Pesach (Passover) is now over. A week of not having regular bread was easier than I thought. We celebrated the exit of the holiday by making hamburgers and eating them in our garden, then taking a walk on the beach.
While we, Jews celebrated the last days of Passover on Friday and Saturday, most if Israel’s Christians were commemorating Great Friday, and today celebrate Easter. It is only a few days after a Druze holiday, commemorating one of the prophets. Sitting by the sea, sand between my toes, the prayers are still in the air as the new week begins.
The title is inspired by Hannah Senesh’s “Walk to Ceasaria”, a poem, and a song known as Eli, Eli that I have blogged about before.
This early summer weekend was about the sand, the sea, the prayer of man. People enjoyed the nice weather in the forests, by the Kineret, or on the beaches. We were among them, and once again I got to enjoy the colourful tapestry of what Israel is. Yet, days like today remind me of my complicated relationship with Israel and Judaism. This month I hope to explore more of this topic on my blog.
Today is an important day. Besides it being my friend Jon’s birthday, it is the anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian revolution and a national holiday. Hungarians on this day wear a cockade of the Hungarian tricolour, and recite a poem written by Sándor Petőfi, titled Nemzeti dal (National Song). This year peaceful demonstrations by various groups, including teachers will add to the state and party sponsored event palette.
Some of the celebrations, however, go further than remembering a quasi-democratic, and mostly bloodless revolution that turned into a year-and-a-half-long war for independence. Some of the greatest heroes of the war were not Hungarians, but some people like to forget that. They also like to forget that many Hungarian Jews who had previously had very few rights, joined the fight against the Habsburg opression. Among them was a distant ancestor of mine, a Jewish doctor from Pest, who became a medic during the war.
Hungarian politicians of the time were divided over the emancipation of the Hungarian Jewry. While Széchenyi opposed it, Eötvös and Kossuth were for it. Kossuth encouraged the social and cultural integration and assimilation of the Jews, which, over the next 90 years, mostly happened, despite the fall of the revolution. Despite what some of the voices say, it is possible to be Jewish and Hungarian at the same time–as long as Hungarians don’t turn on other Hungarians.
Today I can’t wear a cockade, but I wear this kipah:
And here is the Hebrew translation of Nemzeti Dal:
I sent a note to the principal of my kids’ Jewish English-Hebrew bilingual private school saying that I didn’t think celebrating the Catholic feast day of a Christian saint was rather un-Jewish, especially since he died like 1200 years before any Jew encountered chocolate. The principal didn’t really take my complaint seriously. Since I’m that parent, who complains and tries to get his point across, I told Kevin, who happens to be the principal of our kids’ Jewish English-Hebrew bilingual private school that if he insisted on celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day at the school, he’d have to help our second graders cut out and sign 34 valentines each.
Valentine’s Day is not on the 5777 (2016-17) school activity calendar.
We had Family Day just this past week. It is a combination of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and it generally keeps us very busy, because the school has a program for it, the nursery has a program for it, my grandson’s gan (3-6 kindergarten) has a program for it, our homeschool group has a program for it, the music school has a program for it, the dance studio has a program for it… You get it. This year, however, we got ourselves kicked out of our homeschool group, so Kevin never finished setting the program up. Grandson was sick, so he didn’t go to gan. We only had dance, school, and the nursery to go to. At the nursery the kids were giving presents to their parents, and I got a skull shaped cookie cutter. It goes well with my zombie ones, by the way.
On Friday my kids and I made cookies, and I used the new cookie cutter. Today as Eli was eating one of the cookies he said, “These look like St. Valentine’s relics.” I hope they were not as stale as those relics must be!
Kevin and I try to be romantic around this time of the year. So the following conversation happened today.
Kevin: We have reservations at this new place in TLV. Do you want to eat Polish candy and watch SGA?
Me: Only if I don’t have to wear pants.
Sometimes I end up breaking my 12-minute-rule on reading. Recently I spent a full afternoon reading Péter Gárdos’s Fever at Dawn again. I vaguely remembered purchasing and reading the book when it was first published several years ago, during one of my many hospitalizations, and I remembered how life affirming the novel was. A novel, a true story, of Gárdos’s parents. Gárdos being a filmmaker turned his beautiful story into a movie which premiered this past Friday in Jerusalem.
The story of two young Shoah survivours falling in love is not a Holocaust story. It is a story of love and life. It explores questions of Jewish identity, the price of survival, touches briefly upon the horrors of the war and the Shoah, but still, it is a story of hope-and sometimes even hope lost.
In 1945 a Gárdos’s father, Miklós, recovering in a Swedish hospital, wrote 117 letters to Hungarian women also treated in Swedish hospitals after the war. Having to face a grim diagnosis, he didn’t give up. He received 18 replies. The story that follows is more romantic than any Jane Austen novel. It is also more interesting than any soap opera. Despite the end of the story is spoiled from the first page–the author, aft all, was born–we get a special privilege of seeing how love happens.
Gárdos writes well, as evidenced by his films as well. It is, however, the most beautifully written parts of the novel are the original correspondence between Gárdos’s parents. I hope that the translations can match the beauty of those letters. In Hebrew it does.
To celebrate that Judaism and the Jewish people are alive and thriving my shul celebrates life every year in the anniversary if Kristallnacht. This year we selected a read out of Fever at Dawn. It was a most brilliant choice. Listening to one of my boys reading Miklós’s letters, a young woman reading Lili’s, and people, mistly descendants of Holocaust survivours, taking turns for the rest of the story was indeed a celebration of life.
The English translation of Fever at Dawn will be available in April 2016.
12 minutes on the bus, every morning. That is usually the time I allow for myself to read freely. Anything longer than that and it’s not a language book or something for uni, I feel guilty. It is something I never thought that I’d experience. I remember friends telling me years ago if a book in their hand wasn’t their Anatomy textbook, they’d feel so guilty during their first year of college that it took them years to get back into reading after passing the combined anatomy-pathology exams at the end of their second year. I kinda dismissed it as an overdramatic reaction, but now I know what they meant.
Back in my earlier college experience I read fast and easy. Now? Learning new things from a tect takes alot more effort and time. And time is the one thing I lack. Between work, helping with home school, working on univesity assignments, trying to finally gain a better understanding of written Hebrew, making some crochet pieces for sale, 168 hours in a week are just not enough. To keep my sanity, however, I give myself those 12 minutes on the bus to read.
Sometimes, though, I just can’t wait for finals. That will give me a month of reading what I want. That will be my greatest present this holiday season. So many new books are waiting to be read!
1. I like to listen to music at work. Every once in a while I can find a corner of the office, or one of the training rooms or conference rooms that is empty, and I can play my music without having to plug it into my CI. Like today.
Today this song was on my playlist:
“I know that at the end maybe sorrow will fade away
Maybe tomorrow maybe another year
The wind that pushes away dawn
At the end will change its direction”
2.So was this song:
“Other days will come, with the sun and with G-d, and the morning will be all right.”
3. And this as well:
“Unfortunately I was born a human
I can see, think, feel, smell,
But that’s not enough for me
I want to hover over people
In an incredible silence, in an incredible silence
I want to fly with the power to see everything from above,
To understand what people are, and so on”
4. And of course, this one:
So my CO asked me: “Hevel, are you being political today?”
While the songs in my playlist followed each other in this order by accident, because it was my YouTube Harel Skaat playlist, in fact today I was political. I am ready for change. I am ready to feel safe. I am ready for peace. I am tired of the anti-Israel bias of the media and the UN and half my FB friends. I am tired of politicians.
5. The last two weeks my kids learnt to defend themselves against stabbers in their Krav Maga class, and they learnt how to provide first aid to stabbing victims in their community health class. On Sunday two of my teens will travel to Jerusalem for a lecture, and I’ll let them. I’ll be a nervous wreck. Tel Aviv is experiencing a lot less violence than the capital, so it’s scary to send them there. But such is life in Israel. Some of the places they will pass through have experienced attacks.
To be completely homest I’m glad not to have to carry a weapon. I am a bit nervous each time my combat soldiers come home with a weapon. Don’t take me wrong, I know my way around them, still, I don’t like them in my home.
6. This month Kevin has lived in Israel (and the general TLV area) longer than anywhere else. Israel has really become home.
7. In the midst of the craziness life goes on. Yesterday Kevin and I attended the wedding of one of the soldiers in my team. It was a joyous occasion, and we all had a wonderful time. Mazel tov to Orit and Fedya.
One of the things that bothers me a lot about the whole Duggar fiasco is people forgiving Josh for the sexual assault and adultery as they were the victims of either. I can understand forgiving him for the lie that his public persona is, as my friend Annie very wisely said: “I think that all of us are damaged by the sins of any of us….which is why I expect that people have a sense that there is something for them to forgive. In this case, looking up to someone as a model, or inspiration, and finding that they were not that can hurt a great deal.”
The problem with that, however, lies with people, who were more than willing to forgive such betrayal when he was involved in incestous molestation of young girls, but are drawing the line at adultery. Because, you know, actual sexual assaults on little girls are not nearly as bad as consensual sex between two adults outside of marriage.
The other problem is when people are willing to specifically state that they are forgiving Josh for what he did to his sisters, the babysitter, and his wife. This is not some random church lady’s job to forgive him for those. That is a choice his sisters, the babysitter and his wife have. And even if they choose to forgive him, it doesn’t mean that those crimes and immoral acts never happened. There are consequences in life for one’s actions. In less cult-like environments, the consequences would have been being charged for the molestation, and likely divorce, or at least a few months in the dog house for the latter. Anna is, however, already reported to have decided to stay with Josh and support him. Because she has forgiven him. Because she is required to forgive. She is given no other choice. I, however, think that when you are not given a chance other than to publicly act as if you have forgiven and forgotten, forgiveness is often not real. Pretending something didn’t happen is not forgiveness. I do have to wonder sometimes if the Duggars are generally capable of true forgiveness, that is not just outward motions.
Laura Turner brilliantly wrote:
“Anna Duggar can forgive Josh without continuing their marriage. She can separate from him, divorce him, remove his kids from him, because he violated the vow he made to her–and she can still forgive him. To forgive does not mean that you return to the same relationship you had with someone before they hurt you. In fact, sometimes wisdom demands that you make changes to a relationship even as you forgive.” – See more at:
Forgiveness is a wonderful thing. It is great to be the receiving end as well as being the one who can forgive. It is often not easy, and definitely not instant: if one can instantly forgive something, then that thing wasn’t even an offence. Maybe whoever did it thought they hurt someone. Maybe we didn’t think we were, but saying the words extending grace and forgiveness still might be just the right thing, to help another feel less guilt.
Maybe Anna Duggar sees no problem with her husband cheating on her, and she finds nothing needs to be forgiven. Maybe she has known for some time, as the accounts on Ashley Madison were terminated around the time of the molestation coming to light, and Josh might have actually been a man and tell her about everything. In that case Anna has had over two months to start digesting what happened. We don’t know. I just hope she will eventually find peace and will be treated by someone as an equal and as an adult. I also hope that this will be the last we hear of the Duggars.
My sister thinks I’m obsessed with the Duggars. The reason for that is that during the past 5 years I made at least 4 comments about them to her, and posted exactly three times mentioning them on my blog since 2012 Of course she is the one who has watched every rerun of every Duggar show, and she is capable of telling the Duggar kids apart. I was never capable of doing that, not that I really tried, anyway. So because I am obsessed with the Duggars, I woke to my sister’s text at 4:57 a.m.
I am worried about Anna blaming herself. I am worried about people who defended Joshua Duggar’s sexual abuse of his sisters and another girl, and his parents’ lack of actions to protect those girls, because Mr. Duggar “got saved”, “repented and became a productive member of society”, “grew up into a Christ following husband and father” will continue to defend him, blaming everyone and everything else, including the internet for his unfaithfulness. Because no good Christian man has enough self control to resist the temptation to cheat on his wife.
Of course marriage equality made him do it as it undermined the sanctity of his marriage. Not unless, you know, he was seeking a gay married guy who also wanted to cheat on his husband. Maybe a married lesbian. In which case Josh Duggar was undermining their marriage.
As my sister pointed out, I believe FRC chose perfectly when they hired him as an executive director, and basically the face of the organization. He represents them, and a big segment of the American religious right just perfectly. I am sure that the message of the real values of FRC didn’t get lost on a lot of people.
I’ve already heard that those accounts must have been fake. They were tied to credit cards that had Josh Duggar’s then current addresses attached to them. There are credit card statements. I doubt that he would have missed an opportunity to complain about identity theft, and being set up by
his Christ’s enemies. That alone tells me it was real.
There is still the chance to say that he needed to investigate this evil website as part of his job. Yes, it’s completely believable that he needed not one, but two accounts, over a period of two years. There is no chance that sexual predator Gothardite golden boy could be a (would be) serial cheater. No. Impossible.
Except it is all too real.
He is grieved by
the hurt he caused being caught again in something immoral. He writes, “I deeply regret all the hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example.” He also claims he was fighting immorality in the country…. well yeah, once again, it is more than personal failings. Josh Duggar has been villifying 7-10% of the population in a high paid job, without any proof of what his organization was preaching was true, while he himself committing the sins that FRC assigned to the LGBTQ community.
I definitely hope that Anna wasn’t bullied into a covenant marriage like the Jessa and Jill. However, if she wasn’t and she stays with Josh, she loses any sympathy I might have for her.
I also have to wonder since Josh doesn’t believe in birth control, how many little illegitimate Duggars he has produced and what he took home to Anna… or if he, in fact, used protection, betraying the one thing that brought him fame and a livelihood.
This… This happened yesterday in Jerusalem.
An Ultra-Orthodox protester stabbed six people in yesterday’s Jerusalem Pride. The same man attacked participants in 2005.
Some members of our family attended this year, and I am very grateful that I got Kevin’s text that they were okay before I saw the news. I am still very upset about this happening. How can someone claiming to be a man of G-d, and being angry at people breaking of–what he perceives to be–G-d’s commandment that he completely ignores the one about not killing?
Today is the 10th day of the Hebrew month Av, and it’s, like Yom Kippur, a fast day for Jews. (Tisha B’Av is actually the 9th, but since fasting is prohibited on the Shabbat, with the exception of Yom Kippur, the fast is postponed by a day.) Unlike Yom Kippur, however, Tisha B’Av is rarely observed or recognized by secular Jews. Tisha B’Av marks the destruction of bothe the first and second Temple, and it’s, in a way, a national day of mourning for all of Israel–whether in Eretz Israel or in exile.
Yet some progressive branches of Judaism all together discard this day of mourning as something that has lost its meaning with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and especially since the return of the Old City of Jerusalem to Israel in 1967. Other branches of Judaism continue to observe this day till the Temple is once again rebuilt and the Moshiach comes. They keep fasting every year. Some of my Reform Jewish friends chose to fast this year as conflict regarding the Temple Mount is getting more and more violent. Some Orthodox and Conservative leaders remind us that today’s mourning is just as much for the flaw in today’s Israel that prevents the coming of the messiah and the building of the Third Temple as it is for the loss of the first two.
I chose to fast this year (for the first time on this day) because I have been feeling more disconnected from Judaism these days. I find myself ignoring my usual routine in tradition. I even considered getting a larger, visible tattoo–but I am almost sure I’ll never get one, because it would remove me too far from all that I find valuable in Judaism. So in an attempt to reconnect with my heritage and my long lost faith. Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll succeed. In the mean time, I fast today, I pray today, and hope for a messiah, who will help us to peace–extending that peace to our cousins in the Abrahamic religions as well.
He has two new songs out! This one was uploaded today:
And then, his most recent music video for a song that’s actually in English:
My Facebook feed is full of posts depicting an American soldier in one picture saying “This is courage” and then a picture of Caitlyn Jenner, saying “Not this”.
I think the very people posting these and otherwise bashing Ms. Jenner are the very proof that she deserved the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The amount of hate that is spewed by people when Ms. Jenner is mentioned is mindblowing.
I also, personally find the above mentioned meme offensive. As a soldier I don’t think I’m very courageous. Courage in my own life looks very different. I know that many soldiers have a lot of courage. However, so do children and adults fighting cancer, people living with disabilities fighting their everyday battles, former cult members, first responders, parents, investigative journalists, gay couples willing to live outside the closet, and yes, Caitlyn Jenner.
While we in the LGBT community experience a lot of hatred, the T of the acronym even experiences lack of support or understanding, and sometimes outright hate from within the community. Transgender women are murdered and are driven to suicide in disproportionate numbers within our community. It takes courage to stand up and face the world. It takes a lot of courage to face closed minded people, who can only hate, because their definition of courage is very limited.
Congratulations to Ms. Jenner and all people displaying courage: the single mom handling a job and raising her kids, the agoraphobic lady in the neighbourhood who walked to the mailbox yesterday, the orphan who leaves everything they know behind to start a new life with a family in a foreign country, the student teacher on her first day in the classroom, the autistic child trying a new food, and countless others. By denying Ms. Jenner’s courage to transition to who she is, and publicly standing up for others, the courage of all these people and their everyday victories over circumstances or themselves is being ridiculed.
Let’s just all accept that courage can manifest in many ways, and that is why our world is full of brave people.
The problem with Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Cover is the exact same problem as with most other magazine covers: it is photoshopped to the degree that the person on the photo don’t look like real people. Caitlyn Jenner is just like any other rich, aging cover girls: not like the other people. I personally don’t think Bruce Jenner was handsome, and I don’t think Caitlyn Jenner is particularly beautiful. She is 65, and like other 65-year-old celebrities she appears to have had some work done on her face: a nose job and a facelift are my guesses. The real important thing is that Caitlyn Jenner looks comfortable in her skin.
I have to admit I know next to nothing about the Jenner-Kardashian clan, and most of that is meta-knowledge. I didn’t follow their reality show, and I didn’t even kow who he was till about three years ago. Yet I have an opinion of the whole thing. First of all, I do think that Jenner handled the transition very well and in a tasteful manner. As someone who had the kind of publicity surrounding him that the Kardashian clan had, he couldn’t just drop off the face of the earth forever. He could have disappeared for a while, then re-emerge as Caitlyn, but I think the path Jenner chose was the best way to handle it. By being honest and forthcoming, she managed to dispell some myths associated with the transition of transgender adults.
Of course Caitlyn’s transition is not representative of the experience of transgender people of less privileged situations. The struggle for each person is different, and it is often complicated by financial and employment questions. It takes courage to go through with the change from one life to another, from one (public) identity to another. Going from one very public identity as a man, transitioning into a woman, knowing that it will bring on judgement and ridicule, losing friends, supporters and business partners is very brave. Caitlyn Jenner deserves the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Yes, there are others, who also would deserve it.
When we look at Caitlyn, the wealthy, popular, courageous 65-year-old woman, let us not forget all the other people who have to go through a similar, difficult transition without the outpouring of public support Caitlyn receives. I am wishing all of them, and Caitlyn in particular on the occasion of her public debut, a happy, successful life.
There is one big difference between Josh Duggar and me: I have never molested anyone. Another big difference is that I didn’t choose to work as an executive director for an organization that spreads unfounded accusations about a certain segment of the population being a danger to children. His choice to spread hateful propoganda for FRC–while knowing all too well that HE, indeed, had been a danger to children–makes what happened inexcusable. Whether he hid this part of his history from his employer or disclosed it is irrelevant. Josh Duggar identified with the message of that organization. Hopefully the FRC’s association with Mr. Duggar discredits them just as much as it should discredit the Duggar parents.
While running for office, Jim Bob Duggar’s website claimed that he considers incest and rape capital offenses. So what does he do when it comes to his knowledge that his son was sexually abusing his sisters? He promptly did nothing. While some people claim it was “only” fondling, and it could have been innocent, mutual exploration, knowing that he did it without consent and knowing the age gap of all parties involved, it was not innocent. Now the Duggar parents apparently don’t consider incestuous abuse a big deal if it happens in their home. I mean Josh “only” molested his younger sisters, no big damage, it wasn’t his brothers… or wasn’t something serious, like stealing a car. Those things might have had consequences in Duggarland. After all, Josh Duggar stopped with this activity because he realized he could ruin his life if he kept abusing girls. His life, not the lives of his victims. But you know, he was blessed with a Y chromosome, so he clearly matters more.
I have been quite surprised by those defenders of the Duggars, who failed to do their basic homework, and are upset about the police records having been released. They claim that releasing juvenile records is illegal. They might be right, though juveniles who become registered sex offenders (as likely Josh would have been seeing he was a repeat offender over an extended time period) usually have some public records. That is besides the point: In December 2006 when the police records were created, Josh Duggar was a legal adult. Shocking, right?
I have to wonder what else is going on in the Duggar household, and if there is anyone who can protect the children? I also have to wonder just how much we can trust certain Christian victim advocates, “coaches”, “counselors”, who go on defending Josh Duggar. Claiming that he repented and went on to live a good, upright life (of spreading hate), that the parents handled it well and we should forgive him because he owned it leaves out two very important details of the equation: What he did was, yes, a sin. But it was also a crime. Churches deal with sin, courts deal with crimes. One of the seven laws, according to the Bible, that god gave to Noah was to establish courts of justice. Those people, who think that it was handled right are willing to ignore their god’s laws (which, actually, do apply to them. The Torah doesn’t, and it never did.) Some of these people, claim they forgave their own abusers, because “they owned it”, while also saying that they didn’t own other acts. Women say they didn’t report their abusers, because they repented, and they no longer commit the particular sin they did as teenagers.
Let me tell you something from experience: unreported teenage offenders can grow into adult offenders, who are much, much, much better at hiding the abuse they inflict on others. A friend said that she closely watches her abuser, and she sees no sign of him offending again. It makes me literally sick to my stomach. Forgiveness has its place, but not reporting the crimes, especially when one claims they are no longer victims, is enabling the abuser. Knowing from a personal experience, being the victim of someone who started molesting younger cousins at the age of 13, but then repented and was forgiven, the elimination of the law from the dealing with the young sexual predators creates more victims.
Do I think Josh Duggar is a danger to children? Yes, like the whole lifestyle he and his family are trying to sell. Whether he would be a sexual danger to children, I don’t know. [ETA: In light of this newly released police report where it’s revealed that Josh Duggar molested his 5-year-old sister when he was 15 and that he committed at least 7 acts of abuse, and confessed three different times to his father, I think he is a continued dager.] He definitely is an opportunistic, hateful guy.
I haven’t blogged for over two months, and really, I was contemplating letting the blog quietly go. It would have been okay. I have been blogging at various places since 2002. 12 years have passed and I sometimes wonder how much longer this blog will last.
Now, there are fun times I like to share with my friends, and that was boyband week in Israel. Backstreet Boys performed here the week before Shavuot (Pentecost, Whit Sunday/Monday). Unfortunately I could not go with Kevin, as the same day we had tickets I had a small surgery. He went with his brother and one of our older girls, and they had a blast. Then on the 28th OneRepublic performed in Tel Aviv. Their opening act was the fabulous Harel Skaat, so of course I had to go! The fan base of Mr. Skaat and OneRepublic seems to overlap quite a bit. We saw one of my other favourite Israeli singers in the crowd. It was fun. Here is OneRepublic performing “Budapest” in TA. (Yeah, what other song would I have chosen, really???)
Now I really like OneRepublic, and I am building up quite an immunity to One Direction, so I was willing to accompany my girls to Vienna to see them, but alas, the other health issues attached to the previously mentioned small surgery I won’t be able to do it. It would have been a very rushed trip anyway, as the concert is on the 10th, and on the 12th it’s Tel Aviv Pride! Fortunately We found a way for the girls to go. They have been told that they are strictly forbidden to get gifts for the family, they can blow all their savings on One Direction merch.
Now mentioning Pride, I am very proud of my homeland, the Republic of Ireland. Ireland is the first country in the world to grant equal (civil) marriage rights to same sex couples. I know the Pope is pissed off that such a Catholic country would actually be able to recognize the difference between civil rights and church business, but all I can say is, thank you for being a great country! Sometime in the future, this Irishman will travel back home and have the wedding he always wanted. Congratulations to all those couples who will shortly be able to get married in Ireland. I know a great, gay-friendly baker in Cork. 😀
Here is some more OneRepublic: