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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘LA’

Lone Soldiers: Valley Girl Turned IAF Dog Handler

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Natalie says she’s been a dog lover from birth. “I had two dogs when I was younger,” she recalls, “then they mated and we ended up with six more, and we couldn’t give them away…”

She was talking to the Jewish Press while walking her current dog, Fedor, 2.5, who is just this side of a puppy. “Every little thing he sees, he goes crazy,” she says.

The Air Force needs dogs because its bases are a highly desirable target for a terrorist attack, as well as for simple robbers. Fedor, a Belgian Shepherd (Malinois), is a search and attack dog.

“You can hide anywhere you want and he’ll find you,” she says, laughing. “That’s as simple as that is.”

Natalie says she sometimes hangs a leaf in front of Fedor’s face and he stares at it until she removes it. “If I move it, it won’t leave his sight, and if I throw it, there’s no way he won’t get to it. There’ll be a million leaves on the floor and he’ll find that one.”

He’s also “such a lovie dovie,” she says, and hugs him.

A native of the San Fernando Valley, Natalie came to Israel in the eleventh grade, “because my sister decided to join the Army.” Both sisters, in turn, came over as part of Gar’in Tzabar, a group of Diaspora youths, including children of Israelis, who choose to move to Israel and serve in the IDF. Often they are adopted by members of the Israel Scouts youth movement for the duration of their Army service.

“When my sister told me she was joining the Army, I immediately had a heart attack,” she says. “And when she said I should serve in the Army, too, I told her, You don’t understand, I’m not a fighter, I’m the kind of person that people fight for…”

Born and raised in LA, Natalie says she had everything she wanted ever since she was a little girl. “All of a sudden, my big sister, who is also my best friend, who’s been taking care of me, told me she was joining this military force, to protect an entire country.”

“It sounded completely absurd, so I came with her,” she says emphatically.

Natalie attended school in Israel and followed her sister through her service. “I got a completely different view on what the Army was, what Israel was, and how the people were,” she says.

Coming back to America six months later, and enrolling once again in her high school in LA, “every decision that I would make just felt wrong. I had my car, my friends, but it felt different. My friends weren’t real friends any more. In Israel I had met so many people that impacted me in different kinds of ways, that brought out my true colors.”

She says that from being an American Valley Girl, all of a sudden she started feeling Jewish and out of place. Israel began to feel “like a calling for me,” she says. “And I came over.”

She signed up with Gar’in Tzabar, in preparation for IDF service. Her parents are divorced, and her father was not pleased. He had served seven years in the Army and “specifically came to America so that my sister and I would have a better life.”

Since then, “not a month goes by when he doesn’t tell me, Why don’t you come home, I’ll buy you a car, I’ll get you your own apartment…”

But her mother, an Israeli, is a free spirit, she says, willing to support her in all her decisions, and always letting her know how proud of her she is. “When she heard that I’m going to Israel, it lit up her whole future. It gave her another reason to come visit Israel every so often.”

In Israel she reconnected with her mother’s family. “I’ve made extreme efforts to spend time with them,” she says. “My little cousin is 10-years-old, and I call him every weekend just to make sure things are going good at school and Kratae class, yada, yada. It’s nice to be part of this new family.”

Serving as a lone soldier is something you get used to, Natalie says. “I went to a friend’s house. His sister was sick so they were taking care of her in the living room. His mom was preparing food, his dad was on the computer. In the middle of all that, I just started crying.”

We spoke on the eve of Passover, and Natalie told me she was planning to stay on duty, to let other soldiers go home for the holiday.

Her discharge is right around the corner. “I’ve been so nervous about it. In the Army, even though it’s stressful and you learn so much about yourself, you’re still somewhat of a child. The Army takes care of you. They feed me, they tell me where to go and when.”

Did You Know ‘Brokeback Mountain’ Star Jake Gyllenhaal Was a Tzadik?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Jake Gyllenhall has reportedly been spotted topping up parking meters to stop the car owners getting a ticket. The ‘Brokeback Mountain’ star fed his spare change into the strangers’ slots when an LA traffic warden was about to ticket them.

A source told America’s Star magazine: “Jake was shopping in Beverly Hills and noticed a few parking meters were about to expire. And he saw that the parking enforcers were standing right there, waiting to issue tickets when they ran out.”

Jake Gyllenhaal ‘s mother, Naomi GyllenhaaL, is Jewish, and for his Bar Mitzvah, he says, “we went to a homeless shelter and we did some work there and then I had the party – the celebration – there.”

The 31-year-old tzadik is believed to be worth around $80 million. That’s a lot of parking meters.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Dear Rachel,

Several thoughts came to mind when I read the letter regarding the behavior of children in shul and adult reactions to it. In my opinion, this is a serious problem and the letter writer was completely correct, yet it was a strong letter that can be construed by some as bordering on sinas chinam.

If everyone showed basic derech eretz, we wouldn’t have this problem. Unfortunately, not only will many parents do nothing, but they will get angry if anyone says anything, because any criticism could damage their darling children psychologically and impede their development.

When my sons were very young, I would take them outside of shul if they made any noise. As they grew older, I taught them that it was completely forbidden to make a sound during leining, Kedusha, and the Mourner’s Kaddish. Later, I taught them that no talking was permitted during davening. When they were old enough and tested me, I would punish them appropriately. Today I have the nachas and zechus to see my frum, yeshivish son put his finger to his lips if someone talks to him during Kaddish.

Years ago I davened in a shul with a prominent rav. If a baby made a sound during his sermon, he would start screaming that the baby should be taken out. On the other hand, when my sons were growing up we went to a shul where the rav’s attitude was that all babies and children should be brought to shul. I won’t comment on the former case, knowing that most people share my opinion. However, if parents won’t show derech eretz, the rav has to deal with it. The following anecdote will show how one rav coped beautifully:

Many years ago in a shul in Brooklyn, just as the rav began his sermon one Yom Kippur, a baby in the front row started whimpering. The rav began: “On Yom Kippur there are three whom we must forgive.” (The baby started crying louder, and the mother was visibly mortified and frozen.)

The rav continued: “We must forgive ourselves…” The crying intensified. “We must forgive our fellow man…” The crying became still louder. I fail to recall the exact context of the sermon which took place over forty years ago, but I do recall the rav finally saying, “I forgot, there’s a fourth we must forgive. We must forgive babies who cry during the sermon.” Everyone laughed, and the mother relaxed and took the baby out.

Finally, things might be easier if adults also behaved appropriately during davening, especially during the three instances mentioned above. However, that’s a different parsha.

 

A Sweet Year to All!      A Tichel-Wearing LA Girl stirs emotions (Chronicles 10-7 and 10-14)

Dear Rachel,

I would like to thank the tichel-wearing LA girl for sharing her story. Though we live in a very yeshivish community, I often find myself shaking my head in disbelief when coming across young wives who flaunt their long and glamorous (fake) custom locks of hair that cascade down the middle of their backs. There is no way they can miss the looks they get and the seductive message they communicate.

LA girl’s letter (and your reply) was enough to motivate me to honestly assess my own modestly priced wigs. I think I’m going to trim the length of one that may come across as too youthful for a mom of five kids.

Thanks for the eye-opener Thank you LA Girl!

I totally second your point of view! It’s deceptive and untznius’dik, especially when married women flirt and flip their sheitels. As a single man, I find what goes on in the streets of Brooklyn today to be absolutely horrible. Kudos for having the courage to write about it!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities/2011/11/12/

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