Tag Archives: Israel

While In Israel, I Have Been Crying For Aleppo

17 Dec

It is relatively peaceful where I have been the past two weeks. In Jerusalem I walked the old city at night.  Yes we stayed in the Jewish Quarter. But we walked and talked and saw children walking or riding their bicycles without fear. 

While in Jerusalem, we took a tour to Herodium, the final resting place – the tomb of Herod the Great, master builder and king who died in 4 BCE. It is in the Gush, the part of the West Bank close to Jerusalem. We lunched at a winery and traveled by car along the trail of the patriarchs passing gated communities enclosed by barbed wire. But it was quiet and seemingly peaceful.  We passed Palestinian communities and saw farmers working their lands. 

We saw the news and read about the soon to be evacuated community of Amona.  And how the settlers don’t want to leave, but the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled they must leave by December 25 this year. A double holiday. Hanukkah and Christmas. 

We stayed in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv for a week with our daughter and her husband. We visited with her in laws in Modi’in. From her home a tour guide took us around Tel Aviv and the old city of Jaffa. We visited the Peres Center for Peace, to hear about programs to bring people together. 

 In both Jerusalem and Jaffa, I was amazed to see the new and innovated ways that both Moslem and orthodox Jewish women were now using scarves to cover their hair. Slightly different ways, but in many ways the same.  They pass each other peacefully in the streets and shopping centers. In Mamilla, a outdoor shopping center near Jaffa Gate, they mingled together in a colorful picture of head coverings from my view in a second story restaurant. 

We traveled north to Ceaseria, the port city built by Herod. So much of it still buried beneath the sand, but amazing with its Herodian, Byzantine and crusader ruins. It is a must see! Then another winery in Zichron Yaacov, a Jewish city that sits across on a hill side from an Arab village, near Haifa where Jews and Moslems both live and attend the Technion University. 

And all the while Aleppo burns. And children, women and men perish in the fires of another genocide. And the UN is useless. Still condemning Israel, but staying silent on the true terror of the region: Syria.  I cry for the children of Aleppo. I cry for all children who sees destruction and feel the fear of war. 

The children of Gaza suffer. But each day 39-40 trucks of cement enter the Gaza from Israel to help rebuild. Where is the cement going?  I can’t answer that.  But Gaza could be rebuilt if its leaders turned away from violence and settled for peace. While in Aleppo, there is no choice. The government and the Russian military has decided for them. 

In Israel, the Peres Center has a program, Saving Children, to bring Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank into Israel for urgent and complicated medical issues. Each year about 1000 children are cared for in Israel. Another program brings doctors from the West Bank into Israel for their residencies and fellowships to learn and bring back to their homes. In Aleppo the Air Force targeted hospitals and killed the most needy. Destroying the places of healing and hope. 

I had hoped the world had changed in 80 years. But it seems not.  So while in Israel, I have been saddened and cried for the destruction of Aleppo and Syria. For years I have wondered how the world leaders could do nothing. I will head home to the US today, but those who survive Aleppo will not have that opportunity.  Power breeds contempt. An entire country destroyed. While in Israel I have been crying for Aleppo and all of Syria. 

The Necklace I Never Wear

2 Apr

In a box in my closet is a small scrimshaw necklace that I never wear. I will never give it away. I will never sell it. I hope one day one of my children will take it.

The necklace I purchased with the money from Zeisel.

The necklace I purchased with the money from Zeisel.

It is not that old. I bought it when I was 20, when I spent my sophomore year of college in Israel, 1974 to 1975.

Many holocaust survivors were still alive. Some of them related to me through my maternal grandparents who were both from Europe. My grandparents came to the USA in the 1920s. But most of their family remained behind. Many perished, others survived and moved to Israel.

My grandmother went to Europe in 1931 with my Mom and uncle. I have written about this before. She stayed on the farm owned by her in-laws. While she was there her mother-in-law, my great grandmother Chava, gave her some family items. Two pieces of jewelry, a pearl necklace and an opal ring; and several embroidered and handmade pieces that Chava had made.   I own all but the pearl necklace. They were all given to me as the one named for Chava.

The pearl necklace disappeared in 1931. My grandmother went to use the shower at her inlaws. She took off the necklace to bathe and forgot to put it back on. When she realized it was gone, she went back to the bathroom. It was missing.

But she knew who took it. Zeisel. He was the only one who had been in the bathroom. But he denied taking it. And that was the end of the matter for 43 years, until I went to Israel for a year of college.

A month after I arrived in Israel, I received a letter from my grandmother telling me the story of the pearls. I had never heard it before. In the letter she wrote that the ‘goniff,’ Zeisel Feuer, my grandfather’s cousin, was going to give me some money to pay her back for the necklace he stole in 1931. I was to take the money and give my great uncle, her brother, half the money. The other half was to buy myself a necklace because I should have the pearls.

What? Was my grandmother insane?   I did not really want to do this.

I wrote her back saying that I thought 43 years meant the statute of limitations on a theft were over. And that she needed to let it go. And I did not need to have the necklace. But a few weeks later I received another letter instructing me how to find Zeisel in Tel Aviv. He worked at bakery on a specific street and I was to go there and speak to him. She said I had no choice. I had to do this. It was important to both of them to end this. And I would be the one to fix it. What?

Grandma ordered, so I obeyed. The next time I was in Tel Aviv, I went to the bakery. There was a man who looked so much like my grandfather, except smaller and bent. I knew it had to Zeisel. I introduced my self. He held for minute and had me sit at a table. He brought tea and a pastry. I waited while he finished working. Then we walked back to his apartment.

There he gave me Israeli lire, which in US would be worth about $100. And he told this story.

He was married with two children. He had a wonderful life. But he wanted more for his family. So when my grandmother left the pearls in the bathroom, he thought, “She lives in America. She is rich and has money. She does not need this necklace.” And he took it. And he lied.

In return the Nazis came. They killed his wife. They killed his children. They tortured him. He could no longer have any children.

And he knew that taking the necklace had brought all this pain to him and his family. And before he died he had to make amends. So he gave me the money. I was to do with the money whatever my grandmother said.  He had made peace.

I was stunned. I was 19. I did not know what to say but to cry.   When I left him, I took the money back to my dorm in Jerusalem at Hebrew University. A few weeks later I took half the money to my Uncle Isaac. The other money I kept in my room.

Each time I went to Tel Aviv after that, I always went to the bakery to see Zeisel. He always gave me tea and a pastry.   There were not many phones in Israel at the time. So I could not call in advance. I would just show up, or send him a letter telling him when I thought I would come. When my parents came to Israel that December of 1974, I took them to meet Zeisel and speak to him. It was a meeting my parents never forget as well.

In January I turned 20. I finally spent the $50 on a necklace for me. A necklace that carried so much pain. I could not wear it even though I knew my grandmother wanted me to have this jewelry from my great grandmother. So I keep it in a box in my closet. I know it is there. I know it is safe. It will not be lost. But I cannot wear it. When I see it, I always think of Zeisel and how much he lost.

It was not the pearl necklace that doomed his family. It was the rise of hatred. But he did steal it.  So for him giving me the money was closure. He had repented; he had done his “tashuvah.”  But for me it was the beginning of truly understanding the past.

I have written about the Zeisel and the pearl necklace before. It is a story that stays in my heart and my soul. But I have never talk about what I bought with the money. In my mind it is just not enough. It does not make up for the suffering surrounding one pearl necklace.  Zeisel was also the person who let my grandfather know that his entire family had perished in the Shoah.  He is forever bound in our family history.

Zeisel, my grandparents and my parents have all passed away. I am the only one who can remember this story. And so I tell it again.

 

 

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/i-believe-mystically-and-magically-great-grandma-chava-watches-over-me/

 

 

 

Shalom Salaam Peace

14 Nov

Where does the corruption of the value of life come from?  What sort of religious leader sends people out to slaughter innocents? Who is the person who would commit such acts of violence against others and self for some sort of glory? And how do sane and good people cope in the presence of such acts of evil?

To come out in the name of a religion to kill without thought or consciousness is so wrong. These acts are acts of hatred and evil. Not the teachings of any religion.

But these acts cause rebounding hatred and fear. They spread a virus of unease causing even good people to lose their own inner common sense as they see these acts of horror.

We have seen it over and over as towers fall and trains explode and burn and innocent people perish in restaurants, concerts, marathons, stores. 9/11 in the USA. 3/11 in Spain. 11/13 in Paris. Stabbings in Israel. Beheadings and mass murders in areas controlled by the disease that is ISIS.

Those who act for these militant Islamic groups are not the true voice of any religion. Just as the Christians who perpetrated the Shoah did not represent all Christians. Those who use religion as a reason to murder corrupt religion.

The terrorist want to win by creating more terror and more fear. But in reality there are many more good people than there are evil people. We are the majority. We must work together. We must overcome fear. And we must reach out to the other good people in the world to create a presence of love and understanding.

Yes we must work together to rid the world of the evil of these groups who commits horror. But we must not become them.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet. May the memory of all the people killed and murdered and injured in attacks of hatred in Paris and Israel and throughout the world be as joyful memories to their families and friends. May their names be blessings. May their families know peace as they find a path to comfort.

But may the haters be destroyed and the seeds of such evil be eliminated from the world.

Blessed is the peacemaker. May we all continue to work for peace. Cursed are those who would bring hatred to the world.

Blessed is the Name.

Shalom. Salaam Peace be unto all.

Thanksgiving in Israel, a Time of Blessed Rain

27 Nov

Garden Israel

For three days I have been in a rainy, stormy Israel. It is damp and torrents of rain and wind have left large puddles of water everywhere. Walking the streets of Tel Aviv is difficult as the gutters cannot take in the tremendous flows of rain water.

But my Israeli friends and relatives are happy. ‘Welcome to this time of blessed rain,” they say. Because in Israel rain is a blessing even as it caves in roads and causes minor flooding. The rain has been as far south as the Negev and as far north as the Golan.

But this morning is Thanksgiving. I have journeyed almost around the world to be here with my daughter and her boyfriend for this holiday. A trip to India with my husband turned into an adventure. Instead of returning home with him I traveled from Delhi, India, to Istanbul to Israel. All to spend a week here.

I am thankful that I arrived safely here as my husband journeyed safely to Kansas to be with our son. I am thankful that I can see where my daughter lives and works. I am thankful for the plans to see my relatives and friends while here. Even with the rain!

I am thankful for sunshine on Thanksgiving morning. And I am thankful for the blessed rain that has turned the ground damp and moist and the trees green and glowing in the sun.

After ten days in India where pollution and smog have turned the trees grey with soot and the buildings filthy, I also see the rain as blessed. After days of breathing in a film of pollutants and losing my voice to the irritants in the air, I wish blessed rain for Northern India. I hope its people and government can come together to clean the air and water. While I was in India I read daily articles about the pollution. But one of our cab drivers told us that when the rains come the trees sparkle green and the air freshens. Rain is a blessing in India as well.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Israel divides our family as our daughter has lived here for several years. But though I am separated from my husband and son I feel the blessings of thanks and the joy of the blessed rain. I see how rain is vital as it provides moisture to the land and freshens the air.

I wish all a happy Thanksgiving and a time of blessed rain.

Movie Night in the Catskills Was A Wonderful, Magical Night

24 Jul

It was our Saturday night tradition at the Ritz Theatre in White Lake, NY. In the late afternoon, early evening, we children would go to the early movie with our grandmas: Grandma Esther, Grandma Rose, Grandma Thelma, Mrs. Anoff. They chaperoned about nine or ten children and kept us safe.

Our dads would drop us off at the front of the theater with money for the movie and snacks. We were supposed to be very careful there as it was at the intersection of 17B and 55. So there actually was a bit of traffic.

I think our grandmas would collect all the money and pay. However, when we got a little older, we were allowed to buy our own tickets. If you were under 12 it was one price, over 12 you paid the adult fare. It was always sad when someone had a summer birthday and turned 12. They now had to pay much more!

Our parents, in the early 1960s.  Kauneonga Lake, NY.

Some of the parents, in the early 1960s. Kauneonga Lake, NY.

Our fathers, in the meantime, would then go home to get ready for Date Night with our moms. It was their special time together.

We would watch whatever movie was showing that week. The movie I remember the most was “To Cast A Giant Shadow” about the Israeli War of Independence and Colonel David “Mickey” Marcus, the American officer who helped with ending the siege of Jerusalem. It actually had a major impact on my life choices.

For this movie, I sat next to my Grandma Rose.   Grandma Rose, was really my cousins’ grandma, but that did not matter. We shared grandmas in the Catskills. In any case, Grandma Rose lived through the siege of Jerusalem with her husband, Grandpa Asher, and my Uncle Jack.

While we watched the movie, Grandma Rose spoke to me throughout, telling me what happened to her in 1948. She told me what really happened during the siege. What in the movie was true, what was just fiction. She told me about the lack of water and food. She told me about the day they finally left Jerusalem and how difficult that day was for her and Grandpa Asher. How she looked back knowing she might never live in Jerusalem, her Jerusalem again. She never did. They moved to the USA.

I was eleven years old when “To Cast A Giant Shadow” came out in 1966. But this movie and the story of Jerusalem stayed with me my entire life. It was because of this movie and Grandma Rose’ commentary, that I went to Israel eight years later to spend my sophomore year of college at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I lived in both the Givat Ram and the HaHasofim campuses.

I was able to go freely between both the old city of Jerusalem and the new city. I saw the places Grandma Rose had told me about, as well as, the places I saw in the movie.

While I was gone, Grandma Rose passed away. My parents did not tell me. They did not want it to be in a letter. In those days we had no cell phones, no computer, no Skype. I found out when I got home. I was heartbroken.  I wanted to tell her all about the Jerusalem, where I lived and how it had returned to one city.   But I never got the chance.

But I always remembered that one movie and Grandma Rose.

Movie night was always an exciting night. Without television, cable, VCRs, DVDs, Netflex, we looked forward to going to the movies one day a week. Even when we got older and did not need our grandmas to go with us, we would still go in a group to the movies. Then we would go to Poppy’s for ice cream after the movie ended. It was always a good time. Even on dates we went as couples with someone else. It seemed odd to go out with just one other person. Sometimes we even ran into our parents at the ice cream parlor. So strange, so different from when we were children.

Because when we were young, our dads would come to pick us up after the movies. When we were settled in back at our bungalows, the parents would go out. They were dressed up, looking fine. Many times they were just going to the movies as well. Sometimes, they went to a show at one of the many hotels or bungalow colonies to see a comedian or musical. It was a wild time in the Catskills.

We always knew when they went to a show because they came home with one of those keychain photo viewers. We loved them. I found some when we cleaned out my parent’s apartment and I brought one back to Kansas with me.

My parents always went out extra special on Fathers’ Day weekend because their wedding anniversary was June 17. They had spent part of their honeymoon at Grossinger’s before heading up to the Finger Lakes and exploring on their own. So a special evening out at Grossinger’s was often their anniversary celebration destination.

Movie nights changed after the Ritz in White Lake closed. We then traveled to Liberty or Monticello to go to the movies. But the magic still remained. Movie night in the Catskills was a wonderful, magical night.

Something Evil this way comes…and it is not Israel

22 Jul

Like many mothers in the United States, I have a child who made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel. My daughter studied for her two master’s degrees at Ben Gurion University in the Negev, where she earned degrees in Middle East Studies and the Politics of Conflict. She currently works for a consultant company that helps NGOs (Non-Government Agencies/non-profits) who work toward community building, understanding, helping women and children throughout Israel.

I taught my daughter from an early age to respect everyone’s right to exist in a peaceful world with no fear. That we need to work for interfaith understanding and community.  She listened to me and has tried to help create such a world.

But she saw her place in Israel. And as a mother of an adult child, I could only accept her choices.

When she studied in Israel she lived through missile attacks from Hamas before the Iron Dome defense system went into effect. She learned to take cover and run to a bomb shelter. When she came home one spring, she was concerned about the tornado sirens in Kansas. Would they sound like bomb sirens, and be just too unsettling? But no our sirens do not sound like the ones she was used to in Israel.  The same sirens she is hearing now as she rides her bicycle to work and must run for cover.

Now she, like millions of other Israelis, have been under attack from Hamas for days, months, years. And the world said nothing. NOTHING. They say nothing about the hundreds of thousands killed in Syria, nothing about those being killed in Libya, Nothing.

But when Israel starts to fight back and Hamas uses innocents as shields, Then the world talks. Israel is doing everything it can not to kill women and children.  And I am not saying they are always successful.  But they try.  Remember when the US was in Afghanistan and Iraq, we, yes we, the USA, killed many more civilians.  War is horrible and civilians die.  But when Israel fights back and bombs rocket launching sites that have purposely been placed near schools, hospitals and  residential areas, Israel is blamed.  The UN even found bombs in one if its schools.

Why, because Anti-Semitism still exists and it is like a snake that comes out of hole in the ground and strikes.

Anti-Semitic riots have occurred in France and other countries. Why is not the world rioting about Syria? Why not about Hamas and what it has been doing? Why doesn’t Egypt want to help the Gaza? Because the government of Egypt is afraid of the evil of Hamas!

Do not ask me if I feel stressed. I Do!

Do not ask me if my child is in the military. It does not matter. She is under attack whether or not she serves in the military.

Do not ask me if I want her to come home. For her she is home. As for me, really what do you think if it was your child?

You want to do something. Then tell those who hate for no reason, that Israel is not the enemy here. That evil comes from within Gaza where financial aid has not been used to help better the life of its citizens, but instead has been used to buy weapons from Syria and Iran. Has been used to build tunnels to attack Israel. Has destroyed what Israelis left behind when they left Gaza.

That’s right. They left Gaza. Gaza is not occupied by anyone but Hamas.

Something evil this way comes, and it is not Israel. It is terrorists. And terrorists/fanatics do not stop. They must be stopped.

How 24-Hour News Turned Me Into an HGTV Addict

18 Jul

I stopped watching the news in 2008, during Operation Cast Lead. My daughter was studying in Beer Sheva, Israel, and I was on the phone with her when a rocket landed very close to her dorm. It traumatized me.  No mother wants their child in the line of rockets.

At that time the Iron Dome, which Israel is now using so successfully against Hamas rockets, did not exist. So when I watched the news, I would over and over again see rockets fired. See people running for cover. And then see the horrors of war for the people trapped in Gaza. I was immobilized by the endless stories repeating over and over again.

My husband and son said, “TURN IT OFF!”

And I did.

I started watching HGTV. No one ever dies in “House Hunters.” No one is ever hurt in “Curb Appeal.” The biggest issue in “Devine Design” is whether the family will like the new room, and they always do.   Sometimes the twin brothers argue. And on “Property Virgins,” the home searchers are not always realistic. While in “Income Property”, the home owners always make out really well with both new income and increased property value.

So I became an HGTV addict.

I learned so much. I realized that some of the remodeling I did in my own home could have been a bit better. I should have put heated floors in my bathroom when I had the carpet pulled out and the tile put in. In the basement, I should have put a subfloor in. But I still like what I have done.

This is the wall I painted before the accent color.

This is the wall I painted before the accent color.

And here is my accent wall with color!

And here is my accent wall with color!

I learned about accent wall colors. And even painted my front hall one weekend to address the need for a vibrant accent color in my house.

From Curb Appeal, I found out that we have done a great job making our house attractive from the street. I guess I already knew that because so many people stop me when they see me outside to compliment my gardens.

However, sometimes HGTV cannot keep me away from the news.

I have been drawn in to the news again the past two weeks. But the past two days have been especially bad. Not only is Israel now involved in a ground offensive in Gaza to destroy tunnels, but a Malaysian airplane, a 777, was shot down from the sky killing almost 300 innocent people.

I have watched the same reports over and over again. That endless news cycle is a killer for emotional stability.

Last night I was crocheting and watching CNN. Which lead to me eating brownies and watching.   When finally I told myself, STOP!!!

I went to directly to HGTV…Wow a family looking for a place to live in Barcelona on House Hunters International.   I really want to travel there. I have not been to Spain. They chose the place I liked. So I was happy. No stress. Sometimes, I do disagree with the choice a family makes, but that is okay.

Friends have been asking me, “How are you doing?” Knowing that my daughter is in Israel. Even my brother said, “Well, this time you really have something to be anxious about.”

To all of them I say, “On HGTV, everything is just fine.”