20 – Egyptian gunfire…confidence…risk taking

20 – Egyptian gunfire and confidence and risk taking


Take a moment to warm your heart with this link, and then we’ll get started



Jerusalem Day is the annual celebration of the unification of the City during the 1967 war.  Yet again, Israel was attacked by surrounding hostilities, and pleaded with then “friend” Jordan to stay out of the fray, to no avail.  When 6 days of war-dust settled, Israeli forces had captured the Jordan occupied sections of Jerusalem, including the Temple area.  This allowed access to the Western (AKA: Wailing) Wall of the Temple dating back to Herod’s reign during the first century CE, as well as many other sites precious to Jews around the world as well as many Christians.  Since its liberation, the Temple mound has been a venerated place of prayer and research into the tunnels below has yielded a wealth of historical and religious artifacts.  Under Israel governance (1967), Muslims, Christians, and Jews ALL enjoy freedoms to access their historic and religious sites.

WP_20150517_010My first Jerusalem Day was May 17th.  After language class, I joined the thousands filling the streets of Jerusalem with live bands, food, Israeli folk dancing amidst flags and other celebratory paraphernalia.  Me? I donned this summer’s war – Protective Edge – t-shirt with huge Israel-blue letters proclaiming

חזקים ביחד. אוהבים את ישראל

Strong together. Loving Israel  The day was HOT so the crowded, enthusiastic multitudes were, um, aromatic.  The vibe was LIFE and joy.  I loved the crowds’ press, even with thoughts of “how can all these security folks have any sense of what to look for or how to handle any potential problem…?”  Finally, I distanced enough to get a photo without putting my phone in anyone’s face.

Several videos show afternoon through evening at the Western Wall/Temple Mount, which seemed to make room for more and more celebrants.  Don’t miss the few (of many) soldiers guarding our safety.  I was timid pointing my phone at them. They were everywhere and ALERT; none daydreaming, checking their phones, or taking pictures……


I watch security folks in most venues. Working for the executive leadership of a security company for 5 years, I learned some of the backdrop to security concerns.  Afraid?  No.  Realistic? I think so.  But to stay away because something bad could happen…    Where do I draw the line?  Ride a car? Walk across the street? Get out of bed?  Of course some things are too risky, but where to draw the line varies with each of us.  For example, as much as I enjoyed the rush, I won’t get on the back of a motorcycle again.  One too many encounters with brain damaged motorcycle accident victims convinced me to save the thrill as a good memory and thus reduce my chances of waking up on a hospital missing brain or other working parts.  I also have fond fun memories of skiing, but not enough to risk another major knee repair.

However, I’ll mingle with crowds in this miracle-nation, regardless of being outnumbered by suicidal enemies around the world.  The enemies of this tiny splat of land with only around 7 million souls, plot to sneak and steal into situations to murder as many noncombatants as possible. I take the risk to show support, and yes, to be in the midst of it all. I’d rather be here than somewhere “safe.”  Where is that anyway?

In 1995 walked into a patient’s room at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs just as the TV flashed “live” news of the Oklahoma bombing.  And just a few years later my morning Talk Radio program announced the Columbine High School shootings in nearby Denver.  In 2001, sitting on my couch in Brooklyn, I watched the TV screen as the World Trade Towers fell, knowing my husband was on that street, somewhere… one of many who had simply gone to work that morning. He came home…changed.

I appreciate the love in the words from several of you for my safety here.  It means a lot to me that you would step outside of yourself to tell me so… and if something happens…whatever… you’ll know I was where I want to be, doing what I love.


BUT, sometimes I’m not having so much fun.  Why?  Insecurities arise from the challenge of learning a new language, navigating what would be minor / simple projects in the U.S. becomes complicated and uncertain here, not being able to read the directions on the drain un-clog product, how to complete an application online that isn’t compatible with Google Translate, or understand the Hebrew-only speaker calling about an application I filed out… I judge the challenges as minor, and they are, but I’ve learned they accumulate and take a lot out of me.

For you, I have ooodles of patience –  סבלנות “sav-la-newt– but it seems that I expected myself to learn quickly and speak functionally, faster than anyone else in the class even at the ripe (old) age of XXX ?  Where do these high expectations of ME come from?  I’ll give YOU all the time you need and repeatedly talk or walk you through the process (if I know it and you’ll let me).  But it took ½ a lifetime to embrace the reality that I’m not expected to know things I haven’t been taught or exposed to… still, a long way to go to balance self-expectations with reality and acceptance. Wisdom.  I pray for the balance of pressing on, not giving up, and graciousness for all my fall-downs in the process.

Still, I’ve learned an amazing amount in language class and can even sometimes navigate a conversation-of-sorts.  Other times I freeze and can’t understand or think Hebrew-anything.  Most recently those moments are occurring IN the classroom, which costs me precious opportunities to practice fresh material aloud. I wonder, at those times, where my stage-loving self is…  Obviously confidence is a key element to my “performance and at this point, I’m a long, long way from confidence in this life-long language project.

Sometimes the frustration brings tears, and those who’ve had to bear with a teary, frustrated me have shown enduring  סבלנות  for which I’ll be ever grateful.  I listen to Israeli’s speak the fractured English of long ago classrooms, thinking how thrilled I’ll be to speak that level of Hebrew.  At the same time, I’m humbled, knowing that for a very long time my hearty attempts at Hebrew will sound like their English sounds to me – understandable but wrong at so many levels there’s no way to begin to offer correction, even if it were invited.  I’m eager to be “functional.”  Grammar and vocabulary deficits, mispronunciations, accent, funny or embarrassing mistakes, and all.


More than Hebrew

However, much of the frustration reflects so much more than language learning: The overall adjustment of these past 6 months, the lonely moments, living as an outsider always.  Mostly I’m so very grateful and love this amazing life, challenges and all.  I’m stunned to actually be DOING this, learning all I’ve learned, successes, trial and error, held in God’s gracious hand, and heartened with kind words from those of you who’ve cared that I’m here and have made the journey with me electronically.  As summer brings my 3rd season, I even have some hindsight regarding the mostly good decisions about what to bring and not bring… I have no complaints, but I’ll probably always wonder what happened to the other sheet for my bed.  I’m certain I packed it.


food for thought – http://unitycoalitionforisrael.org/uci_2014/?p=13918

and please don’t fall for the charm, again http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0515/glick052915.php3  .


This at-beach-video could have come from anywhere, right?  It’s Ashkelon, on the Mediterranean.  I tried to visit here this summer, but the rockets from Gaza had the city “inadviseable” for visitors…


Last weekend I snagged the opportunity to walk Ashkelon’s beach a few hours enroute to a weekend visit in the Negev.  The 80 minute bus ride from Jerusalem to Ashkelon, the beach walk, and then 50 minute drive with someone going to the same destination, delivered me in Shlomit, a yeshuv (small village) way way south. I spent about 50 hours with this community of 35 young families with a g’zillion kids all under the age of 14.  It’s located 3 kilometers (1½ mi) from Egypt and 6 ½ kilometers (3 ½ mi) from Gaza.  7 families graciously invited me to amazing Shabbat meals, Shavuot holiday meals, and hospitality for 2 nights, all the while encouraging me to not let the bombs and gunfire disturb my sleep.  “It’s just fighting in Egypt. The Egyptians fighting various terrorist organization and drug dealers…” and what else?!!??


I slept in the home of a family I never met, who’d offered it to this STRANGER while they were away for the same timeframe.  I ate delicious food prepared by these families.  All welcomed me sight-unseen, enduring my fragmented Hebrew and endless “city-girl” questions about their lives and lifestyle.  The visit to the Yeshuv’s simple lives in the middle of raw desert-beauty was great, and varied:

  • A restorative and refreshing change from the bustle of Jerusalem,
  • I savored the amazing culture of community love and mutual support. These families are joyfully living their dream, sacrificing ease and comfort even when rockets from Gaza aren’t chasing them into the bomb shelter/children’s bedroom in their 2 bedroom homes (cookie-cutter homes are all approx 425 sq ft),
  • Disappointment because my Hebrew was only a bit better than the weakest English speakers – Note to self: watch those expectations!!!
  • Nourished at all levels, even if overfed, and friendship foundations laid,
  • Surrounded by children is always a joy for me. At the same time, it’s laced with the unmet dreams of my youth to be the mom of many
  • I can only hope I left a pleasant fragrance and will be invited back in the future.


One last thought regarding the Hebrew learning process.  What is your Hebrew?  What have you wanted to learn, or do? What’s holding you back from starting?  Now that you know the word   סבלנות what are you waiting for?


WP_20150411_002And the winner is…winners ARE:  my dancing darling Richard W and my darling Grady’s bride, Daphnee.  You both guessed successfully at the Ostrich eggs.  How did you know?  iPhone research?!?

Drum Roll Please

The prize is… Besides personally delivering Israel chocolate to you both when I next visit Colorado and California, how about I dance with Richard, and let Daphnee again prepare for me amazing food?!??!   Thanks to both of you for your encouraging emails and good humor.


Again, I remind all my readers to let me know you’re on board, and please please please let me know about your journeys



19 – Cricket and Soccer and Sacrifices

19 – Cricket and Soccer and Sacrifices

Israel marked two consecutive holidays in April – a day of solemn, grateful remembrance followed by one of celebration

  1. Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day in the U.S.) honoring fallen soldiers for the liberty and security of the nation http://www.aish.com/h/imd/
  2. Yom Ha’atmaut (Independence Day), celebrating the UN’s approval of Israel as a sovereign nation in 1947 – against all odds



I enjoy (most) street musicians!  These two often perform

afternoons or evenings at Zion Square, an intersection on a busy walking mall in central Jerusalem.  This recording is from the evening of Israel Independence Day when a friend and I walked amidst assorted celebrations.

  • Israeli flags were the theme: Tshirts, miniatures waved or decorating hats, assorted sizes adorned buildings and people, some worn as “Superman” capes.
  • There was face painting, vendor food (Kosher hot dogs, popcorn, sweet crepes with your choice chocolate fillings, etc.
  • Teens, drenched in a white foam, soap-like substance, celebrated with spray cans that streamed long distances of great target accuracy, while residual spray misted unintended’s like my friend and I.


The night was unseasonably cold, but favorite Israeli performers and bands gave their all to their scheduled 20 minute performance. Musicians and singers will appreciate the challenge keeping instruments in tune, playing with ccccold fingers, or singing into cold, windy night air.  Styles included rap hip-hop and moderately-hard and soft rock.  I recognized many songs from the radio that earmark performers’ fame.  The wide range of styles alternatively drew OR repelled us into or away from the crowd at the bandstand.  The generalized age shift with style changes was undeniable. Ever the observer of behavior, I am certain a great deal of alcohol was consumed.


The following day many celebrated with barbeques at the park and other outdoor gatherings of family or sweethearts. I enjoyed the Israeli Air Force jets’ fly-overs.  The airshow ebbed and flowed through the day, presumably around other events and ceremonies.  Next year I hope to be reading Hebrew better – to PLAN better, attend the ceremonies and other events I heard about too late, to know when the jets “perform” … rather than hearing their rumble and running to my balcony to watch them.




Jews comprise .2% of the world’s population.  Not 2%, but 0.2%, and yet have earned over 20% of the Nobel Prizes and astoundingly disproportionate success in all arenas of achievement (science, arts, leadership, start-ups, even Olympic medals).  Education, research (medical, agricultural, etc), and successful start-ups are groundbreaking in Israel.  Here are two fun demonstrations for your education and smiles.  First, the smiles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baQfqoZrEvI&feature=share


And for a little digestible physics – the entire Bible on a pinpoint – also from Technion (Israel Institute of Technology)  https://youtu.be/83cYu5xa5n0




I’m told attorneys don’t ask questions unless they already know the answers. Where were you when…

Before asking questions, I usually think in terms of whether I would want to have the same question asked of me, but too often my thinking doesn’t precede my Mouth. One evening, I took a walk for coffee with a man who I suspected was measurably younger than I. I am still chuckling at his looong silence when I asked where he was when JFK was assassinated.  His response?

“In diapers.”



I’m not a fan of sports, but caught these few Sri Lanka Cricket moments at the park near my apartment.

Can you hear the language in the background – it’s NOT Hebrew!  What do they speak in Sri Lanka?!?  The ball was a bit bigger and lighter than a baseball.  Notice there are not gloves or bases, and the pitcher runs rather than standing on a mound.  I’m not sure about foul lines but the videos posted show the flat plank-like “bat” sending the ball sharply to the right and also far away left angles.  That wraps up years’ worth sports interest for this writer!


However, I’ve spent a number of Saturday afternoons at the park to people-watch, enjoy the spring warmth, and watch men play serious soccer.  The competition and camaraderie appear to be long standing, ages ranging from early 20s to 50s. The Hebrew of the family/fans on the sidelines and of the soccer players’ is a great opportunity to catch many words that I now understand, and it helps to move those vocabulary items from the formality of learning into real life.  Thankfully, I’m not sure which if any of the players’ disputes include words that shouldn’t be uttered in the presence of a lady.  Eventually, I suppose I’ll learn those words, too.

Watching MEN?  It’s more fun than watching women!


WHAT?  The post office is closed?  The hours were changed?  WP_20150415_002Oh, here’s the sign with the hours posted.  Helpful indeed.


Ancient history is one of a number of things that puts  ME  in perspective.  How different are the little gods they carved from today’s iPhones and fashion and cars?  Focus on fertility and weather and food (priority not implied, since each meant survival) persists today. Thinking we’re so very modern, life still dances around these subjects’ disappointments, unknowns, and joys. Visit the past in the Israel Museum with me with these photos.


Photo – OssuariesWP_20150411_008

At the risk of sounding morbid, recent conversations about burial, cremation, end of life decisions, etc drew me to this exhibit.  In case you can’t read the Hebrew, English, or Arabic on the display: Birds of prey played an important role in burial.  After death, the bodies of the deceased were left in round structures where they were exposed to birds of prey. When the bones were picked clean and any remaining flesh decomposed, they could be gathered and deposited in ossuaries.


Photo – EggsWP_20150411_002

I’ve been trying to think of a prize to grant the winner of the contest:  Who’s are these??  I’ll give the answer and announce the winner in the next blog (#20)


Photo – Parchment messageWP_20150411_014

“Let your belly be full, your clothes clean, your body and head washed;

enjoy yourself day and night, dance, sing, and have fun;

look upon the child who holds your hand, and let your wife delight in your lap. 

This is the destiny of mortals.”

Who do you know who could benefit from such wisdom? I find it reminiscent of Ecclesiastes 9:7-9. Whether for ritual or worship, entertainment, or unknown purposes, creativity mirrored basic human activities and interest in life’s meaning.  Siduri, a fictional tavern keeper from the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh (1800 – 2100 BCE) is the speaker of quote above. (Much of the epic has been unearthed, carved on stone tablets) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_of_Gilgamesh


Photo – large jar with black thingsWP_20150411_011

The large stone jar holds very old figs, carbonized in a fire.  The jar is about 2 feet tall and the opening approximately 12 inches diameter.


Photo – huge stone altarWP_20150411_001

This altar, with raised corners, stands around 5 feet and was used to offer animal sacrifices on the high places. Those of you with some Bible knowledge will recall that the Israelites encountered many problems due to their adoption of the religious practices of the surrounding peoples, rather than adhering to the proscribed worship at their Temple in Jerusalem.  The pagans offered animals and virgins and babies in their own rituals. I envision an animal tied to the 4 corner-posts and burnt in sacrifice. Bleech



This week, or next, invite someone you don’t know for a cup of coffee or a walk… and listen to their story.  You’ll be richer in the end.