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Monday, October 30, 2006

Crash!



HUGE thunderstorm over Shabbat...it woke me up Saturday morning and I couldn't go back to sleep, the thunder was so loud. And there's been enough rain over these last few days to put the Kinneret back on the map. All of which is good news for a country that's always moaning about the water tables. But as I recall from my early days in the country, this is about the time that the cotton crop needs to be harvested, and if it gets wet, it's finished. As with everything else though, I guess that it's six of one and half dozen of another. And anyway, maybe the farmers got their cotton in.

Elisheva made two new designs for the shirts...the girl did it again. They're fabulous. I'm going to order some to have on hand for the birthright season and hope that those kids like shirts. Still looking for some good ways to market on internet...i guess it would help if I paid something. If only Madonna or Brittney would wear one...even for a day...

Just came back from a parent-teacher conference with margalit's teacher. I'll just say that I envy parents who get to hear "what a terrific student your child is. So studious. So polite and well-behaved". 'Nuff said. (I can't complain...i always hear that from Yochi's teachers. But I have FIVE kids!)

Here are the new graphics. Madonna, are you watching?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lazy

Haven't posted for awhile...and the last couple posts were somewhat of a cheat, since I just posted the article that featured us. I plead guilty, though I think that I can be forgiven if life is a bit hectic. Holidays, etc.

Now I have a bit of time, especially since my work computer seems to have caught a major virus, and I'm left to work on the general computer at work where I don't have my files, Outlook, etc.

The T-shirt sales have been moving along. I'm not ready to be interviewed by Forbes yet, but during Succot when there were tourists here, we sold a couple every day, which did more for my ego than my pocketbook, but also pushed me to develop more designs (we're working on it now) and I'll soon order more.

I did learn that, while one would expect that the medium size would be the most popular, it's not....many people are simply built big, bigger, or biggest. So I'll have a lot of mediums around for quite a while.

Avishai is set to come home for a week, which will be nice. I'm trying to think of projects for him while he's at home. Maybe he can do some harvesting of the olives on our neighbor's tree, and I can pickle a can or two. Truthfully, it was mainly Yoni who used to eat our home-made olives, but it's fun to make them, and will justify the rooda (an herb) that I keep growing in the garden as a pickling spice for olives.

Changed the lock to the door, fixed the hose of the washing machine....so for now, whatever was broken has been fixed. Keeping my fingers crossed that that will be all for awhile.

Other than that, nothing much else to report. Hagai returned to school with my promise that if he behaves completely while he's in school, whenever he feels as though he won't be able to stay in class all day, he should tell me in the morning, and that day he'll have a dentist sppointment, or be sick, or need to help me, or something. He likes that solution and I haven't had any more calls from his teacher in...oh, about 4 days.

Monday, October 09, 2006

FAME III

Every time I find another link from the article, I see another part of the series, with some quotes and pictures of the Rappeports. Here's the third one that I saw:

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061006/NATION/610060359

Mideast conflict: Picking up the pieces
Israelis left with tough questions
Was conflict justified? Was army prepared?
Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau
About this seriesHundreds of Metro Detroit residents lost homes, businesses and loved ones in the bloody 34-day conflict between Israel and Lebanon that ended in August. This week, reporters and photographers from The News have explored the impact of the conflict on the two countries and on Metro Detroiters here and abroad.
SAFED, Israel -- The bomb shelters were locked. The army's commanders couldn't decide where to send troops. And despite massive aerial bombing, a ground invasion and heavy casualties, the Israeli military failed to stop the rain of rockets coming from southern Lebanon.
For Israelis, the monthlong war against Hezbollah has brought a host of doubts about the nation's political and military leadership. This is a nation unaccustomed to ambiguous endings to its wars, and the answers to those doubts are likely to play an enormous role in guiding Israel's future course.
"There's a feeling that something is wrong," said Laurie Rappeport, who grew up in Oak Park before moving to Israel two decades ago. "We have to be prepared to look at it. We need to be ready to open some deep wounds.
"How could we be so wrong, so unprepared?"
Uri Bar-Joseph, a political scientist at Haifa University, puts the national consensus this way: "Israel was not ready for war."
That's about as harsh an accusation as can be made in a nation forged by war.
Over 34 days this July and August, Israel suffered a stunning Hezbollah raid and the kidnap of two soldiers, the impact of nearly 4,000 Hezbollah rockets, and 157 deaths, most of them military. With Israeli forces withdrawn from southern Lebanon and a U.N. peacekeeping force now in place, Israelis now must face difficult questions:
Did Ehud Olmert, a rare Israeli prime minister without a general's experience, blunder in responding to the cross-border raid by Hezbollah that sparked this summer's war?
Was the military -- perhaps Israel's most respected institution -- ready for war and competently led?
Should previous governments have acted more aggressively against Hezbollah as the militant Islamic group built its arsenal of rockets in south Lebanon?
Why were so many communities in the north so badly prepared to care for citizens when those rockets began falling?
Most support response to Hezbollah
One decision few Israelis question: attacking Hezbollah. Public opinion polls show Israelis overwhelmingly supported the choice to go on the offensive after Hezbollah's mid-July raid, in which several Israeli soldiers were killed and two kidnapped.
"There was very broad popular support for the war -- it's the first time since 1973 (the last full-scale Arab-Israeli war) when the government enjoyed such support," said Bar-Joseph, an expert on Israeli public opinion.
"I haven't heard anybody who questions whether we should have responded," said Rappeport. The question, she said, is whether the political and military authorities were prepared.
Rappeport works in Safed for Livnot U'Lehibanot, an organization that brings North American Jews to Israel for education and to help public-service projects. During the war, those volunteers were busy helping with tasks such as supplying bomb shelters -- a task many Israelis believe local and national officials failed to take on. There also was widespread criticism of government performance in evacuating the poor and elderly from northern towns under fire from Hezbollah.
Was military underprepared?
The military, too, has come under scrutiny. In Israeli society, the armed forces hold a place similar to that of the U.S. military during World War II -- an institution in which virtually all citizens play some role, even in support, and which is held in esteem reserved for national saviors.
But many now question, Bar-Joseph said, whether a military that has spent the last decade on police-style missions in the refugee camps of the Palestinian territories was prepared for the well-trained fighters of Hezbollah's militia.
"That's not good preparation, and we felt the results in this war," he said.
It's an especially poignant question for Rappeport, whose oldest son, Avishai, is an infantryman in the Israeli's Golani Brigade, one of the country's most decorated units.
Avishai Rappeport's unit was in Gaza -- searching for a fellow soldier abducted by the Palestinian militant group Hamas -- when rockets began falling in the north. Within days, the brigade was on the Lebanese border, and soon across it.
"When you go into Gaza, you have this feeling that nothing is going to happen," said the 20-year-old. "Lebanon is different. Lebanon is scary. You just want to go in with (a squad of) 20 people and get out with 20 people."
Military's weaknesses showed
Despite a punishing aerial bombing campaign and the occupation of much of southern Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces were unable to end Hezbollah's rocket attacks. While Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has proclaimed -- with some embellishment -- that Hezbollah defeated the vaunted Israeli military, Israelis were not encouraged.
"To have gone in and fought and not win in a strong way makes everything more dangerous," said Avraham Heller, a Petoskey native who lives now in Safed. The presence of a UN peacekeeping force now moving into southern Lebanon gives little comfort to Heller, who calls previous UN involvement "a disaster for us."
Despite the unease in the Israeli public, Bar-Joseph said he expects few changes, at least right away. Commissions set up to investigate parts of the war effort may not unearth much, and Olmert has shown few signs of changing his policies or management style -- leaving many Israelis wistfully remembering past leaders.
"Perhaps if we had a leader like David Ben Gurion," Israel's first prime minister, he said, "we would have done better."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

FAME II






Here's the full article

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061003/NATION/610030392

It's actually pretty nice, though a bit fluffy. I should be relieved though -- reporters can do pretty much anything they want with the material that they collect, and it wouldn't have taken a genius to make us immigrants to Tzfat look like a bunch of militaristic psychopaths. But we came off as fairly...dare I say it? Normal?

Don't know how long the article will stay up on-line, but I'm going to paste it here below and put up the photos that they showed of our family, since it's a good bet that the webpage won't be there for long.

Gallery: Israel now home for some Metro Detroit Jews
The sunset begins the celebration of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, in Safed on Sept. 22. For 34 days, this city was under fire. Transplanted Michiganians found themselves in the middle of a war. See full image
Robin Buckson / The Detroit News
Laurie Rappeport, who grew up in Oak Park, prepares food in Safed, Israel, last month. Despite the July-August bombings, she says she "came here for a reason. I feel very connected to America, but this is what I've chosen." See full image


SAFED, Israel -- On the first day, the rockets set fire to the mountain. And as the residents of this hill town watched the forest burn across the valley on Mount Meron, even then they didn't know quite what was coming.
It was only the next evening, as the men were walking home from the synagogues, that the first rockets rained down on the town and the people of Safed understood they were in a war.
Hundreds of Americans, many of them from Michigan, have come over the decades to Safed, a quiet, artsy town of about 20,000 in the mountains between the Sea of Galilee and the Lebanese border that one resident describes as "the Berkeley of Israel."
One day in July, it became a battle zone.
It's an Israeli jet fighter, thought Laurie Rappeport, a mother of five who grew up in Oak Park. She had grown accustomed to Israeli air force jets flying low so close to Lebanon.
Then came the explosion, and the sprint to the front porch, and the sight of her youngest daughter, stunned but unharmed, tossed from the tree she was climbing by the blast of a Hezbollah rocket.
Just a day before, the Lebanese militant group had ambushed an Israeli army patrol, killing several soldiers and kidnapping two.
"It was such a shock," Rappeport said. "In the past when there's been a war, there's been this period of people yelling back and forth at one another, and then the hostilities start. Here, it was Wednesday afternoon when they kidnapped the soldiers, and Thursday we had rockets.
"It's a strange feeling, not knowing what to do and having to make all these decisions."
For 34 days in July and August, nearly 4,000 rockets fired by the militant group Hezbollah fell on northern Israel, hundreds of them in and around Safed. Transplanted Michiganians found themselves in the middle of a war.
The artist
The rockets had shattered the peace Avraham Loewenthal came to Safed to find.
Slender, quiet and meditative, the Southfield native found himself sprinting to the sound of sirens, worried about his wife, Rebecca, and their baby daughter.
"There were ambulances in the street," he said. One man, he learned, had been killed just up the hillside. "We didn't know if we should stay or leave." Soon, though, the choice became clear: protect their young daughter.
"We grabbed a couple things, as many friends as we could, and basically we took off under rocket fire," he said.
The art gallery Loewenthal left behind links the two disciplines for which Safed has become famous: the Jewish mysticism known as kabbalah, and art.
The first has been centered here for more than 500 years, when Jews fleeing persecution in Spain settled here -- including some of the most respected scholars of kabballah.
The second dates to the aftermath of Israel's war of independence in 1948. The Arabs of what had been a mixed Jewish-Arab city fled or were forced out. Israel's fledgling government took control of Safed's Muslim quarter. Painters, sculptors and other artists took advantage of the cheap real estate and made Safed Israel's art capital.
Loewenthal was a young art student more than 13 years ago, thinking of beginning a study of Eastern meditation practices, when he learned a similar discipline existed in his own religion. He wanted to study kabbalah, and decided Safed was the perfect place to do so.
His art focuses on his religious study: One set of works is an abstract portrayal of the notes traditionally played on the shofar, a ram's horn, at Rosh Hashana.
He came to Safed for peace, he said.
"I don't know so much about politics. I just want peace for everybody. We've come here hoping to spread peace, and here people are throwing rockets down on you."
The scholar
Avraham Heller is one of Judaism's meticulous men.
He spends long hours carefully crafting mezuzahs -- scrolls of Hebrew calligraphy inscribed with passages of Scripture, which are rolled up and encased in a small box to be placed on a Jewish home's doorpost. The work is exacting -- even minor mistakes can require him to start again from the beginning.
This work -- and careful religious scholarship -- are what brought him to Safed in 1990. His family comes from Detroit, but he grew up in Petoskey, along the northern Lake Michigan shore.
"I told him, 'It's so friendly here,' said his wife, Susan, a writer. " 'You've finally found your Jewish Petoskey.' "
When the Hezbollah attacks began, the decision to leave was especially difficult. There was a strong urge to stay and not be frightened from their homes, an urge encouraged by their rabbi. But their six children, from 11 months to 19 years old, were at risk, as was his 86-year-old mother.
After a difficult, sleepless night, the decision came: We're leaving for Netanya, near Tel Aviv. As they drove down the hillside out of town, hundreds of people lined the streets, waiting for evacuation buses.
For a man who describes himself as a onetime "leftist pacifist," the temporary displacement has been political as well.
"Our situation has definitely changed," he said. "Before, there was this lack of belief in reality. This was basically a massive terrorist attack. We have neighbor countries who are absolutely hostile to us."
The ones who stayed
As the rockets fell, Ted and Moreen Greenberg, and whomever else could fit, sheltered in the basement of their small Internet cafe in the city's artists quarter. With business in Safed dried up, Ted during the conflict landed a job with a telecommunications company in Jerusalem. But Moreen, who grew up in the Detroit area, stayed behind.
She was returning by bus with a friend from a nearby town when the rockets started to fall. The fear and confusion she saw made no sense.
"You wonder, 'What are all these people doing in the shelters?' " she said. "Until you get your first taste of it."
Weeks after the attacks, they're closing up the Internet shop. Ted's job has become full time, and they're setting up an apartment in Jerusalem. But they plan to keep their house in Safed, where Moreen works as an art instructor.
"It's our home," she said.
Nor will Sarah Miriam leave, though she is not sure why she remained throughout the war.
At one point, the Highland Park native was ready to get on a bus out of Safed. A friend had invited her to Spain. Get out of there, said the friend. And yet she didn't get on the bus.
It certainly wasn't for fun. Safed was nearly a ghost town. She vividly recalls arriving back home one day from the store, sweating from the hurry and the stress. She closed the door, she says, collapsed face-down on the concrete floor, and wept.
She almost decided not to speak to a reporter at all -- she has told very few people, she says, of her feelings. Eventually, she decided to talk, if only in the hope that what Safed has endured might bring someone who reads it closer to their Jewish roots.
"Light the (sabbath) candles," she said. "It's important. It's who you are. Light the candles."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fame

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060930/NATION/609300417/1020
Right before Rosh Hashana, two reporters arrived from the Detroit News to write about locals, originally from Michigan, who had made their home in Tzfat. They spent a lot of time in our house, and we feature in their upcoming article. Here's what's up in the meantime, (check out the link on the top of this post) but the reporter who is writing the story sent me a draft of the longer version, so there will be something more extensive written. Kind of fun. Glad I lost that weight last year, since my photo is obviously going to be seen by a lot of people!
Yom Kippur went well. We had a call from some high school girls a few days before the holiday....friends of a friend of a friend of Ariella....who were going to be in Tzfat with their school over Shabbat and wanted to stay on for Yom Kippur. Four girls. So Margalit moved out of her room for 2 nights and we basically let them move in. It was very sweet, and by the time we had our break-the-fast dinner, they and Hagai and Yochi were chatting away like old friends. It's the kind of message that I want to imbue to my kids...that we are an open home for guests, friends, and drop-ins. After the girls left, we talked a little about having guests for Shabbat, which traditionally the kids have shied away from. They admitted that they "don't mind" having guests (OK, I take it to extremes sometime), and I think that they also like the idea that someone can call us at the last minute (as Ascent did for last Shabbat's lunch and another friend of Ariella's did for erev Yom Kippur) and we always have plenty to serve and are happy to host. Certainly, having guests their own ages this Yom Kippur helped bring that message home (usually they're older).
Now on to Succot. I promised that we'd make chili for Friday night (thank GOODNESS Succot comes out together with Shabbat), and I'll make "mukpatz" -- chinese vegetables/chicken; tofu and veggies for the vegetarians) for Shabbat day, which Avishai likes.
It's interesting how a Shabbat or holiday can be made or broken according to the food. I mean, the food definitely makes or breaks the day. Vow for the new year...that's a lesson that must never be forgotten!
Here's the article, preserved here forever so when the Detroit New's webpage disappears, we'll always remember our 5 minutes....

SAFED, Israel -- Metro Detroit's large and active Jewish community has sent millions of dollars in donations over decades to support Israel.

But an even deeper tie resides not in dollars, but in people: Jewish families who have left Michigan and "made aliya" -- emigrated to Israel.
More than a half-dozen such families live in Safed, a small town high in the hills above the Sea of Galilee, a center of art and Jewish spiritualism -- and, for 34 days this July and August, a target of rockets fired from just a few miles to the north in Lebanon by the militant group Hezbollah.
For many of these families, the rain of Katyusha rockets was a vivid and all-too-personal reminder that the peace of their quaint mountain town is easily shattered.
"We live in a tough neighborhood," said Laurie Rappaport, who grew up in Oak Park but has lived in Israel for more than 20 years. A single mother, she and her children hurried south, along with hundreds of thousands of others from across Israel's north, when the war began in mid-July.
Certainly, Metro Detroit's ties are more than familial. The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit has raised more than $13 million to aid families affected by the war; several thousand Metro Detroiters attended a July rally in support of Israel's campaign against Hezbollah, a militant Islamic group which most Americans consider a terrorist organization.
The local Jewish federation has for several years supported educational and other programs in communities near Nazareth in central Galilee, communities at the southern edge of the area struck by rockets from Lebanon.
But among the many former Michiganians living among the North American emigrant community in Safed's artists' quarter, the connections are to parents, friends and extended families back in Metro Detroit.
"I'll always think of myself as from Detroit," said Sarah Miriam, sitting in the kitchen of the small home in which she rode out the 34-day conflict. Born in Highland Park, she spent most of her childhood in New York and lived around the country before coming to Israel permanently several years ago. "I always say, it's Aretha, Madonna and me."
The families of Safed endured hundreds of rocket strikes; their town was one of the hardest hit in northern Israel. In all, the Israeli government estimates that 4,000 Hezbollah rockets struck Israel, hitting as far south as Haifa on the Mediterranean coast and Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee.
And while their families back home worry, none of these immigrants say they have considered returning to Michigan.
The worries over Hezbollah rocket attacks aren't really much different than the worries of parents in the United States, said Avraham Heller, who grew up in Petoskey and now lives in Safed with his wife and children.
"You get used to the kinds of fears that you have to get used to," he said