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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘point’

Long Island Orthodox Woman a Volunteer Firefighter

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Shoshana Weiner of Long Island, New York, has been a volunteer firefighter for 12 years. In addition to firefighting, Weiner’s day job includes working as a nurse practitioner at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, and as a paramedic instructor at St. John’s University in Queens.

Tazpit News Agency caught up (literally) with Weiner during her vacation in Israel, where she took the time to volunteer with the Petah Tikvah fire department, answering some brush fires and dealing with hazardous material.

“Volunteering as a firefighter in Israel is a little different from Long Island,” Weiner, 39, told Tazpit News Agency. The fire trucks and the equipment are different from what I am used to in Long Island, but that’s all part of the learning experience.”

Weiner was born and raised in New York, where very few Orthodox Jewish women volunteer as firefighters, she says. “I kind of fell into volunteer firefighting by accident,” Weiner explains. “I was looking to volunteer in emergency medical services (EMS) at a local fire station, but in order to get accepted, I also had to train as a firefighter.”

Shabbat evening dinners take on a different routine at Weiner’s home. “Multiple times, I’ve gotten calls right after my husband has said Kiddush, and I’d have to run out and respond to a fire or medical emergency.”

“The perks are probably the barbecues,” Weiner says with a smile. “At least for my husband.”

The difficult point in Weiner’s volunteer firefighting career was September 11. “That was probably the worst day in history for New York firefighters. I was lucky I didn’t go down to the Twin Towers with the firefighters the first night, when the casualties took place. I joined the second night as an EMS responder.”

In Israel, Weiner also had the chance to take part in the Emergency Volunteer Program (EVP), a non-profit international organization that trains volunteers from abroad to assist Israel as emergency first responders.

“It was great to meet other people across the US, from Washington State to Arkansas, who were training to help Israel in an emergency situation,” Weiner said. “Although we come from different states across America, and there are differences in the way things work in Israel, we all share the language of emergency response.”

Weiner explains that one fundamental difference is the manpower at hand. In “Israel, there are generally two firefighters who do everything during a call—including driving to the emergency and putting out the fire, etc. In New York at least, there are five to six people on every fire truck.”

Shoshana believes that the situation in Israel is volatile. “At some point, we all know that Israel will need our help and that’s why we are here training together– to assist in whatever situation that happens in the future.”

Contemplating the Divine Together

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

We live on the first floor of a Netanya apartment building, which means that our living room panorama window overlooking the street below is about 15 feet high.

Our girl cat, Lightening, sits in the window much of the day, basking in our Mediterranean sun. She wasn’t for the move to Israel initially, but by now she’s very happy, grooms regularly and even put on some weight.

When I come home from shul Shabbat morning, around 10:30-11:00, I walk up the paved path from the street and whistle at Lightening and she recognizes me. She stiffens up, shocked at the notion that someone who is usually inside the house is now, by some unexplained miracle of science, on the other side of things.

Then she calls back, arches her back and rushes to the door to greet me. When I open the door, she’s there, demanding a thorough back scratch (and tummy).

She’s a lot like a dog that way.

But while dogs worship their masters, I believe Lightening sees me as an equal, who is sometimes frustrating when he doesn’t get what she’s asking for.

And I believe that this picture, of a cat davening alongside his co-equal, proves my point.

Israel ‘Accused’ of Ensuring Gazan’s Had Proper Nutrition

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

The most interesting aspect of the Guardian/AP report on Oct. 17, ‘Israel used calorie count to limit Gaza food during the blockade,’ in addition to the extremely misleading headline, is that there is little if anything in the story which demonstrates that Israel did anything improper whatsoever.

However, as we’ve seen time and again, the mere absence of information pointing to Israeli villainy is often no obstacle for Guardian editors.

Though Israel maintains a legal blockade on Gaza to prevent deadly weapons from entering the strip,  thousands of tons of supplies for Palestinians in Gaza arrive weekly from Israel, aid which includes medical supplies, food, and consumer goods, and there is simply no humanitarian crisis to speak of in the strip.

However, the Guardian, in classic propagandistic style, begins by employing the requisite photo of a Palestinian boy crying,

Yet, the strap line begins to provide a clue that there is, in fact, no real story here:

Unpacking this strap line, it seems to acknowledge that Israel was careful to “avoid” civilian malnutrition in Gaza.

So, what exactly is Israel’s crime?

The report begins, thus.

“The Israeli military made precise calculations of Gaza’s daily calorie needs to avoid malnutrition during a blockade imposed on the Palestinian territory between 2007 and mid-2010..” [emphasis added]

So far, we have a story corroborating Israeli claims that, since the blockade was launched, Israeli officials were careful to allow in enough food to avoid malnutrition.

Again, what is Israel’s crime? 

Here’s where it gets strange:

Israel says it never limited how many calories were available to Gaza, but critics claimed the document was proof the government limited food supplies to put pressure on Hamas.

Major Guy Inbar, an Israeli military spokesman, said the calculation, based on a person’s average requirement of 2,300 calories a day, was meant to identify warning signs to help avoid a humanitarian crisis…” [emphasis added]

The average recommended calorie intake according to the UK National Health System is 2500 for men and 2000 for women, indicating that Israel was making sure they supplied Gaza with enough food for Palestinians to consume the the calories necessary for proper nutrition.

So, what’s Israel’s crime?

Indeed, further in the report, Israel is again vindicated.

“The food calculation, made in January 2008, applied the average daily requirement of 2,279 calories per person, in line with World Health Organisation’s guidelines, according to the document.

“The stability of the humanitarian effort is critical to prevent the development of malnutrition,” the document said.

Further in the report, we learn the following:

“…at no point did observers identify a food crisis developing in the territory, whose residents rely heavily on international food aid.” [emphasis added]

Ok, in summary:

Israel maintained a blockade of deadly weapons sent to the Hamas run territory to protect their citizens from harm, but carefully avoided a humanitarian crisis from developing in the enemy territory by ensuring the availability of the recommended number calories as determined by international health organizations.

Again, I ask, what’s Israel’s crime?

Visit CifWatch.com.

Romney’s Structural Handicaps and Third Debate Strategy

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Visit Rubin Reports.

This article’s purpose is to give a full analysis on the foreign policy aspects of the third debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Remember that the idea that someone “won” the debate in terms of an outside observer’s standpoint or even based on a poll is misleading. The only important thing is whether either candidate swayed additional voters to his side.

Since I’m writing this to provide a detailed assessment, I’m not going to try to be short. So for your convenience let me begin by briefly explaining how Romney is so handicapped in dealing with foreign policy:

–He either cannot (or has decided for strategic reasons not to) name the enemy, revolutionary Islamism.

–He either cannot (or has decided for strategic reasons not to) discuss in sharp terms how Obama has objectively helped this enemy become stronger while weakening America’s allies.

–It is not politically profitable for him to explain that America faces a long struggle, since this would make voters unhappy and prefer Obama’s promise that he has brought peace.

–It is not politically profitable for him to explain that democracy and economic development are not panaceas for the Middle East.

Given either the terms of the larger debate or the strategic decisions of the Romney campaign (based on an arguably realistic assessment of American voters, or at least the additional votes he needs to win), Romney starts out at a huge disadvantage. He did not overcome this handicap in the presidential debate.

Now to the debate itself.

Romney began with an assessment of the “Arab Spring” as having gone wrong. It brought hope “that there would be a change towards more moderation” but instead there was the bloody Syrian civil war, the terror attack on American personnel in Libya, the takeover of northern Mali by “al-Qaida type individuals”; and a Muslim Brotherhood president in Egypt, alongside Iran’s continuing drive for nuclear weapons. What is to be done? Romney continued:

“But we can’t kill our way out of this mess. We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the — the world of Islam and other parts of the world, reject this radical violent extremism, which is — it’s certainly not on the run.”

The threat is “a group that is now involved in 10 or 12 countries” that “presents an enormous threat to our friends, to the world, to America, long term, and we must have a comprehensive strategy to help reject this kind of extremism.”

But what is that group? Al-Qaida? And this is a genuine problem that Romney has faced, either because a presidential candidate cannot name the enemy more explicitly or because he’s making a mistake in choosing that strategy. For is the problem al-Qaida—a tiny terrorist organization—or massive revolutionary Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood?

Obama prefers the focus to be on al-Qaida. He ignored all the points Romney had made and focused on what he could claim as accomplishments: that there had been no new September 11; that the war in Iraq was ended; that “al-Qaida’s core leadership has been decimated;” that the U.S. forces are pulling out of Afghanistan; and that he has rebuilt alliances and united friends against threats.

On Libya he merely repeated his previous statement that once he received news of the killings he directed that Americans there be kept safe, the matter be investigated, and that those responsible be punished. He added that he had provided leadership in overthrowing the Muammar Qadhafi dictatorship without putting in troops and at low cost, making Libyans like Americans.

This certainly would seem to voters to be a record of success, presented in part by not mentioning any of the current problems to which Romney referred. Implicitly, Obama was speaking as if an end of history had been achieved in the region: as if Libya would not be the source of further trouble; the Taliban might take over in Afghanistan; Iran might not gain influence over Iraq; al-Qaida was not still very much alive; and crises in Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere continued.

For electoral reasons, Romney does not want to tell the American people that there is a long, hard struggle ahead. So he puts forth a relatively low-cost, pain-free strategy of getting “the Muslim world to be able to reject extremism on its own.” Instead of another Iraq or Afghanistan—that is, American military intervention—U.S. strategy should be to go after extremist leaders while helping the “Muslim world.”

Judea as ‘Cradle of Jewish Civilization’ in The Financial Times

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

“Hebron and Shiloh, that are widely regarded as the cradle of Jewish civilisation” This comes from this article: Middle East: A hold on the high ground by Tobias Buck of the UK Financial Times.

The message: “Fears are rising that any eviction of West Bank settlers would trigger a national crisis.”

Buck writes:

…In Israel, the real debate today is not so much whether the settlers are winning but whether they have already won. That, in essence, is the boast made by settler leaders. They argue that the West Bank settlements – despite their illegality under international law and the condemnation they attract – have become an “irreversible fact”. The settlers, they say, are now so numerous, and so deeply entrenched that Israel will never be able to remove them.

“I think these days we are seeing a turning point,” says Danny Dayan, the head of the Yesha Council, the main settler organisation. “Everyone knows that at some point it will become irreversible. I think we are already there.”

There are still many – both inside Israel and abroad – who dispute Mr Dayan’s claim with vehemence…the triumphalism expressed by the settlers finds an echo in the despair and frustration voiced by members of Israel’s dwindling peace camp. The number of activists who believe that it is too late to save the two-state solution is growing steadily: some have started the search for alternative solutions to the conflict, such as a binational state for both Israelis and Palestinians, or a Palestinian state that would incorporate at least some of the Jewish settlements. Others simply sound a note of despair…

A Canyon So Deep: Israel’s Red Canyon

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Okay, I’m being theatrical (with the title). It wasn’t really that deep but what it lacked in size (if you’re thinking Grand Canyon here), it made up for in two major areas…even three.

1. It’s close enough for me to get here.
2. It is so beautiful.
3. It’s mine, mine, mine.

The Red Canyon is about 20 kilometers north of Eilat. We got there to find ahead of us two groups of young students – one a large group of Arabs; another a smaller group of Jews. At one point, the Arab group called out to the Jewish group and asked a question; without hesitation, the Jewish group answered and both continued. They were leaving the canyon as we were entering it. It’s less than two weeks after a month of holidays. While Eilat has many people visiting, it is still far less than the very crowded times we’ve often been here.

It’s hot, but not too hot – just wonderful.

The entire walk through the canyon lasts about an hour – you walk through it, sliding down in some locations, squeezing between rocks in others. Then, you have a choice – this way back to the parking lot; that way to go deeper into the canyon. The sun was setting and the colors were amazing; as the sun touched the mountains, the red stone deepened and the golden sons glistened. We turned back to the parking lot because I didn’t want to be out there in the dark.

The return path led us up the side of a mountain, at times holding on to handrails along the edges. We walked along the canyon rim, seeing the path we had traversed below us. As we were about midway, we heard a young Israeli family – a father, mother, and two small children making their way far below us. At the area where there are handrails to slide down, the father took one of the children on his back; then reached to take the second.

We continued back…all along loving the colors of the mountains, the shapes of the rocks. At one point, in the distance – far beyond the point that my Blackberry phone could capture them, we saw deer (ibeks) walking the rims.

Mine, mine, mine, I kept thinking. Mine. So beautiful. Next I’ll write about the road to get there but here, I’ll put up some of the pictures because there truly are times when pictures need to do the talking.

If you ever find yourself in Eilat – take the time to go to the Red Canyon. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

How To Have Guests And Still Enjoy Your Meal

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

I feel that I am a good authority to write on this topic, because although I love having guests, it completely stresses me out. Something happens to me when we have guests over; I feel this urge to have the table perfect, the food innovative, delicious and abundant and my children buffed and shiny. When things don’t turn out well, it’s not exactly pretty. As my husband says, I don’t mind if we have guests, just don’t take it out on me. I can’t say I’ve always been successful at that. I tend to become singlemindly focused on my specific goals: having a meticulously clean, perfectly presented showcase of my home, while sorta, kinda forgetting what the whole point is. A low point was at a tehillim gathering last year before Rosh Hashana. I broke down in tears when asked what I was making for the meals because the stuffed artichokes heart I had made looked nothing like the picture in the cookbook.

This year, I resolved not to make the same mistakes. Firstly, when I host guests, I resist the urge to pile on the invites. In the past, once I was inviting one family over, I rationalized that I might as well invite a couple of more. After all, what are four more people when you’re already having six? I’ll tell you, it’s a lot more. I’ve noticed that for each additional person at the table, I tend to make at least three more portions of food. That’s a lot of stress on the cook! Also, it causes the meal to resemble a party, with either everyone talking at once, or worse, only some people talking and others being ignored. When there are only a few select guests, I can give each individual the attention warranted, which is the reason the invitation was offered in the first place.

The second thing I decided to limit was experimenting with new recipes on my guests. My husband and little children are notoriously picky. I’m a much more adventuress eater, but it’s quite difficult to eat an entire pumpkin peanut butter soup by myself (http://www.levanacooks.com/quick-pumpkin-peanut-butter-soup-recipe/). In the past, I would use the opportunity to leaf through my collection of cookbooks to find interesting recipes and create a menu from them. All too often, the food would flop, causing tremendous anxiety on my part feeling that there would be nothing edible to eat. So now, I prepare one unique dish and keep the rest of the meal to old favorites.

Then there’s the issue of too much food. Between the four types of kugels, two chickens, a meat option, and the strings beans I feel I must make or my guests will think there’s no food, there is often not enough room to even put the dishes down. I’m not sure why, but for some reason, it’s very easy to over-estimate the quantity of food people consume.

Here’s what I’ve decided: it’s far better to serve superior quality and limit the quantity. This saves time and money. For each menu, I choose one protein, one carbohydrate and one vegetable. I tend to serve either fish or soup, not both, because it fills everyone up, leaving no room for the main. Fish, with small roasted potatoes and veggies works beautifully as a main as well. In terms of quantity, I allocated one portion per person. Although there is always the fear that someone would want seconds and there won’t be enough, that has actually never happened. It’s rare for people to eat the full portion of anything when there are other choices. Regardless, even if one is circumspect with the quantity, leftovers always remain. Because it’s hard for my family to eat leftovers continuously, I divide the recipes into smaller tins and then freeze if I see they won’t be needed. This limits how much the food is being reheated. For dessert, I stock up on chocolate and nuts when they are on sale and serve it along with fresh fruit. A homemade cake is always nice, and for Yom Tov, my favorite dessert is to serve fresh hot cake that was baked during the main course along with some pareve ice cream.

In terms of the house, I’ve slowly learned to let go a little, though honestly, it’s always been a struggle. I just try to remember that when I’m in other people’s homes, I’m not judging them when I see dishes still in the sink, and I just hope they aren’t judging me. In terms of decoration, there is nothing like a bouquet of fresh flowers to make a table beautiful, but if that can’t be arranged, I do without and nobody dies. Although I enjoy using my good Shabbos dishes, when I have more then eight people at the table, I use disposable. Even with a dishwasher, the dishes can pile up fast, and I hate being busy at the sink rinsing when I should be hosting.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/for-the-home/how-to-have-guests-and-still-enjoy-your-meal/2012/10/18/

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