Every time I read/hear about IDF fatalities in Gaza, my heart skips a beat. I immediately start searching for names. Names of friends, names of family members…
If anything ever happens to “my” boy, I’ll find it out from the news or from the official internal communications. While he has a bedroom and a family who claim him as one of them, technically he is a lone soldier, without any family. His bio parents, who abandoned him, would be notified before us.
Every news report has me worried for my son’s boyfriend, for nephews and nieces, for the numerous lone soldiers, who have spent their days off in our guest room, for Kevin, for my BIL and now for my foster son.
Today I took the three kids to the beach. As we arrived home, Yonah was waiting for us, with a bag full of toiletries.
“I want a bubble bath, but since Protective Edge began I’ve been only taking super quick showers. It’s embarrassing to run for shelter all soapy, wearing only a towel… But it sure starts conversations with your neighbours!”
The last three weeks I have blogged more about living in Israel and about the conflict we are experiencing here than I would normally do. These past few weeks have been draining, even in the Tel Aviv bubble. While I have received an overwhelmingly positive response (and a not-quite-damaging hacking attempt by some pro-Palestinian teenager in Turkey), I also got the comment from several people, “But you chose to move there!”
When we moved to Israel it was our only chance to keep out family together. It was also the place where we had any support system, and where medical care would keep me alive. We made the choice to move to Israel, we didn’t choose to be targeted by Hamas.
People are commenting very negatively on news of people making aliyah during this conflict. They call parents irresponsible for bringing their kids into this mess here. But what these commenters choose not consider is that for many of these new olim being in Israel even now is safer than staying in their home countries.
Just take France: attacks on Jewish schools, killing kids. Protesters against Israel (claiming no Anti-Semitism just Anti-Zionism and Anti-Israel sentiments) attacking their synagogues. Of course such behaviour by the public is the best way to turn assimilated, patriotic Jews into Zionists.
So yes, I chose to live in Israel, and I still have the right to complain about rockets and wars. Many people choose to live somewhere, and they complain about the weather, the traffic, the school district, the HOA. How is that okay and it is not okay to be upset about living in the shadow of rockets?
A while back our 7 Quick Takes host Jen posted about theme songs to her life. One of the songs she listed was by Matisyahu. Another one of Matisyahu’s songs, One Day, is played a lot these days. While I love the original, there is a cover that has been making rounds on my Facebook news feed: a girl in Ashdod, Israel, spent her time in the shelter recording this version. It’s not only moving, but it’s also a good cover!
Do you remember my post about spilled coffee? Well, today I was stopping by at a different store of the chain, to get a coffee and some pastries for lunch and when I was ready to pay, the cashier rang my purchase up as free. Apparently he had seen my post on his FB, and thought he’d charge it to Hamas. He also sent some coffee in a container with me. . I tried to insist I’d pay for at least the pastry, but I ended up with a free sandwich instead. Aroma has been among the many, many businesses providing free food and other products to our soldiers since Operation Protective Edge began. In case you live in NYC, New Jersey, Maryland or Florida or Toronto, or even Kiev, Ukraine, make sure to visit one of their stores, and have a cuppa on my behalf. No, I’m not paid by them. I wish I was.
My friend Hope Anne just told me that when she was in Kiev for the first time, she had a lovely salad at Aroma, but the other two times she couldn’t find them again. So their salads are great abroad, too!
Kevin and I got into the habit of texting during air raids. It’s just something to pass the time and normalize the situation as much as possible. We get some of the same alerts, or very close to each other, so at least I can have something positive come out of them.
A few years ago I emailed Channel 4 about my idea for a TV show where people with disabilities get to cook with celebrity chefs. Nothing came of it, of course. I never even had the email answered. Now there is a new enterprise by a blog friend, who is starting a café that will be manned by people living with various disabilities. The project’s name is Power Café, And it will be in one of my favourite parts on the USA, in the Boston area. To help raise funds for this project, please click here.
Now I wish they’d have some sandwiches on the menu. I don’t know, maybe even sabich?
So, I have been very lazy recently when it came to cooking, and I had mostly odd things to work with. Out came my baking bags (the ones you can bake a turkey in) and stuff from my garden. We raise our own chicken, so the chicken I used for it was home grown as well. The spinach, however, was store bought, frozen. We are growing potatoes in our compost bin, so I dug out a few, and chopped up some spring garlic and regular garlic added salt and white pepper, and threw the whole thing in a baking bag with some coconut oil, and put it in the oven… and waited. After a while I remembered to actually turn the oven on.
Some arugula and bird salad completed my meal. The following day I made something similar, but that time I had home grown spinach and carrots to add as well.
This is an instant cooking hit recipe. There is very little chance to mess it up, and even beginner cooks can put things in a bag. I make similar food combos in the slow cooker, too, for a more stew like result, but the freshly baked chicken and potatoes are just awesome, and only take a bit over an hour. It requires very little supervision, and lots of different combinations work. We usually add mushrooms and whatever vegetables we have on hand. Broccoli and cauliflower, however, tend to overcook. We love corn on the cob baked with our chicken, though!
I’ve been having a lot more hits on my blog recently. My friends on Facebook shared the link to my previous post, about my daughter’s babyhood in “conflict” afflicted Israel. Apparently some of their friends shared it, too. Thanks everyone for the support! (And by lot more I mean 200+ one day, and 50+ on the days since, which is about double of my usual hits.)
I don’t have much time these days, but I still crochet more than I did in the past few months. It’s something to keep me feel normal, and I also had some orders that I need to finish. Maybe I will resurrect my crochet blog.
(Yes, I take orders for some things. Like coasters, kipot, and slippers like the one above. The deal is, you pay if you like it. You don’t if you don’t.)
My youngest daughter is 16 months old. She is in that phase between babyhood and toddlerhood when she is just learning so much each day. She can identify everyone in our family when you ask her to point so and so out–and in our family it’s quite an accomplishment–she adds to her vocabulary every day, and she knows that wen the sirens sound she has to go with the adult in charge of her into a shelter, that there will be a loud boom and then she can play again.
Last week I was at her nursery school to pick her up when the sirens sounded. Her teachers immediately grabbed as many of the kids as they could–about half of the kids there don’t walk yet–and ran for shelter, herding the rest of the kids, while trying to remain calm and cheerful in their voice.
We live in the Tel Aviv area, we have about a minute to make it to safety. But closer to the Gaza Strip residents have about 15 seconds. Can you imagine being a nursery teacher with 6 kids under 2 years in your care, trying to make sure they are all safe when the alarms sound? Kids my daughters’ age are spending their summer camp in shelters, because it’s an impossible task. But can you just imagine being a young mother or father with three kids strapped into car seats when the air raid alerts come on? How do you decide which one of your kids to unbuckle and take to safety in those 15, 30, 45 seconds? How do you make a decision like that?
Yesterday a rocket actually hit the Tel Aviv area. Yesterday we lost even more soldiers, and yesterday more civilians lost their lives in Gaza. Yesterday was the day when I made the decision that I don’t ever want to have to choose between my kids, and sent those, who I was allowed, to safety with family abroad. I had that possibility, because I have family who can do that for us, I can afford plane tickets (even if it wiped my savings out) and my kids have passports and citizenships that make it possible. Not everyone is this lucky. I worry every day about my friends in the South, who have nowhere to go with their children. And yes, my heart aches for those tens of thousands of people who are now displaced in Gaza.
As I was writing this post, I was interrupted by rocket alerts three times. Each time coming back I needed a cool down period, not to let hate take over. As I type this now Israel has been rocket free for 21 minutes. You can keep track of how long we have been rocket free here.
My youngest daughter is still here, in Israel, with her mother and I taking turns taking care of her, relying on the nursery school as little as possible. She is not afraid of the sirens. She just knows what she needs to do, and she does it well. She is learning songs and riddles about the alerts, and she is looking forward to playing with a few special toys that she only gets to play with in the shelter. This is her childhood. There are more photos in her baby book for this month of her taken in shelters than taken outside, in the middle of the summer. When in ten, fifteen years we look through that book I hope she will be living in a peaceful Israel.
For now, she is living through our Israeli reality.
Now it’s Wednesday, and I might end up posting my 7QT today, because I have no idea when I’ll get to blog tomorrow if at all. While I said that I would be blogging less, recycling two posts from the past, and sharing an experience during an air raid made my blog busier than usually. Oh, by the way, go read that post. It involves coffee, it’s less than 300 words long, and it’s pretty good.
Yesterday, after too long a time, I finally made it to another Harel Skaat show. As usual, it was fabulous. I had a little too much to drink before and after the show (no, I still wasn’t drunk, but one more drink would have made me drunk!) and for a change I relaxed and went to sleep without any meds. In this most un-normal of times an evening felt oh so normal. Even if song selection and commentary by RL was heavily influenced by current affairs in Israel.
From an earlier performance, RL singing the 121st psalm:
My youngest has recently started to put words together when she signs. She has also discovered that if she says something I react to it, but I will only sign back to her. It’s kinda funny, because now she seems to have an active sign vocabulary that differs from her active speech vocabulary quite a bit. She has about 20 words and 15 signs that she uses as of today, but there are new words appearing every day! Her signing is slower, and as long as she understands what I sign to her, I am not too concerned.It is only in sign, however, that she is using phrases now, so I think we are right on track with that as well. Of course she hears a lot more speech than she sees signing, and then often even my signing is accompanied by someone’s interpretation as well, so who knows.
I have been planning on sharing more about our crafting and cold porcelain adventures. I tweaked the recipe I use a bit more, and we have some pretty things to show. Like this flower. We painted this one with acrylic paint after it dried, and I think this will be an approach for colouring that we will use. I have also made owl eyes from pre-coloured pieces of cold porcelain, and I need to glue them onto some crochet work and show pictures as well.
Mentioning crochet. I finally finished a few pieces I have been working on. I found several descriptions, usually translated from Finnish, for “converse” slippers, which, again, I tweaked. I am planning to post my tweaks and the link to the original description as soon as I finish my third pair. Till then, here is a pair I made for my daughter, but ended up my niece’s and the first adult one. Crochet is my one remaining activity resembling normalcy. I am usually too tired to make any significant progress with my work, but I try to crochet (or knit) a few rows each day. I usually do it as Kevin FaceTimes with the kids in Hungary. The kids have a blast with Uncle Dan and cousins, and can’t wait for the rest of the family (except Itamar and I) to join them early August for two weeks. While they are gone, if the situation doesn’t normalize, two families who are friends with my family with house sit for us. They are from the south (see next quick take) and they could use the break. I am planning to stay somewhere in the city for those two weeks. I hope to crochet a lot and go to another Harel Skaat concert!
While it might seem from my blog that the situation in Israel is not all that serious. As I have said before, in many ways, Tel Aviv is its own little bubble. It is not like the rest of Israel in many, many aspects. So while it might seem that rockets are a mere inconvenience for Israelis, it is not etirely true. While Tel Aviv experienced two or three alerts a day, there are areas that got several each hour. People in the South are advised to stay within 15 seconds from a bomb shelter at all times. Can you imagine living your life with an eye on a shelter all the time, and not even being safe enough to go to the grocery store, or even to get into your car? I can’t, and I’m in the same country, in the same conflict, but twenty, thirty, hundred kilometers away.
Some of you have been telling me you are worried about my safety, and I really appreciate your concern. While indeed it is not always safe here, it is a lot safer than in other parts of Israel, or in areas of Gaza. Those of you who pray, please don’t forget to pray for the people you might not know, but for whom rockets are more than an annoyance. Please also pray for the 70k people in Gaza, who were left without electricity. One of the rockets fired from Gaza damaged a power line near the border in Israel, and this line supplies southern Gaza with electricity. Because it was too dangerous for crews to repair the damage, it seemed like they would be left without power indefinitely, but Israel Electric Corporation employees fixed it amid continued rocket fire.
Yesterday (Tuesday) in accordance with an Egypt brokered ceasefire agreement, Israel halted air strikes in Gaza for six hours. During this time over 50 rockets were fired from Gaza to Israel. Hamas didn’t even consider the ceasefire.
I have quoted Golda Meir before, saying that there will be peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us… I think many, many Arabs love their children more than they hate us, but they have not the courage or power to rid themselves of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
I’d like to thank Jen for volunteering to post this to the link up! I don’t have access to the link ups from my new work, and I am on my own laptop at very random times. However, email subscription to my blog has been finally fixed, so feel free subscribe to be kept updated! Thanks for visiting!
THE WIND WILL CHANGE DIRECTION (translation from hebrewsongs.com)
Lyrics: Esther Shamir; Music: Uri Zah
Sometimes when Tel Aviv doesn’t shut down
I go down to the Café in the corner
I look at the traffic which doesn’t stop
Even when something happens in the country
I am like a falling leaf when something happens
But order another cup of coffee to the table
What is my stand if every week
Anyone can make the world insane Continue reading Because Harel Skaat
So I'm standing in line, getting an Ice Aroma, because it's summer, and because someone will either know sign language at Aroma, or will be ready to deal with me being a non-speaker. You know, Aroma employs a lot of us, Israelis living with disabilities. And they are everywhere. And I think they are cheaper than the major competitors, except that one place where everything is 5 sheqels. Anyway, being happy to finally be on my way home, I order, I pay, I get my drink, I am happy…
…and then the siren sounds as yet again rockets target Tel Aviv from Gaza. The girl behind me, a tourist from the USA judging by her accent, is startled and bumps into me, making me knock my coffee over.
I am pissed off, because my coffee is gone. Yes, there are rockets coming my way, but as my motto says, “In Iron Dome We Trust”, I focus my thoughts on that delicious Ice Aroma. And how I probably have no more money on my card, and absolutely no cash on me. Because Israel is aiming to eliminate cash to reduce money laundering. Also being angry about my coffee allows me not to worry about what my children are doing, whether they are safe, where the rocket or its shrapnel will land, will there be damage, will people be hurt, where is the nearest shelter, when will this all end?
Focusing on spilled coffee allows me to go through the motions of ensuring my own safety with the least amount of panic. Anger replaces fear for a few moments, and we wait.
When it's over, the sirens fall silent and the city is once again safe, I leave for home.
Last week I wrote about the horrible murder of an Arab teen. His murderers, Jewish extremists, have been arrested. The Israeli press has been patting ourselves on the back about how differently the Jews reacted to his murder from the Arabs’ reactions to the kidnapping of the Jewish teenagers. I wouldn’t be so proud of our reactions, mine included, because we did hope it was an Arab murder to frame the Jews. It wasn’t. I am horrified at what happened and I really can’t find the words to express how awful it is. I am generally anti-death-penalty, but right now I wish there was peace time death penalty in Israel. Those people don’t deserve to live.
Yes, I spent my lunch break looking for shelter. Just a few hours earlier the first red alert came as I was on the bus. We were nowhere near a shelter (especially with my walking speed, I was nowhere near a shelter), so it was the classic get down on the floor and cover your head. On a bus in rush hour. Yes. It was quite an experience.
If you are inclined to pray, here is the prayer for the Israel Defense Forces:
He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God, from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.
May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.
May He lead our enemies under our soldiers’ sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is the Lord your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.
Now let us respond: Amen.
And here is the prayer with the Kabbalistic poem/prayer Ana Bekoach playing under it:
The song above was recorded at the time when Israel was preparing for the unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Nine years ago Israel withdrew from Gaza, leaving behind the land and quite a bit of infrastructure. Unfortunatelly the elected government thinks it’s more important to eliminate Israel than to build up Gaza. Even as we are attacked every hour from Gaza, Israel is sending aid and power to Gaza and Israeli hospitals treat Gazans–just recently the wife of Abbas underwent treatment in an Israeli hospital.
On a happier note: Two days ago one of the first red alerts in Tel Aviv we had a power outage, and when the power came back on a few seconds later, the power surge killed our freezer’s fuse. The contents partially defrosted, so I had to make something to save all that meat. I ended up throwing a bunch of chicken wings with two bottles of BBQ sauce in the slow cooker, and told the kids to turn it off in 4 hours. They forgot about it, and when I got home I had the best ever meal: the meat was so tasty and tender, we will make this accidental recipe again.