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Life Lessons with Judy Simon
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Batya Medad made aliya from New York to Israel in 1970 and has been living in Shiloh since 1981. Recently she began organizing women's visits to Tel Shiloh for Psalms and prayers. (For more information, please email her.) Batya is a newspaper and magazine columnist, a veteran jblogger and recently stopped EFL teaching. She's also a wife, mother, grandmother, photographer and HolyLand hitchhiker, always seeing things from her own very unique perspective. For more of Batya's writings and photos, check out:
Av 25, 5768, 8/26/2008
One of the great myths weakening aliyah for decades has been:
For various reasons, we were in a rush to get to Israel, right after our 1970 wedding. We didn't buy any American furniture, didn't even use our entire "shipping allowance." We brought some books, clothes, non-electric kitchen supplies--like pots, dishes and cutlery, sheets, towels and that was it. My husband was a recent college graduate and I was a dropout.
Within a year of docking at Haifa Port, we were apartment owners. A simple apartment was within the budget of our immigrant mortgage and the wedding gifts, my mother told everybody to give us checks--"No tshatshkes, they're moving to Israel." We were also parents; I went straight from the hospital to our apartment with our firstborn.
We were lucky that our parents covered whatever loans we had for our education. In those days they were in the parents' names.
We became Israeli, picking up Hebrew and only knowing the Israeli ways of doing things.
Yes it was as easy as it sounds.
Friends who stayed abroad found their expenses competing with their savings, while inflation here in Israel made mockery of the little they could squirrel away. It's not all that cheap to live in America (or wherever), and you get used to "the American way."
Doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants and nurses etc who are trained abroad still have to pass various exams here in Israel, learn Hebrew terminology and the language itself. Studying in Israel may be a little harder in the beginning, but once you get over the hump, it's lots easier than aliyah ten years or more later when you're dealing with a spouse and kids, who have their own problems.
And what about the great money myth? Today's American university students frequently finish their education owing tens of thousands of dollars. It used to be that banks were very tight with their money, only lending it to those with sufficient collateral. Now, lending is a business, big business, one of the causes for the present American recession. Telemarketers encourage loans to anyone. Credit cards offer lots of credit. Many college graduates need years to pay it all back, and some even find themselves bankrupt, because a college diploma doesn't guarantee prosperity.
If you really dream of living here in the Holy Land. If you're willing to be frugal, you can have an easier time in Israel. You'll learn Hebrew, get relevant training. You'll be part of society. Check it out!
Make aliyah now!
Av 23, 5768, 8/24/2008
I was one of the two hundred Jewish Bloggers, known as jbloggers, who met last Wednesday, August 20, at the First Annual Jewish Bloggers Convention, in the Nefesh B'Nefesh offices in Jerusalem. It was a very enjoyable experience meeting virtual friends, acquaintances and celebrities f2f, face to face.
Yes, that's me with the creator of Dry Bones.
And Bibi is also a blogger.
But there's no such thing as a free lunch, and besides the aliyah agenda, which most of us are at home with, they had a spokesperson from the Foreign Ministry who spoke about "ReBranding." In simple words, it means image-changing. The results of recent research had them astounded. We are perceived abroad as a dangerous, unfriendly country.
Kadima's forward-thinking Foreign Minister, Tsippi Livni, decided that what's needed is an advertising campaign.
Look closely, here's what you see to combat negative stereotypes and create the future brand and marketing image of Israel:
1. Tel Aviv Fashion Brands
Those are the images that Israel is going to use to sell Israel's uniqueness and specialness to the world. The campaign is being prepared and the Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to sign off on the budget next month. (picture plus list and explanation from Akiva.) Akiva left out the Foreign Ministry's aim to stress that we're the home of the three main religions.
An ad campaign won't solve our problems. People aren't so dumb, except maybe Israeli politicians. Few people will ever see the ads, no matter how much money is invested. So, here are some of my suggestions, which won't cost us all that money and will probably save some. Of course, you're invited to add your in the comments:
Israelis once had a great reputation as strong, daring, chutzpadik!
Now, the more we try to please the world and imitate it, the less they like us. And they certainly don't respect us.
None of these expensive ad campaigns will do the trick. One reason is because they're "phony," and the other bigger reason is that they're lacking passion, passion for an ideal. In advertising there's the principle that you must create passion for your product, and none of that exists in the "Rebranding of Israel."
Av 18, 5768, 8/19/2008
You probably think I'm schizophrenic. My posts range from cock-eyed optimist to things like this. So, if you need to be cheered, and you don't want me in a fighting mood, then scroll down to my previous post.
It seems to me I've heard that song before
Well, maybe Huckabee is sincere, OK, really in favor of Israel, a secure, truly secure Israel, but when I saw that picture of him by the kotel, those lyrics came to my mind.
Is it all a show?
Every single politician running for US President, Vice President or dreaming of... They all come to Israel and pose at the Kotel. They recite the mantra of "safe," "secure," "united Jerusalem" and all that the script requires.
The late US President Ronald Reagan, an experienced professional actor stated that he couldn't understand why people had put him down as "just an actor." He said that he couldn't imagine anyone without acting talent and training doing the job.
So, I'm a cynic. It just seems to me that push comes to shove, and they're all the same.
And I'm also sick and tired of the patronizing way the world talks to us. Those NY Times editorials are just too preachy for words. I wonder if anyone there ever reads reactions like mine.
Our collective memories are much too short, so I decided to take a look at the new Gush Katif Museum. I was hoping/expecting to get a taste of the beauty which was once Gush Katif, but it's a disappointment.
Here's an obituary about one of Neve Dekalim's more unique residents.
About memories, it's already ten years since Harel Bin Nun, HaYa"D, of Shiloh, was murdered. A Sefer Torah was dedicated to his memory in the community his brothers established in his name, Givat Harel.
Something else to remember, Ehud Barak's reign of terror. Defying logic, he's back as head of the Labor Party and he's campaigning to return to power. Please read this and pass it around. The wave of Arab terror which began during Barak's rule was unprecedented. Don't forget, please.
Now, back to my menial tasks here in the eye of the storm.
Av 14, 5768, 8/15/2008
In Hebrew, רוח ru'ach means both wind and spirit and is also the linguistic root for spiritual, רוחני ruchani. During yesterday's extremely enjoyable time helping my granddaughters fly their handmade kites in the Israel Museum, the title to this post was flying around my head, like a hyperactive fly.
Periodically there were announcements that Mincha minyanim would be forming, so anyone who wanted to pray the Jewish Afternoon Prayer could gather at a specific place. I don't remember that from museum events when my own children were young.
Today religion is more "natural" and unembarrassed. Years ago, men (and women) who wanted to pray would look for an unobtrusive corner, hidden from public view.
עם ישראל חי
Am Yisrael Chai
The People of Israel Lives!!
Av 7, 5768, 8/8/2008
A leader has vision.
He/She sees it as a
That's one of the elements in charisma. Arik Sharon had it. Whether right or wrong, he could get people to obey him. Begin had it, but then he lost it once he gave Egypt the Sinai. The Left gloated. They knew, like when Delila convinced Samson to cut his hair, that Menachem Begin would cease to be the Begin we loved. Samson's hair later grew in, and he used his renewed strength to destroy his enemies, but sadly, Begin just faded away.
Our Biblical Homeland, liberated during the 1967, Six Days War, is divided in three general areas: The Shomron, Binyamin and Gush Etzion-Hebron. I live in Shiloh, which is in Binyamin, north of Jerusalem, south of Tapuach and Rechallim. In Biblical times, Shiloh was our spiritual center, where the Mishkan, Tabernacle, rested for 369 years. I'm attached to that spirit.
Recently I've had the wonderful opportunity to see the building energy of my neighbors in the north, the Shomron. Daniella Weiss visited to tell us of how she's inspiring youth, younger than her own children, to continue to build new communities in Judea and Samaria. And yesterday, I joined Helen Freedman, of AFSI, on a tour led by David Haivri of Tapuach.
We visited Rechallim, rich with children, which must make Rachella Druk, HaYa"D, so proud in Olam Haba. It is located at the site of her murder by Arab terrorists. Then we looked at Shechem, Kever Yosef, so near but the Israeli government doesn't allow Jews to visit. We met the head of the Shomron Regional Council who told us of his impressive plans and programs. And then we went to Avri Ram's farm in the mountains over Itamar. It's an oasis of Judaism and Zionism.
Now I pray that we will feast with the Moshiach on Tisha B'Av, instead of fasting. Baruch Hashem, I feel leadership from the Shomron.