. Do you know how you learned to think? To really think?

1 – The Return

This journal, like the summer’s version, is a combination of my observations and touring, emotional journey, personal growth/insights, politics, and faith. I hope it’s a smorgasbord for you and invite you to come along for what’s meaningful or interesting. I welcome your thoughts in response, of course.

The Return 11/22/14

As promised, this first blog is to let you know I arrived safely in Jerusalem and am in the process of working out logistics for my extended stay. English, rapidly expanding Hebrew, and a useless smattering of Spanish and German from studies decades ago, leave me without adequate words of thanks to those of you who helped with this process – your encouragement and wonderful assistance with my departure for this grand adventure. My temporary digs are familiar from this summer’s visit, and though tiny, are sufficient for the anticipated 3-week stay while I search for a small apartment with a 1-year lease. Getting settled through Israel’s bureaucracy and the language is a challenge but the locals are happily helpful and I’m learning how to present the questions, a starting place. Stepping outside of my own self as often as possible, I see persistence undergirded by faith in God.

I left Denver on the morning of Nov 18th for a 3 day stay in NYC – my first return since leaving there in 2005. After Colorado’s frigid, burning cold of -12’ the days before I left, I wanted to tell the New Yorkers they were overdressed for the “cold” (in the 30s), which felt like a heat wave to me. If you’ve spent any time there, you’ve already figured out that I didn’t even try to tell New Yorkers what to do.

I wandered the streets looking like a tourist with a big grin on my face and gazing at the buildings that bring back bittersweet and wonderful memories from my years of living there. Macy’s, Central Park, Columbus Circle, riding the Staten Island Ferry, and walking Battery Park to pay my respects to Lady Liberty who meant so much to me during my difficult times there… all like visits to dear old friends.

One morning, I left my mid-town hotel at 5:30 to walk the long blocks to the East River at 34th Street, to watch the sunrise. During the years I lived in lower Manhattan, I’d meant to watch the sunrise and sunset on the same day – a feat that should have been simple for someone who lived on that narrow island for as long as I did! The idea actually developed in the ‘70s when a group of us took the train weekly from Fullerton to San Clemente for much of my 15th summer. We talked about coordinating a car pool with the few drivers among us with access to vehicles for the entire day – to stay for the sunset, and then the idea was raised to come early enough to see the sunrise as well. We never got that plan actualized, and it was years later when it dawned on me how foolish we’d have felt had we put all the effort into arriving at the beach before sunrise only to have it “dawn” on us that (DUH!) it wouldn’t be rising over the western water horizon but rather over the dog-days of L.A. basin smog.

As it turns out, last week’s short NYC visit still did not include same-day sunrise/sunset. I’d planned to watch the sun set behind Lady Liberty from lower Manhattan, but opted to spend the time visiting with a new friend I’d met online – Jessica, a talented young writer who lived briefly in Israel and made the trip into the City from New Jersey to meet me for coffee in Macy’s basement. Our first meeting/ coffee date could have been a disappointing 15 minute nice-to-meet-you encounter, but instead became a new friendship/ 3 ½ -hour introductory visit, and far more important than seeing the sunset.

Several time changes for Tuesday’s flight to Israel culminated in 8+ hour delay because of an El Al wildcat pilot strike, and I arrived Wednesday 3:00pm (Israel is 10 hours ahead of California). After the document processing at the airport for the 59 of us new Israeli citizens, the taxi brought a grateful me to a SHOWER and BED in my temporary digs by 8:00pm.

Over the years, I’ve grown nearly accustomed to my personal style of “buyer’s remorse” – conflicting emotions that follow big decisions, moves, etc – and this first week has brought a few mildly discomfiting emotions. It’s nice to be at a point of life that I recognize the pattern, that waves of delight and joy at being here for this amazing journey are a bit soggy at times with doubt and questions. I’m sleeping well, and yet surely the timezone is a contributing factor to the oh-so familiar wondering about my wanderings. Still this process is a dream come true and I look forward to getting settled and getting busy with language learning and the projects that have captured my heart.

This first Shabbat, I was touched by the hospitality of my friend Keren for a lovely and perfect Friday evening dinner in her amazing new apartment. I will be pondering valuable insights about the patriarchs Isaac and Jacob all week, thanks to this morning’s teaching at the Conservative Synagogue by Rabbi Adam Frank, followed by an invitation to a luncheon of Hungarian soup in the home of new friends Dolly and Larry. We strolled past the Belgium Embassy and Prime Minister’s official residence on the way.

It’s rainy, but my days must be about logistics – bank account, cellular phone, healthcare insurance, bus discount card… and then locating a residence in one of the surrounding neighborhoods. Perhaps next week’s journal will include a new address.

Nov 25 update: logistics are set and the new phone is 053-522-6145. That means texting to my old phone is no longer an option and I suggest that you check with your carrier about texting to an international number – besides most of you probably have learned I prefer email to texting. Skype and email addresses are unchanged and shouldn’t trigger expenses for you. Today begins focused apartment searching.

I am ever grateful for your friendship and love