Monday, November 17, 2014

Fall Pain

I woke up this morning to hearing my kids getting ready for school, arguing about what cartoon they would be watching if they get ready for school on time, and the usual kitchen banter.  I randomly checked my facebook feed. Bad idea.  My friend posted the most recent tragedy...a Har Nof synagogue had been attacked by terrorists.  She was shaken by the tragedy.  It was minutes from her own parents' home.  Although her parents were not there, it means that the tragedy came awfully close to loved ones.
Entering a house of worship brings the terror to a different level.  These victims were praying; they were not protesting, rioting, or raising politically charged ideas.  They were merely praying to G-d.  Where is the logic in attacking them?  How does this help the terrorists' cause?  Is it a message that "even when you pray you are not safe?"  How have we come to this?
Are we all supposed to fear going to houses of worship now?  I hope that the terrorists realize that it is an unlikely scenario.  Most religious men and women pray three times a day.  And, most attend synagogues, shtiblach, or makeshift quorums for those prayer times.  Terror cannot end prayer.  If anything, it will only increase the need for prayer.
The Fall rainy season has just begun here.  Fall in the US or Europe is a time of leaves changing colors, and trees baring their empty branches. Here, in Israel, the Fall is a time of rain, and new growth.  The fields, mountains, and hills are full of greenery, new flowers, and fauna.  It is actually a time for change and rebirth.
Perhaps, during this painful Fall season, we can reflect upon our surroundings and realize that we need to make a change.  We need to stop the violence. We need to be reborn.  This country cannot remain a hot-bed of terror and violence. We owe it to our children, and to future generations, to end the pain.  It is time to begin to heal.  Now, it is up to us to figure out how to make this dream a reality.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Time to Dance

As the Sukkot holiday came to an end, many Israelis attended the traditional Hakafot Shniot (Second Hakafot).  At these Hakafot, Torahs are brought out, hakafot are read/sung before a crowd with a live band, and hundreds of people who are ready to dance the night away.  It is truly a breathtaking sight...Hundreds of men, women, and children dancing the night away...yet again, to the tunes of old, as well as new tunes.
In my home town, we have an eight piece band.  Local musicians, and musicans from other nearby locales all conjoin to create a Band of the Ages.  Kids and adults dance their hearts out to the thumping Judaic beats.  Israelis, Americans, South Africans, Canadians, Ethiopians, Yeminites, Moroccans...we are ALL represented in the throngs of dancing madness.
It is truly a KIbbutz Galiot (Ingathering of the Nations) on our home town basketball court.  Old, and young...everyone is up and dancing their hearts to the beat.
Why do we do it? Why do we want to dance, isn't there tons of cleaning to do after the holiday? Wouldn't we rather go out to a movie, or chill at home with the TV?
I think we all partake in the madness because it is a celebration.  The end of Sukkot is the end of the time of Teshuva that we began from the month of Elul.  We have officially closed the door to the New Year.  Now, we can officially celebrate the New Year in style...with song, dance, good food, and terrific friends.  As it says in Kolelet (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
עֵת לִבְכּוֹת          וְעֵת לִשְׂחוֹק,
עֵת סְפוֹד         וְעֵת רְקוֹד.
There is a time to cry, and a time to laugh, A time to wail, and a time to dance!
We will enter this New Year with the knowledge that there will be both good times and bad times, but we must always put our best foot forward, and try to be as positive as we can. No life is ever perfect, but if we dance, we can make it all much more manageable!  So, put on those dancing shoes and dance your hearts out this year!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Time for Change

It is traditional for one to use the time between Yom Kippur and Sukkot as a time of reflection.  It is a time for contemplating the sins atoned for, and hoping towards a New Year, bereft of such sins.  I find this one of the hardest times of the year.  It is a time of limbo...where we can suddenly move forward, full-speed ahead. Or, we can lapse into the mundane life of banality of the past year.
The Misrad Hahinuch (Israel Board of Education) declared that children must go to school during this period of time this year. Usually, children have off from the Yom Kippur holiday, through Sukkot. But, alas, the children are now in us a bit more time for reflection and introspection.
I keep wondering...what can I do to make this year better for me, for my family, for the country, and for the world? I guess it is best that I start with myself...improving all of the little things that I need to work on. But, it needs to be more global, as well.  I think it is time for all of us to chose something of value, which is close to our hearts, and actually DO IT.  It must be something that affects others in a way that is outside of our own comfort zones.  If we each take the time to choose a particular mitzvah (good deed), then perhaps we have all collectively made this world a bit of a better place for us all to inhabit.
There was once a local business in our area called "Time for Change." It was a cash exchanging place that exchanged dollars for shekels, Euros for shekels, etc.  The moniker was brilliant.  Whenever I passed by the business, I wondered to myself "What can I change today? What midah (internal characteristic) can I work on today?"  Eventually the business changed their name. But, the message still remains with me.  We ALWAYS have time to change.  We just have to make the time to do it.
Patience is the key.  And so, I am here making new choices during this "gesher" (bridge of days between the Yom Kippur and Sukkot holiday). And, I hope others are doing the same...patiently making the new destiny of a time for change.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Waiting...Do you ever feel like you are constantly waiting for something? We wait on the telephone as the cell phone provider puts you on hold. We wait endlessly at the post office. We wait for the fix-it guy to show up at our door.  We wait for blood work results from our doctor....We are always waiting for something.
One of my kids recently said to me, "Mom, when is the cease fire going to be over?" I answered, "It is not going to be over, it is a CEASE FIRE, that means that Hamas stopped shooting rockets." My son quickly replied, "Mom, it never lasts always ends." This just broke my heart. I tried to convince my son that this time it is REAL, and we do not have to worry, but he would not budge.  He is waiting for the next rocket, just like we wait for a delivery at the door.
How has this happened?  Our US brethren are now waiting with bated breath for the news about the new developments against ISIS. And, we in Israel wonder what the ramifications will be on our soil.  The unknown is such a hard concept to process.  With all of our technology, and know-how...we still cannot predict what the next terror crisis will be, or where it will be committed.  And, thus, we are just waiting...hoping it is not going to be here, or anywhere near loved ones and friends.
Is this a way to live? Have we gone mad?  How can we change ourselves so we are not living this anxiety filled process all of the time? Is this why will fill our lives with facebook messages, whatsapps, instagrams, and more?  Are we trying to avoid the inevitable, or the inconceivable?
John Mayer is so poignant in his song "Waiting for the World to Change." While it was written years ago, it is a perfect take on our world today:
It's not that we don't care
We just know that the fight ain't fair
So, we keep waiting,
Waiting on the world to change.
(Click on the link below to hear the song)
At this time before Rosh Hashana, maybe we need to all make an effort to make the world change.  Somehow, we need to STOP waiting. We need to actively do something different.  There have been moments in our history, when we all joined together and actually made a difference to our society, to our culture, and to our lives.  Now, more than ever, it is time to make the world change.  I think we all need to take some small good deed, and make it our "project." Get others involved in your deed, and actually make a difference in this world. For, this world is not going to change by itself. It is time to stop waiting. It is time to act.
L'Shana Tova! Have a Happy and Healthy New Year! May it be a year of growth, peace, and understanding!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Full Circle

Anyone who is connected to social media networks knows that today is the first day of school in Israel. Over 2,000,000 children started school today in this country.  Parents are thrilled by the new school year's commencement. August is not the easiest of times to entertain children. Many children end up going to work with their parents, and add a special twist to the term "work."
Yesterday began my family's procession towards school. My recent High School grad began her first day at a midrasha (women's seminary) called Midreshet Lindenbaum.  The premise of this midrasha is that the girls learn for a year, and then they choose a particular area of the army in which they will attend with other girls from the midrasha.  Together, they will give each other strength religiously, as they give their national service time to the IDF.
My daughter proudly took me throughout the school, on a tour of the Beit Midrash , the library, and the dorms.  It felt like a mini-college of sorts.  I had sudden flashbacks to my first days of seminary, and college.  And, then it hit me, I realized that my first born is actually on her own this year...beginning a new journey of learning new texts, meeting new people, and living away from home.
As I kissed her, and hugged her before I left, I began to cry.  "I am so proud of you honey, I am so, so proud of you!" I said, as the tears flowed.  And, I truly daughter chose this path for herself. She could have gone to many other National Service options, but she chose this wonderful bastion of learning so she could strengthen herself before she gives back to the country via the IDF.
I slowly walked myself to the car, and cried a bit, and then I had a flashback.  When we were first married, we subscribed to the Jerusalem Report magazine. It is a publication from the Jerusalem Post that has various newsworthy articles about Israel, and its environs.  Reading the magazine helped us keep tabs on the pulse of Israel, and it was very helpful to keep our Zionist spark alive.
One day, when we received the magazine, I noticed an ad, it was an ad for donations to a seminary that prepares women for the army.  I looked at the pictures of random young female soldiers, smiling out at the readers, and I thought "Wow! This is incredible!" As I scrolled down the page, I realized it was Midreshet Lindenbaum, a product of Ohr Torah Stone (Rabbi Riskin's yeshiva in Efrat).  I remember, wondering to myself...will our children ever be able to do that? I showed the picture to my husband, and we contemplated the possibility, which seemed so far away....
And, now, our first-born daughter, Carmi is fulfilling the dream of so long ago. Now, she is attending that very seminary from the ad I saw so long ago. Our lives have come full-circle.  She is essentially living the dream we barely imagined possible.  Right before our very eyes, she is making the ultimate Torah, and to Israel.  I pray that she has a meaningful year, and that she is prepared for whatever the IDF has in store for her.
Carmi Blacher and a friend at the Midreshet Lindenbaum Bet Midrash

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I have been a very busy mother this summer.  As most Israeli mothers, I was scared that this year would be remembered by my children as the "year of the WAR." So, I decided to change that thought process.  I managed to snag a good friend, Leiah Jaffe, an amazing American- Israeli tour guide who managed to give me two days of her busy week, for day tours around Israel. I managed to wrangle six other families to join us on each trip, in order to make the trip feel more like a  group tour, vs. a private tour. Leiah would give us an itinerary, directions to go to the location of the tour, and we would caravan up to the site in our cars together.  We made sure to pack plenty of drinks and snacks for the way, and we were off to our adventures!
It was not easy to rile my kids out of bed on trip day.  The kids wanted to sleep, watch TV, or play computer games. But, I managed to push them out the door each time.  And, each time, we were more surprised by the wonders this country has to offer.
Our trips were to places including the Tel Aviv Eretz Israel museum, the Israel Museum, the Big Bambu exhibit, the Qumran Caves, Lido Junction, Ein Zukim, the Old City of Jerusalem, and Bet Shearim.  At each stop, Leiah entertained our children with tales of old, and tales of new. She gave the kids workbooks to answer questions, and asked them questions as they were walking through the exhibits and grounds, as well.
At times the kids complained, but it was fleeting.  At times, parents were non-compliant, too, but that was a fleeting moment as well. Overall, our days were filled with exploration and a new love for our country and its many nooks and crannies.
As these trips ended, my kids were reflecting upon the summer, and said "Mom, thank you for the best summer EVER!" That statement warmed my heart! It meant that I succeeded, I managed to turn a possibly scary summer into one of adventure, exploration, and new-found appreciation for Israel.
I love this country with my heart, my soul, and my entire being.  I live and breathe it daily with utmost appreciation to our Maker for giving our family the ability to live, love, and laugh here daily.  Yet, I was unsure as to whether my kids appreciated their existence here.  But, now it is affirmed.  Even in time of war, we live in the best place in the world, hands-down.  As it says in Psalms,
מָה רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶיךָ ה' כֻּלָּם בְּחָכְמָה עָשִיתָ מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ קִנְיָנֶךָ
.תהילים ק"ד
 How abundant are Your works, G-d, with wisdom You made them all!(Psalms 104:24)
We witnessed many wonders this past summer.  Many miracles, many natural wonders, and many wonderful acts of bravery by our IDF.  May G-d continue to bless us with His grace.  And, as we approach the new Jewish year, I look forward to the "best year EVER!"

Dead Sea Environs Trip

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Miraculous Night

On Thursday night, our yishuv hosted two events. The first event was an outdoor party welcoming our soldiers home  from Operation Protective Edge.  The local basketball court was full of rides, games, blow-up's, food, beverages, and items for sale.  The event was well attended by families, young and old, and it was a terrific summer evening activity.
The second event was a hosting of three buses of families from the southern town of Netivot.  The families first came to the outdoor activities, and then walked over to our local synagogue for a catered dinner, accompanied by entertainment for the kids, as well as live music.
I attended both events with my kids.  Both were entirely enter-twined. For, we were celebrating the army soldiers return, while simultaneously hosting families from Netivot while their homes were being barraged by rocket fire.
The families from both events were entirely grateful for the hospitality and warmth of our community.  I spoke to many Netivot families that night who were so gracious for us opening our yishuv to them. " How could we not do so?"  I thought. It is our duty to help all fellow men and women in trouble.  As it says in Pirkei Avoth (Ethics of Our Fathers)"If not now, when?" (1:14).
As the evening hosting the Netivot came to an end, I sat down next to another local yishuv family to chat. Suddenly, we noticed that the room began to clear out. We did not think of it much, and kept talking. And then, my friend looked down at her phone, and noticed that there were two Code Reds in Hashmonaim at that moment. The party kept going on, the music kept playing, and we did not move.  We knew that we were in the safest part of the building, so there was not imminent danger.
Ironically, the band was playing a Mizrachi version of the song Yedid Nefesh (Beloved of the soul), a tune usually sung on Friday nights in synagogue.  The verse he sang as we noticed the siren announcement is as follows:
הגלה נא ופרש חביבי עלי את סכת שלומך
תאיר ארץ מכבודך נגילה ונשמחה בך
מהר אהב כי בא מועד וחננו כימי עולם
Please be revealed and spread upon me, my Beloved, the shelter of Your peace. Illuminate the world with Your glory that we may rejoice and be glad with You. Hasten, show love, for the time has come, and show us grace of days of old(written by Rabbi Eliyahu Azikri, Israeli Kabbalist from the 16th century).
There needs to be no explanation for the connections between the song and our current situation in Israel.  To the reader, I am sure it is quite clear that we are aching for the peace we all deserve!
After the event that evening, we all returned home, satisfied that we had perhaps made one evening slightly easier for all.  By nightfall the following evening, I had heard that one of the families who we hosted from Netivot had a rocket fall in their backyard while we hosted them for the evening.  We truly provided a סוכת שלום (dwelling of peace) for that family. May we continue to be able to shelter our brethren from the storm.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Art Imitates Life

It is currently August summer vacation in Israel. Most children have finished summer camp, and are home with their parents, or guardians as they eagerly await school to start in September.  I opted to keep my kids home with me, and enjoy this time together.  Although there were summer camp options here, I decided that we would find fun things to do together, and pepper that with trips to the pool, etc.
Our first adventures were a Trip Camp that we organized with our local resident tour guide, Leiah Jaffe.  We set out together on terrific local adventures to the Eretz Israel Museum (Tel Aviv), the Israel Museum (Jerusalem), the Dead Sea, Qumran Caves, Ein Zokim (Dead Sea area spring), and Beit Shearim.  All of these trips were geared for young kids, and their parents to enjoy together. Leiah Jaffe always peppered the trips with stories, activities, fun games and plays for the kids to enjoy!
When we are not touring the country, I take the kids on Mommy Day adventures. Our most recent adventure was taking the youngest two kids of my family to the movies in Tel Aviv.  We went to Dizengoff Center, and found a local movie theater showing the movie my kids have been aching to see, How to Train Your Dragon 2.
I had never seen the first movie, nor had I seen it in Hebrew, but I figured this would be an adventure for all of us; for my kids to see Tel Aviv, and for me to sit through a sequel of a movie in Hebrew.
The movie is basically a tale of evil forces vs. good forces.  A huge battle ensues, and the forces are tested to determine which will prevail over a land of Viking type glory.  Living here in Israel, it was not too hard to make the comparisons between art and life.  There was one line that really brought it home for me, and many other parents in the theater.  One character asks "Why do they[sic. the evil forces in the movie] hate us, so? I do not understand?"  The other character wisely answers "Sometimes, the forces of evil prevail, and convince all around them of their the point that no one is aware of how dark and evil they have  become...they are soldiers of the fight of evil, without entirely thinking of what they have become."  [Please note that I am translating the Hebrew, and I am sure that this was said differently in the English version.] At the moment I, and every other parent in the theater, began to cry.  I heard muffled sounds of sniffling, and I knew that everyone in the Tel Aviv theater was thinking of Operation Protective Shield, and the evil forces of Hamas vs. the forces of our brave IDF.
My kids heard me sniffle, and saw the tears. They did not know what to do. Mommies are not supposed to cry! And, especially not in movies! But, then I saw my 6 year old daughter wipe a tear from her own eyes. And, I grabbed my kids, and held them tight, as I grappled with the emotional overflow of tears in this simple movie about good and bad dragons.
Eventually, the movie ended. No, I will not spoil it for you. But, the message was clear that the Viking village was happy and peaceful again, with a new, courageous entourage of dragons to help them prevail.  Of course, the movie was left open-ended for another sequel.
As we left the theater, my kids began talking about the movie, and the possibility of a How To Drain Your Dragon 3. We talked about what the movie reminded them of, and they immediately said "the War, Mommy." They openly saw the mashal(comparison) of the evil forces of dragons being similar to Hamas, and the good forces of dragons being like the IDF.  And, then my son said, "The IDF is going to always be ahead, just like the good dragons, Mommy!"  I reached out to him, and gave him a big hug and a kiss.
"Art and life," I thought "sometimes really do imitate each other."  Yet it takes very powerful eyes to see it.  I suggest that you all take your families and your loved ones to this movie. Parents, you may want a pack of tissues, just a warning. But, please make sure to talk to your family afterwards about the message of this movie.  Help your children understand the nuances of war, through the simple mashal of dragons.

Hiccup-Meets-Monsters-in-How-to-Train-Your-Dragon-2.jpg (1500×621)
Hiccup-Meets-Monsters-in-How-to-Train-Your-Dragon-2.jpg (1500×621)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fun in the Sun!

I recently took my kids to the local pool one afternoon. As we walked into the pool area, we noticed a bunch of soldiers sitting in a circle, talking to each other.  At times our local pool hosts soldiers who are stationed nearby to use the facilities when they are on a break.  The soldiers swim a little, eat a bit of ice cream, and then return to their duties.
Our kids, and their friends, were intrigued as the soldiers jumped into the pool. Soon they were doing synchronized swimming, diving in one after the other in unison, and other tricks.  My son, and his friend decided to avidly watch a volleyball game the soldiers started.  Whenever the ball was thrown out of the pool, the boys eagerly caught it, and threw it back. It was so cute to see the boys so eager to help the soldiers play.
These soldiers protect us, and save us from harms way. But, we often forget that they are just little boys and girls, too.  Everyone needs time to play and laugh.  No one is immune from having fun! Even if there is a order to be a successful soldier one must learn how to properly channel energies and focus on the army, yet also focus upon the time to relax, and chill with friends.
My friend and I decided that we would buy the soldiers ice pops as we were about to leave the pool. As we bought the ice pops, the soldiers were so grateful for the treat.  Our kids were eager to give the ice pops to the soldiers, as well as take pictures with them.  To the kids, these soldiers just gave them a fun day at the pool. And, to us, these soldiers are a reminder that Israel could not survive without them.
Thank you, IDF for making our life, our love and our laughter possible in Israel. We could not ever do it without you!  And, if you are ever at the local pool, we will treat you to an ice pop!
Photo: ‎בריכת נילי‎

Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Saved My Heart and Soul

Summer Saved My Heart and Soul

Graphic T-shirts are the rage this summer.  Even in Israel we see people walking around with T-s that share messages like "Happy"or "Keep Running" or "Peace." As I was shopping with my daughter recently, at a local Israeli mall, she too had gravitated towards the t-shirt bug.  She found something she liked, and I started to rifle through the mix to help her.
I was then struck by a purple T-shirt that somewhat offended me, and enlightened me all at once.  It stated "Summer Saved My Heart and Soul." I began to philosophize to myself "Can a season really save someone?" What did the author of this T-shirt really have in mind? Certainly not living in Israel. Probably some beach in Malibu for the summer....surfing, wind blowing in the surfer's hair, and not a care in the world.
Yet, the more I thought about it, I realized that this summer really has saved my soul, and others here in Israel.  Our summer began with the tragic loss of three young souls, Eyal, Gilad and Naftali.  Their kidnapping, and later loss of life, catapulted our nation of Israel into a collective energy of prayer and mourning that is unprecedented.
Following that tragedy, we were catapulted into the Operation Protective Shield.  Young men, and old, were sent to Gaza to defend our country. No one was immune to the pain of each missile fired towards Israel. Nor, were we immune to the loss of 64 soldiers, young and old, who died giving their souls for this country of Israel.
And so, collectively, I think Summer Saved OUR Heart and Soul. Despite the tragedy, and the loss, our country has become stronger and more unified.  We join forces, both left and right, to stand up for the right of Israel's existence.  The collective soul of Israel has strengthened.  We have been empowered, and no one can take this power away from us. The soul of this nation is stronger than ever.  I thank G-d for saving our collective Israeli soul.  It was time for us to wake up.  We just did not know it was time to do so.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Comfort Food

Comfort.  The word itself does not really exude any form of ease or release.  It starts with a hard "c" consonant, and ends with a "t." The cacophony of it does not really make me ooze relaxation or carefree attitude when I say the word.
I think the first time I saw the word comfort was on a bottle of Tennessee bourbon, labelled Southern Comfort.  That in itself is an oximoron.  Southern Comfort?  Can the deep South ever really feel comfortable?  Humidity, mosquitoes, cicadas, and heat abound in the south.  Ah...but others took comfort in spirits to ease their sorrows.  Bourbon could comfort any soul.  Or, perhaps the famous drink of bourbon and cola!
This past Shabbat was the first one after Tisha BÁv.  It is typically called Shabbat Nachamu (the Sabbath of Comfort). It is called this because we have just finished mourning the tragic fall of the Holy Temple.  Immediately following this time period is the time of renewal, regrowth, and comfort.  During this week's Haftorah (portion of Prophets read after the Torah reading), we read נחמו נחמו עמי (Comfort you, Comfort you, oh, my Nation of Israel!).  It is Jeremiah's plea for the Jews of the time of the destruction to pick themselves up and move on towards a greater good.  It is a plea to keep moving, and not remain crying in grief forever.
My family had the priviledge of visiting old friends in a small yishuv called Har Bracha (a settlement in the area of Samaria) this past Shabbat.  We have started a tradition of visiting each other for Shabbat every Shabbat Nachamu.  This Shabbat was particularly special, for we were able to comfort each other with tales from the war, and tales of perseverance.
Honestly, the best comfort for us, was sharing good food together, laughing, and watching our children enjoy each others' company.  It was such a pleasant way to remove ourselves from the mundane talk of war, of cease fires, of returned rocket fire, and hatred.  It was a Shabbat of good friends, good times, and peaceful celebration.
As I sat, and chatted with our good friends, I realized that THIS is what being part of this wonderfully diverse Jewish Nation is all is about being part of a greater family.  It is being cherished and loved by friends, neighbors, and loved ones.  It is taking comfort in the fact that we still are enjoying the freedom to celebrate the end of a busy and tiring week with good conversation, laughter, and love.
When I was a kid growing up, the local Rabbi of our synagogue would step up to the podium to give a Shabbat sermon, and he would always begin his sermon with the word "Friends."  As a child, I remember thinking this was odd.  "I am not the rabbi's friend, I am a congregant" I thought.  It took me many years to realize how profound my Rabbi was.  He was trying to make his congregants realize that if we are not all friends, there is no commonality between us, and we will not really amount to much at all.  Only if we are all truly friends can we collectively work towards a better good.
If this war has done anything for the Israeli psyche, it has enabled us all to realize the precious reality that we are ALL part of one greater family.  We are all working towards a greater good for this country.  We each play an integral part in this wheel that is turning.  We may not know where this wheel is turning, but we do know that we are in this together.  We are taking comfort in knowing that good friends make the ride so much easier to bear.  And, a little bit of comfort food, or drink, is definitely in order!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Please Don't Stop the Music

It has been slightly over two days since the official Cease Fire between Israel and Hamas.  The IDF troops have pulled out, and Hamas has been quiet.  How long will this last? There is no direct answer.  It has been proven time, and again, that Hamas has a trigger-friendly finger on the rockets of Gaza. So, we are all hoping this peace lasts, but we are weary eyed that it may not last forever, due to several acts of precedent.
I listen to a radio station that is called Galgalaz. It was established in the mid 1990's as a radio station by the IDF, for soldiers.  Soldiers can place requests, listen to official news briefs, and sometimes full units can choose the songs for a set hour of time.  The music on the station is a combination of Israeli pop, American and European rock, and some oldies, but goodies.
Galgalaz is my source of a melding of American and Israeli culture.  I can listen to music, and learn new Hebrew vocabulary. I can also learn what is the pulse of the Israeli public by listening to the station, as well.  I honestly love listening to this station more than listening to my pre-set I-pod lists, youtube playlists, and the like.  Why? I just love to listen to the randomness of it all.  I love the Mizrachi rocksters combined with the rock legends like Johnny Cash, all mushed into one play set in what seems to be a symphony of welded cultures.
For the past month, Galgalaz has been playing soft, sad, muted tones. This lull was duly noted, for it was a time of war here, as well as the time of mourning before the commemoration of Tisha BÁv, the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av.   Tisha BÁv, is a day of mourning and fasting for the loss of the Jewish Holy Temple in Jerusalem over 2.000 years ago.  One of the many customs is to refrain from playing music, or listening to live music during the three weeks before the fast day.  This year, the mourning period corresponded with Operation Protective Shield.  So, the tunes on the radio were slow ballads, and accapella,  not the usual upbeat rock n' roll of the past.
Yesterday, I realized that the real rock n' roll had returned to the radio.  Upbeat, happy tunes were playing again.  Had the pain ended? In a sense, due to the combination of the cease fire and the end of the Jewish mourning period, the music was allowed to return.  Various soldier units were chosen to create an hour of playlists for the listeners.  The song choices were brilliant, and thoughtful.  Each song had more meaning than the next.
As I listened to the radio, peppered with modern upbeat tunes about peace, war, silence, and love, a song started on the radio.  It was a song by Ehud Banai, a song called הופעת מילואים (Performance for the reserve troops) about an older man, who is called in for reserve duty.  His job is to entertain the troops.  But, he gets up, in front of the troops, and he cannot sing.  He looks out at the twenty young men and women, and he cannot perform for them.  He is at a loss for words.
Ehud Banai adds so briliantly:
מבול יורד עלינו עכשיו 
מפסגת לבנון עד סיני 
פורט בגיטרה ושר לטבח: 
"ים של דמעות בשתי עיני." 

אור נרות נשמה 
לא עוזב לא עוזב 
שיירה ארוכה על נתיב מסוכן 
שיירה לאיפה את הולכת
A flood is descending now,
From Labanon to the Sinai dessert,
The guitar began to play,
And I sang to the local cook,
"There is a sea of tears in my eyes."
The memorial candles
Do not end
Do not end
They keep flickering.
To the long convoy,
On the dangerous path,
Convoy, where are you going?

I heard this powerful song, and began to cry in the car.  The situation described by Ehud Banai could be real, or fiction. It is of no matter to me. It is the fact that this is the reality in this land we call Israel. Men and women are called for reserve duty, for they have served in many wars, and sometimes it drives them to be speechless.  Even the songwriters and rock stars can be driven to silence.  No one is immune.
Although the Cease Fire is in affect, no one is really aware of the consequences. We ask ourselves, where is this convoy of peace going? Is it on a dangerous path?  Will we return to true normalcy?  Where are we really going?  Will we flicker like the memorial candle for our fallen soldiers? Or, will the singing return, strong and brave, like soldiers fighting for the right to exist.  I hope the silence does not continue. I hope the music will never end here.  Please don't stop the music.

Link to the song הופעת מילואיפ by Ehud Banai:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Grandma Bertha and Tisha BÁv

          In 1979, my grandmother, Bertha Teller Augenbraun, was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was a chain smoker for most of her adult life. It was no surprise that her lungs began to fail her during that year.  Her health began to progress from stable to critical around the time of Tisha BÁv, 1979.  It unfortunately only was two months later, several days before Rosh Hashana, that she passed away.
          At the time, I was 8 years old, and my sister was 7.  When we were told that our grandmother passed away, we did not truly understand what was going on.  Death is a strange concept for a child.  We had a dog pass away, but neither of us really had a real understanding of what it means when a person close to you dies.
           I remember that my father arranged flights for us to return to New York for the funeral and the shiva.  We had spent part of the summer in New York with Grandma only a month before. But, now this was very different.  We were going back for a funeral, not hospital visits.
           The actual funeral is a blur for me. I do not remember what was said, who spoke, or who cried.  I do remember the cemetery.  I had never really been to the cemetery before.  Large grey stones with Hebrew lettering littered the area.  It was eerie, and beautiful all at once.  My cousins and I began to wander off, and hide behind the stones. I was only 8 at the time.  I did not realize that it was inappropriate to step upon the grave mounts, or play between the stones.  I was just a child only learning about life, and now death.
           Someone found us playing, and reprimanded us.  Our smiles turned to hushed glazed looks of shame.  We returned to the shiva house with our family.  Grandma's apartment was not bigger than most average Riverdale apartments.  My sister, my cousins, and I just looked out the windows at the tiny people, taxis, and dogs below.  We must have done this for hours, until my parents would peel us away to eat or to play with Grandma's perfume bottles as they sorted her belongings.
           I never really got over the guilt of not mourning my grandmother.  Although I was only 8, I was somewhat saddened that I did not act properly at the cemetery, that somehow I was guilty of some major sin.  A sin of inability to mourn those close to us.  Now, looking back , I was only 8.  There were no books about death, dying, or bereavement for kids at the time. My parents tried to explain it the best they could. But, how could they really know what an 8 year old understands about death?  So, I lived with the guilt and moved on.
           Eventually, I began to go to summer camp.  Every summer, the camp would commemorate Tisha BÁv, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av.  We learned that it is traditionally the saddest day of the Jewish Calendar.  For, it is the day that the Holy Temple was destroyed. It is also the day of the Crusader invasions of countless European towns, it is the day of the final expulsion of Jews  from Spain, and it is the day of countless tragedies during the time of World War II.
             After learning this, I realized what it meant to mourn.  As we mourned these tragedies of our Jewish people, I realized what it was to mourn for our own loved ones as well. And, during the first time I heard Aicha (Lamentations) at our sleepaway camp, Camp Hatikvah, I opted to sit next to my sister.  I knew that I needed her strength to get through the painful liturgy.  Sure enough, I began to cry.  I wept for my Jewish people, I wept for our tragedies, and I wept for Grandma Bertha.
              Now, some 34 years after my grandmother's passing, I have witnessed death, mourning, and grief time and again.  It is never easy, but yet, somehow the shiva process does make it somewhat more helpful for the grieving parties involved.
               Today, I live in Israel, and although Grandma Bertha never had a chance to visit, I am sure she is with me here. Sometimes a bird flies by the window near my kitchen sink, as I think of her, and I wonder...."Can you hear me? Do you see me? Do you see my Israeli children? Are you proud of us?" I sure hope that she is.
                I just witnessed a video of an anti-Israel demonstration down the Diamond District (47th and 5th Avenue) that occurred last week.  Anyone who knows my grandmother, knows that she was very proud of the fact that she was the first woman voted onto the board of the Diamond District Association. She was a proud businesswoman, who cut diamonds for a living. She loved 47th street, the friends, the colleagues, the excitement of it all, it made her alive! During the Palestinian demonstration, Jewish shopkeepers heard the ruckus outside, and ran down to see what was happening. When they heard the Palestinian propaganda, they closed their shops, and began to follow the protesters shouting "Israel" louder, and louder as they went. Eventually, they outnumbered the cowardly Palestinian protesters.  The crowd then began singing Am Yisrael Hai (The nation of Israel lives!).  They stopped the anti-Israel protesters in their tracks. No one could believe the quick response of the pro-Israel crowd.
                 I am not surprised.  If Grandma Bertha were alive today, she would be out there, smiling, and chanting too! I would not be surprised if she was there, following the crowd, like a dove returning home.
                 And so, as I mourn this Tisha BÁv, I think of my Grandma Bertha, for whom if she were not the strong-willed amazing woman she was in the 1950's, I would most definitely not have had the courage to be living in this land of Israel today.  May her soul have comfort knowing that Israel is here to stay, as are we.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quiet Eternal Flame

Quiet Eternal Flame

             Yesterday was the Sabbath, or as we call it here in Israel, Shabbat.  According to Jewish tradition, the Sabbath is a day declared by G-d to be a day of rest. A day that all must rest from labor or work .  Just as G-d rested “blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He reseted from all the work of creating that he had done”(Genesis 2/3),  we currently continue to hold this tradition, and rest as well.  Orthodox Jews do not do any form of manual labor, drive cars, or cook on this special day.  It is truly a day to go to synagogue, enjoy friends and family, and rest. 
               It is hard to imagine what it is like living in a war.  As most readers know, we have been barraged by rocket fire from the Hamas terrorists throughout this ordeal.  We have weathered countless Code Red sirens, as the rockets come very close to our homes, our schools, and our offices. 
               Cease fires are promised, and yet, Hamas continues its barrage of rocket fire.  The IDF holds itself to its morals, and holds to the cease fire as long as it can. But, time is of the essence.  And, as it says in Pirkei Avoth….”If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”(Pirkei Avoth/Ethics of Our Fathers, 1:14), than who am I? “Therefore, eventually it is determined that the IDF must respond and return fire.
               Throughout this conflict, our lives move on.  We go to work, we send our children to day camp, we go to the supermarket….we just live.  Fear would paralyze us.  And, we know that life must go on.  Yet, on Shabbat (the Sabbath), we rest.  We sit, we talk, we pray, we entertain, we laugh, we love, we give and we live. 
               In my small town, it was a quiet Shabbat.  I know that other towns in the South were not as fortunate as us. Yet, I am sure that they also enjoyed the ability to try to enjoy the moments of tranquility between the chaos. 
               I know this past Shabbat I let myself laugh a little louder, eat a bit more, drink a glass of wine, and revel in the fact that we are a Jewish people of tradition that will not give up.  We may enjoy the quiet of the Shabbat day, but we are never going to be silent in this war. We will continue the fight, and defend our right as a nation to defend itself to the end.  The strata of the mountains of this country contains the very fabric of war battles that made us strong. From the times of the Greeks, the Romans, the Moors, the Byzantenes, the Ottomon Empire, and the British Empire, we have survived.  Our Jewish nation is indestructible.  It is time Hamas realizes it will be another layer of the strata of our Jewish history.   For, we continue to live and love our quiet existence for eternity.
               At the end of the Shabbat day, we have a ceremony called Havdala. It is one in which we separate that which is holy, the Sabbath, from that which is mundane, the regular day of the week.  The prayer includes wine, for sanctity. It also includes spices, to wake the soul up from its sanctity, and remind it to return to the mundane.  And, lastly, it includes a three-wicked candle.  The candle represents the holy Jewish eternal flame.  It reminds us that despite our return to the regular work week, we must remember that our small holy Jewish spirit will not die out, it will linger until the following Sabbath.

               Havdalah last night was no exception.   As the prayers were recited, I realized that I am going to take this flame, and continue to aim towards a greater good this week. I will not let the terrorists break my soul, or extinguish my fire. I will continue to burn, and fight to the bitter end. I will make sure to support my country, its soldiers, and my family through this war.  I will not let the flame die.  For, the Jewish people are like an eternal flame which will never be extinguished.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Huge Hug

Throughout this war, I feel as if I have been walking through a thick cloud of fog.  My "slow uptake "responses to the world around me are due to the fact that my mind is always barraged by the mundane every day activities, and the reality that a war is going on at the same exact time.
The fog lifts for brief moments...time playing with my children, visits with friends, and meeting someone I have not seen randomly in the supermarket.  Yet it is quick to return its cold, gray head.
The only respite I have found to lift me from the fog is giving hugs.  I know, it is such a simple task, but I have found myself needing to find comfort in the warm embrace of my family, my friends, and my own self.
It reminds me of the book Hug, by Jez Alborough.  It is a book about a monkey named Bobo who tries to explain to his friends that he just needs a hug, but no one understands him.  He tries to explain it to all of the other animals in the jungle, but they do not know what he wants. Bobo becomes very frustrated until his request is finally recognized by all and he is given the world's biggest hug.  Bobo is happy as can be, and he is ensconced in the love of his jungle friends, and his family.
Scientists have proven that hugs lower one's blood pressure, lower stress hormones (cortisol), and increase social connections between individuals.  It has also been proven that couples who hug more often have a higher percentage of staying together as a couple.
Hugs are such a simple form of contact.  The warm hug of a friend or loved one in a time of happiness or sadness can truly uplift one's spirits and calm one's soul.  I venture to say that hugs, due to the contact of one body to another, connect a soul more readily than the typical "air kiss" gesture friends usually greet each other with in today's modern world.  A hug connects to another, heart touching heart, and soul to soul.
My husband's rabbi, Rav Mordechai Twerski, originally from Denver, Colorado, was nick-named the Hugachover Rebbe.  Why? He always greeted his congregants with huge bear hugs.  Often the hugs would last more than a minute.  When the hug was released, both said huggers would be grinning from ear to ear.  The sheer power of embrace was a powerful gift towards a happy soul.
So, I propose to all during this Operation Protective Edge to simply give someone a hug.  A family member, a friend, a neighbor...all could use a hug.  And, do not skimp on that hug.  Hold him/her tight for more than a few seconds.  Do not be embarrassed to let it 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Silent Roar

     There have been several Hamas attacks over the Southern and Central areas over Israel since yesterday, but we in the Modiin area have not heard sirens as of yet. The silence is deafening.  Every truck, every motorcycle, every wind gust scares us into taking a double-take and making sure we are not hearing a siren.
     It is quite frustrating, for I am currently suffering from a slightly progressive hearing loss issue.  It appears that the malady is genetic, and that it progressively gets worse over time.  Despite the hearing loss, I am acutely aware of sirens and loud noises. Why? Is it the "fight-flight"reflex we are born with since the time of Neanderthal men?  Is it the fact that fear can heighten one's senses, even if those senses are dulled?  I wonder if others with such issues are experiencing this as well.
     Last night, my husband was walking on his way to his car parked in the work parking lot.  Sure enough, there was a siren. He ran to the nearest shelter, and was fine.  But, I wonder, if it were me, would I hear it? Would my ears defy me? Would they take the social cues of people running, the fear of the crowd, the silent march to Safe Rooms?
     People told me to download the Code Red app.  I did so, but the constant pinging of the Cod Reds was too much for my anxiety level.  There is a Code Red somewhere in this country every thirty minutes.  I could not face the reality of its magnitude.  I silenced the App, and told myself to hope for the best.
    So, as I await the next Code Red alarm, I pray that my ears do not defy me.  I pray that the silence continues here, and throughout Israel.  But, if the alarm returns, I will be ready.  My malady will not prevent me from hearing G-d's warning signs to take cover.  Silence is aquiesence to tragedy and fate.  Yet, a roar is one's ability to scare the opponent and defend oneself.  Not only will I hear the roar, I will continue to do so myself.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ripe Sabra Fruit

    The barrage of Hamas rocket fire has increased daily in Israel.  Many friends, relatives, and colleagues were sent to Safe Rooms to wait out the rocket fire.  Tales of anxiety and angst were heard on the news, on social networking sites, and via phone calls to loved ones.
     But, nothing really prepared me for the sirens at roughly 9:30 and 9:55 PM last night.  Sure, we talked about the possibility, described the protocol to the kids, but in all reality it was still so foreign to all of us. That all changed the minute we heard the siren.  Carmi, Gila, Levi and Tiki were home. Pacey was out at the local Kids clubhouse for our local youth group on our yishuv (which we knew was equipped with a Safe Room). Gila said she was on her way home from Bnai Akiva, and heard a loud "boom,"and she looked at her friend and said "We better run home!" Two minutes later, we heard the siren.  Levi and Tiki were taking their baths, and we scooped them up in their towels down to the Safe Room.
     We share a safe room with our neighbors.  Let's just say that the Safe Room is a storage room for them of tools, a freezer, and random odds and ends.  It was not ready for us... but then again, why should it have been? We have not been sent to these rooms since 1991 in Hashmonaim. Our neighbors were in a sense in denial, as we were.
     As we stood in that room, amidst the tools, the exposed nails in the walls, the neighbors, and their dog, it was clear that everything had changed.  Life as we know it will never be the same.  Our children will now have memories of war, of evil, of bombs, and of fear.  It just does not seem fair.  Why the hatred? Why inflict this pain for a people that does not really exist at all.  For a cause that was created in the 1960's by Arafat in order to relinquish Jewish control over this land.
     As we cuddled our children to sleep last night, their were so many unknowns.  So many questions my children asked, such as:  "Why now? Why do they hate us, Mommy? Will G-d always be with us?" And, we, as parents placated their fears by saying it will be OK, and that we are here, and G-d is always watching us, and helping us with His miracles.
     None of us got much sleep last night, and we were awoken to yet another siren at 6:00 A.M.  We waited to hear the siren end, the aftershock boom, and waited a bit more until we returned to our homes.  Everyone went back to sleep, but Levi (my 9 year old), and I made pancakes together.  Why not? We were up early, with time to spare. So, I made a large cup of coffee, and Levi mixed the batter.  He had a breakfast for war champions...pancakes, powdered sugar, and lots of love!
     Within an hour, everyone else woke up, and we continued with our normal day. The kids went to camp.  Carmi started packing for her trip to the US, and Josh and Pacey went to the local synagogue to pray.  Sure, we walked with trepidation...thinking if another alarm may happen.  But, deep down, we knew that we have the drill down-pat now.  Nothing can scare us.
     The sunny day has turned a bit windy and cloudy today, and we continuously jump, thinking the sirens are wailing.  In the background, we can hear the fighter jets flying towards their destinations. And, we are praying for their godspeed, and goodwill.  We will not live in fear. We will be strong, and refuse for the Hamas rockets to agitate our souls.  We are Israelis, and our skin is thick like that of a sabra fruit, which is prickly on the outside, and sweet and sticky on the inside.  I just thought my innocent children had a bit more time until they had to face the cruelty of the terrorist dogma.  I thought it would happen when they reached army age.  But, it was not meant to be. Our sabras have ripened a bit early this season.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Am Yisrael Hai
By Ariel Blacher
                We began our journey to Spain on Sunday June 29th.  We were very conflicted to leave Israel at such a critical time in our country’s conscience. Yet, the tickets were booked and plans had been made. So, we decided to continue with our original plan and travel to Spain, with somewhat bated breath.
                One of the criteria of our trip was to educate our children regarding the historical significance of Spain for our Jewish people.  The kids have learned about the Spanish Inquisition  of 1492 in Jewish History lessons throughout their  school careers.  Yet, we wanted the kids to tour the towns, and learn the history of the Jews living in this area.
                We travelled to Toledo by train.  We met our tour guide, Shlomo(, at the historic Toledo train station.  The station itself is a work of art. High ceilings, ancient chandeliers, and beautiful stain glass windows adorn the station.  It is a work of art.
                Our first stop, was to a panoramic view of the Old City of Toledo.  The view was breathtaking.  There, our tour guide , Shlomo (, gave us a brief history of the city.  There is mention of this area being settled from the time of the Roman Empire. Yet, this area was clearly first settled during the Visgoth rule.  The Visgoths converted to Christianity, and then the Muslims conquered the area.  In the time of the Crusades, the Christians re-conquered the area, and kept strategic control of the are. 
The Jews settled into the area, and called it Taltulya , which is Hebrew for wandering, for the Jews were dispersed from Jerusalem ,  and wandered to this land.[1] Here, these Jews created a hub of life.  The city was complete with synagogues, a Jewish Castle (essentially a Jewish community center), ritual baths, kosher butcher lane, and more.  Jews lived as merchants, jewelrs, butchers, rabbis, tailors, and more in this small town. 
                Originally, the Jews maintained peace with the rulers of the area.  The Muslim leadership had a quiet understanding with the Jews of allowing them to worship freely.  When the Christians took control of the area, originally the same peaceful worshiping practices applied.  Yet, by the early 1200’s there were ordinances made upon the Jews.  By the mid-1300’s, Jews were ordered to wear yellow bands in order to show their identity in the common public areas.  (Note: It is entirely possible that the Nazis took this history, and used it to their benefit when making Jews wear yellow Jewish star armbands during WWII). 
                Eventually, the Jews were singled out as infidels and were tortured for not believing in Christianity.  Jews were told to either convert to Christianity, or to leave Spain.  Many Jews were tortured during this horrific time in our history.  Main leaders of the community, such as Shmuel HaLevi (a prominent businessman at the time), were tormented and eventually brutally killed for their belief in Judaism.  Many of these horrific crimes occurred in the Main Square of the town, with the entire community forced to watch the torturous torment.  The gate near this Square is called The Blood Gate, due to this horrific fact.
                It should be noted that those who chose to convert were called “Muranos”.  Yet, this term is considered derogatory.  It literally means “pig.”  These people prefer to be called “conversos”, which literally means “converts”.  To this day, many stores hang pig legs in their shops in order to prove that they readily eat pork.  For, it is known that Jews are forbidden to do so.
                As we walked throughout the streets of Toledo, there was a feeling of familiarity for me.  I am not of Sephardic descent, I am an Ashkenazi  Jew.  Yet, my father recently had a genetic testing done for a genealogical study.  His genetic report clearly stated Sephardic descent.  It is no wonder that my father is often confused for someone of Italian or Hispanic descent.  So, I would not be entirely surprised if my father’s family migrated from Spain to Eastern Europe.
                As we passed by a store, Josh quickly said to me, “Ariel, look into that store…you look like the salesperson!”  Sure enough, she had my dark brown eyes, chocolate curly hair (mine is usually covered for Orthodox reasons), and round face.  She could have been my cousin!  My kids often joke that they will marry Sephardim.  Ah…but now we know that we also have a drop of Sephardic blood, too!
                Throughout our tour, I felt as if I was walking through familiar alleys.  The Jewish Quarter reminds one of the cobblestone streets of Jerusalem or Safed.  It is hard to imagine that people rode donkeys and horses throughout these narrow alleyways!   And, people continue to drive cars throughout them today!
                As we left Toledo, I was enamored with a sense of identity and purpose.  I am so proud of my Jewish identity.  I am proud that my people, despite the odds, have continued to thrive.  Spain was not the only country to create ordinances against us.  Yet, we survived! We continue to be graced with G-d’s great light.  Even in times of darkness we are guided to survive the pain, and continue towards a better future.
                It is with a heavy heart that when we returned to our hotel, we received messages from Israel that Eyal, Naftali and Gil-Ad were found dead, near Hebron.  No one can comprehend the pain the families of these boys have suffered these past two weeks.  And, now, the collective pain that an entire nation currently suffers along with them.  If we have learned anything from this terrible ordeal, it is that we are Jewish brethren that must unite against evil forces.  And, despite the darkness, we will survive, and thrive.  From the time of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand, until now we have made it clear that we are a stubborn people.  We will not let this terror scare us.  We will rise to the occasion, and use this as our strength for generations to come.  Am Yisrael Hai! And in the words of Rabbi Lau (Chief Rabbi of Israel), we are Am Echad, V’Lev Echad (One nation, one soul).


1.    [1]  Abrabanel's Commentary on the First Prophets (Pirush Al Nevi'im Rishonim), end of II Kings, p. 680, Jerusalem 1955 (Hebrew). See also Shelomó ibn Verga in Shevet Yehudah, pp.6b-7a, Lemberg 1846 (Hebrew)

Thursday, June 26, 2014


by Ariel Pamela Blacher
               The initial desire of a young married couple is their ability to create a home together.  What exactly is a home? Is it the furnishings, the delectable meals cooked in the kitchen? Is it the laughter of young children running throughout the space? Or is it a spiritual place, a home where one can be connected to family, to friends, and to G-d?  And, where can one find such a home? How can one make such a home?  Does it exist? For me, my home is Israel.
               My family moved to Israel eight years ago from America.  Our goal was to be able to live in a land that is the land destined for the Jewish people.  This land was promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  This land was nourished by Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah.  And, the Kings of Israel built the Holy Temple in its coveted city of Jerusalem.  How could we not want to partake in such a destiny?
               Moving to Israel is not an easy feat.  At times, thorns are strewn in our paths in ways unfathomable to the American sensibility.  Yet, olim (immigrants) take these stumbling blocks as mere annoyances.  The language barrier, the inability to understand cultural nuances, and the post office system are only a few of the myriad of adventures we have all encountered!  Yet, we live here because it is our home.  We have decided to raise our families here, and watch future generations grow here, as well. 
               There is a viral video of local Israeli finalists from the 2013 television show The Voice.  They are singing the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips.  It is a poignant view of what home his.  The lyrics of the first stanzas are:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave (wave) is stringing us along
Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm gonna make this place your home
Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
You get lost, you can always be found

Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm gonna make this place your home

This song explains it all…Our home in Israel is an unfamiliar road that olim blindly join. But, we know that we are not alone, we are together with other families…people who have made the same commitment to live in a Jewish State. We do not let the demons of terror unsettle us. Why? Because we know we are not alone. For, we make this place our home! It is a home of Jewish tradition, of spiritual guidance, and of brotherly love. It has been our home for generations. No one can ever take away my home.