Thursday, August 31, 2006

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Getting back to "normal"

I walked into the Livnot campus on Thursday morning to find 8 huge bags of clothes and toys. American donors had bagged up tons of stuff and just blindly sent it, knowing that somehow, it would get to the right people, and sure enough, it will. If you think about it, it's pretty amazing. Some people went out and spent several hundred (probably thousand) dollars to send bags of nice toys and childrens' clothes to some kids in the North that they had never met. They sent the bags with other people whom they didn't know -- they made contact with them through internet and just knew that they were travelling to Israel. Once those messengers got to Israel, they sent it on to the LIvnot campus, trusting totally that the unknown people at the Livnot campus would get it to the right place. Then, the Jerusalem Livnot people put it on a bus that was coming to Tzfat, it arrived at the Tzfat campus, and within a few days, we will insure that it's distributed to kids who need the lift that new clothes and toys will give them.

There have been some suprising developments in many people's lives since the war, most noticably the number of people who are leaving Tzfat. There are several families who were planning to leave anyway for various reasons -- jobs, schooling, etc. But I also know people who spent the time while in the south looking around to see what other opportunities there are there, and now they're leaving. It's not a flood, but it's still significant, and many of these people are my friends, so it'll be hard to see them leave.

Nice Shabbat. Great food. I cooked it. I ate too much of it though. Ah well.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


OK, we're all going to be sorry that I ever learned how to make a website! (Never mind that it's a site that allows you to create your webpage by walking you through it while holding your hand).

Ta DA!!

Check it out!

I also saw Elisheva today, the graphic artist who designed the Tzfatshirt, and she was really pleased, and is going to start on some more designs.

So there's no choice...we have to make this thing go.

Elisheva is one of the people who has left Tzfat as a result of the "situation". She's incredibly talented, but there was just never any work in Tzfat for her, and she was getting frustrated, so she used the opportunity to try and see what is available for her in Jerusalem. It's not easy there either -- on the one hand, there are a lot more opportunities there. On the other hand, this summer there have been SEVEN planeloads of American olim (immigrants) who have come to Israel, and you can assume that most of them are looking for jobs too. So she's struggling, and I hope that this will work out for her.

Woke up last night about 3:00a.m. with Margalit, who has taken to sleeping in my bed. Margalit, Jenny, and I (Jenny is the 4-legged one with fur -- small, as dogs go, but she still wiggles a lot) in one not-so-huge bed doesn't give me much of a good night's sleep, but it's nice chatting with Margalit a bit before she goes to sleep...makes me feel like I'm giving her some attention. Oh well, the time will come when she doesn't want to be seen with me, so I might as well give her the attention now.

At any rate, she woke up with a roaring headache, and until the Optigin took affect, she was miserable and I was beside myself -- tired and worried. At any rate, it lessened, and she returned to sleep, but by the time I did, it was quite a bit later. I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night, just feeling sorry for someone who I know who looks like he's sinking, but can't seem to understand how to start floating again. I shouldn't let it bother me so much, but it does.

We set aside this afternoon to get some school supplies, so I'd better go.

If Avishai ever brings back my camera from the army, I might be able to post some more pictures.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Finding Ourselves

First Tzfatshirt design: caption is from R' Nachman of Breslav saying "Kol HaOlam Kulo, Gesher Tzar Meod" -- "All the World is a Narrow Bridge, Cross it with Courage". Orders at me!

Last night I suddenly remembered that Hagai had mentioned to me last week that he couldn't find his tefillin, but he had another pair, and that I'd never followed up on it. Considering that a pair of good tefillin costs 2500 shekels (about $600) you would think that I would have jumped, but at the time, I just assumed that Avishai had accidently taken them with him when he returned to the army (Hagai said that he thought that they'd been in his bag) or he'd swapped them by mistake with a friends' tefillin when he camped out with his friends. All of a sudden, I realized that I hadn't yet heard the end of this story.

Turns out that the pair that he thought that he did have were just an empty box , Avishai doesn't have Hagai's tefillin, and in the meantime, Hagai just hasn't been putting on tefillin.

I called the family that we stayed with in Bat Ayin, and sure enough, they're there. Thank goodness. But Hagai and I didn't go to bed last night very happy with each other.

Next group of items to take care of: my breast biopsy, yearly dental visits, school supplies, trying to promote my tshirt business and get it going a bit, and, the biggie....getting my windows replaced. Frankly, I'd be happy to get some glass in them and forget the American glass-Low E-double-panes-hotsy totsy stuff, but everyone is pushing me to get estimates for the BEST (OK, they're they best windows), and pressure the compensation authorities to order me the correct glass, if not new windows. I have NO IDEA of what I'm doing! I don't even know enough about the damned things to tell the estimator what I'm demanding. AND I JUST DON'T CARE! Ah well, it's on the list.....

Thank God I have enough money to finish the month. I'm honestly not sure how, because there were no room rentals during the past 5 weeks (though the room will be rented for Shabbat!) and I had a ton of unexpected expenses. But I see that when all the bills are paid, I'm doing OK. Don't understand it, but I do believe that there is something to the saying that everyone will have exactly as much money as God wants them to have (though obviously we all have to make our own efforts) . I'm going to try to start tutoring english again, because that's good money, and try to develop the rental room, as well as the t-shirt business. The things that I had been planning to save up for during the summer with the rentals, such as Yochi's winter trip to the States (as part of the Partnership 2000 Mission) and some other things have, obviously, not been saved up for, so it's time to get in gear and start saving.

We'll see. In the meantime, here's the design for the wonderful Tzfatshirt, model #1 -- orders are welcome!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Mt Meron burning after a Katyusha attack
First day back at work. I walked in to the office and right away realized that I wouldn't be able to do anything until I cleaned up the dust a bit. What can I's hard for me to live with true dirt. A bit of dust, OK. But I like things clean.

Anyway, after cleaning and getting my computer back working (with a bit of of these days I'll be an expert) I spent a few hours running around with one of the LIvnot staff and a guy from Baltimore who brought a group of 20 guys to volunteer from Baltimore. What an amazing group! They got right into the work, and were amazing.

The first place that we visited was a local girls' college which had gotten hit. It sits smack in between two ancient synagogues, Abuhav and Alsheich, but the synagogues were basically untouched. It was shocking to see how much damage the katyusha did to the ancient house. What was even more thought-provoking was that 4000 katyushas had been lobbed into Israel over the last month, and relatively few people were hurt or died. This is not to diminish from those who did suffer, and there were many. But it could have been much worse.

Then we visited the Ethiopian Absorption Center, where a katyusha had plowed into an apartment last week. It hit the center of the building, but again, a rammed into an apartment which was empty, and was generally used as an office. The volunteers were sweating with work, taking out the rubble, and the new immigrant Ethiopian residents went in periodically to marvel at how close the destruction had come to them.

One of the most distressing things to see here is the forests around Tzfat. So much of the area is burned, parched, will be years until the ecological damage is repaired.

Hoping for the cease fire to hold, but I'm not totally optimistic. This morning, I woke up at about 6:00a.m. and heard a vague thumping sound. I immediately thought that the war had started up again, until I looked down and saw that it was just Jenny, our Jack Russell Terrier, snoring. Phew. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 14, 2006

There's no place like home. Really.

We did it. Got in the car and headed back to Tzfat this morning, cease fire or was just time. The journey, once I got out of Jerusalem (had to fix a leaky tire and get someone to check the oil, which is buried under the driver's seat in a Nissan Largo) was quick and easy, and we were back by 2:00p.m. It was great to see Ariella again, and Everyone is in a great mood. Of course the video is on now, but now that the clothes are put away and some initial food shopping has been completed, I'm starting to relax.

It is so great to be home. Lots to do here -- I'm making a list, there's so much. But I'm hoping that life can get back to normal now, and I can begin to catch up on cleaning the house, talking to friends, work, bills, health issues....this past month, in many ways, was kind of like living in Neverland, and I hope to look forward to getting back to Realland.

Of course, I have my doubts about this cease-fire.....

Sunday, August 13, 2006


OK, that's it. We've decided...we're going back to Tzfat tomorrow.

Ariella washed the floors, so I don't have to dread coming back to a disgusting house. We'll stop in Modi'in and see Lola on the way...that should make Hagai and Yochi happy.

I'll try to find camps for Margalit, my main problem.

It's time to go.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pride before know

I had always prided myself on the fact that I didn't smother my children with worry. Not alot of "nos", though if you ask Avishai, he'll tell you that he had 100% more "nos" than the younger kids. OK, probably true.

So when Avishai got out of basic training and started going on missions, I tried to keep everything calm, not worry, and remember that if we do everything that we can, and he does everything that he can, "y'hi b'seder" -- it will be OK.

So why couldn't I sleep until 3:00a.m. last night?

Yochi and Hagai came back today. It's so good to see them. They had a wonderful time visiting the grandparents, and had lots of stories and experiences to relate. margalit has already started to get on their nerves, and vice versa. Yoni stayed in Germany -- he has a friend there. I thought that Margalit was going to melt down in the airport, she had been looking forward to seeing him for so many weeks. these last few weeks have been harder on her than anyone.

Yochi is interested in going up to Tzfat to volunteer, and Hagai is interested too. So now I'm back to my original question. At what point can I meet my personal desires to go back while not disturbing Margalit's routine (she has the day camp that she likes) and peace of mind? I feel as though there's so much that I could do there...workwise, volunteer-wise, and family-wise. Don't know what the answer is.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I had a dream a few nights ago. I was dreaming that I was living during the holocaust, frantically digging a hole in the ground in preparation to go into hiding with my children. I was packing, trying to think about everything that we'd need for an extended period of hiding, trying to calm my children, and just trying to stay calm. Suddenly, someone I know lay down next to me, on his stomach, with his head in his hands, and just stayed that way, watching me. Then, he got up, said "I have to go now" and walked out. That scene keeps playing itself out in my mind.

It also reminds me that, evacuated or not, I have things relatively easy. I can manage with my funds, get around, work, and I have a home (friends' home,but it's still a home) to move around in. I don't have small children to entertain (though Margalit is a challenge....if she were cloned I'd be in big trouble), and am not squeezed in with too many other people.

How could the people who hid in barns, under houses, in could they survive, emotionally and mentally, a mere 65 years ago? For years, in some cases? With little food, no air, no entertainment....I don't know how they did it.

Avishai called last night. They were on their way up to Kibbutz Snir, and were going to be crossing into Lebanon last night. I will never again read the news about soldiers being hurt or killed in the same way. For some reason, I didn't feel so panic-stricken when he was in Gaza, or even jenin, even thought the terrorists there didn't want to kill the soldiers any less than they do in Lebanon. But this is war, and things are different. I told him that I wasn't worried, and that everything would be fine, and I'd look forward to seeing him soon. I've read that soldier's biggest worry is the concern about their family's worry, and I didn't want Avishai feeling that pressure. But it's intense, thinking about him all day.

Yochi and Hagai are scheduled to come home tomorrow. I need to find a way to bring them to Jerusalem by train, because there's going to be a Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem tomorrow, (or a demonstration because the parade wasn't allowed to go forth...I'm not clear on which) and I'm betting that traffic will be backed up.

It'll be great to see them after their America adventure.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Reving up

New week. Shabbat was nice. I heard that friends came to get Ariella out of the house for Shabbat lunch...God bless our friends! They talked about getting her involved in some kind of volunteer work, which would be amazing for her. I suggested that if someone could come and pick her up, she'd be more likely to get out, because I think that she's simply scared to move, and they said that they'd try. I'm blessed to know such amazing people.

I took a walk today to a kibbutz which is next to the yishuv where I'm staying, and heard that the family that was katyusha'd next to our house (the whole family was injured....Margalit had been talking to one of the little girls when the katyusha hit) is staying at that kibbutz, so I promised Margalit that we'd go to visit. That should be nice for her.

Avishai is scheduled to go to the second funeral of the soldier from his unit tomorrow in Ramle, and I hope that we can meet before he heads back. Maybe he can come through Jerusalem, if not, I'll meet him in Ramle, which is nearer to Tel Aviv, but who cares?

Dyed my hair and cut my bangs...I feel human again!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Defending your children

Time was, once upon a time, that being a good mother entailed making sure that my children had all the attention that I could give them, all the love that I could give them, plus some discipline, worry that they were dressed correctly, had good school and friend situations, good educational opportunities outside of school, and...again....lots of love.

And then, they grow up.

Ariella is in Tzfat now. Not because she's volunteering or assisting in any way. But because she doesn't have anywhere else to take her dog. The dog is huge, a bit wild, loud, and no one (me included) wants it around. So she's living on her own in our house, with no fully sheltered room. Doesn't leave, hangs out on her do I manage to help her learn to make good, healthy decisions for herself? Whatever I say, it's "oh, ema, enough!" But there she is, sitting in katyusha-country, doing nothing.

Then, there's Avishai. Twenty years old and today he's burying two friends...guys who have been in his unit in the army for the past two years. Avishai was in punnishment for a week and "missed" his unit's first incursion into Lebanon -- an action which resulted in the deaths of two wonderful soldiers, friends, mates, and the wounding of his officer. I spoke to him today as he was with his officer in Rambam hospital. His plans for the day included staying with his officer until one of the funerals which was to be held in Haifa, and then going to Katzrin, in the Golan, where the rest of his unit is stationed to continue on with them whatever they will be doing.

And there was nothing to say to him. "I'm sorry". Two young men who had their lives ahead of them, and who are now being buried because they chose, as my son has, to fight to protect their country and families. My heart aches for their families, for my son, for all his friends -- twenty years old. Nothing.

Took Margalit and the kids whose families I am staying at to the zoo today.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tisha B'Av

There's nothing like Tisha B'Av to put a little perspective on our situation.

The day that commemorates not only the destruction of the First and Second Temples, but also the starvation and massacares of the populations of Jerusalem in those times, numerous mass-killings and expulsions of Jews throughout the centuries,and untold sufferings of the Jewish people for thousands of years...well, it does put our present "matzav' into some sort of perspective.

I recently received a letter from a cousin who wrote that he can't imagine living with a billion-and-a-half people who want to kill me living next door. What I realized afterward was that I should have pointed out that, while they don't live next door to him, they want to kill HIM too. And his wife. And his kids. The people who want me dead don't want me dead because I'm Israeli, they want me dead because I'm Jewish. And that hasn't changed for thousands of years.

Heard from Avishai yesterday. He was let out of his week of detention (he shot off a bullet by mistake, so has been in punnishment, guarding in a prison for the last week) and will come by Jerusalem to see me today. I had hoped that he'd have Shabbat with us here, but his unit is scheduled to enter Lebanon on Friday, and he wants to be with them, so he'll sleep tonight in Tzfat and then head up north from there.

Worried? Don't ask. But this was our ideology when we came to israel, and still is mine...that we have to do whatever we can to prevent our enemies from destroying us. I can't expect everyone else to send their sons to war while mine sits quietly....I can't expect other mothers to live with worry while I am complacent. If the slogan 'WE ARE ONE" has any teeth behind it, we can't just say it...we have to live it.

Avishai has obviously imbued that belief...he has given up his free Shabbat in order to be with his unit and participate in whatever awaits him. And worried as I am, I truely believe that it's all in God's hands. If he does his job, and we do ours (to act properly, pray, do mitzvot), if God wants him to come out of this, he will.

Hope that I have enough reading material to get me through the day.

Gnaw, gnaw

Just saw a report on the news that a katyusha scored a direct hit on a Tzfat house this morning. Which house? Occupied? In my neighborhood? Someone I know? Near my daughter, who is in Tzfat with her dog? (because no one will host her dog, cat-killer that it is). I'm plotzing.

I've set up another blog, viewfromtzfat which is dedicated to compiling the experiences of Tzfat residents and volunteers who are in Tzfat during this period. It's through my work with Livnot, because Livnot is one of the organizations that is organizing relief efforts in Tzfat now.

The need for volunteers is acute, and once again, I feel guilty that I'm not there. I have a car, and cars are needed. I can get around, have contacts, know my way around, and am in good health (I think...never did have that biopsy, since it was scheduled for the Sunday after I evacuated) so I could really be of assistance. I just don't have anything to do with margalit.....

In the meantime, there's a wonderful kaytana (camp) running daily in the Jerusalem area for Northern kids. Don't know yet who sponsors it, but Margalit had a wonderful time yesterday, and was looking forward to going back today. Interestingly enough, the staff is all english-speaking (Americans) and the kids also seem to all be english-speaking. Don't know exactly how that happened, but it should help Margalit with her english! Also, she'll definitely return to Tzfat with more of a knowledge of baseball and American football than most other kids in Tzfat!

Tomorrow is Tisha B'av. I'm thinking about going to Kever Rachel, Tomb of Rachel...I've never been, and as long as I'm here, I might as well make use of my "vacation".