Ki Yachol Nuchal!

New olah; mom and wife. In small ways, every day, trying to rectify the error in judgement of my zaydies, the meraglim. "See these big grapes? We can make really big wine!"

Archive for the ‘Gaza War’ Category

Tikkun Leil Gridiron

Posted by rutimizrachi on 02/02/2009

Yom sheni, 8 Shevat 5769.

There are two quiet, holy mornings each year, that are really just for women.

The more kadosh of the two is Shavu’ot.  

In many communities, the men and older boys have spent the entire night learning Torah for Tikkun Leil Shavu’ot, a night of perfecting the world through the holiness of constant learning.  This custom derives, we are taught, from the need to “repair the damage done” by the Israelites sleeping the night before the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.  (The argument is that when one is about to receive the greatest gift mankind has ever received, he should sit up all night in anticipation.  An argument in response is that sleep is the first refuge of the utterly terrified…)  In any case, the men and boys learn until the wee small hours of the morning, in gatherings at people’s homes, or at shul.  Then, the weary soldiers daven the early morning prayers, and drag their spiritual swords and shields home, where they indulge in a few hours of well-earned rest.

The town is absolutely quiet, filled with a special aura that exists only in a world free of adult testosterone.  Small children people the streets, giving the community a Lilliputian feel.  Soft voices of women fill the air, chatting quietly, singing, laughing softly.  It is a world inhabited only by women and children.

It is a few months’ time until Shavu’ot, with its particular sweetness.

This morning I am enjoying the other, less-holy “women-and-little-ones day.”  This morning is the quiet, man-free morning known of as “Super Bowl Monday.”  Who would have thought that the American Super Bowl would follow us to Israel?  (The only difference is that, while in America, the kickoff is around 6:30 PM EST, in Israel, game time is at 1:30 in the morning.  Imagine spicy chicken wings and chili at 3 AM!)

As the last warrior came home, a huge smile on his face, as he anticipated hours of sleep, I remarked on the similarity between the two days.  “Feels like Shavu’ot, doesn’t it?”  I asked him.  “Yeah,” he answered, his six-foot-plus teenage frame stretching into a big, satisfied full-body yawn.  “Except less kadosh,” I added.

“Whadaya mean?” he asked.  “I just got back from making a siyum with the guys I learn with.  We just finished our first perek in Brachot.  After I finished davening.”

“Yasher koach!”  I responded, proud that he hadn’t immersed himself only in the secular.

“Besides.  Ema.  It’s the Super Bowl.  C’mon That’s kedusha.”  Fortunately, this profane comment was uttered tongue in cheek, as he wandered off to his bed.

Ahhhh.  Quiet.  Blessed femininity.  The birds even seem to be singing more sweetly.

Now if we could just train those Arab workmen on the roof next door to take up the holy study of American football…       

(Sexism disclaimer:  It may be that there are secret enclaves of female football fans out there, wearily making their way back to their beds after a night of popcorn, chips, and insult-hurling at Sling Box TV hookups.  I just didn’t notice the ad in the online chat list.)

Glossary:
kadosh:  holy
Shavu’ot:  holiday observing the giving of the Torah
siyum:  completion of the study of a holy text
perek:  chapter
Brachot:  one of the books of the Talmud
Yasher koach!:  Way to go! 

***  Two important links:  Haveil Havalim, The “Did You Love Leah?” Edition, is out at Ima on (and off) the Bima.  And West Bank Mama has put together a roundup of commentary on the Gaza War by new immigrants to Israel.  ***

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Posted in American Football in Israel, Gaza War, Haveil Havalim, Israel, olim chadashim, Super Bowl | Leave a Comment »

A Soldier Speaks

Posted by rutimizrachi on 26/01/2009

Yom sheni, Rosh Chodesh, 1 Shevat 5769.

The Dearly Beloved and I got to spend yesterday with Soldier Boy and his bride. 

 
 
 
He looks good.  They seem very happy to be “normal” again.  
I have a lot to process about the war, and its aftermath.  But right now what my son has to say at his own blog, Through Josh-Colored Glasses, seems more important.  Please click on the link, and enjoy reading the soldier’s impressions in his own voice.  Warning:  The guy just came back from a war.  There are some graphic images.

I’ll save my thoughts for another time.

Posted in Gaza War, miracles, prayer | 4 Comments »

Post-Gaza: A New Immigrant Mom’s Perspective

Posted by rutimizrachi on 21/01/2009

Yom revi’i, 25 Tevet 5769.

We made aliyah only a little more than a year ago.  And tomorrow our son comes home from his first war.

As my husband and I had served in the US military, we came to our decision with open eyes:  Israel has been a nation at war for as long as we have been alive.  While it is our opinion that there is no better place on the planet for a Jew to live, there is no sugar-coating the fact that all of our sons would probably wear IDF uniforms, and would probably experience the trauma of war.  Part of why we took so long to make aliyah (16 years) was dealing with this reality.

Did we have the right to put our kids into the apparent path of danger, simply to enhance our concept of a higher attachment to Torah?

We wrangled with this question through the First Intifada, through the Oslo War, through bus and cafe bombings, through the contempt of a “civilized” world that still smugly pontificates that “both sides must renounce the violence.”  We discussed the tragic decision to use soldiers as policemen during the awful and stupid “Disengagement” which laid the groundwork for this current Gaza War.  If we as soldiers had been asked to choose between our mission to protect and defend our citizens, and our responsibility to respect and obey the government we represented — what would we do?  More relevantly, what would our sons do?

It finally became clear that whatever tafkid (purpose, mission) we may have had in America was pretty well used up.  One day, as we listened to yet another ambulance shriek its way to the retirement home across the street, my husband said to me, “Ruti, I can’t just wait for my ambulance to come.  I have a little more adventure in me.”

Baruch Hashem, our sons had come to the decision that Israel is our true Home, even before we made the final decision.  So we did the move together — not just physically, but as “one man with one heart.”  One son even made the move a couple of years before the family — the “point man” of the operation, as we say in the Army.

When he went to war with the Golani Brigade, we and his wife glued ourselves firmly in front of our computers and radios.  We attended closely to each news story.  Wanting to know everything.   

Not wanting to know… 

In the evenings, the men in my house watched war movies.  I listened to old time radio.  Comedies mostly.  That is how we coped between phone calls.  During the day, I blogged, and read the blogs of others, most notably The Muqata (for a reliable play-by-play of the unfolding war) and A Soldier’s Mother (for damn fine writing about what I was feeling).  I didn’t write too much of what I felt, because it didn’t seem to be what my blog is about, and because my military training told me that staying positive through the mission is more useful than being scared.

Of course I was scared.

I have been worrying about that kid keeping his limbs attached to his body since before he was born.  It’s not like I was going to stop when people were firing projectiles at him, trying to hit him.  I worried about what would happen to his body if they got him.  I worried about what would happen to his spirit if he got one of them.  I felt his pain when he missed his wife desperately.  I felt his fear, even though he would not voice it.

He would call when he was “back from the office,” our code for when he was at the base just outside of Gaza.  We had lovely talks sometimes, philosophical grappling with the situation’s politics.  He couldn’t tell me much; and I didn’t ask.  We honored the rules.  “No civilian phone line is secure.”  Mostly, we just updated each other briefly.  I gave him news he was seeking; he just gave me his voice.

Every so often, we would get “the call.”

“Ema, I love you very much.  I really love you.”  He would say the words slowly and carefully, as if asking me to pay. close. attention.  This call was code for “I’m going back in; and I am terrified I won’t ever speak to you again.”  And my military/mom response was very cheerful, because that is my job:  “You are one of my heroes, Josh.  Your abba and I are so very proud of you.  You have been well-trained.  You know your job, and you are good at it.  Think about what is in front of you, and the guys on either side of you.  Remember For Whom you work.  That’s all.  I love you very, very much.”  This was the verbal form of polishing his shield and sword.  It was all I could do.

When I cried, after I hung up the phone, one of his younger brothers would come and hold me for a few minutes.

What do you say to your soldier son when he calls to fall apart over the devastating injuries sustained by a friend?  How do you comfort him when he shares his fear, his guilt, his empathy?

You cry with him.  You let him pour it all out.  And then you listen and silently applaud as he pulls himself together, as he sees visiting his friend and attempting to strengthen him as his next mission.  As he comes out of his pain, and comes back to life.  You know that his friend will probably end up comforting and strengthening him, as is so often the case in tragedy.  But you know that he will grow from this, as we are bidden to grow from the good and the terrible that Hashem puts in our path.

When the “cease fire” was initially announced, I was torn exactly in half.  I felt joy for my child, who would sleep in a real bed, inside of the first building that he had been in for three weeks.  I felt happiness for my daughter-in-law and for us.  But I was also disappointed, yet again, as our government ended another mission before it was completed.

Josh cornered the market on wisdom this time.  “Remember, Ema, that a Torah Jew knows that we can’t solve this.  Not with politics, and not with fighting.  We soldiers are only doing a ‘holding action,’ until Moshiach will come and fix it.”

We have all survived the first test of our commitment to this country.  How did this affect our younger sons?  One wants to come to Israel from the States.  “It’s time, Ema.  I can’t stay away any longer.”  One keeps checking the calendar, to see if he is old enough to go into the IDF.  Like his big brother.  The little one just keeps playing football, wearing his Gush Katif kipah, and listening.

Please G-d, help us to stay strong and positive, as we await Your intervention.  Please help us to never forget that You run this whole show — and that it will be all right in the end.  You have made certain promises to Your people; and You never lie.


Oh, yeah…  and please let our children grow to be really, really old men, intact and healthy, with great stories to tell their grandchildren.  Amen.

Posted in aliyah, Gaza War, Golani, IDF | 11 Comments »

Rav Aviner’s Song for the Soldiers

Posted by rutimizrachi on 18/01/2009

23 Tevet 5769.

Rav Shlomo Aviner has a blog, called “Torat HaRav Aviner,” which gives me a lot of chizuk, especially in these challenging times.  He has written beautiful lyrics for which Eliyon Shemesh has created a joyful and powerful melody, which remind us of what Rav Goldberger has always taught us is true of the Jewish people:  V’ameich kulam tzadikim!  [And all of Your people are righteous!]

A Slow Line Enters Gaza:
A Song for Israeli Soldiers


(Many thanks to Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig, as always, for his translation of Rav Aviner’s words.)

The unit commander is a factory owner.
The regimental commander is an engineer.
The company commander is a nature guide.
The platoon commander is in his mandatory army service.
The sergeant major sells holy books.
The sergeant is somewhat of a carpenter.
The squad leader is currently unemployed.
And the private is retired.

But all of them are excellent soldiers
Marching in the quiet of the night in a slow line
Entering enemy territory
Without fear
In order to wage war for our Nation
As their parents had done for them.

The unit commander has a bad back.
The regimental commander – high cholesterol.
The company commander – digestive problems.
The platoon commander just doesn’t look good.
The sergeant major – problems with his eyes.
The sergeant has trouble sleeping.
The squad leader is scratching.
And the private has corns on his foot.

But all of them are excellent soldiers
Who slip into the darkness in a slow line
Entering enemy territory
Forgetting that they are pampered and sensitive
Filled each day with drops, oils and pills
And they are suddenly healthy.
And these men who are afraid of shots and dentists
Are suddenly courageous
They are not afraid of anything
They do anything that needs to be done
Because what is needed is needed.
They don’t think about themselves
But about the national goal
Because it is enough of this mess
And we must now act to protect our Nation
And this is only the appetizer.

The unit commander is a leftist against the settlements.
The regimental commander is a settler for the settlements.
The company commander votes for the centrist party.
The platoon commander is a Religious-Zionist who is deciding between two parties.
The sergeant major is Ultra-Orthodox.
The sergeant is a socialist.
The squad leader votes for all the parties.
And the private has still not decided.

But all of them are excellent soldiers
Marching silently in the darkness of the night.
Under the smiling moon
With preparedness and strength
And the same people who do not agreed
About anyting in politics and religion
Have suddenly become brothers.
Brothers in arms and brothers in battle
Who sacrifice for each other with their heart and soul
Everyone suddenly agrees
That the best thing we have
Is our country and the army which defends us
And they are ready to completely strike the enemy
For once and all
So that we will be left in peace.

Posted in chayalim, Gaza War, Rav Shlomo Aviner | 4 Comments »

Haveil Havalim (#199 or #200) Makes an Appearance

Posted by rutimizrachi on 12/01/2009

Yom sheni, 16 Tevet 5769.

This one’s called the Harvey Edition.  (Don’t ask.  Let Jack explain it himself.) 

There seems to be some argument over which number this one is.  Blame it on the fact that the host has also been running updates on the war in Gaza that are coming so fast, the folks at Twitter are calling him for advice.

If you are new to the blogosphere (meaning you “don’t get the blog thing”), or if you want to hear something authentic about the matsav in Israel, rather than relying on only the MSM — try getting to know some very good writers through Haveil Havalim

Posted in Gaza War, Haveil Havalim | 3 Comments »

"Daddy, what did Mommy do while you were fighting the war?"

Posted by rutimizrachi on 07/01/2009

Yom chamishi, 12 Tevet 5769.

Today I offer you a special treat.  My friend and neighbor, Marc Gottlieb, did the liveblogging (which he updated regularly throughout the day) for the recent Standing Together mission to “500 meters from Gaza.”  My intrepid daughter-in-law, Chana, went along.  (Hey!  Don’t ask.  She’s a grown up!  What can I say?)  With Marc’s permission, I am posting their adventure here, so that you can sit on the edge of your seat, like I did all day Tuesday.  Don’t thank me.  Love is sharing.  


 
Liveblogging Gaza Mission #3

Stay tuned as we provide updates to the Standing Together 1/6/09 Mission to Gaza.

Meet our Guest Hosts 
Rami Landau is David’s son. Besides the enjoyment he gets from helping out the soldiers, he’s taking video and photographs of the mission. 


Chana Eastman was married in July 2008. Her husband Josh is serving in the Golani brigade. He hasn’t been home in weeks. She’s hoping that they can find where his unit is stationed, and that he’s been rotated out of the action for today. Hey, it could happen…  

Anthony Harris, originally from Scotland, grew up in Perth, Australia, and is now living in the Zayit in Efrat. Anthony, who made aliyah too late to serve, is on the mission today because, “In 2006 I had many friends from work who went up to serve in the war. I couldn’t help out last time, but now nothing could keep me away!” 


Dan Leubitz just couldn’t stay away. Dan joined Standing Together on their Second Mission to Gaza on New Year’s Day 2009. Dan was born in Cleveland, Ohio and made aliyah in September 2006 from Teaneck, NJ. The last mission was so emotional he had to come back for more.


Brendan Rothschild, from Melbourne, Australia hasn’t made aliyah just yet. He served in the Nachal brigade until 8 months ago when he finished his service. He plans on making aliyah when he completes his degree. About a year ago, Standing Together came to visit him on the base during Chanukah, and he’s glad he has the opportunity to lend a hand today.

Wendy Gordon, an MSW originally from Boca Raton, Florida, now living in Beer Sheva, joined Standing Together because she felt a strong need to help directly, hands on, with the soldiers who are protecting our country. “It’s amazing how thankful they are, when it’s us who should be thanking them.”

9:30AM
Left for the South this morning with a car full of 500 packages including fleece masks, thermals and socks. Heading to Sderot to pick up food and personal items in the grocery.

 10:35AM
Still haven’t been able to get to a location with decent reception. Going to try again in a bit.

11:30AM
In the makolet, stocking up on supplies to bring south.
Chana: Im just trying to help where I can. My husband’s doing his part, so I’m doing mine.
Heard a Qassam in the distance (11:45)

12:35PM
As we’re leaving Sderot on the way to Nachal Oz, we heard the Tzeva Adom (Color Red) alert. We didn’t hear anything, but we quickly pulled over to a reinforced bus shelter. Three seconds later we heard a loud explosion. For some on the mission it was their first experience in a rocket alert.

12:39 PM
Another Tzeva Adom alert. That’s two in five minutes. How do people live like this every day of their lives?

1:00PM
Stopped at an artillery staging area in the middle of nowhere. We came with food and clothes, and they were most appreciative of the clothes because it’s freezing down here.

2:30 PM
Followed the smoke about a kilometer and a half to an insertion point. They’ve been there three days straight without a change of clothes. They constantly repeat thank you. Handing out bottles of water. We changed the mood from stressed to festive, we broke the monotony of waiting. We’re taking pictures of them, they’re taking pictures of us!

Wendy: I can’t get over the range of ages of the soldiers! Young, old, and they’re all here fighting for Israel’s very right to exist. I wish there was more I could do.

3:30PM
At a camp now, handing out hundreds of packages of cold weather clothing to soldiers.

Soldiers are hanging around the trailer like a little cafe, very funny. Soldiers from all walks of Israeli life. They talk about where they’re from. They’re overwhelmed by individual letters, and the thousands of people from the Facebook group who showed their support and love. Two officers approached us and thanked us, just thanked us.  


Anthony: Every soldier says to me “Ein milim” — there are no words. I never knew I could bring this much pleasure by just coming to visit them, just to support them.

3:52PM
David: Last cold weather package handed out. 500 soldiers are sleeping warmer tonight, in clean clothes. Thousands more aren’t. Need help for more!

4:30PM
We’re starting mincha (evening prayers) with the soldiers. The religious soldiers and the volunteers prayed together between two tanks for safety. The sky is dark gray, filled with shadows. It really moves you to see that in the midst of it all, they stop to pray.

4:53PM
We’re 500 meters from Gaza right now, within sniper range. We’ve been handing out everything that we have to the soldiers who have just returned from inside Gaza. It was such an uplifting feeling to see them come back safely. Many are just young men who are experiencing combat for the first time. They appreciate what we’re doing even though it’s so little.


Wendy: We need more boxer shorts!  🙂 

Wherever we’ve gone, the soldiers are polite, and it’s really a pleasure to mingle and chat with them.
We’re getting ready to go home. We need to leave a little earlier than planned, before it gets too dark to see how to get back.

Chana shared another vignette after she returned safely to my house.  She said that one of the young soldiers sat down next to Wendy, the “mom person” on the trip.  He told her that he wanted people to understand how much Standing Together’s visit meant to the soldiers.  “We know that everyone in the world hates us, and thinks bad things about us.  We are risking our lives here; and we get discouraged when the media make us look like the bad guys, and when people believe them.  And then you people come here to see us, and you bring us food and presents; and we feel loved.  We feel like you understand why we are doing what we do.  Thank you so much!”

Photos used by permission from Marc Gottlieb and Abba Richman

Posted in Gaza War, Golani, IDF, Standing Together | 4 Comments »

"What can I do? I can’t just sit here…"

Posted by rutimizrachi on 05/01/2009

Yom shlishi, 10 Tevet 5769, Asara b’Tevet.

It’s night time.  Tomorrow is a fast day, one of the few days each year that we remember the circumstances that led to the destruction of our Holy Temple.  Which, when you think about it, led to every rotten thing that ever happened in the world.  Including my Mama’s diabetes.  Mumbai.  The current Gaza War.

Just to keep things in perspective.

Packages and treats keep appearing for the soldiers.  The Dearly Beloved had to remind himself that even if they appear during the fast, the boys can eat.  Soldiers at war, who get to fast on plenty of occasions when the rest of us are eating full and wonderful meals, are exempt from minor fasts.

Soldier Boy was talking about how the guys respond when the packages arrive.  He received a pair of gloves and a warm hat, for which he is very grateful.  He says sometimes the guys act like puppies pouncing on a good bone.  I have seen that, in films; but I have also seen them sharing tee shirts with each other, finding for each other the proper sizes, in a brotherly way that brought tears to my eyes.

The nicest comment he saved for the very last few minutes of our very short phone call, before he had to “go back in.”

“Ema, I always try to save the little notes.  Some kid somewhere wrote that little ‘love note’ to an anonymous soldier…  and I was lucky enough to get it.  I wish they knew this:  the notes are even more special to me than the food and the clothes.  I hope they will keep sending them.”

If you haven’t had the chance yet to write your little love note to a soldier, or to donate for those precious packages, please consider contacting one or all of the following worthy organizations, with which I have been privileged to work.  They will deliver them for you.

A Package From Home
“Our mission is to strengthen the spirit and resolve of each Israeli soldier, and to show our appreciation for the sacrifices they are making in securing our safety and the survival of the Jewish People. Our care packages are not only a warm reminder of the love and esteem we hold for our soldiers but also are items that they truly need.”

Connections Israel
“Connections Israel enables Jewish communities worldwide to stand united in helping to play a decisive role in improving safety, restoring normalcy, bringing a sense of gratitude to the IDF soldiers and bringing joy back to Israeli victims of terror.”

Standing Together
“Standing Together partners with schools, synagogues and youth groups to establish a connection between Israeli soldiers and the Worldwide Jewish Community.  It is so important that the soldiers know their hard work is appreciated.  Whether its an email greeting for Rosh Hashana, a donut for Chanukkah, M’shloach Manot for Purim, chocolate for Pesach or barbeque for Yom HaAtzmaut, a small gesture goes a long way.”

Also, please daven for our precious sons who were wounded during their struggle to protect and defend their holy people:

Dvir ben Leah
Noam ben Aliza
Li-El Hoshea ben Miriam
Nerya ben Rivka
Yitzchak ben Naava
Netanel ben Naava
Maxim ben Olga
Yisrael ben Ilana
Yoad Ido ben Freida Rivka
Idan ben Leora
Nadav ben Miriam
Raphael ben Nina

Have an easy and meaningful fast.

Posted in A Package From Home, Asara b'Tevet, Connections Israel, Gaza War, Standing Together | 5 Comments »

When a boy grows up…

Posted by rutimizrachi on 04/01/2009

Yom rishon, 8 Tevet 5769.

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.” — John Stuart Mill
 
You’ll forgive me if, for a short while, my thoughts and prayers are on one young soldier, his wife and baby-to-be (b’sha’ah tovah), and his comrades-in-arms.
May they be safe, successful, and victorious, in all their efforts on behalf of this holy People.
@%@%@%@%@%@%@%@%@%@%@%@%@
For excellent coverage of the Gaza War, the likes of which you won’t find on CNN et al, please check out the efforts of my fellow bloggers, the writings of whom have been painstakingly gathered by Jack.  They do a much better job than I can of reporting what is really happening over here, as well as including the best and the worst of the MSM.  Some of my especial favorites are Jameel at the Muqata for reportage, A Soldier’s Mother for a mom’s perspective, Seraphic Secret for Old Country passion, and Treppenwitz for everything else, to include inspiring all of the rest of us.
Thank you to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Goldberger and the kehilla back in Baltimore for your prayers, phone calls, and inspiration.  It is your concern that adds the spiritual fuel to the tanks and fire to the weapons.  
May we hear b’sorot tovot. 

Posted in Gaza War, IDF | 7 Comments »