Soldiers Are Just Kids in Uniform

This is a post I wrote in the middle of Tzuk Eitan (Operation Protective Edge, this past summer) and never published.

The first time I came to Israel, I was twelve; I came for my cousin’s wedding and it doubled as a bat mitzva trip for me.  When I saw soldiers they were cool and practically grown up.  Definitely with a lot of responsibility.

The next time I came, I was post high school, studying in a one-year program that would count as part of my degree when I got back.  I remember looking at the soldiers and thinking that we were the same age but living in completely different worlds.  I wasn’t sure which world was preferable; I did know that I owed them a lot and in many ways they were more mature than I was.  I remember thinking that we were so different, but still so much alike.

I’m not the same age as the soldiers anymore; I have a brother who, if he lived in Israel, would be just starting, or about to start, his stint in the army.  I see soldiers, I see high school boys and girls – and I see kids.  Young and innocent, immature, sweet, kids.  I wonder what they want to do with their lives.  I wonder what they’ve been through already.  I wonder, especially when I see soldier couples, if they were neighbors or met during their service, and if they will marry when they get out of the army.  I wonder who will go to Thailand to find himself and who will start studying for a degree.

I look at my youngest brother in law, a year and a bit older than me, and think about what the army has done for him.  Maybe he’s chronologically older than me, but he’s still just a kid.  And being in the army has matured him – a lot.  He’s not all for fighting, like he was at first.  And there are other changes, but I won’t write them.

I look at the kids finishing high school and know that in three years, when they finish army, they will be different people.

Unfortunately, thanks to Tzuk Eitan (Protective Edge), I’ve seen way too many pictures of soldiers on the internet.  Most of them, if not all, were of soldiers who are no longer with us.  Smiling faces of kids, young and innocent.  Kids who were engaged, kids who were two weeks before their weddings.  Kids whose younger siblings are still in grade school and asking the prime minister why this had to happen and why there was a ceasefire.

Kids who had plans for the future, who had their whole future before them.

Of course, some of those killed weren’t kids.  Some of them were career soldiers, or reservists; officers with wives and children.  Some of these career soldiers left behind children who will never know their father – because their father was killed a short while before they were born.

I’m not sure what’s worse – a dead kid soldier or a dead soldier who leaves a wife and five orphans.

I do know that when I see the faces of these kids, smiling faces full of life and hope, I can’t help but smile.  And then I remember that they’re not here anymore.  And I have to ask why.  They were kids!  Kids barely out of high school.  You see it in their jawlines, in their attitudes, in their crooked pubertal smiles and disproportionate noses, in their optimism, in their barely-there facial hair.

Kids.

Like any other kids.

High school kids in uniform.  That’s what they are.

Why did they have to die, and why can’t we respect their deaths, and their families, and make their deaths worthwhile?  Those are questions I don’t have the answer to.

I wish I did.

And I hope and pray that by the time Shlomo finishes high school, we won’t need to fight anymore, because we will have quiet.  Peace – probably will never come.  King Solomon didn’t have peace – the countries were afraid of him.  We don’t have peace with Syria – Syria is afraid to start up with us.  With Egypt we don’t have peace, either – they just hate Hamas, and so do we.  When Jacob’s sons fought and killed all of Sh’chem (Nablus?), they didn’t make peace with their neighbors.  No one came to kill them, because everyone was afraid.  That’s not peace.  But it is the only way we’ll have quiet.

I know that this hope, and prayer, may very well be in vain.  Those who fought in 1948 had the same hope and prayer for their children.  It didn’t happen.  Those who fought in 1967 felt the same way, and prayed that their children would never have to wear an army uniform.  That didn’t happen, either.  Every parent in this country, every soldier in this country, every reservist, hopes and prays that the fighting of today, that the soldiers of today, will be enough, and that the next generation, my generation’s children, will not have to wear uniforms and will not have to fight.

This is what we hope.  This is what we pray.

But as Golda Meir said, “We will not have peace until Hamas loves their children more than they hate us.”

Hamas hasn’t gotten there yet.  And as long as they turn their children into suicide terrorists, we will have to fight them, and so will our children.

I hope, I pray, that the world will wake up, that we will wake up, and that no more innocent high school kids will have to die.

I’ve Had It.

I’m through with this.

Or at least, I wish I was.

Stupid government, stupid world, no intifada, it’s all our faultSuicide bus drivers are our fault, too.

I don’t want to leave my city (which is really just a big neighborhood); I don’t want to go anywhere at all.

I’m mad and I’m scared.  And Yitzchak, who has been insisting, for the past who-knows-how-many months, that all the attacks in Jerusalem were in neighborhoods that were close to the “Green Line”, has been proven wrong.  Duh.  I kept telling him that maybe that’s so at the moment but in the blink of an eye it will be all of Jerusalem.

Sadly, I was right.  The blink of an eye came.

Yay, terrific.

It makes me want to leave Israel – because I know our stupid government won’t do anything without international backing, even if it means Israel committing suicide – until I remember that similar things are happening all over Europe and all over America.

And it’s not just happening to Jews, although Jews are always a favorite target.

In other words, there is no safe place to live.  Ever.  Anywhere.

So I might as well just stay where I am and pray for the best.

Maybe I should learn to use a gun and carry it with me all the time.

I am going to school to pick up some books and write a fancy-shmansy schedule of what I plan to teach for the entire year (or rather, what I plan to have the students learn the entire year).  When I get back, I will try to put in links.

In the meantime, I will attempt to calm my nerves.

If I had wanted to go to Jerusalem within the next few weeks, if I had thought that I really really don’t want to have to go to Be’er Sheva – well, I still don’t want to.  But my fear of leaving the area, especially for a city that is not exactly safe anymore, is stronger than my desire to be in Jerusalem.  I guess we will see what happens.

“Shoshanim Ward”

I mentioned that the lights in his room, which he calls “shoshanim” are a story for another post, and here it is.

[At first he called them “shalshulim”, and sometimes “shilshulim” (the Hebrew word for diahrrea).  Ugh.  Then we realized he meant “shoshanim”, which is a type of flower.  Apparently, because the lights look like a flower.  And now he calls them “shoshanim”.]

lights, office lights, ceiling lights

The “shoshanim” in his room.

At any rate, these lights have been a source of fear for Shlomo.  He has the ones in his room, and our room also has them – but obviously, the ones in your parents’ room are much less scary than those in your own.  Plus, it’s an excuse to sleep in a parent’s bed – definitely better than your own bed.

We suffered from this fear for a while.  Leaving the light on in the next room didn’t help too much.  Letting him fall asleep in one of our beds (we have two twins, and I don’t mind discussing why, but it’s a different post – if you want, just ask) is not a good solution.  Sitting with him until he falls asleep – ditto.  Fighting every night – ugh.  “Punishing” the shoshanim – not working and not a nice solution in any case.  The shoshanim didn’t do anything wrong.  And we don’t punish unnecessarily.  Plus, we don’t punish in a way that someone gets a kick out of.

Well, Yitzchak’s mother, aka “Mom” came for a visit (yet another post) and she brought with her a few packages of glow sticks.  I think she brought a total of three, each containing a glow stick, two thingies to connect it to a string, and a string.  Shlomo thought these glow sticks were super cool, which they are.  Yitzchak explained that we have to be careful, because the inner tube is glass and there are nasty chemicals in the sticks.

And then – brilliance.  I’m telling you, Yitzchak is briliant.

He told Shlomo that the sticks punish the shoshaniim automatically, when you tap the stick lightly.  The sticks are a shoshanim ward and make sure that the shoshanim can’t hurt anyone.

Bingo.

Yitzchak hung the glow-stick-turned-shoshanim-ward from the mezuza, and reminded Shlomo that it protects him.  Shlomo walked around a bit with the stick hanging from his neck, because it was cool.  Now, whenever he deems it necessary, he passes by his doorway, taps the stick, and says the shoshanim won’t hurt him.

glow stick, mezuza, hangers, kids room,

The glow stick hanging from the mezuza in Shlomo’s doorway.

The last time I heard about the subject was a few days ago.  The time before – a few days prior to that, when he was explaining to Ducky that he’ll protect him and the shoshanim won’t hurt him [and that Ducky should dry].

A few days ago, one of the bulbs, which we thought was burned out, started working.  Turns out, it hadn’t been screwed in all the way.  Shlomo was very interested in the fact that it started working, and made sure that we all knew that the “second shoshanim” was working (you mean, the third?).  Not a word about his old fear.

Such a simple item; such a brilliant solution.

As Yitzchak says, “An imaginary solution for an imaginary problem works perfectly.”  Yes, but that doesn’t mean that the solution isn’t hilarious.  And that watching it work doesn’t make me laugh.

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I wrote this post a few weeks ago.  Just now, while I was reviewing it (and happened to mention the word), Shlomo informed me that the shoshanim did not have a good Rosh Hashana (New Year), so they can’t hurt him anymore.  I guess G-d didn’t judge them favorably; hopefully He judged us much better.

Potty-Training Attempt #3 – No Turning Back

This post was begun on January 30, 2014.

Success!  Well, sort of.

What happened was this:

Shlomo turned three in March.  Traditionally, when a boy turns three, you cut his hair for the first time (a ceremony called “upsherin/upshernish” by American Jews and called a “chalakah” by Israelis), and give him a kipa (religious head covering) and tzitzit. About a month before his birthday, his ganenet announced that there was NO WAY that he would have his chalakah in a diaper.  How can you put tzitzit on a kid with a poopy diaper?  I agreed with her, and said that I’m all for it, but as we both know, it’s not fully up to us.

She insisted that we go for it and try again.  It just had to work.  She’s been a ganenet for twenty years and never has a kid worn kipa and tzitzit with a diaper.  I agreed, not fully believing that it would work – after all, this is time three, right?  And the first two ended in failure because Shlomo was just too stubborn, and at the end of the day, no one can make you pee or poop in the toilet if you don’t want to.

So we went for it.  Diaper off in the morning, on only at bedtime.  Poop belongs in the potty.  And for some reason, which Yitzchak and I believe to be a desire to get us to leave him alone, it worked.  Sort of.  He held in his pee – usually.  Stayed dry, and peed in the toilet, just enough to satisfy us and get himself nominally out of diapers (which is what led to the title of this post – Shlomo was nominally trained, and therefore there was no turning back).  We think that he just figured that if he didn’t give in, we’d keep trying every so often until he did, so he might as well just give up, or at least pretend to.

After a while it became more frequent, with less accidents.  But still, poops were saved for the bedtime diaper.  We would put him in pajamas and a diaper, get ready to read him a book, and he would poop.  We were just happy that he wasn’t holding it in; a lot of kids do, and the ganenet, when she saw that he wasn’t pooping in gan, asked if he was pooping at home, because she was worried.

At some point, I’m not sure how, we got him to poop on the toilet.  Yitzchak says that it was the tablet that he received as a gift for his birthday, from Bubby (Yitzchak’s mother).  We also bribed him with cookies and make a big fuss over it.  After a while, when he was more comfortable pooping on the potty, we stopped making such a big deal of it, and on condition that one of us sit with him (usually Yitzchak because my nose is more sensitive than his) he agreed to poop prize-free.  When we started seeing him backslide, we at first returned the treats and then realized that he was abusing the privilege: He would put a small poop in the toilet, get the treat, and then make a big poop in diaper.  Haha, you silly parents.  You fell for it, again.  And again.  So we took away all treats until he made a successful poop in the potty with no poops in his underwear.  And that’s been our policy since.

We STILL backslide sometimes.  I’m not quite sure why.  This morning I was feeding him and something started to stink.  I couldn’t figure out what it was, until it hit me and I asked Yitzchak to check his diaper (Shlomo was still in pajamas).  Yep, poopy in the diaper.  But as mad as we were, we were also relieved – Shlomo hadn’t pooped in four days (and prior to that, had made a week’s worth of poops in his underwear).  This evening, Yitzchak brought the tablet, sat with him, and Shlomo pooped in the potty.  We praised him.  And he got his treats back.  Boy, was he proud of himself.  I just wish I knew how to keep the poop in the potty – and what motivates him to decide to go on potty-strike.

Yes, Yitzchak STILL sits with him.  Poops are in a potty.  Pees are standing up, peeing into the big toilet, like any guy on the street.  I think the poops go in the potty for three reasons: 1. He’s scared of sitting on the big toilet. 2. The toilet seat we have isn’t comfortable.  3. It’s easier to poop with your feet on the floor.  Plus, you get the lid of the real toilet as a table to drive cars on.

Shlomo is not potty trained at night yet, and honestly, I don’t expect him to be.  He stays dry when he naps during the day, even during long 4-5 hour naps (which we allow only when we are going to be up late and we need the quiet to prepare for a holiday).  But my siblings didn’t stay dry till age five or six, and even then, I remember walking them to the toilet in the middle of the night.  If I remember correctly, twice – once about an hour after they went to sleep, and once around ten or eleven at night.

And after talking to Yitzchak’s mother, I found that she had had a similar experience with her kids.  So with a combination of genes like that, and the knowledge the a lot of night training is physiological and not necessarily within the child’s control – we still buy diapers for the nighttime.  One Shabbat, we had forgotten.  Since we had been planning to experiment anyways, we let him sleep in underwear.  Suffice it to say, experiment failed.  When we see that the diaper is dry several mornings in a row, we will try again.

And with this, dear readers, I [hopefully] end our saga of potty training until next time – which will hopefully be only with the next kid.

Things Children Should Never [Have to] Say

Yoav, 5.5 years old – his family has evacuated to a cabin in the north to get away from the rockets. The owner of the cabin showed the family to the cabin, and told where pool was, and where the dining room is and when the tour was over, little Yoav said, “but you didn’t tell us where the bomb shelter is.”

Shay, 5.5 years old asked her mother – “Ima, are they shooting in all the countries now?”

Niv, 3.5 years old – “the best weapon is bananas – that way everyone will slip and we’ll win.”

Keshet, 5 years old – went with her family up north to get away from the rockets and her tooth fell out. She asked her mother, “Ima, how can the tooth fairy get in to here, but the rockets can’t?”

Uri, 5 years old – his father has been called into the Reserves and someone called his mother to ask if he needs anything. Uri heard this and responded, “Of course! He needs a kiss and a hug from us.”

Noya, 6 years old – her father came back for a short visit with the family  (for his birthday) after 3 weeks serving in the south. He came in needing a haircut, long beard and a few more gray hairs. Noya said, “Abba, did you have a birthday while you were in the Reserves, it looks like you grew by a year.”

Lotan (4.5 years old) was talking with his friend(5 years old)- both attend nursery school in Rishon L’Zion
     Lotan: we had a siren today in nursery school.
     Friend: we didn’t have one.
     Lotan: so it seems you had a ceasefire.

Read more on Paula’s blog.

And, unfortunately, I have a few of my own.

We bought a step stool about two and a half weeks ago.  Shlomo was thrilled.  It’s thrilling.  And there have been a number of times that he brought it to the light switch, stood up, pretended to turn off a switch on the wall, and said, “I turned off the woo-woos.  No more woo-woos.  Turn the woo-woo on?”  The last time this happened was a few days ago.  We haven’t had a woo-woo in about three weeks.

He comes up to us randomly and tells us what we will do if there’s a woo-woo.  We will go to the miklat (bomb shelter)/ we will go to the safe room (same thing).

We took his plane to time-out on top of the fridge because it was being thrown too high, too many times in a row.  He told us that if there’s a woo-woo we need to take the plane with us before we go downstairs.  The plane will fly down to the miklat.

He picked up his plane and told me it was flying; when I asked where it’s going, he told me that the plane is going to the miklat.

A couple of weeks ago, we left the Home Front Command’s radio station on over Shabbat.  It’s called Gal Shaket – the silent wave – because it is silent, except for siren warnings and other commands from the Home Front.  On Friday night, Be’er Sheva got two sirens in a row.  Because I was in another room, I didn’t hear the first one; I just heard Yitzchak telling Shlomo that it was okay, and when I came out, I hear the tail end and jumped a bit.  Shlomo, on the other hand, freaked out.  There was a woo-woo, in his house, and he had no idea why we didn’t just grab him and run.  He also had this look on his face that said, “Oh My G-d; I thought we were finished with these.”  Poor kid.  Thank G-d, the rest of Shabbat was quiet – at least for everyone in our area.  (We are on the same station as Be’er Sheva.  Other areas of Israel have other radio stations that are used as Gal Shaket, when Gal Shaket is running.)

There are more.  Suffice it to say, going to the safe room is still on his mind.

Things I Don’t Understand

There are things that I never understood, still don’t understand, and perhaps never will understand.

For instance -

Why is it okay for Obama (insert name of current U.S. president) to drop bombs on Iran, Syria, and whoever else he wants – and are not even distant neighbors – but it’s not okay for us to bomb Gaza?

Why is the world silent about all the inhumane things happening in Syria, but an attempt at humane fighting in Gaza – in self-defense, so that we can have some security and live normally – causes an uproar?

Why is it okay for our civilians to be bombed, but not okay for us to bomb a terrorist organization that uses its own civilians as human shields?

Why does the world expect us to make peace with people who don’t respect or value life, even that of their own people?

Why is it not obvious that security breaches would not occur if countries would use racial profiling?  Why is it taboo to say that a Middle-eastern, young, unmarried, Arabic-speaking man is more of a security risk than a 76 year old Jewish grandmother traveling with two grandkids?

Why does it seem like Kuala Lumpur keeps coming up in connection with terrorism?

Why can’t Israel stand up for itself, ever?

Why are children born to people who don’t know how to take care of them and don’t care to take care of them, while I know really good, responsible people who waited five years or more for their first child?

Why do adoption agencies make so much money off both sides of the equation?  Why not just have an agency that takes unwanted, neglected, or abused kids and places them with people who want kids?  (Israel, by the way, works that way: You pay a 2000 shekel fee for psychological testing to make sure you’re going to be a decent parent, 400 shekel for the court fee, and the rest is free.)

Why do people get married thinking that they can change the other person?

Why do people have kids just to leave them in daycare from the age of three months?  And why is it forbidden to ask that question?

Why is the mother’s happiness more important than the baby’s health?  Why is it not obvious to everyone that rooming in and nursing until the baby is at least a year are desirable choices, and being separated from the baby and formula feeding are extremely undesirable choices that can negatively influence the baby’s health later on?

Why is it okay to feed your child liquid plastic in public but not okay to nurse in public?

Why does it matter if you’re not obligated to use a carseat in a taxi?  Does it change the safety problem?  Are taxis inherently safer than private cars?

Why does it matter if you’re allowed to leave a six year old at home in charge of a two year old?  Does it mean that it’s safe to do so?

Why can’t people use logic?

Why are people so influenced by peer pressure?  Who cares what other people do?

Why is it so important to have a degree?  It doesn’t even promise you a good job anymore.

Why is it taboo to write that homosexual men have a much higher rate of colon cancer (and other things) than anyone else?

Why is it taboo to write that intelligence is on the X chromosome?  Why is it not obvious?

Why is it taboo to say what you think?  Why does everyone look at me odd for doing what I believe in?

What’s wrong with saying that not everyone can sit and learn Talmud, or become a rabbi?

What’s wrong with saying that some kids will never finish college?

What’s wrong with saying that not every kid has the capacity to become a doctor, lawyer, or millionaire?

Why do people put so much time, energy, and money into making sure they look nice?

Who says looking nice means being skinny, wearing designer clothes, and painting your face with makeup?

Why does perfume always stink to high heaven?

Who wants to buy clothes or furniture that will go out of style in five years?

Who invented fashion and what’s the point of it?

Why do people consider fashion to be important?

Why bother buying expensive brands of clothing for kids, who will just stain them?

Why drive kids nuts over stains on their clothing?

Why does everyone have so much STUFF?

Why do people fall for ‘this toy makes kids smarter’ nonsense? 

Why does everyone’s kid have to be the smartest, most advanced, in their class?

Why do people buy expensive birthday presents and waste so much time and energy on fancy parties?

Why do people waste so much time and energy on ANY party?

Why does it seem like everything turns into a status issue?

Why don’t parents talk to each other instead of getting a divorce?

Why is it so hard for people to admit that they made a mistake, say sorry, and try to correct it?  We’re only human, after all.

Why does it seem like so many divorcees blame the other and make their kids’ lives miserable?

Why do so many divorcees make the same mistakes the second time around?

Why do people ask obvious questions after the answer was written in an obvious place and explained three times?

Why is it so important to have a large circle of acquaintances?

What’s this thing called ‘entertaining’ and why do people do it?

What’s wrong with a kid having one close friend and not wanting to play with anyone else?  What’s wrong with being shy, or an introvert?

Why do people get married?

What IS marriage, anyways? [Answer: A social institution designed to protect the wife from being left without an income and with a bunch of kids; and designed to protect the kids by committing both parents to their welfare.  Therefore, gay marriage is pretty pointless, because kids don’t come naturally, nor will one be left without an income because they are busy taking care of the house, since both partners are of the same gender.]

Why do people want kids?

Why do people have kids without marrying or intending to marry?

What logic is there in making the word ‘spouse’ taboo and using the word ‘partner’ instead?  Gimme a break.

Why do people divorce only to get back together, or get back in bed together (sorry little sister Shira, just pretend you didn’t read that), even if they’re not back together?  Why not just work on the relationship, or give it up?

Why do teachers not like the questions that I ask?  Why do they think it’s off topic? 

Why do I seem to intimidate people who are supposedly in a superior position to me?  Rabbis, teachers, potential or real bosses; I even scared my first date (by saying I was learning something that I was told not to mention, but what was I supposed to say?).  And – surprise surprise – Yitzchak does the same thing.  But it’s different because he’s a guy.  Guys are allowed to know a lot; girls aren’t.  And while I’m extremely grateful that Yitzchak has it better than me – why is it not okay for girls to know anything?

Why is it that people comment on what a cute little boy I have until he pulls out his doll, and then people start to say what a cute little girl he is?  Does a man become a woman because he’s holding a baby?

Are we really a liberal-minded society?  [Answer: No.  We just pretend that we are and make outcasts of anyone who dares to question if the emperor is really naked.  And he is.]

Why does no one know how to answer my questions?

Why is it forbidden to ask why?

 

*     *     *      *     *

Yitzchak and I used to play the “Why Game”.  He would say something benign such as, “Can you clear the table?” or “Maybe you should work on your assignments,” and I would ask why.  He would give the reason, “Because it’s dirty,” or, “Because you want your degree,” and I would ask why.  And it would go on and on for half an hour, maybe more, until we were both racking our brains, me to come up with a question and him to come up with an answer.  Sometimes his answers got really complicated and scientific; usually when that happened I would sit through two or three answers and then just get tired.

It’s a fun game.  He’s the only one who ever had, or has, patience for my questions.

But we don’t play that game so often anymore, probably because we’re more tired and have less time, energy, and patience for such things.  We should, though.

Just Be Straight

I’m taking a break from my Israel-Hamas posts, even though I have a lot more to say about the subject, because, as surprising as it may sound, there are other things that bother me, too.

One of these other things is people who aren’t straight with me.  Warning: Rant.

If you don’t like the way I do something, tell me.  If you don’t tell the truth, yes, I will know; especially if there are four unrelated incidents that disprove to me what you have said.  And don’t blackmail me; if you offer me a deal that is less than 50% of what I’ve had until now, is equally against the law as what you wanted to do in the first place (what I’ve had is legal, what he could do is legal, what he was trying to do instead is illegal), and is totally illogical, I will not take it.  It’s blackmail, illogical, and illegal.  And no, in offering me this deal you have not gone ‘above and beyond the call of duty’.  You are simply blackmailing.  Which is to be expected, because you’ve proven yourself to be a dishonest person.  But it’s still blackmail and still illegal.  And I don’t play these games.

If you can’t afford something, say so.  Don’t leave me in suspense and driving myself crazy for two and a half months while I try to make it work, until I find out that you can’t afford it . . . and then say that it’s not that you couldn’t afford it, it’s that *my* schedule was inflexible and you weren’t willing to go into debt for someone as inflexible and ungrateful as me.  Please, just be straight.  You can’t afford to borrow that much money.  Neither can I.  And that’s that.  Even if all the other relevant wrinkles were ironed out – and not all were, we just haven’t told you about the rest, because it’s private – the issue of financing it remains, and will remain, and therefore our schedule is irrelevant.  But thanks for blaming us.  Also, don’t do things ‘to make it easier for us’ when it’s really, ‘to accomplish what you wanted, even if it is nearly impossible for us’.  And especially, don’t blame us for your failed manipulation.  I don’t play these games.  It was always, is always, and will always be, my fault.  I know that.  There’s nothing I can do except do the best I can.

If you have something to ask, ask it yourself.  If someone else asks it in your name, but I never hear a word about the topic from you, it doesn’t count.

I don’t mention details that aren’t relevant to the conversation.  And I don’t mention details that the other side will not listen to, and will twist and use against me in the future. 

Luckily, the person who I am more annoyed at, and who broke the law, does not read English well, nor does he know I have a blog.  Even if he were to find out, though, I don’t think it could hurt me at this point.  And the other person – what can you do – maybe they’ll read it, maybe not, maybe they’ll be told, maybe not.

When I was in high school, I was at an extracurricular activity when suddenly a friend who was a year or two younger than me asked if I have a blog.  I said yes, and she named my blog and asked if that was it.  I don’t remember how she’d known.  But apparently, it got around.  On the other hand, I was much more personal on that blog than I am on this.  What can you say – people grow up, and the internet becomes more and more of a safe-looking, unsafe, place. 

Which is probably why I haven’t posted anything about this topic until now.

Woo-woo

It’s the middle of the night.  Shlomo woke up, came to join us, and got back into bed.  I’m nearly asleep again.  Suddenly I hear a familiar, unmistakable sound – wooo-wooo, starting off low, getting higher, then dropping back to the low.  Oh, great.  In the middle of the night.  Do I have to get up?  What happens if I just ignore it?  And what do we do now?

No, the risks are too great.  Yes, I have to get up.  Yitzchak will get Shlomo, find his shoes, and head to the door.  I will find where my hat fell (to cover my hair), find my slippers, and go.  This whole conversation in my head lasts about five seconds.

I bolt upright, planning to find my slippers and hat.

“Chana, what happened?” Yitzchak turns over, startled.

And I realize -

there’s no siren.

It was just a dream.

I was half asleep.  Only half asleep.  And it sounded so clearly that I had no doubt that it was real.

“Nothing, I thought there was an azaka (air-raid siren).”  I lay back down; my heart is still beating fast.  In my stomach, I feel the effects of the adrenalin rush.  It’s a good thing.  I take a deep breath, remind myself that it was just a dream, and try to relax.

I guess this is how Shlomo feels when he dreams of woo-woos.

 Just so that you can hear what I heard (or what I thought I heard).  Ours are slightly louder – or maybe not, it could just be less traffic.  Notice that the cars are stopping.  When there is an azaka, people who are driving are instructed to stop their vehicles, get out, and lay prone on the ground, to minimize the chance of injury.  Because not everyone follows these instructions (and just in general), it is safer to go to the side of the road, which is why everyone is going over to the shoulder. 

Hamas’ Tunnel Plans

If you were wondering what Hamas was planning to do with the tunnels it was digging between Gaza and Israel, here’s the answer.  They were planning a massive massacre, to be carried out on the holiday of Rosh Hashana (in about two months).  Remember what happened to the Fogels?  Multiply that by a thousand.

Egypt, by the way, has been a good friend.  They’ve destroyed a number of tunnels (though their tunnels are different than ours; theirs are smuggling tunnels and the ones we’re destroying are meant for kidnapping, running, and hiding)  between Gaza and Sinai, and have killed quite a few terrorists.  Obviously, they have personal interest in doing this – it’s not just for us.  But it sure helps.

Of Shelters and Illegal Settlements

Another post that I wrote on Sunday (July 20).

I feel bad for the Bedouins that were hurt yesterday (Shabbat, July 19).  Really, I do.  They didn’t deserve it and for the first time, my heart hurts for a Muslim.  But when I hear complaints, I get annoyed.

First of all, if you are building illegally – and these people are not in a legal settlement, nor do they want to be* – then you have no right to complain that the country is not helping you out.  The government would help, and has offered to help, you relocate to a legal location.  The offer was angrily rejected.

Second of all, not every place has a shelter.  There are neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and here, and everywhere, that do not have shelters.  Sometimes there is a communal shelter, sometimes there is a single neighborhood shelter that is not easily accessible to everyone.  And sometimes there is nothing, and you do the best you can, according to the instructions of the Home Front Command.

Yitzchak and I happen to be safety freaks.  One of our criteria for choosing an apartment, with the exception of the first one we lived in, before we had Shlomo, was that it have easy access to a shelter.  We would prefer a safe room in the house, but that is not a reality yet.  However, we do have a shelter, shared by our neighbors, that opens with a key that we have a copy of, within the amount of time allotted.

Another of our criteria was no less than a minute of time to run, preferable a minute and a half.  These are our criteria, and we are nuts and admit it, and if these were also the criteria of the Bedouin family that was hurt, they would not have been hurt – because they would have chosen to live in a different place.  Yes, we are crazy.  (Example: I plan furniture arrangements and picture hanging around what would happen if there was an earthquake.)  But we are also blessing our craziness every single day.  So while I do feel for them, and hurt for them, and do not believe they deserved to be hurt – I also do not think that the anger at the government is justified.  There are people who are spending most of their day in sewage pipes that serve as movable shelters.  They are constantly barraged with rockets, and yet the government can only offer sewage pipes.  And we’re not talking about ten minutes once a day.  We’re talking about ten minutes twenty times a day.  And these people are in legal settlements, and they are Jews.  In addition, I have friends who live in areas with only fifteen seconds and without a proper bomb shelter, or even a sewage pipe, nearby – they just go to the innermost room in their home.  In Be’er Sheva, there are 50,000 people without access to a bomb shelter.  So don’t tell me about illegal Bedouin settlements and how the government doesn’t care about them, specifically.  The government isn’t helping a lot of people.  JNF, though, is thankfully picking up some of the slack – not just for Bedouins, but for legal, Jewish cities as well.

The only good thing about the rocket having hit Bedouins is that maybe Hamas will think twice after they found out that they hit their own brothers.  Maybe.  But knowing Hamas – who has no issue using children as human shields – maybe not.  It’s still a possibility, though.

 

 

*I get mad about destroying Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria because the vast majority of homes that get destroyed were legally built, with all the proper paperwork, and then someone decided to make trouble.  This is different – these homes were never legal in the first place.