Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Moments in The Life of an Olah

#758324972: Hearing people in your school speak in Hebrew and it not being strange or feeling the least bit odd.

That makes me smile.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Would You Do?

There is a letter going around, written by a naval commando:

If, God forbid, I arrive at a situation where a terrorist organization shall take me prisoner, I ask of you: Do not protest, do not give interviews, do not tell share how much it hurts you, do not have festivals in my name. Every novice salesman knows: that is not how you lower the price.
I am NOT “everyone’s child.” I am a warrior who has fallen captive.
Do NOT turn me into a tool: I do not want the whole world to know who my identity and my name at a time when nobody remembers the soldier who was killed by my side. I do not want the press to make rounds about me, I do not want to turn into a political axe used for digging political agendas, power games, and manipulations. I do not want to be the entry door for the “Israeli consensus.” I am not ready for the idea that my release will turn into a dogma that cannot be reconsidered. I do not want those who dare think differently to have their mouths shut. I do not want the press to use me to raise their ratings, and I do not want singers to write songs in order to improve their results in Google.
I am not a milk carton: do not make a logo out of my picture, do not make my face your profile picture, do not make my shadow into a slogan. Do not hire PR firms in order to manipulate public opinion and the opinion of those who make decisions. Do not establish a creative team, an optimization team, a marketing team, a staff, or work meetings with cookies and presentations. Do not make a brainstorming team or create a tide of public opinion. Do not build a PR budget and market penetration. Do not sketch strategies. Do not divide the public into graphs and tables. I do not want “expert panels,” I do not want conventions, I do not want them to count the number of days I have been sitting prisoner, I do not want depression contractors to make a career out of my story. Do not produce pins and flags and ties and shirts in my name. Do not make parades and demonstrations and protest signature booths on campuses. It lowers my chances of being released and it throws sand in the eyes of the decision makers. I am not a reality show: do not come to take a picture with my father as a souvenir at the time when thousands of murderers are being released for me. I do not want the blue and white flag to be raised at a time when the entire atmosphere screams white flag. I do not want to see a cold blooded murderer of sixteen people be released with a smile, especially just several years after he gave the victory sign to the victims’ families in court. I am not ready that hundreds of families who just recently buried babies should explode in fury and be called in public the “party poopers.” I am not ready that a boy who went to eat pizza with his mother, father, and three brothers—and came back alone, should watch a murderer eat baklawa in a victory hut twenty kilometers away from him. I do not want murderers who are released to East Jerusalem to ride the train together with my niece. I do not want families whose entire world has collapsed to hear that the murderer of their loved one has gone to Club Med in Turkey. I do not want their pain should receive an eighth of a page just before the sports section because it is “proper reporting.” They already know that the blood of their children is cheap. You do not need to trample on their hearts and twist your foot while you are at it. It really comforts me that the president says that he pardons but does not forgive. I do not want the next Intifada to be named after me.

Y., Naval Commando

It's a funny thing...people go to the army knowing in the back of their minds that-- they could die. But that doesn't happen to most people, so it is able to go to the back.

I think that everyone in Israel knows someone or is someone who has lost a relative or friend in an act of war or terrorism. That's a pretty sobering thought when you actually stop and think about it.

I know that I would want everything done for me if I was, G-d forbid, captured and held. But...I think...I would rather be held, and, yes, die than let terrorists with blood on their hands go free and go kill more than they have already killed. On the other hand, my family and friends would probably want anything to be done in order to get me out and they probably would not like my stance.

נכנס עייפות, יוצא כל מיני...לילה טוב, עולם. Good night, world.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Overwhelmed by emotion and don't know what to do

I am so overwhelmed by conflicting emotions and I can't...separate them.

Gilad is home. After five and a half years, he is home. He has been welcomed by everyone, and no one is angry at Gilad for the trade that happened. Amazing, isn't it? Everyone is happy that he's home, alive.

Terrorists with actual blood on their hands were let free to redeem one person, one soldier, one Israeli. No one is mad at Gilad, no one is angry at him. At the government, at the army, at the president and prime minister for letting out mass murderers who will kill again, and are already inciting and planning to kill more Jews and Israelis-- yes. But I don't think there is anyone who is not happy that Gilad is back home.

I sent an sms to an Arab former coworker (he switched areas of practice), who lives in Silwan, asking him what it was like in his neighborhood. He said that it was crazy, and he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to get home (he was at work). Nothing like that here-- people in Mitzpe Hila I'm sure had lots of street closures, but no riots.

I'm terrified of what is going to happen now that these 1027 terrorists have been let out and while not all of them have been allowed back to where they came from, they will still do their evil work from wherever they are.

That's the conflict: Joy over Gilad being back; Anger at the government for allowing so many murderers to go free; Fear of what will happen now that these terrorists are free and able to get back to attacking freely.

I pray that Gilad will be able to sleep tonight, in his own bed, peacefully, back in his home. May he be able to move past the hell that was the past 1,941 days and nights and continue his life in health, happiness, and peace from here on.

He's home

After 5-and-a-half years, he's home.

I am amazed at and by the country in which I live.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Feeling...unknown quantity

There is another post in the queue, but that one is going to take a little longer than this one.

Gilah Shalit is coming home. After 5 years, he is finally going to be home. And in exchange, Israel is releasing 1000 terrorists.

I am so happy he's coming home (the cynic in me is waiting to rejoice until he is actually back), and the other part of me is going, "So this is the new tactic...kidnap an Israeli, wait 5 years, then get 1000 prisoners released to go kill again."

I don't know what I feel. I do, actually: Confused.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Love and the Country

Please note the poorly executed play on "Sex and the City." I admit-- not that good. I, I didn't try that hard.

I talk with my friends, friends of friends, random people, read other blogs, follow my friend's Facebooks. One thing that has been coming up a lot lately is the topic of love and relationships and the existences or lack thereof.

I live in "the Beitzah," which means "the swamp" and is how people refer to the Katamon area with lots and lots of singles, both Israeli and Anglo. It's kind of equivalent to the Upper West Side or Washington Heights in NY. And it is swampy, implying the getting stuck in and hard to get out of.

One of the things that has been insanely frustrating is, as always, "the same people are at everything." But in order to "get in" you have to know someone." And then you are friends with that person, and unfortunately too often have meals, go to parties, and hang out with the same peopel. Friends have friends, but often it's the same people. Also, the Israeli and Anglo worlds often are separate. Frustrating.

I don't know how to expand my circle-- people don't necessarily go up and say hi to people they don't know, or invite randome people over.

As I continue in my meals with the same people, I leave you with...challah. At least that's what I claim as my specialty and bring to...well..most meals becasue...well...people know it and like it.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yom Kippur Thoughts

Erev Yom Kippur night there were selichot [special prayers that are recited, asking for forgiveness] at the Kotel [Western Wall] with HaRav Shlomo Amar and Harav Ovadiah Yosef [Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel and former Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel/current spiritual leader of the Shas political party in Israel]. The place was PACKED. I was there on shift with Magen David Adom and from about midnight on it was hopping-- I know I took out about 3 people, plus was treating in the tent. The annoying thing was that my ambulance left without me, which meant that I got home at 4 instead of 2:30-ish. Meh.

So-- Yom Kippur. I don't know how successful it was from G-d's perspective, but when YK ended I felt...good.

And one of the best parts? Between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur the buses said "Chatimah tovah," which is the traditional greeting for that time period.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Rosh Hashana thoughts

First thought: Thank goodness we don't have 3-day chagim here, besides Rosh Hashana.

Now for the more serious, reflective thoughts.

On Wednesday, Erev Rosh Hashana, before I left Jerusalem for the holiday, I went to the Kotel [the Western Wall], which is actually part of the retaining wall around the Temple courtyard, and the physical remnant that we have today of what was. It's a holy place, a very holy place. On the way there, something strange happened to me. People always talk about Jerusalem air feeling different, or there being a different atmosphere/feeling in Jerusalem on Shabbat [the Sabbath] and holidays, but I don't really feel it (maybe I'm spoiled because I live here?). This year I wasn't feeling the whole "ok, Rosh Hashana is coming" thing-- really, until Wednesday. When I walked out of my building I felt something-- almost like an anticipation in the air. And when I got to the Old City, as I walked into the Jewish quarter, I actually felt a change. Like I walked through an invisible barrier that nobody told me about and the atmosphere felt different. Holier, waiting, anticipating, a little more busy somehow.

I walked to the Kotel with that feeling and it struck me as strange that the Kotel was so empty. Ok, it was-- what? 12:30 on Erev Rosh Hashana-- but still...On the upside, I found a spot by the Kotel quickly. I davened. I just needed to be there-- I hadn't been since I got back from NY, and I missed it.

I feel like I kind of wonder, "Where did Rosh Hashana go?" It kind of just...passed.

So a bracha [blessing] for this new year that has just begun: May we be blessed with health, happiness, financial stability, the realization of dreams that we didn't even know existed, the strength to overcome the challenges that come our way, and-- peace. Both in the world overall, and within ourselves. May my small country be blessed with peace, safety, the ability to defend ourselves without international criticism (until peace happens) appropriate rainfall and may all the captives be returned home.

Shana tova u'metuka, u'mevorachat [a good, sweet, and blessed year].