My Travels

I have been tagged for a meme by Rachel and how could I resist?

My travels

Rules: Fill in the following questions & tag 5 friends (try friends who travel a lot).

  • My best trip ever…
    My first trip to China. Astounding. A whole new world. All I could think was “I can’t believe I’ll never come back here.”
  • My worst trip ever…
    Undoubtedly the trip to the mikvah erev Hanuka one year that we lived at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It was a 3.5 hour drive in each direction and on the way there my radiator started steaming and then the gas station attendant in Louisville couldn’t get th
  • Most important thing I ever lost on a trip…
    An earring on the train to Sapa
  • Most important thing I ever forgot to take on a trip…
    Can’t think of anything
  • Thing I miss most when I’m away…
    My family
  • Thing I miss least when I’m away…
    Chores around the house
  • Favorite travel partner…
    My husband
  • Place I hope to travel to someday…
    Maybe Japan or Singapore? Maybe Kiev and Odessa? I would go pretty much anywhere, but probably not to Dubai.

fill in this meme

Sleeqo

I tag: Kelli, Bethami, & Vicki

and leave you with some pictures from my most recent trip (to the Galilee)

This week in pictures

This week was a big birthday week in the family with two grandchildren and a daughter-in-law celebrating birthdays. One grandchild, Ayala, celebrated on the Hebrew date– about 2 weeks ago, but our one-year -old Ephraim celebrated this week. He seemed to enjoy his cupcake (as did his sister)!

Ephraim and his cake

Ephraim and his cake

Kinneret enjoying cake

Kinneret enjoying cake

Want some?

Want some?

We also drove up to Tiberias for the marathon where our son, Ben ran for the third year in a row. It was great spending time with him and with three of his children.

Ben & Avital

Ben & Avital

Walking over to the race starting point (my only picture of Dina-- she's all the way to the right)

Walking over to the race starting point (my only picture of Dina-- she's all the way to the right)

We walked Ben over to the starting arch and waited until the race began. Then we went walking to the side of the Kinneret.

In addition to the marathon, there was a rowing competition with all Israeli teams except for one from Germany who were none the sadder for having missed their heavy snow at home.

Elihu next to the rowing shell

Elihu next to the rowing shell

The Tel Aviv team honored Asaf Ramon.

We watched that race begin too and took the children swimming. And then it was time to wait for Ben to return. We saw him cross the finish line and hold his hands up in triumph!

Ben, crossing the finish line!

Ben, crossing the finish line!

It was a hot day and running was hard, but he finished the race and in a record time for him!

It was a good week and we have an exciting week coming up next week too. Stay tuned for news.

Tiberias today

Actually, this posting has very little to do with Tiberias. We are traveling up there this afternoon with our son and three of his children. This is the third year in a row that he will be running the marathon there and the third year in a row that we are accompanying him. The marathon is tomorrow morning.

There’s a real excitement about the whole event with athletes from all over Israel and all over the world. Each year there is a good representation of African runners, many of whom come in with amazing times.

Of course, the change of pace is fun and spending quality time with three of the grandchildren is always a treat.

Last year we left under a cloud of worry. Our brand new grandson had just been identified as having a health problem and we were uncertain as to what would happen. Now, a day after his first birthday, I am happy to report that he is a healthy, cuddly, adorable child whose development has been completely normal.

So today we leave with happy anticipation!

(And we may have some other exciting events in our future… more about that when things are definite.)

Yes, still here, still opinionated

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. No, I have not been roaming around the world (as much as I would have liked to.) I simply have been preoccupied by preparations for our next trip– the tour we are leading to Vietnam and Cambodia. Since we have people coming from 4 different countries with different connecting flights and since we can’t always get the internal flights at the times we would prefer, we’ve had to do a lot of planning trouble-shooting, rescheduling and renegotiation with the local providers. Everything has been settled to my satisfaction– and I am a tough one to satisfy– but it has taken a lot of energy to say nothing of stress.

Now, add to that a cough I developed about 4 weeks ago that until about two days ago was getting worse and worse and you have the recipe for no blog posts.

But I have not been idle in my thoughts. I share with my friend Alissa the thought that we have been hearing entirely too much about the Fort Hood murderer and not nearly enough about the innocent people whose lives he took. I offer my deepest condolences to the families of those who were murdered and my prayers for full recovery for those who were injured. As I has suspected, these people were the victims of political correctness. All of the signs of a radical Islamist were there and no one was willing to pay attention enough to prevent this massacre.

My husband and I raised our children on Army posts in the US and in Germany. The posts we lived on were beautiful. The grass was trimmed, he trees were stately, and it was the finest America had to offer. We always felt safe. Nothing bad happened on Army posts. Our children could play outside and no one would bully them or hurt them. Even the people driving cars through the housing areas obeyed the speed laws that limited them to 15 MPH. It was idyllic America. If the safest place in the world is no longer safe, it is a very dark and sad time.

I think we need to stop thinking of all philosophies and belief systems as being morally equivalent. How many times have I heard people say that all religions are good. I am sorry. That is simply not so. A religion that encourages people to kill those who believe differently is NOT good. It is NOT acceptable that radical Muslims call for Jihad when that means killing people. It is NOT OK that their murderers are celebrated as heroes– having streets and sports fields named after them. The world needs to wake up and recognize this. We should not be afraid to say that radical Islam is destructive and must be stopped. That is a very different thing from condemning all Muslims. If we cannot make this moral distinction, our future is in jeopardy.

I was surprised to find this article in the New York Times , one of the champions of political correctness, this morning.

And in our neighborhood, we have Iran whose leader shares the murderous intentions of the Jihadists and he is developing nuclear capability. It is time to stop waiting to see what he will do. He has made his intentions perfectly clear and I am in his gun sight.

Yom Kippur

It seems a bit absurd to write about how Yom Kippur was for me this year, yet I cannot help but write.  As a child, I only remember this about Yom Kippur:  My parents would buy tickets for services.  In those years, the synagogue was still small and there was not enough room inside for everyone who wanted high holiday tickets, so they would erect a huge tent that seated maybe 200 people, maybe more, and my parents would attend good chunks of the service leaving us outside to our own devices.  I didn’t want to enter because I didn’t understand anything anyway and inside the tent, it was invariably boiling hot.

Late in the afternoon, my parents and I would ride about a half hour to my grandparents’ synagogue and arrive just in time for Neila, the last service of the day.  My mother would walk with us up the stairs of the synagogue into the women’s section.  The women’s section was populated with women of my grandmother’s age, all elderly (in their 50’s!) immigrant women who spoke with heavy Eastern European accents.  My grandmother was always really happy to see us when we showed up.  My cousins and their mothers too would arrive and always there was discussion as to which of the huge flower arrangements my mother and her siblings had bought for the synagogue in honor of their mother.

After the service, we would return to my grandparents’ home with the flowers.  They always consisted of  a large percentage of chrysanthemums and the smell of chrysanthemums usually reminds me of my grandmother.

I am now older than my grandmother ever was.

I am lucky enough to be living in Israel where on Yom Kippur, the entire country stops.  There are no Israeli television channels broadcasting and no radio.  Aside from one police car, I saw no cars on the roads.  In the evening, the park was filled with adults and children.  It is amazing!

This year, at services in our bursting-at-the-seams synagogue, I was privileged to have 16 of my grandchildren.  I pretty much was bursting with happiness seeing all of their beautiful faces.  The older ones, serious about their prayers, remained inside for large parts of the services and some, notably, for all of them.  The younger children, happily wandered in and out.  The youngest were held in their mothers’ or fathers’ or siblings’ arms.  The language we prayed in was the language they live.  The synagogue held familiar people.  The melodies were ones the older children had sung many times before.

And the service…  I don’t think it was my imagination.  Our congregation has been going  for about 13 years.  I think it has come of age.  The singing of large parts of the service was no less than inspiring.  Just as we repented in group fashion as one people, we sang in one voice and if the heavens were open, I can’t imagine more sincere petitions or more beautiful sounds of praise entering the holy gates.

The family, unretouched, missing three children

The family, unretouched, missing three children

Missing: Amiel Michelson, Elazar Michelson, Shlomo Goodman

May all of you have a healthy, happy, prosperous New Year!

Why I am not wishing “peace” this year

Every year at Rosh Hashana, we exchange the wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous new year. I used to put “peaceful” into that mix, but this year, I just can’t do it. I know that it is a lie. Peace is not just around the corner.

You see, the problem we have here in Israel is not that we don’t want peace. It’s not that we won’t give up the building of homes in communities in Judea and Samaria. What it is is an ideology fed to Arab children from the day they are born that has to do with eradicating the Jews from all of Israel. I believe that peace cannot come from conferences, from concessions, from cajoling, or from horse-trading. Peace will come when a responsible Arab leadership cares more about the life of their people than about the destruction of mine.

All attempts we have made have only emboldened the radical elements. If they believe that we are tired, sick to death of the terror and the pain, then they will only give us more so that we give up, capitulate, leave.

Economic success, educational success, building a society that serves the needs of its citizens is what will bring about a change in the mind set. It is what will make this senseless hatred recede as parents educate their children to achieve and to value knowledge and to love learning instead of longing for “martyrdom.”

So my prayer, it isn’t for peace. It is for the beginning of a change in the hearts and minds of the people who want to destroy me and my people. I pray that G-d will open their hearts to the knowledge that their children are precious gifts as are all of G-d’s children. I pray that by next year, the Arab parents will begin to value their children and their children’s future. I pray that responsible Arab leadership will focus on what they can do to help their people live happy meaningful lives.

Off we go…

On Wednesday we decided that we wanted to go away– somewhere. One of the big advantages to living in Israel is that aside from the notable exception of our neighboring countries which are less than welcoming to us, we are located only a short distance from a lot of interesting places and a jaunt to most of them is not very expensive.

So I searched a couple of Israeli sites on the internet for the dates we wanted to travel and looked for a place we hadn’t been before. I was able to find an inexpensive trip to… Bulgaria.

When I told my older daughter, she said, “Oh yes, we were in Varna. The center of town is very pretty.” My middle son also has been there.

But I don’t think that we are unusual for Israelis. Aside from the advantage of travel being inexpensive for us, all of us suffer from a form of “cabin fever” that one gets when one realizes that aside from the sea, every border of our country offers danger. Even our most friendly neighbors have problems accepting us. And so we are “landlocked,” unable to get into our cars and travel across the border to another country, and deep in the Israeli psyche is a need to travel.

Today I went to the supermarket and stocked up on food that we can take with us. We’ll take a variety of foods that don’t require refrigeration and supplement with fresh fruits and vegetables. We get about 20 kilos (44 pounds) each luggage allowance, so we should have some left over weight for our clothes. On Sunday we take off for our next adventure. Stay tuned.

4%

I promised myself I would wait for a while to see what happened. I know that what I say will be offensive to some of my best friends and possibly a relative or two, but I can’t keep silent any longer.

You see, today a survey was made public that said that only 4% of Israelis consider Obama to be pro-Israel. It was no surprise to me. I cringed the day after his his speech to AIPAC when he said he didn’t really mean that Jerusalem should remain Israel’s undivided capital. I knew all of those bright rosy predictions based on his “Jewish advisors” were fantasy. No one who has lived in Israel can deny that often the worst critics of Israel are members of Israel’s own suicidal left wing.

It was during the Cairo speech that I cringed once again. This time it was his implication that Israel’s legitimacy devolved from the Holocaust. This, of course, is the claim of our Arab enemies. They assert that the Jews were given Israel as recompense for damages done to the Jewish people during the Holocaust. Hence Holocaust denial. If the Holocaust never happened, then the Jews don’t have a claim on the land. In fact, our right to this land is thousands of years old. This is the land of our patriarchs- Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of our matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. To dismiss this legitimacy of ours to live here, to work and to love this land is to deny us our very soul.

When he tells us that Jews should not be allowed to build homes in parts of the land of Israel, it shocks me. To say that Jews cannot live somewhere because of their religion???? I seem to remember some famous people who struggled for civil rights who said something about people not being denied equal rights because of the color of their skin. Is he asking for parts of the land of Israel to be Judenrein?

And so today, it did not surprise me to see that the percentage of Israelis who think Obama is pro-Israel has fallen from 6% to 4%. Frankly, I’m surprised that there’s anyone who still thinks so.

But here’s the scoop…. despite every US president’s commitments to the state of Israel, I do not believe that the US must support Israel. No, really, I don’t. The US needs to do what is best for the US. The great tragedy of this current policy of embracing enemies and distancing friends is not good for the US. Pressure on Israel from a country seen to have been friendly in the past encourages their fantasies of our destruction.

Israel can and will take care of itself, but the world is becoming an ever more dangerous place.

Pomegranates 2

I had so many lovely comments about the pomegranates that I was stunned. A few people commented that they had never seen what they look like growing on a tree. Since we harvested only some of them, I have included some pictures of the fruit laden tree in our garden.

Here is a view of the garden:

A view of the garden

A view of the garden

When we bought our house, I never realized how much pleasure I would get from that garden. We have only a small patch of grass, but yesterday it served as a base for the inflatable swimming pool I bought before I moved into the house. Yesterday was the first time I used it. Kinneret, 2 years old, enjoyed playing in the pool, emptying water from cup to cup and having my husband and me and her pouring the cups of water on her back, her head, and her chest. She giggled and laughed and splashed. It was idyllic– and it took place in the shade of the pomegranate tree.

The tree arching over the path

The tree arching over the path

And here are a couple of the growing pomegranates

Still ripening

Still ripening

Pomegranates

When we moved to Israel, we bought a home with a garden. But homes with gardens here come with an unbuilt area filled with dirt– not soil, but dirt. From there, you are on your own. After living in our home for a year, I contacted a gardener to come and design a garden for us, put in all of the irrigation hoses (we do drip irrigation), and plant it. He asked what I wanted in the garden. I told him that I wanted something that was easy to maintain and that did not require a lot of water since we live in a water poor area of the world. He asked me if there were any specific trees I wanted and I told him that I wanted an olive tree, a lemon tree, a palm tree, and a pomegranate tree. He planted all those and more.

Each year we have watched our pomegranate tree bloom and then watched most of the blossoms fall to the ground. The most fruit we have ever had was 6 pomegranates. But somehow, for some unknown reason, this year, the tree is full of luscious looking pomegranates.

I have always loved the way they looked. When we were in Spain several years ago, we visited Granada whose name means pomegranate. While there, I bought a gold pendant in the shape of a pomegranate with a wedge cut out that had red stones inside. It was one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. Unfortunately, it was stolen. But I still have my tree and these beautiful round fruits to enjoy.

The first batch of pomegranates from our tree

The first batch of pomegranates from our tree