ta'anit esther.

Mothers, sisters, daughters of Israel!

WAKE UP!
We are ‘liberated’ in today’s society – so why aren’t we working?

Don’t slack off when it comes to working for Bnei Yisroel!
Don’t forget your roles in saving the Jews from the evils of the world and saving the Jews from themselves!

Remember your power. Sons look to their mothers, fathers listen to their daughters.
Remember Esther, Ruth, Devora, Miriam.

Wake up while there is still so much power left in our hands.

This is the time for the women of Israel to realize their power and their roles. We have a lot of work to do – don’t you see the mess we Jews are in? It’s up to us to wake up.

Aren’t we ‘liberated’ after all? But we always were liberated – only now the rest of the world is realizing it. So why haven’t we surpassed Esther’s valor and bravery? Where are our guts? Why are we sleeping in laziness and spoiledness?

Tomorrow (Ta’anit Esther), think of Esther. She is our guide. Think if you could do the same for your family in exile and your family b’aretz. She was a Jewish daughter, like all of us. We have as much as she had – or we could if we worked harder at it.

Sometimes, when the tasks require balls, it takes a real woman to complete it.

We’re still where we were 2,000 years ago. Israel is a mess and exile is worse. Men have been trying and failing for too long. If you want to see your children living happily in a Jewish world, make sure a Jewish world still exists.

Meaningful fast, happy Purim!

P.S. – i send this to the men too because someday, if you’re not already, you will be married to great awesome Jewish women. know what powers you are dealing with (if you can weed through silly japs) and make sure she lives up to Miriam-Esther standards.

alert.

round and round we go,
round the metal wheel inside the metal cage,
like dumb mice that dont learn,
u can run around the wheel and make yourself crazy
but youll never get anywhere but where you started.

with love.

“or you could just be plain.”

great words of wisdom from dad, with love.

“you could do what you said you set out to do, or you could just be plain.”

and since when is raising three kids plain, huh? you did it. or is your life too boring for you? is that why you’re not really around? is this not enough? have you not been great – only plain?

why do we get guilt tripped into constantly thinking we’re rationalizing away our potential? our fears? our true desires, which apprently are too hard to achieve? why do we all get guilt tripped into ‘being something’? are we failures if we never ammount to ‘being something’?

why aren’t we ever content just being, just going through life and being in a successful marriage and having well-bred kids? working through the job, bringing home money to live and be? why are they, you, everybody putting pressure on me? why am i putting pressure on myself? to ‘be something’ and certainly not ‘plain’.

no, i picked up and declared citizenship to the only Jewish state we have, and i’m only on my way to being plain if i’m not working to fix the world. (granted, i want to fix the world). one step at a time, folks. i’ll step-by-step my way to being ‘something’ one day.

so everybody just chillax.

Israeli (5) – 2005.

Israeli.

And then, he was back.

We met for drinks to catch up and somehow, amid the silence of catching up, we sensed where each of us had been in the past two years.

“You didn’t think I was going to come b’aliyah, did you?” I said it with my best defense mechanism smirk.
“Well… I thought it could go either way. Yes, I am surprised.”

Two nights later he called me again.

“Elizabet, be ready at your house in ten minutes. Can you do that?”
“I’m not home – gimme 15 –“
“B’seder.”
Click.

I was at some friends’ watching downloaded episodes of Americana when he called, and as the last episode was wrapping up I collected my second-hand bag and my ratty cream-colored sweater and thanked the boys on my way out to meet Shachar in front of my house.
I wondered on the walk home what this drive was to meet him. The adventure he brings in any given meeting? What is that adrenaline, really, that he pumps into me with a phone call or an ‘Elizabet’? After two years of not speaking, after two years of failing to find ourselves, what kept the spark of ridiculousness still glowing in two dim hearts?

Ten minutes later, calves burning from the rush home, I found the familiar white VW Gulf parked in front.

A bed poked itself out the back.

He found me a new bed. Crazy.

I found Shachar waiting in the stairwell.

“There you are! Come, help me bring this up.” He took my hand in his and we started towards the car and like Lot’s wife, I looked back behind our trail… Was there something there I missed? Is this a ghost pulling me by my palm towards a car I once knew well?
In breathy silence we managed to pull the bed up to the top floor and in short commands managed to get it into my niche of a room, set under the window. I had been going months on four skinny mattresses piled up like the Pea Princess. I looked at Shachar, who was looking at me.

“Ma ha’sha’ah?” I scrambled to find my pelephone.
“9:50.”
“I have to go darling, I will speak to you soon.”

I walked him to the stairs and just stopped —- and watched him continue down. I didn’t know what to say to this… guy.

“Thank you… you’re so nice…” I stammered, half remark, half question.

I could hear Shachar laughing that familiar laugh as he bounded down the twirls of stairs.

“I am so… Israeli,” he replied, the words floating toward my ears like the beeping of an alarm clock.

Tayelet (4) – 2003.

Tayelet.

We’re sitting in the VW Gulf, at the tayelet near Ramat Rachel, me and Shachar.

That’s it, he says.

His eyes are drawn to me and my eyes are drawn to Jerusalem, dark and naked in front of us.

It takes a lot for me to turn my head and look at him; my eyes hit the side of his olive face and I lower my gaze quickly before he turns to meet my own pale features.

It’s hard to imagine I’ll be living here next year.
I feel white and small as I say this.
You know for sure?
Well… I mean, yeah…
You can’t know yet.
He shifts his body in the driver’s seat so he can look fully towards me.
It doesn’t matter if I can or can’t. I have to.
You put all this pressure on yourself; that is no good, Elizabet…

I hate when he talks like this. Like he knows all because he is older, because he’s seen things, because he was unlucky or lucky enough to have been born here, in the middle of my dream.

You have to take it slowly, don’t tell people right away; I’m not saying don’t come, definitely you should come, but slowly, if you come you want to make sure you stay, yes? Stages, Elizabet.
Right.
For real, you listening? It’s not an easy thing, it’s not a dream, I’ve seen people try and they end up going back. You have so much, so much goodness, and you’ll be fine, but stages, slowly.

He takes my dream and refines it; shaves off the fluffy outside and roughens the smooth edges. His bold eyes scare me in the darkness.

I look straight ahead, at the city.

Yeah.

It’s dark except for all the lights and I wonder how this city has been going for 3,000 years. How it exists when I don’t see it. How day becomes night and night forms day and people are always here, always surrounded by smooth white stones.

Soon he falls asleep, his head in my lap, and I sit back and watch Jerusalem become a city of gold. I inhale the chill August morning air and know that I am ready for what will come.

Modi'in (3) – 2003.

Modi’in.

We drove up to the post in Modi’in; it was 2 a.m. and I felt invisible.

The road slept and the car’s purr was the only sound along with the crunching of dry leaves under boots. It was like a movie, when the headlights go dim and then dark, the double slam of car doors, more boots on Israeli summer grass,

the subdued whispers of an army reserve post.

Avihu met us, he wasn’t far from what I had pictured, not far from guys I’ve known before. Despite the gun over his shoulder, he didn’t swagger.

I felt like a child as I busied my eyes while Shachar and Avihu rattled on and I knew when they were talking about finding jobs and when they were talking about, “eize chamuda, Shachar!” – “Betach.”

I kept with the rhythm of silence and let my eyes take in the hills of 2 a.m. Jerusalem,

of gold in the darkness,

of emptiness,

of dusty boots.

Jerusalem (2) – 2003.

Jerusalem.

Shachar took me to a part of older Jerusalem one night, after shutting his law books and telling me –

“Elizabet – we’re going out.”

It was cool air we stepped into from his father’s white VW Gulf and I welcomed the night breeze up my skirt. We held hands as we crossed the dusty road; my flips flopped against the hard stones. He playfully taunted the squealing cats and I giggled, feeling where I belonged. We passed the laughing cafes and came to a crooked row of olden houses.

“These were Arabs, an Arab neighborhood before…” he trailed off and the houses picked up where his voice had left. Looking around politely, I suddenly felt very American as I noticed what made these houses so old, so wise.

I settled out of my American discomfort and into what I was watching: pale stones swaying in the midnight Jerusalem breeze. I let it sink in, the fact of it all, the nature of it, life and death and telling-stones. I looked over at him and he was already paces ahead.

Shachar, the Israeli, was not apologetic.