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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Common Sense, Israeli Style

All Israelis and olim have a teudat zehut. This is something unknown in the United States, but its something like a social security card with a picture and identification number and all of your personal information: your address, your children's names, your spouse's name, your marital status, etc. It's often called 'an internal passport.'

We got ours almost immediately upon arrival. Earlier in the summer, getting our teudat zehuts involved standing in a long line at the agency, a long wait once inside, and finally the issuance of the identifications and a sigh of relief.

However, when we went to our health clinic, the staff pointed out that my son had been omitted from my teudat zehut. A mother's children are supposed to be listed under the mother's teudat--and my son wasn't. We limped along for a while without correcting this because the idea of another foray into Misrad Hapnim was a bit daunting. Nonetheless, today was the day to finally tackle this issue since we had multiple issues to address downtown: not just adding my son to my teudat, but getting a document establishing my husband is a returning citizen so he can get his driver's license reissued AND I needed to be downtown at Misrad Haklita to get a tuition waiver on the upcoming semester's ulpan tuition.

Braced for a balagon, we travelled downtown, swept into Misrad Hapnim (where's the line? we wondered, looking around at the small number of people) and were there for all of five minutes. This was a breeze. I came packing about 20 pounds of files in my backpack in preparation to prove anything the staff might want: my birth certificate, my son's birth certificate (with apostile and multiple photocopies), photographs of all us, our marriage license, my bar card, medical records--well, you get the idea.

I didn't need any of it.

The staffer we dealt with took my son's teudat zehut, then looked at my teudat zehut. She looked at my son.

"How old are you?" she asked him in Hebrew.

"Sixteen," he responded, in Hebrew.

"Is this your mother?" the woman asked.

"Yes, of course," he answered.

"Okay," she said, then promptly made the changes in her computer, printed out a new teudat zehut with my son listed as my child and handed it to me.

"Have a nice day," she said, waving us out and another petitioner into her office.

Israelis are a very practical people. Here, documentation carried less weight than a child's word--of course he knows who his mother is.

Who needs a birth certificate?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hezbollah Journalism Reaches New Depths (Pun Intended)

Full Faith and Credit to Andrew Bolt and Australia's Herald Sun:

Hezbollah sinks Australian warship
Posted by Andrew Bolt on Tuesday, August 22, 06 at 08:51 am

http://www.moqavemat.com - an Iran-based website run by the Hezbollah terrorist group - is running this picture (above) of what it claims is the Israeli ship it hit with a missile last month.

Now look at the Royal Australian Navy’s picture below - as published by Defence Industry Daily - of its sinking of the decommissioned Australian destroyer-escort HMAS Torrens off the coast of Western Australia in 1998 . We were told at the time the Torrens was deliberately sunk by a torpedo fired by one of our own submarines, the HMAS Farncomb.

Should we now think that we were in fact attacked by Hezbollah - or is this just the latest proof that Hezbollah will lie and lie again for propaganda gain?

(Thanks to Mutley)

UPDATE. Hezbollah has now removed the image.

And kudos to Yael at Step By Step whose participation in the book meme led me in turn to Nominally Challenged's A Whiff Of The Med who is the first I found to have posted this.

Why is it that the Blogosphere is revealing these propaganda games to the world? Why isn't the MSM doing its job?
Hey, all you graduates of Dartmouth, Harvard and Columbia School of Journalism! You all wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein--here's your chance to do some real journalism instead of sit in your air-conditioned offices and regurgitate whatever some underpaid stringer of dubious reliablity feeds to AP. How 'bout it?! Let's see some real journalism--starting with an in-depth investigative report on how the MSM screwed up and became a dupe of Terrorism Inc.

Or is that just a tad too embarassing...?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wheeee, I've Been Tagged!

Thank you, AbbaGav .thank you--what an honor! Really! (Yes, I know we're supposed to whine but this is so much fun, how can I complain?!)

It's this month's Book Meme. Here we go!

1. Name one book that changed your life:

excerpts in translation from The Phenomenon of Man, by Teilhard de Chardin (no, of course I didn't read the whole thing--I was in high school and the excerpts were tough enough);

2. One book you've read more than once:

I assume the Magic School Bus series doesn't count? For adult reading, Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett (as a matter of fact, I've read the entire series multiple times--eminently readable historical novels)

3. One book you'd want on a desert island:

Foxfire, Volume One--I don't need to know how to dress a hog, but the building and farming tips might come in useful;

4. One book that made you laugh:

Sex Tips For Girls by Cynthia Heimel--NOT something I'd give my daughter, but it was a gift that had me on the floor in stitches;

5. One book that made you cry:

I Never Saw Another Butterfly, Children's Drawings and Poems From Terezin Concentration Camp, ed. Hana Volakova

6. One book you wish you'd written:

Harry Potter by J.K. Rawlings, now the richest woman in the world and beloved by children and adults for her magic;

7. One book you wish had never been written:

Mein Kampf by what's-his-name, the dead guy;

8. One book you're currently reading:

The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

9. One book you've been meaning to read:

Coming Together, Coming Apart by Daniel Gordis

10. Tag five people:

Moving On Up .


Greetings From The French Hill

Jerusalem Is The Place To Be


In keeping with AbbaGav 's attempt to find new blood, I am turning to the folks I've been reading for the past several years. There are many of you I read regularly that aren't tagged here but only because I've seen you tagged before, so thought I'd try to find previously untagged bloggers.[ Westbankblog and Treppenwitz among others, get a pass for just that reason.]

You bloggers who I've tagged here--my apologies in advance if you've been tagged before--but I hope I've found eminently readable bloggers who haven't been victimized, oops, tagged, before who are willing to share their booklore with all of us. Keep it going!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Never Miss Ulpan

I've always liked languages. Languages, people, the migration of people and the evolutions of their cultures, cross-cultural borrowing, symbolism, religious beliefs--I find the human tapestry endlessly fascinating. If I had an unlimited life span, I would devote a lot more time to learning languages, I always thought....

Ulpan is language school. Intensive language school. It starts out deceptively slowly and simply, learning basic words and taking a week to cover the introductory chapter. We're at the mid-term now, and we're covering a chapter every 6 hours (the day is four hours long in the summer--six hours long during the fall semester).

The rule to live by in law school was never get more than a day behind. If you had to stay up until 4 am to catch up, then that was what you had to do. The amount of material covered in law school was so dense, so intensive, so overwhelming, that the law student who got behind was doomed.

Ulpan is somewhat like that. Fortunately, its only one subject and not six, but encompassed within that one subject are worlds of grammar and vocabulary that my aging brain is struggling to master. It's not that it is overwhelmingly difficult--it's just the sheer volume of the information feels like a mental avalanche. We learned a dozen verbs in the last week--which wouldn't be tough except that they all sound very much alike to this un-Israeli brain of mine, they are spelled in a fashion that is remarkably similar in the first syllable, and they are jaw-breakers to pronounce. My brain bridles at the idea that it must differentiate between these words, know how to spell them, how to pronounce them, what they mean and by the way, say them both in the present and past tenses.


Never miss a day of ulpan at this stage. I missed two and I am paying dearly for it. It was not good to absent myself the day we started the past tense, and I am playing catch up like mad. I'll get there--after all, I once thought Shepardizing was the hardest thing I would ever do in the practice of law, only to discover it became second nature in short order (those of you initiates to the practice have it easy these days--we didn't have Westlaw and computerized cite checking back when I learned my trade--and I don't for one minute regret the ease granted us by computers--thank Heaven for Westlaw!).

My classmates hail from all over. This being summer, many of them are tourists or students heading for Fall Semester at the universities. Some, like one of my Arab schoolmates, are learning Hebrew because Arabic and Greek aren't much help in getting an engineering job with the Municipality; others are studying because they are engaged to Israelis and want to live in Israel with their spouses and speak the language their children will be raised in; others, including myself, are olim; many are Christians from Europe who wish to learn Hebrew to aid their own Biblical studies but also genuinely like Israel and want to communicate in the modern descendant of the Holy Tongue.

Everyone, being fluent in at least two (more often three to five) languages, has a 'default' language--the language one collapses into when Hebrew flees the brain. Oftentimes, it isn't one's mother tongue: for example, I couldn't force out the Hebrew word in a sentence last week but German tripped to the tongue from the collegiate German classes embedded in the depths of my grey cells; my classmate from Germany is also fluent in Italian, and when we were discussing comparative states of exhaustion last week, she blithely coined "ayefissima" to let me know just how tired she was....('ayef' meaning 'tired').

We're hoping to initiate an English-free zone in the household once the Boy starts ulpan--as one educator pointed out, it does no good to learn Hebrew in class and then go home and speak English. We're going to try, and I'm sure the frustration level will increase inside the home, but in the long run, I think it will help us all. Especially me, the least fluent of the household....

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bottle of Wine, Fruit of the Vine...

It's not my picture. I wish it was mine. I found this so I could send a good friend a picture of the Golan Heights. It's hard to imagine what the Golan means to us without seeing it, it's strategic heights, it's overview of the valley below, it's importance to Israel's water supply, and it's sheer beauty. Thanks to TrekEarth's photographers (link in the title) you can discover all kinds of pictures of Israel.

I've been there, years ago. I'd like to see it again. Our plans were to visit this summer, but Nasrallah's plans trumped ours. Instead, we've explored downtown Jerusalem, the quiet lanes of Baka, the Talpiot shopping district (ugly but useful), the Israel Museum, a variety of synagogues, the parks and the Tayelet, and almost every restaurant on Emek Refaim.

This week, we decided to try a restaurant we had not sampled before. The restaurant was 'Meat' a distinction that is second nature to observant Jews but for those who are puzzled by this: halachically meat and milk products are never combined in traditional Jewish kitchens. Hence, restaurants serve either 'milk' or 'meat' dishes. No spaghetti meatballs with parmesan in this culinary culture. There seems to be a tendancy in Israel to eat 'dairy' a lot, and the 'meat' is saved for Shabbat, special ocassions, or Argentinians. Texans and Aussies are a close second in the red-meat consumption arena, but no one beats the Argentinians, who I'm told don't even think of chicken as a meat. It's a bird, not meat. Meat comes on four hooves and is barbecued, if you hail from Argentina.

The restaurant was lovely, the osso bucco quite good but my son's salmon ravioli was to die for. Lots of garlic and herbs amidst the ravioli pieces which were generously stuffed with very good salmon. However, the bottle of wine sitting on the table was a Dalton Merlot. Without thinking, and being a lover of Dalton wines, when the nice waitress asked us what we wanted to drink, I pointed to the Merlot and said "That." My husband didn't object--he likes a good glass of red wine and figured I knew what I was doing. Some nagging little thought in the back of my head warned that I might have looked at a wine list first, and done some comparison shopping, but I was tired from the day's errands and ulpan and homework and feeling very self-indulgent.

Such self-indulgence comes with a price. The bottle of wine was excellent. Fabulous, and we took what we didn't finish home with us. Not only because it was excellent but because the one bottle of wine cost more than the three dinners we had with it. Gulp.

As I write this, a glass of that wonderful-but-pricey Merlot sits at my left hand, and I indulge in sybaritic sips, trying to make the pleasure last. A wine to remember.....a bill to remember, too. Well, you can't say we didn't do our bit for the economy this month. Dalton is up near the Lebanese border. If the cease-fire holds, then we'll take our long-delayed trip to the north, do what we can to bolster the shaky economy up there---and make a side trip to Dalton and maybe, just maybe, pick up a case of Merlot. To help the economy, of course.

Friday, August 11, 2006

In the Midst of Life....

Today's political cartoon is courtesy of Michael Ramirez who 'toons for Investors.com. Click the link above.

Life goes on. The Boy has been to the neurologist, to the opthomologist, and is getting lined up with social services, additional medical benefits, another EEG, and vision services for school. Its amazing that we find time to get all this done, but it has to get done: school and ulpan start September 1st.

While I've heard many complain about Israeli bureaucracy, what I haven't heard but witnessed myself is the help every day workers give those of us who are baffled; the efficiency of the medical system; the richness of resources available to those of us who have special needs kids. Maybe I've just been lucky, but so far the socio-medical system here offers a lot more than what we could get in the States -- it's a pleasant surprise.

While my Hebrew is taking baby steps towards communication, I find myself baffled by the literature that comes in the mail. Each document requires a visit to my ulpan, or my forgiving neighbor, or my son's tutor, to find out if this is something important or just a notice or a summary of an appointment already kept. The only encouragement I get is the news--I find that I now understand about one word every few minutes instead of one word every thirty minutes.

Our temporary houseguest of the last two weeks left Tuesday--he was a delight to have, despite being bombed out of Tzfat and his studies up there. Our hope is that he made it out of London before the Heathrow shutdown......he told us he was going to 'spend the day in London' before heading out for California. Last we heard, no one headed anywhere out of Heathrow on Thursday, so we're hoping he left Wednesday night.

I'm pleased, as we all should be, that the plot to commit mass murder mid-air was foiled....but the root cause, as the LLL pundits put it, needs to be addressed: in the radical jihadi world, terrorism pays. Western Civilization needs to wake up and do something to make sure it doesn't pay any more.

We are all waiting for Iran's 'response' to Western Civilization's demand that it cease nuclear weapons production, which 'response' is scheduled for August 22nd. My bet? That 'response' will take the form of a mushroom cloud at a test site in Iran--or worse, over Tel Aviv.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Photo Day

My son introduced me to 'Jerusalem Shots' at the link above. I grit my teeth in envy, wishing I could shoot photos this beautiful. Here are some samples from their webpage:

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Knock, knock

Thanks to Mideast Truth and Jimmy Margulies.

Things You Can Do To Help

I received an email from Mark Cohen in New York who alerted me to Elie Deutsch's website, which has a music download by Elie which he has made available as a fundraiser. Elie is a musician who is currently on the border defending his country from Hezbollah's terrorism.

It's heartening to see Israelis of all walks of life opening their arms and homes to the refugees from the north.Included on Elie's webpage is a link to the Charity Network which you can read below or simply hit the title link above.

In the face of terror and war, Israelis are pulling together to provide housing for the 1,000,000+ refugees from the border area, as well as providing food, shelter, counseling, medical care and other needs to the remaining Israeli residents of the North. Many of these people have travelled north to make sure medicine reaches the sick and elderly; to make sure hot food is prepared and delivered to those stuck in bomb shelters or huddled in their homes, afraid to leave and/or without the means to reach the grocery store, assuming the store even has supplies.

I know any of you watching the news these days will be surprised to find that Israelis of the north need food and medicine trucked in (just like the Lebanese); need shelter after having their homes rendered unliveable by missile strikes, need medical attention after being the civilian victims of Hezbollah who, unlike the IAF, is deliberately targeting civilians.

The difference between here and Lebanon is that here we take care of our own--it is Israelis bringing food, emergency equipment, medicine and other necessities to our people, not the U.N. It is Israelis who are providing for our refugees, not the U.N.

I know the Lebanese coverage is more exciting--after all, you don't see Israelis dancing in the streets celebrating Arab deaths, nor do you see Israelis storming the UN buildings and trashing them for the failure of UNIFIL to protect them and allow Hezbollah to build up its stock of missiles for the last decade. Israel doesn't fire its artillery from civilian positions in order to invite counterattacks on civilian housing, so we don't have the same newsworthy number of civilian casualties.

It has occured to almost none of the mavens of the MSM that the reason our casualties are less than those of Lebanon are for the simple reason that the Arabs, including the Lebanese, have been launching war at us since 1948---and over time, we have perfected early warning systems, put air-raid sirens and bomb shelters into place to protect our own....unlike the cowards of Hezbollah, who fire their missiles from civilian buildings.

If you would like to help, there is a Charity Network alive and well in Israel, here to help the soldiers, their families, our refugees and the beleagured Israelis of the north who can't leave:

The Charity Network

Below is a list of links plus a brief description of the type of emergency relief effort that they are currently providing:

www.lemaanachai.org Lemaan Achai, emergency relief activities in Bet Shemesh

www.tabletotable.org.il Table to Table, packages for soldiers and relief for residents of the north

www.israelsoldiers.org Friends of the IDF, support IDF soldiers up serving in the north and in the Gaza Strip

www.onefamilyfund.org One Family Fund, support for victims of northern missile attacks and their families

www.livnot.com Livnot, Tzfat organization raising funds to fix bomb shelters, assist the elderly, provide meals

www.hazonyeshaya.org Hazon Yeshaya, provide/deliver meals to people in bomb shelters and displaced residents of the north

www.afmda.org American Friends of Magen David Adom, emergency medical assistance

www.yadsarah.org Yad Sarah, medical equipment, specifically for residents of the north

www.mishnasyakov.org Mishnas Yaakov, provide massive amounts of emergency supplies to residents of the north

www.jfsisrael.org Jewish Family Services Israel, provide emotional and crisis management management support

www.crisisinisrael.com a web page with specific information on people/groups who need help and people/groups offering help

www.ujc.org United Jewish Communities-- Federations of N. America, sends kids from the north to "safe" summer camps

You can also be in touch with your local Federation, or other Jewish fundraising resources.

Have an easy fast. Chazak!

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