Thursday, January 26, 2006

All for the sake of peace

An entire people have diplomatically voted in support of the murder of innocent woman and children. An entire people cheer in support of a landslide victory that's major basis of existence is for the ultimate destruction of Israel. Not just the leaders now, but the people as a whole have shown the world their true colors.

The initial response by Israel and the world is "we will not deal with a Hamas run government." Wow that sounds pretty stark! I don't buy it for a minute. My question than is... How long will it take till we start to supply them with arms? How long will it be till we start to train them on how to better take out our soldiers? How long will it be till we aid them in bettering their suicide mission activities? Lastly, how long will it take for this monster that we created be capable of carrying out its ultimate mission ????

It's always so interesting how quick people forget things. My prediction is in about 1 to 2 weeks the world will be condemning Israel on its lack of acceptance of a government established in a diplomatic manner. Soon after Israel will of course bow down and kiss the feet of what ever beast comes out as its leader.

Again we will try to "talk" with them. We will sit with them in nicely decorated rooms drinking fine teas. Their leaders will be invited maybe to Camp David, Washington, and even a personal tour of the newly improved Pentagon. All this in return for promises they will keep their hands to themselves.

Upon return to their fine homes built with Israeli money and designed by Western Architects, they will place their rewards and ribbons of promises of peace on their polished shelves. They will slip into a costume that fits much better to them, it will be laid with drops of blood from the thousands of innocent people that have been slayed, murdered, and lynched. They will step out to the crowd who are waiting impatiently, saliva drooling from their mouths, and announce to them that they are one step closer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Drinks on me!

I woke up at about 6am and upon stepping out of my parents bed I almost stepped on someone. What a headache I had! I stepped over a few more people and saw in the next room a rather large girl with my parent's comforter wrapped around her. The place reeked of beer. As I looked down from the banister from upstairs to the scene below I realized there was no way I was going to get away with this one.

They were going to be coming back in a few days from a week long trip in China. They trusted me enough to leave me alone! They knew of course I would have a few friends over one of the nights, but this!!! The whole town somehow ended up at my house that night and the majority decided to stay the night.

I counted about 8 people scattered in the living room, 6 upstairs, and 5 others in the downstairs rooms. There were about 50 empty beer cans still laying on the table. There was a mote of beer on the carpet surrounding the table. Stuff was everywhere!! Not pretty. I woke everyone up and kindly told them to get out now!! I had a lot of work to do.

The problem with where I lived, it wasn't really near to anything. The nearest friend was at least a 15 minute drive away. After a drink or two they realized that the treacherous road back home had a good chance of getting the best of them.

This wasn't the first party at our house, my parents went on a vacation at least once a year. My brother already broke the house in a bit, he was a little smarter I guess. I think to this day they believe he just had a few friends over. I think my brother stayed somewhat sober to make sure things didn't get too out of hand. Like many times in my life as my parents claim I sometimes don't' think before I do things. I passed out I think just when the party was starting to get rolling, that was the mistake.

I did get the house in decent shape. The carpets were cleaned! Drapes were re-hung, broken things were replaced, broken railing were nailed back, various places got re-painted, etc etc... But the broken antique rocking chair, there was nothing I could do about that.

They came in and gave me a big hug, put down their things and were happy to be home. I was in the clear. My mom went up stairs to take a shower, that's the first thing most people want to do when they get off a long airplane ride. "J what the heck happened here?" I had no idea what she was talking about, I took care of everything. I even had a little blanket that the cat played with, laying over the broken rocking chair leg. I went upstairs and what nailed me was a 'dented in' metal towel holder. How did anyone manage to dent a towel holder?

A few days later my dad also questioned what all these little dents were in the antique wooden dining table. My parents aren't stupid! I'm not sure if they knew what the game 'quarters' was, but they knew exactly what went on that week. Its funny with these types of things, you always think you can get things past your parents. 999,999,999 out of 1,000,000,000 you don't!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Superman never died why should I?

I remember my Aunt telling us that she was gone forever. I asked her "what do you mean she will be gone forever, does that mean a really long time?" "no! she is not going to come back EVER!!!" my aunt said. That really hit me hard!

I was maybe about 7 at the time. I have no clue as to who passed away! I think it must have been a great aunt or something. Also I don't know why they chose my Aunt K to stay with us. She must have felt that a bunch of 6 to 11 year olds were ready to hear her opinion on what happens after you die.

It was a very new and strange concept to me, something that could only happen to people that I don't know very well and certainly not to anyone in my immediate family. Did she choose to die? Did she get any type of warning? Why her? where did she go?

At the age of 7 the thought of me possibly dying was out of the question, impossible!! Growing up and having life sometimes show its darker side, the personal question of "when is my time??" pops up from time to time. In grade school and even high school I was invincible. I was to live to be 120 and most likely way beyond. College life has passed and I'm now in my late 30's. Although I've walked close to the line a few times I still never really felt that is a real possibility. At what age does one really feel the knock is about ready to hit the door? 70? late 80,s?119? or never???

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hershey's or Osem?

There was a sale in a certain store in Beit Shemesh this week on Kedem grape juice. People seemed to be buying it up like crazy. There was all this talk about how the American grape juice is just so much better than the stuff you get here. It was a big hit!

I don't claim to be a scientist, heck, I don't even claim to know that much about science, but it is a fact that about every seven years every cell in your body is completely reproduced. That means every 7 years I'm physically a completely different person than who I was before. Big deal you say! OOOOH it's a very big deal. I was counting the years in anticipation, to the day. Yes that's right on September 13, 2001 I became 100% Israeli to the bone!

Excluding a few short trips to the states to visit family since 94, every cell was born and prepared within the borders of Eretz Israel. This brings new meaning to the saying that "even the air here has a positive affect on you." Sure a visit to Israel once a year or so may give you a few holy cells. But why go for the finger nail when you can go for the whole Shabang?

I'm not sure if the sale of Israeli grape juice over there would be such a big hit, my guess is probably not. I don't think the affect would be the same anyway. Once you pull off the cap all that Chotz Le Aretz air would seep in there and spoil it a bit.

We know from all the kosher laws in the Torah that what we put in our mouths is a very big deal. It has an affect on us spiritually. What we eat has a big affect on who we are. I'm not saying that breathing non-Israel air or drinking non-Israel water is unkosher but when you look at it in this light, it can make you think twice about which grape juice to say Kiddush over.

Monday, January 16, 2006

and just like that...there were nine!

"If I ever see you flipping anyone off I will rip off your finger." I don't remember how old I was at the time, maybe 12 or so. The fear that my mom put in me that day stays with me to this moment. I can safely say that I still have the middle finger on both of my hands. I have been tempted many times to use them though, but the risk of course is way to great!!

Its funny how certain lessons are learned. I know I have sat with my sons and tried discussing certain issues. They seem to be paying attention, but maybe its the unplanned lessons that stay with them forever. The lessons learned on how to deal with other drivers when they pull out in front of you. The lessons learned on how to react to a large vessel slamming down on your small toe, and which words to use to relive the immediate pain. The lessons learned to how to react when fine china takes a flight off the table and lands on the soft Israeli floors. These I believe are the ones that stick in their heads!!

When my mom picked us up from school that day, one of the bad kids opted on using his finger to describe how he felt about his friend at the time. That's when she gave us that lesson. I remember walking to the car and imagining my finger being ripped off, the blood gushing everywhere, the pain! That stuck.

Even after leaving home, in my college days, the lesson stayed with me. In those moments of desire or need to use it, there was always that fear that my mother was right around the corner ready to rip it off. Even in the car driving alone, the moment would arise, I would always hold back. You see mothers have special powers. There is always that possibility that she could be there, even when you don't see her. Worse yet, she would see it from a distance or hear about it from a friend, and just like that, without any warning, off with the finger!!!

Albeit I am far from perfect, but in those similar situations I try to teach the best lesson possible. When they pull out in front of you almost knocking you off the road, I yell out a "what the heeeeeeelcccck are you doing! you not so nice person!" and when that vessel falls on my toe "fuuuuuuuuuuuucggggee" and the flying china "nnnnnnnnnnoooaazel tov." Those are those true tests in life to see how you react as a parent and what type of lesson you teach.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The tale of the dragon and the queen

There is a midrash that compares Jerusalem to a beautiful queen and a horrifying fire breathing dragon. The queen is of utmost beauty inside and out. The dragon is horrific in every way.

I worked in the Heritage House right in the old city of Jerusalem for about 5 years. I met all different types of people from all over the world. I met the Messiah twice, King David himself, prophets, missionaries, human shields for the Palestinian people, a member of the Russian mafia, 1 rock star, and other various combinations of the former mentioned. Oh, there were some normal people who also stayed there, but not too many!

What was interesting is the way many of these people viewed Jerusalem and especially the old city. There were those that saw the beautiful queen and of course there were those that saw the flying fire breathing beast. How is it possible for two people to walk down from the Heritage House to The Kotel (wall) about a 10 minute walk, and see two completely different things?

A replied "It was beautiful, the stone walkways take you right back to the temple periods. In the Jewish Quarter there were children running with their parents fulfilling the words of the prophets that stated we would one day return. Upon seeing The Kotel for the first time I felt like crying for what if represents. Touching and praying at The Kotel was so intense, I realized I was part of something so much bigger."

B replied "It was awful, the stone walkways were so slippery I almost fell on my face twice. The trash was everywhere, are there no trashcans here? There were Arabs walking around everywhere, I felt so unsafe. When I finally got there it was so upsetting to see that it was separated between men and women. The Kotel was totally over-rated, just a bunch of rocks. There were people begging for money every step I took and when I finally got to the wall itself, a bird pooped on my shoulder."

This midrash can be related not just to Jerusalem but to Israel as a whole. I have met so many people who react to this land so differently. It makes me sad to hear about this dragon that people see. I have yet to see its ugly face, I don't even believe that it exists. It belongs under the bed, in closets, or in story books about make believe lands. The lesson that is clear from this midrash is that there only exists a most beautiful queen, that's what's real!! The dragon is an invention of man.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Can I open them now??????

Today we celebrated the birthday of my 6 year old! All of his best friends came. He had a blast!! He was king for one day. It was perfect.

These are the years where birthdays really mean something. A birthday means: somebody loves me, I get all my favorite desserts at one sitting, I have friends that love to play with me, birthday gifts, everyone sings to me today, I get served first, special plates and cups with cool cartoon characters on them, the teacher pays extra attention to me today, I run a little faster today, the sun shines all day long even if its a clowdy day, I'm really going to have to do something really really bad to get punished today, its ok if I dirty up my clothes today, every where I have to go I go there in skip mode, I'm the most important person on the planet, this day was created just for me!!!!!

He really shined today! I am so proud of him. I really wish he could stay this pure and innocent forever. I wonder, at what age does life start to peel off the wings of an angel. Is it 7? 8? 10? ??

Friday, January 06, 2006

Circus Circus "all you can eat" and more!

I will never forget my first visit to Las Vegas. Its the only time in my life I have ever passed out. Its another world entirely over there. I was used to a life where the nearest neighbor is one mile away. For a 10 year old just out of the woods for the first time I went through a sensory mental overload.

I've been to Los Angeles and other cities on the west coast but this was something different. We went to the all you can eat breakfast buffet at Circus Circus at $1.99 per person. There was a long line getting in to this place, but not to worry, it moves very quickly due to the well greased machine I was about to see.

The walls and carpets were loud! The lights were blinking all over the place, all different types of colors. There were sounds of coins hitting the metal plates of slot machines from all directions. There were people everywhere! I was getting sick to my stomach.

We paid the cashier and got in line to one of about 20 rows of endless food bars. The lights and sounds were just as intense inside the restaurant. My head was starting to spin. I looked down the row to see how far this thing went..... I didn't see an end! I looked to the left and right! I was surrounded by heaps and heaps of Circus Circus $1.99 food and Circus Circus $1.99 customers.

There were millions of people in there! I saw a pile of bacon that would cover a small truck. There were piles of sausage! Heaps of eggs, all kinds! Hash browns, French toast, pancakes, cereals, ham, more meat, stuff I never saw in my life before, tons of it! I wanted to run but I couldn't, I was surrounded by food and people.

I somehow made it out of there, I ran to the bathroom! The blinking lights and heaps of bacon were running after me! It was a race and I knew I was losing.

I woke up in a daze lying on the floor of the Circus Circus bathroom looking up at my father. He looked a bit concerned! He led me back into that monster of a place with his arm around me. We sat at one of the 10,000 tables of the Circus Circus $1.99 Buffet extravaganza; I didn't manage to eat anything of its tasty treats that morning.

Anything for a laugh

A good laugh does the body and soul good! Some of the best laughs that I ever had were ones where I was the only one in on the joke. Here are 10 suggestions that always seem to work, best done not in your home town.

1. Go to any international airport and randomly greet people that look like nobody is going to come and meet them. A full fledge run with your arms out accompanied by high pitched scream is recommended.

2. Pick up people that are hitch-hiking with a slight twist. As soon as they get in the car stall it at least once. Have a hard time starting it again, accidentally turning on the wipers and hazard lights. Appear loose in your limbs and randomly moan out deep words that are not of any particular language. If coast is clear slowly veer into opposite lane. People seem to love this!

3. Run down to the garbage men as they haul away your bins. Give them a tip and tell them what a great job they are doing. Best if done at 4:00 in the morning!

4. While shopping randomly stick things in other people's carts.

5. In a crowded area outside: Stop! Look up! Through your hands in the air in a flapping motion and scream as loud as you can "nooooooooooooooooooooooo" People really enjoy this one too.

6. Wait by the door quietly... and when you hear it fall, run and throw the daily paper back at him. Best if you score a direct hit and dive behind some shrubs so he doesn't know where it came from.

7. Find the thermostat of a large business and change it from A/C to Heat or vice versa.

8. Travel to a minyan where you don't know anyone! Blurt out "Amen" at all the wrong times! The fellow daveners seem to enjoy this tremendously.

9. If you have a mean landlord or boss, give him a nice little gift underneath the latch of the door handle of his car. When he comes to open his door he will get a big surprise. A month old cottage cheese works well.

10. Go to the tallest building you can find. Wait to board the elevator until it's filled to the rim. Proceed to push every button for every floor. Wait for the first reactions and comments!

O.K. maybe I'm a little sick! No serious harm done to anyone here except maybe your own reputation. I feel its worth it, a good laugh carries you a long long way!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

One foot in the slammer!!!

I will never forget that day when the big candy shakedown took place. I must have been about nine years old. My brother and I learned a big lesson that day. Something changed! I can't exactly put my finger on it though. Maybe the realities of right and wrong, the consequences of the choices we make, or maybe the guidelines to choosing good friends.

In Bear Valley there is one small convenient store that carries just about everything. I only remember the candy section, the rest is a bit of a blur. Next to the store is a big gymnasium that hosted dances, sporting events, and all types of activities. It was the place to be, everyone hung out there. We spent a lot of time there growing up in that small town.

We were to be picked up by my grandparents that day. My parents were away on some type of vacation. We hooked up with a couple of our friends who had this great plan. I don't remember exactly how we got sucked into this thing but the next thing I knew we were part of this shakedown. There were about 8 to 12 kids in total. We all went in for the first hit.

I remember an older lady behind the counter, she wasn't really paying much attention to us. We all started stuffing our pockets and shirts with as much candy as we could. I think one of the kids bought like a nickel candy so at least we bought something. We brought the stash to the top of this hill and made a big pile. We were proud! It was time for the second hit.

The lady this time was on the phone speaking to someone, no big deal!! Or so we thought. We filled up again, this time we didn't even go for the decoy of buying even a nickel candy. We headed back up to the hill and poured our spoils onto the now Mt. Everest of candy. At that moment the fun stopped and reality hit us like a freight train in the form of a big police jeep that pulled in right next to the store.

I never ran so fast!! We ran in all different directions. My brother and I and a few others headed for the gym. We grabbed a ball, threw off our shoes and started playing any old game. My heart was pumping very hard. "Wrong" "bad" "evil" "guilt" filled me to the rim. I wanted to cry but I knew I couldn't. The police chief opened the door to the gym and looked around with peering eyes. The gym for some reason was more crowed on this day than any other day in the 20 years that we lived there, thank G-d!!

He stayed there for about a minute or two! I thought for sure he had us. We were done!! What would our parents do? What would the town think of us now? We were known as the good kids!! We were good kids!! What had we become? And just like that, he left!!!! We were free!! We made it!! Or did we??

My brother and I never got to eat even one of those candies from that stash. The older kids said that the animals got to them. I believed it! I remember trying to go to sleep that night. It wasn't easy. I knew I did bad!! I was a thief! With such a great upbringing! All the morals that were driven into me. How did I do such a thing?

I am not sure about the other kids, but I know that's the last thing my brother and I ever stole. It haunted us for many many years to follow. There is still a pocket of guilt deep inside us that wishes we never partook in such a scandal. To this day I think we are both to ashamed to tell our parents. Maybe they can still punish us at the ages of 37 and 39!!

In a strange kind of way this whole shakedown made us into better people. We chose our friends more wisely. We learned that there are consequences to our actions and the choices we make. It was a wake up call!! It was quite heavy for a 9 and 11 year old.