Talking Turkey

In hopes of lightening the heaviness we all live with when life in Israel tenses up, here is another of my funnies.

Bracha Weisman

OpEds IDF soldiers advancing on objective
IDF soldiers advancing on objective

During the spring of 1993 I met my husband. I was NOT dating, nor was I interested; rather I’d just started figuring life out and finding my place. Within 36 hours he proposed and made it clear he was on his way to live in Israel.

Don’t doubt: I love the country of my birth. I love my family living there, I love President Trump (and all four eligible adults in our home, in Betar Illit, loudly and proudly voted for him), I love pumpkin pie, I love Sundays, I love the SPACE people grant others whilst in line or whilst driving at 70 miles an hour; the list goes on.

I did not leave the United States for a negative reason; rather my heart and soul brought me here.

Furthermore Israel is the only country where those who wish me dead clearly fall into one of two categories: (1) extremists who've been brainwashed by an utterly complete mutilation of G-d or (2) extremists who've been brainwashed by a warped perception that “G-d-doesn’t-exist” (my Jewish brethren, the ones who don’t grasp: there are a million places where you can peacefully break Shabbat, eat pork, and intermarry; you don’t need to do these things in our sacred land).

Life in Israel is full of many colorful moments; near misses with at least two suicide bombings and other incidents, one in which my scream cleared an extremely packed room (i have amazing lungs from ten years of competitive swimming.)

The most dramatic scare happened on January 27, 2002. My sister met me at the Sbarro Restaurant located at the corner of Jaffo and King George, the main intersection in downtown Jerusalem. (I had a medical test nearby and she came to sit with my now 18 year old son.)

Son-three was quietly sitting in his stroller, 2 meters away from us, wheeled up tight to the gigantic floor to ceiling windows, positioned to see us, when a female suicide bomber blew herself up -- about 6-7 meters away from my angelic 17-month old baby in what is now called The Jaffa Street Bombing.

Growing up in California my sister and I repeatedly learned to duck under our school desks during an earthquake -- everything suddenly violently SHOOK; the dark grey marble countertop, where we stood, considering our lunch options, was perfect.

Shop windows for at least 100 meters around us were shattered and gone but those Sbarro windows protected the four of us . . . my sister was four months pregnant. 

Twenty-five years later I’m still here and twenty years later my sister is still here. 

I’m a successful, tax paying, accountant-using small business owner. My husband has worked for more startups than I can recall. We’ve been exceedingly blessed with family and friends and neighbors and my message, hand-in-hand with handgun ownership, is: we aren’t going anywhere.

A message that is all the more important to shout from the mountain tops after the recent painful losses to terrorists.

Our communal loss in addition to having twin combat-soldier sons deployed at the border to Gaza, all the while facing Yom Kippur -- made me pause in my desire to share the ongoing, humorous, “Gun Totin’ Ima,” episodes that just keep tumbling into my lap.

Yet, it’s with humor (and the overnight replacing of shattered windows) we remember why we are here and we are able to focus on the “myriad and myriad” of gifts constantly being showered upon us. (I’m almost positive my Sbarro windows didn’t explode because of the terrorist attack which occurred in June 2001 -- I’m alive, my youngest son and eldest nephew are alive and my only sister is alive, but others were first murdered.)

In hopes of lightening the heaviness we all live with here is another of my funnies:

Several months ago I drove one of the twins from Gaza to Haifa, for an appointment with an orthopedist.

Is it possible the army doesn’t have an orthopedist available closer to Gaza? Who knows. [I keep telling everyone, especially my haredi neighbors, the army runs on miracles -- therefore it is the ideal place for all haredim -- we could take it over if we only enlisted 90% of our sons.]

Son-one and I left Gaza, went to breakfast in Ashkelon (they never seem to eat before I collect them), hung out at a beach in Ashkelon (traffic was horrific for the next hour; why sit in a car when there are incredible beaches three minutes from the freeway), and enjoyed a wonderful drive up the coast.

Upon entering Haifa we found our way to his appointment and I took off to find a coffee house (my only complaint regarding military policy towards civilians: we aren’t allowed on base, hence I’ll drive for 2 hours, drink sufficient water along the way and not have access to restrooms there).

The mall closest to base seemed nice enough and I easily parked and entered. The guard who checked my permit was simply beaming; absolutely thrilled that I carry a weapon. His only comment was, in awe, “Yesh lach neshek?!?” ("You have a weapon?" - I felt like the messiah.)

Soon afterwards son-one calls to say he’s finished (two hours before his appointment -- the army runs on miracles) and he really wants to see, “The Incredibles Two.”

I return to base. Micro-Tavor and uniform wearing man return to car. We spend about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to park at “The Grand Canyon Mall.” Finally, we are greeting security stationed at the entrance to the parking structure. Two guards, one woman and one man. The woman is clearly in charge and greets us.

She asks son-one for his military ID. We are both miffed. He regularly presents ID at the entrance to stores or a small shopping center or a large mall, but neither of us have ever encountered a request for his ID in order to enter a parking lot.

Son-one asks, “Why?”

Security-Girl answers, “Because you are armed.” (Ki ata chamush.)

So I pipe up, “Gam ani chamusha (Me too).”

She sneered at me, ignored me and waited for the military ID.

Like, wow. I don’t know how to sneer. I can’t recall the last time I saw a human being sneer yet this young lady has it mastered.

Moving on: catching a film with one of my chayalim (soldiers), at two in the afternoon, when we both know we’re playing hooky (but we also know the army expects him to travel on trains and buses -- they weren’t expecting him in Gaza until well after nightfall) -- these are my stolen moments.

Unfortunately for son-one, I managed to embarrass him as we were leaving. The most adorable little baby was fast asleep in her carriage, with both arms stretched out, high above her head. I squealed, “That’s how you used to sleep!” (I think it’s difficult for a 6’3”-scary-tough combat soldier to reconcile himself to the fact that this mother-person not only carried him in her body, nursed him for 26 months but, most shocking, for her, 20 years past feels like yesterday.)

With difficulty I returned son-one to base (leaving them at a train station or a military base always makes me tearful). Because I picked up burgers in Sederot I had a chance to see son-two, too. We got a great picture:

To all of my fellow armed women: please come practice with me at Caliber 3. (Additionally, Caliber 3, accessed via Naphtali Miller, has an amazing, immersive and fun class on how to recognize terrorists for tourists; for those of us living here Caliber 3 has advanced training classes for civilians.)

To all of my fellow Jewish women who are allowed to own a handgun: please apply for a permit, then spend the time and money on being a part of one solution to the situation we currently face.

Ari Fuld didn’t survive but he stood between his attacker and others; his choices saved lives.