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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘mother’

A Soldier’s Mother: Confession Time – I Didn’t Vote for Trump

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Putting the Trump victory in perspective…I continue to read messages blaming me and others like me for the Trump victory because we dared to argue that Hillary Clinton was not an option.

That isn’t to say Donald Trump was the ideal candidate but he was the option that America offered and so he was the choice I promoted. In the end, I think he is going to surprise everyone because he loves his country. He believes it is a land of opportunity; he gets what is so special where the Washington politicians have forgotten. And if, as I have been accused, I am responsible for the election of Donald Trump…I wonder when I should confess that I couldn’t even bring myself to vote?

That’s right. Guess what…I didn’t vote.

Because despite having the legal right, I left America amid the memory of many of my high school friends speaking about how they would sooner leave America than fight for it. It was the post-Vietnam, pre-9/11 America and the youth of my generation just didn’t fight. Like the Hollywood celebrities who threatened to abandon America if Donald Trump was elected; my generation was raised to give up, rather than give all.

At least I cared enough about America to be honest, to give the country of my birth my respect and my honesty. I left, which is more than those actors will do and moved to a land where our sons (and daughters) serve with pride. They are raised to know the day will come when they will pick up a rifle and fight. They do not think of leaving if the party for whom they vote is not elected. They simply accept that there will be another election, another chance and for now, we work for the safety of all.

I have had a son go to war two times; I have stayed awake nights knowing my sons are out there…somewhere…in the cold, in the rain, perhaps in an Arab village searching for a suspect or weapons. I have listened to the sound of explosions coming through the phone line when he called and felt, really, the vibration of the cannon’s roar. I have been to funerals for soldiers who didn’t come home and for three teenage boys who were murdered because in the eyes of our enemies, even they were soldiers for Israel.

I have cooked for the Sabbath knowing my son is standing with a gun pointed at violent protesters…and I was desperate enough to believe him when he called me and lied through his teeth telling me he was safe back on base because he didn’t want me worrying the entire Sabbath. And I listened and cried when he called to tell me that the 23 soldiers taken to the hospital after an Arab rammed his car into them as they walked in Jerusalem were from his unit.

And often when my son comes home in uniform, I look at him and realize anew what I thought as I packed to leave America over 20 years ago. I do not believe you should live in a land for which you will not fight; I do not believe you can profess to love a land if you are not willing to defend it against those who seek to destroy it.

And the irony is, I didn’t vote because even though I believed that Trump was the only viable choice, the best of what there was, I am shocked at the vehemence, the anger directed at me and at those who voted for him. And then, then I saw this posted to Facebook. Snopes, which has lost a tremendous amount of credibility of late, makes an attempt to prove the numbers wrong but in doing so, actually strengthens the argument by proving only a relatively small discrepancy in the numbers.

 There are 3,141 counties in the United States:
  • Trump won 3,084 of them.
  • Clinton won 57. **

** Note: A Snopes article confirms that there are 3,141, but claims that Clinton won 164 counties (still, more than 2,800 counties more than Clinton so I doubt Clinton can claim much of a victory there because she still lost by a huge amount).

There are 62 counties in New York State.

  • Trump won 46 of them.
  • Clinton won 16.

*** Clinton won the popular vote by approx. 1.5 million votes.
In the 5 counties that encompass NYC, (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Richmond & Queens) Clinton received well over 2 million more votes than Trump. (Clinton only won 4 of these counties; Trump won Richmond). Therefore these 5 counties alone, more than accounted for Clinton winning the popular vote of the entire country.

*** These 5 counties comprise 319 square miles.
The United States is comprised of 3,797,000 square miles.
When you have a country that encompasses almost 4 million square miles of territory, it would be ludicrous to even suggest that the vote of those who inhabit a mere 319 square miles should dictate the outcome of a national election. Large, densely populated Democrat cities (NYC, Chicago, LA, etc) don’t and shouldn’t speak for the rest of the country.


*** I couldn’t find any place in Snopes that disputes these statistics.He won in at least 2,800 more counties and in apparently about 3 million more square miles.

Donald Trump won, not because America lost its mind, but because it was in danger of losing its soul and it fought back. I watched unbelievable manipulation by the media the day before the elections and thought to myself…America can’t be that stupid. And as I watched the reporters come to grips with clear evidence of a Trump victory, I realized that America was not stupid.That America was great, that it wanted to be great. Again.

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump but that doesn’t mean I disagree with the results. Despite the numbers, I think Donald Trump was given a clear mandate and I think it is arrogance and unAmerican to fight the will of the people.

Donald Trump won the election. More, for the first time, he showed the logic of the electoral college. The future of America cannot be decided only in New York and California. That is the clear message. And the other message is clear as well. Four years will pass quickly enough – it always does. If you voted for Hillary Clinton, it is time for you to do what you were horrified to think Donald Trump would not do. Accept the results and stop assuming the worst.

Stop because you are hurting friends simply because they dared to disagree with you. You are hurting yourself by focusing on the anger instead of on the future. But most of all, you are hurting the United States of America by refusing to accept that others are not stupid because they didn’t support your choice; that others are not less American.

A vote for Trump was not a vote against people of color, against people of any particular sexual orientation. It was a vote against Washington, against politics, against media manipulation. But most of all, and perhaps the hardest thing for some people to accept, a vote for Trump was every bit as much a vote for hope and tomorrow as the vote you cast for Clinton.

I love America enough not to vote because I didn’t want to be where I am now – accused of doing anything to destroy or harm America. But I knew, as I watched the first election reports come in and Clinton took an early lead, that I was prepared to continue loving an America under Hillary Clinton.

I didn’t vote, but you did. Now it is time for you to accept…accept, or destroy. Destroy friendships and relationships but worse, destroy the foundations upon which the United States was founded.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: A People Like No Other

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

I read this story, posted by a Facebook friend, and asked permission to repost it.

With thanks to Batia Macales…a beautiful, only-in-Israel story…

Only in Israel

“In our area, the fires were just over the hill. They were so close that we could feel the heat, cough from the soot and ash, and hear the sirens… a lot. It was all anyone talked about. Some were packing and all that. Many parents didn’t let the kids out to avoid inhaling whatever chemicals may be in the air. Everyone cursed the Arab-arsonists with all their heart.

During the height of the action, I went to the local makolet [local mini-market] and stood in with my items. The line, as you can imagine, is long. People are buying cleaners of all sorts because everything is covered in soot.

“Slicha! Excuse me!” a guy shouts, “But I must go to the front of the line!”

He is holding a box of toothbrushes and a lot of toothpaste. He said that he only had a half hour off work, and since there was a lot of traffic, we had to let him through quickly.

Geez! A man wants a bunch of tooth brushes to stock up for the next ten years! Urgent, you know?

Well, one lady told him off, “Look! We are all on edge! Did you inhale Carbon Monoxide or whatever? No? Then stand in line! Here, we have no idea whether we will have a home tonight. Even if we have a house, between the planes and helicopters, and the sirens, and the smoke, who can sleep? And you need toothbrushes?”

Turning from him, she said to no one in particular, “I guess everyone goes crazy in different ways!”

I must say that the man was big, very big. If he had wanted to, he could have pushed her (and everyone else) out of line. Instead, he blushed and somehow drooped his shoulders.

He softly replied, “I am taking these to the shelter. There are people who only have their purses and a few diapers. Who remembers a toothbrush when you only have five minutes to evacuate? Food, drink, and clothes, they are getting. But no one thinks about toothbrushes, so I thought I’d take a half hour and get some… to make lives more bearable. You know?”

The line got very quiet and cleared a path for him. As he approached the cashier, the woman who yelled at him came running with all the pacifiers that were on the shelf.

“Take!” she commanded. “There are babies, maybe not everyone has pacifiers! I’ll pay for them!”

Immediately, all the customers abandoned the line and began sweeping items off the shelves – Toothpicks! Lighters! Even cloths to clean glasses! They dropped everything in the man’s basket!

“Do you have room for more in your car?”

One person asked, as people continued bringing miscellaneous things.
Meanwhile, the man just stood there, smiling like a birthday boy who just got a huge surprise! Now I’ve got this unbearable burning in my nose…

And I think to myself, “I was in a war. I know what it’s like. Besides, I’m grown, married and all that.” But I can’t help it. I am just about to cry—my soul was wide open! We are all one. The man tries to pay something but the store owner turns him down.

“My grandfather was a Rabbi,’ he explains, adding “My Zaide would turn over in his grave if I took your money! Go! Go!”

I mean, who could imagine. But that’s not the end! In the back of the store stood a “Russian.” He was as non-Jewish as you can get. He was standing with a carton of milk and a bun in his hand.

With trembling lips and a tear on his cheek, he cried out in a thick accent, “You people!! I want to be like you!! I want be a JEW! Take me please!”

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Why Can’t You Understand?

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Or maybe the question is how can you possibly understand the horror of watching your land burn? It is an open wound you don’t forget for a moment, a thought that stays in your mind as you go about your day.

The horror of what is happening is there.

My daughter posted this video and I thought – there, that’s it…that’s the horror of it. If you really want to understand what it is like…freeze the video and look at the city in front of the mountain. Imagine that you live in that city with the beautiful view of the mountains gently climbing beside the city. Imagine your house is right there…

Now run the video and as you watch in twenty seconds what took an hour to film, imagine for a moment, sitting before you window watching as the mountain is consumed with flames. Imagine the smells that come and the thought that maybe you should take your children from their beds, pack up the photo albums that can never be replaced. Your wedding album, the baby clothes you put away hoping to give to grandchildren not yet born because they were once worn by your babies. The new shirt you bought just last week.

Imagine looking at the silver spoons that come from your grandmother. You need to take them too. If your house would go on fire, the heat would be enough, surely, to melt them to nothing. The albums, the laptop computer you got last year. You have to take it. The mixer you bought last year…the one you use every week. You can’t take it. You can’t take the treadmill you bought last year, it’s took big and really, don’t you wish you’d used it more? Will it be there when you come back?

As you look around, the police come and knock on your door. You have to leave now, they tell you. You stare at him and he tells you not to worry. They’ll watch the house for you. You want to laugh. Watch the house? Will you watch it burn? But there is nothing the man can do. His job is to get you out of here. There are others, up there on the mountain, fighting the flames back.

You can’t think of them now or you’ll break. You need to take the children and the albums, the spoons…you can’t leave the spoons…and the blanket your grandmother made. Your jewelry, her necklace that your mother gave you, your ring you only wear when you go out…the passports. Your driver’s license. The extra set of keys. Keys to a house that might not be here when you come back. What else?

Oh God, what else can you take in the minutes you have? You look out the window…the glow is brighter, larger. Why does it seem closer? You need to call your sister, your mother. Your mother-in-law. The dog…you have to take the dog.

You get it all together. You;re ready to walk out of the house, not sure it will be there when you come back. You take your sleeping children from their beds, wrap them in blankets and carry them to the car. They’ll never remember this night, no matter how it ends. You’ll never forget it, no matter how it ends.

How long have you lived there? Will you lose all there is? What else should you have taken? You can smell the fire. You buckle your kids into the car. The trunk is stuffed. And you realize that all that is precious is there and all that you left behind…isn’t worth your lives.

You drive to the end of the block. To the right is the mountain, on fire. You join a long line of departing cars. The children have gone back to sleep. You turn to the left, to life, and drive away. Did you take the spoons? What about the matching fork? It was in the dishwasher, now left behind. You can’t go back…only forward. Forward to safety. Out of the smoke, away from the flames…even if the flames follow you.

And all over Israel, you know this scene is happening again and again because as high as the mountains are, that’s how much they hate us. You can’t put out the fire of their hatred and so all you can do is focus on life. What they burn, we will rebuild. What they destroy, we will recreate.

Please click to see the video from Noam Armonn Time Lapse Photography

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Painful Statistics

Monday, November 28th, 2016

You can track the pain of my country by the statistics on my blog.

The first time I noticed a spike was days into the first time Elie went to war. I was getting tons more comments (and hits) than ever before. I got to ten or eleven thousand hits a day and thought to myself, hey, all I have to do is have a son in a war…forget that. I was thrilled when the hits dropped back to normal…a few hundred more people per day, that I could handle.

The next time there was a spike, I wasn’t as surprised. Elie was in another war and again, I prayed for normal.

The third time, Elie was next to be called in, but Israel was fighting, the south was again under bombardment, and people were flocking to the site.


And now, once again – over 5,000 people today, and the day according to my US-based server is only half over. They say that statistics and traffic and visits and hits are important for a website.

I guess if you’re trying to make a lot of money, that’s true but if you just want peace and quiet…less is so much more.

I’ll give up the fires, the stoning attacks and more…thank you for visiting my site, really but I don’t need 10,000 people a day to come here…my country needs peace. We need the fires to end.

Don’t go away – but help please. Pray – pray for peace for Israel; pray for the families who have lost their homes. Pray for the wounded, the frightened.

Pray for the firefighters and the troops who are out there.

Pray for my son, and all the sons and daughters of Israel.

Pray for peace.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: What Victory Should Have Meant

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

The end of the US presidential election has finally come but hasn’t quite left. I remain so sick of this election and what got many of us through it was the knowledge that it would end. In most elections, each side knows there is a chance they will win and a chance they will lose. There is a danger in certainty, in not being prepared for other possibilities.

The danger is that if the other side wins, the side that was so certain will not adapt, will not accept. All along, quite unfairly, Trump was repeatedly pressed to confirm that he would accept the results if/when the US population chose Clinton. I might have missed it, but I don’t remember them asking Clinton the same question.

The end of the US presidential election has finally finally finally come. I am so sick of this election and what got many of us through it was the knowledge that it would end. In most elections, each side knows there is a chance they will win and a chance they will lose. There is a danger in certainty, in not being prepared for other possibilities.

The danger is that if the other side wins, the side that was so certain will not adapt, will not accept. All along, quite unfairly, Trump was repeatedly pressed to confirm that he would accept the results if/when the US population chose Clinton. I might have missed it, but I don’t remember them asking Clinton the same question.

I think Trump was wrong for not immediately stating that of course he would accept the results and what a silly question it was. Instead, he blew the issue up by trying to sidestep it. He was, I believe, viewing his acceptance of that possibility, an admission that he believed it could happen, and he didn’t want to allow for that. More, he didn’t want his supporters to allow for that and be weakened into not voting or for voting for someone else in order to be on the winning side.

Clinton supporters, by contrast, never really accepted that there was any other possible outcome but for her to be elected. The result was not just shock and despair, but anger and violence. Riots broke out in several places, fires set, the American flag burned.

I am saddened by the anger and despair and I think that is the result of people allowing themselves to be fooled by polls that were slanted, inaccurate, and most likely taken with a predetermined assumption to its results.

In short, the media wanted Clinton and so the results were more a reflection of what they wanted than what the American people wanted. And, in the post-election analysis, I watch the media scrambling to explain…never once accepting their own role in the violence, despair, and anger spreading across America.

In the weeks to come, there must be several “investigations”:

The Democrats have to study why and when and how they lost the confidence of so many. Clinton was, everyone clearly must accept, an unacceptable choice as a candidate. For that matter, so was Bernie Sanders. And, if we are to be brutally honest, so was Donald Trump.

This vote, long ago, became an issue of who was less inappropriate and that fact that the popular vote showed how close an election this was, I think stands as further proof that neither should have been picked.


But there has always been one great truth in all American elections – that the day after the elections, no matter how disappointed one side is, everyone turns their backs on the election and looks forward. This time, the pettiness, the anger, the violence are shocking. While Clinton’s speech was well spoken, it took her too long to come forward. No one doubts that had she won, she would have come forward immediately to claim victory.

She chose to wait until the next day. She chose to delay that speech by an hour at least. Each delay caused further damage by building the level of resentment among her supporters.

Another investigation that has to be made is into the media’s role. I believe they were a key factor in handing Trump victory. The more they pushed for Clinton, the more the American people got angry at being treated as though they were too stupid to make the choice. Trump spoke to the people; Clinton spoke to the cameras.

She is clearly the more polished debater (especially when they hand her the questions in advance). But America didn’t want polish; it wanted someone to talk to them…TO THEM…and that’s what Trump did.

And the Democrats missed that. Washington missed that, and the media missed that. More, if you listened to what Trump said, more, what he meant to say, and not the spinned interpretation, and then compared that to how it was reported by others, you realized that what he was saying was truth.

No, he is not Hitler and the comparison infuriates me. I live with what Hitler did on a regular basis. My husband is the child of Holocaust survivors. His uncle still wears the tattoo the Germans put on him. My mother-in-law was put IN a gas chamber and pulled out at the last minute before the gas was dropped into the room because the Germans needed more workers. His grandparents were rounded up, stripped and marched to gas chambers where their lives were stolen, their bodies burned to ashes.

Don’t tell me that Trump is Hitler.  And yet, the media kept that comparison alive. He’s a bigot, a racist, a misogynist. Actually, he’s not any of those. What he is, is a product of his age and his upbringing. He certainly does not hate women – he’s married three of them and if anything his problem is more his attraction to them.

What he is, is not particularly polished, not particularly Washington. He’s not smooth. He’s a doer more than a talker and I think ultimately, that’s what America voted for.

He didn’t say that he would ban Muslims from entering the US. What he did was put forth a challenge to those responsible for ensuring the security of the United States. Tell me you can separate out the terrorists who have and will seek to hide among the refugees you want the US to accept. And, if you can’t vet them, then your first responsibility is to the American people – and Americans accepted that while the media and the Democrats tried to spin that into an anti-Muslim statement.

It’s not. Every nation must first and foremost protect its people. That was the message that Trump tried to deliver, but the media worked very hard not to deliver it. And now, because of the media and the Democrat’s handling of the campaign, a huge portion of the American population refuses to accept the results of the very democracy they should be celebrating.

Where is the spirit of America? Where is the call for unity? Oh, the Democrats are mouthing the words but their actions speak otherwise. Clinton’s speak was conciliatory but she delivered it with a deep sense of mourning and a challenge to women that was condescending, at best. Do what is right, continue the fight. Sounds good, but what she was really saying was don’t accept defeat, fight on until you get a woman in the White House.

And that attitude is what got America where it is – in a very negative sense. It put a Black man in the White House – for the wrong reason – because he was Black. What America needs is the BEST person in the White House – not a man or woman, a White or a Black or Oriental or Jew or Muslim…a  person.

If the reason that you voted for Clinton was because she was a woman, it’s time to reevaluate.

Two things need to happen – for the good of America – first, all Americans have to look forward, accept the results and work towards unifying the country. And second, the media has to be called to task for its role in this election and in American life in general. For too long, the media has been allowed to not just present the news, but frame it, influence it, create it, manipulate it. That has to stop.


Journalism is more than just reporting what is happening. In that, the media is correct. If that is all that the media did, it would have ceased to exist with the advent of social media. The citizen journalist can report the news faster via Twitter and Facebook, Google+, Instagram, etc. than the media ever could.

But with the growing popularity of social media, the “old time” media has been challenged, their very existence called into question. And the answer they have found is not acceptable to the American people. That is what this election showed.

The media can present the story behind the images easily shared on Twitter. The problem is that the media is not willing to accept that role and work to make the story, influence the people’s thoughts.

Victory in this election means a Trump mandate for the next four years. It should also mean a renewed examination into the behavior and actions of the media. The camera was always meant to share the picture, not create it.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Israel in a Picture

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Do you want to understand Israel at this moment? It’s here in this picture. We are rushing to save all that is precious to us. We are under attack. Hundreds of fires have been started. More than 50%, over 200 fires, have already been confirmed as arson. They are calling it the Fire Intifada.

Fire fighters are going door to door in apartment buildings to make sure no one is inside. Someone runs up to them and tells them there is a woman in an apartment – and the camera shows them running to the apartment.

Now look at this picture. They are saving people, trying to save homes…and something more. The essence of what we are will not be burned in these fires of hate.

And so, in addition to saving what homes we can, what lives we must, here’s a picture of firefighters who went into a synagogue and saved the Torah scrolls.

If you want to understand Israel – look at this picture. For thousands of years, we have survived because we are grounded, centered, sheltered and loved by our God and by our land. And because we love our God and we love our land.

Years ago, a silly song attempted to suggest that the people of Gaza were fighting against an unjust war that was waged against them…after they fired hundreds of rockets at us within a few days…but never mind the facts.

I remember one line in that song: “You can burn all our homes and our schools and our mosques, we will not go down in Gaza tonight.” Well, they did go down, of course. They went down because the war they started was one of aggression and hate. The schools and mosques were filled with weapons; the homes used to shelter terrorists.

But tonight I can tell them – you can burn all our homes and our schools and our synagogues, but we will not go down in Israel tonight, or tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or next century and beyond.

We won’t go down because the war you started will fall before the love and kindness happening in this country at this moment. Our schools are opening to welcome evacuees, our homes will open as well. Our heroes will fight to stop the fires and you know what, they’ll take the time to rescue the Torah scrolls that contain our faith, our dedication, the promise God made to us to give us this land. It’s all written there, all protected.

This is Israel. On the news, the firefighters look exhausted. More volunteers are pouring into the area. The fires are under control; security forces are on alert and have caught some of the terrorists.

Israel in a picture? One of our heroes saving a part of our heritage.

Paula R. Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: The Bus Driver

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Bus drivers in Israel are…well, somewhat unique in many ways. Many people have stories of amazing things they have done – in terror attacks, they have risked their lives to get their passengers to safety. They’ve slammed doors closed before terrorists can get in; they’ve hit the gas pedal to move out of range; they’ve hit the brake when a terrorist was on-board hoping, and succeeding, to cause them to fall, while opening the doors so that passengers can escape.

And in less turbulent times, they have been known to turn the bus around because a child forgot to get off the bus and is crying; they have parked the bus and told passengers they won’t move until someone gets up and gives a pregnant woman or elderly man a seat.

They have been known to completely leave their route (with passengers going along for the ride) in order to drive a former prime minister to her home, or take a woman to the hospital after she suffered a heart attack, thus saving her life.

Many are greeted by name as they drive the same route for long periods of time. So many stories and now I have one too. The first was when my bus started to pull out of Ammunition Hill this evening. Many drivers try to get going because the rule is that once they are “out” of the station, they don’t have to open doors for more passengers.

Tonight, the driver closed the doors, drove about 5 yards and then stopped and opened the doors to let two more passengers get on. And then, as we wound our way through Maale Adumim, people got off, calling out “good night” or “thank you” as they left. One person got off two stops before mine.

I wasn’t sure, but I thought she was the only other passenger on the bus besides me, but I wasn’t sure.

“Is this your stop?” the driver called out to me. I wasn’t actually sure he was talking to me but I answered, “no, the next one.”

And, as he continued to drive, I asked him, “am I the last one?”

He answered that he thought so and continued. I live in a neighborhood that is a “figure 8” – the bottom circle is where I live, and no buses go there; so the buses travel down one side of the top circle and then curve around and climb back up the hill and out through the same traffic circle that begins the 8.

My stop is at the bottom of that top circle, after going down the hill, around the curve and a bit up the hill. As we approached the traffic circle that marks the point where the upper and lower circles join, the driver stopped the bus in the middle of the circle and asked me if I wanted to get out here. It saves me a bit of a walk (maybe 2 minutes) but it was still such a nice thing to do, thoughtful.

I thanked him, wished him a good night, and got out of the bus. He drove away as I walked towards home. In so many ways, this is what Israel is about – thinking of others, that thoughtful gesture, that open communication.

Paula Stern

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/a-soldiers-mother-the-bus-driver/2016/11/23/

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