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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chanukah in Israel: why it’s simply better here

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"Do they really celebrate Chanukah in chu"l???" (Outside of Israel - see this post!)

This Sunday, I brought English Chanukah songs for the girls I tutor.  One of them was amazed and asked me this outright.  She couldn’t believe that even in Canada, we celebrated Chanukah.

She knew that Jews everywhere celebrate most holidays, but Chanukah is so tied up in the Israeli psyche, our most nationalistic holiday besides Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day), that it must have seemed impossible to celebrate anywhere else.

And I have to admit: she’s right. 

Sure, you can celebrate Chanukah in chu”l, but you can’t feel it the way you do here.

I've always been humbug about Chanukah.  It's not that I hated it, but when we lived in Canada,

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A not simple time: the stolen Yemenite children

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In Hebrew, instead of saying something in the past was "difficult" or "complicated," the phrase is softened a little.  They say, "it's not simple."

One such not-simple period is the stolen children of Yemen. 

Here's the nutshell:

When Yemenite Jews came to Israel in the 1940s and early 1950s, some children were often taken and given away to Ashkenazi families, some of whom were survivors of the Shoah.  Not all, and perhaps not even many; but some.  The actual number doesn’t matter.  There’s no number that would have been acceptable.

Sometimes, Yemenite parents were told that their children were sick and needed to be in the hospital.  I read the story of one man whose adoptive mother simply showed up at the hospital and was told, "Pick a baby."  His birth mother, like most of the Yemenite parents, was told that her child had died.

Having seen so many Ethiopian families trying to adjust to life in modern Israel in the years we’ve been here, I find it

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ordinary bad things

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You never think about the ordinary bad things when it comes to living in Israel.

Years before we came here, I read about a family who made aliyah, and then one of their sons was killed riding a bike.

It really made me stop and think.  These kinds of things happen in Israel?  Ordinary, bad stuff, like bike accidents, car accidents, slipping, falling, all the normal terrifying things that can happen to anybody, anywhere in the world?

Yes, sadly, it’s true.

It’s the extraordinary tragedies that people expect here, and then the everyday, ordinary bad things kind of sneak up instead.

When we first made aliyah, I slept with a tichel (head scarf) handy every night, in case I had to get up and make a run for the shelter in the middle of the night.  True, things were “hotter” then in the north, with Syria making all kinds of threats, and Israel getting in the way as it does. 

But also, I just expected it.  This was Israel, after all.

Gradually, I let down my defenses.  The extraordinary bad things that one expects from watching too much news simply weren’t happening.

Now, our gas masks are

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