Mixed up

Today I had a most pleasant experience. I taught my first class in a program to train marriage counselors. I left Modi’in for Jerusalem early in the morning, missing breakfast, to avoid rush hour traffic. I had not yet met any of the students and was pleased to find a room full of interesting, bright, and versatile women. What a pleasure it was to meet them! I look forward to spending time with them in the weeks and months ahead.

After three hours of teaching, I headed back home to Modi’in and on the way, passed a sign that looked like this:

I must have been hungry, because a quick glance had me thinking that instead of Magen David, it said “Haagen Daz.”

But I’m not the only one who’s mixed up. The International Red Cross has made Magen David Adom drop its six pointed star and instead adopt a red “crystal” as its symbol when appearing outside of the country’s green line so as to not offend the Palestinians. You figure out the logic to that!

How it feels

Here’s what it felt like:

I was sitting at my computer and suddenly on Facebook, I saw that there was an attack in Jerusalem. First I felt disbelief. How could that be? Things have been calm for a long time. I went to the four Israel news web sites I use: Jerusalem Post, Ynet, Haaretz, Arutz Sheva. None of them any news about it. But meanwhile, my husband turned on the radio and told me that yes, it was true.

I went to the TV and watched, in the same way that I watched on 9/11, helpless. The energy drained from me. I heard the people on TV talking about how quickly they got to the scene, how quickly they rendered assistance, and how quickly all of the injured were taken from the scene. Within 15 minutes, all of the victims were on their way to the hospital.

We had planned to go to Jerusalem tonight. We went.

On the way, traffic coming from Jerusalem on the road that passes by our house was backed up from the checkpoint near us for several miles. Police were at the entrance to Modi’in as we left and we saw police cars and policemen in profusion. We know that our neighbors often enjoy carrying out multiple attacks.

I wondered– is another round of violence in the offing?

We got to Jerusalem and things were normal. It was cool outside. There weren’t a lot of people on the streets, but it was not unlike other weekday evenings.

We had dinner at a quiet restaurant.

We returned home. Our route took us past the scene of the attack. It was cleaned up and people were standing there, waiting for buses.

By the time we got home, we were able to read the statements of world leaders. Some, like the UN Secretary, understood that this was terror, targeting innocent people, and that there was no excuse for it. Others equated the attack on our people with the accidental injuries of people used by terrorists as human shields. But the most cynical accounts were those that cited a bus stop as the target of the attack. I suppose to them, Israelis are not worth mentioning.

This comes in the same week that rockets and mortars targeted our cities causing damage and injuries.

And there still are those who single out Israel as the cause of trouble in the world– who demonstrate against us. boycott us, hate us.

Outrageous!

I am so very very tired of it.

Lesson Learned

This morning, just as the very first shades of orange began to light the dawn, my husband and I set off in the direction of Jerusalem. What a show we witnessed– the clouds were spread out like a comforter with small tufts in a pattern and room between for the light to light each individual tuft. The sky around the clouds was an electric blue and the clouds were lit flaming orange, finally fading into pink and as the sun came up higher, the sky was filled with pinks and blues and lavendars.

We were on our way to Hadassah Hospital where my husband was to have cataract surgery.

As we drove along the highway several times cars came up close behind me and flashed their lights even though I was driving at the legal speed limit. Apoplectically flashing their lights, they could barely wait to pass me quickly on the right, often getting themselves stuck behind slow trucks that were barely making it up the hills to Jerusalem. Had I made eye contact with them as they passed me, I am certain that they would have displayed their disgust with me.

For years I have not understood this behavior. In the case of driving to Jerusalem, how much time could one save by speeding? The whole trip takes a short time (from Modi’in, for example, it is about 30 minutes; from Tel Aviv, maybe 45 minutes). How much time could one save by speeding? Five minutes? Ten minutes? Is it worth having high blood pressure? Feeling hostility? Is it worth risking one’s life???

It occurred to me that I made a decision many years ago that really changed my behavior.

I was about 18 years old. I was driving my mother’s car. I was coming out of a parking lot and making a right turn. To the right of my car there was a telephone pole and I was too close to it. As I felt my car touch the pole, I thought about backing up and turning my wheel toward the left as I proceeded forward. But I was too lazy. I made a conscious decision to continue. So I did. And when I reached home a few minutes later, I saw that the thin metal strip at the side of the car on the right side was now sticking out at a point about 1/2 way back at a 90 degree angle. My mother was not pleased.

How I wished I could go back and make a different decision!

I couldn’t get the stupidity of my decision out of my mind, but worse, I realized for the first time how irreversible time is. Once an accident happens, it can’t be prevented. Once someone is scarred or maimed, it can’t be undone. So, perhaps it makes sense to be careful and not take dangerous risks.

Often I take my time when others would hurry, am more cautious when others would rush, but a burnt finger or a twisted ankle can cause a lot of pain and take a long time to heal. We are fragile beings. We are limited by our human capabilities, and so far, we cannot reverse time.

Oh, and according to the doctor, the surgery this morning went very well. We are home and the recovery is underway.

Fame in the era of plagiarism

This morning I received an email from my son. He had received an email from his brother-in-law in Los Angeles with this question:

“Isn’t that your father?”

accompanied by this photo:
Bar Mitzvah

Well, yes. It seems as if my husband is moonlighting in LA teaching Bar Mitzvah boys… and I never even noticed.

Or maybe it’s because someone saw this photo
Matan's Bar Mitzvah

in my blog in this posting about our grandson Matan’s Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem.

And yes, my husband did teach him.

So, thanks, sir, for making my husband famous, but I can guarantee that you can’t hold a candle to him when it comes to teaching boys for their Bar Mitzvah.

Oh, and one more thing, a request for permission to use the image would have been polite. There is no such thing as a secret in the modern world.

“Honors” surprises

As I thought about people who should have been honored and haven’t been, I thought about a teacher, Elsie Chomsky, I had in Hebrew college. She taught education and her ideas were brilliant and eye-opening! She was a household name because she had also taught my mother!! She was married to a man who became very famous (at least in Philadelphia) but my perception was that she was overlooked.

In thinking about her, I decided to do a google search and see if there was anything at all written about her. What a surprise! There was a whole 38 page article.

But that is not the whole surprise.

You see, on page 11 was the following:

Here we come to a dramatic break in Elsie Simonofsky’s story. Sometime in
l926-27, she left her job, family, peer-group, and friends to move to Philadelphia.
An air of mystery surrounds this period in her life. Her file in the Office of the
Registrar at JTS contains a “To Whom it May Concern” letter dated December
10, l926–a strange time for Hebrew teacher to be job-hunting– affirming that she
has satisfactorily completed her teacher’s diploma and is “entitled to teach in
Jewish religious schools.”

Why might she have decided to relocate? One source attributes her departure to
an unrequited romantic attachment; she felt she simply had to leave New York.

In 1965, I was engaged to be married. Four weeks before the planned wedding, with guests already RSVP’d, the apartment already carpeted, and a final fitting of my wedding gown, my fiance decided that he didn’t want to marry me. I was an emotional wreck. I had such difficulty believing it that I didn’t call any of my friends to tell them, but on the following Sunday, when I showed up at Hebrew college, there was no way of avoiding it. I told my friends and I burst into tears. I couldn’t remain in class, and so I went and sat in the student lounge.

A couple of minutes later, Mrs. Chomsky appeared. She and I had never had a personal conversation. She was my teacher. She sat on the sofa next to me. I don’t remember the exact words she said , but it was something like this.

“I just heard what happened. I know how hard it is because I went through it too. Believe me, your future is going to turn out better than you ever dreamed.”

So yes, I know what happened to her in 1926.

But there’s more.

My parents sent me to Israel and Europe for the summer, just a few weeks later. When I came down to the hotel lobby at the President Hotel in Jerusalem my first morning, Mrs. Chomsky was there. Together we walked to the Wizo shop on Jaffa Road so that I could buy an embroidered blouse for my sister. Having her show up there so unexpectedly, I thought it was as if she were my guardian angel.

Oh, and about my future… she was right.

The Real Israel

When I lived in Oklahoma in the 1980s and talked about visiting Israel, the people I knew would urge me to be careful when I was in Beirut. I would explain to them that Beirut was in Lebanon, a country that I had no plans to visit. They would respond with something like, “Well, you need to be careful anyway” as if they didn’t buy a word of what I was saying.

Recently I met with people who were visiting Israel for the first time. They were surprised at how modern and Western it is. They talked about the friendly people and the clean rest room facilities and water that can be drunk and modern hotels and skyscrapers and delicious foods of all ethnic varieties. They had expected the ancient ruins and the historical monuments, and of course, the breathtaking vistas, but they were stunned with the modernity and the cosmopolitan feeling that pervades.

So it didn’t surprise me when another family we met recently reported hearing from someone in their Midwest American city the following about Israel, “We’re talking sand. We’re talking camels. We’re talking burkas.”

All I can say to that is come and visit our little piece of paradise. See it for yourself! From the mountains of the Hermon, covered with snow in the winter to the sparkling gulf at Eilat to the wooded trails of the Galilee to calm waters of the Kinneret to the bustle of Tel Aviv to the breathtakingly beautiful city of Jerusalem—Israel will wow you! And come and see our hi-tech industries, setting world standards. Enjoy sitting in a sidewalk café. And most of all, enjoy our most precious products—the bright-eyed, smiling children. Israel will lift your heart and your soul.