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.

BLOGGERS WE MUST UNITE IN PROTEST

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: Jodisvoice.com

Amazon Product details:

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
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)

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)