Saturday, December 31, 2005

Surrounded By Angels

It's hard to imagine that one day they won't want to cuddle. One day they will no longer long to hug me. It just won't be right to pinch them anymore. They won't fight to who gets to sit on my lap. They won't run and jump up on me when I haven't seen them for half a day. They will be embarrassed when I try to kiss them in front of their friends. You see, they will be too old for all that!!

I've heard so many times from so many people: "the years just fly by.. And you wake up and your little one is now a teenager" I have made a pledge to myself to fight that the best that I can. I refuse to let them just fly by. I will cherish each moment with them.

Every night when I put my now 3 and 6 year old boys to sleep we go through a certain ritual. Each one lies down on a shoulder and my arms wrap around them as much as I possibly can. They snuggle and try to get as close as possible. I tell them stories, we talk about the Parsha, and than we play 'imagine if.' Every night they seem to get more and more creative. After the opening imagine if... they can say whatever comes to their minds. Tonight's: Yishiah (3)( "imagine if the heater went downstairs went outside, walked to the park, went on the swings, came home, walked upstairs, and turned back into a heater." Yonah (6) "imagine if the refrigerator turned into a stove, took some chicken, cooked the chicken, called us to eat the chicken, and than turned back into a refrigerator."

I know there are those that argue that it's best to lay them down, give them a kiss and get on with your business. I hear it!! But I would not trade those moments for anything in the world. There is no where I would rather be. In those moments the world is a perfect place. Every problem that I have fades away. A deep smile covers my face and fills me up.

We say the Shemah! I give them kisses, they give me hugs, and they fade away into sleep land. They are angels!! In these moments they are perfect in everyway. I thank G-d for the gift of two beautiful healthy boys.

Those priceless moments are more precious than any mortal pleasure. I promise myself never to forget those moments, never to let the time just pass by.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

On Eagles Wings

Once again I slipped into my army uniform, wrapped my dog tags around my neck, and was given an m-16. Being that I'm now 37, and talk is going around that most units won't have to do any more melueem (yearly army duty) plus my release date getting nearer and nearer, this could be my last!!! It was only four days!!! I won't forget them.

Day two:
We were transferred on busses deep within the Negev Desert not far from the Egyptian border. They didn't tell us what we would be doing that day. Even the officers said they weren't sure. It was just a practice army duty, so we knew we weren't going in for any serious operations.

The bus dropped us off in the middle of nowhere. No cars, no houses, nothing!!! We than hiked in formation with full gear on our backs (two full water canteens, 5 full cartridges, helmet, gun, and backpack) for 7 kilometers. The main officer told us all to get down and explained to us what we were really doing out there.

In five minutes our unit (90 people) were to be transferred by Helicopter to a certain spot and we were to carry out a practice operation. Yes that's right helicopter!! We are talking huge army helicopter. I was very excited, I always wanted to go into a real army helicopter. He explained to us the formation we would be in, how to enter, how to exit, and where to be when we leave the helecopter. I was in the unit that was to board the first helecopter, second in line behind my officer.

It was just like a scene from Apocalypse now!! The first helicopter appeared. It bellowed out a deep sound that you could feel. Behind it were more. They came in fast. They were huge!!!! The power.....

Our's landed and an officer from within motioned to us to make our move. We started running to it in formation. This was very intense. You have to realize that this is in the middle of the desert, that means lots of sand!! When she landed it created a huge circular wall of sand that slowly makes its way away from the helicopter. It appeared kind of like the pictures you see of the reaction of an atomic bomb after detonation. When this wall hits you, it feels very similar to an ocean wave, it knocks you back! It was absolutely beautiful.

I made my way through the wall of sand and bent my head down a bit and ran towards the entrance. It's hard to believe how big these things are, we later found out that they are able to even carry an arm jeep. The blades above make such a powerful sound that you feel it within your bones. I made it to my spot and looked out the window to the others making their way to their Helicopters. It was such a beautiful scene, its hard for me to explain. It must sound strange to use the word beautiful with objects of war. I was moved deeply I felt like crying!!! I will never forget those moments.

It blasted off!! The power.... We shot up to a thousand feet in seconds. The ride was pretty intense. It blows away any rollercoaster ride. It dropped us off deeper within the desert. We ran to our positions and waited for the rest of the unit and continued the exercise.

There are those momens when you feel so great to be a Jew!! So Proud. This was one of the many that I had. I feel so proud to do my part in the Israel army. When I wear that uniform, when I am with Jews from all over the world, I realize it's a much bigger picture. We are here to protect this precious land and the beautiful people within it. That helicopter with its power blew me away. I think part of the reason I felt like crying out there is because it makes you realize there is even a bigger power, much more powerful than this machine that watches over Israel and its people.

My next blog will be on day four!! A night that made the news!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The barrel and the waterfall

As half of my body hung out of the plane at 3000 feet I was thinking to myself what the ...... am I doing up here and how did I get talked into it. The flight instructor told us "its important to keep your leg close to the plane, any space can cause a suction and whip you from the plane before you're ready" I was thinking at this point "I don't think I'm ready and I don't think I will ever be ready, I want to go back down to the safe ground down there" At this point though, there was no turning back. What would my friends say if I chickened out? How would I be able to live with myself if I backed down now?

When you think at all logically, most would find it a bit strange to jump from a plane from 3000 feet when you really don't have to. What drives us to do such stupid things like this?

Most people don't like heights all that much. There's this feeling that you get deep within when looking over the edge. It's very uncomfortable!!! It's a small voice inside you that says "jump." Of course you know you're not going to jump, but there's this pull. "Maybe I really can fly?" "Maybe I will land on something reallllllly soft?" At any rate you are happy when you slowly back away and take the safe route down.

I don't think I will ever forget those 5 to 7 seconds of free fall after leaping from the plane. The freezing cold wind smashing against my body, every limb on my body attempting to grasp anything stable, the clouds surrounding me, the sound of my scream, and of course the joy of an intact parachute protecting me from the not so soft ground below me. In those few seconds I felt alive more than ever.

I was introduced for the first time in my life "real fear." I think up until that time I still believed I was invincible. Sure most people die after 120 or so years, but that didn't apply to me. I realized at that point why people do such stupid things like this. It feels great to be alive!!! Sometimes you have to walk the thin line to make yourself feel alive.

I learned my lesson though. Never again was I going to put my life on the line for such a cheap thrill. I'm glad I did it, but never again.

One year later I went to a Jimmy Buffet concert with a friend. They had this crane there, attached to it was a big rubber band. What's the chance of that thing breaking?? It looked pretty official. They even took credit cards. The crowd made the count down for us. 10...9...8...,
Boooingggg!!! That was a fun experience.

After that though I learned my lesson. I'm older now. I have learned a lot from life. Israel and Judaism has taught me new ways to get that same high. There is no way I would do anything like that anymore, no way!!! Well!!!!!!! I'm pretty sure!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

You pointing your finger at me????

I wonder what the Israelites were thinking when they were battling the Yehubisties for the possession of Jerusalem. "If it weren't for these dang Yehubisites everything would be just fine" When we were being plagued by the nasty Philistines was the national attitude. "Let's just get rid of all these Philistines than everything will be just fine?" Was there ever a time in history when we weren't bothered by anyone? We were just left to our own devices and everything was just fine??

Today we are surrounded by nations that would love to see us wiped off the face of the earth. Within our borders we have a people that celebrate when ever one of them succeeds in killing and maiming our people. There is a feeling within many, "if only we could get rid of all these people than everything would be just fine." I wonder if that would be so.

If the Babylonians took their book of the law of the Hammerubi and skedaddled, if the Egyptians took their papyrus's and boogied out of here, if the Turks took their bathhouses and booked out, if the Roman's took their pillars and high tailed out, if the Greeks took their god's and departed, if the Persian's, Byzantines, etc, etc, left us alone, would we have been just fine?????

When I was in grade school there was a small group of kids that claimed to be part of the KKK. I don't think they were, but they were big fans. They used to make my life hell on occasions. "Hey Jew boy!!!" "Hey big nose!!!" They didn't like me too much!! They constantly reminded me that I was Jewish, just in case I might forget. Today I owe these hoodlums a huge thanks. If I am going to get hassled over being a Jew than at least I better find out what it means to be a Jew. They kept me in check, they wouldn't let me forget about who I am and what my purpose is in life is. I could have focused on how I could manage to take off their heads, how much I hate them, how to avoid them, or revenge. I would have missed the point.

These KKK wanabee's, the Yehubasites, Greeks, Turks, Egyptians, Babylonians, and all the other ....ians are just tools trying to guide us into doing our jobs here on this earth. One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to see that every time we sway from our path there is always one of these peoples like a guard rail on the side of a road guiding us back. It seems that every time we try to alleviate the problem we focus on them!!! They try to remind us in all sorts of ways that, that's not the problem. We try new techniques! We think of the greatest solutions!! NOTHING SEEMS TO WORK!! On paper and theory they looked great, why didn't they work out?

The ONLY solution to "everything to be just fine," is to look at the real problem, US!!! Until we, as a Jewish Nation get our act together, we are in for some serious reminding by our good friends around the world.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

One week off!! Disneyland or Israel?

To many Jews in the world relate to Israel like they do Disneyland. Once every year or two they make the visit. They go to the Kotel (ride the Mattehorn). They go to the Kinneret (Splash Mountain). They give a little Sadakah in the cool boxes and random people (throw the coins in the fountains and random water displays) They have a few taxi rides (Thunder Mountain). They even go visit Mea Sharim for the experience (Pirates of the Caribbean). They leave with tons of pictures, red strings on there wrists, and lots of souvenirs (the little handheld picture viewer that you get when they take your picture when you enter, and even the glow in the dark fancy necklaces). Upon exiting they say goodbye and hope to visit again in the next few years, they had a great time!!!!

If Disneyland closed for some reason indefinitely or was wiped out by an earthquake, many would be disappointed. People would probably be bummed out about it for a while, a few days, maybe even a week. A destruction of Israel G-d forbid, people of course would be more devastated. But what does Israel really mean to the masses of Jews out there?

Its this place that exists over there. They send money to it on occasions. They read about it on the news and on-line at least once a day. They love to give their opinions on the political situation over there. Even some will go to rallies for, and against it. Some go to have there Bar/Bat Mitsphas there. The majority of Jews in the world though have never stepped foot on its soil.

So how important is Israel really than? Maybe the Jews of the world would be better off if it didn't exist. Why should people lash out at them when Israel does something that the world feels unjust? Maybe there are plenty of other places in the world that Jews would be better off! Why put yourself in a dangerous situation by living there, or visiting there for that matter? Do we really need Israel??

OK!! So there were expulsions in practically every country that the Jews lived from the beginning of time. This is 2005, the world is a civilized place now. From what happened 60 years ago the world has come a long way. What happened in the past to us could never happen again!!! Certainly not in America, we helped build it up to what it is today.

This week there was a Suicide Bomber that blew himself up trying to go into a mall in Netanya. Who was Lotfi Abu Saada after? The people he killed, were they his target? Was he going for particular names, certain ages of people, babies, woman, soldiers, elders, handicapped, who?? His target was YOU!! ME!! If you call yourself a Jew than you just made his list. His motive?? Peace?? Revenge??

I don't like to speak about politics to much because it bums me out!! When I read most papers it depresses me. When I see fellow Jews that are more Pro-Palestinian than Pro-Jewish it blows a hole right through me. Unfortunately there are tons of them. It seems that a majority of Jews feel it would be best to give up more land for a so called "peace." My question to them is "Who are we supposed to have peace with?" The only side that I have heard of a real peace comes from the mouths of the Leftist Jew. It seems that the words, and actions of the Palestinian people and their leaders have no affect on their stance. "OK so its still part of the Official Palestinian Covenant that the final goal is to wipe out Israel, they don't really mean it!!!!"

Is it worth the risk to give up more of our land. Why is it such an assumed factor that we are to give back parts of Eretz Israel??? What other country in the world has ever done such a thing??? Give me one sign that the people on the other side really want peace??? What's the price if you're wrong???

When the world condemns us for building a wall to protect our woman and children from being blown up by people like Lotfi Abu Saada something has to click in your head!!! Something's not right here!! When the government is more concerned about the rights and survival of a people that tried to destroy you, more than themselves, something has got to click!! When the majority of Israelis are in favor of giving up more land, and the majority of those people you are giving the land too want to destroy you, something has got to click!!

The number of Arab countries in the world is around 19!! The last time I counted the number of Jewish countries in the world was 1! That's all we got! 1!! For the past 2000 years that number was 0!!! So if something happens to Disneyland, you always have 6 flags, Kings Canyon, Knott's Berry Farm, and a whole slew of other Amusement Adventure Parks. If something, again G-d forbid, happens to our 1 country, where will we turn in time of need??? America??? What happens if overnight they don't want us over there anymore?? France? back to Germany?? Where??

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Israeli Brand "Service"

"The customer is always right" Here in Israel, that's not always the case. It seems that most things in a matter of time that are west based eventually make it over to Israel: music, hair styles, clothing, art styles, practically everything!! "Sherut" loosely translated as Service, somehow never made it across the sea, or if it did it was turned away at customs.

To admit that the customer is right means you somehow were wrong!! That doesn't go over so well. That's like letting a car go first at a four way stop sign just because he got there first. Here it's assumed that you do have to stop at the stop sign, but who says you have to wait for someone else. There is a lot of pride on the line with these things, and in most cases your pride comes first.

My first introduction to Israel service was on my first trip to Israel over 15 years ago. I was part of a group and we finally got a day free to do whatever we wanted. We were in the Old Bus Station in Tel Aviv and went to the first sandwich shop that we found. All the sandwiches were pre-wrapped! I asked for a sandwich without tomatoes. He said "ok that's 8.50" I said wait the price says 8 shekels. He said "yes but if there are any changes there is a .50 service charge" I said "wait a minute I don't want extra tomatoes, I just want you to take the ones off that are on my sandwich, use them on the next one." "Sorry sir any changes there is a .50 service charge" another friend of mine who wasn't listening to our conversation asked for just a half of sandwich. He of course answered "that will be 8.50" I said "come on she only wants half a sandwich, keep the other half and sell it or something" "I am sorry any changes there is a .50 service charge." I refused to buy a sandwich there of course and wouldn't let anyone else buy one from there either. I was in shock!!

If he were to give in on the .50 service charge that means he loses. Even if he were at the brink of closure due to lack of sales, he would never give in on the .50 service charge. His pride is on the line, it's not about making money. This of course transfers on the road as well.

Practically every day you almost get in an accident here!! The most common case is as follows: you are driving down the road minding your own business and than whaaaaaaaaaaaaaam! Someone that was just parked on the side of the road pulls right out in front of you without looking at all. When you honk at this guy and empty out all the foul vocabulary words that you can think of, he sticks his arm out the window and motions "what's the problem???"

Most traffic jams here in Israel are because of the following: Moshe sees his friend walking on the sidewalk and decides to stop in the middle of the road to have a conversation with him. Yes, there is a parking spot that he could have pulled in right next to his friend. Yes, there are at least 10 cars behind him. The kicker, he talks to the guy for about 5 minutes while everyone is honking their horns like mad. When he finally does start to move again his arm goes out the window of his car and he gestures to the line of 80 to 100 cars like "what's the problem???" Now you have to understand something very crucial here, he really doesn't think that he did anything wrong at all here.

Lines!! That's the best. In Israel the concept of lines does not exist. When the bus comes you better be ready! When that door opens its a mad rush, a space that normally allows room for one person to enter is now filled with at least two people, an extra arm, and at least one foot. I've seen more action getting on busses than fighting to get to the front at a heavy mettle concert.

I don't think I have ever been to the bank where at least one person by- passes the line of 10 people and heads right up to the teller. Her look on her face is "who the heck are you people and why the heck are you waiting in line" She really wonders what they are doing! I mean she has to use the bank services after all, why are you getting in her way??

The commonality here is: "I am the only person on the face of this planet and I want what I want now" The customer can't be right because that means I'm wrong and my world would be destroyed. The road belongs to me and me only, what these other people are doing on the road and where they came from is a mystery. Why would I wait in line when what I want is up there?

Now of course I can't leave you off with a negative impression of these people. I love this place and the people more than anyone on this planet. They are called "sabras" (cactus fruit) for a reason. Out of the cars, away from business, not in lines, they are a one of a kind people. NO WHERE in the world would its people do so much for each other in times of need. The Heart is pure, the hand is giving, and the love is real. For an occasional near miss at the wheel, an elbow in the jaw when getting on the bus, and being laughed at when you return the curdled milk that you just bought the same day, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ronald, Leave me alone!!!

I remember enjoying going to Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonalds, KFC, and all the other grease joints. For 5 dollars you really got yourself a lot of food! There was so much food to choose from, it was awesome. It was so convenient and quick, within minutes you got your food exactly the way you wanted it. On the way back to the car though, you didn't feel so good! There was that heavy feeling, those burps! You just wanted to get out of there, until you return for dinner at least.

Now that these foods have become forbidden to me I desire them more than ever before. Just driving past one of these places is painful. Its billboards taunt me "2 cheeseburgers for 99cents." If I happen to be walking to close, the smell, its hypnotic, it just draws me in. I know that it didn't have the same affect on me when I was able to eat there, so what's up with that now?? Why something that is now forbidden seems so much more appealing?

I was recently in America visiting some friends on a camping trip, they decided to make a stop at In' and 'out Burger on the way up. I tried to fill myself up before going in, I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was the worse peanut butter and jelly sandwich I ever had. My poor sandwich, how was it supposed to live up to the world famous In' and Out Burger?

They ordered the double double with fries and shake combo. They were given numbers in which they would call you up when your fantasy burger was ready. The anticipation was killing me! I seemed to be much more excited about the whole experience than they were, I guess the peanut butter sandwich did not do its job. Many thoughts rushed through my mind. Maybe if I just had one little bite and spit it out, that would be ok! What is the minimum amount before violating any kind of Torah commandment?

The feast arrived!! It was piping hot, it was just like they had ordered, it was perfect!! I thought it looked better than it did on the pictures on the menu board. They dug in!! As I watched them down these things, they didn't seem to be enjoying them all that much, neither did the rest of the crowd! How could that be? This was In' and Out Burger!!!! I did manage of course to leave that beastful place without tasting any of its magical treats. Walking back to the car though I felt it laughing at me! As if it won or something! That's right, the building itself!! with its bright colors and neon signs!! Like "I knew I could get you in here...hahahahahahhahahah"

Here in Israel you do have the kosher "Burger King," and even a "McDonalds," but its not the same. I am allowed to go in these places, they don't taunt me like the other ones. I can walk by them with no problem. It probably even tastes pretty much the same, minus the cheese of course. I sometimes go to the internet sites of these places, push on menu and gaze at these amazing imagines. You see I like food, but this is something different.

I wonder if Ronald and the rest of his crew would have the same affect on me if suddenly tomorrow it were allowed. I don't think so!!