A day in the life

7:50 Find out about the breaking news from a friend on Whatsapp

8:05 Make sure to give huz and kid #3 a solid goodbye

8:10 Have sinking feeling about letting your kids go for the day

9:45 Pick up kid #2 for speech therapy, feel excited because it’s bonus kid time

10:45 Drop kid #2 off at gan again, sneak a tighter hug in before they open gate

12:20 Find out one of the men killed is your former workmate’s father

12:20-13:30 Wonder how to get through the day while waiting for funeral details

14:20 Get in your ride to the funeral

15:00-15:50 Congregate with other former colleagues, lament the day

15:50-16:50 Tehillim, eulogies, tears, cries, thoughts

17:00 Back to the office

19:40 Arrive home, kids #1 and #2 still awake in your bed, excited to see you

19:50 Cuddles, good nights, tuckings-in

20:00 Kid #1 is still asking questions, making comments, engaging you in conversation, tracing your glasses, wondering aloud, asking for you to stay and answer, pulling you in for a hug, caressing your face,

because he knows, he just knows.

Meat counter convo liz: So I guess I’m that person now

Standing at the meat counter in the local supermarket.

Guy to meat counter girl: “Yeah, everything is crazy, how are you doing?”

Meat counter girl: “It’s so scary!”

Me: “Hey, at least we know exactly when it’ll hit, it’s been evenings and that’s it.”

Guy: “It’ll be quiet till tonight, till they’ve eaten and organized after Ramadam fast.”

Me: orders chicken

Guy: [in english] “Maybe I’ll just go back”

Me: [taken by surprise] politely smiles

Guy: “You’re from the States?”

Me: “Yeah. You?”

Guy: “Yeah. I dunno. What is this? I think it’s time to just go back.”

Me: “What are you nuts?!”

Guy: “What do you mean, this life isn’t normal. This isn’t normal.”

Me: “What do you mean – America is crazy! Did you hear what just happened on July 4 weekend in Chicago?!”

Guy: “No…”

Me: “There were 82 people shot! 14 died!”

Guy: “Muslims?!”

Me: “No, nothing like that! Anybody! That’s the thing! Here we know our enemy, there it could be any crazy guy off the street!”

Guy: “Yeah, but this…”

Me: “No way, you couldn’t pay me… I’d rather know who my enemy is, we can prepare… There, everything is crime, anyone can take out a gun…”

And while we agreed in the end that perhaps, if we were to leave, Australia would be a fine choice…

…I couldn’t believe, with 100% meaning everything I said, without thinking about what I was saying, I had just been that person.

 

 

The 4th kidnapped boy: that’s called disgust – go ahead and feel it.

Four kidnapped boys

Disgust. There are a lot of things to be utterly disgusted with around here. I feel disgust constantly. It’s usually aimed at opinions that differ from mine; minute triggers related to lifestyles that differ from mine; ways of communicating I don’t agree with.

Shame. That is something I feel less often, but it does come up. There’s plenty of shame where you seek it. Things are not perfect. Things are not even great. But on the whole, they tend not to veer toward inhuman.

Silence. That’s something I cannot tolerate, especially among people so quick to accuse, to blast, to take down. You can’t cry foul and then turn away when it’s one of your own who has brought shame to each and every one of us – across the entire world.

Jews don’t murder? Jews aren’t terrorists?

And how about those times I’ve heard some of my peers joke, or actually call, for revenge, for showing who’s boss, for exerting our right, for taking it into our own hands?

Words actually do kill, when spoken enough, when combined to form an attitude, when condensed into a plan, when sparked into action.

These Jews who kidnapped and murdered – burned alive – 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir are a stain on all of our souls, no matter what we believe, express, do or not do.

People we considered brothers – whether we agreed with them or not, dressed like them or not – took up revenge against the kidnapping and brutal killing of innocents with the kidnapping and brutal killing of another innocent.

We need to face these horrific facts. There are now four grieving families across our land, in addition to countless others who have grieved, are grieving, and will, inevitably, grieve.

To those who are keeping silent in this case – it’s warranted to weed out the cold blooded among us. To separate them. It’s our responsibility to stare down shame in the face and pluck it from among us.

It’s absolutely natural and necessary to feel washed over in sickness at this news.

Anything that happened before this doesn’t matter. This is not who we are.

If we want to truly continue the much-lauded legacy of unity our three kidnapped boys granted us in their untimely and cruel deaths, we must stand together in condemning the very same of yet another.

Welcome home, Gilad Shalit, our brother soldier.

There’s no doubt: this is bittersweet.

Today we’re proud. We’re relieved. We’re emotional. We’re exhausted.

Tomorrow we’re going to continue mourning. We’re going to be extra cautious. We’re going to be angry. We’re going to feel even more pain.

Today we can be mothers of lost soldiers. Mothers waking up from a nightmare.

Tomorrow we’ll be mothers constantly on the lookout. Mothers in reality.

This has been a conflicted process, and there are simply no sufficient words for the people who are not able to hug their sons and daughters today… or any day… ever again. We can’t forget their pain – them being our brothers and sisters as well – especially as we’re at great risk to once again experience it in the future.

Something I loved today was the way Gilad and IDF Chief Ganz met and saluted, and then Ganz pulls him in for a giant fatherly hug.

A word on Gilad: It’s pretty amazing how composed he’s been. How much he’s been smiling. I guess I expected a different guy. Clearly exhausted, fatigued, malnourished, but still composed, orderly and calm.

Now that he’s home we should continue to pray that his health improves and he gains the ability to fulfill whatever role he’s meant to play next.

And that we should have no more Gilad Shalits, ever.

 


Itamar family murder photos: A valid weapon? To what degree?

This is a response to an ongoing conversation I’ve been having/seeing on Facebook, reacting to the sharing of images of the bodies of the Itamar terror-murder victims, including the three children who were stabbed to death (note: neither of those links contain the images).

The issue has been that folks are posting the images of the dead bodies as part of sharing links to the story. I think people are doing it in haste, without thinking through the complexity of what it means to share these photos.

For my own sake, at the very least, I feel I need to clearly state what is going on in my head.

Here is what I’m NOT saying:

  • I’m not saying, don’t spread the news of the Itamar family with everyone you know, especially those outside of Israel who have not heard about it.
  • I’m not saying, don’t share links to news articles and commentary to inform people.
  • I’m not saying, don’t use social media to communicate the horrific tragedy we’ve been facing as a nation since last Shabbat.
  • I’m not saying I don’t understand why the family of the victims released the traumatizing photos of their bloody, murdered bodies – including those of the children stabbed to death.
  • I’m not saying I’m completely 100% anti the photos being released by the Israeli government (responsibly and with all due respect), especially to media outlets and world governments.

Here is what I AM saying:

  • First off, I’m fully aware I don’t have to check Facebook until the photo issue blows over. I’ve been scanning it cautiously, avoiding the images as best I can, so I’m being responsible over my own exposure.
  • While I understand the family’s decision to release the photos on a rationale level, I don’t feel the personal need to look at those images. Reading about the story traumatized me enough – as a Jew, as a resident of Israel, and most of all, as a mother.
  • We are a people who respect death and the dead – it’s written into the core of halachot related to mourning, treatment of bodies and purity. So it’s a bit of an interesting turn of events that the photos were released. And it’s equally interesting what the appropriate handling of that is for us, as individuals. Have we thought about it, as Jews? Have we appreciated this fact at all? Have we thought about how to go about this respectfully?
  • Some are arguing that using social media as a means of protest and hasbara is exactly what we should be doing. Amen. But that isn’t my problem here.
  • Specifically, my issue is using the images as a weapon in a setting where it’s not effective. Recognize that often, social networks are mostly a closed-circuit system for a lot of us. Facebook’s news feed algorithm is set so most of the time, it’s the people you interact with most who will see your shares. And who do you think you interact with most? People in your area, in your workplace, in your real life? Is posting a link to bloody images too little and too simple?
  • And is it the best way to connect with people on this story? Has anyone considered that many folks  unaffiliated with the situation may close themselves off to the story by being exposed in such an alarming way? Shock tactic is not for everyone. I’d hope people are thinking twice about their target audiences as they share these photos en masse.

Continuing on that, there’s more we can do, which basically comes down to targeting your audience.

  • Send the images and commentary to NYTimes editorial, CNN, BBC, etc. Those are places meant to target a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds. You know, not in your network or even six degrees from it. And in addition, the media outlets themselves need to hear what people on the ground think, too.
  • Send the story to friends, family, colleagues and old college buddies – directly. Start a dialogue one-on-one and hit home with people. Mass distribution on a social network site can only go so far, as mentioned (algorithm, share-flooding, etc).
  • Consider starting the dialogue without graphic and disrespectful photos, and move up to it if you need to. Or after building a base. I’m not sure that alarming people with images of bloody children is always going to be the best way to go; alarm tactics may work on some, but not all. Know your audience.

Again, people making this argument are not at all against sharing this horror with the world, using social media or otherwise. It’s more a matter of maintaining the utmost respect for the dead, respect for the situation, and respect for those of us who need not be repeatedly exposed to it after already dealing with the trauma.

 

Home and away.

There’s a lot to take in this motzei Shabbat…

Catching up on the reality in Japan after Friday’s earthquake and tsunami disaster, and then reading about the horrific murders of two sleeping parents, two sleeping children and a sleeping newborn here, a few dozen kilometers from home, on Friday night.

Natural disasters make me feel powerless, and terrorist disasters make me feel desperate. Both end up infusing me with a ton of appreciation, after the dust settles.

So that’s going on. All I can handle right now is to feel absolutely grateful for every single minute I have, as I am right now.

A week of drills to come.

Next week the country is conducting a series of horrible scenario simulations for the purpose of drilling government agencies, the army, government employees and students on how to react in the case of a national emergency.

Civil defense drill starts Sun.; to include mock chemical attack

“The exercise will continue throughout the week, with scenarios that include a simulated hazardous material spill in the Haifa Bay, the rescue of survivors from a collapsed building in the Meron and Nazareth areas and the firing of ground-to-ground missiles equipped with chemical warheads.

During the exercise, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are to conduct situation reviews and to make decisions based on the various scenarios as they unfold.” (Haaretz)

The last line is what actually depresses me about the whole thing.

Blood and books: an inevitable mix?

Merkaz HaRav, the yeshiva chosen by the Arab gunman for last night’s massacre, is a flagship yeshiva that stands at the heart of the Religious Zionist movement and should not be confused with the extreme anti-Israel strain of yeshiva population. One Merkaz HaRav student shot the gunman twice in the head with a pistol he had at his side; I assume they are very realistic about the situation in Israel.

But it makes me wonder about the yeshivas that are anti-Israel; that yeshiva boys can dodge the army all they want, but as long as Jews live in this land, they will be involved in the blood that is spilled over it. Whatever their politics. So it works both ways, for peace-loving secularists and for Israel-hating Charedis. I wonder how the Charedi community – the anti-Israel one – is working this out.

“It’s the secularists fault for not studying Torah.”

“It’s because Mashiach is not here yet, this country is impure.”

“More proof that Arabs are animals, sent by God to destroy us for our sins.”

Just my own speculation. And it’s certainly not close to all Charedis Jews – that would be a very unfair and unrealistic generalization… I do think it is a bit eerie that just yesterday Barak refused to exempt 1,000 yeshiva students from army service.

All I know is that from thousands of years ago to yesterday to tomorrow… whether the yeshiva community likes it or not… blood and books are an inevitable mix.

(ynet)

They released the names of the 8 boys killed:

  • Yohai Lifshitz, 18, of Jerusalem
  • Yehonatan Yitzhak Alder, 16, of Shilo
  • Yonadav Haim Hirshfeld, 19, of Kochav Hashahar
  • Neria Cohen, 15, of Jerusalem
  • Roy Rot, 18, of Elkana
  • Segev Peniel Avihail, 15, of Neveh Daniel
  • Avraham David Mozes, 16, of Efrat
  • Maharta Tronoh, 26, of Ashdod
  • Keep their memory in our prayers, along with the dozens wounded.