Monday, July 28, 2008

{It's Reizi's birthday.}

No more waking up at 4am.

And no more staying up till 4am either.
No more whining and no more yelling.
No more banging your forehead and no more slapping your arms.
No more "noises" and no more not being able to answer.
No more having to turn on the light or put on my glasses to see what you're saying.
No more seizures and no more accidents.
No more ripping photos and no more yanking off new clothing labels.
No more walking into the street and no more not budging off the floor.
No more spilling juice all over the floor and no more corn pops all over the house.
No more hitting and no more pinching.
No more bulky strollers and no more klutzy shoes.
No more hunched shoulders and no more back-brace.
No more Dora and no more Elmo.
No more recorder, computer and video all at once.
No more shadows and no more caregivers.
No more diapers and no more eye-ointment.
No more boredom and no more depression.
No more not being able to communicate and no more being overcome with frustration.
No more freaking out by airplane announcements and no more getting antsy in waiting rooms.
No more Chai Lifeline events and no more Friendship Circle programs.
No more drooling and no more changing socks.
No more messes and no more staining clothes.
No more needing babysitters and no more getting volunteers.
And finally, finally-no more waking up at 4am.

the days of moshiach

Rescued: Jewish Mom, 8 Children, After 17 Years as Muslims

I wrote a song about this article. It gives me chills.

After a 17-year captivity to an abusive Muslim husband, a Jewish mother and her eight children were rescued Sunday from the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. Yad L'Achim, an organization dedicated to solving problems of this type, freed Naama [not her real name] from imprisonment in her own home and almost two decades of fear, shame and violence. Seizing a window of opportunity – her husband was in prison and his brother under house arrest – her liberators wove through the narrow alleyways of the Muslim Quarter to deliver her to safety.

Naama sobs, hugs child

When her rescuers arrived, Naama was living as a Muslim wife in every way, and her Arabic-speaking children had no Jewish identity. All that was set to change as she stepped out this week into a new life among her people.

Naama, now around 40, grew up in a Torah-observant home in the Golan Heights. At 20, she rebelled against Judaism. Constant fighting with her parents and her decision to stop observing Shabbat culminated in a falling-out with her family, and Naama left her home to seek a different life. Vulnerable, with her life in a volatile state, Naama met an Arab man, who married her and brought her to the Muslim Quarter, promising her a warm, stable home where she would be loved and feel happy. Naama's life as a Muslim began.

Deplorable conditions in Naama's Muslim home

In time, she gave birth to eight children, who were raised as Muslims. Meanwhile her husband's abusive nature began to reveal itself. By Naama's account, her children endured a life of violence from their father, and she herself ended up living in a state of fear, threats and constant abuse from the Arab man.

The increasingly lawless nature of Naama's Arab husband led to his arrest by Israeli police and his incarceration in an Israeli prison. With her husband temporarily out of Naama's life, his brother was placed under house arrest, leaving Naama with a window of opportunity to flee her life of Islamic servitude.

One of the rescue vans during the operation in the Muslim Quarter

At this time, word of her predicament reached Yad L'Achim. The charitable group, whose mission it is to return Jews to their cultural and religious roots, contacted Naama and offered her a chance to return to Judaism. Several months ago, after learning of Naama's situation, the organization sent her a messenger. (Continue...)
Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifschitz, chairman of Yad L'Achim, congratulated the rescuers for their courageous action as his charity celebrated the success of another operation. However, Rabbi Lifschitz cautioned that there were many others, like Naama, in desperate need of rescue from such captive and devastating relationships.

"We must think of all those Jewish souls that are still imprisoned," said the rabbi. "We must make use of every legitimate means to bring them from darkness to light." - Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel



Sunday, July 27, 2008

Let the enemy decide the rules

(by treppenwitz)
Oh this is so good. It reminds me of R' Yoel Kahn farbrenging about the person who looked at the Rebbe AS a "bassar v'dam" [during Davening].

A Story of Loyalty and Disloyalty
By Yosef Y. Jacobson

The Eastern Colonists
The children of Israel are en route to the Land of Canaan when they are attacked by the armies of Sichon and Og, whose domain lay on the eastern bank of the Jordanian river. Moses leads the Israelites into battle, defeats the two kings and conquers their land.
In an unexpected turn of events, the tribes of Gad and Reuben, who own an enormous amount of sheep and cattle, ask that they be given these territories, which were prime pastureland, in lieu of their allotment in the land of Canaan, which lay to the west of the Jordan.

"The descendants of Reuben and Gad had an extremely large number of animals," the Bible relates in this week’s portion (1). "And they saw that the Ya’zer and Gilead areas were good for livestock. The descendants of Gad and Reuben came and presented the following petition to Moses… ‘If we have found favor in your eyes, may this land be given to your servants for a possession; do not take us across the Jordan.'"

Moses becomes extremely upset. He gives them a fiery and dramatic sermon that lasts ten complete verses, a pretty long stretch in biblical narrative. "Shall your brothers go to war while you sit here?" Moses thunders. “Why do you dissuade the heart of the children of Israel from crossing to the land that G-d has given them”?

Forty years earlier, he reminds them, the people of Israel had been poised to enter the land of Canaan. But following a negative report by the spies who were sent to scout the land, the entire nation spurned the land promised to their ancestors as the eternal heritage of Israel. G-d decreed that they remain in the desert for forty years, until that entire generation died out and a new generation prepared to accept the gift and challenge of the Promised Land. And now, said Moses to the Reubenites and the Gadites, you are repeating the sin of the Spies -- a sin which condemned an entire generation and stopped Jewish history in its tracks for forty years. Like your parents before you, you are about to dissuade the heart of your brethren from entering the land. "You will destroy this entire nation," Moses concludes his passionate rebuke.

The Reubenites and Gadites accept Moses’ words with grace. In response, they clarify their original position. Far from seeking to free themselves from the impending wars for the Land, they were fully prepared to send their troops into the Land and take a leading role in the battles until they were successfully concluded. Only then would they return to the lands allotted to them in the east. "We will not return to our homes until every Israelite has received his Inheritance," they pledge.

Moses consents to their plea. He changes his tone and grants them the territories they requested.
The Questions
Several points in this narrative are perplexing.

First, since their intentions it seems, were really pure (they never had in mind to abandon their brethren going to war), how did Moses misread them so profoundly and grow so furious with them? Why did Moses not first inquire what their intentions were before coming down so hard on them?

Second, Moses’ words focused on the point that it was unacceptable that one segment of Jewry isolates from the rest of the nation, shirking responsibility and escaping the fate of their brethren. But what about the seemingly more important point: G-d wanted the Jews to settle the land at the west of the Jordan! These people decided that they wish to remain in the Trans-Jordan, but who gave these two tribes the right to redefine the plan and choose the East instead of the West? Why did Moses consent to their request?
Searching for the Sub-plot
Every serious student of the Hebrew Bible is aware that most biblical plots contain sub-plots (often sub-sub plots), rarely articulated in the narrative explicitly. Our present tale is no exception: The explicit narrative is about two tribes of Israel concerned with their enormous amount of livestock. Yet the drama in which this episode is captured in the Torah somehow gives one a sense that these tribes were not only concerned about their cattle; something very personal was at stake in their request to remain in the Trans-Jordan. What was it?

The Bible gives us no hint. There is no way of knowing. We are left in the dark until Moses is about to leave the world.

In the last section of Deuteronomy, just moments before his passing, Moses speaks to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. His words to the tribe of Gad must be heeded to carefully (2):

“He chose the first portion , for that is where the lawgiver’s plot is hidden.”
Unlimited Loyalty
These brief cryptic words, at last, expose to us the true reason behind Gad’s insistence to settle the territory to the East of the Jordan. Moses, the lawgiver, was destined to die in the East and never to cross the Jordan. Gad pined to remain with Moses. Gad would not allow Moses’ burial plot to remain isolated in the plains of Moab devoid of the presence of even a single Jew.

The cry of Gad and Reuben “Do not take us across the Jordan,” was a plea not to separate them from Moses (3). If Moses is not destined to cross the river, they too did not wish to cross it (4). These were no mere farmers worrying about real-estate. These were souls so deeply attached to their Rebbe who were determined to spend their lives near the resting place of Moses (5).
Moses’ Intuition
Moses, clearly, did not anticipate such a movement. When the members of the tribes of Gad and Reuben approached him with their request, they naturally could not communicate the entire truth. They would not talk to Moses about his own death and his gravesite. Instead, they discussed secondary, albeit not dishonest, motivations, namely the fate of their abundant cattle.

Moses, in his intuition, felt that what they were expressing to him did not capture the entire story. Moses sensed that their words eclipsed a deeper truth. He thus suspected them in contriving a scheme designed to escape responsibility. Hence, he rebuked them severely.

Yet surprisingly, they accepted Moses’ words in grace. The narrative makes it clear that they were not upset by the false accusations Moses thrust upon them. Why not?

Because they knew that they were not being straightforward. Above all, this was not about them and their ego; it was about their selfless love and dedication to Moses. His fury did not alienate them, it merely demonstrated once again the genuine leader Moses was and strengthened their resolve to remain in his proximity for eternity.

Moses agreed to fulfill their request. He could not tear himself away from the people he dedicated his life to. If his people reciprocated the love he showered upon them, he would not be the one to expel them from his midst. And at the last moments before his death, he extols Gad for this deeply loving choice (6).
The Mistake
Yet, after all is said, rabbinic commentary does criticize the Reubenites and Gadites for their decision to remain in the Trans-Jordan. The verse in Proverbs (7), “If an inheritance is seized hastily in the beginning, its end will not be blessed,” is applied in the Midrash (8) to the two tribes who seized the territory to the East of the Jordan. Centuries later, when the Jews are exiled from their land through the Assyrian and later Babylonian empires, it is these two tribes who are the first to be exiled from their land.


Notwithstanding the noble and deeply moving intentions of Gad and Reuben, their choice is considered “hasty” and immature. It was emotionally compelling, but spiritually short sighted.

Yes, Gad and Reuben could not abandon Moses’ burial place. They were determined to remain in the proximity of Moses’ body. For this the Torah relates their story in detail, and they are recalled with great fondness. Yet, notwithstanding their powerful emotions of love, they made an error. They failed to realize that Moses’ true presence would not remain interred in the earth of the plains of Moab (9). Moses would continue to live on in his vision, in his ideas, in his teachings, and in the desciples who continued his vision and ideals. Moses' vision was that the Jewish people should fulfill their G-d given mandate to enter the Land of Canaan, settle it and transform it into a Holy Land, redefining the physical landscape of the soil of Canaan as an abode for G-dliness.

Moses was never comprised of simple matter so that his identity would be defined merely in terms of his physical body (10). Moses’ life embodied a truth, a vision, a way of looking at the world and understanding the objective of man's journey on this earth. As long as that truth would live in the hearts of people dedicated to Moses’ dream of transforming the earthy land of Canaan into a divine home, Moses would remain alive (11).
The same is true concerning all of our loved ones who pass on. Part of us craves to remain connected to their physical bodies. After all, that was the person we knew: A soul cloaked in a body. But, sad as it may be, a body does not live forever. If we internalize the ideals, values, love and dreams of our loved ones, then a piece of them remains alive. It continues to live through us.
1) Numbers chapter 32. All the subsequent quotes are from this chapter.
2) Deuteronomy 33:21.
3) In a moving Chassidic interpretation, the great master Rabbi Simcha Bunam if Peshiscah found a hint to this idea in the biblical narrative. The Hebrew worlds, “The descendants of Reuben and Gad had an extremely large number of animals,” can also be translated as “The descendants of Reuben and the children of Gad possessed an enormous connection to their Rebbe (spiritual master). “Miknah Rav,” they had a deep acquisition in their Rav, in their Rebbe (quoted in Sefas Emes, Shem Mishmuel and Pardas Yosef Parshas Matos)
4) It is even possible to suggest a more daring thought (see Pardas Yosef ibid.): By settling in the East, they hoped to confer on those territories the status of the “Land of Israel.” This would mean that Moses had retroactively entered the Holy Land, for the East has become part of “Eretz Israel.” Now, once Moses entered part of the land, perhaps G-d would allow him to cross the Jordan and enter it fully. Moses would not have to die.
5) This might explain another enigma. Among Jacob’s twelve sons, Gad was the seventh, while Reuben was the oldest. Yet in this entire narrative concerning these two tribes, the children of Gad are mentioned first. The reason may be because Gad felt a deeper connection with Moses, as indicated in Moses’ words in Deuteronomy.
6) Why was it the members of Gad and Reuben, among all other Jews, who were determined to remain near Moses? One answer is presented in Shem Mishmuel Matos who finds that these tribes uniquely reflected the characteristics of Moses.
7) 20:21
8) Bamidbar Rabah 22:7-9.
9) This may be the deeper meaning in the words of the Midrash that these tribes cherished material possessions over souls and people. On a deeper level it may indicate that Gad and Reuben appreciated Moses’ physical presence more than his spiritual identity. The former would die; the latter endures in the books and souls of his pupils, for eternity.
A similar idea, albeit from a different angle, is discussed in Shem Mishmuel ibid. who explains the unique relationship of these tribes with Moses’ body.
10) See Tanya Igeres Hakodesh sections 27-28.
11) See Talmud Soteh 13b; Taanis 5b; Berochos 18a.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Heh! What's a thousand dollars...

...when it comes to mental, emotional and spiritual health?

Uh a thousand dollars.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Occam's razor

Occam's razor (sometimes spelled Ockham's razor) is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory. The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae ("law of parsimony" or "law of succinctness"): "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem", roughly translated as "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity".

This is often paraphrased as "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best." In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. It is in this sense that Occam's razor is usually understood.


Blogger BadRabbi gives the following example: (Blogger Bad Rabbi?? lol, love the sound of it)

Suppose you wake up one winter morning and notice that the ground is covered with snow. You wonder what happened at night when you were sleeping. The possibilities are as follows:

  1. It snowed last night and the ground was covered with snow.
  2. A group of professionals with snow making machinery came in when you were sleeping and worked all night to fill the streets with artificial snow.
  3. It started snowing last night, but the snow fall was brief. Following the brief period of snow, the professionals came and augmented the snow with powder.

If you had no other data than the information given to you above, which choice would you consider more likely?

You might say that choice #1 is more likely since it only assumes the occurrence of a common and natural process, namely the occurrence of snow in winter time. It is simpler to assume that the ground would be covered by natural snow than man made snow, given that we routinely see natural snow in the winter. You might say that choice #1 is more parsimonious, and thus more likely to be true.

But suppose now that you lived in Southern California. Here, the occurrence of snow is much less common. It is very uncommon to see snow in the Southern California. Perhaps in anticipation of an upcoming motion picture filming, a crew equipped with snow making machinery really made snow to cover your street. Given the information of your location makes possibility 1 and 2 somewhat equally parsimonious. Possibility #3 is not parsimonious since it assumes both snow in a warm climate and existence of machinery. All else being equal, possibility #3 is not parsimonious.

What we learn from the above example are:

  1. Hypotheses which make the least number of assumptions are more likely to be true, all else being the same.
  2. When further information is provided, the parsimony of a given hypothesis is altered.

Now let’s consider one more example:

Suppose I wish to know how many inches of snow are on the ground in place X in the winter. The choices are:

  1. 1 inch
  2. 2 inches
  3. 3 inches

Having no further information, and knowing nothing about place X, can we decide which is the most likely answer? Can we by parsimony argue that choice #1 must be the correct answer since it is the simplest? If not, why not?

Notice here, that the choosing “1 inch” of snow is not any more parsimonious than the other choices.


(thanx for the concept)


I just read on the linked wiki page (where the first paragraphs are from) that this is used "in some medical schools, "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras"."

Ha. And in therapy we learn "When you hear hoof beats, think not horses but zebras". Awesome.

Janglo, I love you

You got me a house, a mouse, a washing machine, a bookcase, a friend, a school and a wedding invitation.

You're awesome even if I hadn't been lying about the mouse.

SamuelDavid (TTTO "oh you")-


Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex

From "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell, p. 59-60:

Damasio studied patients with damage to a small but critical part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which lies behind the nose.

The ventromedial area plays a critical role in decision making. It works out contingencies and relationships and sorts through the mountain of information we get from the outside world, prioritizing it and putting flags on things that demand our immediate attention.

People with damage to their ventromedial area are perfectly rational. They can be highly intelligent and functional, but they lack judgment. More precisely, they don't have that mental valet in their unconscious that frees them up to concentrate on what really matters.

In his book 'Descartes' Error' Damasio describes trying to set up an appointment with a patient with this kind of brain damage:

I suggested two alternative dates, both in the coming month and just a few days apart from each other. The patient pulled out his appointment book and began consulting the calendar.
The behavior that ensued, which was witnessed by several investigators, was remarkable. For the better part of a half hour, the patient enumerated reasons for and against each of the two dates: previous engagements, proximity to other engagements, possible meteorological conditions, virtually anything that one could think about concerning a simple date.
[He was] walking us through a tiresome cost-benefit analysis, an endless outlining and fruitless comparison of options and possible consequences. It took enormous discipline to listen to all of this without pounding on the table and telling him to stop.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Another Bulldozer Attack in Jerusalem: 23 Wounded

Of the 23 injured, one is reported in moderate condition - apparently with an amputated leg - and the others have light injuries or are suffering from trauma. Among them are a woman and her nine-month-old baby son.

I guess I should rescind my ''all border officers are dumb" declaration because after Yaki Asael, a father of eight from Susia, first shot the terrorist driver, it was a Border Policeman that finished the job and killed him.

Less than three weeks ago, an Arab from eastern Jerusalem killed three people in a similar attack before he was himself killed by a heroic yeshiva student/soldier.


Yet, wondrously, miraculously, blessedly, thankfully, mercifully and inspiringly--more than 300 Jews just touched down in Israel, making it their final home. [see here and here]


And then there's this. Gilad's army buddies (from his unit) are ending their 3-year service with a march to the Defense Ministry, rallying that "the state must exert all efforts to free the kidnapped soldier". They claim they are willing to do anything--even enter Gaza--in order to get their comrade back.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I didn't wanna post the article by Smadar, the famous one where she writes of how Samir Kuntar murdered her husband and daughter and caused the death of her other daughter.
I didn't want such gruesome words on my site.
Even after he was released, I still resisted.
I would link to it and that's it.

Then, just now on Roadside Rambles, I read Naomi Ragen's reaction to the release and I just had to share it.

But if I'm gonna do that, if I'm gonna want you to appreciate the depth and width of Kuntar's cruelty and inhumanness, then I ought to post that Washington Post article written five years ago.

"The World Should Know What He Did To My Family"
By Smadar Haran Kaiser
Sunday, May 18, 2003; Page B02


Abu Abbas, the former head of a Palestinian terrorist group who was captured in Iraq on April 15, is infamous for masterminding the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. But there are probably few who remember why Abbas's terrorists held the ship and its 400-plus passengers hostage for two days. It was to gain the release of a Lebanese terrorist named Samir Kuntar, who is locked up in an Israeli prison for life. Kuntar's name is all but unknown to the world. But I know it well. Because almost a quarter of a century ago, Kuntar murdered my family.

It was a murder of unimaginable cruelty, crueler even than the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, the American tourist who was shot on the Achille Lauro and dumped overboard in his wheelchair. Kuntar's mission against my family, which never made world headlines, was also masterminded by Abu Abbas. And my wish now is that this terrorist leader should be prosecuted in the United States, so that the world may know of all his terrorist acts, not the least of which is what he did to my family on April 22, 1979..

It had been a peaceful Sabbath day. My husband, Danny, and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Nahariya, a city on the northern coast of Israel, about six miles south of the Lebanese border. Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists, sent by Abu Abbas from Lebanon, landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away. Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us as the terrorists burst into our building. They had already killed a police officer. As they charged up to the floor above ours, I opened the door to our apartment. In the moment before the hall light went off, they turned and saw me. As they moved on, our neighbor from the upper floor came running down the stairs. I grabbed her and pushed her inside our apartment and slammed the door.

Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbor climb into a crawl space above our bedroom; I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out the front door to take refuge in an underground shelter when the terrorists came crashing into our flat. They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. "This is just like what happened to my mother," I thought.

As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her.

The next day, Abu Abbas announced from Beirut that the terrorist attack in Nahariya had been carried out "to protest the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty" at Camp David the previous year. Abbas seems to have a gift for charming journalists, but imagine the character of a man who protests an act of peace by committing an act of slaughter.

Two of Abbas's terrorists had been killed by police on the beach. The other two were captured, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Despite my protests, one was released in a prisoner exchange for Israeli POWs several months before the Achille Lauro hijacking. Abu Abbas was determined to find a way to free Kuntar as well. So he engineered the hijacking of the Achille Lauro off the coast of Egypt and demanded the release of 50 Arab terrorists from Israeli jails. The only one of those prisoners actually named was Samir Kuntar. The plight of hundreds held hostage on a cruise ship for two days at sea lent itself to massive international media coverage. The attack on Nahariya, by contrast, had taken less than an hour in the middle of the night. So what happened then was hardly noticed outside of Israel.

One hears the terrorists and their excusers say that they are driven to kill out of desperation. But there is always a choice. Even when you have suffered, you can choose whether to kill and ruin another's life, or whether to go on and rebuild. Even after my family was murdered, I never dreamed of taking revenge on any Arab. But I am determined that Samir Kuntar should never be released from prison. In 1984, I had to fight my own government not to release him as part of an exchange for several Israeli soldiers who were POWs in Lebanon. I understood, of course, that the families of those POWs would gladly have agreed to the release of an Arab terrorist to get their sons back. But I told Yitzhak Rabin, then defense minister, that the blood of my family was as red as that of the POWs. Israel had always taken a position of refusing to negotiate with terrorists. If they were going to make an exception, let it be for a terrorist who was not as cruel as Kuntar. "Your job is not to be emotional," I told Rabin, "but to act rationally." And he did.

So Kuntar remains in prison. I have been shocked to learn that he has married an Israeli Arab woman who is an activist on behalf of terrorist prisoners. As the wife of a prisoner, she gets a monthly stipend from the government. I'm not too happy about that.

In recent years, Abu Abbas started telling journalists that he had renounced terrorism and that killing Leon Klinghoffer had been a mistake. But he has never said that killing my family was a mistake. He was a terrorist once, and a terrorist, I believe, he remains. Why else did he spend these last years, as the Israeli press has reported, free as a bird in Baghdad, passing rewards of $25,000 from Saddam Hussein to families of Palestinian suicide bombers? More than words, that kind of cash prize, which is a fortune to poor families, was a way of urging more suicide bombers. The fortunate thing about Abbas's attaching himself to Hussein is that it set him up for capture.

Some say that Italy should have first crack at Abbas. It had already convicted him of the Achille Lauro hijacking in absentia in 1986. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi now wants Abbas handed over so that he can begin serving his life sentence. But it's also true that in 1985, the Italians had Abbas in their hands after U.S. fighter jets forced his plane to land in Sicily. And yet they let him go. So while I trust Berlusconi, who knows if a future Italian government might not again wash its hands of Abbas?

In 1995, Rabin, then our prime minister, asked me to join him on his trip to the White House, where he was to sign a peace agreement with Yasser Arafat, which I supported. I believe that he wanted me to represent all Israeli victims of terrorism. Rabin dreaded shaking hands with Arafat, knowing that those hands were bloody. At first, I agreed to make the trip, but at the last minute, I declined. As prime minister, Rabin had to shake hands with Arafat for political reasons. As a private person, I did not. So I stayed here.

Now I am ready and willing to come to the United States to testify against Abu Abbas if he is tried for terrorism. The daughters of Leon Klinghoffer have said they are ready to do the same. Unlike Klinghoffer, Danny, Einat and Yael were not American citizens. But Klinghoffer was killed on an Italian ship in Abbas's attempt to free the killer of my family in Israel. We are all connected by the international web of terrorism woven by Abbas. Let the truth come out in a new and public trial. And let it be in the United States, the leader in the struggle against terrorism.

Smadar Haran Kaiser is a social worker. She is remarried and has two daughters.


By Naomi Ragen

I was a new oleh when the PFLP and two Germans hijacked a plane full of Israelis to Entebbe. I remember well those nail-biting days, the moral dilemma of freeing dangerous terrorists for live hostages; the idea that negotiations would just lead to more hijackings. But what other choice did we have? After all, they were in Uganda, so far away.

We found a way.

I will never forget the morning of July 4, 1976, waking up to the news. Our soldiers had gone in, at great personal risk. They had saved almost everyone, and killed the terrorists. We were not helpless victims anymore, the Jews. No, we were clever, and resourceful and courageous. We showed the world how to behave.

We led the way.

I wake up this morning of July 16, 2008 with quite another feeling. Our soldiers, kidnapped on our own land, not across any international border, are brought back to us in caskets after two years of sadistic playfulness with the hearts of their families by Hezbollah terrorists, who led us to believe they were alive.

And in exchange for dead bodies, we turn over a despicable baby-killer, Sami Kuntar.

Oh, you will hear the boosters of the Israeli government sigh.

What can we do? We are civilized and they are not. We care about our soldiers and their families.

No, I'm afraid you do not. If you cared, then you would have a death penalty for people like Kuntar, so that they too can be released in caskets. And if you cared, you would be intelligent enough, seeing our soldiers brought back to us dead, to have put a bullet through Kuntar and then turned him over to his friends.

Civilized is a euphemism for weak and helpless. Civilized is not a moral value, because we all know what Western civilization is capable of. Concentration camps. Civilian round-ups, the gassing of children. All this under the banner of laws and policemen and governments. On the other hand, the moral thing to do to a tried and convicted murderer like Kuntar is to spill his blood, because he has spilled the blood of others. That may not fit in with current civilized niceties, but let no one say it is immoral.

When it comes to immoral, to release Kuntar to a hero's welcome and the opportunity to murder others is on the top of the scale.

My government, the Israeli government, arranged this. They let it happen. They oversaw it and implemented it.

I am deeply ashamed to be an Israeli today. And I'm not very proud of being a Jew either, if this is how a Jewish country behaves. To lead the world in ever more despicable acts of appeasement is nothing to be proud of. The torch we always carried, the "light unto the nations" has been blown out by the hot-air of our politicians.

If we cared about our soldiers, we would not be showing our enemies that kidnapping and terrorism pay. We would not be setting the stage for the next murderous terrorist raid and hostage standoff. We would be passing laws with a mandatory death penalty for convicted terrorists with blood on their hands, as well as their accomplices. We would be making these laws retroactive. Then, we would be cutting off all water and electricity to Gaza until Gilad Shalit is released. If that didn't work, we'd begin executions within one week, increasing the number convicted terrorists facing firing squads with each passing day until Gilad is returned to us safe and sound. And if that didn't work, we would begin daily bombings of Gaza, with the same number and frequency of attacks that our own city Sderot has suffered over the past three years from the Gazans. Not civilized? Perhaps. But moral. Extremely moral.

My fantasy is that Israelis will rise up and overturn the political system which has left them with the dregs of their nation as leaders- a bunch of self-serving crooks and sycophants who will do anything to stay in office; an electoral system in which a party like Kadima, with its collection of felons and moral imbeciles , who got only 23% of the vote, is allowed to rule us into the ground. We have Mr. Olmert, and Ms. Livni, and Mr. Peres, and Mr. Ramon (a convicted sex offender, who is now in line to take over from Olmert) and many, many others to thank, for creating this day of infamy.

May G-d redeem us from them.

shudder shudder shudder :(
If you don't sing, you don't cry.
"I'll be a preacher," decided the first.
"I'll be a practicer," vowed the second.

Too busy glaring at each other, neither noticed the third--by then, at the end of the road--drying a child's eyes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Orah Mital bas Bella

The following video was made by some friends of Orah Mital. It was presented at a concert that was organized to raise funds to provide her with the therapy and support that she needs in order to completely recover.

Mother vs mother

There was a time when I thought that 'mother' as a verb was a tougher position than 'mother' as a noun.

Now I believe it to be otherwise.

To wash, to cook, to clean, to launder, to supervise, to bathe, to mend, to call, to bake, to listen, to comfort, to rebuke, to scrub, to organize, to teach, to mop, to remedy, to soothe, to resolve--
it can be mastered.

The worry, the guilt, the pressure, the concern, the love, the expectations (both ways), the loneliness, the responsibility, the vision, the persistence, the patience, the determination, the confidence, the uncertainty, the perseverance, the resolve--
it can be overwhelming.

Striving to be a mother rather than just mother;

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Story With The UK (Part IV)

Ever one to keep my word (see last line here), I shall now proceed to attempt to recall what happened that 17th of Tammuz last year in the Infamous Ukraine, er UK.


I sit down in my (self-chosen) place (17A) a bit dazed, honestly. Like huh, I just GOT here from Sweden-why am I going back?? I borrowed a phone to text Rabbi and I think he ended up getting all my four texts or something. hehe. Only slightly embarrassing cuz I had gushed with enthusiasm and consolement (consolation just sounds bad) each time...trying to sound spontaneous but using diff words each time to express my convincing of me as well as them, using the ideas from the rebbe (17 tammuz, tov=17, everything is good and gooder and goodestest) and of course trying to keep it all down to one text to save on ya.. Oy if I had written it (UK story) all down right away (or at least within the 3 months achar kach) I would have a much easier time remembering what happened. And funny little details. Nu nu. So I get back to Shveden (uh huh, they had Jewishized in my absence--mezuzos in ikea, blondes now circumcised and h&m went on sale and took down their offensive sign-to be posted when I find it) and Rabbi calls me that Yehuda is gonna pick me up. Malach. Oh btw, I had to have my papers kept with the pilot and was some whole fancy procedure before I was allowed to disembark. Sheesh. Fellow movie stars, I feel for ya! Yehuda looks at me sympathetically and then kindly informs me "You know there's a fast today." Noooo you serious!? Sheesh sheesh. Only starving and confused and tired and antsy and nervous and upset and annoyed and hungry--no kidding there's a fast! K so I go back and truthfully, I'm not THAT angry etc, more like uh what do I do now. And also, was really weird to be back. (Reminded me of when I thought I was leaving Israel a certain Sat night, called the airport to confirm and they told me my ticket was for Monday or something, so I come back the day they told me and found the place deserted. Ye, they weren't flying that day. Apparently the friend who took the message for me over the phone took a phony one. Cmon, that's a good one. So basically I had to return to my dorm and it's a strange thing--rewinding tears and then saving em for the next flight. Heh, I went to the mall cuz I had nothing to do and I figured I'd develop some pictures...when I told them my story--as an explanation for being so spaced out--they thought it hysterical and gave me a discount :)) Bichol mikreh, the kind shluchim (as well as my kind shluchim) did a buncha research and work and decided I would fly to Manchester the next day (diff airport) with a (fake) reservation showing that I was to return after a week or so (vs my ticket for months later which I was supposed to use after touring Europe) as well as a letter from my sister (who lives there) saying she is expecting me etcetera etcetera (it's fun to write it out like that). Knowing that they are likely to search my belongings once more, I personally conducted a search of my papers to see if there was anything incriminating that ought to be discarded. I thought of the letter that I had written to the Rebbe and I think I chose to leave that in Swehdin...while I kept with me all my other papers including my journal which was nearly entirely blank, save for a few short entries and some scraps (no, not you silly) of reminders and to do lists. I glanced through them and unwisely, VERY unwisely, VERY STUPIDLY, decided to keep em with me. Gulp, very hashgochapratisly, I mean. Yeh. Oh also, I spent much of Tuesday ('much' is sucha foreigner word, hehe) all concerned about my fast, or lack thereof. See, when I had called Rabbi in mid of night to ask about fast times and he told me that it had already started, I was pretty sure that I had eaten once the fast started. I wanted to know from a Halachic authority (ma pipe) what the deal was--do I burn or do I burn? chaaaaaaaaaaaas. Seriously though, I was very disturbed and wanted to know if my fast still counted and stuff like that..spent a lot of time on the phone and I learned a valuable thing or two (namely, the value of a good intention). Ok so the next day, Wednesday, officially fast-free, I head back to zeh airport. (fast-free, its a good term. use it.) I'm all 'Thanks for the ride, hope I dont see you again'. I don't remember the flight, I remember I was nervous, and I remember standing on line for Customs. I felt a teeny bit like it was Russia or something. I'm just not good at lying. I know, I know I do it all the time-but not when it counts. Not to save myself from trouble. Not to authority. Arghhhhhhhh. The line creeps ahead and I move ahead till I'm at the creep ahead. hehe. I so incredibly nonchalantly (read: knees shaking, hand trembling, voice quivering) hand over my passport to the witch, i mean to the woman at the counter. For some reason which I have yet to discover, she looks at my big black 'X' with suspicious eyes. Asks me questions, I'm all chilled (riiiiight), nah I'm fairly confident, that's the truth. Only looking back now (very far back, lemme add) and knowing what was to come, I write kacha. I think. She asks me why I was deported, I say something casual, sounding very flippant, the people made a mistake.... then she wants to know why I'm coming back if they just refused me entry so recently let's see, uh two days ago?? I smile brightly and explain that now I'm going to visit family and anyhow those people in the other airport are liars and wow what a beautiful necklace you have. She thinks I'm mishug. And dangerous too, apparently. But not too dangerous cuz she trusts me enough to sit down on the side to wait while she goes to investigate. (For years, I never knew what that row of chairs was for, and now I'm thinking of getting a monthly pass.) Many a tense moment passes (who the heck came up with such English??). This time I really do feel a bit like a dirty criminal. (any quip about showers, sweat etc will sounds corny. i will refrain from mentioning anything of the sort.) See, people are coming and going, coming and going, coming and going. And staring. It's a hefty little line they're waiting on (oy! the pleasures of writing not for English teachers!) and there aint much to do 'sides for shoutin at your kids and starin at the sabra (it's in the airport guide by now). I tried starin straight back at em but I always felt guilty. Then I kidnapped a kid to make things more confusing (you're all invited to his 6th birthday next month). I was feeling unhappy. I tried doing some simcha peretz geder, so humming a jolly tune I walked right past the officers and onto freedom. Ok I officially should be banned from writing at such hours--when I'm gonna look back n read this, I'm not gonna know what to believe or not! I wait and wait and wait and wait. They send me to a room. (That sounds like "March right up to your room, young lady, and you just wait until your father gets home!" which of course was never said to me...being that we live in a one story house) It was a terrible room: No friendly babysitting gentlemen. No beautifully Jewish people. No phones. And no tradition soups! Yet for all its terriblness, it was to become even terribler (terrible word) later on. I was really bored in there and I was not feeling well, emotionally. They didn't let me use my phone. Investigations, offices, border police, forms, questions, interrogations-the whole thing was just becoming too much. I was entangled in something too big for me and my little life. What had started out as something adventurous and only slightly disruptive had now become something very unpleasant, very uncertain, very upsetting and very not fun. (it works, trust me.) I just wanted it to end. I was drained, phsyically and mentally and emotionally. I wanted so badly to sleep but of course I wouldn't lay down in public (glass windows) especially with people entering and exiting especially when I have to be alert to answer their questions. Waitta sec, alert?? Feh! Let them wait while I rub my eyes and stir my coffee. Yalla I'm off to bed. So I lay across a few chairs and attempt to do the 1/60th thing. Bopped on the head moments later by some dumb officer (note: all border officers are dumb. all and always and everywhere. even read my har hazeisim story for proof. they were the ones who nearly got me ki- very badly harmed. sheesh!), I had to say good-bye to that notion but it still made me feel a bit better. Like enough of me being at a attention for THEM, let them wait for ME. (yea i'll spare u the suspense and let you know now that it didn't last long. smatter of fact, it didn't even happen at all. notice how i got bopped?) After them going through some more stuff, I had to go the bathroom and seeing that the only restroom was outside of this little farshtunke room, I had serious doubts they would let me go. When they did grant permission, I did a whole sarcastic "Are you sure? You're really ok that I'm gonna walk out thirty feet? You won't be able to see me when I'm inside, you know.." I was taking it rather hard that there were video cameras in my waiting/prison room. While in the sheirutim I was too scared to open my mobile but the thought did cross my mind.


I stop now :)
More later.
Moshiach still has time to come and break this fast for us.
"just saw pictures of ur best pillow fight partner"


[And noch she announces it by their table with all the fantasy details..!]

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cool, cooler, coolest and laya.

--And three hours later, it's a non-neogtioable.--

First of all, I LOVE YOU. I wanna hug you. I wanna be hugged by you. Toronto. August. Wedding. No, shamefully, I did not look at the facebook fotos. Goodbye town of lashon hora. Maariv journalist-woohoo I got connections. Make me laugh. Make me laugh, Penina. You mean you didn't totally scare him away?? My uncle is really chassidish; all he does all day is smoke and be chassidish. I once washed all the shawarma dishes, for real, my back was killing me after that. How do blogs work? Uh you're secretary and head of corporation. What? No work ethics?? I was so angry to see Olmert with Karnit. Isn't all of America like that-work hard, earn money? I only taught you to put those foods in the salad? I usually put more. My little brothers are not so Jewish anymore. Wait, I came with you to Kfar Tapuach? I used to text you after Hamapil and you'd get all annoyed by the beeping of the keys. You were a good host to me. I don't remember that blond soldier-I told you I don't have a good memory for events. I was literally holding my jaw from the pain. Was that the creepy dirty ichy place we went to? Tell me more funny stuff, Penina. Kanu and the whole story. I think Yisroel is friends with him. I didn't wanna do four different schools-one for each year of high school. My mother knows your mother. I had a bloody leg last week. Why were they teasing us in Efrat? Good luck finding an apartment on Craigs List. I can't believe you told your mother that. I feel bad I'm making your sister starve. For sure-he has kids my age. His friends are not impressed that I don't iron his shirts, but they don't understand that he doesn't want me to. Oh wow now everyone can see how wealthy I am according to Yahoo Finances. He stood there forlorn and helpless, until I graciously came to his aid. She's both kinds of chassidish-ya know, the middos one and the tznius/chitas one. You tell me about dating, I'll tell you about marriage. They shecht you over here. You're not going to miss anyone?? There's not much to say past "Supper was good.". It's an eleven month course. Oh! We can't miss each other! We wanna go away for winter-you remember how I got sick the whole winter. These mosquitoes don't hate you, they love you. I never thought I would marry someone like him but he has a heart of gold and that's all that really counts. So she told them her taxi was waiting outside and she is leaving. Heh, I was about to tell you to read one of the inspirational articles. Israelis all follow news. I'll be sitting in my room and they'll just walk in. I dunno how I'm gonna wake up tomorrow. Our phone rings very loudly cuz it has no ringer. (ed-kodaked verbatim) Did you make all the links yourself? It's so good you loved your Shluchim--not many people do. Mah echpat lecha? Ok, so make dinner for five tomorrow. Ya people often tell me-If only I would speak as well as I write. Overburdened and under appreciated mothers. We all sat around and shared horrendous dating stories. I pull out my hair.

Have we been talking from sunrise to sunset?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yaakov Kirschen/Dry Bones writes:

First, the Olmert government launched and then mismanaged "the Second Lebanon War" to get our two soldiers back.

Today we saw how the Olmert government mismanaged the "Prisoner Exchange" negotiations

Next we'll see the Olmert government sitting down to give land to the terrorist-supporting Iranian-backed Syrian dictator.

* * *

I am angry.
I am angry at the Israeli Knesset which refuses to remove and replace our dangerous and incompetent Prime Minister.
I am angry at local Israeli TV which attracted a huge audience by doing its best to raise our hopes that at the last minute we might see our boys return alive.
I am angry that we call the convicted murderers we have released "prisoners", as if they were Prisoners Of War rather than convicts.
I am angry at the UN and the International Red Cross and at Amnesty International for being part of legitimizing the terrorist chieftains, IslamoNazi fiends, and local dictators who work these cruel horrors against us.
I am angry.

And everyone I've spoken to this morning is angry too.

P.S. And the sabra is angry at the Master Planner >:| (for not being more open with His love?)


-'We want to remember our son as he was, not as a body'
-Militant Samir Kuntar gets hero's welcome on his return to Lebanon

-Arab Leaders Celebrate Victory: 'Swap Teaches us to Kidnap More'

Just look at those headlines.
And this video.
Facebook suggests I change to .
But I still love the Land of Israel; I never held of the State of Israel.
Look, look at the state your State brought us to, today.

Warning: Gag 'OMG' Post

(hey i warned you)

I am SO and I repeat, SO excited!

:) :) :)

I can't believe it! He answered me! And so quickly!
O yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!


This could be the end to years of discomfort, queasiness, embarrassment, anxiety and general screw-upness.

Do you know what this means?!?
Uh, you should- I just said what.

Oh I hope it all gets resolved...keeping in mind that there very possibly may not even be an 'it'!

Oh! Oh! Oh!
Thank You!!

And thank you, too.



Cognitive Emotive Dissonance

my heart feels you're with me, guiding my steps.
my mind is at times uncertain.

my mind is convinced of the truth and correctness of your ways.
my heart sometimes wishes it wasn't.

my heart believes you listen.
my mind needs to be able to see your definite response.

my heart loves you.
my mind feels like it never really knew you.

my mind is enamored with the enormity of your personality, accomplishments and life.
my heart often lacks the passion it wishes it possessed for the things you lived for.

my heart wishes my mind would always see things as you do. it doesn't.
my mind attempts to reconcile the conflict of interests in my heart. it can't.

my mind and heart both miss you. very much.

-Commented by Z.D.L here on Mimi's blog on July 11, 2008 and copied bli rishut by myself

Frankfurt: The start of my touristing (--not the same connotation as 'touring').

-one of my most emotional yet detached shots

-in the Jewish museum

-ye it was closed (found out then that s
he grew up here)

-well, now 'here' is more accurate

(M, these are my memory shots...not my breathtaking ones.
Please don't give up on me just yet.)

Beach.Road.Sand.Color.Maamar.Israel.Photos. Travel.Life.Dreams.People.Friends.Joy. Stuff.

One said "America makes me greedy."
One said "America makes me selfish."

"You can run, but you just can't hide from me" -Truth

Upon every person's soul there are words written and words engraved.

The words that are written are not of the essence of the person--they come to the soul from the outside. Therefore, they may fade and fall away, perhaps to be replaced by other words.

The words engraved are of the soul itself--just as engravings are no more than the form of the stone. When the soul finds quietude, those words are there. And when the soul is in turmoil, or soiled by experience, those engravings need only be cleaned and uncovered. But they can never be torn away.

Those words engraved upon your soul, they are also engraved in a holy fire within the depths of the Soul of All Things. They are the same words that Moses heard and inscribed on stone and on parchment. And at times, when you immerse in the Torah and the words of its sages, and you allow it entry to touch your soul, you may hear those words resonating inside.

There's a ham sandwich in the sabra's fridge!

Fud jamon y queso amarillo sandwich

If I forget thee...

by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron
July 15, 2008
Tomorrow's planned prisoner exchange is very bittersweet. Almost everyone has an opinion and all sides have some element of legitimacy. On one hand, the price is so very high; on the other hand, we have a responsibility to bring our soldiers home, dead or alive. A soldier, entering battle, must know that anything and everything will be done to bring him home, be it to his family, or to 'kever Yisrael' – to a Jewish grave. Yet, perhaps the swap will serve as motivation to capture more soldiers, and exchange them for other terrorist killers. But, who can forget the unbelievable 'mesirut nefesh' – total dedication, of Rabbi Shlomo Goren, then Chief Rabbi of the IDF, to wade through enemy mine fields to recover bodies of Israeli soldiers killed in action.
It's something of a catch 22 – whatever you do is right, and whatever you do is wrong. I know that I've asked myself countless times, 'what would I do if, (G-d forbid), it was one of my sons.' In truth, I don't know.
Of course, with the release of two Israeli soldiers, either dead or alive, a huge dark cloud shadows their return: where is Ron Arad, whose fate is still unknown? Is he dead or alive? Is he in Lebanon or Iran? According to Israeli intelligence sources, having studied the newly-released photos of Arad, taken about 20 years ago, the pictures were taken not in Lebanon, rather in Iran. Perhaps Ron Arad is still alive, wasting away in an Iranian dungeon?
However, with enigma surrounding Ron Arad and the as of yet unknown condition of Regev and Goldwasser, at least people know their names, show some concern for them and their families. Unfortunately, it's not that way with all Israeli MIAs, POWS. There are those, who, for one reason or another, have been forgotten, despite that fact that they wore the same uniform as the others, fought for the same country as the others, and whose fate is just as unknown as the others.
Ron Arad was captured in October, 1986. Four years earlier, in June, 1882, during the battle of Sultan Ya'akub, Israel lost three of its finest. During the battle, commanded by Ehud Barak, three tank warriors, Tzvi Feldman, born in 1956, Yehuda Katz, born in 1959, and Zacharia Baumel, born in 1960, disappeared. They may have been killed during the brutal fighting. However, there were accounts of people who saw them displayed during a parade in Syria. Their families have gathered accounts over the years, which, at the very least, raise a reasonable doubt as to their fate. Perhaps they are long gone. But perhaps not. And, if we use the Regev-Goldwasser measuring stick, what difference does it make? Why have the IDF and the Israeli government totally forgotten about these three men? Why aren't they household names, as is Ron Arad? Why didn't Israel demand a full report from Hizballah concerning the fate and location of these three men just as they did concerning Ron Arad? Why doesn't the Israeli media exert pressure on the government and IDF concerning then, as they did concerning Regev, Goldwasser, Arad and Gilad Shalit? Why does Gilad Shalit's name continue to make headlines, while most Israelis, 22 years later, have no idea who Katz, Feldman and Baumel are?
I have an answer, but don't really like it. As a matter of fact, I despise what I think. It really stinks. It's even worse than that. But I can't think of any other viable reason.
These three men came from the wrong side of Israeli society. They all had Kippas on their heads. They belonged to religious tank units. Their families were not left-wing supporters of 'peace,' Labor, and Arabs. The men weren't media lovelies. Rather, they were young idealistic patriots, who fought for their country, their people and their belief. Their belief hasn't betrayed them, but their country and their people have.
But that's not all.
It's clear that serious negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit will continue between Israel and Hamas. Clearly, Israel should demand information and release of the three above-discussed men. But in my opinion, that's not enough.
Hamas terrorists are not stupid. If, as is expected, Israel receives two bodies for killer Kuntar, Hamas is going to demand an even higher price for a 'live' Israeli. That price will almost undoubtedly include Marwan Barghuti, a convicted murderer and leader of the '2nd intidada' which claimed thousands of Israeli lives, dead, maimed and wounded. The present Israeli government will almost assuredly OK the deal. However, Israel must demand more than the release of POW Gilad Shalit. After all, Barghuti will only be one of the hundreds of terrorists freed by Israel. Israel must look towards its best friend and ally, put its foot down, and tell the United States: look at what we are being forced into in order to release one Israeli soldier. What is the price of one man? Is there a price? Yet, the price is too high. We must bring home more than one POW. When we release Barghuti and Hamas releases Shalit, you must free Jonathan Pollard. If we can do it, so can you.
At every Jewish wedding, the happiest day in a person's life, we repeat the words, 'If I forget thee Jerusalem….'

I add :
If we forget thee, Tzvi…
If we forget thee Yehuda…
If we forget thee Zacharia…
If we forget thee Jonathan…
If we forget all of you, who are we, what are we, why are we (ed-and where will we be)?

Monday, July 14, 2008

I saw her husband.

And when I had seen him, a tremor had zigzagged through my body.
To be in such close proximity to holiness and without any preparation...
Why holiness?
A test of such magnitude comes from a love that equals it, it's known.
And I saw him.
I saw her husband.
It was just an ordinary day, a busy day.
I was running up the block, in the house, out the house, down the block, back in the house, sitting on the couch and then I saw him and I didn't know it was him.
"It's him", someone whispered to me.
So I saw him.
I saw her husband.
I wanted to release my hug then. No; can't. I'll say something. I'll tell you I care. I'll tell you I'm a part.
I should stop staring.
But I can't.
Holiness is walking. Holiness is murmuring. Holiness is turning.
Look! Listen! Follow!
Please know what's in my heart.
Please know I'm intricately bound with you.
He had no clue.
But it never left me, that scene.
That scene when her husband's glow filled the room.
An evanescent energy; an everlasting effect.

I saw her husband, I saw holiness.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sometimes I remember, to keep them alive; sometimes I forget, to keep them alive.

Him, I was trying to forget.


9.4 mi


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Larger-than-Life Jewish Giant

The Muscular Humility of Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner

Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, who died on Monday, was one of a kind. It is rare that I refer to someone as a truly great man, but Rabbi Groner earned the epitaph in spades. If the test of Judaism lies in its ability to create men and women of outstanding righteousness and humanity, then Rabbi Groner was one of those rare individuals who made his faith sparkle. He was an outstanding scholar. A builder of enormous institutions. A world-class orator. The head of a large and prosperous family. A devoted disciple of the Lubavitcher Rebbe who spent 50 years heading Chabad in Australia. But those qualifications capture only a small dimension of the man. More than anything else, he was a larger-than-life personality with the most tender heart one could find. And I say larger-than-life not only because he was a towering physical presence, but because he had an outsize personality which he used to make everyone he met feel outsized as well. Rarely have I met a man who had the capacity to use sarcasm, wit, religious conviction, scholarship, and down-to-earth decency to make others feel like they infinitely mattered.

His home was open to all. You could just stroll in at any time during the day and he would immediately engage you in stimulating conversation. He had a phenomenal memory for detail and would rib you about your religious and personal shortcomings and where he wanted you to improve.

Whenever I saw him he asked me if I was studying enough. When I would answer in the negative, he would wag his enormous finger at me and remind me that a Chassid dare never be an ignoramus. He could criticize me for forty minutes straight, yet I would never even feel defensive. First, I would be laughing through most of it because his sense of humor was infectious. But more importantly, I felt his love for me in every word. He oozed fatherly affection from every pore of his being. I never doubted that he loved me and I am sure that everyone who met never doubted the same.

I began visiting him when I was a Rabbinical student in Australia in the 1980’s and continued up until my last visit two years ago. The first thing he would ask me upon entering his office was whether I was taking good care of my wife. Debbie had been a student of his at Ohel Chana and he felt especially protective of her. He also told me repeatedly that I did not deserve her, that I had married up, and that he would hold me personally accountable for her happiness.

When I left his Spartan home office I always felt like I had just sat in the presence of a human being of such incomparable goodness that surely it was a privilege I had not earned.

Although he was a man whom all of Australian Jewry deeply revered, you would never have know it from his surroundings. He lived in the most modest home, wore the simplest clothing, his only indulgence being in the massive library that filled his home. These volumes were his friends and he mastered most of the texts that surrounded him.

A man should be principally known for the caliber of children he raises. Rabbi Groner’s youngest son, Mendy, was in my class in Yeshiva in New York and we and eight others were chosen by the Rebbe to start Sydney’s first Rabbinical Academy. To the Jewish community of Sydney, Mendy was a returning hero but he never took advantage of his celebrity status. He was always a modest, serious, and devoted student and friend who studied humbly with anyone who came to learn with him, just like his father.

When Rebbetzin Groner would come up from Melbourne to visit her son, she would take the bus in its excruciating twelve hour journey. I said to myself, ‘Who is this saintly woman? Her husband is the most influential Rabbi in Australia, but she takes the bus to see her son?’ Humility shown through the entire family. But not the kind of boring, depressing humility that is often associated with religious figures, but the kind of ‘muscular humility’ that was unique to Rabbi Groner.

When I first met Rabbi Groner, he told me of the colossal Yeshiva he had built, of the women’s seminary he had launched, of the thousands of schoolchildren he had educated. Someone taken aback, and being a teenager with a lot of chutzpah, I said him, “It sounds like you’re bragging!” He responded, “Of course I’m bragging. But the difference between me and others is that I leave plenty of room for you to brag as well.” With these words he taught me a valuable lesson. We all need achievements we can point to and say, “I made this happen.” It is part of our quest for human majesty and our desire to imitate the Creator with our own, more limited creativity. But our greatness lies not in our ability to take pride in what we have accomplished, but specifically in our ability to inspire others to succeed as well and to celebrate their accomplishments rather than ever feel threatened by them.

It’s safe to say that there will never be another like Rabbi Groner. It’s also safe to say that if world Jewry could produce another hundred like him, we would instantly solve the global problem of Jewish assimilation. But that’s the problem with great men. They are so rare that they are not always appreciated during their lifetime, but are sorely missed once their fiery hearts are no longer present to illuminate our lives.

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

"Trust yourself woman you're doing it all right."

reaction: shy small proud smile in newly confidencated heart
"But you have begun the excavation, and now you must continue to dig, for the answer to your future is in your past."

"One city, two opinions" (SOO JEWISH!)

Updated: 3:00 AM IDT on July 08, 2008
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Last Updated Jul 9 08:31 a.m. Local Time

On November 21, 2007 Jonathan Pollard entered his 23rd year of a life sentence for his activities on behalf of Israel.

The median sentence for the offense Pollard committed - one count of passing classified information to an ally - is 2 to 4 years. Pollard received his life sentence without a trial, as a result of a plea bargain which he honored and the U.S. government violated.

For more information, see the Pollard Case Information page and Israel Celebrates 60 Years.

Comparative Sentences

The following tables indicate how grossly disproportionate Pollard's life sentence is when compared to the sentences of others who spied for allied nations.

Pollard's life sentence is also disproportionate even when compared to the sentences of those who committed far more serious offences by spying for enemy nations.

Table I: American Allies

  • Jonathan Pollard is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally.
  • On November 21, 2007, Pollard entered the 23rd year of his life sentence, with no end in sight.
  • The maximum sentence today for such an offence is 10 years.
  • The median sentence for this offence is 2 to 4 years.

Name Country Spied For Sentence/Punishment Time Served
Before Release*
Jonathan Pollard Israel Life imprisonment
Michael Schwartz Saudi Arabia Discharged from Navy No time served.
Peter Lee China 1 year in halfway house No jail time.
Ronald Montaperto China 3 months
Xiaodong Sheldon Meng China 2 years
Samuel Morison Great Britain 2 years 3 months
Phillip Selden El Salvador 2 years
Steven Baba South Africa 8 years; reduced to 2 years 5 months
Sharon Scranage Ghana 5 years; reduced to 2 years 8 months
Jean Baynes Phillipines 41 months 15 months
Abdul Kader Helmy Egypt 4 years 2 years
Geneva Jones Liberia 37 months
Frederick Hamilton Ecuador 37 months
Joseph Brown Phillipines 6 years
Michael Ray Aquino Phillipines 6 years and 4 months
Michael Allen Phillipines 8 years
Robert Kim South Korea 9 years 7 years
Leandro Aragoncillo Phillipines 10 years
Thomas Dolce South Africa 10 years 5.2 years
Steven Lalas Greece 14 years

* Time served before release is shown where known. Other cases of early release exist.

Table II: American Enemies

Jonathan Pollard spied for an American ally. This chart shows that Pollard's life sentence is far harsher than most of the sentences received by those who spied for enemies, and thereby committed much more serious offences and treason.

Name Country Spied For Sentence Time Served
Before Release*
Alberto Coll Cuba 1 year
James Wood Soviet Union 2 years
Sahag Dedyan Soviet Union 3 years
Elsa Alvarez Cuba 3 years
Randy Jeffries Soviet Union 3-9 years
Amarylis Santos Cuba 3½ years
Joseph Santos Cuba 4 years
Carlos Alvarez Cuba 5 years
Mariano Faget Cuba 5 years
Brian Horton Soviet Union 6 years
Alejandro Alonso Cuba 7 years
William Bell Poland 8 years
Alfred Zoho East Germany 8 years
Nikolay Ogarodnikova Soviet Union 8 years
Francis X. Pizzo Soviet Union 10 years
Daniel Richardson Soviet Union 10 years
Ernst Forbich East Germany 15 years
William Whalen Soviet Union 15 years
Edwin Moore Soviet Union 15 years
Troung Dinh Ung North Vietnam 15 years
Ronald Humphrey North Vietnam 15 years
Kurt Alan Stand East Germany 17½ years
Robert Lipka Soviet Union 18 years
David Barnett Soviet Union 18 years
Svetlana Ogarodnikova Soviet Union 18 years
Albert Sombolay Iraq & Jordan 19 years
Richard Miller Soviet Union 20 years 6 years
Theresa Maria Squillacote East Germany 21.8 years
Sarkis Paskallan Soviet Union 22 years
Harold Nicholson Soviet Union 23 years
David Boone Soviet Union 24 years
Ana Belen Montes Cuba 25 years
Clayton Lonetree Soviet Union 25 years 9 years
Michael Walker Soviet Union 25 years 15 years
Bruce Ott Soviet Union 25 years
Kelly Warren Hungary &
25 years
Earl Pitts Soviet Union 27 years
H.W. Boachanhaupi Soviet Union 30 years
Roderick Ramsay Hungary &
36 years
James Hall Soviet Union
& East Germany
40 years
Christopher Boyce Soviet Union 40 years
William Kampiles Soviet Union 40 years 19 years
Veldik Enger Soviet Union 50 years
R.P. Charnyayev Soviet Union 50 years
Marian Zacharski Poland Life 4 years
Aldrich Ames Soviet Union Life
Robert Hanssen Soviet Union Life

* Time served before release is shown where known. Other cases of early release exist.

Aldrich Ames: A Case In Point

Aldrich Ames who spied for an enemy nation (the Soviet Union), committed treason, and was responsible for the deaths of at least 11 American agents, received the same sentence as Jonathan Pollard. Pollard's only indictment was one count of passing classified information to an ally. Pollard spent 7 years in solitary confinement, in the harshest unit of the harshest prison in the Federal system - FCI Marion.

Aldrich Ames' treatment was far more benign, and (except for a relatively short period of time during debriefing) did not include the rigours of long years of solitary; nor was he ever subjected to the harsh conditions of "K" Unit at Marion - even though his offence was far more serious.