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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Only in Israel, Something Wonderful

Too many of us, sometimes including me, spend too much time pointing out the negative about Israel.  It's very easy to find people complaining and ranting.  Isn't kvetching part of Judaism?  We read about it in the Bible from the dangerously divisive evil rabble-rouser Korach to the holy Rachel threatening her husband Jacob:
Genesis Chapter 30 בְּרֵאשִׁית
א וַתֵּרֶא רָחֵל, כִּי לֹא יָלְדָה לְיַעֲקֹב, וַתְּקַנֵּא רָחֵל, בַּאֲחֹתָהּ; וַתֹּאמֶר אֶל-יַעֲקֹב הָבָה-לִּי בָנִים, וְאִם-אַיִן מֵתָה אָנֹכִי. 1 And when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and she said unto Jacob: 'Give me children, or else I die.'
Complaining is easy.  We just throw the blame on others.  It's generally harder to find something good to say/write.

Today is the delayed fast of the 17th of Tammuz.  Yesterday was the actual date, but only the Yom Kippur fast can override Shabbat.  Within the next few days more and more Israeli men will start looking "scruffy," like they haven't bothered shaving.  This "look" will reach its peak in three weeks.  Then after the also delayed Fast of Tisha (9th of) b'Av, the barbershops and haircutting salons will fill up, because it will then be permitted to shave and have one's hair cut.  You'd be amazed at how many Israelis adhere to these Jewish Laws.  You'll see politicians, celebrities on tv and athletes, too, besides ordinary Israelis who look like they need a shave or haircut, but wait until it's permitted.

There's also lots more integration of religious and secular in Israel than people realize.  Headlines may give the impression that the army is mostly secular, but that isn't true.  There's a very large portion of Torah observant soldiers, male and female serving in the IDF.  Paula's A Soldier's Mother will give you an idea of what the IDF is really about.

One of the most surprising things is Israeli culture.  True many of our celebrities, stage, screen, art, music etc are pretty much mehadrin (extreme) Leftist secular, but not all and certainly not the public.  More than once the lyrics of hit songs have come from prayers.

Reality TV has hit it big time in Israel.  The "talent shows" are especially popular.  Being Israeli you can always see the proud parents and family members kvelling as they watch.  That's part of the entertainment and sometimes "Queen for a Day" aspect of the competitions.    Recently a young religious boy won the "Music School" competition.  In the various rounds leading up to the final, the celebrity teachers told their family stories about religion and how they, too, got their starts singing in synagogue.  Watch the emotion (how much is just hamming it up I can't say) on the faces of the celebrity judges.  They understand the lyrics.  Psalms 71.
ח יִמָּלֵא פִי, תְּהִלָּתֶךָ; כָּל-הַיּוֹם, תִּפְאַרְתֶּךָ. 8 My mouth shall be filled with Thy praise, and with Thy glory all the day.
ט אַל-תַּשְׁלִיכֵנִי, לְעֵת זִקְנָה; כִּכְלוֹת כֹּחִי, אַל-תַּעַזְבֵנִי. 9 Cast me not off in the time of old age; when my strength faileth, forsake me not.

Another example that I had been meaning to blog for awhile was one of the "round table" discussions on tv with a bunch of trendy celebrities.  They were discussing their backgrounds.  One woman told of being the granddaughter of a chazan and how her family would always go to her grandparents for holidays.  When asked what Jewish traditions her children were growing up with.  she said she was sorry that her children hadn't the benefit of grandparents like hers.  She did say that they had a proper Friday night ליל שבת Leil Shabbat, Shabbat Eve meal with Kiddush, and Passover Seder and Rosh Hashannah כמובן kamuvan  of course.  That כמובן kamuvan of course really got to me.  To that trendy celebrity, it was a given that Jewish Tradition is a priority for her and her family.

There's a lot more good, blending of Jewish Life here in Israel than most people realize.


A Soldier's Mother said...

How beautiful - thanks so much for sharing (and for mentioning my blog).

Batya said...

Thanks, Paula, your entire blog is to let others know about real life here in Israel. There is a lot of good, B"H.