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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘home’

The Ache in the Heart

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

I wrote once, long ago, of how having a son in the army changed your relationship and part of being a parent is accepting that relationship and going with the flow of it. One of the things I noticed early on was that I was more aware of the ache inside me when my sons were not home. When you first have a child, you are still connected to them in many ways. You feel, sometimes before they even let you know, that they are hungry or they need you.

Over time, the incredible connection that began when they were within you stretches. At first, you are with them almost 24 hours a day; slowly it becomes less intense. They learn to crawl, to walk, to run. They go to school and friends and you become two human beings – there’s a connection, of course, but you don’t feel them as deeply as you did before.

Hours can go where you concentrate on other people and other things. It was a shock to me, initially, to find that after Elie went into the army, a part of my heart and brain remained engaged with his well being. What I mean is, it was like a dull nerve always being pressed. I was constantly aware that he was out of reach, out of contact.

Though there were times he was in more danger than others, that feeling of connection, of worry, never went away unless he was at home. Only then did I feel that I could turn my phone off over the weekend, sleep deeply etc.

When Shmulik left the army, I thought that I had finally earned a full night’s sleep; peace in the heart and mind and soul. When Elie went into the Reserves, here and there, the connection didn’t come back and I thought maybe I’d moved past it, come to terms with this army thing.

When Shmulik married last year and Elie married this year, I accepted that my relationship with my sons has changed. Each has a wife that needs to take priority in their attention. Sure, I’m still their mother, but it’s a background position.

Moments after Elie left last night, I knew that he hadn’t really left. I feel that ache deep inside, that feeling that he’s missing and I can’t be complete without him home – even knowing that that home isn’t really mine anymore. His home is his apartment with Lauren and she’s missing him and worried and going through so much and more of what I feel.

At one point, half joking, and half not, I said to Amira, “I don’t want to do this again. It wasn’t fun the first time.” I think we both laughed but the truth is that I don’t want to do this. I don’t want him to go to war. I don’t want him there. I just don’t want it.

And the second truth is that this is going to happen. I finally spoke to Elie hours after Shabbat had ended. I was so grateful for the call. I had expected to hear about him from Lauren (and he called her hours ago and she was wonderful and called me right away). It was so nice of him to call me too – I’d needed it more than he’ll ever know.

He’s still on a base, waiting to be moved south; still preparing. The Israeli Air Force has done a tremendous job of laying the foundations of the ground invasion that is likely to come. No nation can withstand hundreds of rockets being fired at its cities. Hamas chose this battle and Elie and so many others from this neighborhood and throughout Israel are preparing, at this very moment, to respond to that call to battle.

It will not be easy. It will not be short but maybe this time the leaders of Israel will realize that we have no choice but to finish what was started 4 years ago.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

In Thousands of Israeli Homes, Wives Await Return of Reservist Husbands

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Since late Thursday night thousands of Israeli reservists have had to say good-bye to their families and answer the call of duty, as ground troops begin mobilizing for Operation Pillar of Defense.

Moriah Helman, 28, and her husband of 6 years Eliyahu, also 28, live with their three children in Talmon, a community northwest of Jerusalem and Ramallah. Eliyahu received his call on Friday morning as Moriah awoke to care for their youngest child, born one month ago.

“Eliyahu was instructed to pack a bag immediately and report to an undisclosed meeting point in a city close to his home. From there, he and his fellow reservists would be taken by bus to receive their equipment and then would be sent on to their destination. Once there, they would undergo a short training session before receiving their order, “ Moriah told Tazpit News Agency.

“Its mostly stressful, frightening” Moriah explains. “If G-d forbid something happens… But there’s no alternative…even with a baby at home and there’s work and life, this is what needs to be done.” The Helman’s oldest child, age five, seems to understand what is going on.

“He’s very proud of his father, and considers him a hero off to save the country and fight the bad guys. He’s seen his father off to the reserves a few times, and every time his dad leaves, his dad comes home. He doesn’t realize that things are different this time around, more dangerous” Moriah points out. ‘There was no way I could tell [Eliyahu] to stay home! says Moriah.

When asked her opinion on the current situation in the south, Moriah doesn’t miss a beat. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” she asks, quoting Hillel from the Pirkei Avot.

Maayan Dvorkin-Rynar, 25, also sent her husband off to the reserves, but living within 23 kilometers of Gaza, her routine has been punctuated by rocket attacks for months. Maayan and her husband Harel, 27, live in Kibbutz Massuot Yitzchak. According to Maayan it was clear that Harel would be called.

“Harel serves in a special unit, and is called to reserves at least once a month. Though accustomed to his being called away often, it is still upsetting not having him around. I have my family here on the kibbutz with me, so I have support, but it’s not fun being here alone.”

Because Kibbutz Massuot Yitzchak is in close proximity to Qiryat Malachi, Ashdod and Ashquelon, three cities which have bombarded by rockets since Wednesday, Maayan and her family have been living between sirens and booms. “We do what we can to continue living life as we know it,” she explains.

“I trust Harel that he’ll do his best and I hope that Israel’s operation in Gaza will lead to a significant outcome for the future, one where will no longer have to live under a state of living under constant threat of rocket fire. And Am Yisrael Chai!”

In Haifa, Elisheva’s husband, Avinoam has also been called. When asked if she feels safe living in Haifa, far away from Gaza and it’s rockets, Elisheva says, quite simply, “no place is safe. The south, Tel Aviv, up north, Hashmonaim…no place is safe. We’ll continue living life as we did two days ago…There’s not much I can do.”

Avinoam’s brother-in-law, Ze’ev, serving in the same unit, was also called into the reserves early Friday morning, much to his surprise. “I got the call at 6:45 AM,” he said. Since his release from compulsory service three years ago, this will be his first time serving in the reserves.

His wife Rikki came home from the gym to find her husband packing his bag. “I was pretty emotional, but I tried not to show it, I wanted to stay strong,” she explains. She is comforted by the fact that her husband and brother were called into the same place, and knows that “even if its hard and emotional, he’s doing what he needs to be doing. We’ll pray.” Even though it was difficult to see her husband off, Rikki believes in what he’s been sent to do.

“We believe in our country, this is what out our husbands have got to do to keep us safe.”

Rockets on Gush Etzion – A Personal Story

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

On Friday night, I was walking to shul with my kids when the air-raid siren went off. I quickly had to debate which was closer, my home or the shul, because there wasn’t much of a particularly safe place in between the two.

To digress for a second, on Friday, Hamas claimed they were going to hit the Knesset in Jerusalem with a rocket. Personally, I didn’t take that threat very seriously, mostly because they were just as likely to hit an Arab village or Al Aqsa, so why would they take that chance?

And out here, in Gush Etzion. Not likely at all. Right?

But still, before hockey practice in the afternoon, the coach made a point of telling all the kids where the closest bomb shelter was. You know… just in case.

Like every Shabbat, I had my security walkie-talkie with me. And when the sirens went off, it started shouting too about the incoming rocket.

This was real.

I decided we were going to try to run home. My wife was there with the newborn along with my mother, and they would need help too.

But little kids can only run so fast, and when it became clear we weren’t going to make it home in a reasonable time, I hid us under a semi-enclosed garage (the building the garage was attached to was unfortunately locked). I wasn’t going to keep us out in the open for much longer. It wasn’t safe.

We got there, as did a few other people, and we waited. And a minute later – “Boom”.

I’ve been through rocket attacks in Lebanon, and during the Gulf War too, so I knew what to expect. But I didn’t know how my kids would react.

My kids couldn’t stop laughing when they heard the explosion in the not far enough away distance!

They apparently practice running to the bomb shelter all the time in school, so they knew what to do, and were excited they could finally do it for real.

We waited another minute, and then rather stupidly, we ran the rest of the way home. Then there was a second, and perhaps fainter boom.

Turns out you are supposed to wait 10 minutes in your safe area, because they fire them in groups. Who knew.

I went back to shul. Alone this time.

Anyway, the parks were pretty empty on Shabbat afternoon, and we kept our kids inside for the rest of the day.

The kids have been making siren sounds all day long and building Lego rockets.

Go figure.

 

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The following was posted on Facebook by Eli Birnbaum

Surreal story from Eli Birnbaum in Tekoa:

Erev Shabbat in Tekoa (like most places) is a contradiction of tension and relief. This time the arrival of Shabbat was accompanied by warning sirens for a missile attack. Surprise and unbelief “Missiles here in the Judean desert?” Before we can really grasp what was happening, there came the resounding boom of an explosion echoing in the hills reflecting the shock in our faces. The security van careens through the streets calling people to find shelter. Within minutes another siren warning. This time prayers are halted . “Quickly under the shul,” someone commands. Within the confusion we grab our children and grandchildren in our arms and climb down to the open area under the synagogue which affords more protection. We all move quickly in the darkening evening finding space on the floor . I hold one of my grandchildren talking to him softly . He thinks it is a great game. We begin to sing and wait for the next boom.

It was at that moment that my son Pinny’s cell phone rings. As a member of a search and rescue team it is not uncommon for him to get calls even on Shabbat. But this call was different “Shabbat Shalom” . It is a familiar voice with a very distinct accent. “ Pinny, its Muhammad, what do I do? What’s happening? I heard your sirens”. There is real panic in his voice.

At first this may not appear to be an abnormal situation, but Muhammad is an acquaintance/friend who happens to live in the Arab village of Tuqua which the army will only enter in large numbers. Pinny quietly explains that we were being rocketed from Gaza and the best thing he could do is to remain in doors and stay away from windows. Muhammad thanks Pinny profusely apologizes for calling on Shabbat “ Shabbat Shalom Pinny – B’Emet todah!”. So this Friday night , a “Palestinian Arab” called a “Jewish Settler” for help regarding a rocket attack from Gaza – Surreal!

 

Chinese Lanterns In The Sukkah

Friday, November 16th, 2012

A Hong Kong symphony of sounds fills the air as local laborers shout across the shul courtyard in Cantonese while tossing bamboo in a pile for the sukkah: Filipino maids chatter in Tagalog hovering over the children in their charge, the radio of the Nepalese gurkhas, the Synagogue security, crackles and jackhammers provide the background music. The thick air and humidity within the walls of the partially constructed bamboo sukkah sharply contrasts with the crisp fall air of Sukkot in the northeastern corridor of the United States, where the sukkahs of my childhood were laden with dried fruit and autumn color. Dozens of colorful miniature Chinese paper lanterns dangle from the sukkah and here replace the burnt orange and golden gourds of autumn.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Lantern Festival or the Mooncake Festival, falls on the 15th day of the eighth Chinese month, which not coincidentally coincides with Sukkot every year. The Chinese calendar, also being lunar, has a familiar rhythm. Side by side, we celebrate our Jewish festivals with our local Chinese hosts. While they gaze up at the moon, we speak of seeing the night stars through the s’chach. Both of our festivals are reminiscent of the harvest, though we have both journeyed seemingly far from our agricultural roots living here beneath the shadows of Hong Kong’s glittering skyscrapers

Despite the exoticism that life in the Far East might evoke, our children and those of our friends certainly still sit on the floor and color, cut and paste to decorate the sukkah, just as they would had they still been living in New York, London or Melbourne. That being said though, our themes here do tend to combine more pop culture and modernity with the tradition that I remember. And while Sukkot brings about the sense of impermanence and wandering, for me it is somehow about everything but that. It is a time to reflect on the meaning of home. And to emphasize my point, this year’s Wizard of Oz themed sukkah at the Ohel Leah Synagogue features a giant banner bearing the words, “There’s no place like home.”

And for most of us, being high-rise city dwellers, the community sukkah is in fact our only sukkah. While empty it seems cavernous, but it will quickly fill with friends who are our family and congregants who are our community. As a result, we all have a sense of ownership over our synagogue’s sukkah.

And for all the talk of what my children miss by living in the Far East and in a large Asian city, I counter with all they have gained. While it is true that they will never have a sukkah in their backyard, nor will they ever have a backyard (which the British have influenced them into believing is called a garden), they live in a world where by age nine it is safe to wander around on your own and by 11 taking public transport and a taxi alone is the norm. They live in a place where they are immersed in a foreign culture, free from the dominance of Christian culture and holidays, void of anti-Semitism and where they are exposed to multiple languages on a daily basis.

They can also actually sleep in a sukkah, without freezing, so long as they remember the mosquito spray. They have an understanding of diversity and culture and don’t fear things they don’t understand. They are born travelers and adventurers and see possibilities as limitless. Living within five minutes from their Synagogue and school, and most of our closest friends, in many ways they live in a small town but with little risk of developing a small town mentality.

And Sukkot, for them, while it will certainly never conjure up a nostalgia for dried fruits and cranberries on strings, dried gourds and Indian corn, cool weather or fluttering crisp leaves painted with brilliant autumn colors, they won’t think of themselves as rootless as some think the expat experience suggests.

Sukkot, while maybe framed in memories of Chinese lanterns and bamboo, perhaps takes on a greater meaning for them. Aware that China is our adopted home, a “temporary” dwelling for them is in some ways played out here on a daily basis. Home for my children is not a solitary image. It is bigger than that. It will likely always remain somewhat fluid, not fixed to a singular place but a feeling they can carry with them. It will be connected to synagogue and Sukkot, Israel, China and the US; to the places where they can find common language and ground, where welcomed and where they are loved.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Dear Rachel,

As a longtime reader of your column, I don’t recall you ever addressing the problem of a single with my perspective. I am nearly thirty and fear that I’ve missed my zivug. I ask those who would be quick to accuse me of being picky, choosy and too fussy to first listen to what I have to say and then to carefully consider what they’d have done in my shoes.

Ten to twelve years ago I was a desirable shidduch prospect but was forced to put my aspirations and shadchanim on hold at the insistence of my parents who were most adamant about not letting me marry before my older sibling. She was two and a half years my senior and hadn’t yet found her bashert.

One year led to another, and I watched helplessly as my friends got engaged and my dreams flitted away.

A bit of background: My family is chassidish where the commonly held belief is that skipping over a child would leave him or her stigmatized and the impression of being “damaged goods” would then hinder the future chance (of the one skipped over) to land a shidduch. I must add that not all families where I’m from are equally prudish and stuck in their ways; there are instances where younger has gotten married before older, but they are far and few between. For the most part, much importance is placed on marrying off children according to chronological age.

A couple of years ago, tired of being viewed as a pity case and finding myself isolated as my friends had long since married and were raising families of their own, I decided to leave home. Since I had a decent paying job I was capable of supporting myself. I moved to another borough, expanded my horizons and my education, made new friends and began to lean somewhat towards modern orthodoxy.

At the same time I kept up with my family and to this day visit frequently, many times for Shabbosim. I must admit I often find myself wishing things had worked out differently. Had my parents not intervened in the way things were progressing for me way back, I know that today I’d be playing the role of a contented house frau busying myself with raising my children and living a typical chassidish lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not like I don’t go out or that people don’t fix me up, although with each passing year the pool of singles for my age bracket shrinks substantially. The mix of my background and current persona also complicates finding that someone I would feel comfortable with, or for that matter would be comfortable with me. And of course the older I get the harder it becomes to get a decent date.

With all of the changes I’ve made in my life, at the core of my being I am very lonely. That inner sense of belonging eludes me; I miss the chassidish environment and so far find that nothing for me matches the warmth that permeates the chassidish home.

I am not asking for advice, nor do I expect you to have any for me. I know full well that it is up to me to choose my direction and the kind of life I want to lead. The reason I am writing to you is because I know that The Jewish Press has many readers in the chassidish community and I am hoping my letter will talk to their hearts. While I am the type who appreciates old-time values, I strongly feel that some of that old shtetl mentality desperately needs to be rethought.

To parents who face the dilemma of listening to shidduchim for a younger child who has an older sibling still waiting in the wings: Please consider the ramifications of your stubborn refusal to be open-minded. If something comes along that sounds too good to pass up, think twice before you do for you may be pushing away the younger’s rightful zivug and may end up with more than one unmarried child to contend with in your golden years.

Thank you, Rachel, for letting me get this off my chest.

Missed the boat

Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Returning Home

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

IDF Radio confirms that Israeli Embassy staff in Egypt are returning home due to security concerns.

It’s not known if Israel’s ambassador will be returning in the near future.

Do They Stay or Do They Go?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Conflicting reports on IDF radio. Egyptian sources claim entire Israeli diplomatic staff returning home to Israel. Reuters says that the embassy staff are remaining and the embassy remains open as usual.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/do-they-stay-or-do-they-go/2012/11/14/

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