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We Are

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We are being targeted. In the last few weeks more Israelis were killed by acts of terrorism than in the last six years before.

We are not making it easier. For the first time I can remember I agree with the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel: If we can save Jewish lives by it, we should keep off Temple Mount.

We are the essence of Judaism. I’d like to believe that while the Kotel and other sacred sites are very important to me, to us, that essence is not being transferred to places and sites.

We are the chosen people, the House of Israel, the people G-d himself chose to make a covenant with. I hope we are not creating ourselves new idols out of the Temple Mount and other sites in the heart of some of the clashes we are experiencing.

We are one of those people whose greeting is carrying a promise of peace. I hope that we still have the will for peace.

We are Israel, we are the Jews of the Diaspora and the State of Israel. It’s not easy. but at least we are.

We are, and we need peace so we can say, we will be.

We are a country in turmoil. I hope, one day, we will be a nation, safe and strong. One day we may become the promised land to the children of Israel. One day, maybe, all the children of Abraham can live in peace.

7 Quick Takes About Why Not To Move To Israel Awaiting The Second Coming/End of the World/Rapture

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  1. Eschatology i/ˌɛskəˈtɒlədʒi/ is a part of theology concerned with what are believed to be the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the “end of the world” or “end time”.

For the last couple of months many of my Christian friends have been preoccupied with the eschatology of their respective religions, and while it originally seemed to be a Protestant thing, linked to the Left Behind reboot (wasn’t one series of awful films enough?), recently Catholic family and friends have joined in. Jewish holidays coinciding with “blood moons”, natural disasters that have always happened being a sure sign of the end times, and various other “signs” keep people busy. The common theme: let’s move to Israel for the Second Coming/Rapture! Here are some of the reasons why you shouldn’t.

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This photo is not from Israel.

— 1 —

Immigrating to Israel is easy if you are Jewish, and very difficult if you are not. Coming as a tourist and staying beyond the period allowed without a specific visa is illegal, and makes you an illegal alien. Funny enough, quite a few people I’ve seen talking about making a move to Israel are the same people who are calling for harsher treatment for illegal aliens in the USA. Illegal aliens tend to get deported and banned from the country. Also if airport immigration folks suspect someone wants to illegally move to Israel, entry to the State of Israel is denied.

Let’s imagine you decide to very unbiblically break the law and stay in Israel longer than justifiable by being a tourist, you better have a lot of savings that will cover your rent and living expenses, because you won’t get a job. Even if you legally arrive in Israel, you have to be prepared for a career change. The lady who cleans at my parents’ place? In her native Soviet Union she was a civil engineer. Her degree is not accepted here, and she has been cleaning houses for the past twenty years.

As a matter of fact, among Israel’s first generation immigrants the poverty rate is a lot higher than amidst the rest of the population. It’s not only because many immigrants are ultra-orthodox with large families and no marketable skills.

— 2 —

The standard of living in Israel is very different from the States. First of all, housing. There have been lots of articles about the disappearance of affordable housing in Israel’s urban centres, most specifically in the Tel Aviv area. The cost of rent/ income ratio is a lot higher than in most of the USA. When we rented a 3 room apartment (living room, 2 bedrooms) that was 72 square meters (775 square feet) for NIS 6900 per month (about $1800-1850) and that was a wonderful price for our location.  Kevin’s brother is renting a similar sized apartment in Jerusalem for 4250 shekels, or around $1150 per month. Yep, forget about a bedroom for each of the kids… be happy if you actually get to have one. 🙂

Once you find your apartment, you might realize that Israelis love tile and seem to have never heard about carpets. We also seem to have an aversion to heating and air conditioning being a part of the apartments. Get your space heaters or mobile air conditioning units at one of Israel’s many stores…

— 3 —

…after you show your bags to security. People are less concerned about people smuggling stolen goods out of stores than someone taking a bomb in to commit a terrorist attack. It is very much a part of Israeli reality, and honestly, no segment of the society, Jews or Arabs are completely safe at any time. Our kids know how to correctly put on gas masks and what to do during rocket attacks.

— 4 —

I just bought gasoline. I know my friends in the States complain about the rising gas prices, and it can get as high as $4 per gallon. Well, I paid NIS 7.60 or $2.05 today. For a liter, not a gallon. That comes to NIS 28.76 per gallon, or $7.76. I blame Moses: had he added a few more months of wandering to those 40 years, he would have been able to lead the children of Israel to a land that maybe is not flowing with milk and honey, but is rich in oil.

Of course you shouldn’t be too sad about the super high gas prices, because if you move to Israel you likely won’t be able to afford a car anyway, and would end up riding public transport. Which doesn’t work on the Shabbat and Jewish holidays. And the Shabbat is Friday evening to Saturday night. Because Sunday is a business day. There might be some Christian communities where Sunday is a day of rest, but they are few and far between, and they tend to be Orthodox or Byzantine Catholic anyway. Schools are in session from Sunday till Friday, so it’s kinda hard to have family worship on Sundays at a large church community.

— 5 —

We don’t have Starbucks. We used to, but the chain selling overpriced overwatered and oversweetened coffee flavoured to taste like anything but coffee (mmm, Starbucks, how I love thee) left Israel a while ago. We have our own chains, but we do not have Starbucks. And most of us drink instant coffee at home.

— 6 —

No one wishes you Merry Christmas. Plus Christmas is a regular business day. So is New Year’s Day. And Easter. Especially Easter. It’s Sunday, the beginning of the business week! No matter how much people want to convince themselves that Christianity is an important part of modern day Israel… it’s not really. Arab Christian populations are shrinking, due to conversions of Islam. Nazareth, once a Christian centre, is now predominantly Muslim. But if you want to come to be here for the rapture, they are likely not the “right kind” of Christians anyway.

— 7 —

English is spoken by many, but it’s not the preferred language. When you want to accomplish something you need Hebrew, Arabic or Russian. Yes, Russian. The Hebrew for Christians course does not help when trying to buy a cell phone. Trust me. I know. 🙂

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes — 32

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— 1 —

We had a wonderful two and a half (or 3/4?) days of ceasefire. It ended a few hours before the 72 hours were up, and it was ended by two rockets fired from Gaza to Israel. Apparently this time it's the Islamic Jihad. Since Hamas is in control of Gaza, I truly think it makes no difference: Hamas is responsible for everything coming from the land controlled by them. It was so close to getting back to normal, but it goes on. While Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, there isn't much change for the residents of the South, and they rightfully feel abandoned by our government, when once again we declare victory, only to allow Hamas to recover and rebuild…not the houses and schools and hospitals, but their rocket arsenal and tunnels.

— 2 —

Last night I did something big. Well, big for me. I went to Harel Skaat's concert all by myself. That is something I normally just don't do, it is too out of my comfort zone and too different from my routine. But since Mr. Skaat's birthday, and I am pretty much all alone, I decided to go. It was a brilliant concert as usual. I somehow ended up in line to meet him and wish him a happy birthday, and somehow that line turned into going to an all night burger place (by myself) and staying out way too late.

So…Happy birthday Mr. Skaat!

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— 3 —

 

— 4 —

The Priest's Wife has been advocating for avoiding cheap. Chinese products for a number of reasons. (I'll include a link as soon as I get on my laptop.) While she has some very valid points, I have done some eBay shopping from China and Hong Kong. One seller was selling knitting needles and crochet hooks for very reasonable prices. I contacted them, because I wanted the package to be sent directly to the volunteer organization of the hospital where I have taught some girls and boys to crochet. A local vendor donated some yarn, and I wanted to get the needles and hooks. He and I worked it out, and then I was surprised to see that instead of the free Economy International Shipping option he upgraded my shipping to the Express shipping free. I was already grateful for this gesture, but today I got a text from one of the volunteers at the hospital that the package arrived and, in addition to the two crochet hook sets and one knitting needle set, there were two additional sets of both, some mixed beads and charms, flexible thread and clasps for jewelery. Some of these things will go to other hospitals or activities provided by the organization.

— 5 —

I've been crafting. Yes, still cold porcelain.

I need to find some good sealer/varnish to waterproof it, and then I can plant my little palm “tree” in it.

— 6 —

My garden is pretty much dead. While our house sitters tried to resurrect it, the neglect from the last few weeks has really taken its toll on my poor straw bale garden! I think the root vegetables and some of our peas will make it, and everything we put in planters and pots will, too, but our beans and berries and celery sticks and flowers are beyond help. Maybe next year we won't have a war killing my garden.

— 7 —

Shabbat shalom! And once wgain, happy birthday to Harel Skaat!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

 

 

7 Quick Takes — 31 More “Gaza War”, Coffee and Sillyness.

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— 1 —

 

Reading foreign news reports, I have found that Operation Protective Edge is now often referred to as the “Gaza war”. I find that a little bit strange, because, well, it’s a conflict with military participation, but seriously, the word “war” freaks me out. All of my siblings have war experience, with the Second Lebanon War, and my dad served in every war since the Six Day War (yes, even the Second Lebanon War, even though he was nearing retirement age), but me, no.

The continuing conflict is taking a toll on me, because of the lack of sleep, mostly. And while I whine here about not sleeping well, I am amazed by residents of teh South, who carry on despite much, much worse circumstances than what I experience here, in my little Tel Aviv bubble. Going for coffee, or to the beach, or even just doing my grocery shopping are luxuries not everyone can afford now, because the Hamas attacks are ongoing. There is now a bitter joke about how ceasefire means we cease, Gazans fire… and that eventually Hamas will turn to the UN to complain that the Iron Dome takes down their rockets even during ceasefires. The sad thing is, as things go, that could happen. Hamas fired rockets at their own people, and now blame Israel for the deaths and damage.

— 2 —

The past two weeks I saw Kevin twice, the second being yesteday/today. It was good to have him home for a night before he leaves to joining our kids in Europe for two weeks. Or three the most. I mean if they can stay, why miss August 20?I wish I could have gone with them. I was also going to participate in a craft fair, but then things changed. I am so frateful for the ceasefire, and I do hope it lasts the 72 hours, because it’s one less thing to worry about as they fly. I will be alone for the next two weeks so I’m going to spend these two weeks in the city.

ETA: The ceasefire lasted all of two hours. Wonderful. Not.

— 3 —

After really having to convince my local coffee place’s barista that I’ve already gotten a coffee free, and it should be Hamas paying not the company, I was given a jar of luxury instant coffee as a gift by one of the soldiers I work with. So now we are making fun coffee creations using whatever we have on hand. I made some chocolate sauce flavoured with green almond extract that is popular. I just love that we can create designer coffee from pennies with an electric kettle and a frappé whisk. We are creative.

I experimented more with the cold porcelain. I opted to use food colouring instead of acrilyc paint for the most recent batch. Acrylic kept ruining my plastic bowls, food colouring washes off. If i make individual batches, I add the food colouring to the glue at the start of the process, but if I colour smaller batches, I re-heat the cold porcelain in the microwave, and work in the colour as well as more corn flour. The only negatives I found was that the colour transfers on my hand, but the same thing happened with tempera paint and one if my acrilycs.

— 5 —

I’m pretty clumsy and I luck artistic ability, but here is what I just made:

Once he dries, I need to sandpaper it to get rid of the colours that were transfered by my hand, and then paint the eye (which I kinda didn’t do right anyway). Still, I’m quite happy with it.
There are several books that are mostly about working with polymer clay, but the ideas and techniques presented in them would work with cold porcelain, too. The only thing you have to remember is that cold porcelain air dries, and it shrinks a bit, so do not bake it.
Here are some of my recommendations:

The Polymer Clay Techniques Book
Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay: Tools and Techniques for Sculpting Realistic Figures
Complete Book of Polymer Clay, The

— 6 —

Coming over to my rental in Tel Aviv, I picked up some books to read. This is one of my favourite summer readings:

The title translates as “We and They” from Hungarian, and it’s the third in a series of books by Italian journalist and novelist Brunella Gasperini. All three books are about the same, slightly dysfunctional but very funny and very real family, presented from the point of view of different members of the family: the first book is from the father’s, the second is from the mother’s, and the third one is from the youngest daughter’s POV. It’s a brilliant series, but it seems to be unknown in the English speaking world. To be honest, I think it is unknown outside of Italy and Hungary. I read the whole series most every summer, so now, between sirens, I’m reading on the balcony, with one of my iced coffee creations. All of asudden, life is a bit better. The bitter sweet message present throughout the series remind me that we aren’t all that different today than the people were in the sixties, when this book was written.

— 7 —

 

Shabbat shalom! Tonight we are praying for peace, here, in Syria, in the world. Tonight we are praying for the Jews of Paris and the displaced Christians of Mosul and the people of Gaza and Israel. Tonight we are lighting candles, breaking the chalah, drink the wine, and pray for the soldiers kidnapped during today’s brief ceasefire and for the families of the 61 dead IDF soldiers.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Your Kid is in Gaza…

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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.

So every day, I read the names of Israel’s fallen soldiers, and pray for them, their families, and for my boys.

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