Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Years

New Years in Jerusalem is very toned down. There are a few restaurants having New Year's dinners tonight. The hotels basically cannot have New Year's celebrations because the rabbis of the Kosher Certificates will be upon them and take away their Kosher Certificates. Threats have been made in the past, and this year I see none advertising.

I was going to celebrate the secular New Year - which is called Sylvester here. What a silly name, I thought, calling New Year's after a cat that lisps. My kids have imitated me called Sylvester "Thylvethter". But, curious as I am, I did read that Sylvester was a Pope in the Middle Ages - in fact, a very anti-semitic pope. So why do they insist on celebrating "his" day? Call it New Years, folks. That's what it is in the rest of the world, even if it isn't the Jewish, Moslem or Christian Orthodox New Years.

I booked a lovely restaurant for 10:30 this evening. The promised gourmet fare, violins, flowers and champagne at midnight. It sounded so romantic. It sounded like such a nice, quiet way to end 2005.

Then I thought of the realities. Not only would it set me back over $100 - a small fortune here - for many - half a week's salary. But we have work tomorrow. On January 1st. And that really sucks. Who wants to stuff oneself at 10:30 in the evening, come home in the wee hours of the morning, only to have the alarm ring at 6:00 am. Not me. So I cancelled. Maybe another time. Maybe when New Years falls on a Thursday since we have Friday off.

I thought of New Years resolutions. It's like a twice-yearly mental cleansing. I do them in September/October for the Jewish New Year, and then again December 31st. Here they are:

1. Try and give more charity - I've been well below the 10% mark, and feel terribly bad about that. God has been good to us this year, and we have to show some thanks.

2. Have guests over more frequently for Sabbath/Friday night dinners.

3. Once a month - go on a "trip" with Rabbis for Human Rights or some other organization to help Palestinians, who cannot help themselves.

4. Go to the gym three times weekly

5. Eat a healthier diet

And that's about all I can handle. For this year, anyways. Have a good one folks.


The furor has basically died down over the expense of my multi-focals. I had a odd few days wearing them. The first day I wore them, I noticed my shirt was inside-out while in the board room meeting with my boss. Then a couple of hours later a woman asked me to help her compose an e-mail to someone quite important and extremely wealthy.

She rang me quite worried.

"There's a typo in the e-mail you sent"

"No - can't be. I haven't had a typo in 20 years!"

But I looked at it and alas, there was a typo. I wrote the word "lo" instead of "no". I told her I was perhaps thinking in Hebrew as "lo" is actually "no" in Hebrew. But are my multi-focals causing me to multi-err?

Thursday, December 29, 2005


These. These are what caused Hubby to go into a bit of a funk this morning. They're my new Happy Glasses. Happy Glasses because when my kids first saw them on me, they burst out laughing. When the girls at work saw me in them - they called me a "meshugana" (crazy one). They match my hair, and look good when I wear purple lipstick. And no one in Jerusalem has these. No one. Not in this color anyways. And I wonder why? Because orange has been a politically "right" color this year. But I don't look politically "right" in them. I really don't. But I do feel funky.

They're multi-focals. Bi-focals - a thing of the past. The optometrist corrected me each time I nearly choked when I heard the price of these "bifocals".

"They're multi-focals" he told me again and again, pronuncing them "mooltee focahls".

Hubby was telling me this morning how I'm always spending money on myself. Of course, I am darling. Because if I'm going to need bi-focals -- I mean multi-focals - - because I'm getting old, they better damn not look like old lady glasses. And they certainly don't.

Arabic Christmas

I got a last-minute invite to a women's interfaith celebration of Christmas in Beit Hanina, just north of Jewish Jerusalem. You just pass by the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem and voila, you feel like you are in another country. Also Beit Hanina is one of the more wealthiest of Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods. We drove in a convoy of 4 cars - stopping at the French Hill intersection. A young Arab kid - perhaps around 9 or 10 - was selling silk flowers, and other assorted things one doesn't need. He pressed his face against our window looking really mournful.

"He must look at himself in the mirror each morning and practice to get that tragic look" - said our driver.

We gave the "tragic-looking" kid some change and drove off.

Mistakenly, we knocked on the downstairs apartment, but the young couple who answered greeted all of us as if we were expected. 25 unexpected guests.

Although I am not very active in the women's interfaith group - however, whenever I do meet up with them, it's really like getting together with a bunch of sisters. Alot of sisters - about 25 of them. We sat around the table eating all the goodies - it was a feast ending with my favorite dessert - kanafe - among other baklava-like treats. The Jewish women there were stuck though when Christmas carols were sung in Arabic. We can do the English versions but not the Arabic ones.

Before I went to this party, I had a chat with our new receptionist. She asked me -
"Doesn't it freak you out to hear Christmas Carols in Arabic?"

"It is kind of strange, but it also is kind of nice being able to celebrate our holidays together in our native languages." I told her of getting lost last year in Beit Hanina.

"Weren't you terrified?" she asked me.

I have long since given up the useless emotion of being terrified when in a neighborhood of "others" or being confronted by the Other.

I told her a story about when I was about 15 years old of being terribly frightened of African-Americans. I thought anyone black who came over to talk to me was either going to rob me or beat me. This is what is was like for me in the New York City of the early 1970s. I had some Jewish holy books on my lap. I was on the subway going to school. A young woman, a bit older than me, perhaps 18, sat next to me and began a conversation.

"Did you know that Moses was black??" On her lap was a book called "Black Moses". I was terrified of her, and felt my face redden. I thought she was going to beat me up for thinking that Moses was white, or at least somewhat white, being of Middle-East extraction. I just nodded at everything she said. When I think about it now, I think what a loss it was for me. If I hadn't been so terrified, and have been somewhat of the person I am today, I would have engaged her in a wonderful dialogue. How sad that fear got in the way....

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

When the Shit Hits the Fan

This morning I had to take a routine blood test. My doc said I hadn't had a routine check up in 4 years, and it's high time to do so. I had to fast overnight which isn't so terrible. I had been perusing colon cleansing stuff on the internet - one treatment of which included juice fasting. Doc also wanted me to take 3 days of stool samples (photos not included, folks).

I looked through my wardrobe trying to find some shirt/top/sweater whose sleeves can be rolled up easily for blood-letting. I couldn't bear the thought of stripping my top off in this weather, even indoors, because I wore a tight fitting sleeve.

On the way, Hubby is talking about his demise.

"When I'm gone, try to only go out with guys who have money. Real bucks. Don't go for all the shit around here."

"Why are you talking like that?"

He continued - "And don't be like all the single women around here who can't find a guy. You can find anyone. He can be from anywhere in the world."

"I don't mind someone with a decent salary - about double what I make. He doesn't have to have truckloads of money. Really. But what if I speak to your brother and let him find me a stinking rich gay man, who needs to be closeted for public image's sake. This way I won't have to have sex with him and I'll live a luxurious life, if I can be good friends with the guy. Know what I mean?"

He let me off at the medical lab downtown.

"You need to give me stool samples" - said the lady at reception.

Urine tests I can do on the spot, but I asked the lady - if I "go" in the afternoon,can I bring the samples in the following morning?

"We won't accept samples from the day before. Sorry. You'll have to go to the bathroom and bring the sample immediately to us."

How will I tell my bowels to empty between the hours of 6:30 - 11:30 am?

"Look, I normally go around lunchtime. That's after closing time. Can you make any special provisions for people like me who can't go in the mornings?"

She shook her head. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to speak to your doctor."

I went to work and around 9:45 a.m. felt the urge to "go". Splendid. God is on my side. He really wants me to get those tests in. Only one hurdle. My boss. How do I explain that I have to leave for an hour to give in stool specimens. His secretary was equally as worried as I told her what the score was.

"I'm gonna have to tell him somehow that for the next 3 days, I'll have to split immediately, if I get lucky enough to go in the mornings. I know he likes to have advance notice about me taking any kind of leave, but how the hell am I gonna give him advance notice?"

I met him at the reception area and told him I had to take a "culture" over to the lab now.

"OK, but don't let anyone see that!" he pointed towards my office.

I was horrified. Did I leave my specimens on my desk? For everyone in the office to see?

"See what????" I asked grimly.

"The report! No one should see the report."

Sighing a sigh of relief, I bounded out the door, quickly - before he changes his mind.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas in Our part of the world

What's it like? I dunno. I'm at work. So is 99% of everyone else here, unless they're affiliated with some Christian organization. We thought we'd check out the churches as alot of Israeli Jews do on Christmas eve, but it was raining down on us hard. I can deal with snowfall, it's alot more gentler, but not a pounding, cold rain. So I stayed in and watched a video, where I fell asleep for the 2nd time in a row watching this flick.

I had spent the better part of my waking hours on Friday evening trying to convince a cute Israeli male friend of my Eldest daughter, who had been in the US for the past 3 years, why staying there would be a mistake.

"You have everything over there. Everything!"

He was extolling the virtues of Cedarhurst, Long Island.

I was curious - "Everything? What is everything? Free medical care?"

He ignored that one.

"Whatever you want, you can get. My cousins have 50 inch televisions and they're all driving cars."

"Hmmm. This 29 incher isn't good enough for you, son? You know if I really wanted a 34" flat-screen tv, it would probably cost a bit more here, but eventually, if I really wanted it, I can have it."

The sin of wanting. Of wanting too much.

But I read several articles in the papers of how the US is returning to its Christian roots (note the 'wars' on Christmas in public places), and how much more the Jews need our very own State as a result.

And I'm hoping this cute young guy takes my advice and remains here. It would sadden me to see him settle down in the US, have kids, buy a house, then a bigger house, then an even bigger house in that never-ending whirlwind of US materialism.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Week in Review - Part II

Saturday morning - and my son is still sleeping at 9:52. I can still use the computer without any tantrums coming from him, should I pry the machine away from him. Hubby knows I'm writing.

"Am I in the blog?" he asks.

"No, sweeties, you haven't aggravated me enough this week to warrant any more exposure."

Life is good today.

Tuesday I met up with someone I had been friends with since I was 14. To those of you who think I'm 24, Thank you. It doesn't seem like ages ago. But for those who know I'm half-a-century next month it really is a big deal. Especially so because she is thinking of moving here from New York, and no one is a bigger advocate for making aliyah than me, Ms. Optimist.

We got together for dinner where I bombarded her with -

"You live on miracles here"
"You will not feel like a total weirdo here like you do back in the States, everyone here is nuts"
"Your children will thrive here"
"God has His hand in everything here and you feel His presence here much more than you would over there"
"This country is geared towards Jewish life here - notice the dish sponge packages - one to be used for dairy and one for meat"
"We came here with only $2,000"

Hopefully one of these will sink in and she'll brave her fears (everyone is nervous about moving to a new place and the unknown. She also has a daughter and granddaughter here which makes it all the more enticing.

I called her daughter frequently asking for her mom. This was, of course, my revenge on daughters for when they are living at home and mom answers. And it's always for the kids, unless it's a telemarketer. So now it's her turn to hand the phone over to her mother - at least 10 times a day.

I even told the kid - "Wow, you sound so much like your mother"


Uh oh. Repair work needed fast. "I meant, at first hearing, you sound a bit like your mother. Of course, you don't sound exactly like your mom." Really. I do not want to make enemies in Jerusalem.

I walked into their home, gave my friend a big bear hug, and peppered our conversations with quotes from Beatles songs and movies. This "code talk" solidified our friendship. We had first met in 1970, while I was on the way to cutting high school classes and seeing Paul McCartney who was in New York City, recording his album Ram. I told her where he was recording - at CBS recording studios and we became fast friends from then on. She was into George Harrison, who had found religion at the same time she was searching and finding her own sprituality in Judaism instead of Hinduism. Being together again, I didn't feel close to 50 any longer - even though her adorable grandchild was hovering nearby.

It will be good to have you move here, friend. This way, I'll feel 14 years old all over again.

Week in Review

It's bright and sunny today in J-town but really cold - perhaps close to freezing. My internet flickers on and off - probably because cables aren't used to the cold weather here. I'm looking at my lemon tree with its flowering buds hoping it could take the cold. They say it will snow tonight. Most Israelis were like "yeah, right" upon hearing the news yesterday. But I was optimistic thinking I'm not going to work on Sunday and it will be a God-forced Chanukah/Christmas day-off.

This week saw so many activities, it was a good thing my family knew how to open up the fridge door to get some food for their dinners.

Sunday I saw my Sikh friends again at Eliyahu's home. They covered the entrance to his apartment with tea candles and the place lit up like a temple. It was so warm and welcoming. His apartment floor was entirely covered in mattresses and colorful blankets, contrasting with the white clothing of the Sikhs. The newspapers called it a "Punjabi banquet", which it was. The Sikh leader extolled the virtues of modern internet and said you can reach God everywhere - or They described their week in the holy land - meeting with mystical rabbis in Safed in the Galilee, Druze sheikhs in Issafiya, visting Nazareth and Bethlehem. Eliyahu described what seemed to be his highlight - visiting the Dome of the Rock, where non-Moslems are not allowed into Al Aksa. "They are all Moslems" insisted the Sheikh who brought them there. They were allowed in. But then one of the young people inside the mosque noticed Eliyahu's tzitzit (4 cornered fringed garment worn by Orthodox Jews underneath their clothings - showing only the fringes).

"There's a JEW here!!! There's a JEW here!!" shouted the guy. But no one paid any heed to him. No one cared. He was the only one upset. So you actually had 3 religions inside the mosque that day. Was this the beginning of "And it shall be a house of prayer for all people" - quoting from Isaiah? I am such a bad biblical quoter and only the Christians really excel at this. But I love this quote so much, I say it all the time, and think it all the time.

There was our Interfaith meeting on Monday. We had a potluck dinner in celebration of Chanukah, Christmas and Eid Al Adha (which is on January 10th). OK, it's a bit early for the Moslem holiday celebration but why leave them out? We even had someone from a settlement come join us - prompting e-mails from one of our members to me the next day .."Was that an 'orange' at our meeting?" Yes, it certainly was and the young woman seemed earnest in wanting to meet the "others" from our country, even going so far as to driving her children over 1 hour each way for them to take Arabic lessons. I have connections for her to take her kids 5 minutes away from her home at the Hope Flowers School near Bethlehem. I'm sure they'll be happy to help. This is what peace networking is about. Also, the kids will not think it a "chore" to learn Arabic if they don't have to travel so extensively.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Lunch Hour

My boss never makes me make him lunch. He gets the "girls" to do it for him, usually. But he knew they were exceptionally busy and asked me to make him tuna with a little mayonnaise on 2 pieces of brown bread with a tomato on top. I went down to the kitchen to find some whole-wheat bread which was frozen. He didn't ask for toast - if I make him toast, I'll be toast. So I toasted it just a bit to defrost it, praying it won't toast. I hoped the mayo was just the right amount. Who knows what exactly is "a little mayonnaise?" I even cleaned his plate before I put the food on it.

He began to eat it and talked to me while eating, nearly choking on the food. I was totally startled. Was the toast too dry? Was the tuna dry? Was he thinking I did this on purpose?

During our staff lunch meeting today I mentioned I had British non-Jewish relatives who recently found out about our side of the family.

"Doesn't that bother your brother?" asked someone?

"No, not at all. Think of the poor British guy who just discovered not only that part of his family is Jewish, but that they're Israeli to boot. How awful is that?"

But it wouldn't have been awful in America where it's cool to be a Yid. Look at Matisyahu. Look at wanna-be-Jew Madonna (even though she lives in the UK -she's still a Yank).

The discussion turned to soccer. One guy said he doesn't want to go to soccer games because the Jerusalem fans are so racist. But he does enjoy the game.

I asked - "Then why should they have all the fun? Let us Arab-loving Jews go to all the games and take over the stadium, dammit."

Heh heh - sounds like another project to take on this year...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Shmuck of the year

Hehe heh - what an idiot. (double- click on the photo. It looks better in black and white)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Buying a House

It's 10 to 8 on Saturday morning. It's the only time I have to post, e-mail people, etc. After 10 am, the kids wake up and it's a big struggle trying to pry the computer away from all of them. In order to have a peaceful Sabbath, early mornings are my computer time.

This past week, we were seriously thinking of buying an apartment. Most people in Israel own their own homes and people who don't are considered "pathetic" or are told how much money is being wasted on rent. I called up a builder's agent in the beginning of the week. She had a lovely brand new place to show us for $170,000 with a 100 meter garden, 4 bedrooms and it's 11 meters larger inside than our present rental. The view was my dream view of the mountainous desert and nothing else.

Could we afford such a thing?

Not so much with no money down. We are not a family with "old money" - and new money? Heh. Once the government gets wind that you have as much as $5 in your bank account and are not overdrawn in the bank, along come letters from every government tax agency claiming monies for 1998 and other various claims for penalties for late filing, underpayments, etc.. It's no wonder many people work overseas for a few months at a time and keep the moolah there.

But maybe it's time now to buy a home. After all, we've been here over 10 years and who wants to fix up a rental, even if it's a long-term rental? I tried talking to our builder who owns our place and he wanted $190,000 for the dump.

I pleaded with his assistant - "But it's OLD and run down, the tiles are worn, the kitchen is horrible and the bathrooms are ridiculous. Can't he move the price down to $150,000."

"No, he really doesn't want to see the place."


I'd even gone so far as to write a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, even though he is no longer alive - to ask for advice. A friend from Debtor's Anonymous told me to try it. This is how it's done. You write a letter and have someone stick it in one of the 29 volumes or so of letters that people had written to him together with his answers, called "Holy Letters" or in Hebrew - "Igeret Hakodesh". Then you open up the volume where you stuck your letter and get your answer. Some people swear by it. My friend who meditated before she stuck my letter in the volumes, was astounded by the results. No matter how many times she tried, she always came up with the same kind of answer which went something like this -

"It's good to hear from you after such a long break...."

I hadn't written the Rebbe since 1989 - when he was still alive. But there was no clear message about purchasing a home in any of the answers. The answer was pretty wild nonetheless.

Further investigation with banks showed that we would only be able to afford something much cheaper, since we'd have to finance the entire thing - which meant fewer rooms, which means my kids won't fit. Which means we probably are staying put for now, unless some miracle happens, like government agencies leaving us alone, meaning we would be able to save for a downpayment.

I walked into my bank on Friday for routine bill paying stuff. There was a huge LCD screen in front of the tellers' area. There was only one teller on staff. Someone behind me grumbled -

"They should have used the money to pay for one more teller rather than this Plasma television."

At least we all know now where the interest the bank pulls from its customers goes.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Will you have THAT with your tea

We were invited to a swank party in honor of my boss at some lovely restaurant in Jerusalem last night. Hubby was invited, and I was praying like a mantis that he would behave and not look like he has Tourette's Syndrome. He whined about coming along with me because there's no television there and he'd miss his Fox News Alerts for the evening. And the restaurant was dairy. Another no-no for my meat'n potatoes man. But unlike events that I'm usually invited to and don't care if he comes or doesn't, I told him that this thing he MUST attend - as painful as it might be.

"What is so awful about having a shitload of gourmet things to eat and not having to pay for it?"

He rebelled by downing a couple of sandwiches at home, as if to say - "I'm not there for the food"

"Please go easy on my tuna patties." I begged him. "I saved them for the kids, who aren't going to this thing and need something to eat for dinner.

Then there was the clothing thing. I managed to put together something for the formal event. Hubby did find something not streaked with paint and plaster and a shirt freshly pressed from the cleaners. But no jacket. Never mind, I told him, I'm sure "formal" to some Israelis means just coming with a shirt buttoned to the top.

We got there and thankfully Hubby wasn't the only one jacketless - there were about 5 others. Many guests were also from the US.

I went around saying my hellos and introducing Hubby who was rather quiet. The h'ors doeuvres were passed around.

"What is THAT?" asked one woman pointing to a fried food thing, as she took a biteful into her mouth.


The poor lady looked green. She whispered to me "Did she say LOCUSTS?"

I answered - "If she did, don't worry. Locusts are kosher. The Yemenites eat them with gusto."

In the end I told her it was fish. I didn't want to see anyone faint.

Hubby sits down at the table with my co-workers and flirts with my friends. I drank 2 glasses of wine and was totally tipsy, laughing hysterically when anyone spoke to me - even if it wasn't funny. And Hubby wanted to find religion. He told a co-worker.

"I do the things on holidays. I build a sukkah..."

I continued for him - "yeah and he shakes his Lulav" and howled with laughter.

I guess this is how I behave during formal events - but I was far enough away from the "people in charge" for them to notice, or so I think.

I simmered down somewhat for the rest of the meal, until dessert came and Hubby looks at the chocolate dessert drizzled with vanilla cream on the plate.

"Now what does THAT look like?" he asked of me.

I said nothing. Just howled with laughter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sikhs in Jerusalem

I had gotten an itinerary of their Israel trip from one of my Sikh friends whom I met in India last month. They arrived on Monday morning. My friend Eliyahu was organizing their entire trip. I asked Hubby if he wanted to meet them. But we just had a grueling meeting with the insurance guy and even my energy was sapped. I didn't push it. I'd rather go alone than go with a cranky husband who, when tired, is totally embarrassing to be around. I was afraid he'd regale them with the story of when he was 14 years old and cruelly got ahold of an unsuspecting Sikh and untwirled his turban in Toronto in the early '70s for kicks. Better not go, darling Caveman.

I met them on the way back from a trip to the settlement of Tekoa, where they must have really tripped out some of the residents, especially the young Orthodox yeshiva students. They chanted with their musical instruments on a cliff on the edge of the Judean desert bringing many curious onlookers to watch the spectacle. Rabbi Froman joined them with his own chanting in Hebrew.

On the bus were four of my dear friends whom I met in India. They were held up at the airport for two hours - Israeli security not knowing who these turbaned types are. But one of them was happy to give over their knowledge of Sikism for the airport security personnel.

The group all looked majestic, dressed in white caftans, pants and white turbans. They, of course, turned alot of heads when they got off the bus at Ibrahim's place on the Mt. of Olives. Once inside, I got a phone call from Hubby.

"Did you get there ok?"


"Who is there"

I told him.

"Tell that fucking hippie to keep his hands off you. Are you busy hugging and kissing everyone?" He was practically shouting into the phone while Baba Ji was giving a talk. I was sure the entire room could hear him, especially the "hippie" sitting next to me. Meanwhile the "hippie" who was feeling rather ill that evening, walked towards the Sikh leader singing "ba ba ba - bababaji" to the tune of the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann. He had never met Sikhs before and was astounded about the similarities in our religions - like washing of the hands after the meal with the cup and basin passed from person to person, and the short prayers before and after eating.

Eliyahu told him that Ibrahim is the reincarnation of the biblical Abraham - since they also believe in reincarnation.

Baba Ji told of a vision he had of a place with no doors and no windows and he felt it was here in Ibrahim's place, where the door is always open to everyone and where there were no windows in his living room.

After about 2 hours we all went back into West Jerusalem - the Sikhs staying at a hotel which has mostly ultra-Orthodox Jewish guests. Seeing the Sikhs turn into their hotel, I chuckled at the Jewish long-bearded men standing next to the turbaned long-bearded Sikhs in the lobby, wondering what they'll make of each other.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A WTF day

"Did you just fart?" I glared at Hubby who said nothing to warn me, as good people who know each other intimately should do. He was driving me to work as he does nearly every morning and I shouldn't be too harsh on him.

"I did a little back there" he answered.

"Just a little? The what the fuck is that not-so-little odor hovering around my face that I feel like I'm going to puke?"

I didn't continue. I focused on positive thoughts. Perhaps he was just getting rid of the rampantly evil and rotton night energy he reeks of nearly every evening. Last night he calls me from bed - not the usual calling a wife would want but this -

"How are those fucking people you saw tonight? Were they all a bunch of fucking hippies? If you are having a birthday party at whatshernames house, I'm not fucking coming. What will people think of that? Huh?"

I prayed to God for him to fall asleep so he doesn't continue his sermons because they can get lengthy. I need to have the last word.

"What will they think of that? They know you. They won't give a fuck. What do YOU think of that?"

Monday, December 12, 2005

$10million bat mitzvah

There was an article in the Jerusalem Post about this girl's bat mitzvah. Of course, this celebration didn't happen in Israel, I don't think it ever would - at least I hope not. She was from Long Island, NY. My son had his bar mitzvah nearly a year ago to the tune of $2,000 for everything. I didn't even get to eat the food, as I was too busy being the hostess/photographer. I was proud to have such a modest affair, even though the kids would have liked a swankier do. But one has to draw the line somewhere.

But $10 million for a kid's party? It drew criticism from alot of people. Imagine how many people $10 M could feed or how much necessary surgery or medicine could be given to people who can't afford it.

And what 12 year old is worth a $10 million bash? Geez. Certain none of mine. The party consisted of live performances by Aerosmith, Tom Petty, and rapper 50 cent. Wow. Is this really what a bat mitzvah is all about? Isn't it cheaper just to see those folk in concert?

My friend at work chided me.

"You mean you wouldn't have booked the Rolling Stones for your son's bar mitzvah if you could have afforded it?"

"Absolutely not!!!"

My friend didn't seem to believe me, but I was really happy with our DJ that cost $90 for 3 hours.

"On the other hand, my 50th birthday is coming up and if I could afford it, I'd certainly hire the Stones for THAT bash."

Because I'M worth it.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Weekends in J town

I would really like for Saturday to be my Day of Rest day. It's supposed to be. But Hubby was busy on Friday and couldn't visit my Ex-Criminal daughter who is now in a hostel so we -had- to visit her on Saturday. I stayed up late to see Matisyahu, the Jewish Chassidic reggae singer. Hubby didn't want to go and I asked my Good Daughter if she'd join me. There were loads of young American kids, whose parents would send for them immediately, if they had seen or heard how they were acting out of their religious schools for an evening out.

"Are you high? Are YOU HIGH?!!" shouted one young one on line with us to his female friends. He was wearing Orthodox Jewish garb and was annoyingly loud.

"If you're so friggin' high, do you mind getting lower?" asked my friend.

We took our places close to the stage - two American teens took seats besides us.

"When is that mother fucker coming on stage already? Huh? Damn fuckin' motha fucka"

My daughter sneered at me - "THIS is why I don't go out with Americans"

I protested - "I'm sure they're not all like that."

The music was groovy, the place was packed and the sound was better sitting in the back with the old folks my age. The show ended after midnight and I was feeling it. My days of clubbing seem to be over.

Saturday we took my daughter out for coffee. The only place open nearby was in the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat.

"I'm not eating there. I'm not eating at an Arab restaurant!" said my daughter. She looked very uncomfortable. I was a bit stunned that she would feel like that, and I wondered if I were a bit like Hubby - an Archie Bunker clone - would she then rebel and feel nicer towards the non-Jews in this town? But I won, as usual, and we sat down to drink Arabic coffee.

"What if they put something in it" she asked.

"Well we'll soon find out, won't we?" as I slugged back the invigorating brew. She needs to be back home with me where she'll get her weekly dose of love and peace to everyone from her mother.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Co-existing today

The women in my office were gathered together in the reception area yesterday afternoon.

"What's going on"? I wanted to know. I catch bits of their conversations in Hebrew but knew they were "oohing and aahing" over some guy.

"Who are you all looking at?"

"Him." She pointed to a news article. "He's the handsomest man in Jewish education"

We are now holding male beauty contests according to professions?

I turned to the papers and the situation was even more bleak, which is why Dr. Weil recommends news fasts. I should have fasted today.

The Jerusalem Post's front page read - "Palestinian soccer players who played side-by-side with Israelis in a highly publicized peace match last week may face punishment by their soccer association for playing with Israelis during occupation". The idiot who said that was Jamal Zaqout, a senior Palestinian Football Association official from Gaza. And then he had the gall to continue "We are against the normlization of ties (with Israel) and therefore we oppose playing any game with any Israeli team until there will be peace."

While we give "office awards" to handsome men in Jewish education, this guy wins the "shmuck" award in Palestinian education.

Well how do you suppose there will be peace if you don't let Palestinian players interact with Israeli players. Interaction - and I know this from experience - that breaks down barriers and then eventually the walls with it. Don't you all think?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My Sit-Down Job

I can't stand it when people who are not slaves like myself, think that because you have an office job, you do nothing. They know nothing about slavery. Especially Hubby.

He called me today at 2:30 pm.

"Hi honey, I'm just taking my first break of the day now!"

"Really? You just sit in front of a computer all day"

"What and play freecell and minesweeper???? I do have those moments, but you have no idea how exhausting it is to be shuffled from boss to boss 'here you take her' 'no I need her now' 'she gives me nothing but trouble, so you take her'. I'm a fucking human yoyo slave. And they all want whatever they ask for in 60 seconds - no matter what it is. And when I do produce whatever they ask for in 60 seconds flat, they smile at me, like they have a "super slave" even a super duper slave."

"Even Abed says you sit down all day."

"What the fuck does he know about office work - he, the idiot who won't let his wife work. I'm gonna kill him!"

Gee Whiz. I have found another commonality between these Jewish and Arab men. They're both idiots.

Then my taskmasters walked in.

"So-and-so says you have nothing to do, so meet me in the board room in 10 minutes and we'll work on this document."

That did it.

I went down to the kitchen and brought up a plateful of birthday cake from the fridge. Not one co-worker dared to say anything to me. Not the way I glared at everyone.

I was in a totally sour mood until I answered the phone at home - something I rarely do. It was a childhood friend. A friend I went to the Concert for Bangladesh with and had many a Beatle memory with. We used to cut school to see Paul McCartney when he was in New York recording. I am talking early 1970s. She's coming to Israel - to Jerusalem to see her grandchild. Yikes! A close friend of mine is a grandmother. It just can't be. But I'm grateful living in Jerusalem so that people whom I haven't seen in decades will eventually pass by here at least once in their lifetime. And that got me out of my doldrums.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Adventure Holiday

Just received this hilarious e-mail from my favorite Sinai resort. It's really a paradise, although you'd think not from reading this:

Adventure Holiday to Nakhil Inn,

Dear Nakhil Guest

In your next holiday to Sinai,you will be received at the boarder by group of kidnappers to guide you through the amazing mountains.

Reaching the hotel ,you will be parking next to other cars full of explosives to bomb the hotel any time you choose.

Relaxing at the beach,you will have the option of receiving katioosha missals from zodiacs all over the beautiful red sea.

swimming or snorkeling in the sea ,you will be bitten by wonderful Sharks.

Having lunch in the restaurant ,you will surely get a hepatits c from our delicious fish.

unexpectedly water falls will flood and isolate the whole area from the world.

There is also a chance of a sudden earthquake upon your request.

We know you love Sinai,so be sure you will hae the best ever adventure holiday.

For confirmation please send your D N A number

best regards

SO! who wants to go on a real adventure now?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Chocolate Fights

Yesterday was horrible - HORRIBLE. All the men in my life were bonkers. My son played hookey from school because he was up watching the soccer match in Barcelona which began at 11:00 pm and couldn't wake up even though I tried. We punished him by taking away his computer keyboard. Then he retaliated by hiding the keyboard and mouse from us. Hubby couldn't do his quotation he needed to do for his work - so at 4:30 am he realizes this and the two are having a dawn-breaking fight. It woke up the entire household, not to mention probably our neighbors and me, being the enabler that I am, went on a keyboard and mouse scavenger hunt which ended at 5:15 am when I found both items.

At my slave job - Boss was equally unreasonable.

"OK get out the document - you have it ready?"

"What document?" - we're only speaking about 100 documents and I have to mind read.

He casts me a look filled with venom. Later on that day I make out a list for him of all the assignments I believe he has to do. It comes out to two pages. He looks at it.


What exactly DO you want to see? Huh? And thought about lifting off my shirt. Will THAT do?

I went over to the office manager's office. She was hoarding Cadbury's chocolate from a co-worker's trip overseas and I broke off a piece. She is not only the office manager, but my weight manager too. She tried to pull the Cadbury's package out of my hand. But I held on tight.

"You can't have this chocolate" she warned.

"You Don't understand. I NEED it. I'm having a terrible day. I MUST have this chocolate now."

She and I continued this chocolate tug-of-war until I won, with the package now in crumbled bits.

I triumphantly sat in my office with my row of Cadbury's. I was about to chug it when another co-worker comes in.

"What are you doing?"

Everyone in the office has turned into my weight patrol.

"It took you so long to lose that weight, now you're going to ruin everything?"

"Listen honey, I'm having a rough day with all the men in the world right now."

She grabbed ahold of my chocolate-holding hand.

I was livid. "Listen now - either I eat this chocolate or I turn into a full-fledged lesbian. I've absolutely had it with men. OK? It's your choice. What will it be?"

I was serious.

She let go of my hand. Her choice was made.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

hasidic reggae

Good thing I subscribe to the Jerusalem Post - otherwise I wouldn't have seen this announcement at all today, and I would have only gotten the weekend papers.

Eminem is coming to Israel, and whatever is left of Depeche Mode. My kids will defnitely want to see Eminem. Maybe I'll have to subsidize the costs which will probably be a fortune by Israeli standards. But I think we owe it to ourselves to go see (not me - but my kids) really popular musicians who venture this way. So few do and it will hopefully lead the way for other top entertainers to put Israel on their touring map.

But what I was really excited about today was hearing that US singer Matisyahu is planning four Israeli dates in December. I'm hoping to get tickets today as I'm sure he will be sold out. He's Hasidic, he's young, and he's hot! The music is amazing. Very spiritual to boot. Some lyrics:

"you walk around like everybody owes you something
take what you get and thank God for all that life brings."

"the poor man has it all
but not content with anything
while the rich man's hands are empty
but he's sitting like a king"

"If you stay high, you bound to stay low"

Go to this site . The video is amazing. Actually the video is not great quality but the song he sings is really good.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Trampling on the land

While at dinner on Friday night, a CBS reporter - testing me on my liberal thinking and sympathy for Arabs - asked me whether I believed that Israel was given to the Jews by God. "Of course I do. And, by the way, this does not give us the right to trample on those who were already living here. If this land was given to us by God, we must treat the inhabitants with some respect (differentiating of course between terrorists and just-regular folk)" A sad example of this "trampling" I received in an e-mail this morning.

Translated from Hebrew:

Yesterday Hani Totech, a colleague of my son Doron, called me. Doron had told him that I might be able to give some publicity to the flagrant injustice done to him and his family by the army who on Tuesday morning November 22nd destroyed their home without any prior notice.

Today I visited the family, father, mother and five small children, who now live near the ruins of their home in a tent that belongs to the Red Cross.

This is their horror story:

Hani Totech built his house fifteen years ago without permit. This is normal practice for the inhabitants of Wadi Joz near the old city of Jerusalem, since permits to build in that area are not given to Arabs, even though some families already lived there before the six-day war.

In the late nineteen-nineties, Hani was sued by law and ordered to pay a fine of 50.000 shekel. Today, in November 2005, he is still paying monthly installments.

On November 22nd, Hani’s wife phoned him at his job, and told him that dozens of soldiers had encircled the house and were carrying the furniture to the neighbors. They said they had come to destroy the house. This was a complete surprise. There had been no previous warning or announcement whatsoever.

Hani phoned his lawyer, who told him to take a cab and join him immediately. Together they went to court where an order was issued to stop all activities until further notice. Hani phoned his wife to tell her he was on his way home with the court order. He also sent a copy of the order by fax to one of the neighbors. Next he got into a taxi and hurried home.

When the soldiers heard that a court order had been issued to stop the works, they didn’t lose one minute but put their bulldozer to task with lightning speed. When Hani arrived, soldiers caught him some fifty meters from his home and didn’t let go of him until the house was in ruins.

The lawyer (who had earned 5000 dollar on the case five years ago) advised Hani not to pursue the matter any longer. “You will lose all your money and gain nothing. Be wise and keep your money to raise your children,” he said.

On my ironic question whether Hani expected the fine of 50.000 shekel to be reimbursed to him, he answered seriously: “No, I still have to pay the installments, otherwise they’ll put me in jail.”

I can’t give Hani his house back, and of course he doesn’t expects that from me. But he asked me to give publicity to his story.

“Tell your friends that my little boy came home from school and saw the ruins of our home. Television people were filming. They asked him for his reaction. He answered: ‘I hope they’ll all die.’ Tell the Jews that for years my wife and I have been raising our children in an atmosphere of tolerance and goodwill. We don’t want them to grow with hatred in their hearts. But what can we do now to avoid them feeling the way they do?”

For me the question remains: How will the Totech family spend the rainy season? Seven people in a small tent, without toilets, without heating, without any comfort?

And also this: Is it really impossible to claim some compensation for the terrible injustice that our army has done while knowing that a court order had been issued against demolishing the house?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Jesus Christ

Hubby and I have begun to work out together in the neighborhood gym. It's swank and spanking new and the guys there surely can give the men in Jerusalem's YMCA a run for their money. If you want to see muscles - MY gym is the place. Good thing Hubby accompanies me there so I must behave.

My Good Daughter even told us that working out in the gym helps depression. But it doesn't help hard-of-hearing because when I told Hubby that I am a certain way because I am menopausal, he had this wonderful senior moment. "You're in a puzzle?"
No, darling I'm not. I love when you don't hear because then I can say things like "I transferred all your money from your bank account to mine." And you will think I'm saying something else.

Tonight we actually celebrated American Thanksgiving at our new friends who are messianic Jews. Jews who, unlike Orthodox Jews who believe in an eventual Messiah, believe that Jesus is the one. Hubby was having a hard time deciding if he wanted to go or not and subject himself to conversations about Christ. Especially on the holy Sabbath. But I, feeling very "Eve-like" persuaded him to go. "It'll be fun." I told him.

"What if they spike the food?" he wanted to know.

"With what? Crumbs from the New Testament?"

There were 3 other couples there besides us, all Americans. Some brought their teenage kids, who were well-behaved, and there was one, like mine, who showed some teen attitude.

"How did you cope with 5 kids?" asked the mother of the kids. She had twins. Lucky you are, lady. I told her God wanted to torture me one at a time.

Everyone there I assumed "knew" we were non-believers. We spoke with one man about our experience as Lubavitcher Chassidim.

He asked - "And they believe that their Rebbe will come back as the Messiah, yet they're not ostracised as being heretics!"

I added - "Sure, it'll be fun to see who comes back first."

The man asked "The Rebbe or who?"

AH - the prompt. They probably do not mention the "J" word to non-believers unless we mention it first.

"Why Jesus of course" I smiled. He knew who the "Who" was. He just wanted me to say his name.

Ding Ding Ding! I felt the green light come on.

Hubby insisted on being seated near the door. He didn't say so, but I thought perhaps it would make it easy for him to make a quick getaway, should he feel totally uncomfortable. They began their Friday night shabbat meal, similar to the way, all traditional Jews do it, singing the same hymns etc. The only time I heard a "Jesus" mention was when the father of household blessed his daughters the traditional prayer of becoming like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah and Miriam and he added something to the effect like "they should be a light unto the nations so they should know Jesus". Then we dug into the meal, which was an American culinary delight and for a moment I forgot I was in Jerusalem.

I asked about their families. Did their families mind their beliefs? Many of them already came from families who believed as they did. So no one there was excommunicated. What about Jesus' lineage. The traditional Jewish belief was that the messiah must be from the tribe of Judah, which is only determined by patriarchal lineage - and if Jesus' father was God then there's a problem with that. But I didn't press further. I don't care what their beliefs are. I was a new guest in their home and didn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. And after about 5 hours, way past our bedtime, we said our goodbyes.

Instead of falling asleep, we were wide awake and watched music shows on TV.

"Why aren't we tired - it's nearly 1:00 am" Hubby asked.

I answered - "Oh, don't worry, it's called Sleep Deprivation. That's what they did to us, so that in time, we'll become believers." feeding into Hubby's paranoia of spiked food and drink.

We both laughed and eventually did fall asleep.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sweet 16

I'm ready for yet another 2 week vacation. Perhaps I should apply for a saleswoman's job where I'd have to leave the country for 2 weeks out of the month. This way when there is hell at home I'd only enjoy two weeks of it instead of a full month. Maybe even live longer - who knows?

I rushed home to something I didn't want to rush home to - my son's Parents/Teachers meeting. I knew nothing glorious was going to be said about him and I dreaded hearing what I already knew - that he doesn't listen, doesn't do his homework, doesn't respond, doesn't participate in class speaks rudely to the principal, and thinks he's one cool almost-14-year old dude. So I don't know why I needed to spend 45 minutes with the teacher and 2 other school staff members for them to tell me what I already knew. But I brought the little pipsqueak along so he could hear it back for himself. Going back home, I saw this bike rider on the road, driving with no helmet, in the middle of the road, insufficient bike lights and showing off his riding skills by riding with "no hands". Brilliant. But my heart sank as I realized it's my stupid son. I had a fit and threatened to sell his bike if I ever saw him doing that again.

The Ex-Criminal turned 16 today and was let out of her reformatory for the day. We had made reservations at a nice restaurant in Jerusalem. She wanted the entire family to be there plus the Complainer's boyfriend. I hope she understands this expensive endeavor is replacing a physical birthday gift, although I managed to persuade my cheap eldest daughter to buy her a gift she needs, like boots.

At the restaurant we all seemed like such a loving family, taking photos, and hugging and kissing each other that everyone in the packed place must have thought - Oh how sweet, isn't that such a lovely family - not knowing of the torture they all put me through. I put my daughter back to her "place" in a taxi and fell asleep, reading an article in the paper about immigrant juvenile crime down 17% (isn't it nice when they do lock them up?). I get a call at 11:20 pm and 12:30 am rousing me from my sleep. I'm not a good rouser. I must have sounded like I was partying with Keith Richards. Seems that the daughter never got to her place. I knew where she was. She ran off to her boyfriend's and will have to suffer the consequences when she gets back. I fell blissfully asleep.

Hubby woke up in a foul mood and said our son was the Devil.

"And what are you sweet pea? The Angel of Mercy?" I realized then, although rabbis won't tell you, why Eve was created. The One Above did such a rotton job creating Adam, he had to do some heavy repair work and created Eve. Poor Eve. She had no other women to complain to either.

I just couldn't wait to get out of the house, and into my office where my slave job awaits...

All the leaves are brown

Fall has hit Jerusalem. Notice the bars outside my office. To keep the employees in - rather than keep the criminals out.....???

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fall-ing in Jerusalem

I look out my window at work and see yellow leaves gathered on the ground. I feel I'm back in the US - somewhere in the Northeast - but it's not as cold. It has been raining and I love having the rain pour its wetness on me. I don't use an umbrella or a hood. It washes my sadness away.

Over the weekend my son, whom I try to educate in the best way I can, was telling me excitedly that the manager of Jerusalem's soccer team, Betar, was going to place an Arab player on the team.

"That's wonderful! Maybe the fans will be less racist if he wins a few ones for us."

But by the end of the weekend, my son gleefully told me the plan was nixed because the fans were totally against it. Again, Betar will be the only team without any Arab players. What fools. I silently celebrated their loss on Saturday to Petach Tikvah.

Son was suspended from school today because of bad behavior. I took away his keyboard, but I was told by the Complainer after checking in today that he found another one in the house.

I called Hubby to alert him.

"Yeah, I smashed it."

"YOU SMASHED IT?? WHAT DOES THAT TEACH HIM??? TO DESTROY PEOPLE'S STUFF??" Never mind all the therapy he'll need.

I complained bitterly about my life to a co-worker.

"That's men for you."

"That's no excuse. If that were the case, Hubby would be a great advertisement for a lesbian lifestyle."

Hubby is in-between jobs and down in the dumps. I was at my wit's end by this morning and gave him one of my own Sermons in the Car.

"I don't care if you become a Buddhist. Throw Judaism out the window if it bothers you so much. Meditate. (I was secretly hoping he would take the hint and go to a Buddhist monastery for a few months and leave us all alone) You'll get rid of your anger and your depression and you won't take any of this stuff - the hardships with the kids, the taxes, your work - personally. You'll see it in a different light."

Surely Judaism teaches us how to cope with life's trials and tribulations, but he is not grabbing a fucking clue.

I began to shout - "I don't even care if Jesus saves you. Someone's gotta save you, if you ain't gonna go on meds, sweet pea." And with that I walked out of the car, to my slave job.

Not even a year's membership in the gym is making him happy. And this is something he wanted for years and years. Yesterday, I took my fucking charge card and made 12 payments for the 2 of us in our neighborhood gym, which is spanking new and beautiful with state-of-the-art equipment. He railed at me for making 12 payments instead of being grateful and I wanted to toss his membership card into the Mediterranean.

And then I think of my Jewish meditation mantra and laugh as I recite it ever so slowly....."OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Oh Sonny Boy

It didn't take me too many days to recover jet-lag wise from India. I would wake up at 4:00 am, being that it was 7:30 am there. But driving to work brought me back to reality quickly. Stuck in traffic because I have to pass by the King David Hotel and David Citadel Hotel where the Clintons and Condoleeza Rice were staying. Security was all over the place. Ahh Jerusalem and its illustrious guests.

On the home front my Son had been acting up, playing hookey from school 3 times while I was away. Then he was suspended for one day for god-knows-what. His voice is changing and he sounds totally awkward. His hormones are going bonkers. The girls at work asked me -

"Does he have his own room?"


"So why don't you get him some dirty magazines and let him wank away."

It's certainly ok by me, if it'll rid him of his awful mood swings. But I'm not buying him nothing. Let him borrow from his friends.

Yesterday Hubby picked up the phone.

"Your son was by my house with 2 other kids. He was ringing the doorbell incessantly while I was sleeping."

Turns out the guy is a judo instructor and this happened at 4:00 in the afternoon not in the morning, you see. Sometimes Israelis take a siesta from 2:00 - 4:00.

I asked my son the next day where he rode his bike to.

"I don't know."

"Did you annoy this guy"

"I was upstairs"

"Upstairs where?"

"I don't know"

"Did you want to take Judo lessons?"

"I don't know"

"How did you get there?"

"I don't know. Somebody took us there."

"Listen kid. Annoying someone is one thing. Annoying a judo instructor is quite another. I don't need these people coming after you or me, understand?"


I'm annoying. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My favorite mode of transportation - Delhi

Taj Mahal

Indian family - Agra

Just outside Anandpur Sahib

Pet Cows? - Gurah

Gurah at sunrise

Gurah village - Punjab

Jst outside Amritsar

Lengar (dinner) at the Temple

Entrance to the Golden Temple

Golden Temple on Diwali

Monday, November 14, 2005

Back to Jerusalem

I got home Saturday. Being that I was alone when I left India, it was less traumatic leaving than if I would have left good friends. I spent my last day in India scooting through Dilli Haat - the crafts exhibition - where I bought higher-quality items such as wall hangings and some clothing which was still much cheaper than back home. The rickshaw driver insisted I go with him shopping and I argued with him nicely for the duration of the ride.

"I have no time to go shopping with you - sorry. Please - what is wrong with just dropping me off where I want to go?" In the end I won and he did just that.

I could have shopped till I dropped. This is what most people do once they get here. It's either a shopping experience or a spiritual experience. I guess I had both, so I was lucky. Afterwards I explored the State Emporiums near Connaught Circle which had stores for each of the provinces. I was hard-pressed to find gifts for my son and Hubby. I had very little time left until synagogue started and I felt I HAD to be at the only Delhi synagogue. I hadn't gone to the main bazaar near the railway station yet and did a 15 minute run through, buying all the cheapest stuff that friends had asked for, scarves, wall hangings and a tablecloth for us. I raced back to my hotel - avoiding all the miscreants hanging around trying to get me to go into their restaurants or just wanting a conversation with me.

"YOU LIKE INDIA?" shouted an elderly man as I rushed through the streets. I didn't have time to answer him but I hoped my smile was enough of an answer.

The synagogue was difficult to find and I came mid-service. It's not like Jews are well-known in the city so no one really knew what a synagogue was. I did manage to find it and walked in mid-service. There were about 5 locals and 5 guests there and the Rabbi was friendly and chatted with us a bit afterwards.

I ended up having my final buffet meal on the rooftop of the Ajanta Hotel, where I would have liked to have stayed. All you can eat for $2. I will miss the cuisine. Meanwhile a woman was there giving away bracelets because she "wanted everyone to be happy" and gave them henna tattooes on their palms as well. I opted for just the bracelets.

Back at my hotel room, I got a call telling me to open up my door to get my towel. I thought it was 3:00 am for my wake-up call. No, it was midnight and I had only slept two hours. I didn't understand why they had to do that but had no strength to figure it out or to argue with them either. At the airport I told the check-in people that I would have loved to be seated in Business Class for the way back to compensate me for losing my luggage for 6 days. They said they can only do it if the people who had reserved in Business did not show up. In the end it was in economy, but I had a wonderful seat-mate who was a professional Israeli photographer for a National Geographic-type magazine who had just been in Pakistan and Kashmir and shared with me his videos throughout our 6 1/2 hour ride back.

In Jordan our flight was delayed 2 hours, which meant a 4 hour wait and I was amused at all the Iraqis in the airport. Should I start a conversation with them or shouldn't I? In the end I stuck with the Israelis and had cappuccino after cappuccino and salad after salad because I hadn't had either for two weeks.

I was horrified to see that we were going on a propeller jet. They're noisy and bumpier than regular jets and I wasn't in the mood. I sat next to a few Japanese businessmen and my fear subsided as I gave him an aerial tour of Israeli cities, Arab villages and Jewish settlements.

Back home my kids hovered around me as I opened up my suitcases. Only my son seemed to be satisfied with his gift which was just an expensive tube of Smarties I bought at the airport and he grabbed it from me like a rhesus monkey would have done in Delhi. I bought them bangles but some were too small for them and not their style.

"We want the two you're wearing". Of course they did. And about the clothes I got for them, they complained of the Indian smell. I bought incense for Hubby which he appreciated and some jewellery boxes for the girls who didn't have any.

"You smell like India" said the Complainer. Could be a good thing. Looks like India got into my soul too.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hindu Temple

I went to the grandest of Hindu temples the other day in Delhi. It had just opened 3 days ago and has a really long name so I don't remember it - but it is extravagant. It reminded me of being in Disney World. Cameras weren't aloud so no photos will describe it. There was an Imax theater showing a 50 minute history of their Guru (18th century) and a boat ride in the style of "It's a Small World". The place must have cost somewhere in the tens of millions of dollars.

Our guide summed it all up, when I mentioned the pollution of the air here as well as the rivers and the poverty.

"People aren't talking about money here. It's not the purpose of our lives. People in Europe have clean homes and smooth roads but their souls are jumpy. Here in India, our roads are bumpy and jumpy and our streets are not so clean, but our souls are smooth. We are happy."

And that they are.

Similarities between the Sikhs and Jews

There were so many of them it seemed. The Sikhs reminded me of Lubavitch Chassidim with their uncut beards, their unending, genuine hospitality, etc. The only difference physically was that one wore turbans and one group wear black hats. To the Sikhs - all humanity are equal and they got rid of the caste system in their religion.

Over the Sikh holy book was a beautifully embroidered cover much like Jews covering their Torah. On top was a canopy, which is what we use during weddings and when transferring the Torah from one place to another.

After services the Sikhs have a "lenger" - a community meal. The Jews have a "kiddush". However the Sikhs win in orderliness. Jewish "kiddushes" are unruly. Everyone waits for the Rabbi to recite the blessing over wine and then food grabbing is de riguer. With the Sikhs, you sit down in very even rows and wait for people to serve you. They feed people by the thousands. In every temple we visited we were served not only by local Sikhs but by the head of the Birmingham group - who modestly served others. This was unusual and even the head of the Institute, took her turn in serving us too.

Their marriage ceremony used to last 7 days - similar to Jewish wedding celebrations where you would have 7 days of special festive dinners in different places after the wedding. But now the Sikhs have dwindled it down to just one day.

Their prayer book looked like a Jewish book of Psalms, only much shorter.

I felt we were kindred spirits and also felt very connected with their community. I know when I visit London and Birmingham, I'll be welcomed warmly by them.

People at the Conference

I learned so much from everyone there - from the famous Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka - The Venerable Sobitha - who taught us how to meditate to the Moslem woman from Zimbabwe to the Bosnian people who wanted to help us get out of our conflict the way they did.

We had a meditation session with Sobitha one morning. I tried to concentrate on his "breath in, breath out" meditations. I even tried to look at my nostrils as he instructed while my eyes were closed.

"People are not happy" he said. "People always want something. Then when they get it, they want something else. They are never satisfied."

"You talking to me?" I thought.

The smoke of the incense wafted towards me and no one else. My mind drifted to all sorts of thoughts and I got sidetracked from "breath in/breath out" I'm such a total loser meditator. And as I was sitting cross legged, my feet began to tingle and fall asleep.

I spoke with the Zimbabwe woman who irritated me by telling me that Jews rule the world.

"Really?" I inquired. "Looks like you've been reading too many of those awful anti-semitic books around."

"Oh no. You know who owns Coca Cola? A Jew." and she rattled off his name.

"Oh yeah? So who owns Pepsi?" I challenged her. "Probably not a Jew."

I was fuming. "And what about the non-Jews like the Hiltons with their slutty kids and Donald Trump who is so full of himself. And what about billionaire Jews who are philanthropists and use their money for the good in this world. HUH?"

She didn't have much else to say, except that she thought the Ayatollah was good for Iran because he brought Islam to the country while the Shah was a total non-believer and people were behaving in a non-Islamic fashion.

I grabbed ahold of her friend one evening and told her about the history of Israel/Palestine. She had no idea that before 1967, the West Bank was actually in Jordan.

But they did come to our presentations and I am glad they listened to us. It may change their views, even slightly.

The Moslem Bosnian girl in her twenties said she had lived in Iraq for 5 years under Sadaam Hussein's rule and even though he was an idiot and a tyrant, people lived pretty normal lives there. She wished the Americans would leave and let the locals deal with the aftermath of who will be in power, etc. No one really wants them there it seemed.

Some site visits

When we were in Amritsar, we went to visit two sites, Sacred Heart School and Pingalwara Charitable society. The first school was a well-to-do Catholic school, where the children all called me Madam and we were treated to beautiful performances by the girls. When I get back home, I will treat you to some of these photos. It must have taken these girls weeks to prepare such perfect presentations. The next place was a home/school for Amritsar's unwanted children, many with physical handicaps. We roamed around the place, run by the Sikhs, and I saw a mouse scurry where the deaf and mute kids were. How convenient, I thought, to have a mouse just there because the kids wouldn't be able to complain. They had a pretty good state-of-the-art hearing lab and math and science lab. Some kids were abandoned and were brought here. They all wanted to shake our hands, especially the little ones.

But the most wonderful visit I experienced was to the Golden Temple at Amritsar during Diwali. I did not expect to see or feel this experience. It is simply undescribable, although the photos may describe some of it. The crowds ran into the tens of thousands and everyone was very dignified, save for one unruly person outside the temple who grabbed ahold of my butt.

We had always received VIP treatment - not only because of our affiliation with the Institute but because the Birmingham head of the Sikhs, Baba Ji, was with us and we were ushered into the main temple instead of waiting in line which would have taken 6 hours or so to get inside. I didn't feel grungy walking barefoot amongst everyone. I thought I would.

Then there were the fireworks display. I wasn't like in Western countries. Not at all. In Western countries, they put the fireworks totally away from everyone, in case of misfires, etc. But we were herded onto the roof to watch the display and to our horror, right next to us were the fireworks. These were major fireworks and we all freaked out, althought the natives seemed so nonplussed about it.

After the convention we toured the Punjap to places which aren't on any tourist map. Great temples popped out of nowhere in these tiny remote villages, where life probably hasn't changed in centuries. What a history lesson and a lesson in people's culture I had for these couple of weeks. I believe it would take 4 years of university for one to learn what I had learned in two weeks. From the conflict in Uganda, to the peaceful two/state solution in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to how people are being empowered in schools to deal with bullies - the list is endless. And I can take it all home with me once it sinks in.

Our group dwindled down from the 100 people at the convention to 40 on tour and then most had to catch their flights back home. It was sad saying goodbyes to the Afghans - it is certainly not easy for us to meet and they were totally fun guys - as well as the London/Birmingham Sikhs who accompanied us everywhere. There were just 4 of us left yesterday - 2 from Bosnia and 1 from Brazil and we rented a car with a driver since you would have to be totally insane to drive in India. Off to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. One of the 7 wonders of the world. I'm glad I saw it. It was like photos coming to life. The ride was tedious - 4 hours each way on India's national highway where there were signs about obeying traffic rules. We all had a good laugh over that. What rules. Two lane highways are 4 lanes and what they get away with here you would never see in Western countries.

Vendors were totally awful in Agra, and people had warned us of aggressive rhesus monkeys who snatch your bags, but monkeys didn't bother us at all. The vendors attacked us worse. I didn't bother buying from any of them until the very end, but my friends did and so we were totally bombarded with these people.

But when we got inside, we were totally in awe, and each one of us spontaneously said a prayer of thanks to God for bringing us together in this spectacular place.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Going Shopping

On Thursday a few of the Sikh volunteers from the UK told me they were taking me shopping because my suitcase had not arrived yet and they were probably tired of seeing me in my derelict clothing. they took me to this elegant looking store, selling ethnic clothing in the old market and I thought I'd be paying. But turns out they were treating me to 2 suits. I felt embarrassed at them paying for two, so I only bought one. Two elderly Sikh gentlemen accompanied us and waited patiently in the store for well over an hour while they showed me dozens of outfits. It's a total no-no to thumb through the clothing yourself so they would rather take everything out of the package and repackage it again. Fine, if it keeps them in business.

I felt bad for the older men waiting. "You shouldn't have gone shopping with a Jewish woman" I told them. They chastised me for not buying a second outfit.

"Jewish women don't want to spend money" one of them said. "They like to keep the money."

"Really? Why don't you just speak to my husband about that. He'll totally disagree with you there."


I'm sure I may have said something about our accommodations - but I'll repeat. I don't remember. I should have been more grateful to have the room we had at first with the lizards, spiders and ants, toilets that didn't flush and our one towel. Oh, not to mention no working shower and washing my body in buckets of water. Because we've been moved for one night to a different hostel that looks like something from Midnight Express. At least the bathroom does. It doesn't have the Western style toilet - it's got the Asian bathroom - where you have to squat. Ugh. I'm glad it's only for one night and I'm grateful I don't have the runs. Plus the sheets were dirty and I told them I'll sleep on the new carpet in their temple if we don't get clean sheets.


I had not written anything about the conference at Amritsar. First of all we were all given badges. I'm so not used to looking VIP and I kept on forgetting my badge when I left my room in the mornings. But I did get the hang of it eventually.

It was really great to have an opportunity to meet people from 25 difference countries. I seemed to gravitate towards certain people from certain countries more than others. The ones I chummied up to were those from Afghanistan. They were extremely funny and interesting and spoke perfect English. During the Taliban era, they fled to Pakistan but now are helping to build their country again. There were two men from Pakistan who we got to know. The introduction was awkward at first, but then we seemed to be like family with them. You see politicians and politics separate people, not get them together. We seemed to be doing better at making peace than our own countries were doing.

After we had made our small presentation, people from countries like Bosnia and the Ukraine would give us advice, their business cards, etc. Many wanted to partner with us and the Bosnians together with us decided we would try to make a summer camp for teenagers together.

I hung out alot with the US contingent from Indiana and Massachusetts.

We seemed to get a lot of very positive feedback after the two of us made our presentation to the entire delegation. I was pleased that alot of people, especially the Afghani's, will go back to their country and tell their people what they experienced. I'm sure they will say that the media have it all wrong - the Israeli's they met are not as awful as they thought. And perhaps the Pakistanis will do that as well. The trip, with all it's difficulties, is definitely worth it for this.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


I don't understand why so many Israelis travel to India and some alot of hash. It doesn't make sense. You don't need any drugs in India. India is intoxicating and trippy just on its own. It's a totally different world that it is difficult to describe in words. It is so full of contrasts. You could be walking down a street, in the old market taking in the beautiful scents of spices and incense and then along comes the traffic and you're breathing in the fumes and choking on them. There are the beggars, the deformed, the mystical sudhus dressed in organge robes gazing intensely at you and then you see these beautifully dressed women in the most colorful saris/punjabi outfits. I have never seen a more colorful people. We meandered down the shops today and got dizzy from all the glittering material. It's quite a no-no to get clothing on your own. The salemen sit on mattresses while customers sit on the chairs and they unravel everything.

Besides that, there was no anonymity for me yesterday. I had terrible stomach cramps and we all figured out it was because I was constipated for 6 days. And dehydrated. So my friends loaded me up with 2 liters of water and everyone in the convention started to call me "Job" from the Bible - the one who lost her luggage and is constipated. One doctor ran to the local pharmacy to get me some fiber. Throughout the day, they did their check-ups on me asking me how I felt. Who would have thought you get constipated in INdia in the first place. I was prepared for the opposite.

More tomorrow. When I may have more time.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Roughing It

I still did not get my luggage, although they said it is due to arrive today, thanks to the volunteers at the convention. They were incredible, looking after me every step of the way from getting me 2 Punjabi outfits so I'd have something to wear other than the greenish brown pants I had been wearing since Sunday. Plus they had arranged for one of their friends/relatives from Delhi to go to the airport to pick up my luggage so I would not have to make the 8 hour trip there. I felt so pampered being looked after.

I joked to everyone that God was trying to humble me. After all,Hubby complained that I had packed too much luggage. Of course, everyone else just came with hand luggage. I came with a big bag stuffed with one week's worth of clothing, plus toiletries. So now I was forced to make do with little for 5 days.

Taking showers? Not where I'm staying. At least I have a sit down toilet. It doesn't flush, so we pour buckets of water into it to make the "stuff" go down. It works!

I washed my hair for the first time since I got here this morning by pouring very warm water into the bucket and then using a smaller bucket to pour water over my head. Being paranoid, I poured listerine into my mouth to disinfect anything coming into my mouth from the bad water.

They have gone out of their way here to make us feel comfortable, giving us spoons with our meals and covering the tables with white satin-y tableclothes.

I did discover one flushing toilet in the conference area. Most of the public toilets are not sit down toilets. You have to squat into what looks like a flat urinal on the floor and then do the bucket thing to flush. But we are all doing it. It's not the worst thing in the world. There is toilet paper.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Happy Diwali

The Indian Festival of lights. It is a privilege for me to celebrate it for the first time here.

As I boarded the Air India flight to Amritsar from new Delhi, the plane was filled with the scent of incense and Indian music played in the background. I felt relaxed. It was so soothing. Imagine being as paranoid about flying as I am and feeling relaxed about flying for the first time. Perhaps there should be a rule that all airlines should burn incense and play sitar music. There is something to this.

I forgot to say that during the Royal Jordanian flight they sprayed the airline with I don't know what but it looked like DDT - when we landed. I prefer incense.

I was hoping that the Air India pilots fly their planes better than they drive their cars. From the smooth flight, I can say that they do.

Monday, October 31, 2005

On the Road to Delhi

It was a harrowing pre-trip. First I ended up in the hospital Friday night because I thought I had appendicitis. Turns out it was just a urinary infection but the doctors bugged the crap out of me. It was 5:00 am and I had been there for 6 hours going for tests.

"You don't look very good, maam. I don't think you should be going to India in 2 days."

Of course I looked like the Madwoman from Hell. My hair was dishevelled. It was 6 hours past my bedtime. And 15 different doctors were poking and prodding me all over.

By Sunday I was feeling 90%. I got the pre-travel jitters, nervous about flying, etc. Not to mention the terrorist attack in Delhi the night before. But once I checked my baggage and got on the Jordanian jet, things were good. We transferred in Amman and the passengers on our flight to Delhi were a UN of people. Incredible - people from Nepal, Afghanistan. Tarek could pick out the people from Iraq because of their Arabic accent.

I was thrilled that there was no turbulence and the 5 hour flight was smooth. But I was the last to get off the plane and thought - what the hell, why should I be in such a rush. I was one of the last to get to the luggage and there was no luggage of mine to be found. I was in total tears. It is terrifying to lose your good jeans, the mosquito net, the stuff I brought to wear to the ceremonies and conference and now I was wearing my shittiest clothing. What is a princess to do? Nothing. Tomorrow is Diwali - an Indian national holiday and nothing will be open. No flights from Jordan in until Thursday. This is the earliest they can notify me if my luggage came in - that is if no one had taken it in the first place, which I hope was not the case.

To take my mind off this, Tarek suggested we take a private driver to drive us all over Delhi for a 4 hour tour. Sure. I'm half asleep and miserable and hungry. What could be better than being chauffered around, having the doors opened for you and being called "Madam"? I could live like this.

We saw a few sites. I don't remember their names at all. One is a Moslem mameuke ruin - a tower and mosque of sorts. Just beautiful. The Indian women are so colorful. I love their clothing. And there were exotic birds flying around and nesting in the trees. I saw monkeys sitting side by side with people around the Parliament buildings. The monkeys sat in groups by themselves by one tree, and next to them sat people besides the next trees. It felt so trippy - seeing all of this.

I've got to run - my flight to Amritsar is about to leave.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Travelling Companions

Hubby actually came with me to visit the Messianic Jews who live near us. And he's sitting there telling them how lost he is, how he doesn't have direction, how he needs a change and they're smiling away. I can hear them thinking -

"Man, what a catch! The Lord brings us these lost souls so we can save them. Thank you Jeeesus!"

I know they were really happy to meet us even though I didn't seem lost to them. I told them I'm happy where I am spiritually. I'm not in a spiritual rut or vacuum. I may burn in hell according to their theology but I don't necessarily give a fuck. I just want people to understand that if they want to be tolerated or even accepted in the Jewish community, it would be easier if their motives wouldn't be to lasso me into their beliefs. But I understand that it comes from compassion because they truly want to save my soul, even though I believe it doesn't need saving. So because of their compassion I can tolerate and even admire them.

"Everyone has their own path to God" I told my hostess. She shook her head vigorously.

I continued -"I know you don't think so. But that's another 3 hour discussion." We didn't have 3 hours that day.

Hubby was down in the dumps afterwards, but I invited him to join the meeting the next evening with the 2 men who will be with me in India. I felt he would feel better if he saw that they didn't look like Richard Gere clones. They don't. They're big. Like wrestlers. I'm not into wrestlers so I'm sure Hubby was totally relieved. I even felt a bit of relief travelling on a Jordanian airline with my Arab colleague. I felt moreso relieved for him because I feel he'll be less harassed on this airline than if he travelled on El Al, the Israeli airline.

"At least I have a chance to practice Arabic with you for 17 hours"

I'll probably be a lot more fluent, but he'll probably have a great big headache after he gets off the flight with me.

"Just don't practice your Arabic on him at the airport in front of security" joked our Jewish colleague.

He's quite right.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why does everyone have to harrass me

Yesterday I went out with the Complainer to the shuk. She bugged me about everything. We argued in front of the chicken lady.

"Don't buy that because of the flu" she told me pointing to the chicken cutlets.

"Honey, I read in the papers that if you cook it..."


"I have one of those at home" said the chicken lady to me, glancing at me with pity, and nodding towards the Complainer.

"Oh, sorry to hear that. How old is yours?"


"This one's 17 1/2"

We came to a truce afterwards. Maybe she realized her behavior was out of hand in public after the chicken lady dissed her about it in front of everyone. Good for her. Now she has a customer for life.

Then I came home and told Hubby I'm visiting some new English speaking people I met at the video store, who happen to be messianic Jews. Seems the only English speakers in my neighborhood are messianics.

"Oh, so now you're going to get converted?"

What a dick. I answered him promptly.

"Yes, and from tomorrow on my name will be Christ-ina. OK?"

Later on Ex-Criminal daughter called me from her reformatory.

"Nu, so how was the game?" She's a big Betar fan.

I started to tell her about the fans, the players and was in the middle of telling her the chants that were hurled at the other team's fans sitting in a section by themselves

"Hapoel zonah, Hapoel zonah, Hapoel zonah" ("Hapoel's a whore" - "Hapoel" being the Tel Aviv team's name)

And she was in hysterics, even putting me on the speaker phone so her counselor could hear me give it over.

He interrupted my take on the game.

"You took your kids to a soccer game?"

"Yeah so?" Isn't that being a good parent?

Obviously, he didn't think so.

"I hate Betar. Betar fans are so racist."

"Yes, you are right, which is why I didn't take them to the previous game,which had Arabs on the team, because I didn't want my kids to hear anti-Arab slurs. And besides, the police now arrest fans shouting anti-Arab stuff."

He was undaunted.

"It's violent at these games. And all the cursing that goes on."

"Yeah, but the curses are in Hebrew. It's not as bad as English swearing." And then we went on to talk about hockey in the US and how I had season's tickets.

He must think I'm a total violence freak.

"Hockey is terribly violent" -

"Yeah, but there wasn't any violence at the Betar game. What I did see besides everyone calling everyone a "whore" was a great deal of camaraderie. And we had alot of fun. It was really a lot of fun, even if we didn't win."

He probably thinks I'm a real shitty, irresponsible mom. I guess taking my kids clothes shopping and to restaurants and synagogues are the only acceptable activities these days.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Soccer Mom

I decided to take my son to a professional soccer game in Jerusalem. Their local team, Betar was playing Hapoel Tel Aviv. I hadn't been to a soccer game in 8 years, but remember it being somewhat of a family affair, with people bringing in picnic baskets, thermoses and sharing their grub with everyone seated around them.

I tried to get Hubby to go with me because it's kinda like Canadian hockey. Well it is and it isn't. They don't sell beer at soccer games, at least not in Jerusalem.

So in the end my Good Daughter, my Son and his short spikey haired friend and myself went. My son insisted we get seats on the "mizrachi" (Eastern) side of the stadium. I got them but didn't realize the stupid ticket broker gave the adults Gate 11 and the "youth" Gate 13. We had quite a difficult time, entering the stadium together. But in the end they let us sit by Gate 13 where the rest of the "youth" were. I noticed the gates on the Western side of the stadium were filled with mature adults and families. I also noticed that Gate 13 was full of greasy looking football hooligan types. And this is where we were going to be seated. The rowdy bunches already gathered more than 2 hours before on the upper level. They were singing and banging drums and I nixed sitting with them. I opted for the seats closer to the field, and on the same row where I saw other small fry with their dads.

"They're going to throw things at us" remarked by daughter.

"The security is so tight, no one can bring in bottles or anything dangerous. The only thing they'll throw is confetti."

"But confetti will stick to my hair."

"Oh, c'mon honey, it's not like lice."

It was true that no one threw anything heavier than confetti, and I was glad I didn't wear my red pants that evening because red and white were the colors of the opposing team who were sitting on the side. I would have had a more difficult time getting seated by security.

A few rowdy teens took the row in front of us. I noticed we were blocked in by high gates. It looked like we were in a cage. Most of the stadium seemed open but only our gate was especially built for the football crazies. Other young people tried to get into our gate but security locked them out. I was a bit frightened at first but - hey - we're all on the same team and I didn't see any serious fights breaking out. Occasionally during the game I saw the police escort about 4 people with their hands tied, out of the stadium, but around us it was pretty cool. Everyone stood on their chairs and after the National Anthem was sung, the confetti flew.

Curses flew like heavy rainfall. Everyone cursed. They cursed our team, the opposing team, and I, of course, cursed in my best English.

"Oh Dammit!"
"Oh FUCK!!! I can't believe he missed that GOAL!!!"

We lost 2 - 0 and the disappointment was felt more in the stadium than if you watch it on tv. I felt bad that for his first game, my son didn't see his team scoring a goal. Everyone in our section would have gone absolutely nuts over a win. But as the game dragged on, people were getting subdued and even left when there was just a few minutes left to the game.

There were a handful of women/girls in our section, but the boys around behaved nicely. Better than I expected. No ass pinching or harrassment. My daughter did have someone politely ask for her number and he told her that I was cute.
I smiled.

Next time I go to a game - I'll opt for Gate 13 in the Eastern section again.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Holidays feel Lethargic

I thought I'd be pretty much pumped up this festive holiday. It didn't begin too well. I was feeling under the weather last week, and was going to attend the International Christian Embassy Feast of Tabernacles Celebration at the outdoor Sultan's Pool. It's like a big kitchy extravaganza and I wanted to see all the upbeat visiting Christians standing and swaying with their hands stretched upwards to heaven. Even though I am amused watching them, I feel good among them. I do remember, though,feeling slightly uncomfortable a few years back when we were segregated at one of their festivities - Israelis seated here and Christian participants seated there. I told Hubby that I wanted to go because I feel loved in their presence, despite the segregation. He still can't understand why we're loved by Christians.

"Because we're the chosen people that's why!"

"We're just chosen to be stressed out." Needless to say he didn't go to the festivities and neither did I because it was friggin cold in Jerusalem that night and I didn't want my cold/sore throat to turn into anything worse before my trip.

Meanwhile, Hubby has been threatening me all week with tossing out my beloved Kitty when I'm in India. His mood swings have been getting to me lately and I'm quite happy to be relieved of his presence for two weeks while I'm in India. It's God's gift of respite for me.

But there's a good side to being here too.

Ex-Criminal daughter invited one of her girlfriends from the reformatory over to our house for the weekend. This poor girl's story is so sad. Her abusive mother knocked out her front teeth. I've had a friend pledge some money to get her to a dentist and when I mentioned it to the Social Worker at that place, she was practically speechless. It's so heartening to know that there are great, helpful people in Jerusalem. I'm sure it would not take me long to find all the resources to help this young and pretty 17 1/2 year old girl get her smile back!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Gift of Insults

Got this in an email today:

A great Samurai warrior, now old, had decided to teach
Zen Buddhism to young people. Despite his age, the legend
was that he could defeat any adversary.

One afternoon, a young warrior - known for his complete
lack of scruples - arrived there. He was famous for using
techniques of provocation: he waited until his adversary
made the first move and then swiftly counterattacked,
skillfully taking advantage of any slightest mistake his
adversary made. He had never lost a fight. Hearing of
the Samurai's reputation, he had come to defeat him, to
increase his fame. All the students were against the idea,
but the old master accepted the challenge.

All gathered on the town square, and the young man
started insulting the old master. He threw a few rocks in

his direction, spat in his face, shouted every insult under
the sun - he even insulted his ancestors. For hours, he
did everything to provoke him, but the old man remained
impassive. At the end of the afternoon, by now feeling
exhausted and humiliated, the impetuous warrior left.

Disappointed by the fact that the master had received
so many insults and provocations, the students asked:
"How could you bear such indignity? Why didn't you
use your sword, even knowing you might lose the fight,
instead of displaying your cowardice in front of us all?"
"If someone comes to you with a gift, and you do not
accept it, to whom does the gift belong?" asked the
Samurai. "To the one who tried to deliver it," replied
one of his disciples.

"The same goes for envy, anger and insults," said
the master.
"When they are not accepted, they continue to belong to the one who brought them."