Wednesday, March 30, 2011

To the Far Reaches

Have you ever been to Mt. Hermon? I've seen it from the distance but only climbed (drove) up once. It's amazingly far from most areas of Israel - far to the north, in the north of the Golan Heights and it towers above the rest of Israel.

Security-wise, it is a vital element of Israel's defense. Atop Mt. Hermon, it is very cold, freezing...much of the year. An amazing organization, Yashar Lachayal ( delivered Purim gifts (shlach manot) to the combat soldiers stationed there. They say a picture speaks a thousand words - this one does!

And the amazing part is that all donations - every shekel or dollar donated, goes directly to the soldiers to buy them warm clothes, treats like the ones you see above, even basketball courts to give them exercise and fun during their off hours. They focus on combat soldiers, needy soldiers (buying them ovens, refrigerators, whatever they need) and on lone soldiers (visiting them, helping them, sending them special gifts). 

What these soldiers give to Israel cannot be measured. What Yashar Lachayal gives to the soldiers is a measure of comfort and thanks for their hard work. And what the soldiers give back to Yashar Lachayal and all those who donate to this worthy cause - can be seen in the smiles, the many letters thanking them for their tireless work. You can learn more about Yashar Lachayal and their amazing work on their website and you can follow them on Facebook!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Can You Say to This One

other than, "Amem" or "Please, God, please, make this the last time...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

News Flash...

News flash:

Unbelievable news - did you hear?

A family in Laredo, Texas was massacred in their sleep, and then a bomb hit bus #74 outside the D.C. convention center injuring dozens and killing at least one. And on the same day, dozens of rockets and missiles continued falling in Fairfax, Virginia.

Do I have your attention?

Is this completely insane and far fetched?

Then why is it allowed to be commonplace in Israel??????

(thanks to Arnie for this important reality check)

Dear Palestinian Civilian

I want to tell you, from the other side of the divide in which we live, that I care. I care about you, your children, your wife or your husband. I care about your parents, your grandparents. I care about your future and that of your children and grandchildren and generations to come.

I care because I am a human being, a mother of beautiful sons and daughters that I love beyond measure. I care because I know that locked into the future of your family, is the future of mine. I am not stupid. I am not racist. I am not filled with hatred and a desire for revenge. I live on a hilltop that never knew a house before mine was built here. No Arab homes were destroyed to build my beautiful neighborhood; no Arabs suffered its loss. It was a barren, empty hilltop, owned by us thousands of years ago, then the Romans, then the Turks. The Jordanians got it from the British; and we liberated it back to our control in 1967, when the Jordanians refused our request to stay out of the war.

We fight with our brothers, they told Israel in 1967, and they did. They fought, and lost this piece of land, where no one lived, no village, nothing. People came to live here in the mid-1970s and have been building ever since. There are almost 45,000 people who live around me here on these hilltops surrounded by light and desert.

I love my house, with its large windows and the sun streaming in early in the morning. In the far distance, I can just barely see the Dead Sea; closer, so much closer, is the beginnings of the enchanting city of Jerusalem just a few kilometers away. But as much as I love my home and my city, if someone were firing rockets from a nearby house, I would run. I would grab my children and run as fast as I could. This isn't about rights; this is about life.

I cherish my husband and my children above all that I have, all that I am. I would run to the very corners of this country (but no, not beyond those corners). A bit over 2 years ago, the unthinkable happened. My son was serving in the army, as all young Israeli men do, and he was ordered to the border with Gaza.

Over a hundred rockets had been fired at Israel in a single month. The situation was intolerable. He was ordered to fire artillery into Gaza - at pinpoint targets where rockets were being fired at us; where mosques and hospitals were being used to shelter weapons and explosives.

Now again, just two years later, as he predicted when Israel stopped the Cast Lead war, your people are again firing on our cities. This morning - Beersheva; last night Ashdod and Ashkelon. It is impossible. It is intolerable. Even Israel, even Israel cannot withstand this barrage.

Yesterday, rockets were fired and our tank division immediately returned fire at the source of the incoming attack. These mortars and rockets you fire at us are incredibly portable. If we don't respond in seconds, like animals, your fighters will tunnel underground. We fired and hit the launchers, but 12 civilians were apparently also hit. And so I ask - not why you fired on us. I know the answer to that - it is the same culture that allows you to slit the throat of a 3-month old baby and stab a 3-year-old in the heart. It is the culture of the suicide bomber who carefully places himself between families hoping to maximize the dead. No, I know why you fire on us.

I know why we fire back too. We are trying to stop you, to protect our babies, our families. We cannot stand the cruel murder of another Hadass. Our hearts broke and continue to break. No, even Israel cannot allow this. So, I understand why we fired back at the rocket launchers yesterday.

What I cannot for the life of me understand is why your civilians are near the rocket launchers. So dear Palestinian civilians - we will do our best to avoid hitting your homes, unless you allow them to be used as rocket launchers. We will do our best to avoid hitting your mosques, unless you hide explosives there. We will do our best, but the wind and the earth, the inconsistencies of war, make it impossible that we can be accurate 100% of the time.

No, I won't point out the obvious, that your goal is to target our children while our aim is to avoid yours. I won't quote Golda Meir and her now-famous comment that this endless war will end when you love your children more than you hate us. I won't speak of your incredible hatred or your culture of martyrdom and death.

I will ask only one thing. It is logical. It is reality. If you live near a place being used as a rocket launcher, please run away. Please move. There is no other option. We cannot allow you to launch rockets at Beersheva. Don't you realize 185,000 people live there? Ashdod, Ashkelon. No, this is not possible. Sderot has suffered enough. So, Palestinian civilian, if you are truly innocent in this, truly a civilian who loves your family - go the very corners of your neighborhood. Move away from the rockets because they will be stopped.

My oldest son took part in a war to stop the rockets two years ago. We had a partial success. You continued to fire, but at least it wasn't every day and certainly not a hundred in a month...until now. But now, once again, your people are attacking in numbers we cannot ignore and should not be expected to endure. Even one rocket is wrong and it is not right that we let you get away with even that. But yesterday and today, this morning and now. That we have to close the schools of an entire city to keep our children safe is not acceptable. At midnight in Ashkelon; at 5:30 a.m. in Beersheva. No, not acceptable.

So all that leaves is an endless cycle of your attacking and our responding. We will do our best but you have a responsibility too. During the Second Lebanon War, which began after Hezbollah crossed into Israel and kidnapped two of our soldiers, our ambassador to the United Nations said something so simple and yet so profound. I offer you his words, please take them to heart.

"Sometimes," Dan Gillermann said, "sometimes when you sleep with a missile, you don't wake up."

I want you to wake up in the morning and see the beauty of the sun, as I do now, as it shines through the thick clouds over this mountain where I live. I want you to live because ultimately, your future is tied to mine and those of my children. But whether you live or die, whether your family is safe or not, depends as much on you and the decisions your duly-elected government makes, as it does on mine.

It is the nature of a government, at least ours, to protect its people. If you want to wake up to the sun tomorrow, make sure you are not near those rocket launchers today.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Gotta Feeling - from St. Petersburg Hillel Students


A Letter to Obama from Aliza

This is a letter written by a young woman. I don't know her - and yet I do. She is 20 years old, she lives in America. She is Jewish. She shares a first name with my youngest daughter - and more, she shares a collective memory, something that binds her to us, and us to her. She lives far from the tragedies of the Fogel family. This message shows that through the distances of miles and time, this horrible terrorist attack should touch us all.

A Letter to President Obama from a Young American Jewish Woman

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to you about the unspeakable and horrific acts of terror that took place in the settlement of Itamar in Shomron on the West Bank of Jersualem on Friday night, March 11, 2011. Udi, 36, his wife Ruth, 35, and their children Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, 3 months, were all stabbed to death in their homes. I am sure you are well aware of the attacks and the terrifying details of that sadistic massacre. I am writing to ask you what America, our brave and beautiful country, plans to do about it.

I am a Jewish American, born and raised in the United States. I love my country with all my heart and am a very patriotic citizen. However, I love Israel with all my heart as well, as the Jewish people are my brothers and sisters. This innocent family was murdered in their own homes, slit by the throat and in the heart, some while asleep and some while awake, witnessing their own extermination. This is the type of horror that one cannot even bear to imagine. Three children, who G-d chose to carry on their family’s legacy, survive them. The type of horror these young children now live with is also something one cannot even bear to imagine. Although bombs and chemicals are atrocious, the personal nature of this attack makes it indescribable and abominable.

I have been in Israel twice in my life, on a vacation and a ten-month deferment when I studied abroad two years ago. I have seen the landscape of the country and seen the heartbeat of this illustrious and indestructible nation. I have lived in America my entire life. I have seen the greatness and strength of this country, and the unyielding power we hold in the world. It is time for America to step up and take a stand. It is time for the media to condemn these actions. It is time for the world to take note and pay attention to the fear and terror that is occurring in homes and cities far away from theirs. It is time to start publicizing heinous crimes and report the truth. When will enough be enough?

To stand and watch is to align yourself with terror.

To quote Martin Niemöller’s famous poem:

First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for me—and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.

I am speaking out now in the hopes that my voice can be heard. I stand behind my people, as I hope my President does for his.

Aliza Falick, 20

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Video of Truth - I am Israel

All the words that need to be said - are in the video - please watch and send a link to your friends!