Thursday, September 24, 2020

Rule of The Streets/Mobs/Demonstrations Anti-Democratic and Very Problematic

I was born and grew up in the United States and came to age in the 1960s when anyone how cared about an issue demonstrated in the streets, sidewalks or wherever we could, generally with police permits. I chose Jewish causes, Israel and freeing Soviet Jewry. I even met my husband at a SSSJ Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry demonstration. Most of my peers in public high school demonstrated for Civil Rights for black Americans. While some states technically had the same laws for all citizens, other states treated Negros, as they were called then, as second class citizens, not even allowing them to practice all their rights. 

One thing our demonstrations had in common were that we cared about issues. The idea that one could dare protest/complain about the results of elections, like the recent Not My President protests in the USA, or try to replace an elected official by shouting in the streets was unimaginable. I had been taught that such a thing would be illegal, immoral and anti-democratic going against the principles of due process or electoral system. When a mob aka demonstration demands that only their political opinion is correct certainly is not democratic.

When you live in a democracy, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Sometimes you're happy with the results, and sometimes you're not. You may even be very upset and think your fellow citizens are WRONG or insane, but that's life. You may even think the law should have prevented someone from holding office, but you're not the law. Even if you and your friends are all convinced that someone shouldn't be in office, street demonstrations aren't the way to change leadership. There are laws, electoral process.

I'm no fan of Bibi Netanyahu, and I don't think that I've ever voted Likud, but those demonstrators out every night near the Prime Minister's residence don't represent me. In a very biblical Korach* way, they're just saying "no" to Bibi as Prime Minister, and their leadership is not revealing whom they want as PM. 

That's because saying "NOT BIBI" can get a bigger mob than touting Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid or some other name they haven't had the guts to pull out of their hat. A big reason is because the polls are very clear. Bibi Netanyahu is still number one when people are asked:

Whom do you prefer as Prime Minister of Israel? 

Number two in the polls is Naftali Bennett, and the fiscal funders (follow the money) of these demonstrations dread Bennett even more than they dislike Bibi. I heard one of the leaders on TV complaining about that. The ultimate aim of the protests is to put one of "their people" in as Prime Minister, and they see it a failure that davka Naftali Bennett of Yemina is rising in the polls. 

For years the anit-Bibi leadership has been looking for a figurehead from the Left to galvanize the Israeli public and succeed him as Prime Minister. It hasn't happened for two reasons:

  • There just isn't anyone from the Left capable of leading a Center-Left party and attracting enough votes to knock Likud out of the running.
  • Getting lots of Knesset Members voted in does not guarantee its party leader becoming Prime Minister. Tsippi Livni as head of Kadima preceded Gantz as a losing winner. 
Crafting/negotiating a coalition is a skill, apparently more complicated and difficult than getting votes. That's why we needed three elections in such a short time. The present coalition is the most chaotic and dis-united ever. The only reason the two main parties haven't divorced is that their leaderships are terrified of new elections. That's the one thing they agree on.

Back to those demonstrations. 
  • Only elections can change the government,
  • Only internal Likud primaries can change the leadership in Likud.
  • The street isn't where prime ministers are chosen in a democracy.
A few thousand people chanting in the streets or even tens of thousands chanting in the streets can't and shouldn't have the power to change a government. And it's immoral to even think they can do so. They should follow legal process and the electoral system. Politics is a profession demanding many skills. If they want to change the leadership, they must use the electoral system not loud speakers. 

Photo by Rachel Brynien, Used With Permission
For the first time, tonight's demonstration was set up with chairs for social distancing. Previous demonstrations were crowded, as one can see in newspaper reports and TV news. 

For more of my Korach posts click here.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Forget "Herd Immunity," "Swedish Model," It's Evil

Israelis who don't like the idea of wearing a mask and keeping "social distance" to avoid contracting or spreading coronavirus/COVID tout the "Herd Immunity," "Swedish Model." Unfortunately they're ignoring the truth. It's evil.  "Herd Immunity," "Swedish Model" is just a benign sounding euphemism for Survival of the Fittest, or killing off the weak.

They see the financial ramification of this policy is "good," because it eliminates the physically weaker members of society. The old and weak are the people who will get sick and die much earlier. 

The higher the average age in a country the more vulnerable its financial stability. They have fewer young productive earners supporting the needs of the elderly and medically vulnerable. Allowing a pandemic to rage "eliminates" those who will be costing the country large sums over the years.

Thank Gd Israeli politicians, as rotten as they may seem at times, have been trying to protect the elderly and weak.

I just hope and pray that ordinary Israelis will be willing to keep their masks on and follow the other guidelines to keep us all safe and healthy. Please remember that even previously healthy people have died or become infirm from corona/COVID, not just the obviously vulnerable.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Celebrating Fifty 50 Years in Israel, Part 2

Yes, I was pregnant that first year in Israel, and before the
year was up, we became parents.
Many of you have been asking for more of my stories about our early days in Israel, fifty 50 years ago. So here goes...

If you've walked to the Kotel from Jaffa Gate, or reverse direction, by following the inside of the city walls, you'll recognize where I'm standing.

Living in the Old City of Jerusalem, which wasn't referred to as the Rova Yehudi, Jewish Quarter, in those days was thrilling. It was both a tourist site and building site.

Some days we'd open the door of  our home the Maon Betar, corner of Rechov Plugat Hakotel and Rechov Hayehudim and discover it blocked off by swarms of tourists. Once some tourists got all excited to see us, because they were friends of my parents and had promised to look for us.

Another day, when I was already close to my due date with our first child, I discovered that the pathway had been dug up, and it was a deep drop to the planks of wood that had replaced it. I closed the door and turned around. That was the end of my shopping, or I had thought. One of the guys living in Maon Betar insisted it was safe and helped me down. Later that day when he stepped down, the wooden plank broke. I'm so grateful I hadn't fallen; I would have needed the Emergency Room.

The photo on the left is from a few weeks after we had docked. If you look carefully you'll notice that my jaw is a bit swollen. No I wasn't hit.

About half way through our voyage to Israel, I began feeling what I suspected was an impacted wisdom tooth. I was in terrible pain. Our table mates in the dining area gave me a bottle of strong booze and instructed me in simple pain control. I'd dampen some cotton with the booze and keep it where the pain was. It got me through the rest of the boat ride.

Soon after we docked, we began inquiring about top notch dental care. While today's Israeli dentists are on a high level, fifty years ago, the situation wasn't as good, to put it mildly. A friend possibly Emanuel "Adam" Hanegbi, the father of Tzachi Hanegbi ,or David Federman, the father of Noam Federman, recommended that I go to Hadassa Hospital in Ein Kerem which had a dental clinic considered the most modern in the country.  They agreed with my guess; it was an impacted wisdom tooth. That's where I had it operated on. When the surgery was over, I was told to keep ice on my jaw. The only problem was that I didn't have any ice. So when we got off the bus we asked for some in a restaurant. And when we got back to the Old City, we got more from our neighbor Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Segal.

These two photos are from our first Chanuka. The guys in the Maon Betar took the mitzvah of pirsum haness, publicizing the miracle very seriously. With the help of cans and kerosene thy lit up an "impromptu" Chanukiya (menorah) using the rooftop domes of our building.

Further installments will get harder, because I don't have too many photographs.

I'd love to hear your reactions to these stories.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Yes, Things are a Mess Here

Blogger is having some sort of age crises and has decided to make major changes. The graphics/layout that has kept me happy for years has gone demented or to the "next world." I've just wasted tons of time trying to restore it all, but for nought. AKA yes, I've failed.

At the present this is the best I can do.


I don't have any more patience for this. It's just a "blog," not major heath, life/death whatever.

No real surprise that they've chosen a time when we're masked, almost gagged.

Gd willing, I'll soon be laughing about it. Yes, this blogger mess should be my biggest problem.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine- Book Review

"Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine- The Journey of an Unstoppable Woman" by Jodi Samuels is a very unique memoir. Samuels tells honestly of her life, a journey full of surprise turns. Think of buying a ticket to an unknown destination on a route full of surprises. No doubt that in another decade or so, Jodi Samuels will treat us to Part 2. I'm looking forward to more of her adventures.

Jodi Samuels pulls no punches when describing her background. Her conventional Jewish South African childhood wasn't what you'd expect for a Jerusalemite, who routinely entertains dozens of disparate guests, including strangers, at Shabbat meals, travels the world beyond frugally, while strictly observing Shabbat and kashrut. Simultaneously she is an adventurous serial entrepreneur and has established a number of international charities. Samuels is also a wife and mother; one of her children has Downs, which requires even more of her time and effort.

No doubt you've heard the adage:
If you want something done, ask a busy person.
And since, Jodi Samuels is beyond busy, she gets much more done than the few sic things I've mentioned.

Jodi Samuels and her husband didn't take the simple aliyah route my husband and I did from hometown chuppah to Israel. They first lived in some of the most out of the way locations in Australia, where her purification "dips" in the mikvah had to be daytime on deserted beaches. Not even Chabad could provide something better. From there they ended up in the polar opposite sort of location, the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In between "breaths" Samuels travels; she visited forty foreign countries before the birth of her first child. Samuels and her husband now have three children. Two of her tricks are sleeping very little and making lists.

I can't do Chutzpah, Wisdom and Wine justice; it's exhausting just trying to list Samuels' accomplishments. You must read the book yourself and give it as gifts. It's inspiring; Jodie Samuels is truly inspiring!

 Israel sales:

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Buying via Amazon, click here.
  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Emek Valley Press (June 30, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9655992640
  • ISBN-13: 978-9655992649
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
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Monday, August 10, 2020

Celebrating Fifty 50 Years in Israel, Part 1

I've chosen this photo to head my celebratory post, because it's "dreamy," and for me life in Israel, the Holy Land is definitely living a dream.     
next to the boat
next to the ship

Some of you may have read my husband's post about our aliyah, move to Israel,  Fifty Years to Our Aliyah.   I promised friends and family my version of the story. My "version" isn't to disparage my husband's. It's just that everyone knows that we all remember things slightly, or sometimes not quite "slightly," differently. Each perspective adds to the richness and accuracy.

Neither my husband nor I come from  a Zionist family. Not only wasn't the idea of moving to Israel an ideal we were raised with, but the idea was never even mentioned. My Uncle Izzy had been one of the American volunteers on the pre-state ships defying the British bringing Holocaust survivors to the Holy Land, but he didn't talk about it at all. 

It was only after a few years of my being a member and office holder in NCSY-National Conference of Synagogue Youth and a prominent activist in SSSJ-Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry that a high school friend, Dennis Avi Lipkin, introduced me to the concept/ideology of "aliyah-moving to Israel, the Holy Land, the Land of Israel." Dennis brought me to a Betar Zionist Youth Movement meeting, and I was hooked. 

The more I had learned about American History, the more I was convinced that the United States was a Christian country. I wanted to live as a true Jew in the Jewish State. Aliyah was the perfect solution. My time during my final high school year was split between becoming more Torah Observant, campaigning to rescue Soviet Jewry from the communists and preparing myself for life in Israel. As you may well imagine, that left little time for studies. I even skipped my GNN'67 graduation, because it was interfered with NCSY National Convention. Priorities!

Betar prides itself on being welcoming to all Jewish youth, regardless of their religious observance or not. I quickly imagined that a religious Betari would be just perfect for me, although during that first year as a member, nobody seemed to fit the bill. The following summer, between high school graduation and the beginning of my studies in YU's Stern College for Women, I attended SSSJ's "Fast-In for Soviet Jewry" on the Tisha B'Av fast. That's where I met  "Winkie" who is today known officially as Yisrael Medad and is now my husband. He had just returned from a year in Israel.

Just under three years after we had met for the first time, we got married and two months later we boarded the Greek Lines Anna Maria along with over five hundred others making aliyah to Israel, the Jewish Holy Land. We were all set to live the dream.

with family, our bon voyage party
our bon voyage party, with family

Family and friends accompanied us onto the ship for a rousing bon voyage party. We were full of smiles, though not all the family felt the same. We had made the arrangements, and even had a job lined up. It was a fait accompli for sure. Fifty years down the road we are still in Israel, as are our children and grandchildren.

We weren't the only ones traveling on the Anna Marie to begin new lives as Israelis in Israel. Over five hundred other Jews were with us. Besides friends and family wishing all of us a bon voyage, there were news crews. I was interviewed for a television news show. I remember explaining that as a Jew I needed to live in a Jewish country not a Christian one. Our families reported that they featured me and my answer on TV.

For close to two weeks we enjoyed the vacation facilities, three meals a day, movies and entertainment on the ship. They provided lots of kosher food. Not only was there a separate kosher dining room, but a sizable section of the main dining room had been roped off for kosher food only. We were assigned to a table in the main dining room which we shared with a family moving to Jerusalem. 

There were a few other newlywed couples, pre-children, like ourselves, and we enjoyed their company. Towards the end of the "cruise" there were two stops, Lisbon and Piraeus, so we got to tour a bit. Finally we docked in Haifa Port after Shabbat, September 5, 1970.

Jewish Agency and government Aliyah clerks boarded the ship to register us as "Israelis." There were also journalists excited to write write up the historical unprecedentedly large aliyah from the USA. In addition we were greeted by a young New York Betari, Barry Liben, who was on the program my husband had been on four years earlier. Barry had been entrusted with the responsibility of finding us accommodations for our first night together in Israel. He joined us on the special bus to Jerusalem and then snuck us into the dormitories of Machon Limadrechei Chutz L'Aretz, where he was studying. Barry had convinced one the of the girls to give me a bed and my husband was in his room. A few years later, Barry married my husband's cousin and built a thriving travel business

hanging laundry, Maon Betar
hanging laundry in Maon Betar

The job we had was actually in my husband's name. He was the dorm counselor/director of the Maon Betar in the Old City of Jerusalem. Residents were university students, singles and special cases... 

We were given a one bedroom apartment with minimal kitchen and furnishings. It didn't have a washing machine, and I'd fill the bathtub with laundry, which I washed by hand. Then I'd hang it on the unfinished terrace. After a few months the terrace was closed off and roofed. So my husband began hanging it on the domed roof of the building, which puzzled the Arab women who hung their wet laundry on the neighboring roof tops. 

I think this post is long enough as an "introduction" or part 1. Gd willing, I'll write more in the future about our first year in Israel as Israelis.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Tikkun Olam: ISRAEL VS COVID 19, Book Review

Tikkun Olam: ISRAEL VS COVID 19: How is One of the Planet's Smallest Countries Helping to Tackle the World's Biggest Challenge? by Jodie Cohen is headed with: "Tikkun Olam." I found the book fascinating, but I wonder if Tikkun Olam was the true impetus for the early successes of Israeli start-ups and science/medical researchers in the "fight against" corona virus aka COVID 19.

Tikkun Olam literally means "repairing the world."
Tikkun Olam: In Jewish teachings, any activity that improves the world, bringing it closer to the harmonious state for which it was created.
Tikkun olam implies that while the world is innately good, its Creator purposely left room for us to improve upon His work.
All human activities are opportunities to fulfill this mission, and every human being can be involved in tikkun olam—child or adult, student or entrepreneur, industrialist or artist, caregiver or salesperson, political activist or environmentalist, or just another one of us struggling to keep afloat.
Tikkun Olam is a popular label, rationale. Many Jews of all persuasions tend to adopt/embrace philosophies, politics, visions and aims far removed from Traditional Jewish Values, label them as "Tikkun Olam" and then promote them as if Gd commanded. That's why I try to avoid that label.

As Israeli medical researchers and scientists quickly rushed into Olympic finals for innovations and cures to banish the dangers of COVID 19, I think it was more the pragmatic A Cure Needs to be Found and the innately Israeli competitive instinct We Must Win or We Die rather than Tikkun Olam. Don't forget that Israel's medical industry is a big money-maker, and you make more money when you're first.

Sorry for this negative sounding introduction. It's not to put down all that amazing facts listed in Jodie Cohen's Tikkun Olam: ISRAEL VS COVID 19: How is One of the Planet's Smallest Countries Helping to Tackle the World's Biggest Challenge?

Tikkun Olam: ISRAEL VS COVID 19: How is One of the Planet's Smallest Countries Helping to Tackle the World's Biggest Challenge? tells the stories behind the scenes in the quest to find cures. Cohen also mentions various Israeli organizations that help people all over the world in numbers and effectiveness far beyond our small numbers. This unique combination of competition, "do-gooding," improvisation and risk-taking is very much the Israeli persona.

Having spent half a century living in Israel, we made aliyah (moved here) as newlyweds, I take Israel's success as "normal." To me, the rest of the world suffers some sort of "disability," and that includes the Jews who still reside there.

I recommend ISRAEL VS COVID 19: How is One of the Planet's Smallest Countries Helping to Tackle the World's Biggest Challenge? because I like to brag about the great things we're doing here in Israel. And even more, it's food for thought, definitely not limited to a dry science report.

When thinking of Israel as a "start-up nation," it's important to examine the wide range of patents and breakthroughs Israelis can be credited with. This information, as of June, 2020, will be found in  ISRAEL VS COVID 19: How is One of the Planet's Smallest Countries Helping to Tackle the World's Biggest Challenge?

Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Minterne (June 12, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9655992217
  • ISBN-13: 978-9655992212
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Fascists Take To The Streets Reject Laws

I'm glad I don't live in a large city right now. Fascist mobs are demanding government changes trying to use their power to overrule the elected government.

Now, don't get me wrong. It's not like I support all government policies, and I certainly don't support any blindly. But the way to change the government is through elections, not massive demonstrations in the streets.

Thank Gd, Israel is a democracy.

  • We've had better governments, and we've had worse governments. 
  • We've experienced better policies, and we've experienced worse policies. 
In all honesty I think that Prime Minister Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu's decision to make a broad disparate coalition with Benny Gantz's Blue and White ended up backfiring on him. One crucial aspect was successful in that Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi have lost a major part of their voter support.

But Bibi's attempt to hold the extremely heterogeneous coalition together was an unmitigated disaster. Blue and White got an unprecedented percentage of powerful positions, which angered pretty much everyone on all sides of the political spectrum with exception of the recipients themselves.  

Not only can't Bibi control the Blue and White MKs' voting power, he has lost control of his own Likud Party. Apparently he gambled that giving less veteran MKs cabinet posts would make them more loyal, and he took for granted that his more veteran MK ministers would play ball with him. The result wasn't as he planned.

We're now suffering another round of what I call Korach demonstrations meaning that those demonstrating/rioting don't have the same aims other than to destabilize the government

If the rioters get their wish and force Netanyahu out, then they'll just fight among themselves, since they have no real leader other than the secret money source coming from abroad. 

The financial backers have unsuccessfully promoted Ehud Barak and more recently replaced him with Benny Gantz. Who will be their next figurehead?

The only real advantage of the present instability here in Israel and in the states is that the horrid "Trump Deal" has been put on the back-burner.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Maximum Attendance Should be PERCENTAGES, Not Numbers, Life in Corona COVID-19 Lock-down

When the Israeli Government announced "corona gifts" of money to help citizens out without proving poverty or restricting the money to the lower income bracket, I davka agreed. It would cost more to do the bureaucratic bookkeeping to enforce the restrictions than they would save. But when it comes to announcing maximum attendance in synagogues, restaurants, social halls the situation is completely different. These places are supposed to have a maximum capacity listed in their permits. And if they don't for whatever reason, a simple calculation can be made according to the size. For argument's sake, I suggest thirty percent 30% of maximum capacity, and if there hadn't been one set, then 20% of recommended capacity. Any restaurant which is then limited to under ten people will be take-out only. And any synagogue too small for even ten to fit by these standards must be closed.

More about the synagogues, for example here in Shiloh, there are large synagogues that were built to normally seat well over a hundred worshipers comfortably, and there are others that utilize small prefabricated shelters. In the large synagogues it's certainly easy to arrange safe seating for dozens of worshipers keeping their required distance. On the other hand the smaller building may not even be large enough for even a minyan quorum of ten, if they carefully follow social distancing regulations.

The government's "one size fits all" ruling is idiotic and counter-productive. There is no other way to put it.

A synagogue as large as the main synagogue in Shiloh,  Mishkan Tabernacle Synagogue, certainly has room for over 50 worshipers to sit safely, according to social distancing and another 20 or more upstairs in the Ezrat Nashim, Women's Section.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Shiloh is Growing- See The New Streets

This week one of my walking buddies and I  decided to explore the new streets in Shiloh. We've both been living in Shiloh since almost the very beginning. In those days and even the entire first decade or more, it wasn't hard for us to know absolutely everyone who lived here including their children and "back stories." But now, over forty years since the return of Jewish Life to Shiloh, we've long passed the tipping point. Shiloh is a town of neighborhoods. I'm thankful to Gd that I, at 70+, can still walk from the "bottom" to the top where I live, but I have neighbors, even younger, who can't.

Most of the new housing is being built by Amana, but it's still possible to buy land and build your own home in addition to the option of purchasing an older home.

Like every place else in the world, each street/neighborhood has its own personality and quirks. When  my friend and I moved to Shiloh with our young families, we didn't even have phones in the beginning. At that time, such a situation wasn't a rarity in Israel. But today with all the smartphones and computers there's great communication and much easier contact between people. Most neighborhoods have their own whatsapp groups to share information, instead of knocking on doors or meeting outside or at the grocery store or in the bus or the schools. And concerning education in Shiloh, today a child can start as a baby in the local daycare center and continue in Shiloh until high school graduation.

Today there are two large supermarkets in Shiloh and two clinics. Also most people have cars. My husband and I are in the tiny minority of those totally dependent on public transportation and the goodness of others. This new neighborhood has been built with driveways for each house.

Since most people travel by car, whether their own or tremps/rides in others, getting to Petach Tikva takes no longer than to Jerusalem, and to the Jordan Valley can be a much shorter ride. Actually, Shiloh is in the true Center of Israel.

I've lost track of how many people live here in Shiloh. Many of the families are what's called "dor hemshech," continuing generation, having grown up in Shiloh and wanting to raise their children as part of a larger family. Others grew up in different yishuvim and want the community life you can't get any place else. We have new and more veteran immigrants from all over and of course those who grew up in different parts of Israel.

Of course, I shouldn't leave out the fact that Shiloh is the biblical Shiloh where the Mishkan, Tabernacle was located for close to four hundred 400 years. There's a lovely archeological park called Shiloh Hakeduma.

For anglos who may be curious, there are certainly enough English speakers to make one feel comfortable, but here in Shiloh you'll learn Hebrew. It's not an anglo "bubble/ghetto." You can always contact me if you have any questions.

Here are some pictures. Enjoy.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Bibi-Gantz Coalition, Political Trick?

When will Israel have new elections?

Odd couple for sure. There's no humor in the present Israeli coalition of Bibi-Gantz, Likud and Blue and White plus the chareidim and a few others. Gantz's political career was founded on and focused on declaring Bibi Binyamin Netanyahu unfit for office and replacing him. But then, after three failed attempts to legally unseat him as Prime Minister, Gantz folded and accepted a deal with Bibi. Bibi trapped him with a newly invented title "Alternate" Prime Minister with all the expensive trappings of the office without any authority or responsibilities. When Gantz and his cronies offer opinions aka "alternative" policies they're accused of "interfering."

In the meantime, polls are showing Gantz and his remaining Blue and White Party dropping, while his former political partner, Yair Lapid, is now holding second place, aka head of opposition.

Politics is a complicated profession. Each country has its very own system, requiring wannabes to learn a complicated lexicon of skills to really succeed. There's no competition between the skills and experience of the Likud MKs with Gantz and his cronies.

Could the downward spiral of Blue and White have been the aim of Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu's offer to Benny Gantz all along?

What do you think?