Sometimes words don’t flow. They simply don’t flow. When there is so much happening, sometimes, one really doesn’t know where or how to begin. This is one of those times. Today was one of those days. I sat here today, Thursday, most of the day, thinking of how I would begin this week’s blog. There is so much to write about, yet, I was stumped. I am stumped. Where do I begin? Do I begin with Shavuot? Do I begin with the tenuous political situation here? What about being here, living here for what is now nine months? Should I begin with the approaching Israeli Day Parade? Stepner happenings?

Well, I guess that was it, my opener. To the political situation here, I am confused. I am confused when I read about the opening of the indirect ‘proximity talks’ between George Mitchell and the PA and George Mitchell and Israel. The PA says it ‘expects an agreement without negotiations.’ America’s plan is for Israel to relinquish Yehuda (Judea), Shomron(Samaria), as well as parts of Jerusalem. Israel’s plan is peace with sacrifice and a demilitarized Palestinian Authority. But here’s the question that begs asking: How much sacrifice? At what cost? I live in what is called Judea, I have friends in the Shomron. But I am not special or unique. Much of Israel as we know it today is comprised of Judea and Samaria. Maale Adumim is ‘safe’, in that it is a big (relatively speaking) city, in close proximity to and somewhat of an extension of Jerusalem and is to be retained as part of Israel in the final agreement. All of this is speculative of course because we don’t know what goes on, what is said behind closed doors. We trust the news reports to provide us with the most updated information. But those reports aren’t always accurate. We read, watch, listen, and pray. We pray for our undivided Jerusalem. We pray for peace for all of Israel, and we pray for the release of Gilaad.

I am befuddled and flummoxed at the ongoing ‘hafganot’, protests and demonstrations that were part of the Jerusalem landscape this past week. The demonstrations were in response to the planned construction of a new Emergency wing on the grounds of theBarzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, the site of hundreds of kassam rocket attacks. When ground was broken for the expansion, human remains were discovered and archaeologists brought in to investigate. There can be religious, moral legal debate regarding the construction and the displacement and reburial of the remains. But when the protests from the EidaCharedut community become violent, anti Israel, anti-government and extremely unruly, then something here is amiss. Burning garbage dumps? Setting fires all over the city? I was late arriving at a friends barbeque because of the buses having to be rerouted around the city.  We saw overturned garbage receptacles set ablaze on the way home the  barbecue and it was shameful. Disgusting. We are all Jews. Why are we lacking mutual respect, respectful disagreement, respectful demonstrations?

To explain, the discovered remains were almost assuredly determined to be pagan remains. Not to say that the sanctification of all remains shouldn’t be considered, but the future safety of Israeli citizens must take priority. This emergency wing to be constructed is to be reinforced against rocket attacks, so that patients will be safe even in the midst of a rocket attack. Most emergency institutions around the world are built to withstand the elements of nature, not the elements of mankind. We build to withstand both.
More confusion: Rock stars (Elvis Costello) are cancelling their performances in Israel to join the international Israeli boycott; the PA is boycotting products manufactured in Judea and Samaria. Yet isn’t it or shouldn’t these issues be part of negotiations? Why is this tolerated?
On the home front, this was our first of the Shalosh Regalim (Succot, Pesach, Shavuot) which we did not spend with Michal and Chezky and we missed them so much. They spent Shavuot with Chezky’s parents and family and some friends. It was difficult for all of us, but we all pulled through and overall enjoyed our Yom Tov. Shavuot was strange here for me. Everything in shul done in one day: Akdamot, Yiskor, Hallel, one Kriyat Hatorahreading. I miss saying Yizkor in shul the way Young Israel recites it. There is no speech or intro to saying Yizkor here and no responsive reading. It is just said. A bang on the bimaand Yizkor begins. The first time I said Yizkor here, I missed it because I was waiting for the shliach tzibur (the leader) to begin. But that’s the way it is. No fan fare.
Yechezkel was home for Shavuot, but will not be for Shabbat. He continues his driving training and is learning the ins and outs of truck driving on Israel’s highways and bi-ways. He enjoys the driving and enjoys the classes, but hates the down time, the boredom. When he is on base for Shabbat, he is considered to be on Shmira, guard duty. Even when he is not on active Shmira duty, he and the other chayalim must be prepared at all times for the eventuality of an infiltration to their base. So they sleep in their uniform, boots and all, with their guns under their pillow. They must be prepared for quick response, quick action. Such is his reality. He may be home Sunday evening to sleep, to have his uniform washed, and to eat, to have nurturing. Such is our reality. We see him and talk to him when we can. Eitan is winding down with school. Time has really flown by. He is studying hard for hispre-bagrut exams and for the bagruyot themselves, and at the same time, he is eagerly anticipating his upcoming trip to NY this summer. There is one month left of Ulpan for me and I know I will miss the stimulation of the classroom, camaraderie, and the security of studying, speaking and writing Hebrew in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. I will probably begin employment within the next few weeks if all goes well. There are medical tests that need to be done prior to my starting to work, along with all the paper work that needs to be completed and filed. And oh, I’m sure there will be unforeseen obstacles and challenges ahead as that is the way here. But I actually am looking forward to getting out and working. Keeping a sense of humor is important while going through and managing the bureaucratic red tape. Meyer is doing well and working hard.  And now to my mom. Well what can I say? This Shabbat is her last one in West Hempstead after some nearly 47 years in the community. She and David have decided it is time to move on and to continue their lives in sunny, warm Florida. It is so strange for me to be here while they are winding down in West Hempstead. I so wish I could be with you this Shabbat. It has been a very emotional time, particularly for Mom. Change is good, though the process is so very difficult. But Mom, as you read this, know that you are deserving of the very best life, and sunny Florida, have to offer. You’ve worked hard always and endured much hardship and experienced tremendous joy as well in your life and though you leave behind family and friends who will miss you immensely, you deserve to live a relaxing fun-filled and exciting life. You’ve earned it. West Hempstead will always be home for you and I know you will carry many wonderful memories with you as you embark on this new adventure in your life. I wish you and David safe travels to Florida and an easy adjustment to life there. And of course, we hope to see you soon here in Israel and know of course that you will visit Susan and Michal as often as you can.

Great segue to another topic, the Israeli Day Parade. This is the first time in my entire life (since the age of five) except for my year in Israel after High School, that I won’t be marching in the parade. I never missed one. Would never miss it. Now of course, I am here I am living it. But I will miss being there. It is so important every year for attendance at the parade to be significant, but this year, I feel it is ever more important. The tides are flowing against Israel and it is vital for American Jews to demonstrate solidarity with Israel. The American government needs to see and witness the solid support and solidarity with Israel and seeing thousands and thousands of people, students marching and spectators lining the streets is a powerful statement, a powerful display. Don’t let the media capture only the Palestinians and Neturei Karta protesting the parade. If you are marching, march proudly, determinedly and happily. And if you are spectators, wave flags, cheer, clap.  Jerusalem, all of Israel need to be strong and undivided, and you, American Jewry, needs to demonstrate that support. Be there!!
I neglected to share with you last week an amusing story. About a week and a half ago, I was  walking into my bathroom and looked down and saw a snake. Yes, a real live, slithering SNAKE!!! in my bathroom!! It slithered out of the bathroom, this audacious eight inch green snake in my bathroom!!! AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!  Yes, I screamed at the top of my lungs. Thank God for Eitan. He was home and came running down the stairs to help. He screamed when he saw the snake and I shouted at him to get rid of it. Ok, I am a brave sturdy woman, but not when it comes to snakes!!! Meyer was at work, so Eitan assumed the responsibility of getting rid of the snake. Our neighbor was home and came running when she heard my screams. I think she thought i was being attacked or something. She gave Eitan a squeegee broom to get it out and hit it to try to kill it. The snake escaped. We later discovered from another neighbor that the snake was of the poisonous kind. Great. The wonders of living in the desert. No one was bitten and now we know what to do if it happens again. Fortunately, finding snakes in the home is not such a common occurrence. We did say we want to experience life in Israel fully!!

One last thing. I came across a video about the IDF and thought I would share with you. Go to Arutz Sheva and watch IDF-the most humane army in the world. The video discusses the very real issues and dilemmas our soldiers face and how daunting their responsibilities are. While you listen to the prayers for Israel and for Tzahal, think about these issues. And please, come out on Sunday in support of Israel.

I guess the words flowed after all.

Love and miss you all,

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