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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘past’

Reality Threat

Monday, November 5th, 2012

The following is a partial list of things I always knew I would never be good at:

1) Math 2) Creative writing 3) Jewish outreach 4) Playing with children

How did I come up with this list? Simple. Math was never my favorite subject in school and I always had to work hard to earn decent grades on math tests; creative writing may have been up my alley in elementary and high school, but over the past few years I have concluded that my thinking turned way too focused for anything imaginative to be born from it; Jewish outreach is not for a person like me who grew up in a sheltered environment and who gags over all or most exposure to secular society; and playing with children, well, I’m way too intellectual to know what to do with such purely emotional beings.

I would’ve left it at that, but over the past six months my reality began to shake. It didn’t quite topple over, but I’m trying to steady it before it does.

You see, recently, I sat in on a chemistry class. As many of you know, chemistry involves math and for me math involves anxiety. But somehow, as I sat in on the class I didn’t feel anxious and I actually enjoyed the material. It was very strange. Did something suddenly turn on in my brain that made me know and like the math? Was I really good at it? And why wasn’t I feeling uptight and nervous? I tried to draw out the anxiety I always felt when in my classes of old, but then I thought better of it and decided to just let it be.

But I walked out of there in a daze.

Creative writing. Okay, I used to be good at it, but not anymore. I haven’t written a creative piece in ages – except that a few months back something possessed me to try my hand at writing a creative story, and lo and behold, it turned out pretty good. I thought I would try to earn a few bucks for it so I sent it off to a magazine for possible publication. Okay, I’ll admit that they accepted it. I wrote a few more stories since then and a few more got published, but it’s hard to imagine myself as a writer.

I mean, I’m a writer of sorts, but certainly not the creative type.

And Jewish outreach? I don’t know what to make of this, but during the summer I got a job at a kiruv school where I tutored a bunch of students. I think they learned well and they kind of liked me too, but, really, I only helped them a bit with textual stuff and tried to answer a few of their questions as best as I was able. I keep in touch with them on a fairly regular basis, but I still don’t think I’m the kiruv type. As I said, I’m too sheltered to really be comfortable with such different walks of life.

Playing with children is also something I don’t do. I would do it if I knew what to do, but I don’t know how kids think and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to communicate with them. So, I was very surprised when a shy type of kid decided that she liked me and wanted to play with me. I mean, all I did was smile at her! I decided to try out this new experience before going back to the same old me who doesn’t know what to do with kids. I asked the little girl what she wanted to play and suggested that she get a book and that I would read it to her. She did. It was nice, but it was weird. It was hard to believe that it was me playing with this pipsqueak.

So, here I am stuck with a whole bunch of confusing scenarios that threaten to topple my identity. But I’m not the kind of person who really topples so easily and I will not allow some random aberrations to create an exception. So, to reconfirm: I am not good at math, I am not a creative writer, I will not make a good outreach professional, and I don’t know what in heaven’s name to do with children. There. Now I recognize myself. That feels a whole lot better.

Cow Beauty Pageant

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

I figured we’ve all had plenty of flooded landscape images to look at these past few days, so, for a much needed change, how about a beautiful bovine?

Meet Miriam, the winning cow, on display at the conclusion of a Cow Beauty Pageant, conducted back in early summer, 2001, in Moshav Be’er Tuvia, in southern Israel.

Miriam, weighs 650 kilograms, (1,430 lbs.). In 2010 she produced 13,400 liters (3350 gallons) of milk. But she won the prestigious title thanks to her perfect and noble body structure, her obvious beauty, and her light gait.

The pageant featured 20 four-legged beauties, selected by professional judges from the Israel Cattle Growers Association, the Tara dairy and Be’er Tuvia’s cowmen.

Voting Overseas

Monday, October 29th, 2012

This year, American citizens living in Israel can vote in the upcoming U.S. elections, at the AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel) centers across Israel. The voting station in the picture is in Jerusalem. Nancy and I voted at the Netanya AACI which has the narrowest parking lot you ever saw, plus you have to get the nice lady to come out of the office and remote-open the gate – but who’s complaining…

The line wasn’t that long, but it’s probably sensible to call ahead and find out when the voting room is open. The place is staffed mostly with volunteers, so we need to appreciate their effort and show up when they’re available.

The downside is that you fill out a blank ballot, where you write in your choices for everything, from President to dog catcher. I had to ask Nancy to spell for me the name of our Congresswoman. Our zip code, 10002, just switched from one election district to another, plus, back in the States you don’t have to spell when you vote, unless you’re going for Daffy Duck (whom I have recommended in the past for many different positions).

Last year was my first and last opportunity to vote on a computer in our district. Gone were those wonderful iron machines with the heavy, decisive lever you pulled down with such an air of finality. When that lever came down, fates were decided, you could feel it.

Now we didn’t even have computer keys to push, just an old fashioned piece of paper with my write-in choice.

Good luck, Yosemite Sam, I hope you make it to the White House and become the best possible pwesident you could possibly be.

Free Choice Vs Costly Obedience

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Over the past few weeks, I, like many of you, have received wedding invitations, and I truly hope that the young couples-to-be have chosen wisely and will enjoy long and fruitful unions.

But living happily ever after is not a guarantee. I myself am divorced. And while unfortunately, some couples are not able to achieve a good marriage, they should, to the best of their ability strive to have a “good” divorce (though by definition that would be an oxymoron).

In other words, be the ones deciding the quality of your future, not some stranger in a robe who didn’t know you existed before you entered his/her courtroom.

Over my long association with The Jewish Press, (and as recently as this past Rosh Hashanah) I have been approached by embittered men and women, deeply embroiled in a nasty divorce and asked if I could “stop the presses” and publicize what they insist is a horrific miscarriage of justice, one deserving to be front page news. They want the whole world to know how they have been abused, maligned, ignored, threatened, financially milked and generally ruined by what they view as a totally unfair court order – ranging from division of property, jewelry and bank accounts to the children. They are the hapless victims, they claim, of corrupt, bought-off, unscrupulous, incompetent, unsympathetic judges, attorneys, social workers, teachers, rabbis, etc.

How else, they claim, can you explain the court’s ruling? Each party was so sure that the judge or jury, upon hearing their side of the story, would immediately grant them everything they petitioned for – the house, the cars, the vacation property, the investments…the kids.

But that’s not the way it works in Divorce Court. You don’t simply get what you want based on your say as to the character – or lack thereof – of the spouse you are feuding with. You can swear up and down that your now insignificant other is a sorry excuse for a human being, but that’s not necessarily the conclusion the court will come to.

While their perception of what he or she deserves and are entitled to receive, both in terms of assets and custody, may be rather one-sided, narrow minded and hence unrealistic, it is clear that the desperation, despair and the feeling of being trapped in a nightmare is very real. Sadly, many times it is something that he brought on himself. Nonetheless, the emotional pain is relentless.

And that is why I can’t be emphatic enough when I say that couples who feel their marriage is not salvageable – should at least salvage their divorce. In other words, try to work out any post-marriage issues such as custody, visitation and the division of mutual assets yourselves. Don’t allow your lives and those of your children to be hijacked by outsiders who don’t know you, in a delusional belief, fueled by anger, greed or a desire to punish, that you will come out way ahead of your soon to be ex-spouse. You are gambling with the possibility that you will come out with a lot less than had the two of you negotiated fairly.

When divorcing couples “out-source” the resolving of their major disputes, they are essentially giving up the freedom and the right to make decisions whose impact will last a lifetime. To them you are a docket number – much the same way as you are a disease, not a person, to a busy doctor making rounds.

Not only will these strangers (judge or jury) decide who gets what, when and how – they can also impose serious penalties and punishment if you don’t comply with these decisions.

The outcome of custody cases are especially unpredictable.

Basically when a couple goes to court to resolve this contentious issue, they are saying, “Your honor – you don’t know me or my family from Adam, but I am going to let you tell me if my kids will be living with me, and if not, when I can see them, and if I don’t follow your dictates exactly – like if I attempt to see my son on Tuesday instead of Wednesday – then you can find me in contempt and jail me. And for all this I will end up paying a fortune to you and your ‘experts’ (psychologists, social workers) to the extent that I will likely end up borrowing money from everyone I know or go into debt.

The Rocket Barrage on Southern Isael

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Yesterday, I took part in a briefing with Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich of the IDF Spokesman’s unit regarding the intensified rocket fire upon the south of Israel over the past few hours, which –at the time of writing – the Guardian has not yet seen fit to report.

Lt. Col. Leibovich reported that 68 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip in the past twelve hours. Two foreign nationals – farm workers from the Kissufim area – were critically wounded by rocket fire and three or four additional civilians are suffering from lighter injuries. Several homes have been damaged.

Lt. Col. Leibovich also gave details of the IDF’s responses to the rocket attacks:

At midnight last night the IDF targeted a rocket-launching squad comprising three Hamas terrorists.

At 5 a.m. this morning the IDF targeted another squad which had just launched a rocket.

At 7 a.m. the IDF targeted a rocket launching site: one of the pits dug by the terrorists in which the rocket-launcher is placed.

At 8:20 a.m. the IDF targeted a weapons smuggling tunnel and other sites in the northern Gaza Strip.

Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defence system has successfully intercepted 7 additional rockets.

The Home Front Command has ordered all civilians in the region to stay near their air-raid shelters and safe rooms as, due to their proximity to the Gaza Strip, they have only 15 seconds in which to find cover. All schools and kindergartens in the area are closed.

Lt. Col. Leibovich stressed that all the targets of today’s rocket fire were, once again, civilian targets including small agricultural communities. She also noted that the majority of the rocket fire took place – as is frequently the case – during the early morning when children are on their way to school and adults travelling to work.

I asked Lt. Col. Leibovich for her view of the claim frequently appearing in the Western media that Hamas is not interested in an escalation of the conflict. She described it as “not a reliable statement.”

Visit Cifwatch.com.

Netanyahu Toys With Loyal Voters, Puts Yesha Report On Hold

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

What is the source of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s apparent scorn for the religious, Land of Israel-faithful public in Israel?

Over the years, starting from his first term as prime minister in 1996-99, and certainly since he was elected again three years ago, Netanyahu has mastered the art of showing friendship and warmth to the religious-Zionist community while keeping them at arm’s length politically. Though the moderate Jewish Home party was invited to join his coalition government, its influence is limited, as it has only three Knesset seats, the minimum permitted. Its counterpart, the less compromising National Union, was originally courted by Netanyahu but he never actually offered it a place in the government; many felt this was his plan from the outset.

In terms of facts on the ground, under Netanyahu a ten-month construction freeze was imposed on the Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria (Yesha); unofficially, it lasted even longer in many places. Not only that, but five apartment buildings in the thriving Givat HaUlpena neighborhood in Beit El were allowed to be dismantled, as was Migron nearby, and Givat Assaf and Amona are still on the chopping block.

But the blow Netanyahu dealt the residents of Yesha just this week possibly smarts the most of all. He decided, at least for now, to accept the ambivalent counsel of his Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, and not adopt the Levy Report. This, even though elections are coming, at which times incumbent candidates generally try to find favor with their natural constituencies.

What is the Levy Report, and what did Weinstein recommend? The report, prepared by a special commission headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, finds that Yesha is not “occupied” but is essentially Israeli. It similarly concludes that the outposts therein are not illegal under international law, and that Israel can and should legalize them as soon as possible.

Official government acceptance of the Levy Report would mean removal of the various bureaucratic and political obstacles that have rendered Jewish construction in Yesha so difficult over the years. Even more fundamentally, an Israeli government decision to this effect tells the Jewish and international communities in a very straightforward manner: “This is our land!”

The Levy Commission explains that Yesha, together with most of the rest of Israel, was assigned to the Jewish people back in 1920 by the leading powers of the time at the San Remo Conference, and later, by the League of Nations. After the 1948 War of Independence, Jordan “annexed” Yesha, but no one other than Pakistan and Great Britain recognized it. The 1967 Six-Day War enabled Israel to return to what had been legally granted the Jewish people 47 years earlier – such as Jerusalem suburbs Ramat Eshkol, Gilo, Ramat Eshkol, and the Old City.

Though the Arabs continue to term these Jerusalem neighborhoods “illegal settlements,” the Levy Report makes quite clear that these areas were never Jordanian but were allocated to the Jewish people. It also belies the false claim that Israel is in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention by building and settling Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. The Convention, from 1949, details rules and guidelines for “occupied territories” – which Yesha is not, since it was not captured from its legal sovereign. In any event, the report states, the term “occupation” cannot apply to such a long period as 45 years, with no end in sight.

Netanyahu was said to be considering adopting merely the report’s conclusions but not the ceremonial declarations that Yesha is Israel’s, etc. The Land of Israel camp was gearing up to try to stomach this position, but then along came Attorney General Weinstein. In his letter to Netanyahu, he stated that with elections approaching, the government must “moderate its governmental activities.” Netanyahu jumped to interpret this as a ban on adopting the Levi Report altogether.

However, Weinstein’s letter actually does not come close to outlawing the report. For one thing, the current government was not toppled and did not lose its Knesset majority, and therefore it retains its mandate to govern as it sees fit.

In addition, a decision to adopt the Levi Report is by no means a “pre-election grab,” as the report has been on the public agenda since it was submitted three months ago.

Several Likud cabinet ministers, including Yisrael Katz, Silvan Shalom, and Limor Livnat, have gone on record in support of the Levi Report. Just this past Monday evening, mayors and activists from Yesha held a major meeting, demanding that the government fully adopt the Levi Report.

It remains to be seen whether the pressure will work – or if Netanyahu will continue to toy with the Land of Israel faithful, confident that once again many of them will work tirelessly for his reelection under the assumption that he is the least of the evils.

In addition to visiting Yerushalayim, there are many other ways readers can become effective advocates for keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. For information on bus tours in news-making areas of Jerusalem, send an e-mail to tours@keepjerusalem.org or visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.

Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel’s minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now reside in Beit El.

Bennet’s Staff: ‘Netanyahu’s People Negotiated the Pact between Orlev and Hershkowitz’

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Over the past four years there has been some bitter infighting between the two Bayit Yehudi party members, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz and MK Zevulun Orlev, IDF Radio reported. Their relationship has been one of contempt and mistrust, to put it gently. Now, suddenly, there’s been a reconciliation at the helm of the National Religious Party. As Orlev put it: “Even though we’ve had our downhill slopes during our past term in office, I have willingly agreed to a joint leadership for the party, and everything will be carried out in unity.”

Orlev and Hershkowitz agreed on Monday night to what they call “a joint leadership based on the Shas party model.” Hershkowitz, who is behind in the polls, announced that he wouldn’t run for chairman of the party or even for a Knesset seat, but would participate in leading and managing the party. This decision will benefit Orlev who is running against Naftali Bennet, a one time member of Netanyahu’s team who has been on bad terms with the premier for the past several years. Sources close to Bennet say that Netanyahu’s supporters negotiated the “peace treaty” between Orlev and Hershkowitz in order to thwart Bennet’s political career.

Heshkowitz denies the charges. “People claim that Natan Eshel was involved in making the deal – I want to make it completely clear that this matter has no connection to the prime minister, neither directly nor indirectly.”

Bennet’s headquarters reacted by saying, “The old political system was completely exposed tonight. The public is looking for leadership, not an employment arrangement for politicians.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/bennets-staff-netanyahus-people-negotiated-the-pact-between-orlev-and-hershkowitz/2012/10/23/

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