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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Video interview for ELI on Air: Aliyah with Children

Wondering just how twitchy I can be?

How many times I can scratch my nose, drink water, grab my ears, or just roll my head around in random directions in the course of a half-hour discussion?

Wonder no more!

Our live chat is over, so now you can tune in (not-so-live) to watch my Q&A with Miriam Brosseau of ELI on Air (part of ELI Talks), available for all embarrassing eternity on YouTube.

Check it out here!

 

Questions you wish you could have asked? 

Leave them here in the comments section!

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Catch me live! (or later if you must)

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At last!  Here’s your chance.

I’ll be chatting with the fabulous Miriam Brosseau of Stereo Sinai (among other things), as part of ELI ON AIR this Thursday (July 31, 1pm Eastern, 8pm Israel) – about making aliyah with kids.

Because we all know how inaccessible I am through this blog.

How tough it is to reach me with your urgent questions. 

How aloof and distant I am shrouded here in celebrity.

At last, I am descending from my turret – and now, finally, you can have your say, or ask me anything.  This will be an interactive chat and I’d love some interaction from YOU.

Please show up so the folks hosting this can see how many accolytes devoted fans I have and what a world-renowned expert I am on this topic. 

Just Click here to join us.  (Page is available now; video goes live Thursday,  July 31, at 1pm Eastern, 8pm Israel time.)

See you there!

Monday, July 28, 2014

13 ways aliyah could make you rich.

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Hoping to get rich quick?  Make aliyah!

There are so many simple ways that making aliyah can make you rich – fast.

  1. Rich in money.  Nope.  Just kidding.  Despite what you hear about Israel being a “start up nation” (Which is true!  It’s awesome…they love high-tech here so much, it’s called “hi-tek” in Hebrew!), it’ll never happen.  But read on… (this doesn’t count as one of the 13)
  2. Rich in new friends.  Like ducks, we bonded with the first people who brought us food, on our very first night here, almost a year ago.  And they introduced us to a few people, who introduced us to a few people.  These friends are an important English-speaking refuge in a very foreign place.
  3. Rich in local colour.  No matter where you end up living,

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Flowering Tree, a guest post by Yehuda Poch

So there’s this tree.

It’s not far from my home – about 5 minutes’ drive, allowing for some moderate traffic.  In the 15 years I have been living here, I never really noticed it.  Perhaps it’s because it never blossomed like this, or perhaps it’s because it’s in a neighborhood I don’t really have anything to do with.

You see, for years, the city of Beit Shemesh has been riven with internecine quarrels about the religious nature, social fabric, and political future of the city.  Each of three major population groups feels that at least one of the other ones is threatening to impose its way of life.  And in some cases, that is true.  And the result is generally either one of friction, or one of “never the ‘twain shall meet.”

I generally prefer the latter when it is possible.  I have my own views, which I confess are often none too kind to some of the residents, groups, leaders, and “community organizers” of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet.  I have my own way of considering the reasons that may motivate the behavior of those residents, groups, leaders and community organizers, and those views are open to debate and discussion.

“…for years, the city of Beit Shemesh has been riven with internecine quarrels…”

But I generally keep those views as just that – views, general opinions that may or may not have some basis in actual reality.

Over the past two weeks, I have noticed this tree.  It is growing right in the middle of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet.  It is a block away from the main street in the neighborhood, and easily discernable from the bus window as I pass by twice a day.  I had never really noticed it before.  And once I did notice it, I also noticed three other trees of the same type in various other locations in the city.

Today I took my camera and went to get a closer look at this tree.  I began taking pictures of it from various different angles – all on the sidewalks at various distances, some from across the street, some from down the block.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shiva for Sean Carmeli.

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On so many levels, fallen soldier Nissim Sean Carmeli didn’t have to be there, on the front lines in Gaza, when he was killed by a terrorist five days ago.

Reason #1:  he was American.

Sean’s parents left Israel before he was born.  He didn’t have to move here, but he did – becoming more religious and moving here to finish high school.  He never would have had to serve if he’d stayed in the U.S.

Just like all of us, he didn’t have to live in Israel – he chose to live here.

Reason #2:  he was already injured.

Apparently, when his officer suggested that could be excused from service, Sean – a proud member of Israel’s “tough guy” Golani brigade  – told him, “bruise or no bruise I am coming with you.”

Just like many soldiers, he didn’t have to go to Gaza – he chose to be there.

“He was enthusiastic to go in and to fight for the Jewish people, and he gave his life for the Jewish people,” Sean’s rabbi said (full article here).

Facing his parents’ pain

Friday, July 18, 2014

Things that are weird in Israel #10: Celery

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Does my hand look disgusted in this picture?

It should.

This is a stalk of what passes for “celery” in most parts of Israel.

The celery here came as a bit of a surprise, because of what everybody (truthfully) says about the produce here in Israel – which is almost universally fantastic.

Almost.

We have found a few exceptions. 

Early oranges, for example, are not inspiring in the least.  But they sell like crazy anyway, because people are so eager for oranges after months without them.

The cucumbers here are tasty, but they are tiny, more like little pickles than a full-blooded cucumber.  Most people don’t bother peeling them, making them a convenient snack (for most people). 

But in me, the peeling habit has become ingrained, making them a totally annoying treat.  I’ve read too much about all the pesticides and bad stuff in the peels to just munch away on them.  So I have to peel and slice four of them to have enough to serve even me and the kids.  (slicing is optional, I admit)

And as for celery…

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Know where it’s dangerous?

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Outside of Israel, that’s where.

It’s kind of interesting sitting here facing headlines like these.

(click the images to read the stories)

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LA, Frankfurt, Paris, Mississauga (Ontario, Canada). 

Most of this makes our life here in the Krayot seem calm in comparison. 

Actually, life here in the Krayot IS calm.  There is no “seem” about it.  No sirens here so far, which sets us apart probably from most Israelis at this point, both north and south.

As opposed to France.

These days, if you mention France to any Jew, anywhere, they shake their heads glumly.  “Oh, France,” they say, like it’s obvious that France would turn into the clearly dangerous place that it is for Jews today. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Kill or be killed… ?

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Nope, nothing to do with the “matzav” (current situation).

Sorry if you clicked through because of that.

Nope, if you know anything about me, it’s that spelling and grammar mistakes on Israeli signs amuse me to no end. 

Two things about this sign intrigued me. 

(Three if you count our biggest question – what the $#!% is the name of the street we were standing on, with the missing street sign?!?  To this day, we still don’t know.)

Following this post the day before went to Tzfat about the mystery of English place names in Israel, I was reminded by about a million highway signs that the main spelling of the city’s name, in English, is actually Zefat.

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Beyond the weird spelling, on the sign up on top, there’s also a subtle grammatical mistake that makes, in this case, all the difference in the world.

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This street is named in memory of the 12 22 children of Tzfat (thanks to a reader for pointing out my mistake with the numerology), it says in Hebrew, who were killed in the 1974 massacre in Maalot

But that’s not exactly what it says in English; there, the passive voice has been mangled to an extreme, turning the 12 victims into murderers.

Given the tragedy behind the story, perhaps it’s disrespectful to find fault with something as nitpicky as a translation.  And yet… and yet.  How else are you going to get your nation’s story across, if not with language?  It’s not like there are no English speakers in Tzfat who they could have asked for the proper translation.

I guess my serious point is that if your lousy translations make the history of a place seem clownish or insignificant, there’s a big chunk of visitors who aren’t going to appreciate the important stuff.

By “big chunk,” I mean me.  And others like me.  There must be others like me… right?

Put up your hand:  are you a spelling-and-grammar stickler, too?

When is the right time to make aliyah?

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Wondering when to make aliyah?

I don’t mean what time of day, week, month or year.  I mean what stage in your life.  The answer is far from obvious. 

But, as writer Judy Resnick (not the astronaut) says in her poignant comments to this blog post, sometimes, if you wait, the right time never comes along.

As soon as I read this, I realized I had to share it with you.  It is so true.  Read what Judy has to say and let me know what you think:

The funny thing, every time I considered making Aliyah, some expert told me it was the wrong time in my life.

When I was a single young woman, somebody pointed out to me that the highest rate of Aliyah failure (e.g., giving up and leaving Israel) was among single young women.

When my husband and I were first married, somebody told us it was best to wait until we had more years of experience in our respective professions to make ourselves more valuable in the Israeli job market.

When my husband and I started having children, somebody told us that it was best to wait until we had five children, then my husband would not have to serve in the Israeli Army, only in the reserves.

When we bought a house, somebody told us it would be best to wait until the house increased in value, then we could sell the house and make enough money to buy an apartment in Israel.

When our children were babies and toddlers, somebody told me that the costs of full-time daycare and Gan in Israel swallow up most of an Israeli working mom’s take home salary.

When our kids started getting older, somebody told us it would be a major disruption for them to uproot them and force them to start learning Ivrit and getting used to a whole different school system. Better to wait until the kids were grown and out of the house.

When our kids were grown, somebody told us to wait until retirement, then we would have American pensions and American Social Security checks and income in American dollars, rather than trying to earn an Israeli income.

Now that we’re older, it’s still the wrong time to make Aliyah. Our grandchildren and married children staying in the U.S.A. will miss us too much, and our combined savings and pensions will not be enough to make ends meet over there. Plus the sale price of our house will not cover the cost of an apartment.

So when is it the “right” time to make Aliyah?

[republished with permission from BeyondBT]

In case you were wondering – I picked up a newspaper this morning and saw that, even while Israel was under fire, 64 Nefesh b’Nefesh olim got on board to make aliyah from the U.S.  The youngest olah was 8 months… and the oldest was 91.

When is the right time?  Generally, about 12 hours after you step on the plane.  Unless you’re stopping over somewhere… but I think you get what I mean.

If you’re already here, how did you decide to come when you did?

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


[photo credit:  JAFI Israel via flickr]

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Should you cancel your vacation to Israel?

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Allow me to spoil the surprise:  I’ll tell you the answer up front.

Ready?

No.

But there’s another thing I wanted to share first, which actually also came to me via facebook.  This isn’t something I usually do; I figure if you want to follow me on facebook, you can.

(Didn’t know that yet?  Follow AliyahLand on facebook!  Follow me personally on Twitter!)

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[can anyone tell me why all my graphics are surrounded by this annoying white frame?!?!]

Like I said, normally what happens on facebook stays on facebook.  But in this case, these two things felt more important than most given the barrage of “stuff” that’s been falling on Israel over the last few days.

A not so fun-and-games kids’ video

I shared this video, which came with the following caption, from The Jewish Standard’s facebook page:

This song was composed by a local teacher and has been taught to hundreds of schoolchildren within firing range of Gaza's rockets to help them deal with the fear and trauma of having 15 seconds to run for cover when the Color Red siren sounds.

Despite its cheerful tune and praiseworthy goal, I was crying by the end.  It’s only a minute; please watch at least a few seconds.

And I don’t cry about stuff… well, almost never.

When I shared it, I said, “It is not fair that children have to learn this song. Kind of catchy, but if you're like me, you may cry anyway.”

But when a friend added a comment to the effect that she admired our courage… and that she didn’t think she could live here, all I could think of to say was, “It’s nothing like courage.  It’s just… life.”

I think it’s not a bad answer.

A question that answers itself

The second facebook thing I wanted to share was in response to this article on Kveller.com by Ariel Chesler:  Should I Cancel My Family Vacation to Israel?  He writes: 

I wish I could tell them, and you, that I am taking this trip no matter what. I wish I could tell you that I will not be deterred by terrorists attacking civilians. …

On one hand, how can I tell my family who is living this reality every day that I will not be visiting? How can I tell cousins with young children that their country is too dangerous for my children and not theirs? Isn’t the best way to support Israel to travel there …

On the other hand, I wonder will I need a gas mask to see my grandmother? Will we land in Israel and be rushed into bomb shelters? …

(read the rest)

My comment was short, but – I think – encapsulates exactly what I believe about this situation and every other situation that could possibly develop here.

Jews outside of Israel often forget that our destinies are linked. As Mordechai told Esther, "Don't think that just because you're in the palace, you alone out of all the Jews will be spared." We are all in this together, and you are not safe anywhere if we are not safe here.

You know my answer… now here’s why

Here’s what it comes down to:  “The truth is,” Chesler writes, “I don’t know what will happen.”

We sure don’t.

In Israel or in North America, you don’t know what will happen.  That’s because you don’t run the world. 

What do I mean by that?

Your decision to get on a plane does not in any way affect Hashem’s decision to keep you alive (or not).  If your time is up, your time is up, whether you’re in Machane Yehuda or driving on the Long Island Expressway when that moment comes.

But the one thing we do know from our history is that it’s impossible to hide.  If “they” are coming after the Jews, they will find you wherever you happen to be.

Does that mean you should run into a burning building?

No, absolutely not.

But Israel is not a burning building.  Israel is the promised land, a land of peace and opportunity, and there is no Jewish place like it in the world. 

Sharing Israel with your children keeps them safe in a way huddling with them in the illusional “palace” of North America never could.  It teaches them that we are Jews; that we are strong. 

That we will win.

It doesn’t take courage to come here.  It’s just life.  The kind of Jewish life the terrorists (in this and previous generations) have dedicated themselves to eradicating.

So… should you cancel your vacation? 

Another tidbit I posted on facebook yesterday that might answer your question:  I booked a plane ticket to bring our older daughter back in September.

Sure, I’m hoping there will be peace by then.  But whatever is going on around us, as a Jew, she belongs here… and so do you.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The mystery of English place names in Israel - SOLVED.

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Tomorrow, we’re going to visit our friends who live in… Tzfat?  Tsfat?  Maybe its ultra-weird English name, Safed? 

No problem, though, we’ll just catch a bus from where we live in Kiryat… no, make that, Qiryat… hmm, or Qeeriyat… Shemuel.  Shmuel?

Argh.

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English place names here can make you crazy.

If you’re lucky, the English version bears some resemblance to the actual place name, ie what the people who live there call it.  Sometimes, it doesn’t.  

A minor example:  Haifa.  Before I lived here, I had no idea, really, if it was a “H” or a “Ch” at the front.  Is it “Hi” as in, “Hi, howya doin’?”  Or “Chhhhhai” as in “Le’chhhhhayim!”  (turns out it’s a Ch)

Some places are impossible to guess.  For various historical linguistic reasons, even one of the most currently newsworthy areas, the Gaza Strip (let’s think of it as part of Israel for a moment) is actually called Aza in Hebrew. 

Blame it on the Crusaders

But the city spelled “Acre”?  Let’s pronounce it Akko.  I think that one is the Crusaders’ fault.

Safed?  Hmm… better pronounce that one Tzefat.  If you’re Ashkenazi and not going anywhere other than shuls and graves of holy people, you may be able to get away with calling it Tzefas, but don’t try it in the rest of the country.

Some of this is the fault of Christianity, which has popularized these ridiculous names.  It’s hard to unlearn 2000 years worth of Bible study.  Here are some of the good place names Christians have ruined permanently.

Joppa?  Say it Yaffo

Tiberias?  Teveria.

One of my favourites, for the way it fails to trip of the tongue, is the now no-longer-a-town, Capernaum… or, in Hebrew, kfar Nachum.

Halfway through her school year, our older daughter started referring to the city where she lived, most pretentiously, as Jer-oo-zalem.  Another Crusader / Christian legacy, I’m sure.  The rest of us stuck with Yerushalayim.

Sometimes, Israelis are so confident in the rightness of their pronunciation that they act like they don’t care a bit how it’s written in English.  After all, it’s right there in Hebrew character, and Hebrew (unlike English) is a totally phonetic language. 

So who needs English?

English speakers, that’s who.

Somebody has already (in Hebrew) beaten me to the punch with this article (here’s the Google English version) to complain about street signs here in the Krayot, with a pretty funny collection of signs spotted in Kiryat Bialik, considered one of the “nicer” Krayot… but not, I guess, in terms of its English literacy.

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Yes, they have spelled the name of one of the world’s best-known Israeli military leaders and statesmen “Mina Aham Begin.” 

Remember, these signs were all collected from the SAME very small city.  Somebody in City Hall could probably just keep a list of all the street names and consult it when they need to order a new sign.

The secret – revealed!

But they probably do more like what they were doing in the passport office where we happened to be waiting for another reason a few weeks ago. 

Here is the secret of English place names in Israel and how they come to be so very, very wonky.

When the clerk had to transcribe a person’s name into English for his passport, she called out to the office in general, “How do you spell ‘Danny’ in English?” 

When one of her clerk friends started guessing (wrong; she left off the extra “n”) I called out the answer from where I was sitting in the waiting area.

The guy was doing about thirty passports, I think, for every living member of his family, and eventually – literally after 40 minutes - we left in disgust.  But not before helping out with the spelling of 5 names in English that would have been transcribed disastrously wrong had we not been sitting right there at the time.

THAT, my friends, is how street signs are made in Israel. 

I have solved the mystery, and here is how it happens:  the clerks call out to their friends, “How do you spell ‘Menachem’ in English?” … and whoever answers first calls it.

More signs of madness

One that really drove me crazy when I saw it in person was a street in the Old Port of Jaffa (Yaffo?) named after famous French guy Louis Pasteur. 

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(“How do you spell PASTER?” the clerk called to her friend.)

(I took this picture myself while my sister was begging me to come see the sites; I knew it would come in handy someday!)

It’s not like this is hard.  He himself personally wrote his name every day in English (well, French) characters.  So on the sign, you spell it… like he spelled it.  Apparently, that type of standardization and reliance on others goes against the Israeli spirit.

One of the wonkiest signs I turned up is nearby in Haifa, though I haven’t seen it in person:  Captain Steve Street / Rechov Keptin Steve.

You can see the main illuminated sign above, but what I love is that sometimes in and around Israel, we’ve seen these smaller signs that don’t light up but do tell you a little bit about the person for whom they’re named.  Usually they’re a general or politician, but occasionally, you come across something interesting.  Perhaps someday soon I’ll go there in person to figure out what this sign is telling me.

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In the meantime, I have the Internet, which tells me – in this article from December, 1966, that he was a Spanish captain who brought “illegal immigrants” during the British mandate (those are the article’s quotes quotes, not mine; to me, they were actually illegal at the time; it was just a bad law):

The street… was named “Captain Steve Gate” for Captain Esteban Hernandorene, who was known to the “illegal immigration workers” as “Steve.” Born in Spain in 1905, he died in Haifa last year after serving the Zim lines where his son is now an officer.

Attending the ceremony were Jewish seamen, veterans of the second wave of prestate immigrants, naval officers and Catholic clergymen. The latter took part because Captain Hernandorene had been a Catholic. Poet Nathan Alterman said of the Spanish hero that “we shall yet read songs and poems of this fleet small and grey, and of you, too, Captain.”

Now there’s a story (to read more, here’s Captain Steve’s story in his own words).  I guess there is one, behind every one of those wonky street signs and place names.

Want to know something else weird?  Did you catch the name of that poet?

Here’s where I got off the bus this morning to walk in to work.

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Natan Alterman Street.

Until I sat down to write this, I had no idea who he was either.

Not only is there a story behind every place name… but it seems they’re all connected in this tiny, besieged land of ours.  Pray for the peace (piece?  peece?) of Jerusalem and the country that surrounds her.

To the stories, to the connections, to the wonky street signs… to life.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Things that are weird in Israel #9: bathroom windows

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Do you like your privacy in the bathroom?

Hello, yes, it’s me, still obsessing over the bathrooms here.  I started this series thinking I’d better get down the stuff that tickles me while I can, before it all starts to seem commonplace.

But (and maybe this is just because I’m a bit juvenile that way) bathrooms continue to amuse me everywhere we go (one reason I enjoy Batya’s infrequent series, A Pisher’s Guide to Jerusalem).

Something tells me I’m not the only one.  My fifth most popular post here is a Things that are cool in Israel episode all about Israeli bathrooms.  And people are apparently Googling Israeli bathrooms at an astonishing rate.  I hope I can help satisfy your curiosity and earn myself a slice of immortality.

(How can I blog about bathrooms when other Israelis are running to shelters?  Listen, as my mother says, if I wasn’t laughing, I’d have to cry.)

In some ways, Israelis seem to “get” the idea of bathroom privacy, even more than in North America. 

In public bathrooms, for example, the stall walls usually go almost all the way to the floor (except the annoying modern ones that seem to be copying the North American model).  Generally, public bathrooms, even the most rudimentary, are more sturdy, soundproof and private here.

(Though I shouldn’t be too smug; it’s more likely here than in North America that the seat itself, a valuable amenity, has mysteriously either been forgotten or stolen.)

Yet in the midst of all this privacy, there’s also an obsession with putting a window in every bathroom.  Ideally, in every stall.  It’s like they think that the fumes are going to kill you if you have to be closed in with them for too long.

I already shared with you the pictures of our bathroom window in the merkaz klitah.  In this picture, the right window is the bathroom; the one on the left is the shower room, which was separate in that apartment.  This is the “outside” of the windows.  This style always opens downward into the bathroom.

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Our new apartment has a different style – your basic swinging-on-a-hinge design which, when open, affords absolutely ZERO privacy.

Here’s the view from the inside.  Akiva’s working in the kitchen, but I called him over to say hello.

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On the kitchen side, the view looks like this:

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This lets me spy on the kids’ bathtimes, or, in this case, figure out what Naomi’s trying to do to her Barbie doll’s hair (ruin it with overbrushing, then overbrush it in a frantic attempt to smooth it out again).

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One more weird thing about Israeli public bathrooms.  In North America, when you get into the stall, the door swings freely, and then there is some type of mechanism to latch the door. 

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The mechanism varies, but in general, a single mechanism does both things – closes the door AND locks it.  So when you’re done, you only have to unlatch the door and it’s pretty much open.

Here in Israel, for whatever reason, they have made this a two-step operation.  Almost every public bathroom has two things:  a handle (not a doorknob) to open and close the door, and a latch to lock it. 

To get out, you have to reverse things:  unlock the door, then open it with the handle.  I don’t know why this is, at all. 

I’m thinking maybe they should visit North America and see how productively we use all the nanoseconds we save by not having to repeatedly rescue ourselves from bathrooms (or, in my case, trying to shove the door open because I’ve forgotten there’s also a handle).

Are you willing to bear with me for one more potty-related quirk?

Wherever you are, it’s easy to tell which room is the bathroom, without asking for directions, because every bathroom door seems to have one of two things:  a window or a peephole.

In the merkaz klitah, we had a window.  They’re frosted, of course, for privacy.

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You might think they’re there to let in light, but in this case, more light would have come in the window above the toilet, because the bathroom door opens onto a hallway.

Our current apartment’s bathroom door features the Mysterious Hole instead.  Here’s the outside view.

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Close up, you can see that it’s not just a hole… it has a weird, broken kind of mesh over it to – um, what?  Stop lizards from creeping in while you’re bathing?  Stop people from peeking in?  (See aforementioned GIANT GAPING WINDOW.)

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Here is the inside view.

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I literally haven’t figured out the useful purpose of the peephole.  It’s not big enough, plus it’s too weird and dusty, to provide significant ventilation or light. 

And if somebody comes a-knockin’ at the door, what are the odds that they won’t be able to just say their name when you ask who it is?  It’s not like you need to peek out to see who’s there.

This post has gone on too long, but remind me sometime to tell you about the Crusader Bathrooms in Akko.  Really, truly.  It’s a Real True Thing.

They say Israel is a Land of Mystery.  Well, actually, I didn’t read that anywhere; I just made it up.  But it could be true. 

As you can see, there is plenty here that is mysterious. (Where do those toilet seats go?  Are people too cheap to buy them, so they have to steal one from the Afula bus station?  Who are these people who are googling “bathrooms in Israel” and driving up my rankings?)

Until I find out, you have my promise that if something bathroom-related happens in Israel, I won’t stop blogging until I get to the bottom of it.

(“Oooh, she said ‘bottom!’” all my British readers are cooing.)

I mean… until I have plumbed the very depths of the mystery.

You know what I mean… right?

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is there a prayer when you make aliyah?

Immigration to Israel, 1947

Given that there are prayers and brachot for just about every occasion in Jewish life, wouldn’t you think there would be one for when you move to Israel, one of the most important mitzvot in the Torah? 

What about visiting Israel?  It’s said that every 4 amos (cubits) you walk in the land of Israel is equivalent to every mitzvah of the Torah… so why don’t we make a bracha before we do it?

The closest that I found was this page wherein a visitor asks if there’s a “mi sheberach” for aliyah – the long monotonic intonation of blessings when a person’s called up to the Torah on a specific occasion. 

And what do you know?

It turns out there is. 

Originally written in 1948, here’s the full text in Hebrew (original source here):

מי שבירך אבותינו הקדושים והטהורים אברהם יצחק ויעקב משה ואהרן דוד ושלמה הוא יברך וישמור וינצור כל אחינו בני ישראל אנשים ונשים וטף זקנים וצעירים ההולכים בים וביבשה ובאוירון לעלות לארץ אבותינו.

מלך מלכי המלכים ברחמיו ישמרם ויחיים, ומכל צרה וניזק יצילם. מלך מלכי המלכים ברחמיו יבטל מעליהם ומעלינו כל גזירות קשות ורעות, ויגזור עליהם ועלינו גזירות טובות, ויגיעם למחוז חפצם לשלום ויאריכו ימים על אדמת הקודש. מלך מלכי המלכים ברחמיו יקרב גאולתינו ועלייתנו לארצנו ונבלה שם ימינו בטוב ובחירות על התורה ועל העבודה. ובא לציון גואל וכן יהי רצון ונאמר אמן.

With the help of Google Translate, here is (loosely) what it means:

May the One Who blessed our holy and pure ancestors, Abraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, Moshe, Aaron, David and Shlomo, bless and keep and save all our brethren the Children of Israel; men and women and children, young and old; those who are travelling by sea, by land or by air, to ascend to the Land of our ancestors. 

May the King of Kings in His mercy keep them and sustain them, and from every misfortune or harm rescue them.  May the King of Kings, in His mercy annul from over them and from over us all harsh and evil decrees, and pass over them and over us decrees for good, grant their desires for peace and lengthen their days upon the Holy Land.  May the Kind of Kings in His Mercy bring near our redemption and our own ascent to our Land and we will enjoy there our days in good and freedom through Torah and our efforts.  [As it is written,] “And a redeemer will come to Zion,” and so it shall be his will… and let us say, Amen.

Those are definitely some sentiments to get behind.  What was true in 1948, both about the dangers and about the effort that it takes to build this land, is still very much true today.

If you happen to be part of a shul with a creative-thinking gabbai, it might be worth handing him a copy of this text a couple of days before your last Shabbos in your (current) hometown.

True, we may not technically NEED a prayer for aliyah when the Land of Israel is the central longing of every single Jewish prayer already.  On the other hand, it’s a special endeavour, so it just feels right, perhaps, to mark it in a Jewish way.

Certainly, I can’t imagine a more-than-fitting send-off… than having your current spiritual home send you off in style to our people’s spiritual homeland.

What do you think?

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Haveil Havalim – best of the Jewish blog world PLUS a rant

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Only interested in the rant portion of today’s post?  Click here!

Otherwise, welcome to the weekly Haveil Havalim blog carnival! 

I really hope you’ll find something new and interesting in this roundup.

While my last time hosting HH was a somewhat happy post-Yom HaAtzmaut edition, this one’s a little more sober, given the week’s events. 

Still, I’ve tried to find balance, and include posts that I think share diverse and interesting views.

Oh – let’s back up for just a second.

What is HH, anyway?

imageThis is a weekly roundup of what’s new and great in the Jewish / Israel blogging world.  If you haven’t checked out these great blogs yet, you really should. 

  • Last week’s was hosted by Batya over at Shiloh Musings.
  • Next week’s carnival will also be held at Shiloh Musings.  I wish more people would step up to host, and maybe after you read my rant, you will.
  • For more details and a complete schedule, please join the HH facebook group.

As usual, I have split the links up into arbitrary categories, with most of the posts I received falling into the first section.


Note to participants:  Please click through, visit and comment on at least TWO links for every one of yours included here.  Leave a comment to let folks know you’ve stopped by.  It’s only polite!

Understanding the Tragedy

Only God can save us, writes Rivkah at Bat Aliyah in Where is God in All This?

What about this humble suggestion, from Breathing Space, in May their memory be a blessing?

Ya’aqov at Esser Agoroth has strong words – and a roundup of misled explanations – in #BringBackOurBoys Why Were They Really Killed?

A poignant post from Mrs. S. at Our Shiputzim connecting this week’s events with a seemingly unrelated (but deeply connected) tragedy from Israel’s modern history in Oy, Meh Hayah Lanu!

What does it mean to “accept” this type of atrocity, asks Yael in “Hashem Yikom”: Justice, yes. Revenge, No!  She also shares insights on how to deal with our unanswered prayers, as a nation, in  The Eternal Question of Unanswered Prayers.

Rickismom reflects on the unity among normally warring groups that was created during the crisis over the missing boys in May We Be United, in the future, for Good Things.

Was the government wrong – and perhaps cruelly manipulative – to give the impression that the teens were still alive?  That’s what Batya muses about at Shiloh Musings in Postmortem: Was The Israeli Government Wrong to Give The Impression The Kidnapped Teens Were Alive?  It also awes me, the lengths she went to to get to the funeral, which she writes in The Funeral of the Three Murdered Israeli Jewish Teenagers, I Was There.

The Real Jerusalem Streets was there, too, and took pictures, saying this kind of pushing “this would certainly would never do in England” – along with some lighter moments in Dark Clouds, Smoke Clouds and Much More in Jerusalem.  On the way to the funeral, she also saw a bus stop that reminded her of an earlier tragedy in Arab Women Be Careful.

Avivah Werner writes not only about the teens’ deaths but about their lives, the joyous memories they left behind in Our pain, the unspeakable emotional agony of a nation….

Everybody had a different reaction to the news this week.  As an editor, I edit.  And there’s plenty going wrong in the world media to use my red ink on this week here in AliyahLand in  (Mis)interpreting the news – an editor’s perspective on tragedy.

The Ongoing Matzav (Situation)

Batya at me-ander manages to share a moment of unity over classic Israeli songs in perhaps the most unlikely spot in Singalong in the Shiloh Swimming-Pool.

Ya’aqov at Esser Agoroth wonders how far the Israeli government will go in Israeli Police to Start Breaking into Homes? Tell Me Something I Don't Know.  He also muses about the ultimate victors in a court battle pitting gays and lesbians vs missionaries in Israel in Lesbians and Gays in Israel do what Orthodox Jews in Israel Should be Doing.

Home sweet home for kids in Southern Israel…?  Yeah, not so much.  Varda at IsraellyCool shares her Southern Israeli friend’s fear even as the President urges Israel not to retaliate in Sistahs, Sirens, And Shrapnel.

Literature

How does the king of creepy Jewish kids’ fiction keep himself from being stashed in a pigeonhole?  An important question, because I’m the one asking, over at my WriteKidsBooks blog.

Batya at me-ander shares a bittersweet review – overshadowed by the week’s tragic events - of a book of “beautifully written” Jewish stories in "Saturday Night, Full Moon;" Book Review.

… and Just Regular Jewish Life

Laurie over at Safed Israel shares a small story about faith and trust in an ordinary market in Tzfat Morning.  (a new-to-me blog this week)

Learning Hebrew continues to stymie me, even as some things I never understood become amazingly clear in When nouns meet nouns (and other Great Lies of Hebrew School), right here in AliyahLand.

"Don't Put Cat Food in Your Ears!" and other parenting triumphs you don’t learn about in parenting classes, from Jill at Do Try This at Home.

What could be more a part of normal Jewish life than Torah study?  Let’s welcome first-timer, Itzchak, who has started a new blog this week, HA'OROT-The Lights of Rav Kook, and shared two new posts:  RAV KOOK TZ’L AND HA’RAV HANAZIR TZ’L: THE 5 FOUNDATIONS OF REALITY and RAV KOOK TZ”L:My Journey With Ba’al Ha’Orot/The Master of the Lights.

Ever wonder how we’re like the phones we carry around, day-in and day-out?  This mom over at Breathing Space has it all figured out in Phones: they are just like us!

And let’s end with some super-good news, from longtime oleh Jacob Richman’s Good News from Israel blog, where he shares his 30th “aliyah-versary” at the Salute to Olim festival in Videos of the Fountainheads performing at the Salute to Olim Festival.

May we all merit to hear good news soon, and see the goodness in Yerushalayim, Israel and her people, wherever they may be in the world.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


Oh, yeah.  I guess now we have arrived at the promised “rant” portion of this post.

This rant is for people who participate in the HH blog carnival (or any other, really).  It was originally up at the top of my post, and I moved it to the end out of consideration for the important posts reflecting on the week’s events in Israel.

But I still think it bears saying.

So if you’re a blogger, and even occasionally participate in HH, read on and share your thoughts in the Comments below.

Dear Jewish Blog World,

I’ve heard complaints about the lackluster performance of this blog carnival lately.  But honestly, if you’re not excited about your blog posts, why should others be?

Talk about lackluster.  Sure, some of you sent me links. 

With headlines like “hh.”  Blah. 

With a link or two inside.  Hurrah.  No, I’m kidding.  Blah again.

When you submit a link to a blog carnival, try to muster some enthusiasm. 

I know you’re in a hurry, but so am I.

If you think it’s a waste of your time to submit, then don’t submit (period).  (But scroll down to see what you might be missing out on.)

The lazy host’s submission guidelines

Call me a lazy host, but if you haven’t bothered describing what’s in your post, don’t make me click through to find out what it’s about.

Think up a catchy one-line description:  “Hey, did you ever wonder why Israelis love chummus so much?”  Or, “How does the king of creepy Jewish kids’ fiction keep himself from being stashed in a pigeonhole?”

If it’s worth writing the post in the first place, it’s worth describing it for whoever’s hosting the carnival.  I don’t want to host a boring list of links on my blog – I hate the idea of making my regular readers sit through that – so give me what I need to get the idea of your post across properly.

Also, if I ask you to email me your post, email it to me. 

Facebook isn’t email.  On facebook, I may or may not see your message.  And it won’t be in my email inbox, where I keep these things together.  I’m not an organized person, so if you want your link to get lost… fine by me.

Did you notice I said “your post”? 

That doesn’t mean “a list of the fifteen screeds you’ve posted since the last blog carnival.” 

I mean ONE post. 

Maybe two, if they’re extraordinarily good.  (Even Shakespeare doesn’t get that kind of love for every single thing he wrote, and you’re not Shakespeare; I know because I’m not either.)

Even though I describe myself as a lazy host, I do sometimes include posts in my round-up that weren’t even submitted the regular way.  I go out and hunt them down myself.  That takes time, and in return, I’d be grateful for a link back.

You might even consider hosting in future.

Why participate in a carnival at all?

1) Link Juice

Blog carnivals don’t just help by getting you visits to your site.  Google’s algorithms are based on happy “link juice” from other sites, blogs and otherwise. 

If you are a new blog, just starting out, you need that link love from other, more established blogs.  If you’re an older blog, it can still help keep you up near the top of the rankings. 

Link love/juice doesn’t just apply to your blog itself.  You need to share and promote your most current posts if you want them to come up when folks are searching for your keywords.

2) Eyeballs

Don’t care about searching?  Maybe you care about eyeballs.

If a carnival is well-written, with good descriptions, it’s a great way of “pooling” readers who share common interests.  It’s all about viewers and eyeballs, and as a host, I can send you the eyeballs of my regular readers, who trust me to be honest with them and share good things.

If you don’t care about eyeballs and readers, maybe just type your thoughts into a Word document on your hard drive?

3) Comments

In other carnivals, linkups and blog hops in which I’ve participated, there has been a rule (yup, an actual written rule) that you have to go visit others and LEAVE A COMMENT.

Why should we rub your back if you’re not going to rub ours in return?

That’s just silly.

So be a considerate “back-rubbee” and leave comments for other participants.

Comments make the difference between an active, lively blog and a blah blog that says “I write and write and nobody cares.”  (A blog by my Bubby, in other words.)

4) Love of our subject

Blogs and bloggers don’t get a lot of respect these days, but to be honest, we never did.  For a while, blogs were all about navel-gazing, and now they’re all about selling stuff.  But there are a few good, honest ones out there, and I hope yours and mine are among them.

So the third thing blog carnivals are about are supporting and connecting honest, like-minded bloggers.

That’s definitely something I can get behind.

(Did I leave out any reasons?  Let me know why you participate in the comments!)

Are carnivals “over”?

I hope not!

With the blog carnival site having apparently died its last, it may be tempting to think the days of carnivals are behind us now.

But for all the reasons I’ve said above, and with all the lazy-host caveats above that, I’m happy to keep on trying.   Hope you are, too.

End of crabby.

Now scroll back up and enjoy those links! 

(Again, please click through, visit and comment on at least TWO links for every one of yours that’s included in this week’s roundup.)

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה

[Children and Fountain in Park "Ramat Hanadiv" Zicheron Yaakov, photo by chany crystal via Flickr]

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How can we sleep (when our beds are burning)?

How can I blog when my nation is mourning? 

Sometimes, the things that are great about Israel are not the easy, fun things. 

Sometimes, the things that are great about Israel are the ugly, painful things. 

Like hundreds of thousands of people uniting in demonstrations around the country… and the same hundreds of thousands flocking to one of the largest funerals in the country's history. 

Not for a great rabbi, a famous statesman or singer.

Just some kids, ordinary kids with pimples and fantasties, and who probably got on their parents’ nerves from time to time… at least until the day they weren’t around anymore.

And now, earth turning, we move on.

Except, as after every tragedy that has happened here since we first decided to make Israel our home, moving on can be very difficult.

I found these lyrics going through my head the other day (scroll down to watch the video if you like – I can’t, because I’m still in shloshim), to an 80s song by an Australian band called Midnight Oil:

How can we dance
When our earth is turning?
How do we sleep
While our beds are burning?

How can we lay our heads down each night knowing children can just vanish?

I wanted to make sure the song was okay to share, so I took a minute to read about its lyrics.

You may be amazed; I was.

It’s a song about giving native Australian lands back to the the Pintupi people, forced out during the 1950s and 1960s, while the Australian government tried furiously to assimilate indigenous peoples.  In 1981, they established their own “country,” the Kintore community, where – despite attempts to wipe them out – a remnant of 400 continue to live today.

Let’s see…

  • Forced out of our native land (albeit a couple thousand years ago) – check.
  • Resisted the world’s attempts to exterminate us – check.
  • Succeeded in re-establishing a claim to our homeland – check.
  • Proudly live here to this day (thank God, more than a small remnant) – check.

This song is about us.

And as it goes on to say,

The time has come
A fact's a fact
It belongs to them
Let's give it back

I don’t get political on this site, mainly out of humility; I don’t understand enough to get involved in one side or the other.

But in this, there can be no sides.

The world already acknowledges that we were here and forcibly removed 2000 years ago.  After the Shoah, they seemed pretty sure they knew what to do with that information – in the words of the song:  “let’s give it back.”

Yet today, those words, that certainty, has been lost behind a smokescreen of fabrications and confusion (“maybe they’re not the original Jews” “maybe they made up that stuff about the Shoah” “the Jews are actually the oppressors and don’t deserve the land”).

The story the world hears is so very different from the truth that it’s hard to grasp what’s going on here.  As a result, most people today believe there are sides to this issue.

And then, children die, and for a moment we have clarity.

There are no sides.

It’s not that this is STILL the right place for Jews to be – despite the tragedy.

It’s not that we should make aliyah – even THOUGH bad things happen here.

Aliyah is the right choice for the same reason it has been all along; because this land belongs to us.  There are plenty of people out there who’d like to take it away from us if we’re not interested.

It’s not ours unless we take it back.

At times like these, we turn to our leaders to help us understand what’s going on in the world around us.  A couple of links that may be helpful:

And, for a few more days, at least, until 17 Tammuz and our national mourning period, we turn to music for inspiration as well.  (Not me, because I’m still in my personal 30-day mourning period for another few days.  I’ll listen to it on Wednesday.)



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

(Mis)interpreting the news – an editor’s perspective on tragedy

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Some people’s reaction to tragedy is to weep.

I edit.

You might have noticed that I don’t usually get political on this site, mainly out of humility; I don’t understand enough to get involved in one side or the other.

This isn’t about politics, because I don’t know politics.

But what I do know is words.

What I do understand is grammar and the importance of using language precisely and accurately.  And the tragic consequences if you don’t.

Perhaps I’m just a writer and editor at heart, but I couldn’t help making a few corrections to the story of the funerals as told by Al-Jazeera.  I have taken the liberty of fixing a few things.

I think my edits make the article much better. 

Even better would have been if it hadn’t needed to be written at all.

Funeral held for slain Israeli settlers boys

Burials held for three young settlers 16-year-old boys who disappeared were kidnapped weeks ago as well as for [one, unrelated] Palestinian shot by Israeli forces.

[If you don’t mention who killed the Israeli boys, why are you pointing out who shot the Palestinian one? This is flawed parallel structure, and as an editor, I won’t stand for it.]

Israel has held funerals for buried three young settlers beloved boys found dead near Hebron in the Occupied West Bank Israel more than two weeks after they went missing were abducted.

[Many hundreds of] Thousands gathered for the burials of Gilad Shaar, 16, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, in the West Bank Israeli city of Modi'in [,home to the Biblical Maccabees,] on Tuesday.

The settlers children disappeared were abducted on June 12 while hitchhiking home from a religious school in Kfar Etzion, an illegal settlement between Bethlehem and Hebron school, as millions of kids do every day without incident, probably guaranteed somewhere in the U.N.’s Rights of the Child, and were last heard in a brief heartbreaking emergency call to police.

Their bodies were found heartlessly dumped near the West Bank Muslim Arab [just a coincidence, folks!] village of Halhoul on Monday night.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has blamed the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas for the killings, spoke of the "murderers who with endless cruelty and without the blink of an eye, violated the ancient order not to raise a hand against a boy".

Netanyahu has already vowed the group would pay for the deaths. Speaking before [the extra word here was just their mistake; probably non-malicious] before Israel's security cabinet convened for a second time in two days, he said that Israel "must strike hard at Hamas people and infrastructure in the West Bank" and would weigh further attacks to prevent rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel.

Palestinian [also, but unrelatedly] mourned

Meanwhile [in a completely unrelated event inserted here to distract from the main event], hundreds of Palestinians mourned the death on Tuesday of a 19-year-old Palestinian man shot dead [redundant; if it’s his funeral, we know already] by Israeli forces unmurdered Israeli teenage soldiers who have during a raid in Jenin Refugee Camp in the occupied territory Israel, [which was founded in 1953 by the Arab nation of Jordan to house their fellow Arabs to whom they refused citizenship, creating a brutal breeding zone for terror which has spawned more suicide bombers and militant attacks than any other Palestinian city].

This article continues in this vein, devoting nearly 400 words to injustices caused by Israel – with under 200 spared for the three teens in an article allegedly about their funerals.  Honestly, any decent editor would have chopped it after Netanyahu’s statement.

Let’s all be editors and take our red pens to terror wherever we are.  If you read a newspaper report that twists reality so badly it threatens to break, write to them, cancel your subscription, leave a comment – do something.

A couple of sites that can help:

Google