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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘mother’

A Soldier’s Mother: Keeping the Sabbath

Friday, July 29th, 2016

On my first trip to Israel when I was 16 years old, I discovered, truly for the first time, the deepest and truest meaning of Shabbat, our Sabbath day. For years in America, I had adopted the traditions, attempted to follow the rules, but what was missing was the absolute depth and beauty of sharing that day with others in song, sharing meals, simply living in the moment. My family was not religious and so I was mostly on my own, sailing through the mechanics.

Only in Israel, sharing each Shabbat day with hundreds of other teenagers who were also enjoying the experience of Israel did I suddenly understand why the rules are what they are and how incredible a gift we as a people have been given.

While I was here, one Shabbat was shared with another group of kids. This one included girls who had recently been “converted” from Reform Judaism to Orthodoxy and the sudden plunge that they experienced was so very different from my slow and easy (and lonely) journey from Conservative Judaism to Orthodox. Though I understood that these girls had been quickly taught that they must be modest, I found their climbing under the blankets in an all-girls room to be a bit absurd, but I held back figuring, with all the superiority a 16 year old can muster, that they needed to be helped along and accepted, not criticized.

Later that night, after yet another amazing meal, hearing 300 kids singing and clapping and even dancing, I was not even a bit bothered the first time one of them complained that the last person out of the room, whoever that was, had forgotten to shut the light. So here we were, four girls in a room with a light on, while Jewish law forbade us from closing it during the Sabbath.

I accepted the situation and turned on my side, but this one girl said out loud, “Oh, it’s so hard to sleep with the light on.”

I closed my eyes and waited for sleep, “I just wish the light hadn’t been left on,” she said.

A few minutes later, “It’s just so hard to sleep with the light on, too bad it can’t be closed.”

And a few minutes later, “It’s so hard to sleep with the light on.”

And then somehow, a crazy thought entered my mind, “Are you hinting that we should shut the light?” I asked her as I sat up in bed and looked at her.

Such incredible relief filled her face with joy, “YES! My rabbi told me that I wasn’t allowed to turn the lights on and off but that I could hint to someone else to do it!”

I looked at her somewhat surprised myself and yet also relieved at having the mystery solved, “to a non-Jew,” I told her. “We can’t turn the lights on or off either.”

David is home for a long weekend. He’s talking about the army, funny stories, serious ones and I listen and smile. He’s happy. He looks amazing. He was so silly, so playful today. He hasn’t been home in more than 2 weeks and I’ve missed him a lot.

His grandmother asks him to tell her one good thing about being in the army, “You get a lot of exercise,” he answered.

“Where you are sleeping, is it air-conditioned?” I ask.

The answer is “sort of.” There are machines there, but to cut down on costs, the air conditioners automatically go off every two hours and then someone has to turn them back on. This works just fine during the week, but on the Sabbath, the air conditioners go off and can’t be turned back on…at least not by the Jewish soldiers in David’s unit.

And so they hinted and explained to a Druze soldier who had heard of such practices but never really experienced them. It took a few minutes but he finally understood what was needed after a sudden power outage cut the electricity. Quite willing to help his fellow soldiers, he turned the electricity back on…everyone thanked him.

Then, he smiled, closed the electricity, laughed and walked out of the room. A minute or two later, he came back in and turned it back on and everyone joined in the laughter.

Another soldier who serves in his unit is from Russia. He is not Jewish, though going through the conversion process. David said that on Friday in the middle of the night, the Russian soldier woke because  it was very hot in the room. He got up and turned the air conditioner back on and then, thinking of the other soldiers, he went room to room to turn the air conditioners on again for the other soldiers.

Keeping the Sabbath is not always the easiest thing to do. Years ago, I found myself in Jerusalem and spent the night with the light on because it was Shabbat and I couldn’t turn the light back on. Now, so many years later, my son’s army life is made that much easier by two non-Jews – both of whom have volunteered to serve in the army.

We are commanded to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. This holy Shabbat, Davidi will be home to share in it with us. He left a short time ago to visit his friends. I’ve got corned beef boiling on the stove top; chicken cooling in the oven. Soon I’ll make the dough for the challah and leave it to rise overnight.

Years before my first trip, I knew that I wanted to live in Israel; now, as I watch my son and hear the stories he tells me about his life in the army over the last two weeks, I smile. I wish I could go back and whisper in my 16 year old year…have faith, you’ll get back here; you’ll raise your children here and they will be everything you dreamed of and so many things you never imagined.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton

Monday, July 25th, 2016

My thoughts…mine alone. Not meant to interfere. No money was distributed, no attempt is being made to infiltrate the US to undermine any campaign (as compared to what the Obama administration did during the last Israeli elections).

I’m smart enough to know that if we were stupid enough to attempt this, America…or what is left of it…would respond to us as we responded to Obama (A Message to America).

So, I offer my thoughts…and mine alone…on the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton:

I am more amazed by the endless need to attack the other person that typifies almost all Facebook posts. And the only posts I’ve seen the have been positive about either candidate are usually lies. The best single post I’ve seen is quite simple “We’re Screwed, 2016.”

I have been accused of being interested in only one aspect of the US elections – how the candidate relates to Israel. I can’t totally deny this because while I believe which candidate you choose will impact on your future economic situation and perhaps some personal freedoms, I don’t think the very lives of most Americans hangs on the balance of how the next election goes.

Potentially every Israeli life, including and especially the soldiers of Israel, could be on the line. I am proud of my country, Israel, for taking the necessary steps and cultivating other relationships outside the one with the US. This will be needed if Clinton is elected.

But I will also tell you that again and again, I see that what happens to Israel first, spreads to the rest of the world. We lived through terrible days of suicide bombing attacks, now they are very rare in Israel (thank God and the IDF). While terrorism is still a reality in Israel, far more attacks are averted or mitigated by our strong and constant attempts to fight it. We watch as horrible things happen in Brussels, Orlando, London, San Bernadino, Paris, Nice, and now Munich. Left unchecked, terror will spread and spread. And who the US chooses in this election, will likely have a direct impact on how the US fights terror (or even if it fights terror), in the coming years.

What boggles the mind is how many of you now agree Obama was a disaster, just as we here in Israel said he would be, but are prepared to go with Clinton when we say the same thing about her and the policies she will implement, the people she will empower. Fool us once, shame on him…and Obama did. Fool us twice even, shame on him…and Obama did. Fool you three times, and Clinton will, shame on you.

At some point, however, you can’t fight stupid. Do what you gotta do, America. The world is watching. Your society is imploding. It is horrible to watch from outside. Those of us who live in Israel by choice still care deeply for the US and it is very painful to sit here and watch you choose between two such horrendous options. Worse, to watch as you pick the worst of the worse.

Clinton has now picked a Vice President who has a clear anti-Israel position. Oh yeah, he’ll mouth the words about supporting our backs…just like Obama did. But like Obama and Clinton, they despise the Israeli government, and the vibrant Israeli democracy that brought it to power.

I firmly believe that in four years, if you elect Clinton, America will be weaker and more isolated, thousands more will have died in terror attacks. As for Israel, you may not believe this next statement, but I do…we here in Israel will be fine. We are strong. We love this land and will defend it.

Four years ago, when Obama was re-elected, I wanted Israel to send the US a message, “God bless you and keep you safe…see you in four years.”

Well, it’s four years later. If Clinton is elected, I hope we’ll send that message because there will be no reason to attempt a closer relationship. Israel gets financial aid…yeah, we do…and we paid for that aid right back in many ways. It is not at all clear that Israel needs the US more than the US needs Israel – ask your military…or what is left of it after Obama has systematically worked to destroy it.

Look at the innovation coming out of Israel. I’ll tell you a secret…ready? What you see is nothing compared to what is happening here. You’ve seen pieces of it – Iron Dome – that WE developed, to meet and knock missiles out of the sky to protect our people, and now a Tunnel Discovery technology that is finding and destroying Hamas tunnels.

What else is there? Don’t worry – there’s more. We’ll deal with what we have to, no matter who you elect. With great disgust and sadness, I hope it will be Donald Trump.

I hope it will be Donald Trump, because I’d rather stand with the United States before the Russians, the Germans, Asians and Africans.
I hope it will be Donald Trump, because a united stand against Iran is the only way out of the dangers ahead that would (and will) be presented by a nuclear Iran. My country will fly alone if it has to but it would be better for the west if it wasn’t Israel alone.
I hope it will be Donald Trump, because I don’t think the US military can survive another years of Obama under a new name.
I hope it will be Donald Trump, because he is a Washington outsider and it’s time to bring in someone from the outside to change the corruption that has robbed America of so much of its greatness.
I hope it will be Donald Trump, because Israel is an important ally and deserves better treatment than it got from Obama or will get from Clinton and Caine, who supported Obama’s ongoing attempts to humiliate and insult Israel’s leaders.
I hope it will be Donald Trump, because the alternative is so much worse and because the next few years will force America to deal with very similar problems that Europe is struggling with right now…in places like Paris, Nice, Brussels, London, and Munich.
I hope it will be Donald Trump…
I hope it won’t be Hillary Clinton. I hope it won’t be Tim Kaine.
Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: In My Little Country

Monday, July 18th, 2016

It’s been a heck of a busy day.

Early in the morning, my phone beeped with news that shouldn’t have been shared. A grenade had gone off in the north…there were injuries, possibly fatalities. Hours later, this was confirmed and at this moment, a family is flying to Israel to attend the funeral tomorrow of their 20 year old son, who came to Israel to live here, to serve in the army, as several other children in the family have already done.

Later, it would come out that the grenade that detonated killed two soldiers, one was the lone soldier whose family is flying now; the second was a Druze soldier from the north. Ironic because a short while after he died, another Druze, this one a security guard for the light rail in Jerusalem, saved dozens if not hundreds of lives when he identified and with another guard rushed to stop a terrorist armed with bombs who was about to get on the light rail in the center of Jerusalem.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough excitement in my little country. A drone was intercepted by Patriot missiles as it infiltrated into Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights.

There are days that are roller coasters of emotion here. Even the hint of a soldier’s death brings on terror and pain. When you hear that a terrorist attack has been averted, the sun shines a bit brighter, you walk a bit more sure that whatever diving plan there is, Israel remains protected.

When you hear that Israel has fired a missile to ward off a threat, you think war might be coming, yet again to your small country.

My first thought when I heard about the almost-terror attack this morning was that I was grateful that there would be no funerals, no mourning families. In the end, there are two families in Israel who are in mourning now. Tomorrow, there will be a a funeral – of a 20 year old soldier whose family is flying in from New Jersey right now.

In the end, tomorrow, I will go to the funeral of a lone soldier who died for Israel today and somewhere in the sadness, I’ll try to remember, as always, that there are blessings in life despite the pain.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Six Children…TWO Only ONE WEEK Old…Could Have Died Last Night

Monday, July 11th, 2016

This is a man who went for a drive with his family. His wife and six children last night after Shabbat ended…perhaps he was on his way home, I don’t know.

The two youngest of his six children are ONE WEEK OLD twins, the oldest a boy of 7. Eitan Finkel and his wife saw a terrorist with a gun directly in front of him. For some reason he will never understand, the terrorists hesitated long enough not to fire directly into a car with 8 people in it, six of them children.

They hit the side of the car, wounding Eitan in the leg. He managed to keep driving until he reached safety.

I keep writing that peace will come…it will come when things like this don’t happen. When families can drive safely without being shot. One week ago, in another attack like this one, the father was murdered, the mother critically injured, two children hurt.

This week there was a miracle…the car didn’t overturn, no one else was hurt.

No one was killed…and so there is little outrage here in Israel–none in the world.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: There’s Desperate and There’s Stupid

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

I can’t resist this anymore and so, being as this is sort of my place to express my inner most feelings, here goes. I think Israelis and Jews have been desperate many times in our history. There’s desperate, and then there’s stupid. Desperate is when you do everything you can to achieve your goal because, basically, you have nothing to lose. In 1948, I firmly believe that the Jews were victories against five well armed, well-trained armies because there really was no “back” button, no return, no option to lose. We had our backs to the wall and no one was going to step in and defeat our enemies…and so we did.

In 1948, desperate to save the besieged Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem, hundreds of men walked dozens of kilometers to smuggle in food and medicine and smuggle out the elderly and the young.

We were desperate to bring Jews home from all over the world who were in danger and so we flew to Yemen and brought them back; we flew to Ethiopia; we flew to Uganda. We bombed a nuclear reactor in Iraq and a wannabe nuclear plant in Syria. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I fully believe that we are coming up on the desperation point in Iran as well. We will act – no, not desperately this time, but conclusively.

So, that’s desperate. I’ll put in here that the Palestinians are not desperate. Their quality of life in Israel is far above what it is in most Arab countries. They have access to better medical care, earn more, have longer average life spans and lower infant mortality rates here in Israel than elsewhere in the Middle East. They have access to shopping, plenty of food and water, sunshine, clothes, even schooling. In 1948, it was life or death for us, and we chose life. In each of the other cases, it was the same. This has never been a life and death struggle for the Palestinians.

No one is threatening their lives; no one is stealing their ability to work and lead productive lives and for the vast majority of Palestinians that I’ve spoken to, including Halil who works in the building where I do and with whom I talk on a weekly basis, at least, he is interested only in the quality of his life and that of his family. He wants to be able to get to work; he wants to be able to ride the train without worries.

He comes to me when there has been an attack and looks at me with the saddest eyes and when I cry, he tells me there will be peace…someday, though neither of us believes we will live to see it. Halil is not desperate, and he’s not stupid.

Stupid is when you know going in to battle that the only outcome is death. We’ve been there too but not often and Israelis tend to be Captain Kirk playing Kobayashi Maru. When the rules say logically that we will be defeated, we change the rules and do the unexpected.

And so, from the jaws of defeat, we tend to grab victory, develop the undevelopable, create a weapon that knocks down missiles and, with the grace and blessings of God, beat even the best odds predicted.

Despite the illogical victories in 1948, 1967 and 1973, Israel still works hard to prepare and understand the dynamics of a fight, the possible outcomes, etc.

Stupid is when you don’t do that. Stupid is when there is no possibility of victory, when defeat stares you in the face and you go for it…and really stupid is when you don’t really even have desperation on your side…just stupidity.

I’ll give you a few examples:

A s1
A couple of months ago, astounded guards watched as an Arab raised a knife, screamed “Allahu Akbar” and ran towards them. Gee, they fired. The Arab died.

Stupid. Knife versus gun – gun wins. Every time.

 

A s2

Yesterday, an Arab woman went at two armed soldiers with a knife. They aimed their rifles at her…and they pulled back…and she continued forward.

Almost in slow motion, they pulled back further, likely ordering her to stop and she moved forward, knife held ready for attack…and so, as one would expect…yup, they shot her.

Stupid. Knife versus gun – gun wins. Every time.

 
A s3
Today, an Arab man rammed his car into an army vehicle. Inside the army vehicle were three soldiers – all lightly hurt as ever so gently, the army vehicle rolled to its side.

The Arab in the car that smashed engine first into a massive, fortified jeep…didn’t do so well. Like the Arab woman from yesterday, he’s in critical condition.

And so a new dynamic to the equation. When you ram a fortified jeep with…oh, my boys are going to kill me…I’m so bad with cars. I’ll tell them it’s a silver car. They’ll tell me make, model and year. I’m going to guess – I could be wrong but let’s just go with my guess because it’s the best I can do – so like…when you ram a fortified jeep with a Subaru…the Subaru is going to lose.

Stupid.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: The Marketplace of the Left: Times of Israel Censors a Soldier’s Mother

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Wow…cowards…OMG…WOW…

I posted a comment to the Times of Israel right now on an article attacking a blogger for explaining why he is no longer comfortable blogging at the Times of Israel…

Within about a minute, my comment was removed. Marketplace of Ideas? Yeah, not…

Anyone who wants to borrow my comment and post it…please do – I think everyone should copy and paste this…until they either allow freedom of speech or they change their slogan to “the marketplace of the left” and their name to the Times of Palestine.

The article attacking the blogger is here: Looking for a Fight in All the Wrong Places and attacks a fellow journalist for his outrage and his decision to leave the Times of Israel after writing well over 100 posts for them.

Against my better judgment, I’ll ask that you go to that article and consider posting my comment in your name. The Times of Israel is wrong, and so is the author of this article.

My comment (the one that was deleted…did I mention that they are cowards?) is here:

Actually, if you read the post made by the Times of Israel (referenced in my article: The Friggin Times of Israel) you’ll note that the complaint is even stronger than in the article you cite. It is interesting that in their coverage of the Tel Aviv terror attack, Tel Aviv as a noun (a city) was only referenced once; other times, as adjectives to explain which police force, which hospital, whatever. In the article on Hallel’s murder, the terror attack was referenced as a “stabbing attack” while the Tel Aviv attack wasn’t called a “shooting attack” but a “terror attack. And more – Hallel “died’ but the victims in the Tel Aviv attack were all “killed”…they didn’t die…they were killed (actually, to be honest, they were murdered).

And reference to Kiryat Arba as a settlement appears something like three or four times in that short article – it’s a settlement, a settlement, a settlement. Yeah we got that…given that Tel Aviv, where four people were murdered is only referenced once, isn’t it interesting that it was imperative to mention FOUR times, that Kiryat Arba is a settlement

As others have pointed out, using the term “West Bank” is clearly political and without question, the Times of Israel considers it “occupied” even if we were lucky enough this time to avoid that. But when used in relation to the bedroom in which Hallel was murdered, that is most definitely intentional and quite despicable and I commend “the author” for announcing publicly his disgust at yet another outrageous article attempting to blur lines and hide the truth.

I stopped writing for the Times of Israel several months ago after I was accused of “threatening” and “endangering” a writer/journalist/blogger simply by quoting the very outrageous words and clear incitement she used against an IDF soldier.

The fact is, I can name no less than five right-wing bloggers who have decided to give TOI a pass rather than put up with any more abuse.

How many different ways do you need it proven to you that the “West Bank” was definitely inserted in there to sway opinions? Hallel wasn’t murdere; she died. It wasn’t a terror attack; it was a “stabbing attack”. and, of course, it wasn’t just a bedroom where a child was brutally murdered…it was a “West Bank bedroom”. I’m a bit surprised, given that you live in the “West Bank” that you are not angered by this attempt, yet again, to separate this poor child from other Israelis.

I think criticizing someone’s post like this, attempting to censor someone’s opinion, is sadly typical of the Times of Israel. The original author has the right to his very correct opinion that feeds into the overall anti-Israel bias against Israel all over the world. When our own bloggers and journalists and media outlets can’t report and discuss such a horrible act using the correct words, what chance is there that others will get it right?

Hallel was murdered. In a terror attack. In her bedroom. Get it right; or don’t write it at all.

Paula Stern

A Soldier’s Mother: Days that Break Us

Monday, July 4th, 2016

I learned more than a decade ago, that there are days that fill you with strength, and there are days that break you. It’s over, you think to yourself. I just can’t go on. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t take it. Even the anger is not enough to sustain you; even the disgust at how blind others are is not enough to get you moving.

Ten more children have lost their father. When Sarah Techiya Litman’s father was murdered days before her wedding, she rallied not just for herself and her mother and siblings, but for all of Israel. Please come to my wedding, she begged Israel…and we did. So many thousands came that they had to shut off the wedding hall, letting in groups of people at a time as others left. The hall was filled, the outer grounds were filled. At one point, overwhelmed by the number of people waiting to share this evening with them, the bride and groom went outside to meet the people who had come to shower an orphan with love.

On Friday, Rabbi Miki Mark was murdered, his wife critically injured, and two of his children hurt in a terror attack not far from where they live. He leaves behind 10 children. Today, his children asked people to come to his funeral, to become better people, more loving. Rabbi Miki Mark was 48 years old…

Yesterday, Elie Wiesel died. He was 87. Both leave behind devastation and mourning. The death of Rabbi Mark leaves behind such sadness, a huge gap in a family, a community, a nation. The loss of Elie Wiesel leaves us with a void. Who will speak for the survivors now? How many are left? Are we ready to take on the challenge that Wiesel and others warned us was coming. Now it is on us to carry the torch of remembrance; to stand against a world that thrives on forgetting and dismissing the lessons of the past.

When someone who is well known passes away, people rush to post pictures of themselves with the person. It is a way of showing that they mourn, that they were touched by the person we have lost and they want to remind themselves and others of what once was.

This picture is now being posted on Facebook. It is a picture with three main people – all gone. Ariel Sharon, who led this nation to victory and was the essence of power. He was the lion that turned into the lamb; a man who built and then destroyed what he had helped to create. He was a man who forgot the future in the present that overwhelmed him.

Elie Wiesel kept the past with him and used it as a torch to light his way into the future. He led generations with a simple message. Tolerance, acceptance, peace, respect. Be human and be humane. Don’t surrender to tyranny. Fight for life – your own, and the right of others as well.

And finally, Rabbi Michoel Mark, who lived the life these other men fought for – to be a father of Jewish children, to live where he wanted to live in this land. It is both tragic and ironic that Rabbi Mark was murdered on Friday and Elie Wiesel died on Saturday. If Jewish law is to be followed, both will be buried today.

In Israel, we are in mourning for children who have lost a father, for a community that has lost a leader. For the pain of a wife, fighting for her life. Unconscious, sedated, and unaware that her life is forever changed. For their broken children who have called on Israel to come to the funeral and for the hundreds who have.

A picture, frozen in time, of three men who led the world in different ways. Elie Wiesel, as a survivor who chose to live in the United States, but loved Israel and came here often; of Ariel Sharon, who fought for this land as a lion of Judea, and then lost his way and surrendered to feed the monster that has been fighting and attacking our innocents for generations; of Rav Miki Mark, who chose the path of faith to fight for this land, to build a yeshiva where young men came and learned and dedicated themselves to the future.

Thursday, they murdered a 13 year old child in her bed; Friday, they murdered a father of ten. Today, we bury Rav Mark in tears and in pain.

Tomorrow, we will stand up, in mourning and in pain, in anger and faith, we will stand up and do what we have to do. We will be strong…tomorrow. We will not let terror win…tomorrow. Today, for a brief time, we will surrender to our pain, to the pain of a mother who suddenly buries her oldest child, to a summer lost before it began, to the agony of ten orphans who bury their father today and pray that their mother will not leave them as well.

Today, we cry from the depths of our souls.

Tomorrow, we will show them that we are not beaten, that we will not surrender. Ariel Sharon’s way was proven wrong. From the places he gave them, they shot a rocket that hit a kindergarten in Sderot that thankfully was empty. This is the legacy of Ariel Sharon. Elie Wiesel’s path is to remember what they have done to us in the past and do all we can to stop them. And so, generations after the Holocaust, we are still dedicated to remembering, to living with what the Nazis did so that it will never happen again.

And with broken hearts, we dedicate ourselves to the memory of Rav Miki Mark – the path is long but for an eternal people, we do not fear the future. We will stand. We will fight. We will not be defeated. From the earth that was given to us, we will build.

Today, we cry…but we live. Today, tomorrow, and into the future. Moments before this picture was taken, Elie Wiesel affixed a mezuzah to the doorpost of the yeshiva in Otneil. Today, it stands, tall and proud and filled with people. Tomorrow…we will rededicate ourselves to build.

May God bless the memory of Elie Wiesel and of Rav Michoel Mark and bless their memories and may God avenge the blood of all those who were murdered in the sanctity of God’s name.

 

Paula Stern

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/a-soldiers-mother-days-that-break-us/2016/07/04/

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