Israel

Six More Things I Love About Israel

Israel

Way back when a friend challenged me to write an article about things I love about Israel. I thought it was a fair challenge on a number of levels. Obviously there are things about the country that bug me to no end. It’s only fair that I tell the other side as well.

There also needs to be some balance to my bitterness for what I’ve seen and been through. And even if it’s not there to counterbalance my feelings about Israel, it’s worthwhile to be there to counterbalance my soul. I don’t want to be bitter. I don’t wake up in the morning thinking it would be great to be cynical today.

But I am a cynic. And I have plenty of reasons and ongoing support for my cynicism. But that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. And credit should be given where credit’s due.

1) ProFit, My Beloved Gym

Gyms in Israel aren’t known for being very affordable. And even though I’m certainly spending more to go to Profit in Talpiot than I was spending in the States, I must say that a) it is the most affordable gym I’ve seen so far, and b) it’s worth each and every penny.

Not only has my gym been my greatest form of escape and has kept me strong and fit for some time now, but it is truly a break from some of the most stressful elements of Israeli society. There’s no Israeli vs. Arab in my gym. Everyone exercises side by side. Men exercise alongside women, religious folk on the machine next to someone completely secular. And all political opinions are left at home.

Everyone is just working hard to be healthy. A common goal that transcends all the garbage that chills me to the bone.

2) Walking the Mighty Mesila

And speaking of breaks from the world at large, nothing beats a walk down the Mesila (also known as Derech Harakevet or the Old Train Tracks).

A walk down this lengthy and gorgeous path is a trek through all elements of Israeli society. Some folk are jogging. Others are walking their dogs. And still others are just going from one place to another.

And some are just sitting and enjoying the crisp, clean air.

But they all have one thing in common: They’re at peace.

The Mesila isn’t just a break from all of the craziness of Israel. Anywhere in the world this would be considered a beautiful, relaxing place to spend your time.

3) Israel’s Objectively Better Wedding Experience

I’m going to say it, out loud and once and for all: Weddings in Israel are far better than weddings in the States.

Weddings in America are very formal and slow paced. Everyone is seated during the ceremony and everything progresses in an ultra-standard way. And there is a fashion show aspect that is hard to ignore.

At an Israeli wedding, formal dress is downplayed. It is not at all uncommon to see many a guest in sandals and an untucked white shirt. They pile around the ceremony. And this overly informal atmosphere goes hand in hand with the wild and pure fun about to come.

Sure, every wedding has the guy smoking at the side and the bozo who answers his cell phone. It’s all worth it to create the perfect environment for the crazy amounts of informal fun everyone is about to have.

Everyone’s about to sing and dance in utter joy, with few dull moments. An objectively fun and exciting experience!

4) Israel’s Uncanny Ability to Move On

Israelis have an uncanny ability to forgive and forget, so drastically different than the environment I grew up with in the States.

I feel like holding tightly to grudges is a part of being a true blue American. Someone wronged you, and there is no statute of limitations to when the ensuing feud will come to an end.

Not so the mighty Israeli. Anger in Israel is intense and frequent, but short lived and completely impersonal. Just because you were in a yelling match with the clerk from the Misrad Hapnim for twenty minutes yesterday, doesn’t mean they hold any ill will whatsoever. It’s more likely that if you were to see them on the street the next day you would get a nod and a semi-friendly “What’s up?”

5) Israel: A Different Kind of Pride

Admittedly, I waiver about my feelings on this one. Israeli pride can be funny sometimes. Folk here use the word “we” a whole lot. Oftentimes they’re referencing an accomplishment made by an individual or an organization (or even something that happened before they were born), and using it as a source of pride.

We invented the PillCam. Or Soda Stream. We won Eurovision! And the list of national achievements can go on and on.

I grew up in the States. I never once found myself bragging about the invention of dental floss or crash test dummies. Yet in Israel it’s entirely natural to have a national pride over all the “Israeli” accomplishments, regardless of your giant lack of actual connection.

6) Israel’s Doggie Culture

To be sure, there are plenty of stores and other locations where it is not permitted to bring my precious pooch. But it feels like they are the exceptions, not the rule.

The default is that you can bring your dog almost anywhere. I’ll never forget once walking through a strip of bars in Jerusalem. We contemplated sitting down at a place, but I was concerned that it wasn’t an option, since my trusted hound was with me. Not only did they encourage me to come in regardless, they offered to bring him a bowl of water!

Indeed, good ole Frankie gets to experience a whole lot of Israel.

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Anyone watching knows I don’t love everything about Israel or its culture. I think it’s import to critique Israel, from top to bottom. I think it’s essential we all work together to create a better and more functional society. The society we deserve.

But I need to give credit where credit’s due. Israel is by no means devoid of its positives, and some of those are reason enough to cross the ocean and stay here for a while.

May we be blessed to fix the ever-present problems plaguing our everyday lives, and may my next list be about the top 100 things everyone loves about Israel!

***

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Aliyah: Getting the Help We Need, Part II: The Facebook Question

question

In my last post I wrote about organizations that boast of helping those who are trying to succeed in moving to Israel (aliyah), but are failing short. I don’t believe, ultimately, that the secret to success here lies in an organizations. However, there is a group that is absolutely essential: All of us.

We are in a remarkable generation. I can post a question on a group on Facebook (such as Secret Jerusalem and Keep Olim in Israel) and get answers from thousands of people in just minutes. We have a country of immigrants whose collective wisdom is more than enough to help everyone find the information they need.

For example, I once posted on the group Secret Jerusalem that I needed assistance speaking on the phone with an actual human at a specific government office. Someone told me a sequence of numbers that worked like a charm and got me exactly what I needed. I was floored. In the 70,000+ members of this group, someone lurked out there with exactly the information I needed.

The problem: I had to trek my way through tons of idiotic responses in order to obtain the information I required. There are a lot of great ways to answer people’s questions. But there are just as many awful ways.

I would like to propose:

10 Commandments for How to be Helpful on Facebook

1) Never say “Google It”

There are many equivalent things that are equally bad, but this of course takes the cake as the classic annoying response. I know you think you’re the first to discover this new and fresh oasis of knowledge known as Google. But, well, you’re not. Please assume that I’ve tried that. Please assume I’ve checked their website as well. Or perhaps I couldn’t find their site and a link might be amazingly helpful.

You have no obligation to respond. If your answer is “Google it”, your silence is truly appreciated.

2) Don’t Write “Following”

I’m glad you found the question interesting enough that you want to hear answers too. Problem is: No one cares. And there are ways to follow without telling everyone, and without giving the one who posted any unnecessary notifications.

If you didn’t know there were alternatives, you’re forgiven. But now try these instructions and never write “following” again.

3) Read the Question

I recently read a question on Facebook. It was one sentence, no more. It very explicitly said “Jerusalem” in the question. Yet, the first response asked what city they needed their answer for. Why are you bothering to try and help someone if you can’t even be bothered enough to read through their full, brief question?

Take the extra six seconds to look before you respond. Those six seconds are golden!

4) Scroll a Little

And while you’re troubling yourself to read the question, take a minute, just a quick minute, to make sure you’re not the 47th person to give the same answer. Is it the end of the world if you do? No. No real harm. But then again, there’s no real harm in not forcing someone to read the same answers over and over again either.

So be helpful. And while doing so, try not to be pesky and ultra-repetitive at the same time.

5) Keep the Stupid Jokes at Bay

My first exposure to the wonderful world of seeking help online I asked for assistance with a door handle that was broken. I feel like in ten or so responses, I was exposed to everything that bugs me about these types of forums.

I know you think your joke is amazing. Sadly, I have some news for you. Not only was your joke inane at best, but it was wildly unoriginal. Someone else just made it an hour ago. If you bothered to scroll up, you would have seen that (see #4).

But far worse: I get this cute little notification telling me someone has responded. When I enthusiastically check to see if someone has helped me solve a problem, and instead I’m greeted with what you must assume is wit, you do nothing but frustrate me. You have not made Israel better. You’re just slowing us down so you can get your three seconds of attention.

6) Don’t Sell Me Crap

While we’re speaking about my door handles… please note that a friend responded and solved my problem. Fairly quickly in fact. And I’m grateful.

I’m not grateful to the half dozen people who then tried to sell me door handles. First of all, I was renting a crappy dungeon in Nachlaot. I wasn’t about to invest hundreds of dollars in increasing their door value. Second of all, scouring these forums in order to try and sell people crap is just plain obnoxious.

I saw this in an exaggerated form when I was recently planning my wedding. I couldn’t post any question without someone trying to become my band. Listen: I need your help, not your sales presentation.

7) Answer the Damn Question

Third of all, you didn’t answer my question. I wasn’t looking to buy new door handles. I wanted to fix my existing ones. Please answer the question I asked, not the one you wish I had asked or the one that better suits your agenda.

I’m constantly seeing this. Someone asks for the best pizza in Talpiot. Someone responds by saying they don’t know, but there’s a great one in Har Nof. I’m sorry, but what part of my question was an invitation to just say random information you happen to know. You are under no obligation to respond. And if you don’t have an answer to my actual question, it’s never a problem to not respond.

8) Don’t Speculate

“I think I may have seen a store like that somewhere on Emek.” This is a really bad answer. It’s extremely non-specific and inspires zero confidence.

Remember: You are under no obligation to answer anyone’s questions. If you don’t have an answer, your silence will never be upsetting to anyone.

Speculation is cute and all. But I asked my question to find answers, not to watch you search the annals of your memory, nor to watch you philosophize about what may or may not be useful information.

9) Don’t Tell Me to Get Used to It Here

If I’m asking for a certain brand of whatever, because I really enjoyed it in my home country, this is not your opportunity to hop on your soap box and remind me I no longer live there. I get it. You moved to Israel. You sacrificed certain comforts to do something extremely meaningful for yourself. Stop patting yourself on the pack, and please leave everyone else alone.

If they miss a comfort from their past, and wish to see if it’s possible to still have it, that’s their prerogative. And it’s none of your business. Either answer the question, or don’t. But keep your self-aggrandizing monologue out of it.

10) Stop Being So Damn Mean

Finally, people on these forums can be just downright mean and insensitive. There’s no place for this. Everyone’s issues are their issues and deserve respect, not condescension. Not berating.

Remember: The time will come when something will upset you. You will be frustrated and seek assistance. Don’t set the precedent that it’s OK to crap on other people or their problems. Otherwise when your turn rolls around, your problem will be as meaningless to others as you’ve treated theirs.

But more than that, being mean is never the right choice. In pretty much anything in life. Even when you’re hiding behind your keyboard.

Conclusion

The basic rule of thumb is like this: You are under no obligation to answer! If you are going to answer, follow these ten guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to making Israel a better place to live. For all of us.

Ignore these rules… and you’re likely a part of the problem.

***

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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, 0 comments

Aliyah: Getting the Help We Need, Part I

Aliyah

This post might upset some. But perhaps some people need to be upset. Because I feel everything I’m about to say is long overdue. And as much as there are plenty of individuals who will have fingers pointed at them, there is a communal responsibility that makes what I’m about to say relevant to countless individuals.

The Complexity of Aliyah

Moving to Israel (Aliyah) is not easy. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Yes, I’m sure when you move to Israel from Ethiopia or Russia, whereas you may still have challenges, you are nearly guaranteed an increase in your quality of life.

However, this is not the case for many if not most of us who move to Israel from North America. We have certain standards that we became used to in our previous lives. And yes, we are moving to another country, with its own unique culture. Israel has her own way, and its own situation, and no one should expect to be catered to.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a challenge.

Those challenges can be enormous. And they also can be objectively puny. But they are still challenges, and need to be respected. They need to be comforted. And where possible, they should be accommodated. That’s the case even when you believe the individual should be learning to live without whatever comfort they are seeking.

Aliyah and Seeking Help

When I was moving back to Israel, I sought help from every direction I could think of. I was panicking about any number of issues. I didn’t know how to find a job and I needed advice on apartment hunting. And I had countless questions, and I certainly didn’t not want to go into such a daunting experience alone.

There were some organizations who said their main focus was to collect money. I thought it odd that I was explaining my fear of the system and my dread of not being able to find work… and I was hit up for a donation. I found this inappropriate on a number of levels. But at least they were fairly upfront…

There were two organizations whose attitudes to me I found so repellent, I would like to highlight them here: Nefesh B’nefesh and AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel).

Aliyah and Nefesh B’nefesh

Nefesh B’nefesh boasts of making the process of moving to Israel significantly easier. Their propoganda makes it seem like Aliyah is impossible without their assistance. And to some extent, that may be true. But, sadly, I made Aliyah before they came into existence. And even though it is not indicated on their site, there are those who they will not help. Ever.

Any attempt I’ve ever made to connect with Nefesh B’nefesh was met exclusively with an invitation to look at their website. Apparently, unless I’m one of their numbers, I’m dead to them.

Any organization claiming the way they do that they exist for the sake of immigrants (olim), cannot ignore olim. Any olim. I only know what I know, but I’ve also heard from others that as time went by, the organization has become less and less vital to so many. Sure, everyone who is able to will (and should) use their services. Any help is better than no help.

But how do you sleep at night knowing that ultimately your purpose is filling checkboxes to say how high your numbers are? You don’t pay crucial attention to what happens once the immigrant is already here, or the many reasons things don’t work out for so many people. And you’re blatantly ignoring the needs of some who could desperately use a little extra assistance.

Embarrassing.

Aliyah and AACI

Another organization who I turned to for aid and support was AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel). My primary concerns, like most people, were housing and work. I was told they could most certainly help me, but only if I pay them a membership fee. So I shelled out cash I didn’t have in the desperate hope they would be able to answer my many vital questions.

That’s when the magic began!

As far as housing was concerned, I was given a list of websites. Nothing more, nothing less. Just names and links. Some that even worked! No attempts to help me find the right neighborhood, or how to navigate the system. Just a page with links.

But that was far more impressive than the assistance I was given for finding employment. AACI offered for me to meet with their liaison, who had very limited office hours in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. She would not help through Skype or phone or email. She categorically refused to assist someone unless it was in person… and I was living in Kansas at the time.

So there I was. I shelled out cash I really needed in order to get a list and an impossible consultation. There wasn’t even a mild attempt to do a better job than woefully below par.

But, yet again, another organization was able to include me in their numbers. And endlessly pat themselves on the back for the quality assistance they offer to make new immigrants’ lives easier and better.

“Secret” to Successful Aliyah

Do these organizations do anything good? Do they make anyone’s transitions to Israel easier? I’m sure somewhere hidden behind a whole lot of garbage, they do good things. Personally, I haven’t seen a shred of evidence.

Ultimately, I found an apartment. On my own. And with the assistance of a couple of good friends who were living in Israel. I furiously networked and eventually found a job. I owe everything to hard work, perseverance, and a whole hefty load of good, old-fashioned luck.

Why did I succeed? Not because of some special organization that supposedly helps olim. I succeeded in spite of them. All they offered me was false hopes and a bit more financial difficulty.

Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Would Israel be better off without them? Well, people have successfully transitioned into the country without their help, so they’re not strictly needed. If enough people’s stories are like my own, they might be doing as much harm as good. And if their influence is actually negative, I’m sure the massive amount of charity going their way could be better spent elsewhere.

If you’re going to help people, then help them. If you’re going to steal money and continue to do minimal for the greater good, why are you here?

Anyone Else?

But there lies in Israel a group of people that everyone actually does need.

Each other.

How do we take that responsibility as seriously as possible?

See you in my next post.

***

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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, 3 comments

The Moshav, Help to Rise Once Again

The Moshav

Living in Israel isn’t always easy. You never know what to expect. And everything feels so close to home, so damn often.

And just when you think you’ve cried all of your tears, and felt every emotion there is, another surprise awaits. This past week, a pain went through my system I had not yet known.

The Moshav and the Fire

I was reading the news to find out information about the fires that were ripping across Israel, until I saw a name that means more to me than I could possibly convey in a single blog post, Moshav Mevo Modiin.

Or the Moshav, as so many of us call it.

I panicked, and went to Facebook for more information. And I texted some friends. And no matter what I read, I was in utter disbelief. This lovely village, representing endless memories for me, was devastated by fire. Essentially, it was gone.

Ashes. Nothing but ashes. And memories. And disbelief.

Moshav: A Second Home to the Masses

When I moved to Israel a couple of decades ago, Moshav Mevo Modiin became like a second home to me. I would spend Shabbat there once a month and worked at their amazing festivals. I was always warmed by the immense hospitality, virtually unmatched anywhere I’d ever been.

Countless people have passed through the Moshav, where they have sang gorgeous music, danced in complete joy, and relished in a welcoming atmosphere. They’ve enjoyed art and nature and meaningful conversations. And before they walked off for another adventurous week, they were dazzled by the loveliest havdallah service I’ve ever experienced.

I can go on and on about the Moshav. Memories galore! I can talk about the many fascinating people I’ve met there and the different things I learned. And I have so many stories to share.

However, when I think of the Moshav, nothing stands out to me more than their capacity to open their homes to others. But within all of the beautiful crazy, one story encapsulates so much about how I feel about the place. One story has stuck with me throughout all these years, and guides me every day of my life.

The Moshav and its Unmatched Hospitality

Many moons ago I was spending Shabbat with one of the Moshav’s many beautiful families. The plan was to go there with friends, a young, newly engaged couple. Just a day before Shabbat, one of the friends called me and asked if they could bring another couple of friends as well.

I now know it’s not the best plan to rely on engaged folk. They are often floaty, so focused on objectively more important matters, they drop the ball on other smaller items here and there. It was close to Shabbat, and I felt uncomfortable asking the family if they could accommodate any more guests. So I requested the bride call and ask. She said she would, and I forgot about the matter.

I was the first to arrive on Friday, and I saw the table set for the original number of guests. I assumed either the family couldn’t host more people, or my friend decided against asking. Both assumptions were wrong.

I watched from the window as the four guests just moseyed their way over to the house. She had forgotten to call, and brought the additional guests anyway.

And I got nervous.

And then magic ensued.

Magic of the Moshav

I watched as this beautiful family added extra seats to the table, and without hesitation or even the mildest frustration, they adjusted. The bride never knew she forgot to call. The additional guests never knew what occurred, and never for even a moment felt like they were last-minute stowaways to the experience.

The family transitioned with ease. Like being perfect hosts was a part of their DNA.

It was a beautiful Shabbat from start to finish. And I’ve been a better person ever since. Hosting guests is not just something you do. It’s a lifestyle. A mindset. It becomes a part of your soul. Some do it with such artistic perfection, they should be admired. And learned from.

My precious Moshav Mevo Modiin embodies the concept of welcoming guests.

The Moshav: Time to Give Back

The Moshav has been there for endless people since its creation. Now it’s time for all of us to give back. These tremendous, warm, and caring brothers and sisters of ours have opened their homes to us thousands of times. It’s time for us to open our hearts and do what we can to show our gratitude.

I have no doubt that the Moshav will return. It will be back, better and stronger than ever before. Homes will be rebuilt on the ashes, and the doors will again open wide for any and all visitors. Flowers and grass will bloom and beautify the Moshav once again.

But in the meantime, the undeserving are suffering and need our love and support. The time has come to give back, in whatever way we can.

Please contribute whatever you’re capable of giving, and spread the word as far and wide as possible.

***

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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, 0 comments

Jerusalem Community Theater, Hidden in Plain Sight

Jerusalem Community  Theater

Wait, what? There’s community theater in English in Jerusalem?

I found myself hanging out just on the very edge of a fascinating and beautiful community. One I didn’t even know existed. How did I find out? Well… I married an actress.

But if it weren’t for that, I may have never noticed it was there.

The community is thriving, with over ten companies and a wide variety of shows performed every year.

But like anything else in the world, there’s room for improvement. And certainly room for expansion.

Why Jerusalem Community Theater?

People get involved in Jerusalem’s community theater groups for all sorts of reasons. According to CB Davies, the founder of JET, “Some people were involved in theater at some point in their life and want to do it again. Some … love the show … and so want to be a part of that … [and] there are those who want to continue to do theater and use their skills.”

However, it’s the social aspect that intrigues me the most. According to Rivka Deray, JET’s Content Manager, “It’s an incredible way for people, especially new Olim [immigrants], to find a community and create a social circle in Jerusalem.” She adds that, “New people join all the time, and there are people who always welcome them in and make them feel at home.”

There are many great adjectives people use to describe this community. The community is welcoming, diverse, and extremely supportive. Davies says, “We’re very multicultural. People join from all parts of the world.” And Marty Weisel, founder of JET Venues and a member of JET’s content team, says, “The best thing about the community is the people … surrounding myself with friends who support me and care about me.”

Room for Improvement

But as with anything great, there’s always space to grow and develop. And there are those working tirelessly to take this hidden gem in Jerusalem and make it even better.

Some speak about taking the performances and bringing them to the next level of quality. Weisel says, “The productions given by the community are incredible, however … there is always room for improvement. There is so much talent in the community … and we need to find the way to raise the standards all the time.”

Davies wants to expand the community, a suggestion that means a lot to me personally. I love theater. And yet I lived in Jerusalem for over a year without even realizing there was community theater at all, let alone in English. Davies wants to see the theater community “marketing itself better, reaching out to bring more people into the community, giving more people a chance to perform or use their skills [and] training.”

Some ideas are simpler, just to add a little pizazz to what exists. Deray offered a novel suggestion. She would like to see annual award ceremonies to celebrate some of the most impressive accomplishments in the community.

Next-Level Integration

However, the most common sentiment was that despite everything amazing that’s happening, a certain level of unity is lacking. “I would love to see it better integrated,” says Deray. “I’d love if there was a more interconnected system where any company could receive supplies, funding, etc as needed.”

Davies would also like to see a stronger “connection between the different companies.” He states that “they all give something different to the community, but in the end we are all the same artistic community.”

They believe the community is made up of multiple disparate parts, each one great in its own way. However, when the groups can come together under one banner, the potential is limitless. The whole will be far greater than the sum of each of its parts.

JET (Jerusalem English Theater)

And that’s where JET comes in. JET (Jerusalem English Theater community) was created to foster unity, and give all of its members everything they could have ever hoped for. “JET’s goals are to create a single place for companies to lean on,” says Deray. “Whether that is by providing locations, or advertising for all upcoming performances and auditions, or helping companies coordinate show schedules to avoid event conflicts. We want our site to become the Google of Jerusalem community theater, where people who aren’t as familiar yet can go to one beautiful website and find out all they need to know about upcoming performances and how they can be a part.”

It would be “a website that brings all the community into one place”, according to Davies. Replete with “blog posts to let people see what happens behind the scenes, promote the community, and let people express themselves.”

And part of the greater overall vision is to not only have a website, but an actual physical location (JET Venues). “A space that is geared towards performing arts”, says Weisel. “By having classes and opportunities available all the time … actors can hone their craft … and do what [they] love all year round.” Davies sees JET Venues ultimately as “a place that the community can call home for its artistic endeavors. This hopefully will allow artists to emerge, create, and bring new material and stories to Jerusalem”

And, of course, for the overall benefit of the community, everyone would love to see more and more involvement from a wider array of people. “I would love to see the theater community circle expand ever greater,” says Deray, “becoming home to more and more people and talents.”

Jerusalem Community Theater… is a Potato Chip

Davies says about much of these changes and developments, “I think in a way it is happening already, but I’d like to see more of it.”

Jerusalem Community Theater is a gem, hidden in plain sight in Jerusalem. It’s growing and improving all the time. Nevertheless, some folk want and need more. And they’re working to make that a reality.

Ultimately, Jerusalem’s theater community is a joyous one. “The shows themselves are like potato chips”, says Deray. “Once you’ve experienced the incredible feeling of putting your all into a production, working with and getting close to friends, old and new, you just have to come back for more.”

Yup, a fantastic community. However, there are a handful of folk out there hoping the community sees days with more, even tastier chips.

***

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Posted by jaffeworld in Entertainment, Israel, opinion, 0 comments

In a Stranger’s Grave

In a Stranger's Grave

Last year, Jerusalem’s community theater group Theater and Theology put on a remarkable play. The show tackled the issue of how a religion deals with an ever changing world. Off the Derech Dolorosa was not only a pleasure to watch… I’d definitely give it two thumbs as a fantastic play to propose after.

And this year, they’re back to tackle an extremely divisive and potentially painful issue: The retroactive cancellation of Jewish conversions.

The Conversion Crisis

There are some crazy and complex things that happen in Israel’s religious community. Sometimes they’re amusing. Sometimes downright heartbreaking. And sometimes so perplexing, they feel impossible to wrap one’s head around.

In Israel, there are assorted issues surrounding conversion to Judaism that are complex talking points in our community. Small and enormous travesties abound. These issues inspired Miriam Metzinger to tackle them in her play, In a Stranger’s Grave.

“I … was re-reading Sophocles’ Antigone,” Metzinger said, “about Oedpus’ daughter Antigone who was not allowed by the king … to bury one of her brothers because [he] felt this burial would cause a kind of moral pollution. I immediately thought about a story I had read in the newspaper about someone whose body was denied burial … because the conversion was not recognized in Israel … The issues in Antigone … are still … current many centuries later.”

One of the show’s stars, Avital Macales, said, “Before getting to know this play, I had not heard that something like this could happen. I found it quite shocking when I finally heard about it. And I look forward to hearing the scholars speak after each performance and finding out what they think about the matter.”

Shocking Awareness

Personally, I was stunned as well. I’ve been studying Judaism for quite some time now. And despite my many reasons to be wary of the actions of Israel’s Rabbanut, initially I thought the play was addressing either a non-issue, or an extremely obscure topic.

After all, in Jewish law, a Jew never stops being a Jew. Even if one wants to, the DNA sticks to you like super glue. Neither casting off your beliefs nor renouncing your connection to the Jewish people, will have any impact whatsoever. And, of course, when one converts to Judaism, there is no difference. A Jew is a Jew. And once you’re a part of the tribe, there’s no going back. No matter what happens.

In a Stranger’s Grave

Sadly, I was wrong. In a Stranger’s Grave is based on real stories. True events that challenged the lives of real people, with real feelings. Tragedies that hurt people, and caused long-lasting impact.

Macales plays Esther Gottlieb, in her words “a 23-year-old woman who grew up in an Anglo Yeshivish environment in Jerusalem to a loving mother (a convert) and father, and one sister, Chana, with whom she is very close. [They] unfortunately suffered the loss of their father and, six years later, their mother.”

The story centers on the Rabbinic reaction to Esther’s mother’s conversion and the issue of whether or not the conversion can be retroactively invalidated. “The different reactions of the family and community members to the crisis highlight current conflicting values in the Jewish and Israeli world,” according to Yael Valier, the show’s director and the founder of Theater and Theology.

Macales describes Esther as “strong, opinionated, idealistic, and [someone who] looks truth straight in the eye”. Thus she is the perfect character to stare right in the face of a complex issue that can easily be misconstrued as black and white. She’s also a delight for Macales to play, seeing as she pours on the sarcasm, whereas her portrayer offstage likes to “keep all [her] real-life sarcasm bottled up inside”.

A True and Present Danger to Israel and the Jewish people

Valier describes this conversion disaster as “a fraught subject that is reaching crisis proportions in Israel”. But how can it be that something so complex and damaging is simultaneously obscure and ignored? Valier says, “the people affected don’t talk about it because by their very nature, conversion problems are kept quiet.” This topic, and others like it, is a true and present danger to Israel and the Jewish people. “It can [happen], it does [happen], and we should be aware.”

Miriam Metzinger wrote In a Stranger’s Grave to address an issue that needs to be discussed. Yael Valier and Theater and Theology produced In a Stranger’s Grave to make sure the word gets spread. But it’s up to the rest of us–those who care deeply about our country and people–to make sure issues like these are not swept under the rug.

I’ve said it many times before: We could be doing better.

What is Theater and Theology?

There are many community theater companies in Jerusalem. However, this group is different. One of the novelties of the Theater and Theology experience is the speakers. There is a scheduled talk after each performance, a scholar who addresses the play’s subjects. The scholars approach the issues from a number of different perspectives. Some noted speakers include Rabbanit Shani Taragin and Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo.

The fascinating subjects are all meant to get you thinking. They spur conversation and open up doors for discussing topics we’re not always comfortable talking about. All of these fantastic scholars help us delve just a little deeper into subjects we care about immensely; however, we sometimes don’t know exactly how to collect our thoughts and feelings about them.

In a nutshell, Valier says that Theater and Theology “brings fascinating, current angles on philosophical questions to theater goers, and it takes scholars out of the lecture hall and into the theater. For me, that’s heaven.”

You can click here to learn more about Theater and Theology and to buy tickets for In a Stranger’s Grave. And keep your eyes wide open for more interesting productions in the future. Miriam Metzinger has upcoming dramas and comedies in the works. And Jerusalem’s theater community is a hidden gem in Jerusalem, with a lot more to come.

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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, judaism, 0 comments

Five Crappy Things about Israel that Need to Change… Yesterday

Crap

OK, I’m a cynic. I get that.

But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong about everything. Nor does it mean my country gets a free pass on me pointing out its garbage.

A lot of people here treat Israel as if it’s a utopia, void of any major issues. People brag left and right about Israel’s accomplishments and constantly regard simple moments of humans acting like humans as “only in Israel” moments.

They’ve been ignoring Israel’s problems for so long, sometimes I think people have learned to meditate themselves into a place where they can rest and relax treating all of the problems as if they’re distant memories of Israel’s past.

But they’re not. Israel has real issues. And no excuse for not working tirelessly to fix all of them. Or at least improve upon them.

This post is about five of those problems. They should be far better by now. We can do better. Much better.

1) Housing Crap

If you want to live in a city in Israel, it’s going to cost you. Big time.

So why do we do it?

Well, in some of the more remote areas, getting around without a vehicle is borderline impossible. But getting around with a vehicle is expensive, stressful, and extremely time consuming.

The city is where most of the stores are, all necessities, and any semblance of a social life. And outlying areas are by no means designed for single people in any way.

But city rent is high with low value for your dollar. The “system” places renters at the mercy of the owners. And you have minutes to grab a desired home before someone else snatches it up.

And whereas rent is outrageous, purchasing is downright impossible for most people. The prices are mind-blowingly high, and the percentage needed for a down payment makes me throw up in my mouth.

In the end, there really are only a few choices: 1. Leave the major cities, with all the hardships that comes along. 2. Rent in a city, and deal with almost inevitable poverty. 3. Or come to the country rich.

2) Customer Service Crap

We’ve gotten to the point where if a waiter smiles at us, we are ecstatic, we brag to everyone we know that things are really turning around here, and put a post on Facebook exclaiming that we experienced an “only in Israel” moment.

Fact is, the norm is to be barked at by customer service representatives, ignored by clerks, and generally made to feel like we’re unwanted in any store or restaurant we enter.

We Americans are confused, knowing full well that any establishment could make considerably more profit just by being a whole lot nicer. However, I genuinely feel this is just not of interest to the average Joe on the street here. If we were to explain that being pleasant and helpful would generate 20% more revenue, they would say, “No thanks. Keep your money. I enjoy being unpleasant and no amount of money is worth changing that!”

But we’re all at fault here. We tolerate it. We’ve done a poor job letting the country know we’re not coming back if you treat us like garbage. And, sadly, they’ve done a pretty decent job preventing us from letting the world know how we feel.

3) Smoking Crap

Israelis smoke. They smoke constantly and in every nook and cranny they could find.

Often I’m standing somewhere minding my own business, and someone will just wander up next to me and light up a cigarette.

At moments like that I wish I could just secrete some nasty odor that wafts in their direction. “My goodness, that’s vile,” they might exclaim. And I could turn toward them and say, with all of my masterful sarcasm, “I’m sorry. Does this smell irritate you? Is it bothersome? I simply had no idea that when doing something disgusting next to a perfect stranger, the possibility exists I might be causing them a disturbance.”

In all seriousness, how is this still a thing? Israel brags left and right about being ranked the 10th healthiest in the world. And we are all aware of the financial struggles that are rampant here. Yet, our society is riddled with this lung-piercing, overpriced nonsense that harms the population, and fills the air with stink and the streets with litter.

I often ask people to stop smoking in areas they’re not allowed. Sometimes right next to a sign! Nothing is enforced, and no one seems to care.

The time has come to rein in this nonsense.

4) Political Crap

I’ve been watching Israel’s political scene for a while now. It seems like every time I vote there is something different about the system. We didn’t get it right the last time around, let’s have another go.

The only thing that ever seems to stay the same: Paper ballots.

I feel like I’m voting for class president.

Anyhow, when the recent elections ended, I felt something in the society I don’t believe I’ve felt before: Mass apathy and exhaustion with the way things are and will seemingly always be.

Ultimately, that’s what these elections represented. The guy who’s been around forever against the guy who has nothing to offer but not being the other guy. There are 20,000 parties, but ultimately only really two viewpoints: Left and right. There are thousands of ignored issues and unheard voices. And there is inherent pandering to anyone who holds any amount of political power.

All you need is a few seats in the government, and boom, you get everything you want just so the top dog can build a coalition and stay in power.

And everything just stays the same. We become complacent. We had a burst of hope dashed by the reality that things are very unlikely to get better anytime soon.

I don’t know what system would be better. Maybe term limits would help. Perhaps better checks and balances for the Prime Minister. More representation for smaller parties. An overhaul of the current system. Who knows? But once again, we can do better.

5) Religious Crap

And each time around, it seems there is no greater beneficiary to the faults in our political process than the ultra-religious, who seek to impose their will on the entire society.

No doubt about it, Israel is a fantastic place to be a religious Jew. The freedom to practice is unmatched. Kosher restaurants abound. There are many aspects of a religious lifestyle that you could keep by accident here!

But religion is supposed to elevate people, not create anger and resentment. Judaism and its leaders are supposed to be something that unifies us, not something that brings hatred and divisiveness.

There are many ways to be a great Jew. An endless search for control and power is not one of them. Separation of Church and State is a tried and true system of many a well-functioning democracy. It certainly wouldn’t hurt if it wormed its way over here. At least to some extent.

***

Israel has a lot going for it. And it’s nowhere near the worst place to live. But there’s a lot of crap. Loads of crap. And the first step in fixing a problem, is admitting it’s there.

Let’s own up to our crap, put it all out on the table, and start making our homeland the place it could and should be.

***

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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, politics, religion, 0 comments

Israel Elections and Why I’m Afraid to Vote

Israel Elections

Israel’s elections are around the corner. I have a mixture of emotions ranging from indifference to sheer terror.

You see, this place can get a bit crazy, and your seemingly insignificant vote can mean so much more than most could imagine.

Growing up in the States, it’s easy to start thinking of elections as a joke. In the majority of States, you can know close to 100% who your State will choose well before election day comes around. It’s very easy to feel like your choice is insignificant.

In addition, even the biggest decisions will rarely land on your doorstep. Certainly not quickly. The closest thing I had in my lifetime was the government’s asinine decision to give fines to those of who choose not to have health insurance.

But I don’t live in the States anymore. And I’ve watched as the Prime Minister’s decisions can literally land in my backyard.

Israel Elections and Getting Kicked Out of my Home

Many years ago, I was living on a wonderful settlement called Karmei Tzur. The Prime Minister at the time, Ehud Barak, was engaged in vigorous peace negotiations with Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat. On the table was nearly 100% of the disputed territories within the country. And, of course, this included my very own home.

We moped around the settlement, knowing full well that we were literally a signature away from getting dragged from our homes by the military. And we were overjoyed when talks fell through. Not because our brethren decided it was unfair and cruel for us to leave, mind you. But because Arafat rejected the plan. He wanted more land.

But it was our own leader, elected by our fellow citizens, who was trying to cause us irreparable harm.

Israel Elections and a Shaken Conscious

And, frankly, there are limits to what my conscious could bear. Several years ago, I cast my vote and helped to choose the one to run this great nation. And that leader, Ariel Sharon, would later make the decision to aggressively remove thousands of Jewish people from their homes.

None of us thought it would actually happen.

But it did.

Yes, I’m aware that if I hadn’t cast my vote, Ariel Sharon would have been elected anyway. And of course none of us could have known that this would be the results of his reign in office.

But still.

I was a cog in the wheel. I would watch from afar as people–my people–were forcefully ripped away from everything they had built for decades. And then I would watch further as for the next several years everything that could possibly go wrong went worse than anyone could imagine.

The resettlement of the Gush Katif residents was handled abysmally. And Israel would be attacked repeatedly from areas formerly occupied by Israeli families.

Lamenting Gush Katif

Years ago I spent a Shabbat in one of the Gush Katif settlements. It was a lovely and moving experience. One that I know I will never have again. And it’s all because enough people, like me, voted in that election.

Instead of revisiting Kfar Darom, and walking around through its lovely Gan Hamitzvot, I watched the residents fighting with soldiers. I watched teens who were born in the community fighting with teens who were drafted into the military. They were all young and unaware, and probably still wake up in cold sweats thinking about that miserable week in Jewish History.

The Way to the Top: Crappy Predecessors

And Sharon should have never been elected in the first place. He was able to work his way up to the top of the political ladder solely based on the poor performance of his predecessor, Ehud Barak. Ehud Barak was infamous for an empty threat that empowered five years of relentless violence against the Israeli people, known as the Second Intifada. And he was also known for endless bombings of empty homes that seemed to accomplish nothing, except for perhaps emboldening and multiplying Israel’s enemies.

And how did such a skilled politician find his way into office? His predecessor had made decisions that left him without a political friend in the world, opening the door for just about any opposition to hop into his place. Who was Barak’s predecessor? None other than current Head of State, good ole Bibi Netanyahu.

And Netanyahu had set the stage for this clown to bumble his way through leading Israel by actions that would simultaneously alienate all of his constituents, while not garnering a shred of favor from his opponents. Very much not shrewd political maneuvering on Bibi’s part.

Israel Elections and Good Ole Netanyahu

That being said, I think Bibi learned a lot from his first go as Prime Minister. And perhaps that’s why he’s been able to sink his talons into the position for so long his second time around. In all honesty, I sort of like him as Prime Minister, and I think he’s done a better job than all his recent predecessors (including himself).

Why? It feels like under his leadership, things are never too hot or too cold. Israel continues to vigorously defend itself, yet we’re not on the front page of the popular media on a daily basis. Somehow or other, we’re almost boring in the world’s view. This is in stark contrast to years past where it felt to me like Israel was constantly hovering around the front of the paper, and never in a favorable manner. Netanyahu pisses people off, but rarely so much that they call for his immediate ousting from office.

And, of course, we’re still left wondering how to perceive his illegal and/or immoral actions. This is a question that brings shivers up my spine. I watched closely as half a nation forgave an adulterous Bill Clinton. Why? Because they were able to separate his actions in the sack from his actions in the Oval Office.

Should we have a higher standard in the Holy Land? Should we seek in the Israel elections a candidate we can respect in and out of the office?

And should we cling to the leader with whom we are familiar but discontent? Or should we take chances on a new situation with unknown but potentially catastrophic consequences?

Terrified of Israel Elections

These and so many other questions can confuse and hurt to no end.

So you are wondering if I’m voting in the upcoming Israel elections. My answer: I’m really not sure. If I don’t, it’s because I don’t feel like I have enough information to make a decision I can be proud of. And because I’m afraid of waking up the next morning terrified for what legitimate damage I might cause my nation.

I’m just not sure I can handle that again.

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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, opinion, personal story, 0 comments

The Shameful Marriage Industry

Marriage Industry

The smoke has cleared.

And I am now blissfully married to my one true love.

Everything was beautiful and we are working hard every day to have the dream life we’ve both always wanted.

But I can’t walk away from the experience without expressing some deep and painful concerns. The marriage industry is out of control, and there are countless aspects I need to speak out against. In this article I’d like to address just two.

The Rabbanut

For generations, the concept of a rabbinic body’s purpose in this world was to help improve the lives of those around them. Sadly, instead the Rabbanut of Israel has become synonymous with greed and inconvenience.

Everyone in Israel is forced by law to get married through the Rabbanut. The process is basically to “prove” that you are Jewish, single, and that you have fulfilled certain wedding requirements based on Jewish law.

I panicked as I entered the process, knowing full well that my divorce might cause problems. So, I called a handful of friends with similar situations and it seemed one of the recurring themes was people leaving the Rabbanut’s office in tears.

In tears!

Seriously.

The Shameful Rabbanut

Your organization should be ashamed. After generations of service to the Jewish world, selflessly giving to communities in a passionate attempt to make the world a better place, you now have reduced yourselves to aggressive harassment of couples in need of help. You have debased yourselves and the field, all in the name of a pathetic and pushy attempt to hold on to power.

And you charge a crap load of money in the process!

What are some of the “services” the Rabbanut does to earn their paycheck? They look over marriage and divorce documentation to make sure people are Jewish and not currently married. And couples send witnesses to them to testify that they are currently single.

The process is invasive, yet shallow. A five year-old could poke holes in their procedure, yet for whatever reason they’re obnoxious enough to send already stressed couples to the street sobbing uncontrollably.

The Incompetent Rabbanut

A great example of the Rabbanut’s silly incompetence was when I was required to go to the Rabbincal court in order to validate my divorce documentation. The office I needed to go to was in a terribly inconvenient location, with just as inconvenient office hours. My ex-wife had already been married with the same documentation in the same city. So I had to miss a great deal of work in order to be charged a large fee for them to essentially just print out a piece of paper, which I then had to deliver to others myself.

Why? All of these things could have been taken care of in minutes in a world with powerful computers and instant email capability. So why would they need to put me through all that? Why would I need to miss work, waste time, and throw money in the trash during an already busy and stressful time in life?

Greed.

And control.

And probably a hefty amount of incompetence.

Rabbi Revisited

Way back when I wrote about how I don’t like to be called “rabbi” anymore. I didn’t expect to have another reason. These people have turned the role into a joke at best; an embarrassment to the entire Jewish world at worst. I would never wish my name associated with such immorality.

Please, for the love of God, check yourselves. Figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing, and find out whether or not you’re causing more harm than good. And then do everything in your power to give the Rabbanut back its good name.

The Marriage Industry Bubble

I fear the marriage industry is a bubble. Alongside of other unsustainable ridiculousness of our generation, such as universities, I don’t see how the marriage industry could continue like this indefinitely.

The industry preys on the fact that everyone not only feels a religious, cultural, or moral obligation to get married, but they feel there are certain standards that must be met. Women need a certain level of fanciness in their wedding gown (or just need a wedding gown). There must be halls and caterers and photographers and a band and on and on and on.

And the industry responds by charging outrageous prices for every last detail with unimaginable hidden fees. And when the smoke clears, and you think you can’t handle the pressure of everything, what happens? Wedding planners swoop in to save the day! And another fee gets tossed into the pile. (Side note: Our planner was great and I’d recommend him fully and completely.)

The Marriage Industry Aggression

First of all, when those getting married are seeking advice, it is wildly inappropriate to use that as an opportunity to just sell us your services. I felt like every time I posted anything online about my engagement party or wedding, a half dozen people sent me messages aggressively trying to get me to use their band or whatever.

I’m asking for advice. I’m under pressure. And just because I mention a wedding, doesn’t mean you need to swarm like vultures and devour me. My joyous occasion should not be your platform for aggressive marketing.

Marriage Industry Alternatives

Second of all, there are alternatives. Many alternatives. People can elope. Or they can just remain together unmarried indefinitely. And on and on. I fear this is the direction we’re headed if prices keep climbing and the industry keeps everything as fantastically stressful as it has so far.

Do we really want to undermine the institution of marriage for our own greed? Or do we want to do what we can to allow people to become wed in relative peace and harmony, without an additional looming threat of financial ruin?

The wrong choice is bad for everyone.

Choose wisely.

A Quick Shout Out

A quick shout out is in order for those who were shining lights in all this craziness.

The flower shop that gave us petals for our flower girls. When you told me they were free, I didn’t believe you. “Free” was not a word I was used to hearing during this process. It seemed like every time I sneezed, someone handed me a tissue and sent me a bill for $50. People, buy their flowers. They deserve it.

To all the friends and family who helped out or offered to help out, it is beyond appreciated. And to anyone who understood that a bride and groom need a lot of space and as little as possible to add to their stress, you are beautiful. Keep up the good work!

As for the rest of the industry, marriage is not an institution meant to be exploited or undermined. Shame on you.

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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, judaism, opinion, personal story, religion, 0 comments

Adulthood and the Evolving Soul

adulthood

Ah, adulthood.

Filled with so many interesting changes. The most profound of which become clearer with each passing year. One of the most fascinating parts of adulthood for me has been watching some of my perspectives switch in ways I never thought imaginable.

I’d like to explore three tremendous ways I’ve changed as I’ve watched the years go by.

1) It’s Not OK to Hurt Others

With less than zero pride I can safely say that I was a bit of a jerk in college. I stepped on more than a few people along the way, and I did so with no fear of consequences.

But times change. People change. Circumstances change.

The concept of “burning bridges” is a forever shifting one in my mind. And it was highly shaped by an incident a few years back. I was sitting in my office and received a message asking me for an evaluation of a former colleague who was interviewing for a job.

So many thoughts flashed through my mind at that moment. This former colleague was in essence a boss of mine. And not a very nice one. In my estimation, he was not great at his job, and in particular I found his attitude toward me to be, well, less than welcoming.

And here I was. I had, to a certain extent, the fate of this man’s job in my hands. Just a few years earlier he was in charge of me, and now in a complete reversal of fate, all I needed to do was squeeze just a little, and I could have a major impact on his future.

Bi-Directional Burning Bridges

Most people don’t realize that the concept of burning bridges is bi-directional. You never know who will become important to you later in life. You never know from whom you’ll need to ask a favor. And when the time comes, you better hope to God you didn’t treat them like garbage.

For the record, I chose not to toss him under the bus. Although I also chose not to sing his praise, which in many ways just might be the same thing.

The primary point is: There is no one you meet in life for whom you should think of as small or insignificant, so much so that you can act with no foreseeable consequences. In the blink of an eye, everything can change, and the person you innocently mocked or gently bullied can hold sway over your life.

There is no such thing as a person to be discounted. It’s not OK to hurt others. And the consequences of doing so can haunt you for the rest of your life.

2) Stirring up Trouble is Not a Virtue

Alongside of such less than prideful aspects of mine in the college days and before was my flair for the dramatic. My drive and excitement about “stirring up trouble”. About creating a ruckus.

Truth and fairness were pushed aside for the sake of creating a visible and shocking presence. And I was good at it. It’s an unfortunate part of adulthood, recognizing that just because you have certain skills does not mean you should use or abuse them at every chance. In some ways, others may have continuously pushed me to use those skills for the wrong reasons. But I take full responsibility for any of my own actions.

On the other side, looking back at so much I’ve said and done, I pray every single day that I can place reason and kindness over such petty things as needing to please others, seeking attention, or “being right”. There is no greater affront to reasonable behavior than the desire to be correct all the time. It is pure hubris and does nothing to make the world a better place or to improve ones own character.

3) A Change in Politics

I think one of my most profound changes as I arrived into adulthood was finding balance in political perspectives.

When I was in college, I was a member of a right-wing Zionist group. It had a very narrow, black and white view of the political scenery in Israel. Which in many ways is easy and comforting. It’s a simpler lifestyle to ignore grey areas and just see the world through one perspective.

But it’s not realistic. And it’s ultimately childish.

Everything became exacerbated by circumstances. I lived in Israel through seven years of an horrific Arab revolt that resulted in countless Israeli deaths, including one of my neighbors. These events just caused anger to boil up inside of me. And this further prevented me from looking at issues with any semblance of nuance.

But a handful of events and circumstances took my viewpoint and threw it to the ground.

a. Teenagers are Teenagers

First was when I was walking along one day with a friend, an Arab who had converted to Judaism. We saw some Arabic graffiti and I asked him what it said. I assumed the worst. Hateful malice. Bloodthirsty, violent rhetoric. But no. Just a teenager professing his love for someone.

And in one simplistic moment, I was reminded that people were people. Politics doesn’t rule their lives any more than it rules my own. It’s just another bunch of humans on the other side of the tracks, who eat, drink, and sleep, just like I do. They are complex and filled with a plethora of emotions.

Just like me.

b. Parents are Parents

A while later I was sitting in the American Consulate in East Jerusalem. An Arab woman kept on staring over at me and my baby with what I could only assume was contempt.

After enduring the piercing glares for quite some time, she finally spoke. She apologized for looking over repeatedly, but she had a child the same age, and couldn’t help but looking over at me with my baby since she just missed hers so much.

So SO easy to misinterpret intentions, and project feelings on to others that aren’t even close to real.

c. Friends are Friends

Finally, I took a job in Kansas where one of my best friends at work was a devout Muslim. We had lovely conversations and an amazing time hanging out.

And it wasn’t until later that I realized he and I had far more in common than either of us had with just about anyone else in the building, which was filled predominantly with practicing Christians.

We had similar dietary needs. Our holidays were more parallel than I had previously understood. And our cultures were remarkably connected.

A few people throughout history created animosity and discord that wasn’t there beforehand and should never have existed, and we in the modern world continue to suffer through the pain of other people’s unnecessary conflicts.

 

May we all be blessed to grow and mature with each passing year. May we be discerning enough to see the folly of our ways. And may we all learn how to live together in peace and harmony.

 

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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, opinion, personal story, 0 comments