22 – Terrorism and Criticism and Integration

22 – Terrorism and Criticism and Integration

Jerusalem is hot now, the sun brutal some days even at this higher altitude, and tourism’s impact is huge.  Contributing generously to our economy, they buzz about, wide-eyed, oblivious, slowing things down and doing all the goofy things tourists do everywhere.  I love them.

Israel redefines fashion variations.  Many Israeli residents in non-religious neighborhoods and cities wear the same contemporary summer-skimpy shorts and tops of any western democracy. They are everywhere, side by side on the bus or in restaurants with their co-patriots in the conservative dress of Orthodox Jewry.  Disregarding the heat, the Orthodox attire typically includes headcoverings and long or ¾ sleeves and long skirts for women and girls, and black(!) suit slacks and jacket for men/boys past 12; some individualize with color or style to achieve the same complete coverage.  There are, of course, variations between the bipolar opposites of: “really should be MORE-covered” and “they must be soooo hot”.  Jerusalem has more fully-covered than Tel Aviv or Haifa, and there are Orthodox neighborhoods and small towns throughout the nation with exclusively conservative attire.

There must be a science to staying cool with many layers. I’m told the long black robes traditionally associated with desert-dwellers cover white undergarments, and that sweating under the black outer garment actually keeps them cool.  I intend to broach the subject when the opportunity arises.

 

Reliable sources you’re probably not following http://www.timesofisrael.com/no-we-dont-want-war-and-yes-there-was-a-better-deal/ http://www.timesofisrael.com/chanting-death-to-israel-iran-al-quds-day-marches-draw-millions/  Congress will hopefully stand up in rejection of this agreement with Iran – this nation that clearly wants to destroy America (and Israel along with everyone else who doesn’t agree with them).  If someone says they intend to kill you, LISTEN to them, and act wisely!!! Please let your voice be heard.

 

I get confused keeping the players straight in current world issues and terror groups,.  Here is a cheat sheet – quick, to the point: http://www.aish.com/jw/me/7-Dangers-to-Israel.html?s=mm

My personal narrative feels terribly tiny in light of the world situations.  I found the following meaty article helps sort things out without getting buried in the weeds… I hope you’ll agree it is more valid and understandable than most:

Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

DAILY ALERT – July 17, 2015

View the entire Daily Alert at:

http://dailyalert.org/

 

  • Unplanned Results of the Iran Deal – Danielle Pletka
    Right or wrong, the perception of many in the Middle East is that Iran is looking to impose Shiite hegemony wherever possible. Expect the region’s Sunni powers to do all they can to push back. In Shia-majority states dominated by Sunnis like Bahrain, or where there are substantial Shia minorities like in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen, there has always been suspicions that Shiites are fifth columnists for Iran. With those governments convinced that the nuclear deal empowers Iran, Shia life there is going to only get worse.
    Only financial constraints have limited Iran’s support for Hizbullah and other proxies like Hamas. With cash washing in, these groups will receive the full benefit of Iranian military advances. In addition, the flow of fighters, weapons and money fueling the devastating conflict in Syria will only worsen.
    Once, a country that hid behind the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to violate safeguards agreements and work on nuclear weapons faced the certainty of international punishment. Iran is now being pardoned, rehabilitated and allowed to keep its nuclear infrastructure. We can expect other countries – especially those most worried about Iran’s rising power – to emulate Iran in using the NPT as cover for advancing their own nuclear weapons programs. The writer is senior vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.(Politico)
  • Fatigue in the Arab World with the Palestine Issue – Amir Taheri
    Prominent Arab writer Walid Abimerchid, in his latest newspaper column, described a “growing fatigue with the whole Palestine issue.” For the first time in decades, Palestine has been shut out of the news in favor of Syria, ISIS, sectarian wars and the growing aggressiveness of Iran.
    As Jordanian businessman Abu Furas noted: “Today, no Arab feels safe in his country. Ironically, the sole exceptions are Palestinians in the West Bank because they know Israel will defend them if ISIS attacks. Even in Gaza, most people secretly believe that Israel is their ultimate protection against ISIS fighters trying to strike roots in the Sinai.”
    Eyad Abuchaqra, a prominent Lebanese commentator and TV personality, citing reasons for dwindling interest in the Palestinian issue, says, “Arabs realize that there are many other issues that affect their lives, indeed their existence.”  (New York Post)
  • The Arab World’s Anti-Israel Front Is Crumbling – Moshe Arens
    • Hostility to Israel has been the one unifying factor in the Arab and Muslim world. Israel’s existence was endangered in 1948, 1967, and 1973 by the combined attacks of Arab armies, which enjoyed the support of the entire Muslim world.
      But there is a change in the wind. For some Arab rulers greater enemies than Israel have appeared in recent years. Iran, reaching out for nuclear weapons, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hamas, and assorted Arab terrorist groups, are aiming for the jugular of the ruling classes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. They are a mortal danger to them, the kind of danger that Israel never constituted. In the eyes of these Arab rulers Israel is beginning to look not like an enemy, but rather like a potential ally.
      The Saudi ruling class is likely to be the first in line to be toppled as Iranian influence grows. As armed Islamic State terrorist gangs are knocking on Jordan’s door, it is not hard to guess whose head is going to be severed first if they succeed in reaching Amman. Egypt is beset by Islamic terrorists in Sinai and in the streets of Cairo, where ruler Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has declared all-out war against them. Israel has enemies in the Middle East, but it is also gaining friends. The writer served as Israel’s Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha’aretz)
    • Israeli Arabs: The Untold Story – Robert Cherry
      Affirmative action policies for Israeli Arabs initiated under Ehud Olmert were accelerated during the Netanyahu administration. These included allocating funds for joint industrial parks in Arab and Jewish towns, subsidies that helped firms hire Arab labor, and expanded transportation infrastructure which allowed Arabs to reach employment sites.
      In addition, the Israeli government developed a five-year plan for improving Arab education and established a special unit in the prime minister’s office to promote economic development in the Arab community. Despite the opposition of Palestinian nationalists, more and more Arab communities began to cooperate with government agencies. At the same time, educational and occupational initiatives began to improve the possibilities for Arab women. Labor participation rates for women 30-39 increased from 24% in 2005 to 34% in 2010.
      These transformations also occurred in east Jerusalem, with investments in infrastructure and transportation, the building of schools, and a dramatic expansion of medical facilities. Today the health quality indices for east Jerusalem are the same as for west Jerusalem.
      Between 2005 and 2011, inflation-adjusted Arab net family income increased by 7.4%. The number of Arabs employed in government civil service rose from 2,800 in 2003 to 5,000 in 2011 – an increase of 78%, in comparison to a 12% increase in the number of Jewish workers during the same period. The share of Israeli Arabs who were “very satisfied” with their economic conditions rose from 40% in 2004-5 to 60% in 2010-11. The writer is a professor of economics at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center. (Mida)

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Inertia is like quicksand, but not all movement is good.

I hope this pursuit of mine challenges you to not wait for . . . whatever . . . anything . . . to happen.  A friend in long months of marriage counseling mentioned that her husband had still taken no initiative towards “date nights” or other positive couple-experiences to help the reconnection so crucial to their marriage.  He wanted the marriage, but other than going to the sessions, how was that evident?   Was he tackling it as he would something truly important to him? Other friends talk about losing weight, returning to past hobbies, or pursuing new dreams now that children have left home.  I’ve watched the brilliant and capable put amazing initiative into things they care about, but only words of intention to everything else.

It’s tough being on the other side of good intentions – slowly losing faith in words of intent without action. I hope my successes/failures and ever-present personal drama encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, if it’s become a coffin.  As long as it’s honorable and true to your commitments, of course, take a step forward.  If you need help, find it, from the truly Wise.  If you don’t know where to start, ask God to show you.

But please don’t use my adventure to leave a marriage or job or ??  That would be misapplied, in my opinion.

I know that each new day is another God has given me to LIVE, and He has enabled me to rise taller than many yesterdays.  And still, I trip on Yesterdays. Ever looking for understanding and insights, I sometimes fall down the hole of past regrets.  While do-overs aren’t a part of this time-reality in which we live, we do get multiple runs at similar choices.  These “new” choices come dressed differently, so my heart strives to recognize patterns, to grow and learn rather than repeat mistakes.  Understanding of the past is important to me, and my hope is that I’ll fall down the Yesterday’s Hole less often.

Re-studying my notes from the last half of the 5-month Hebrew course, I’m too often wondering who wrote them (J) but occasionally also discovering words or grammar already being used by yours’ truly. I practice new material with Emily, my דובי, pronounced “doobie”  meaning= teddy bear.  Since she’s still not talking back, I spend several days each week helping with a 3-5 year-olds summer program, as well as at a center for the elderly with few if any other visitors.

The children have warmed-up to me, and come running, shouting my name when I arrive.  But, they think I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, since I don’t understand or speak as well as other adults.  It’s a noisy, chaotic environment but the immersion in Hebrew is good, all beit exhausting.

Conversations at the retirement home are easier and more immediately beneficial.  In a tenderly funny way, some of the retiree’s I visit don’t mind having the same conversation, or versions of the same, repeatedly, since their memory has become imperfect.  From others, I’ve already heard several clear-minded, sharp, first-hand Holocaust child-survivor stories.  Do I need to tell you that their reflections bring more to life than my lifetime pursuit of the topic?  Now, that’s courage!

Navigating both programs draws on years of professional and volunteer work with a wide variety of people.  I feel “prepared” for what I’m doing there, but communication primarily in Hebrew leaves me exhausted.  Other hours are filled with Internet Hebrew materials and Israelis or former Hebrew school classmates in conversation-practice sessions.

39 seconds.  BREATHE!!

I took myself to the beach for a few days.  Even layered with SPF 50, and avoiding the 10am-2pm intense sun, my heart thrilled to walk countless miles of beach for 3 days – endlessly.  As a child, the ocean waves were in my closed-eyes vision after a day at the beach.  I watched the waves for hours, but couldn’t seem to bring back that phenomenon.  I wonder why?

Not really ready to return to my apartment in Jerusalem, I managed to bring the R&R with me, grateful for the little excursion during this post-language school-recovery-period.

Which way is Room 410?WP_20150707_002

The days walking-praying-thinking were laced with the word Integration.  Not about people groups, but within the timezones of my life: past+present+future.  That is, embracing the past joys and successes along with the disappointments and stunning stupidity all within are the essence of ME.  How is it that I’ve had this many birthdays and yet have so much more to learn? Perhaps I’m only now able – willing? – to allow all these things to come together as part of who I am/have become.  What do you think?

This happened during your lifetime.  Do you really know what happened?  Stories like this give me courage. 4-minutes http://www.aish.com/jw/id/311712001.html

I’m looking forward to upcoming visit to the U.S. and hope for one good night of dancing, trusting I’ll remember how.  My heart misses the people and the exhilaration of it; I admit that I’ve just watched this clip several times, teary-eyed at the scene in my oh-so-corny way https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?hspart=SGMedia&hsimp=yhs-sgm_fb&type=ss_ch_ds_ix&p=shall%20we%20dance%20king%20and%20i

 

One faithful reader asked about my soccer players – well, they’re not really “mine” but I’d established a solid routine around their games.  Have you ever been in a group that had great dynamics UNTIL someone brought into it a critical or argumentative vibe?  Besides amazing skill, I appreciated my soccer players’ sportsmanship.  When they didn’t all agree about a play, they shook it off and the ball was quickly back in motion.  It was like a dance that stopped only briefly.  Perhaps it was more apparent to me since messages through non-verbal are so much stronger than the many words I couldn’t understand. They played on, and my favorites became the most skilled because they were the leaders who boldly set the tone for get-over-it and play-on.

But then came a few new players, one in particular routinely voicing complaints about plays.  Soon, he was successfully pulling in the other new players and the complaints became impassioned arguments among several, shouting over the shouting.  My favorites refused to get sucked into the fray, trying to put the quash on the arguing by going to the other end of the court and waiting, urging them to forget it and play.  But this guy wouldn’t let it go… over and over, play after play. Weeks later, they now spend more time fighting about this or that and taking breaks, and even manage to pull into the fray the guys who initially resisted the poor sportsmanship.   The ball-handling is poorer and it’s become like a bad TV show with too many commercials.  I’d so enjoyed watching them, timing my Saturday walks to their game time…but their whining and fighting remind me of children, and I leave feeling cheated.

I think back on groups that criticism killed.  It’s dispiriting whether among employees, a faith gathering, volunteers, performers, or classroom.  I shudder at the times I fell into the criticism, or fanned the flames.  How I regret bad judgement and short sightedness.  Also, how I recall the painful hits of others infected with that critical spirit.

 

And finally, could this be a Cinderella story?  Poverty to riches, if she can avoid all the pitfalls of the industry…With great opportunity comes great risk. http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-teen-becomes-new-face-of-christian-dior/

 

Tell me your story!!

 

21 – Terrorism continues & Language Class ends

21 – Terrorism continues and Language Class ends

I hope this post’s journey doesn’t leave you with whiplash…sharp turns ahead, from worldwide to cultural reflections to personal success and failure.  Videos and photos are included for flavor.

This https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCvlhYCKruQ&app=desktop amazing documentary/personal story is the sort of thing that inspires me towards courage and releases me to do the next best thing, even if others can’t “see” it yet

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And since nothing is new under the sun, Islam’s celebration of Ramadan has again brought terror and mourning around the world.  It’s not fun to know, but crucial to have the accurate information or you’ll fall prey to propaganda!  One of these is sure to catch your interest… pray, care, be a voice!

http://www.timesofisrael.com/four-said-hurt-in-shooting-near-west-bank-settlement/

http://www.wikiwand.com/en/2015_Ramadan_attacks

 

http://www.debka.com/article/24710/Some-200-dead-%E2%80%93-Egyptian-troops-Islamists-civilians—in-major-ISIS-Egyptian-battle-in-North-Sinai-

 

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/krauthammer070315.php3

 

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Breaking the “Rules”: I’m the one in my neighborhood to first say ‘good morning’, ‘hello’ or whatever, in Hebrew of course.  It’s clearly not expected and sometimes I startle people, although that’s not my intention.  Most often, I receive a partial smile or puzzled expression, sometimes a verbal greeting in return.  The workers – construction, trash collection, school bus drivers, personal aids to elderly neighbors – quickly respond and initiate or wait for my greeting as our routines brings familiarity.  I wonder whether they feel invisible at times, no one greeting them ever.  I do.

For many weeks, the little girls waiting near my apartment for the school bus each morning didn’t respond to my singsongy “good morning.” Finally they seemed to be watching for me to come around the corner and, I like to think, counting on my “good morning”.  Of course, I’m careful to not try to start up a conversation with them, or even slow my pace, lest my friendliness be misconstrued as too near the “don’t talk with strangers” boundary.  After several months of my one-sided greeting, one April morning I gratefully received a mumbled “good morning”.

We continued our one-sided routine until one particularly difficult morning several weeks ago. I was dragging my sorry-self to language class (more about that later) and before I uttered my routine greeting, the oldest of the girls gave me a most amazing gift: she said “good morning” before I did.  It was like winning the lottery of real stuff.  And maybe that is the best way to tell you why I do it.

Who knows what struggles others have, or how long it’s been since someone has offered a simple gesture.  No ‘good morning’ solves a problem, and of course there are safety issues about talking with strangers, and yes, it’s hugely breaking the social norm, but a smile and friendly word is a gift, so why not?  They’ll always know I’m “not from these parts” so why not be different in this good way?

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Life is learning, and is a lot of work.  I’ve certainly made a lifetime worth of false starts and continuations.  Have you heard about the BDS movement on college campuses?  Do you have a clue about how WRONG it is? College campus’ and other organizations boycotting Israel attempt to strangle the only democracy in the region, the one offering the most education and opportunity and freedoms for the Arabs working and living here, the one with freedoms and real education (not terrorist indoctrination) for women and children.  Boycott (BDS) followers gullibly support those who plan terrorism here and around the world –I can only hope the U.S. is hearing about what terrorism is – the brutality, rapes, beheadings, and profound dishonor and that things will change.  Be educated with these two nongraphic, but fascinating links:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTuTL8aCx6k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iZjuiKZ2ho

 

I’ve meet with an Israeli woman for 1-2 hours each Friday morning — to improve her English and my Hebrew.  This match made-in-Heaven is working and we’re both improving dramatically. She’s beginning to self-correct her own English-is-impossible! grammar errors (why does disappointed end with ed, in both the present and past tense?  And how do you know when to use gone and leave and leaving and left…)

We maintain conversation in Hebrew for incrementally longer periods of clarity, since I now, with a patient listener, construct intelligible sentences.  As long as she slows her pace and “dumbs down” her vocabulary, I am understanding more of what she says. Like a child finally reading simple words, I have far to go.  Still, it’s so fun to see progress!  An added plus: she’s a great cook and invited me to meet her family over a wonderful Shabbat meal.

 

Invitations like that are not rare.  The Shabbat-centered hospitality here includes a slightly sharpened eye towards those of us alone. I’ve had more dinner/lunch invitations here in 7 months than I’ve had in 25 years.  I overheard the clerk in a nearby store asking a neighbor (also a single woman) whether she had an invitation for Shabbat.  While it’s not mandatory, or implying one is a social parana if one finds herself with nowhere to go on a Shabbat or other holiday, the effort is obvious. Not co-dependent, but deliberate.  On the other side, I’ve been invited to a few homes just once, and may always wonder whether a Hebrew-wrong word, clueless social/cultural mistakes, or some more personal unlikeability generated no second invitation.  Somethings are the same everywhere, right?  I always want the audience to stand for an encore.

 

Don’t Try This At Home

Speaking of encore, check out these videos – what do young people do at your neighborhood park?

 

So what about language school?  It’s finished.  The last day was June 25th.  Oddly, the only session I missed was that last day.  A testament of the mind-body connection, I woke that last morning with a high fever and achy joints – “flu” symptoms that abated the following morning.  I was obviously “done” and slept the entire day, disappointed it happened just one day too soon for the Class calendar.

 

The Class was a tough, very tough hill, and along the way I repeatedly fell into my own personal pits. The preparation, studying Hebrew in Denver, was worth every minute, thanks to Melissa for nudging me into Sheindy’s classes and the library’s Pimsleur Language training giving me vocabulary and the music (rhythms and sounds) of the language.

As this 5-month course evolved, I watched classmates decades younger than me, most with extensive previous training in Hebrew, immediately retain new words and grammar while I spent hours smushing the sounds and spellings into my brain in my apartment, alone.  Some left class to be with families who speak Hebrew exclusively, or primarily, or with children who’ve mastered the language.  OK, so I worked hard to keep up, acutely aware that if I didn’t “get” each day’s material I’d be in trouble as each session built upon the preceding.  Working hard is fine.  It’s worth it, and if my age or life experience increased the challenge, so be it.  We all have our personal challenges.

Over time, though, the fast responses of classmates left no moment to think – only to echo their answers – and that diminished my level of participation since echoing is far from generating a response.  As the months went by, the class became two separate wheels of students: one spinning fast and the other often silent, still learning and as engaged as possible, but seldom actually verbalizing with the drills.  In elementary school we give the smart vs slower kids’ groups color names or something that doesn’t imply skill, but everyone knows which is which, and now you know which group I was in.  They were not named, or separate, but (painfully) obvious nonetheless.

Having lost my confidence, I often froze when called upon, and so was called upon less often, or given super-easy questions, which all made it worse. I’d walk to class praying for the focus and calmness to think quickly enough to “find” the words I needed and not freeze.  Weekly, I’d consider my options: take a break, study independently to get the newer material solidly implanted within, and then pick up where I left off with the next round of classes; try another language school to compliment the methods I’d learned; or go another week trying new study techniques.

Many years ago, I learned to ask myself something a wise counselor asked:     When, previously, did I feel “this” way?

 That question took me to a High School singing class.  Having never sung before, I didn’t know soprano from alto, so the teacher told me to sing while he played a piano scale in front of the entire class.  This frightened 14-year-old starting yet another new school produced a bleeting sound that I have always likened to a cow giving birth; it was decades before I even described the miserable moment to anyone.  The teacher looked befuddled, and sat me with altos. I was too timid to ask to transfer out of the class, so held music sheets and mouthed words but never made another sound the entire semester.  As some of you know, decades later I found myself welcomed and trained by the Sweet Adeline’s. Singing with them was one of the joys of my life.

I tell that story because participating in the Hebrew drills became reminiscent of that first “audition” at 14, rather than the opportunity to practice what I was learning.  Why did I lose my balance, my perspective?  Here’s an abbreviated list of my challenges since November:

  1. Dare to have a Big dream, after many dreamless/goal-less years
  2. Make extensive preparations and leave dear friends and an established life, home, and routines
  3. Move ½ way around the world
  4. Set up a home, try to make friends, and build a life in a foreign culture
  5. Navigate decisions and challenges per above in an unknown language

Ok, so I just didn’t have it – resilience – in me, for good reason.

Once I lost my “stage-loving self” I couldn’t quite get my feet under me again.  I did ask the teachers for help, but because my homework was fine, they really didn’t understand.  Serious note taking and listening-only became my recourse, since trying repeatedly with failure at 90% is not endurable day after day after day.  For me, anyway.  I was learning, just not in every dimension, which made the learning feel especially fractured within.  Even so, my skill with the language has improved dramatically!

I detail this saga in hopes that you can relate at some level.

  • How do we honestly process our “stuff” when we hit walls?
  • Do you quit things that are hard, because they’re hard?
  • How do you find and evaluate options?
  • Do you really know, deeply, that guaranteed outcomes don’t come with this life?

It’s a life, not a movie or book, and your participation is crucial.  Mostly I hope that you are courageous enough to look at each new day and to ask God’s direction and comfort.

 

I wish I could have been myself in the classroom through the entire course.  My best self, rather than a weary woman swimming frantically to keep ahead of the wave.  I was worn out, taking it “hour by hour”, without the energetic joy that fuels and blesses teachers.  That’s my biggest regret – to not be up to that part of the challenge while trekking on.  I’ll never know how taking a break would have worked out, will I?

 

Going forward, my conversation opportunities and language expansion will be through volunteering with children and at an Assisted Living/Retirement facility (all Hebrew speakers), engaging friendly shopkeepers and any willing Israeli, and practicing with several former classmates.  Hours of daily Hebrew study at home are focused on the material I “learned” but didn’t absorb during class. I’m also preparing for my first visit back to the U.S. in August.

 

The next blog will revisit more Israel subjects, volunteerism, international concerns of course, and whatever else.  This time, last year, Israel’s Iron Dome was (thankfully!) deflecting the barrage of 4,500+ rocket fire from Gaza during that 5 week war.  What’s brewing now?

 

Now it’s your turn.  What’s new?!?