Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I don't think there is any word that elicits more fear in Israel than PIGUA. That means terrorist attack.
Today there was a terrorist attack in Jerusalem across from the Central Bus Station on a street where dozens and dozens of buses pass every minute. The bus targeted was the #74, which goes to Har Homa through Talpiot. My child said, "That is a totally packed bus, Ema." And since our children are real bus travelers, they would know.
Pigua is a frightening term for us. It means someone or G-d forbid many someones are hurt or killed. It means that lives will be changed forever toward the sad direction. It means that mothers and fathers and children will weep or mourn. It means that the entire Jewish nation will suffer, because we are all brethren. And this is such a small country, everyone knows someone.
Pigua is a dreaded term. You see, as opposed to our enemies - Arab terrorists, suicide bombers, Islamic Fundamentalists and their supporters - Jews have a religion of life. They love life and want to spend their days and years in fulfilling meaningful and happy events. They want to grow old so that they can see the years and decades pass, watching their children grow up, attending graduations, simchas and special family events, seeing their marriages, welcoming new grandchildren in the world.
Observant Jews want to spend their life following the mitzvot (commandments) and doing chesed (good deeds). They want to do tikkun olam (fix the wrongs of the world) and give their children a better world than even they themselves received.
When the news breaks about a pigua (which takes about a nano-second after the M of the word BOOM), the entire country breaks into frenzied, yet controlled action. Emergency personnel are on the scene in moments. And the adrenaline starts pumping in the general public. All phone lines go on overload, as every family member gets on the phone or cell phone to immediately do the family check. "Where are you?" "Where is John?" "Did you speak to Jack?
When the nuclear family is accounted for, then everyone branches out - their larger family, their friends, their friends kids - the circles of caring go wide here.
The internet, radio, TV news is turned to by everyone!
B"H, the news says that no one was killed today, but 20 people were injured in varying degrees. And we have yet to hear how serious these injuries are.
May Hashem watch over the Jewish people, help the injured to recover, and protect us from Evil and its long hand.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Even Children Know

I have been extremely busy lately, preparing for my newest show DAMES 4- THE PROMISED LAND. IY"H. It's going to be great. Mostly, I have been preparing the Purim issue of my magazine VOICES.
So, I haven't had a moment to write a blog, but I had to stop to write to you now.
Despite my heavy schedule, I took time this morning to atend an important event - the sixth birthday of my granddaughter Rivka. The party in her gan was filled with excited little girls, a fabulous preschool teacher and some of her family. There were games and songs and dances. Everyone participated. Even me.
I was given a place of honor, a little chair, less than a foot off the ground, and I sat down to a delicious little five year old chatterbox. She was excited that I came. She knew exactly where I lived and how much fun Rivka thinks it is when I come to visit.
We were smiling and laughing, and talking about all kinds of things and she said, "You know on Shabbat, Arabs came into a Jewish home and murdered a little boy my age and a baby and their Ema and Abba. And the baby's name was Hadas. The Arabs murdered them dead and they're not alive any more, and the children who are not dead do not have an Ema or Abba, because the Ema and Abba are dead and there is no Ema and Abba for them."
She was talking about the terror attack in Itamar in which Arabs jumped the Itamar town fence, broke into the Fogel family home, and butcher everyone whom they found - even the little baby.
I was so shocked that this came out of the mouth of a little girl with teeny blonde pigtails and giant blue eyes, I just could not stop staring at her.
At a loss of how to respond, I said, "I know. That was very sad." And I turned away.
The party continued.
Our lives in Israel are unlike any other place in the world. Every Jew is our brother. Every tragedy is felt deeply and personally, even by little children.
We try to shield our children from bad things and tragedy, but in our little country, it is almost impossible to do so.
May Hashem bless the Jewish people, watch over them, protect them and give them some real joy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Saving the Land One Tree at Time

G-d gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. They were to live in it, build in it, plant in it. As long as there were Jews in the Land of Israel, they lived, built, planted.
Remember the Jewish people in this century?? They made the desert bloom.
Somewhere along the line of the last decades, the planting stopped by Am Yisrael (the Jewish nation), but it was takenn up furiously by the Arabs, who are doing their best to illegally take over as much land as they can.
Women in Green and the Yibaneh Fund are trying to counter the illegal Arab expansion onto Jewish land. You can watch their activities here:
Led by two heroines of this generation, Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katzover, WIG planters are trying to save the remaining State Lands in Gush Etzion and want to continue planting throughout Judea, Samaria and everywhere illegal Arab encroachment on the land is manifested.
The message: Return to the Land. Plant, plant, plant. Connect to the land the way we were meant to do so. Plant!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Controlling the Avian Flu

Last night's Women's Day events were terrific, except for one thing - a very heavy stench in the air. It seemed like a giant barbecue, but NOT.
On my way home from the Miri Mesika concert in Matnas Gush Etzion, I picked up a hitchhiker. I said, "Ugh. What's with that smell?" He said matter-of-factly, "The kibbutzim are burning their chickens."
He said, "Didn't you know that the avian flu has hit Israel?"
I did not.
He said that the kibbutzim are burning their chickens and trying to save their turkeys. Wow.
Then this morning, I took my daughter back to her Sherut Leumit (national service) post. The car seemed very clean. I mentioned it.
She said, "Oh, we went to Pninat HaGush (the Pearl of the Gush women's beauty/spa shop) in Kfar Etzion last night and as our car approached the kibbutz, they made us go through a pool of water and cleaning chemicals. Then they hosed down the car."
Car wash courtesy of Kfar Etzion.
Well, I'm happy to have a clean car, but the avian flu worries me. It worries MADA (Magen David Adom) as well. They're already sending out advisories that their volunteers must be wary of any flu signs in patients.
May Hashem keep His people healthy and safe.
Don't pet a chicken today.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Womens' Day - Pamper Me!

Today was Women's Day and there were activities and programs all over the world in honor of women everywhere.
In my hometown of Efrat, my community center, the Efrat Matnas sponsored a fabulous evening. A real home run! (But I think that's a mixed metaphor.)
First there was a sale filled with gifts that we deserve. And since there were no husbands there, the women were guilt-free to buy all the great stuff that hit their fancy - scarves, hats, ceremics, jewelry, linens, clothing, you name it.
I spent a fortune (or perhaps I should look at it as my Women's Day gift). Yes, that sounds good. I was gifted (by myself) with a gorgeous gold and silver platta (hot plate) cover, a stunning natural shell necklace for my daughter, another lovely silver and bead necklace, and great cloth coasters (by Nechama Shore of Pnei Kedem) for cups.
At the entrance of the main Matnas building, there was a "bar" set up with the friendly Levin bar tenders, offering passers-by their delicious locally-brewed Lone Tree Beer. (The Levins of Neve Daniel produce their innovative beer right here in Gush Etzion.)
In the lobby, the Bagel Place was serving delicious dinners for women on a break from all the activity. Those salads and healthy sandwiches and muffins looked yum!
Pamper Me
Throughout the building, there were workshops and speeches, and treatments of all kinds.
One of my friends walked out of the Matnas praising the reflexologist that just made her feel gr8!!
I walked down the steps to see a bunch of women standing around with pins in both their hands. An acupuncturist was treating them for pains here and there. They shmoozed while the little needles were doing their tricks. (They said they didn't feel a thing.)
Further down in the Matnas, there were well-attended make-up workshops and facial treatments.
A popular in-dance session with Shoshie Lisker brought women to their feet with lots of dance fun.
Women's Health Center
At the bottom of the Matnas steps, I found Vivienne Glaser and Nina Alon of the Kinneret Swim for Sadna ( chatting with the directors of Efrat's new Women's Health Center. (Vivienne and Nina are planning this year's upcoming swim. You can read about it Voices Magazine's January issue.)
The Women's Health Center is exactly what it says - a center to get the women of our area healthy - with focuses on blood pressure, real-life pressure, osteoporosis, and all kinds of women's health issues. (More on this important new center in a future blog.) We joined in the conversation and perused all info. I think the Women's Health Center, headed by Dr. Tzipi Morris,, is going to take great care of us gals. I'm joining!!
Miri Miri
The highlight of the evening was a concert with the super-popular Miri Mesika. The hall was packed and ready for a fablous show. And the audience was NOT disappointed. Firstly, the Efrat Matnas gym was transformed into a real theater. They had put up a large professional stage. They had gorgeous-looking lighting too. I had to blink twice to realize where I was. Before me was a complete transformation. Wow.
Some women sat in chairs set up right in front of the stage. The rest were in the seats of the hall, looking down at the spectacular stage. There were adults and teens, but it seemed that the median audience was about 28 years old. Some were holding babies.
Miri Mesika came up stage, and the audience was wildly excited. The music started, and the begining of every song was greeted with loud applause. I sat in front of a group of young women. They were singing along almost the whole night.
Miri announced that she had recently given birth, and the announcement endeared her even more to the crowd. The young women in the audience laughed and cheered as she spoke about her birthing experience and her shock that after the baby's birth she was not a skinny model-figured type.
They just loved her engaging personality and her rich music repertoire. Bathed in color - in reds, blues, greens and rays of white - Miri Mesika ruled on the stage of Matnas Efrat!
I looked around the room at the hundreds of women present. The common denominator in the room was their giant smile.
Lovely night!
Thanks to Matnas Efrat for providing this top notch evening.
Thanks to Matnas Director Neta Magen, Cultural Dept. Head Yael Keller and everyone else involved. It was obviously a very large undertaking, and it was a very large success!!

Hospital Personalities

I visited my brother in the hospital last night. B"H, he's doing very well. He replaced his knee for a better younger model.
He must have been in a lot of pain, but he didn't complain.
Every time a nurse came in (and despite what you hear usually, they came the moment he called), he smiled and thanked her and made a little joke. Every time someone called, he sort of pulled himself together to sound enthusiastic and positive. And he ended every conversation by blessing the person on the other end of the phone.

A nurse once told me that you uncover the real person when s/he's in the hospital. Although most people are in pain, uncomfortable, frightened, lonely, their real personalities come out in that hospital bed.
A person can be in pain, but if he's a crank, he'll complain all the time. Nothing will be good or good enough. If he's a kind person, despite the discomfort, he'll try to find a smile and a good word for all.
I was proud that my brother showed his natural goodness, even through the pain.
Refua shelaima, a speedy recovery to my brother Avraham Menashe ben Bracha Riva, and to all our brethren who need a refua.

Women's Day

Good morning, world, and especially good morning, women.
I had never heard of Women's Day until a big sign showed up in my hometown of Efrat. It said that in honor of Women's Day, we were having all kinds of special activities.
Women could get manicures, massages, reflexology, pedicures, make-up, the works. And then there's going to be a concert.
Well, I can't wait to attend all these events.
I heard that it's Women's Day all over the world. So, whether you're in Malibu or Mumbai or Modi'in, HAPPY WOMEN'S DAY.
Now...this is really how I'd like to celebrate Women's Day.
  • I'd like the doorbell to ring right now with a cleaning person or two waiting to washing my floors and clean my bathrooms.
  • I'd like some nice compulsive person to walk in ready to throw everything off my counter tops and unburden my overstuffed cabinets.
  • I'd like someone to fix my breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • And I'd like a massage for my tense shoulders.
  • Then I'd like a phone call from at least 5 people - one who knows each of my children - to tell me what an amazing person ____ is, and how s/he must have learned all those good traits from Mom.
  • Oh yes, if my husband would bring me a diamond bracelet, it would be good too.
Happy Women's Day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

There is Nothing Like Our Dames

On Monday night, I had the pleasure and fun of attending the Light Opera Group of the Negev production of Roger's and Hammerstein's South Pacific. Fabulous. Amazing. Really terrific!!!!
The music, the direction, the leads, the sets, the costumes. A superb production!
When the servicemen launched into the song, "There is nothing like a dame,", I really felt like they were singing to me.
For the fourth year in a row, I am producing, DAMES of the DANCE. Dames 4 - The Promised Land tells the story of the Land of Israel from Abraham until present day.
We've got 100 women rehearsing all over Efrat and Gush Etzion just about every night of the week. Some are rehearsing during the day too (like me). It's a lot of work, but we volunteer to do it, because the money from DAMES goes to kimcha d'pischa (that's money for Passover food). Passover is a very expensive holiday, and especially those who are needy have a real difficult time paying those bills. DAMES helps out in that department!
Over the past three years, we've donated 120,000 to kimcha d'pischa. I hope this year will be even better!!
Yes, it's true. There is nothing like our dames. To view our movie tribute to our DAMES of the DANCE, click here. And if you live in Israel, please join us.