Tag Archive | Judaism

Out Of Ideas

writers block, writing, blogging, writing inspiration, blog inspiration, writer, paper, frustrated The real reason why I haven’t written in the past few days – and why I have been writing less over the past few weeks – is that I have writers’ block.  Plain and simple.  I apologize.  Truly, I do.

So I am trying to think of ideas, but each idea is boring.  Or I’ve spoken about it too much.  Or it sounds too negative.  Or something.

I am my own biggest critic.

I think.

*     *     *     *     *

Yesterday was [Shushan] Purim, for all of us in Jerusalem and a few other cities.  On Purim, people send gifts of food to friends.  In our opinion, this gets overdone a lot.  And, who needs a lot of candy that has to be finished within the month prior to Pesach?  No one, that’s who.  So, we don’t do candy.mishloach manot, mishloach manos, purim, shushan purim, purim baskets, purim basket, purim gift, purim gifts,

On the other hand, sending the same thing two years in a row is boring.  So I took someone else’s idea from last year, and we made a made a salad (lettuce, cucumbers, peppers) and salad dressing (creamy French).  We bought pita, put them in sandwich bags in pairs, and put each pair into a bowl (not disposable).  We wrapped them in cellphane, attached a note, and we were done.  Oh, and the salad dressing we put into disposable aluminum muffin pans (that’s what the store had) and sealed it with tin foil.

It was actually much prettier than I thought it would be, and I had wanted to take a picture.  But, guess what?  I forgot.  We didn’t have time, and then I thought we’d do it on the way to my cousins’.  And then I forgot.  Oops.  I apologize.  But they were beautiful.  Really.

The rest of Purim was nothing special.  Purim is not my favorite holiday.  A lot to do in one day, a lot of pressure, and it’s usually still during winter time, so the day is short.  And that is leaving out my least favorite part of the day, which I will not mention so as not to ‘hang our dirty laundry for all to see.’  Because my least favorite part of Purim is truly dirty laundry.  If you know what it is, shhh!

Liebster Blog Award

liebster blog award, liebster award, liebster blog, blog awardsA few days ago, I got an email from Rivki of Life in the Married Lane, nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award.  The Liebster Blog Award is given to new bloggers with less than 200 followers.  The rules are:

1. Tell 11 things about yourself.

2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.

3. Nominate 11 bloggers, and post 11 questions for them to answer.

4. Contact those bloggers whom you nominated, to inform them of their nomination.

Here goes . . .

A. Answers to Rivki’s Questions:

1) Either poopy diapers (because they stink too much) or dishes /kitchen cleaning (because I used to have eczema, still have sensitive skin, and am a bit lazy about it).

2) Probably the mitzva (commandment) of living in, and protecting, the land of Israel.  Or, the mitzva to handle other peoples’ money the same way you handle your own; not stealing or cheating (including the government and other taxpayers).

3) I would pick my name, because I happen to love it!  As a matter of fact, I would love to give my name to a daughter – except that in Jewish tradition children are not usually named after their parents.

4) I’m not sure I have one.  If I had to choose, it would have to be either finishing my degree, nursing for 14 months (with no formula whatsoever; in Israel, this is extremely rare), or managing to keep my sanity (and a decent salary) while also keeping Shlomo out of daycare.

5) I think my favorite holiday is Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) because you get dressed, go to shul (synagogue), and spend the whole day praying.  No brushing teeth, no showering, no eating, nothing else you need to be doing.  After Yom Kippur, I’d have to say Chanuka, because it’s an 8-day holiday, with vacation, but with hardly any major obligations.  Then Pesach (Passover), because for some reason, I think of it as an absolutely beautiful holiday.

6) I think Israel is beautiful, especially the greener parts, rivers, mountains, and deserts.  (Um, doesn’t that include all of Israel?)  But, honestly, I don’t think that I can rate one area of Israel above any others; each is breathtakingly beautiful in its own way.

7) I don’t usually listen to music, and when someone puts music on to brighten the mood, I get annoyed.  I like quiet the best.

8) Either a specific types of chocolate, cookies, and cake, or almost any type of cheese.

9) Yes, I did have a list before marriage.  It was a five-and-five list: Five things that my future husband must have; five things that I would like, but are not necessary; and five things that I will not live with.  I have the list somewhere in my [and my husband’s] memory, but it is not for this post.  However, I did get pretty much everything on my list, excluding some of the “not-necessary wants”.  I do not think I would have married someone who did not fit my list – nor do I think he would have married me.

10) I think I would play the violin.  I have always had a fascination with it.

11) I would go to New York, visit some friends for a day or so, and visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s gravesite.  Then I would go to Toronto for two or three weeks, to visit family and friends that I haven’t seen in too long.  And then I would go to Kentucky, so that I could spend time with my in-laws, indefinitely.  And then back home.

B. 11 things about myself:

1) I moved to Israel when I was 19, without my family.

2) I regularly buy my clothes second-hand.  For a few years, I would buy clothes new, once or twice a year, when absolutely necessary.  Since my marriage, I have completely stopped that.  Why bother spending the time to buy expensive clothes when I’ll either gain or lose weight in the next few months?  Plus, older styles are much more to my taste than newer ones.  Yitzchak feels bad about this (all his clothes he buys new), but I don’t mind it.  I also hate clothes shopping, which is another reason why I prefer to buy second-hand instead of going from store to store trying to find something I will wear and is within my budget.

3) I can count the number of times I wore proper makeup on one hand.  Only one of those times (our wedding) was after I met my husband.  Usually, I just cover my pimples so that they’re not too awful, and forget the rest.  I also ran out of pimple cover-up three and a half weeks ago, and have yet to go out to buy more.

4) Since we got married, we have not had an oven (gasp).  This is because during our first year, we did not have space for an oven/stove unit (we have a three-burner stove on our counter, always have), and now it is because we are lazy and keep pushing it off.  Yes, we cook on the stove.  We have figured out how to cook chicken, pizza, lasagna, and lots of other things using a stove.  Amazing, right?

5) In three years, we have moved twice.  Our first and third (current) apartments had/has two rooms each; the second apartment had five rooms, was temporary, and was way too big.

6) Everything in our house has a place where it belongs.  If I’m not sure that it will have a definite place, then I don’t bring it in the house.  This also helps to cut unnecessary spending, since we have a small house that can only fit so much.  Exceptions are free books, which displace other books. However, the displaced books now have a home: a laundry basket under the table.  One of these days, we will get another bookshelf (or two, replacing one of the ones that we currently have).  It’s on the list, after the toaster oven.  Because, of course, if the bookshelf was before the toaster oven, I have a feeling that we would have the bookshelf next month and the toaster oven (to vary our menus a bit) in at least another year.

7) I don’t mind going against the crowd, even if it means I’m not popular.

8) Before we got married, somebody asked us how many kids we wanted.  We said 20.  (FTR, I don’t think that will happen, considering that nursing works as birth control.)

9) I never, ever, ever thought that I would be happy as a stay-at-home, or work-at-home, mother.  Now, I want Yitzchak to find a job that will allow us to lead simple lives on one salary, so that if I choose to work from home, whatever I earn will be extra.

10) I am the oldest of five children (three girls, two boys), and my husband is the second youngest of five boys.

11) A month before we got married, I cut my own hair during my lunch break (it took ten minutes), to make a beard for my Purim costume.

C. 11 Questions for My Nominees:

1) What do you consider to be the three most important things in your life?

2) What made you decide to start blogging?

3) Books or television?  Why?

4) If someone accused your child of bullying theirs, how would you react?  Why?

5) What subjects do you enjoy reading about?

6) What do you consider to be the most important factor in a marriage?

7) There are many, many older (30+) singles today, as well as a high rate of divorce.  What do you think is the cause?

8) Why did you choose your city of residence?

9) How do you and your spouse handle finances?

10) What is your favorite household chore?  Why?

11) The classic: If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

D. Nominees:

1) BeEnough

2) Balance and Grace

3) Rach

4) Sporadic Intelligence

5) Jessica

6) Sarale

7) Curiodyssey

8) Carrie

9) Memyselfandkids

Hm, I only have nine nominees who fit the bill.  Anyone have suggestions?

Snow Day! (Jerusalem, Part VII)

So, I wasn’t planning on taking a new batch of pictures so soon, but I ended up doing so, anyways.  And for good reason: Yesterday, we got 10 – 15 centimeters of snow in the center of the city; in outlying areas, suburbs, and higher places, there was even more.

“Ten centimeters!  Wow!” I can hear you say.  “That’s really newsworthy [not]!”

Well, actually, it is.  Last year, we had snow here in Jerusalem for all of three hours.  And it didn’t even stick that well.  I don’t remember if we had snow the previous year, but if we did, it was maybe a centimeter.

In addition, you have to take into account that Israel has had several years in a row now, that we haven’t had enough rainfall.  This year, thank G-d, we have been blessed:  The Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) has risen a lot, and is continuing to rise.  So, between the rain and the “deep” snow, we are doing pretty well.

The flip side?  Jerusalem isn’t really prepared for snowstorms.  It made the news when the mayor bought lots of salt, to melt the snow that would fall.  Everyone was waiting anxiously to see the snow, and when it looked, yesterday, like the weathermen had been lying, and there was only going to be rain, and bits of snow that didn’t stick, most residents were really disappointed.  See, snow means no school.  And for many, no work.  Snow means a vacation day.  (Last year, they let school out in the morning, because it was snowing – and by the time the last parents had come to pick up their kids, the snow had stopped, and was starting to melt.)

Shlomo woke us up yesterday at 5:40am.  He snuggled with me for about forty minutes.  Then we got up and started our day.  Yitzchak left to go to the mikva and to daven.  It turns out that the buses weren’t running, and neither was the light rail train, until about noon.

In addition, the little neighborhood grocery store (which is part of a chain) was closed.  I guess it’s a good thing that Yitzchak ran up last night to buy diapers and cornflakes for our neighboor (with her money, of course), instead of letting her wait until morning.  She would have gone up this morning, with her baby, and found the store closed.  (Her husband is in the army, comes home only on weekends, and they have a seven-month-old baby.)

Shlomo and I bundled up and ran out to the snow.  I was afraid that it would melt, and I wanted Shlomo to see it, and know what it was (and not be afraid of snow).  (Last year, he napped through the entire snowstorm.  Bummer.)  We kept changing places, just to play in different areas, and mess up different snow.

On the radio, they told us not to drive private cars, to stay at home, and to stay off the streets.  Roads were blocked, some for half the day; trees were blown down by the wind, sometimes causing power outages.  The electric company sent people to fix it, but the roads were all blocked, so the electricians were stuck.

And all this for 10-15 centimeters of snow in the center of the city, and maybe ten centimeters more on the outskirts.  Wow.

I have to say, before I came to Israel, we got almost two feet of snow, and there was still school.  An army of snowplows would come out, and the streets would be completely clear within two hours.

On the other hand, that’s what happens with terror attacks here: Everyone goes into action, and life returns to normal within the time span of a few hours.  Unfortunately, it has happened too often; Israel is prepared.

But, we are not prepared for snow.  I wonder sometimes, what would happen if the situation were switched?  How would America – or any country in Europe – react if they had terror attacks as often as they have snowstorms?  It would definitely be nice to switch places, and have more snowstorms than terror attacks.

After this long preamble, here are some pictures that I took of the snow.

This is the view of the snow falling from our window.  Most Israeli window shades are like what you see here: Wide, heavy plastic blinds that are usually built into, and slightly outside of, the wall.  They are rolled up by pulling a heavy string at the side, which is more of a pulley than a string.  These blinds, called “trisim” here in Israel, also provide some protection to your house, and they are often used for porches as well as windows.  When they are let down fully, there is a layer of heavy plastic (in some cases, metal) that covers the entire window (or porch door).  This makes it extremely hard to get in (or out), and I would assume (but maybe stupidly) also blocks rocks and debris from explosions, at least to some degree.

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After watching the snow falling, we went [back] outside.  (We had been outside at 7:30am, and then went back in so I could feed Shlomo breakfast, and we could warm up a bit.)  Here you can see the side of our building, and the trees.

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We then walked to a grassy hill, where there was lots of untouched, clean, snow, and no chance of cars coming even close.  Here is the beautiful view of snowy Jerusalem that we had from the hill . . .

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. . . and of some of the trees on the hill itself.  Notice that everything is green underneath.

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And one more view of Jerusalem . . .

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Then I put the camera away, and worked on making snowballs.  The snowballs had one of two fates: Either I threw them at someone (usually Shlomo, because he liked it), or I gave them to him to throw.  Since Shlomo didn’t throw his snow too far, the snowballs that I gave him usually ended up being recycled into new ones.  Shlomo also made snowballs – kind of.  And I rolled him in the snow, and he scooted down the hill – so, we had fun.  Or, he had fun.  And I enjoyed watching him have fun.

A Mother in Israel

I found A Mother in Israel‘s blog a couple years ago, but didn’t think it too extraordinary.  Now, I found it again, and for the past couple days, whenever I had any free time (after I finished working, of course, and while Shlomo was sleeping or playing happily without me), I read it.  Unfortunately, I think I’ve been leaving too many comments, but that doesn’t take away from the site’s amazingness.

Read it.  Especially the posts on breastfeeding.

(You can also find the answer to why I don’t think Shlomo is losing out by not going to daycare.  It’s a question I get a lot, but am too dumbstruck by the question to properly answer.  On her site, “gan” is preschool, and “misgeret” is framework.)

From Davidka to the Shuk (Jerusalem, Part I)

Today, Shlomo and I went to Katamon, for a doctor visit for me.  Since we don’t have a car, Katamon is pretty annoying to get to.  We stick with this clinic, though, because they are into preventive medicine – something that hasn’t yet caught hold fully in Israel.  (We’re getting there, slowly.)

Since I we prefer to be able to go to the doctor just for a checkup, and Israelis don’t seem to have patience for that, we go to a clinic that works with American doctors.  It goes against our philosophy and lifestyle to do anything specifically “the American way”, but health is health.  Don’t get me wrong – Israelis, and Israeli doctors, are terrific.  But, not always do they have patience for routine checkups.  It’s more of a problem-solving way of looking at things, instead of problem-preventing.  Which is good for some people, but not so good for obsessive worrywarts like us.

Anyways, we (i.e., Shlomo and I) got out of the house late enough that I wasn’t sure we’d make it on time.  And, long story short, we didn’t.  But, they took me anyways, and I only had to wait fifteen minutes.  On the way back, I started taking pictures (which means that yes, these pictures are from my camera).

This is Kikar HaDavidka (Davidka Square), close to the city “center”.  In it, you can see a security guard drinking coffee, a sign for the police station, and two women – one Muslim, one Jewish, talking to each other.  They are at a “train stop”, waiting for the light rail train.  You can also see, in the windows of one store, red writing covered by black graffiti.  I have to say, I have never, ever been able to read the words.  On the rare occasions when the window is clean, I was always on a bus passing it too quickly.  (Yes, there used to be buses here, instead of trains.  That was back in the good old days.)  But, someone always makes sure to re-scribble it immediately.  Once, I saw a hand sticking out, cleaning the window.  It looked pretty funny.

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Further down at the same stop (there are two shelters per stop [the shelters are pretty but useless; why do those words go together so often?] ).

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And the train comes (going my way, not theirs).

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I took the train one stop, to the shuk (marketplace).  It was lazy, I know, but I had a bus transfer, and during that time of day, the stroller is free, so why walk any more than I have to?  (Understand:  I’m not anti-exercise.  BUT, I was walking with a stroller, and I had already walked for about twenty minutes pushing a stroller, up and down hills, on an empty stomach.  So, I will walk some more later.)

These people are getting onto the train that I just got off of.

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The other side of the train stop at the shuk.

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We live in a country of constant renovations (and construction).  This store, at a diagonal from the shuk, for years, was a cheap clothing and blanket/slippers/etc. store.  Last year, it closed.  It was renovated (and, I assume, sold), and turned into a steak and fish restaurant.  Now, it is again a cheap clothing etc. store – with the interior design of a fancy restaurant.  This is normal – if you don’t absolutely have to renovate, then you leave it as is.  Don’t you wonder what the story is, and who owns it now?

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The [redone] square opposite the shuk.  In the background, you can see the above shop.

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That’s all for now, folks.  I have more pictures, but I also have stuff to do.  I will keep posting . . .

The Last Day of Chanuka

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The above picture, as well as those below, were taken by me, last night. 

I kept meaning to take pictures the whole week, and finally I decided that I was going to make sure that on the eighth night, the last night, with the most lights, we were going to take pictures.  And we did.  So, here are some of them.

Today is the last day of Chanuka.  Last night, we had a full menora.  It makes me kind of sad, to think that Chanuka is gone.  Don’t get me wrong – Shlomo and I did not end up doing most of the fun stuff that I thought we would.  It was mostly his fault, because of his poorly timed naps, and early candle lighting.  Or maybe that was my fault.  And Yitzchak didn’t get vacation, so we couldn’t really do anything as a family unless it was around candle lighting time or afterwards.  And, obviously, after 5:00pm is not prime time for activities with a toddler.  It is prime time for getting supper on the table, really fast, and helping said toddler relax and go to bed.

But still.  I like the lights, seeing people more relaxed, and the jelly donuts (sufganiyot).  I like seeing Chanuka menoras all over the place, and how the buses say “Happy Chanuka” (in Hebrew, of course).  I like waking up in the morning to a quiet campus, because there are no classes during Chanuka break.  And I like seeing my adoptive parents slightly more relaxed, because they have vacation,  just like everyone else.

And I can still do what I had planned.  It may not be as exciting, but it can still be done.  I can take Shlomo to my cousin’s, and see her two youngest kids, even if the four older ones are back in school.  I can take him to the mall, just to walk around and climb on the riding toys that I’m not paying to activate.  He won’t care if there are Chanuka decorations or not, just like he won’t care if I activate the electronic car or not.  I care, because I think it’s cool to be living in a Jewish country.  But he won’t care, because he doesn’t know otherwise.

So, Chanuka has gone, but we have enjoyed it.  And now it’s back to the regular schedule, with a couple of tweaks in order to ensure that Yitzchak finishes the material in time for the Rabbinate’s test in a few months.

Here are a few other pictures.  They admittedly aren’t much, but they are pretty.

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Chanuka in Israel

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A Chanuka menora.

Today is the first day of Chanuka (Hanuka).  Last night we lit one candle; tonight we will light two (and tomorrow is the second day).  This is because, according to Jewish law, the day begins at night.  We learn this from the Chumash (Pentateuch), when it says, “. . . and it was evening, and it was morning, the first day . . .”  (Gen. 1:5)

This is actually nice, because it means that instead of eight days off, we get eight and a half – to every holiday, we add the day before to the count of vacation.  Sometimes, it is only a half day.  But a half day of vacation is better than none, right?  However, the vacation is necessary: Chanuka candles (or any holiday candles, and most of our holidays begin with them) need to be lit just after (or before, depending on the day of the week and/or the family’s custom) sunset.  Today, that will be around 4:45 pm.  Imagine if schools weren’t off!  Pick-up would be at 3:30pm, and by the time you arrived home, you would be rushing to light the menora.  Doesn’t sound like too much holiday fun, huh?

In Israel, preparation for Chanuka starts at the beginning of the previous month.  Chanuka starts on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.  The beginning of the previous month, is the beginning of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, just a week or so after the end of the holiday of Sukkot.  Suddenly, on all the lamp posts, you see Chanuka menoras.  Stores put up Chanuka decorations.  Some people do give presents every night, but many, if not most, do not give children presents every night, if at all.   Bakeries start making sufganiyot (pronounced soof-gan-ee-ot), the special donuts with no hole in the middle, powdered sugar sprinkled on top, and into which is squirted jelly.  Between the beginning of Cheshvan and the end of Chanuka, about six billion (with a “b”, not an “m”) sufganiyot are made and eaten.  It is the time of year, however, that people like to take their families to visit Eilat.

Eilat is a popular tourist/vacation city, with beaches, boats, and all that come with them.  It is also sunny, and for Israelis, that is very important.  Chanuka comes at the time of year when the rain has started, it is chilly, and the sun is not out so much.  While that may be good for the country, and good for your health in many ways, Israelis don’t like it.  They – we – like sun, heat, and warm weather.  So, when most of the country is already being doused in rain (hopefully), many people use Chanuka vacation to go to Eilat.  There they may enjoy a standard vacation – or they may stay in a hostel, just enjoying the warm weather and swimming on the beach, not spending too much money.

While most people outside Israel light their menora in their windowsill, Israelis often, if not always, light it outside the house.  There are special boxes that people can buy to hang their menora outside their gate.  (We don’t have one, because we have nowhere to store it).  Many buy the box simply for the protection from the wind that it affords, and place it on a table.  But, hardly anyone lights the candles in their home.  In a way, I miss that.  It gives a kind of holiday atmosphere to the house.  On the other hand, when you walk outside, there is more of a holiday atmosphere than there would otherwise be (and more danger), because the whole street is lit up.  The other downside?  If you are using one of the menora boxes, that severely limits the kinds of menoras you can choose to light.

And of course, in the street, in the malls, on the radio, and everywhere else, there are songs, dances, get-togethers, and everything else you would expect holiday spirit to create – including comparisons between the situation then and the situation now.

Before I forget:  I invite all readers who have a question or a topic that they would like me to discuss, to speak up.  I will do my best to satisfy your curiosity; just leave a comment.

Daylight Savings Time in Israel

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Until very recently, Israel adjusted DST (called, in Hebrew, “winter clock” and “summer clock”) according to the holidays: Before the Yom Kippur fast, we moved the clocks back, to make the fast an hour “shorter”, and help everyone out.  And before Pesach, we moved them forward, to allow families more daylight time during the intermediate days of the holiday.  [It was also nice having a smaller time difference between us and everyone else in the world.]

Now, starting from next October, the clocks will no longer be moved back before Yom Kippur.  This is intended to save money on electricity, and allow people to wake up after sunrise and get home before it is dark.  In that way, it is good.  It is very good.  But honestly?  It is also annoying.  Very annoying.  Fasting for 26 hours is hard.  This past Yom Kippur was the first semi-easy fast I have had in the two years since I became pregnant with my son.  I think it was easier because of a combination of factors: better preparation, less expectations of myself, less time fasting while awake, and an understanding toddler.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard, though.  It just means that it was manageable, with only slight dizziness, a [migraine] headache, and weakness.  But those symptoms, easy as they may be as a teenager, are incredibly hard to deal with when you have an energetic toddler on your hands. I am sure that in a country so filled with children, I am not the only mother dealing with this.  And as much as media blames this issue on religious Jews, the fact is that a surprisingly large number of the irreligious Jews in Israel also fast on Yom Kippur, even if that is the only religious thing they do.

So, I am against it.  And at the same time, I am for it, because the reasons to change to standard time are many and valid.  I am for it.  And I am against it.  And I know that really, my opinion doesn’t matter – and won’t matter – unless I feel like putting up a fuss and gathering people to my cause.  I don’t feel like it, either because I am either lazy, realistic, or both.

But I also feel like this change is an attempt – part of the attempt – to make Israel like the rest of the world.  Israel is not like the rest of the world.  Israel is Israel; Israel is Jewish; Israel is a state that does not separate matters of “church and state”.  We are that way because we are unique; because the ideology Israel was founded on is unique; because the people who live in it are uniquely conflicted and uniquely brothers.

And, the rest of the world doesn’t have it so good, either.  So why copy?