Adar 27, 5768, 3/4/2008
There are times when you (I) think you've seen everything. And then something new pops up and you (I) pinch yourself, trying to discover if it's real or just a dream.
I've been pinching myself a lot lately, and each time I'm shocked to discover that it's not a dream.
Let me preface the forthcoming story with three short introductions.
First, every once in a while I receive letters asking why I post such items. I can only go back to the first article I recall having written, following the murder of Nachum Hoss and Yehuda Partuche just outside Hebron in March, 1995. I remember writing then that it's important that people KNOW – that events shouldn't be the inheritance of the few – that they should be public knowledge, on the table for everyone to see, to judge, and to do something about. I still believe that, even more so today.
Two: Despite what I am going to write, yes, I still believe in the sanctity of the State of Israel, in the Land of Israel. The State is, in my opinion, (and I know there are many who disagree for various reasons), a Divine gift for which we waited for over two thousand years. The State isn't at fault for all the problems we have, rather it's us, the people, who are screwing it up. (In short.)
Three: I'm frequently asked, 'what can we do?' OK – we all know the standard answers: make phone calls, write letters, etc. etc. (Again, in my opinion) there are two major activities people can partake in today to make a difference, and I'm sure this isn't the first time you've ever heard this. First, you can give money, making contributions and donations to whatever interests you (like Hebron). The battles we are facing today are unbelievably expensive ($20,000 a month to heat Beit HaShalom and literally tens and more tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees). Very simply, we cannot afford do it without mucho dollars. And that means people like you, because we don't have a monopoly on money.
However, if people REALLY want to make a difference, they have to come here to Israel – not for vacations, but to comeLIVE here, breath here, work here and 'change the way it is.' And it really can happen – it can be done. I know people don't like Aliyah speeches, but what can you do – sometimes the truth hurts. If you really believe in something, act upon it. Do it.
After you read the next paragraphs you may ask (if you already haven't, at least a million time) why would anyone want to go live there? I relate to that as 'the Spy's question – the same thing asked by 10 of the 12 spies Moses sent to search out the land following the exodus from Egypt. They looked around and asked themselves, 'why would anyone want to live here?' We know what happened to them and the damage they caused us, up through today. We are here in Eretz Yisrael because G-d gave us this land, it is our homeland, He created to Jewish people in order that we should live here and fulfill here His commandments. Need more be said?
OK – that was just an introduction. Now on to the good stuff.
By this time you're probably familiar with the famous, or infamous Beit HaShalom windows. A couple of weeks ago, following a fierce snow storm, Minister Eli Yishai from Shas started banging on the cabinet-room table, demanding to know why Jews in Hebron had to live without windows. Barak finally gave his okay. Then, the fun started.
One of my colleagues here received a call from the local Chief (named Taryk) of the Civil Administration, a branch of the defense ministry. This was a couple of days before another expected snow storm. He informed us that we could install, in Beit HaShalom, 'wooden frames with plastic' to protect its residents from the cold and rain.
"Ha," my friend answered, "you think they're living there without any protection at all. That's what we already have there."
So a couple of hours later Chief called back and said, "you can install aluminum window frames WITHOUT glass windows."
My friend: "Do me a favor. I'm busy. In another day or so it's going to start snowing again. So either issue me the permits I need for windows, or leave me alone."
A few hours later Chief called back and finally agreed to installation of windows – period.
Wow, great – a real victory. The windows were ordered and arrived in record time. The simplest windows in Israel were ordered, in order not to upset Chief or any of his bosses. Installation began. And then the fun started. Again my friend received a call, an hysterical call, from Chief.
"What are you doing there?"
"But you are also installing 'trisim' – plastic shades. You didn't get a permit to install anything made of plastic – only aluminum frames and glass windows."
"OK, so we'll change them from plastic to aluminum."
"But then they won't be the simplest windows, which you promised to install."
…. – " Look, the standard for the simplest windows, set by the Ministry of Housing, demands that all windows come with shades. We are only following that."
One of the reasons the Chief and his bosses allowed the windows was a result the community's agreement to post bond, guaranteeing not take advantage ofthe window installation in order to make other earth-shattering changes in the building. A creature named Ronit Levy, a left-wing activist dressed in military garb who works as a prosecutor for the IDF, wrote a letter to the court saying that they should consider demanding payment of our bond guarantee because we had violated the agreement and installed plastic shades.
So, all the shades that had been installed were removed, and today the families live with glass windows in very sunlit rooms.
Behind the scenes, or as we say in Hebron, behind the windows.