A Passover bonus for everyone.

This is sweet. My company gave us our usual Passover bonuses in the form of gifts bought via Sderot, so that Sderot vendors make some money off of the deal as opposed to vendors elsewhere.

Since the population of Sderot has been suffering for years now, and business has suffered along with it, there has been a movement to purchase groceries, gifts, shoes, etc. within the city. A lot of people are doing this all over Israel, though it seems to be an especially Anglo thing.

I’m happy my company had the mind to share our Passover bonuses this way. Warm, fuzzy, Israeli, Jewish, happy.

Tonight's online rally for Israel and Sederot.

The buzz this week – around the Israel blogosphere, Facebook and my inbox – has been about a campaign called Together 4 Israel, which “is putting together the largest ever online rally in support of those living under fire in Israel. All you need to do is return to this site on Thursday, March 20, 2008 at 11 p.m. Israel Time to watch a live broadcast online of solidarity rallies from around the world.

The plan is to gather 1,000,000 people across the globe, joining together to watch the rally and show support for Israel and Sderot. Here’s their video pitch. You can view the speaker list and schedule at the site.

It’s Purim tonight, so if you don’t plan on sticking around a computer, you can log on to the site before you head out of the house and you will still be counted for the rally numbers.

I see the value in this for those who will still be fasting for Ta’anit Esther at 11 p.m. Israel time… It’s a nice idea to feel like you are together with thousands of other Jews, hopefully recognizing Esther’s fast and the need to pull together when we face threats.

Lessons of Israel: Life is good until it's not.

I was walking with a friend down Emek Refaim today when I happened to look up and notice the plaque that hangs outside Cafe Hillel, remembering those killed in the bombing there on September 9th 2003.

That bombing in particular hit me hard for several reasons, and that date hasn’t gone by since without me remembering it. On top of being Jewish, Israeli and human, I’ve been given an extreme helping of empathy (maybe that explains the conflict management thing)… I take things to heart for better or worse.

Tonight is horrible for, again, several reasons: the terrorist shooting at a yeshiva across Jerusalem and the accidental death of my hometown rabbi’s father are the two big ones. Sderot and Gaza lend some more reasons. And let’s not forget Times Square.

Today I was planning on posting here how good I have things here in Israel; how I don’t envy friends in New York and how I’ve been so impressed lately with what I’ve achieved here. I was just telling the same friend, from my walk down Emek Refaim, how I’m in constant amazement at how Israeli life has treated me the past few years.

And that’s just when an Israeli gets the kind of reminders I got tonight. I’ve done what I could, as an individual, to build my own little life… But it’s not just me here, it’s a lot of people, all related to me; all afraid, but living, all hopeful, but coping.

It’s more than not taking life for granted. It’s never expecting anything to come too easily, it’s knowing that there’s only so much I can do as an individual.

Whether I like it or not, Israeli me is never alone.

Coming to Israel this winter?

I find that lots of people – students or not – desire to volunteer on a day-trip basis when they come a-visiting, so I’m sharing the following:

Standing Together – the organization that sells us the Sderot challot every week – has an initiative set up for tourists to Israel this next month:

This winter, visitors to Israel are invited to share their warmth and gratitude with the soldiers guarding our Holyland 24/7. Standing Together hopes you will join us to distribute hot coffee and pizza to these young men and women who are working so hard and standing outside in the cold. Thousands of Israeli soldiers are protecting the Jewish homeland and they deserve appreciation and recognition from Jews worldwide. Call David Landau, director at 050-558-0822 or email info@stogether.org to set an appointment.

They are also organizing a group trip on January 23rd.