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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

NBN Flight Dates

The house goes on the market next week, the shippers are coming to pack us up in May--and we still hadn't heard from NBN about the aliyah flights. I decided to take a chance and call them this morning--and connected with a very nice young person who told me the charter flight confirmations JUST came in today. The NBN staffer's information is that the flights are:

July 5th

July 19th

August 9th

August 15th

September (I didn't catch the date--too excited about July)

I asked that the staffer note our preferred date of July 5th on our file but it won't be official until we receive a letter or email detailing the dates available and returning the letter/email with our preferences. Now I'm checking the mail religiously, daily if not hourly.

This is later than we wanted to leave--we were hoping for June but hey! everything happens for a reason, so I will accept this and look at it as an opportunity -- as extra time to say our goodbyes here. I may make it up the north coast to visit an old friend, after all; I may squeeze in one last trip to Yosemite. I may have more time to spend with my beloved cousins and good friends.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

5 Star Aliyah

Wonderful posting by Kef International on today's message boards: Israel, having suffered a serious downturn in tourism during the Oslo War, is now having trouble convincing Israelis to make a career of the hotel industry. So...the newest thing in aliyah is encouraging olim already IN the hotel industry to make aliyah to fill the gap. The post said that to encourage this trend, hoteliers are working with the government to provide first, jobs in the hotel industry (sous-chef, laundress, groundskeeper, etc) plus room in the hotel itself plus time for Hebrew ulpan. The article mentioned that most people are taking advantage of this in Eilat, which is rapidly filling with hotel workers from all over the globe (Ethipia, Brazil, Russia, France) who are making aliyah. The post read:

Dozens of Jews around the world participated recently in a hotel
industry and Jewish Agency workshop in a bid to convince Jews to
immigrate to Israel in order to counter the country's hotel industry
employee shortage, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth
reported on Sunday.

In light of the renewed surge in tourism to Israel, local hotels are
facing a shortage of 3,000 workers, with Israelis not quick to take
up tourism jobs.

Under the special project, 60 Jews already made Aliyah to Israel from
France, the former Soviet Union, and South America. All integrated in
hotel positions around Israel in kitchens, cleaning, housekeeping,
security, restaurants, and entertainment. All received the special
immigrant aid package for new immigrants, and live at the same hotel
they are employed by. In their free time they study Hebrew.

Most of the immigrant-employees arrived to the southern town of
Eilat, including Vadim Frikaski who immigrated from Russia and works
now at the Golden Tulip hotel as a sous-chef. For years he dreamt
about making Aliyah but his wife refused.

"I decided to divorce her and realize my dream" he said emotionally.
"I came to Eilat following a visit by representative of the Jewish
Agency and the hotel industry to Russia. I was impressed by the film
about tourism in Israel, and since I worked already in upscale hotels
in Switzerland and Germany I decided to continue doing it in Israel," he said.

Looking For Partners

Most of the new immigrants who found work in the hotels are singles
hoping to find a partner in Israel. One of them is 25-year-old Sergio
Kleiman from Brazil who has a degree in physics but works as a
landscaper in the hotel.

"I plan on staying here and make Israel my home, and later on bring
my parents from Brazil," he said.

Sergio is not alone. Noesablla Eshakyev from Russia works as a
housekeeping supervisor, Vladimir Namakin, also from Russia, works at
the laundry room, Juan Pablo from Argentina works in the pool, Abba
Dassa from Ethiopia works as a dishwasher in the kitchen.

"We view it as true Zionism" said David Fattal, chairman of the
Fattal hotel chain who initiated the project in conjunction with with
the Jewish Agency.

"The new immigrants receive the immigrant absorption aid package,
study Hebrew in the ulpan, get a place to stay and work at the
hotels. We, on the other hand, get the satisfaction of bringing to
Israel Jewish people who want to make Israel their home," he said.

Backtracked to YNet News: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3232210,00.html


Now its Good News--Good News. The rain is pouring down in torrents, we're sitting in the living room, tired and miserable because Smokey has gone missing. The Husband announces he is going out in the storm to look for her. We haven't seen the kitty since yesterday, which makes us think she slipped out while we were moving boxes and bags into the garage, out to the dumpster and to the truck. I announce I'm going with him, storm or no storm, because I'm miserable at the thought of her outside.

As we're changing into storm gear before stomping out into the weather, we hear a faint 'meow.' I'm looking right AT our other cat, whose mouth never moved, so we know it wasn't him. We rush to the front and back doors, stand outside, me in the back yard and the Husband in the front yard, calling.

Nothing. Silence.

I come back inside while the Husband continues to hunt through the wet underbrush of the front yard's borders, and open my lower drawer to pull out a pair of warm socks Yona had given me---and who is sleepily getting to her feet and stretching, but Smokey. The cat must've thought I'd lost my mind--I grabbed her and held her close and laughed with relief. I carried her up to the front of the house and knocked on the full length window next to the front door. The Husband looked up from his search, did a double take, and rushed back into the house.

Smokey wasn't impressed. She jumped out of my arms and ran to the litter box for a World Record pee.

We worked out that yesterday when we were moving clothes around and getting rid of items, she climbed into the open lower dresser drawer, snuggled among the grey socks and gray flannel nightgown and went to sleep.

She's curling around my feet and purring as I write this. We are sooooo relieved.

Good News, Bad News

The Good News: we're official. My olah visa came last week. My son's Israeli passport came also. We're good to go. The house is mostly packed and we should hit the market on Sunday, if it ever stops raining. The pest report showed minor cures needed, nothing major. We've chosen a shipper and contacted him for a date to come pack up and store everything. We've even, courtesy of another correspondent on the Tachlis message board, even found reasonably priced property in Baka, which gives us hope. Not everything is over $800,000....

The Bad News: Smokey has disappeared. Our youngest, female feline member of the family....we didn't see her this morning, so we're wondering if somehow she got out yesterday. Yesterday was lovely weather. Today is miserable, cold, rainy and our kitty is out there in it, totally a housecat with no survival skills. We're heartbroken.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Things I Will Miss

As the time grows closer to aliyah, I look around and realize that I have slowly been saying good-bye this last year. Each season is the last here. I will miss some things, although I am convinced I am going to a better future for my family. Is that a delusion? Did my great-grandparents delude themselves that thinking New York was better than Russia? I don't think so, ultimately. They lived in poverty and struggled as immigrants but their families live in freedom and comfort now. Iran's nuclear threats notwithstanding, I believe Israel will endure, and will examine herself and see a way to bring us all together.

Things I regret leaving behind:

the plum trees in blossom in the spring;

the green hills of California's winter;

misty mornings in our valley when the hills right above us are shrouded in fog and the oak trees peek through;

California oaks;

the native and rare California maple in our backyard;

the little coveys of quail;

the flocks of wild turkeys on our hills;

the wild peacocks on the southern side of the valley, descendants of some rancher's pets;

our inquisitive racoons;

the hummingbirds who return to our feeders every spring;

the wind rushing through the high grass of the hills in the summer, so it waves like the rollers of the ocean;

the bobcat that lives by Miller Creek on the south side of the road;

that moment that comes every warm day when the ocean breeze begins to shift and blow inland, bringing the summer fog in like a carpet over the warm land;

seeing the sun and moon rise through the copse of oaks behind our house;

the California Delta and its levie roads, especially during the fall when the flocks are travelling the inland skyways;

Judy's cabin, the closest thing to Rivendell this side of Middle Earth;

the Sierra Nevada, the Range of Light;

the Oregon coast;

Redwood trees in large numbers like Muir Woods and Redwood National Forest;

the azaleas blooming along the north coast;

Fern Canyon;

Olema valley;

Lake Tahoe;

Crystal Springs Reservoir and the hills behind it, especially when they are frosted with fog on the crests;

dogwood blooming in Yosemite Valley in the spring;

misty rain on the hills of this valley;

the Bear trail to the Tuolomne River fork;

Aspens in the Fall;

Tuolumne Meadows at any time, but especially the night;

Judy's cabin's porch at night, with a good Irish whiskey at hand;

Big Sur;

the first yellow bloom of acacia signalling the end of winter;

the Wine Country after the harvest, all green grass, gold leaves and bright yellow mustard flowers;

I am grateful for the time I was privileged to spend in all these places, and glad to know that the things I love will continue to be here for others. Californians have a fine sense of caring for the world around them and so I expect there to be turkey and bobcat, native oak and maple, and dogwoods in Yosemite for ages to come, G-d willing.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


We went to our little shul's Purim party last night. Many of our friends and coreligionists of the last eight years that we've davened here, were there last night. The food, as always, was excellent (thank you, Gittel) and the music exciting. Our Israeli contingent showed up with their little ones, and the non-frum moms who go to Chabad's preschool also came with their little ones, knowing full well that this is the liveliest Purim party in the county. It was a smaller crowd than in years past, though, and while part of it was the cold, blustery weather and the long mid-week work day, some of it is that our community appears to be shrinking. Our younger families are moving away -- to Los Angeles, to Winnipeg, to Israel, to New Jersey, to Pittsburg. They are moving to places which have Jewish schools for their children, a bigger Jewish community and more opportunities for adult Jewish learning. Those who remain are those whose work or age or family ties keep them here. The non-frum stay because the locale is beautiful, the jobs pay well and they are ambivalent about their children's Jewishness in any event. To them, it is an ethnic heritage, and doesn't offend their multiculturalism so long as it never overrides their identity as assimilated western humanists. But while the non-frum will come to the Purim parties, they won't support the mikveh, bar-mitzvah their boys here, or make up our minyans. I will miss all of them. They've been part of the patchwork of our community for so long....we miss the ones who have left, although we wish them well and understand that their families' better future lies outside this beautiful but lackadaisically Jewish region. It's hard for me to imagine living somewhere where you don't have to struggle to assemble a weekday minyan and Jewish day school is a given. I give Chabad tremendous credit for this outpost of Jewish outreach in an area where the car one drives and the house one lives in are considered by all far more important than the spiritual dimension of one's life, (unless you are a vegan who meditates at Spirit Rock and studies Buddhism--THEN you're really cool!). Our rabbi and rebbetzin are warm, caring, nonjudgemental people who have dedicated their lives to keeping the light of each Jewish soul kindled, and they've done it with humor and good grace in the face of tremendous odds. I will miss them.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Political Blogs

This isn't. A political blog, that is. It is simply a diary of our move home.

I stress HOME because in my cruise through cyberspace this evening, when I should have been busily packaging mashloach manot, I visited Treppenwitz and found that he has been slimed by an agitprop artist in Germany who writes as a "Palestinian." Lots of the bloggers in Israel are writing about their private lives and ups and downs and while politics, because it is a part of life, wanders in and out, their blogs are not primarily political. So along comes the agitprop allegedly Palestinian-but-I-live-in-Europe writer who decides to engage in, for purely her own amusement and partisan oneupsmanship, trashing Treppenwitz because he lives in the West Bank. Of course, no one in Israel can win this argument, regardless of where they live geographically, because when I went on to read the rest of the agitprop blog, I found that ALL Israeli Jews are colonialist, invading, land-stealing, genocidal, racist, etc. scum.

The interesting thing about her blog is that while she speaks fluent English and works in Germany, she claims to be "Palestinian." A further internet search reveals that she has lived in South America, North America and Europe and has apparently never lived in Palestine, a country one of her two parents abandoned long ago. She doesn't speak Arabic. One parent is not Arab but Hispanic. This raises the question: why is it that "Palestinians-in-Exile" remain "Palestinian" for generations, no matter that they live in Germany, the United States, Lebanon, Mexico -- and all feel they have an ABSOLUTE right to the land that their Arab ancestors conquered at sword-point....yet the Jews, who took our name from Judea, the ancient name of that land, and were exiled by European ethnic cleansing, and who kept our language, our calendar, our prayer services and our hope of coming home for centuries -- WE have no right to live there.

Do I detect a racist double-standard? Yes. I do.

Question for the Palestian Diaspora: if your children and grandchildren are born in Lebanon or Canada or Denmark, do they have more 'right' to your "Palestine-from-the-river-to-the-sea" than the 4th and 5th generation Israeli children actually born there? Are you "Palestinian" if you are born of an Arab father and German, Danish, Venezualan mother? If you grow up speaking English, German or Spanish but not Arabic?

If Jews forfeited their rights to live under their own sovereignty because they were exiled by the Romans and Arab and Mameluks and Crusaders, then at what point do the "Palestinians" who live abroad forfeit their right to a sovereign nation of their own?

Hate-blogs like agitprop's are depressing because any hope for rational conversation is totally drowned out by spiteful rhetoric and self-serving propagandistic diatribes. For example:

"In spite of unchecked immigration the area of Palestine partioned for the Jewish state in 1948 did not have a Jewish majority, and Jews owned less than ten percent of the land."

Strong statement. Totally wrong. First there was no 'unchecked immigration.' The Turks, who owned the land then (not the Arabs or "Palestinians") allowed Jewish immigration into their empire and had done so since the 1400s. The Turks also allowed immigration of any group of people within their empire to other parts of the empire. They also allowed non-Jews to immigrate: Ali Pasha had the sultan's permission to bring Algerian Arabs to settle parts of Syria and the Galil in the 1800s in order to end a brush war between the Algerian tribesmen and the French. The "Palestinians" of the area of Kibbutz Lavi are historically Algerians.

However, the Turks caved in to the Arab demands that Jewish immigration be stopped--and the Jews who had purchased farms and worked them on the Golan were promptly evicted and other Jewish farming operations were looked on with well-founded suspicion as World War One approached, as many Jews favored the British over the Turks. This is not because the Jews were "European" as agitprop would have it--after all, the Arabs supported the British also. Go read T.E. Lawrence's "Seven Pillers of Wisdom" about the British-inspired, funded and led "Arab Revolt."

After World War One, which the Brits won and the Turks lost, Britain and France divided up the Middle East, promising a Jewish state to the Jews. Once again, Arab riots caused the closure of Jewish immigration. As Hitler was coming to power in Germany and promising genocide, the British White Paper closed Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine.

So there was NO 'unchecked immigration' as agitprop alleges. But she declares it with such passion, such conviction, such brio, that anyone reading it wouldn't know it is pure bullshit.

Oh, the other part -- "Jews owned less than 10% of the land." Hey, guess what, so did the Arabs! The British inherited Turkish land laws, which still are the basis of much Israeli real estate law. The CROWN owns the land. ALL of it. You, the individual Jewish or Arab farmer -- you don't own it unless (1) it is registered in TABU and (2) you are paying taxes on it. Unregistered land doesn't belong to anyone except the government. Even Arafat knew this -- one of the projects he actually DID get going in the West Bank was to have the Palestinians there start registering their land AND paying taxes on it.

Any land not registered and taxed reverted back to the Crown, regardless of how long your family had farmed it. And guess what? There was a lot of farming going on in places remote from Turkish control on land that wasn't registered, and hence, not taxed!

When the Brits took over, the "Crown lands" became subject to the British Mandatory Authority instead of the sultan--and the Brits also required that the land be registered and taxed.

When the UN partition voted Israel and Palestine into existance, the unregistered, untaxed Crown/Mandatory lands reverted to the new governments -- the Israeli and the Palestinian. Except, whoops! there was no Palestinian government because nine Arab armies made a "War of Liberation" their excuse for a land-grab of their own. Don't believe it? After 1948, no country called "Palestine" was created by any occupying Arab force -- Gaza was Egyptian, and Jordan annexed the West Bank.

But back to that 10% -- yes, the day before Israel existed by UN vote, Jews owned a small percentage of the land. But Arabs also owned a similarly small percentage of the land, and the government owned all the rest. And on Israel's independence day, ALL of the land not registered and taxed, by operation of long-established law in the land, became the property of the Government of Israel to do with as it pleased.

The UN partition plan was based solely on demographics. That's the reason the 1948 partition bounderies look like a crazy quilt: with the exception of the Negev, which the UN decided was a wasteland no one wanted so they gave to the Jews, the rest of the area was divvied up by demographics -- majority Jewish was the Jewish state, majority Arab was the Arab state, with the UN reserving Jerusalem for itself. So contrary to agitprop's claim, demographics played a huge role in the partition, and the areas partitioned to the Jews were majority Jewish.

I digress immensely on this subject because this self-indulgent, intellectually dishonest, historical revisionist racist Palestinian-by-proxy who spouts her venom in cyberspace deserves a slapdown on the grounds of common decency: at a time when individual Palestinian and Israeli bloggers are trying to cut through the crap by blogging publicly about their lives and engaging in conversations, however circuitous, careful or painful, about the conflict and their feelings and hopes, along comes agitprop-the-American-wanna-be-Palestinian with her hate, rhetoric and lies, doing her best to slam the writers on both sides who try to build bridges.

So, agitprop, see my tag: "Aliyah '06." My family has kept Hebrew and our Semitic faith and culture alive for over 20 generations, through pogroms, expulsions, Inquisition, discrimination, random murder--through all of that we have kept our culture, language and faith intact. Three times a day we bow in prayer to Jerusalem. Daily prayers and blessings keep alive the prayer to return to Jerusalem and the Land promised to Abraham's children. Every year we promise that 'next year in Jerusalem' will be a reality rather than a prayer. You and I have both voted with our feet. I'm coming home. You've left. The land is mine. End of discussion.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Undiscovered Country

Daughter Number One has landed! We heard from her this morning, and kol b'seder. She is esconced in Beit Canada, getting settled, updating her blog, contacting friends...I envy her, already there with Jerusalem and the future at her feet.

The unknown is the future, the 'undiscovered country' as Captain Kirk quoted from someone else. Like explorers of old, we cross not just continents but time and the tracks of all our crossings lead us to a Future we have made simply by being and doing. Hopefully being and doing in a way that creates a positive future.

The Husband said something once about relationships that probably also applies to the future: "There are good days and bad days. You try each day to make that day a good day, and if you succeed, then the relationship is a positive one. If the bad days outnumber the good days, then the relationship is doomed."

So if we move forward into the Undiscovered Country, and try to make each day a positive one, then we will create a future worth living and have a past worth remembering. But if we waste our time in fear and complaint, we have nothing worth remembering and nothing to look forward to except bitterness.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

No Guns, No Motorcycles

Well, the Husband is heart broken. Both of us are a Law and Order team and both of us have handguns and rifles and shoot for fun. Those who are horrified by the NRA should read no further.

We heard from Meches yesterday. The Harley, which is my Husband's favorite vehicle, isn't making aliyah with us after all. First, you cannot import a vehicle over 4 years old to Israel without olim rights. He doesn't have olim rights. I do, but we decided we weren't wasting them on a motorcycle when we need a car. So he can't bring in the 5-year-old Harley-Davidson. He's going to sell it, go to Israel, get a mini-bike license (under 800 cc) and then in a year he will qualify for a Big Motorcycle license -- at which point, we'll buy a new Harley and pay the stinking taxes on it.

Then there are the guns. Can someone explain to me why Israel, during the Oslo Idiocy, armed the PA to the extent where there are seven firearms for every man, woman and child in the West Bank and Gaza -- but the people of Israel, nearly all of whom do military service and have basic gun-safety drilled into them, are prohibited from owning a firearm? The exceptions are that you get a hunting license, or work in police or security, or you're on the Olympic shooting team.

So when Saleem and Achmad decide to wander into my neighborhood store and open fire with their weapons or try to blow themselves up, I'm supposed to do what? Hide under a fruitstand? How about if I solve it the American way and when they draw down on the shoppers, I shoot them? Doesn't that make more sense? This Israeli-government- ghetto-thinking about how we can't run around with guns in Israel is crazy---all the neighbors in Hamastan and their puppeteers are all armed to the teeth!

So we have perfectly lovely rifles and handguns, many of which we will now sell, and the others we will store Stateside until my son and I get a hunting license (gosh, that means I have to actually go KILL some living creature instead of just shooting at a clay target--that doesn't make sense either) and my husband tries to be a volunteer sniper on the police department (an area in which he has great expertise).

Oh, and olim have to be there for three years before we can even apply for a license to own a weapon. Let's hope I don't run into Achmad and Saleem and their Paradise Now scenario before I'm officially armed.

Or maybe I should just move to the Territories? I heard that if you live across the Green Line, you automatically get your license because you're an automatic target of the Kill Jews crowd. Have to look into this....

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ilan Halimi

For those of you who haven't heard, Ilan Halimi is the young Parisian man who was kidnapped and tortured to death over three weeks and left to die on a Parisian street. The MSM in the US barely noticed -- AP and through them, the Washington Post, finally picked it up when there were anti-racism demonstrations in Paris....by the way, the reason he was tortured to death? He was a Jew.

The French police, prosecutors and politicians have danced all around this issue, denying that the crime was motivated by racial or religious hatred. When one of the conspirators was arrested and told them that he was tortured because he was a Jew, French officialdom conceded that it was a hate crime, but added that the other attempted kidnappings by the same crew were not -- except that it turns out they were aimed at Jews also. Okay, this gang is antiSemitic, the French now concede, but its an isolated incident.

Not. See http://www.yourish.com/ and the backtracks there. French Jewry is living on borrowed time.

Or for fuller coverage of Ilan Halimi, go to http://michellemalkin.com/archives/004647.htm

For a total listing of coverage from multiple sources, go to http://technorati.com/search/ilan%20halimi.

The silence from the American 6 pm news is deafening. And shameful.

WHY are French Jews (those who haven't fled to Montreal and Israel) still there? Can you spell p-o-g-r-o-m?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Another Step Forward

Benchmarks this week: the painting contract is done, and the housepainter is coming....we submitted our documents to the Israeli consulate and my olah visa and my son's Israeli passport is coming in about three weeks....Number One Daughter left this morning with her sisters to spend a day with them before flying to LA to catch her El Al flight to Israel, to Jerusalem, to the Mercaz Klita in Talpiot. Her room is empty, suddenly. One room down, , 5 to go.....the Husband is leaving in mid-May, G-d willing, and will settle with the dog in the apartment, get the utilties turned on and wait for the school year to end so that Josh and I can join him.

I told Yona this is a tradition: my great grandparents' families also left the Pale in stages -- first her brothers to America, then his brother to Palestine, then him to America followed by her to join him with the children. Unlike my great-grandparents' day, though, today we don't lose all ties---we're hoping the rest of the family will visit in the future once we're settled, and until then, there are telephones and email to keep us up to date with each other.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Another benchmark in our aliyah today. We got an estimate from one of the shippers. Now we're waiting for two other estimates. I look at the cost embodied in these estimates and cast about for something else I can get rid of! We may go liftvan instead of container--we have our stuff and our daughter's stuff, although a lot of both can go into storage for a year. Yona will be in Bet Canada for a while, and we will be in a furnished apartment, so we can store items until we find a house/cottage/townhouse etc. to settle into.

Friday we go to the consulate to get Josh's passport. The following week Yona flies to LA to catch her El Al flight to Israel.

More exciting--NBN called and gave us a possible date for the first summer NBN flight. THAT makes it real. I have an event horizen now. (Don't ask--it's not official and I'm sworn to secrecy).

While I still have that feeling we are moving in stages (home here to apt there to another home in Israel, a lift now and lift next year) at least I have movement! As they used to say in Houston, "We have liftoff!"

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