No, these aren’t illegal child laborers making Matzah in some underground sweatshop. It’s a bunch of kids making Matzah in an underground Chabad House in Efrat.
Posts Tagged ‘Efrat’
Lately it seems that everything interesting is happening in Efrat.
On Friday, hundreds of runners of all ages (apparently dogs too) took part in the Efrat marathon.
IDF soldiers, reservists and local security units participated in a massive training drill in the town of Efrat, Gush Etzion, reenacting an infiltration of terrorists into the settlement, on March 02, 2015.
The IDF’s central command called a surprise training exercise in the West Bank to test reservists’ alertness and to prepare for the possibility of a possible escalation in Judea and Samaria.
Efrat is a beautiful town!
On Thursday evening, students at the Orot Etzion Boys Elementary School in Efrat reenacted different Biblical scenes as part of an interactive live art/Torah exhibition for the month of Adar.
Every floor, corner, class and even staircase of the school (think Jacob’s ladder) showed off exhibits and models the students put together by themselves.
In the exhibit above we see the story of Bilaam (yes, that’s a real donkey inside the school).
The sheep near the Beit Midrash seemed a little scared.
Below is a a 4th grader’s model of Joshua’s battle at Beit Horon made out of play-dough (each figurine shows a lot of individual detail):
Although I am living in what is regarded as a religious Zionist community just south of Jerusalem this year, in many ways it is pretty similar to the community in which I have lived, just outside of Philadelphia, for the past 20 years.
There are some differences, though, and they became more glaring this past Friday afternoon.
I was trying to finish both my work and my preparations for Shabbat when, around noon, the power went out. All of it. Luckily, my daughter and I had already made several of the dishes we planned to serve. We were hosting 11 19-year-olds for Shabbat, and given all the dietary needs – vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian and hungry meat eaters – we had started cooking early.
I’ve already made challah on a grill when my power went out one Shabbat in the States, so figured I could do that here as well.
But why had the electricity gone out? Was it just my house, as has happened many times – almost always on Fridays, just to keep me on my toes this year – or was it the whole neighborhood?
I messaged a number of my friends on the block. We were all without power.
My neighbor Shari called to say that she was leaving the food market that serves our immediate neighborhood. The electricity was out there as well, apparently it was out throughout Efrat, as well as some other of the local communities, including Neve Daniel and Allon Shvut.
Shari said I should go check it out: the lights and refrigeration were all out at the SuperDeal. Undeterred, the employees at the registers were dutifully writing on pieces of paper the names and phone numbers of each customer, what they were taking, and what each item cost. Credit cards couldn’t be used, of course, and the registers run on electricity anyway.
Yael Meir, the 23-year-old college student cashier whom I recognized from shul, told me the electricity had gone out about an hour earlier. She was completely unfazed. She said that a text message went out explaining that the authorities were trying to fix the problem, which was expected to be resolved within an hour or so.
Another neighbor said she heard an act of vandalism caused the outage – that either Arabs had cut a power line or burnt down an electrical pole. Although several people said they had heard this also, all said it was just a rumor; no one seemed bitter. I asked the person in charge at the market, the one who gave me permission to take pictures inside, whether he knew what happened to the electricity. He was sitting on a bench outside, in the sun.
“No, no one has said what happened. A few people said it might be vandalism, but no one knows.”
The SuperDeal market is in a small strip mall, and although the market was largely empty, the pizza parlor and The Scoop deli had customers.
Manning the counter at The Scoop, 18-year-old Baruch Rosenstark (I know his mom, also from shul) explained that although there were customers, the power outage meant that all the ice cream was likely going to be ruined, as was the iced coffee which is usually sloshing round and round in a small tank of crushed ice.
On the other hand, a dad originally from Teaneck and his four children were sitting at the table eating a meal. The dad said they wouldn’t normally eat out on a Friday afternoon, but they couldn’t cook any food for lunch, so they came out to eat.
Stephen, another Efrat resident, told me that his seven-year-old daughter was stuck in an elevator when the electricity went out. While the young girl was inside, another neighbor began pounding on the elevator door, thinking someone was purposely holding it up. The girl calmly informed him that the elevator was stuck. At that point she had been trapped in the elevator for 2o minutes. The fire department finally arrived and rescued her after being trapped for 45 minutes. She emerged, cool as a cucumber.
Within another hour, the lights flickered a few times, and then all was restored. In time to complete cooking for Shabbat.
A power outage just hours before Shabbat in the States would have been a major calamity. And no one would be purchasing groceries “on the honor system” there. In Efrat, the outage barely merited a shrug.
It might look a little like a video from ‘Krav Maga‘, but this is deadly serious: the Efrat Municipal Council in Gush Etzion is sending its local kindergarten and nursery school teachers and assistants for training in self-defense in case of terrorist attacks. For real.
One of the fastest growing communities in Israel, Efrat lawmakers decided it was better to prepare teachers to confront any possible scenario as reasonably as possible. The most vulnerable of all were those with the youngest charges, those in kindergarten and nursery grades.
The wave of terror that has swept Israel in recent months prompted the Council to make sure the teachers know how to defend themselves and their young charges in case a terrorist penetrates the school’s security fence and gets past the schools’ guards and patrols.
Teachers are to be equipped with pepper spray and taught how to use it effectively as well.
The decision comes in the wake of the horrific terror attack a few months ago that left a synagogue swimming in the blood of four English-speaking rabbis, three dual citizens from the U.S. and one dual citizen from the UK. A Druze police officer also gave his life to redirect the slaughter away from the rest of the congregants during the bloodbath in the Har Nof synagogue that day.
In addition, there have been numerous other terrorist stabbings in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion, making it clear the third Intifada is well underway.
“We should not have to wait for something to happen,” said Nava Assis, coordinator for the local effort. “Instead, we must be proactive. It’s better to think one step ahead and create a sense of personal security.”
I was returning to my home in Israel after being in the States for a month.
Near the end of the ride, the airline attendants gave the 15 minute warning, after which everyone would have to stay seated, buckled-up in preparation for landing.
I was near the front of the line, waiting. A heavy-set man, perhaps in his early sixties, began speaking to me in Hebrew. I turned and smiled, and explained my Hebrew was not very good. He then continued speaking, this time in a broad mid-western American English.
I asked the man how it was that his Hebrew was so good, and he explained he had served in the IDF in the 1970’s. I was a little surprised, as he was not very rugged looking (or sounding), but I thanked him for serving.
He asked me whether I had been to Israel before, and I explained to him that I have been many times before and was living in the country for this whole year.
So far so good. An easy, smile-filled patter continued briefly, although I sensed a small dip of disappointment, perhaps realizing he would not be able to play the role of informed insider to a wide-eyed new visitor.
And then everything changed.
It changed when I told him where I was living this year.
Once I told him I was living in Gush Etzion, in the community of Efrat, a prickly shell began forming.
“Oh, one of my relatives lives there. He’s very right-wing,” he said to me.
“Really?” I replied, “What does that mean?” Perhaps my gaze became a little more focused at this point, perhaps a shell began coating my soft outer flesh.
“Oh, well, I know many settlers, I met them when I was serving in the West Bank, actually many are very nice.”
“But?” I prompted, still gazing intently at him.
“Well, like my friends, and as all of the major military figures agree, I know that the only hope for Israel is the new party with Herzog and Livni*,” he said, assuming that because there are former members of the Israeli military championing his dream ticket, he would win this round.
“What do you mean, the only hope for Israel?” I asked.
“Well, the only hope for peace,” he explained.
“So, you think Israel is the obstacle to peace?” I asked. That was the end of the conversation. He looked away, found a teenage girl who had come up behind us, and began querying her about her future plans. I heard him encouraging her to consider applying to the midwestern state university where he teaches.
It took a few minutes for my blood to cool.
I am sure my airplane bathroom line partner really believes he knows what’s best for Israel. He has to believe he loves Israel. And yet, he actually believes that Israel is the obstacle to peace. He firmly believes that unless a less “hardline” regime is voted in, Israel is doomed.
Never mind that Ehud Olmert tried to hand over control of Israel’s security to the moderate terrorist sitting in the driver’s seat over at the Palestinian Authority. Never mind that from before the time Israel was reborn she has never had true peace no matter who was sitting in the Prime Minister’s office, left, right or center.
On whom can we blame this man’s misguided thinking? And how can we hope to counter the message he so quickly shares on bathroom lines and, no doubt, in his classroom and synagogue listserv and possibly at public speaking events in his midwestern community?