Thursday, November 22, 2012

Damned if you do...and Damned if you don't

 It is twelve hours since the ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas has been implemented.
Everyone is claiming victory on this one: Israel, Hamas, Egypt and the United States. 
Israel is hinting that it has hurt Hamas terribly. Note: it doesn't say it has brought Hamas terrorism under control or that it has destroyed Hamas' ability to launch rockets against Jewish communities in Israel.
Hamas is touting the non-agreement status of the ceasefire, and is declaring that its people are ready for war whenever...
Egypt and the United States just think they are brilliant.
Abandoning the South?
Meanwhile, residents of the South are dismayed, despite a quiet night. I guess I feel like they do. I am happy the missiles and rockets have stopped (although there have been several Red Alerts, and the government is claiming that they are mistakes :) ). I want children to play without fear in the sunshine. I'm thankful that Jewish soldiers do not have to go into Gaza. But I am disappointed that the government has just abandoned the problem without finishing off the terrorists and their ability to strike Israel.
The Gaza situation is a clear cut Damned if you do..and Damned if you don't. 
I know the IAF struck more than 1000 rocket targets, but until the moment of the ceasefire and even afterwards, missiles were still being fired. So, perhaps there are thousands more targets. Okay, we know and appreciate what you destroyed. What have you left behind? The Arabs will just rearm and prepare for the next assault, chas v'shalom.
I appreciate the Air Force strikes. I just wish we had let our pilots and soldiers finish the job.
Then again, if the battle would have intensified, Israel would have been blamed and sanctioned for its aggression.
We are currently in the lowest position possible - lose-lose
If we go in with ground forces, then casualties would add up, chas v'shalom. If we don't go in, we can't wipe Gaza clean of terror. 
If we keep this cease fire, then the Arabs can rearm for the future, rebuild their terror infrastructure, and even attack in different ways (as evidenced already with a barrage of stonings, shootings, fire bombings in Israel's cities and on its roads), and we cannot retaliate, because that would escalate the violence. So we have to allow the Arabs to slap us, and injure us, while we lick our wounds and comfort out wounded. Lose-lose.
I appreciate the IDF and the IAF. I pray that Hashem protect them and give them success over their enemies. 
But friends, I think if we are going to be criticized anyway, it's important to keep Israel safe for the future. I think Israel's deterrence has to be big and loud and fearsome. Let the nations hate us, but let our people live in safety, even if it's safety and non-peace. 
I was going to write ...Win-lose. But it's actually win-win. Because if there's no war between Israel and its Arab neighbors, life could really be beautiful.  

** The caption on the top photo of Am Yisrael Chai's facebook page says, "Bibi, we have no problem sleeping on the stairs if you'll just come and destroy their structure."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Guest Blog from Beit El - WAITING FOR HILLARY

This is a guest blog, written by a Beit El resident. It is an excellent example of the mood in Israel today. Here's to the women of Beit El.
*. *. *.
Today I stood with neighbors of mine outside Bet El on the way to Ramallah. We had heard that Hillary Clinton was going there to speak to Mahmoud Abbas. We held signs saying, THERE IS NO MORAL EQUIVILANCY, CEASE FIRE=TERRORIST FIRE, and HILLARY-VISIT BET EL..

A car pulled up, and the driver slowly read the signs. He said very politely, and with an Arab accent, "I'm from Cease Fire. I want peace. Turn on your televisions and see what is happening to Gaza. Israel must stop." I bent down, close to the window, and said, "We also want peace. Thousands of missiles being shot into civilian populations in Israel will not bring peace." He answered, "Who started this? You did." I replied, "This began not last week, but years ago. We evacuated 9,000 Israelis from their homes in Gush Katif. We pulled out of Gaza. Instead of lessening the missiles, you increased them!

His face contorted, his voice tone changed, and out it came,"Get out of the West Bank. Go back to Poland you f---ing b-tch."And off he drove.

And that my friends is the crux of the matter. The Arabs do not want us here. Not in Gaza, not in Judea and Samaria, not in Jerusalem, not in Israel! But here we are, and here we shall remain.

We have made the desert bloom. If we had peace, we could help our neighbors do the same. Imagine a Middle East where the Arabs would want to benefit from our knowledge. Instead of Israel and the Arabs spending billions of dollars on defense, we could spend it on desalinization projects, hydroponic plant growing, better health care, medical research, better education, and on and on. Imagine the boon to tourism for everyone in the region.Israelis love to travel. We would get in our cars and visit multiple countries, not unlike Europeans. (A girl can dream, can't she?)

G-d gave the Jewish people a small slice of earth to be our eternal home.We're not going anywhere. He wants us to be "a light unto the nations". If only the nations of the world would let us.

Praying for the safe return of all our soldiers!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Are We All Making Believe??

Arab terrorists are aiming rockets and missiles at Israel's towns and cities. Israelis are sleeping in bomb shelters. Homes have been destroyed. Children are traumatized by the incessant missiles.
The Israeli Air Force is trying to destroy as many Gazan terror targets as it can. The Israeli Army is poised outside Gaza, waiting for further instructions. Every family has a father, son, brother, cousin, neighbor who has either been called up for "Tzav 8", emergency reserve duty or has been told to "be ready". At the checkpoints, every single car - Jewish or Arab - is being stopped. 
I think we can say without exaggeration that things are pretty tense in Israel today.
So, imagine how strange it is to walk around town with Arab workers on their building sites, as if nothing was different. How weird it is to be in the supermarket and watch Arabs enter, boisterously kidding around, as if the Mets are on the way to the championship. How bizarre it is to see Arab women leisurely lunching in the Mall as if it's a perfect autumn day with nothing having changed but the color of the leaves on the trees.
I keep wondering, "What are they thinking?" 
I can't even venture a guess.
On a regular day, we shop together, we drive on the same roads, we order from the same menu. But these are not regular days. And yet, we are all pretending that nothing is happening in Gaza and Ashkelon and Sderot and Ashdod and even Gush Etzion.
How long can we pretend?
Photo courtesy of Devorah Horev.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Go, Boys, Go!

My alarm was set this morning for 7:10, but low-flying jet planes shook me awake. "Drat," I thought.
Then I thought of my friends in the South who thank G-d and then the Israeli pilots every time a jet heads their way. The jet means Israel is trying to defend them! And after living under the barrage of more than ten thousand rockets in the past seven years since Israel abandoned Gaza to the Arab terrorists, the sound of jets above is very comforting.
One of my friends in the South posts, "Go boys, go!" on Facebook whenever she feels an Israeli Air Force fighter plane approaching.
So, I was up earlier than I'd wanted, but it was a good opportunity to get dressed and pray for the safety of Israeli soldiers and civilians, for an end to Arab terror and a final cessation to the firing of missiles and rockets on Israeli homes and schools, playgrounds and synagogues.

Friday, November 9, 2012

B"H and Thanks for Good People

Last week after speaking to my dearest mother (ad 120) in New York, as well as a few other individuals, their messages were loud and clear, "G-d loves me." []
There was so much devastation up and down the east coast of the United States, that they felt every positive thing in their lives was a manifestation of G-d's love for them.
I heard that the New York Post headline the other day was "G-d hates us." How disheartening! [It is the media's responsibility to report news, but to give hope! Hmm...that sounds like the subject of a different blog.]
The NY Post was surely lamenting the snowstorm on top of the crippling hurricane, causing even more destruction and homelessness. Tragically things certainly look black, literally, in parts of New York.
My dearest mother, may she live and be well until 120, had evacuated her home just before Hurricane Sandy hit, stayed with an aunt of my sister-in-law, then a friend, and then returned home finally when the electricity returned.
Suddenly late at night, while sitting finally in her warm kitchen, she heard a boom as the house shook, and then everything went black.
A neighbor's tree had fallen into her backyard, hit part of her house and had taken down the electric wires with it. Her neighbor and emergency services told her to "get out now." So, my wonderful elderly mother had to leave her house late at night and took refuge with a local rabbi.
Suddenly there was an unrelated explosion and the entire community was plunged once again into freezing darkness.
In the morning she returned home to get some belongings and saw a truck with a Minnesota license plate in front of her driveway. She went looking for the owner of the vehicle.
In her backyard was an entire crew of electric company men working on the tree and the downed wires.
My Mother thanked the men and asked them where they were from. They replied, "Minnesota," "Wisconsin", and other states. "What are you doing here?"
When these electric company workers (from whatever states) heard about the disaster, they drove for two days from their homes in order to come help. And there they were a united-states of electricians rewiring the electricity of the neighborhood for the benefit of my mother and tens of thousands of other folks that they didn't even know. They left their homes so that other could re-enter their homes once again.
My Mother B"H is safe and well now. She hasn't really surveyed the damage to her home yet. She is just thankful to be safe and well. At times of disaster, it's the people quotient that takes precedence. And that's the attitude all around my mother, her neighbors and the rescue workers toiling day and night. It's the people we are worrying about today.
It is a few minutes before the Sabbath, but I didn't want to go into the Sabbath without saying thank you to my sister-in-law's "Aunt Barbara", my Mother's friend "Margie," "Rabbi Mareless", my mother's neighbors, my friends in New York, all the emergency workers who are trying their best, the schools and soup kitchens, the folks who are collecting/distributing food and clothing, everyone who's trying to cheer up their neighbor, and especially these volunteers from all over America who have come to the aid of their fellows.
Loving kindness builds the world and ensures its existence. If Americans continue to stick together during this and any other crisis, they will be stay strong.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Welcome to What's Up, Efrat?'s new season.

Watch it:

Read all about it:
As we film this segment of What's Up, Efrat, our hearts are with our brethren in the South of Israel who have suffered terribly from relentless Arab missiles and bombardment from Gaza. Between the red alert sirens, helicopters and booming, they have no day and no night. May Hashem watch over you and keep you safe.
And our thoughts are with our brethren on the East Coast of America who have suffered through Hurricane Sandy, which has aptly been described as Frankenstorm. To those families who are without electricity or heat or phone service, we are thinking of you and hoping that your communities will be able to begin recovery very soon. May Hashem watch over you and keep you safe.
We've got great news for you. Efrat has had a tremendous victory in its struggle with the Electric Company. Thanks to head of this action, Yechiel Fishman. Next court date: November 14, 8:20 AM.

More great news. The office of the Efrat Local Council hosted hundreds of high school students from inside and outside Efrat (including all the high schools in the region) participated three days of talking and learning in a tent outside the Matnas. They discussed important issues like alcoholism among young people, youth at risk, youth self-empowerment and meetings of Jews of different stripes. The project was subsided by Minhal Chevra v'Noar of Misrad HaChinuch.
Efrat's got more to be proud of. Two of last year's final projects in Neve Shmuel Yeshiva High School's film major have made it to the finals of the country's Dati Schools' Film Competition. Good luck to RACHOK MIMCHA and TAV NECHEH, and to all those students involved in their production. Only 12 films from all around the country are in the finals which will be screened in the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Cinemateques.
You're already winners to us. 
There's a new CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG sign in town. We hope it will help keep the city clean. Meanwhile, we are still suffering from a problem with wild dogs. We'll keep you posted on this issue. If you see wild dogs in your neighborhood, please call the MOKED.
On Motzei Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sara, November 10th at 8 PM, women, teens and girls of Efrat, Gush Etzion, and BEYOND!!! are invited to DANCE NIGHT. It's an evening of fabulastic dance with the most amazing choreographers around. Join Cheryl Mandel, Jocelyn Odenheimer. Ilana Factor, Deena Navon, Ruti Ben David, Dara Sakar, Moran Marom, Rebbetzin Tap, and Nurit Rashi on the fun and fantastic dance floor to kick up your heels in every kind of dance – Israeli Dance, Hip Hop, Zumba, Modern, Indance, Broadway, Rock - with and a special surprise – a Square Dance with the incredible square dance and country performer – the one and only Debbie Elnatan!
 The former Israeli Army base Shdema, between Har Homa and Nokdim, faces the threat of takeover by the Arabs and the international anarchists once again. Therefore the Committee for Shdema and Women in Green have once again planned activities for Friday mornings on Shdema. Please attend.
On 2 Kislev, November 16th, Yael Ben Dov, a Lehi Fighter, will speak about Women in the Lehi  underground.
On 9 Kislev, November 23rd, Sarah Barnea Tour guide and Erets Israel researcher, will speak about The early days of the Motza community.
On 16 Kislev, November 30th, Lechi Fighter Ezra Yachin will speak about the emotional strength of the fighters.
Please attend and bring your families. For more information, contact Women In Green's Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar - 050-7161818 or 050-5500834,
On Sunday evening, 4th of Kislev, November 18, the women and girls of Raise Your Spirits Theater debut in their happiest musical ever – ESTHER and the Secrets in the King's Court. This year marks the tenth anniversary of ESTHER's first appearance on stage. It's going to be incredible, with new musical arrangements, new choreography and staged in a new exciting way.
What? It's a surprise. 
Order your tickets for opening night November 18, or Thursday evening November 22 or Thursday evening November 29.
Order your tickets here. And we'll see you at the theater.
On Wednesday evening, the 8th of Cheshvan, November 21 at 8:30 PM, the community is invited to an Efrat Women's Beit Midrash memorial lecture in memory of Norma Fund, of blessed memory. Rabbi Sholom Gold will speak on The Drama of Jewish History: A Chanukah Perspective." For more information [050-993-8125,]

That's it for this issue of WHAT'S UP, EFRAT? Have a healthy winter.

The Butterfly and the Bee

Back to my corner to pray and find a little peace in this upside down world.
I was greeted by my beautiful yellow butterfly. That was exciting for me because today I am wearing happy yellow too, so we match!
I have done everything possible NOT to instigate my bee [] . Instead of sitting on my cozy bench, I have taken out a lawn chair and moved it away from my flowers.
I am trying to SHARE SOVEREIGNTY with him, but he is totally inflexible. (Hmm, there's a lesson here somewhere.) He never ceases to buzz me. Of course, he could be saying, "Good morning and happy day," but then again he could just be "dissin'" me.
Okay, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. His presence in my garden must be for the good because both he and my butterfly share the same song.
In Perek Shira (The Song of Nature) we read, 'The Insects say: "May Israel rejoice in his Creator; may the
children of Zion be joyful in their King." (Psalms 149:2)'
Maybe they're reminding me to be joyful in Hashem. He did create Heavens and Earth, diamonds and date honey, my loved ones and me!! And He's working overtime to keep everyone safe. Thanks, G-d.
And thanks, B & B. You taught me a good lesson today.