Monday, May 31, 2004

Well, I just found out something interesting.

I tried to post a comment at Treppenwitz's blog (link is on the right), and got a message that I can't post because the computer I'm trying to mail from is registered on this list.

What the heck does this mean? And how can I fix this?

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Hi, everyone. Once again, I apologize that I haven't posted for so long. Here's a roundup of my news:

A. Health update: My cough almost completely went away, but now it's coming back. Meanwhile, I had pulled muscles in my right shoulder and ribs, so for a while I could hardly move without intense pain. Now I feel better, though it still hurts when I cough. If I still feel like this tomorrow morning, I'm going back to the doctor.

B. Yom Yerushalayim -- yes I know it was a while ago -- it was in the middle of my hacking cough so I missed the parades and such. However, the next day Yael took me to a comedy event at a local synagogue. It was basically one guy who told a lot of (funny, I must admit) clean jokes, and another who wove in inspiring stories about Jerusalem. The thing that made me happy about it was the simple fact that I understood 90 percent of it, even though it was all in Hebrew! Unfortunately there were many times that the only part of a joke I didn't understand was the punch line. But on the whole I was really happy to see that my Hebrew comprehension wasn't so bad! I was also impressed with the comedian, because writing jokes for a group of religious residents of Jerusalem can't be easy, but he really had people laughing.

C. OK, so the night before Shavuot, the newspaper I am temporarily working for had a party for all staff members, at a dance club they'd rented in Tel Aviv. Dance clubs are not my scene, but I figured it would behoove me to show my colleagues that I'm part of the group and show my face. There were like a thousand people crammed into this place. It was dark and there was a rectangular pit in the middle where people were dancing. I walked around the perimeters of the room, seeing who I could see, showing my face, making sure my editor saw that I was there, etc. Went to the bar and got a . . . Coke.

There was, though, a moment when I felt genuinely happy. The bar was behind the band. So while waiting for my Coke I turned and looked past the silhouetted band, at the pit with all the indistinguishable heads jumping up and down to the music. The music was actually really fun-sounding. Not angry-sounding hip-hop, but rather a sort of sped-up version of what sounded like funny or nationalistic songs. Anyhow, it made me really happy to see all these Israelis having such a great time. They were just dancing, and drinking their drinks (no one really drunk or throwing up or anything), and shmoozing with each other, and having fun in a really loud dance club, and I felt so so HAPPY that everyone was having such a wonderful time. If they showed this on CNN instead of only the happenings in Gaza, we'd have a lot more tourism.

D. Shavuot, spent with Ari and Sarah Beth in Hashmonaim. It felt weird to be leaving Jerusalem on one of the Shalosh Regalim, when everyone else is going to Jerusalem, but I actually have a bad history with Shavuot, and preferred to spend it sort of low-key. When I was 18 and studying in a seminary, we of course stayed up all night learning Torah, and then they had us walk from Bayit Vegan (part of Jerusalem) all the way to the Western Wall -- it's a long walk! We said morning prayers by the Kotel and all was very nice, until I got to lunch at the home of some friends in the Old City. Between staying up all night and walking in the pre-dawn hours from Bayit Vegan to the Kotel, my immune system must have suffered, because during lunch I excused myself and basically my body exploded. I was violently ill. And for the next 3 days I was on my friend's bedroom floor, on a mattress they'd set up for me, floating in and out of consciousness, feverish and miserable and sick as a dog. All I remember is my friend coming in every so often to make me drink something so I wouldn't get dehydrated.

Anyhow, ever since then, I haven't even attempted to stay up all night for Shavuot, and practically break out in hives at the thought of walking to the Kotel, even though I live much closer to it now. So I hightailed it out of Jerusalem, spent the holiday with "family," learned a little, ate a lot, and just focused on not doing anything that requires any exertion. I realize this sounds overly dramatic, but I truly associate Shavuot now with getting run-over-by-a-steamtrain sick. What can you do?

E. I'm getting bored with the internet.
Protocols no longer has that cutting-edge feel, ever since Steven Weiss left and Luke Ford came in. It jumped the shark a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, I find that Steven's new website, Fiddish, just isn't updated as often as Protocols, suffers from a strange obsession with the wigs-from-India issue, plus I miss the diversity of voices from Protocols.
Salon doesn't have much to excite me anymore; it feels like a whole lot of left-wing drivel interspersed with occasional flashes of somewhat-interesting material. Even the "Since You Asked" advice column is starting to feel a little old, though I must admit that today's question is a juicy one.
I really enjoy Allison Kaplan Sommer's blog, but she posted a warning that she'll be updating only sporadically for a while.
Michael Gibson hasn't posted a new episode of Ambition for a long time, bangitout seems to get updated only about once a week, onlysimchas causes me onlybitterness . . . even the news doesn't feel very newsy. It's all rehashing of trouble-in-Iraq, trouble-in-Gaza, blah blah blah.
Thomas Friedman has got to find something new to write about; his column today is eerily like a result of "how to write a Thomas Friedman column."

So, is this a problem with me, or a problem with the internet? Am I simply getting jaded? Am I a typical 80's child with no attention span whatsoever, fruitlessly searching for instant entertainment and instant gratification? Is the internet a place that by definition requires one to search a range of hundreds of sites to stay suprised and refreshed? And if so, I'll happily accept suggestions for interesting, non-pornographic, non-Anti-semitic sites that would keep me on my toes. Especially if it presents the news in an interesting way, telling me something I haven't heard before. I used to get that from Salon, but now Salon is getting to the point where it has nothing left to say. (Though plenty leftist to say. That's the problem. No surprises.)

When I was a teacher a few years ago, a few of my older colleagues were discussing the fact that in their day, Catcher in the Rye was the most exciting book they'd ever read, and today kids don't get as stimulated by it. I told them I didn't like it in high school either. For them, Catcher in the Rye was daring. For me, it was like "yeah, so he's angry and cursing. What's the big deal?" How much more so do today's teens find nothing remarkable about someone their age being cynical and jaded. As with Catcher in the Rye, so with websites; what is creative and daring one day becomes boring and hackneyed just a year later. The world is moving too fast for me.

F. So why don't I write refreshing material on my own website you ask? Good question, for which there are two answers. One is that the purpose of this site is just to provide updates for friends and family about how I'm doing, with some political or cultural observations thrown in when I feel like it. Chayyei Sarah does not pretend to be a news site, or a news round-up site, or a political commentary site. This is purely a whatever-Sarah-feels-like-saying site. If anyone other than my close friends and family trips here and likes to read it, great! But I'm not claiming to offer anything other than reassurance that despite my having moved to Israel, I'm still alive and kicking.

Second, part of the problem is information overload. Everything that happens in the world, it seems, is being recorded somewhere. The news comes so fast, and it's so easy to find out about other people's lives (blogs like this being a case in point), that at the moment I don't have much to add, other than, like I said, reassuring those who love me that I'm doing OK over here in the Middle East. At some point I think something will click and I'll write my memoirs or whatever. Meanwhile I'm happy to publish my little newsy articles and let others process it all. Personally I feel like lounging around with a Gameboy and a glass of lemonade.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Apologies for the delay in posting. Between being sick and trying to get several assignments done, it's been pretty busy.

OK, a few updates.

1. Health update: Still coughing, but last night I got a full night of sleep. I'm starting to feel better. My voice is very hoarse; several people I interviewed yesterday told me I sound very sexy. If only they weren't women and married men! My biggest problem right now is the muscle I pulled in my ribs from coughing. Hurts when I lie down or try to lift anything.

2. Work is going very nicely. In addition to my regular job, I worked on two freelance assignments in the last few weeks that will pull in an extra $1100. Nice!

3. News in Israel is depressing as always. The more I read about it and the more I think, the more back-to-left-wing I'm becoming. That outburst a few days ago was a healthy, anomaly-like response to a heinous act, but when it comes to the overall picture, I wish we'd get out of Gaza already. Most of the country wants us to get out of Gaza. The only people who don't want us to get out of Gaza are a little more than half the people who happen to be members of Likud. Since when do they run the country? Oh, since Ariel Sharon became prime minister, right. I forgot.

However, I still have a problem about how and when to express to my religious (and therefore overwhelmingly right-wing) friends that I do not share their opinions. A couple of times I've been at Shabbat meals where people said . . . well, at one there was a woman who said that we should just kill all the Palestinians and be done with it. I felt evil for not arguing with her, but I could tell that my arguments would fall on deaf ears and didn't want to start an argument at someone else's home . . . and there was the meal where someone said we should just transfer all the Palestinians and be done with it, and I felt evil for not arguing with him, but again, deaf ears, someone else's house, didn't want to start an argument . . . and then there was the meal where someone said "our biggest mistake was not kicking them all out in 1967." Silently I thought that one over. In retrospect, it actually might have been the best thing for everyone, sad to say. But, well, we didn't then, and there are so many more of them now, and so it would be really bad if we did it now, and the past is over and done with, and there's no point in wishing we'd done things differently 37 years ago . . . and so basically I just don't say anything, feeling weak because I'd rather not have a confrontation than get into this with anyone.

4. To forget about Gaza, I like to go to my favorite website, and read the "What's happening" section. You could do that, too.

5. I lost my gopher boy! Young Moshe, the kid I'd hired to help with errands and cleaning on Friday, lost his ride to my house after school. So unless he finds a new one, I'm in need of a new high school kid who wants to earn some extra spending money. God, having someone else run my errands was so nice while it lasted.

6. I had an epiphany yesterday. In a conversation with a friend, I mentioned He Who Must Not Be Named, the guy who, 2 1/2 years ago, pulled my heart out, spat on it, shredded it, threw the pieces on the ground, stomped on them, broiled what was left, and fed it to the sharks. Anyhow, his name came up, and I realized . . .

I am happy.

I am happy . . . without him.

And so for the past 24 hours, I've been humming, in between interviews, that song from My Fair Lady:

There'll be spring every year without you.
England still will be here without you.
There'll be fruit on the tree,
And a shore by the sea.
There'll be crumpets and tea without you.

Art and music will thrive without you.
Somehow Keats will survive without you.
And there still will be rain
On that plain down in Spain,
Even that will remain
Without you.
I can do without you.

You, dear friend, who talk so well,
You can go to . . . Hertford, Hereford, and Hampshire!

It goes on, but you get the picture.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Health update:

I went back to the doctor yesterday because I was feeling miserable. My cough/pain/fever situation wasn't getting better. In some ways it was getting worse. My main problem, as I told the doctor, is not the cough itself but the fact that I hadn't slept for three nights straight, because the coughing is keeping me awake. Two nights ago I watched "Finding Nemo" from 3 am until 5 am. I was just exhuasted.

So, she gave me prescriptions for a cough suppressant, and codeine to knock me out at night. I tried it, and while I still woke up several times to cough up all the stuff that had been suppressed (TMI?), at least I got a few hours of rest here and there.

I'm certainly not 100% better, but I have to get myself together in the next 2 hours, because later I have to go out to cover a story I promised for a magazine in the U.S. The amount they are paying me for this one night of work (plus the time it takes to write it up) amounts to 125% of my monthly rent. (Just to give an indication of how sick I am, I did try, yesterday, to find another talented journalist to take my place -- I was willing to give up the money, I was so sick -- but I couldn't find anyone, and so now it's just one of those situations where I feel better partly because I really have to.)

Other update:

This is so odd, but in the midst of all my being-sick-and-going-to-the-doctor situation yesterday, I got a new refrigerator. Someone advertised on one of my listserves that they were selling a lightly-used, 2-year-old, medium-sized refrigerator. I called and it turned out to be my buddy Greg, from Ulpan! He'd persuaded his landlord to buy him a bigger fridge, so now he was selling the perfectly good, perfect-size-for-one-person fridge. He even offered to deliver it himself. I told him to come over but not stand too close to me so he won't catch my germs. So there I was, totally sick, and these two guys (Greg and his landlord) bring me a great fridge, install it, and transfer all my food for me!

Now I can finally get rid of the horrible rented fridge, the one that remembers when Ford was President. The one with a 3-inch layer of frost on all the surfaces of the freezer. The one with water dripping onto my food. The one that uses more electricity than the state of Rhode Island. I will call the fridge-rental man, and tell him to take it away! Yay!

And, since my new fridge is half the size, externally, of my old one (inside it has the same amount of space, because the engine is smaller), now I even have room for a real, real oven! With four burners on top and everything! I can buy one and bake real things like kugel! Yay!

Monday, May 10, 2004

Health update:

The good news: I do not have a bacterial infection.

The bad news: Therefore, there is nothing I can do to make myself feel better than drink a lot of hot fluids (it's hot outside, too, so this is not refreshing), keep coughing up the nasty dead germs, and wait.

Meanwhile, I haven't slept for two nights because I keep coughing, coughing, coughing. And talking makes my throat hurt, so how I'll finish all my interviews for my stories this week is a mystery.

:-( Being sick is yucky.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Just 5 more days until "Troy" is released in theaters in the US. Anyone with information about the release in Israel? Please share.

Anyhow, I fixed the link to my favorite photo of Orlando Bloom (here and in my list of links). I plan to add to the list soon, when I can take a few moments to fix it up.

From the Things My Shaliach Never Told Me file:

I'm in lactose-intolerant heaven!

In the U.S., I subsisted on Vanilla Rice Dream rather than milk.

In Israel, I've been using imported Vanilla Rice Dream when I happen to find it in the store, or a not-as-tasty German version when the Rice Dream is elusive. And it's not like Rice Dream is so great, so the German version really leaves a lot to be desired.

Over the weekend, someone mentioned that Tenuva, the big dairy-product company in Israel, makes a line of Soy-based drinks in plain, vanilla, or banana flavors. I'd never seen them because I always sort of skipped over the milk section of the store.

Well, today I tried "Tenuva So." Vanilla. And . . . it's incredibly delicious. It tastes like a vanilla milk shake. And . . . it has the same number of Weight Watchers Points as Rice Dream. And . . . since it's Israeli, it is cheaper than Rice Dream, and by buying it I'm supporting an Israeli company. And . . . I can find it in any Israeli supermarket.

Heaven, I'm in heaven . . . .
From the Things My Shaliach Never Told Me file:

The health care here is so much better than I'd been made to fear. Before my aliyah, and until now, the feeling I got was "it's great that in Israel everyone has health insurance, but the quality of the care is weak. The doctors have horrible bedside manners."

Well, now that I'm sick and had to go to a doctor, it seems that the trick is really to ask around before you go to find out who to see. I posted a message on the listserver for English-speakers in Jerusalem, asking about walk-in clinics and recommended doctors, and discovered the following:

a) My national insurance provider, Meuchedet, has several high-quality clinics in Jerusalem with walk-in hours every morning. Not just one, but several, were recommended to me by other Americans as places where the doctors speak English, are pleasant, and give good care.

b) So many people wrote to me saying "my doctor is excellent, here's his number, he speaks English and will fit you in today if it's urgent" that I stopped writing down all the names.

c) There's a huge walk-in urgent-care clinic in City Center that is open until midnight. If you go there and you need the emergency room, they will take you to the emergency room or call an ambulance.

d) There's also the emergency room of my nearest hospital, which I hope I'll never need. But this is only covered after midnight; before that I'd have to go to the urgent-care place first.

Anyhow, I went to a clinic nearby during their walk-in hour, and here were my impressions:

- The facilities were old and worn
-The secretaries were friendly and efficient
- The doctor, a woman from England, was thorough and pleasant.
- She talked real fast, probably because she couldn't spend too much time with any one patient.
- The lab is in the same building, so I could have my throat culture and blood work in the same place.
- The doctor typed her notes for my visit directly into a computerized system, and printed out my prescriptions from her computer.
- After dealing with my more immediate problem (chest cold, earache, sore throat), we spoke briefly about some other concerns I have and she was very reassuring that the next time I see her, we could discuss all my options.
- I didn't pay a cent for this visit. Nothing. Nada. Completely covered.

-I went to the pharmacist, a 1-minute walk away from the clinic, and paid only $2 for my medication.

Overall: I don't care about the couches being worn or the building being old. What I care about is that the doctor be thorough and friendly, which she was, and that it's convenient for me to follow through on lab work and medications, which it was. I give the experience an A-.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Anyone who is old enough to remember Pac-Man, you must read this NYTimes article. I don't remember when I've laughed so hard.


1) Regarding the political situation, I'm feeling more "calmly confused" than in my last post. I still think that more should happen, in terms of reaction from the masses, when a terror attack happens, but as my cousin in Petach Tikva made me realize, if we rioted everytime there was an attack, people would be missing too many days of work. Hm. Maybe scratch that idea.

2) Where I am right now regarding the disengagement plan:

a) I think if we leave, we'll seemingly be rewarding terror. However I also feel that . . .

b) The idea of having so many soldiers in Gaza to protect 7,000 Jews from hundreds of thousands of Palestinians does not make sense to me, so I also think we should get the hell out of there.

Not that this makes too much of a difference to me (more in-depth explanation another time, if I get around to it), but Gaza isn't even part of biblical Israel. Petach Tikva cousin, who reads the Hebrew papers, says that army officials have said that they could screen/weed out/kill the terrorists from just outside Gaza, and don't need a military presence inside in order to do so.

So, I want the army to get out (and because I care about the Jews who live there, I want them to get out, because if they stay without military protection, they will be killed, and that would be bad -- by the way, is it just me or is the fact that they'd all be killed immediately a little hint that maybe our neighbors are not interested in being tolerant and neighborly?). But on the other hand, if we disengage, we're basically saying "see, the terrorism worked, eventually."

Bad choice to make here.

c) That Likud vote was, IMHO, another Sharon ploy toward looking strong while wimping out. Ever notice that Sharon is constantly saying things like "we'll dismantle Meron" or "we'll disengage" or "we won't include Ariel in the fence" and then 2 weeks later he reverses himself. As far as I can tell, it happens EVERY time. If any of you know of a pull-out type of promise that Sharon has actually kept, please post a comment about it, because I'd love to know.

Here we had Sharon saying "we'll disengage . . . yes, we really will! . . . but, wait a second, my party doesn't want to do that . . . yeah, most of the rest of the country likes the disengagement plan, but, you know, I gotta keep my party happy . . . so, we'll redo the plan. Get back to me in a couple of weeks."

Nice, going, Arik. You two-faced, slippery eel.

(Hey, I outright insulted an Israeli politician! Now I can run for Knesset!)

3) I am sick. On Thursday night I started feeling run down and having a cold. Still had a great time though in Petach Tikva with the cousins. They are such nice people. (Shout-out to Meir!) They took me to this incredible restaurant called El Gaucho. It was awesome. Glad I got to enjoy it before I got really ill.

Anyway, last night I had my first Shabbat-meal-alone since my aliyah, but by choice so it was OK. By the time Shabbat came in, I really just wanted to crawl into bed. My lungs were full of mucus (TMI?); thank God I didn't have a fever, because I was having company for lunch. I figured that if I drink a lot of hot tea and get to bed, I'll feel better by the time my guests arrived, and I was pretty much right. Around noon today I suddenly felt magically better and stopped coughing, almost. But after they all left, I got back into bed, and later I got a fever. So, I'm sick-y. :-(

4) FYI, my new, temporary job at an unnamed :-) newspaper in Israel is going really well. My editor and co-workers are both very nice and very talented- a rare combination. The only problem is, when I hang out with people who disagree with the political leanings of the paper, which is often, a silence falls over the crowd when I tell them where I work. There's always this moment when someone is trying to figure out whether they want to say "hey that's great" when really they hate this paper. Usually someone saves the day by saying "Oh, how interesting. So, how did you get that job?"

Fact: No one asked me at my interview what my political or religious leanings are.

Fact: No one has ever asked me to tip the leanings of an article to make it more compatible with the percieved leanings of the paper.

Fact: I try to report the facts into my newspaper writing without injecting my personal opinions. That's partially what this blog is for. Obviously, judgement calls often have to be made about what to include and what not to include, which anyone is free to agree or disagree with. But it would not be fair for anyone to assume that they know what my political or religious opinions are by reading my print-published work. In fact, I've often heard or read criticism by readers who assume that "this reporter obviously is biased against X, Y, or Z," when in fact, if anything, I'm biased toward XYZ. I'm just refraining from injecting my biases into my work. Imagine that. A reporter who tries hard not to inject her biases into her work! Surprise! Gasp!

An observation: People read things into what they read in the paper. Whatever you bring to the table, you'll see reflected in the news and either nod and say "yes, yes, this confirms what I've always thought" or "Uuuuuurgh, this paper is so biased!" Sometimes you'll be correct. Often, people are just being hypersensitive. They ask for "balanced and fair," but what they really want is "agreeing with me."

Eh, this all brings up questions about the role of newspapers, the role of reporters . . . and I need to go nurse my fever. I'm too obsessed with the idea of crawling back into bed to write any more. Please write comments!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

It's been 3 days since Tali Hatuel was shot at close range, along with her children. The emails still circulate about her, the sadness still rings in people's hearts. But there is no riot, no rally, no one who is taking to the streets to demand that this happen never again. No one standing outside government buildings in support of action, any action -- even action that a week ago I may have been ambivalent about -- that would tell the world that we Jews will not tolerate murder. We will not tolerate the murder of our children.

And so a Palestinian state will have to wait. If it takes a thousand years, we will wait for our Arab neighbors to stop seeking our blood. But until then, there will be no Palestinian state, no chance for them to let their murderers roam free to kill innocent children who did nothing more than build a house where they shouldn't have. We have waited 3,500 years for the Messiah. We will wait for the Palestinians to learn. And until then, anyone who messes with us will learn the meaning of wrath.

But no one is saying this. No one is yelling. No one is screaming for Tali Hatuel and her children, and the husband and father who has lost everything. Only the people shaking their heads and saying "that poor man. That poor man," and insisting that we go on with our normal routines.

I am not a fan of anger. I am not a fan of rage that leaves no room for forgiveness. It is one of the reasons I have steered clear of siding with right-wingers here. But the last three days I have changed. I feel rage. Rage with a little space for the intellectual knowledge that perhaps someday the Palestinians will change. But this week they have not.

This week, they have not.

And so I've been thinking about the 25th chapter of one of my favorite books by John Steinbeck:

"There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success . . . and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage."
A few small odds and ends:

1) From the Things My Shaliach Never Told Me File, another laundry-related story:

I often find that when I am hanging out my window to put out or bring in my laundry, that the same man is walking around in my neighborhood with his two dogs. He seems to be in his late 50's or 60's, with a wild beard, and two little dogs. One of the dogs has clearly been injured - she walks around using both hind legs together, sort of limping in an "oh, nebich" kind of way. At first I thought that maybe the guy is abusing his dogs, but over time, when I saw him around a lot, I saw that he seems to take good care of them and feel protective of them.

Anyhow, two days ago we actually talked, while I was bringing in my laundry and he was out on the sidewalk letting his dogs run around in the wild garden-type area under my window. He's an immigrant from Russia, and the dogs' names are Suzi and Cookie. It turns out that Suzie had some problem with one of her vertebrae (his Hebrew wasn't good enough to really explain what it was) and she was paralyzed and bed-ridden for a year and a half! He said that every day he took her out of her doggie-bed to clean her and put new bedding down. And one day, miraculously, she just stood up and started hopping around! And now she can actually hop all over the neighborhood! Go Suzie!

2) Last night we had a lunar eclipse. I sat on the ledge in front of the building across the street and just watched it for an hour. It made me a little sad that I had no one to watch it with. I had called my friends to tell them about it, but it's not like any of them could come over to watch it together. It was so beautiful and cool.

After a little while, a teenage girl walked by and I pointed to the sky and asked her how to say "lunar eclipse" in Hebrew (it's "likui ha-yarayach"). Turns out that this girl is a neighbor-- she lives over the yeshiva around the corner from me. Her name is Nitzan, she's about 21, and she's doing a year of pre-college study, having just finished her army service. Like a lot of Israelis, she thought it odd that I moved to Israel now. I told her how simple I think it is that Jews should live in the Jewish homeland, and how the moment I signed the paper accepting Israeli citizenship was one of the most profound of my life. She said she'd never thought of it that way before. I said Israelis don't usually appreciate it, because they are used to being here and being Israeli.

She also said that she doesn't like the yeshiva boys, because sometimes the prayers go until the middle of the night and keep her awake, and because the ones in the dorm apartments in her building won't even say hello to her and she finds them to be generally rude. I asked her how old the boys are, and she said 15 and 16 or so. I pointed out that maybe they are rude not because they are yeshiva boys but because they are teenagers. And I suggested that she bring kosher-lemihadrin food baskets to them and to the yeshiva office before the next holiday, with a note that says "happy holidays from your neighbors," to get the yeshiva thinking in the direction of remembering that they have neighbors. She was like "hey, that's a good idea!" I felt like I'd done my mitzva for the day. It sounds like someone in that building needs to make the first move, so it may as well be her.

3) Protocols finally has a female Elder. She's only a guest, but perhaps this is a sign of changing times. Be sure to go to the site to welcome her.

4) Mazal tov to my friends Rivka and Moshe in New Jersey, on the birth of a baby girl!

5) How I am generally: Well, doing OK, basically. I had a frustrating week with my journalism assignments. Getting the stories together was like pulling teeth, with people not calling me back, stories turning out to not really be stories, etc. Also I haven't exercised for a while so I feel really icky and fat. However, all in all I'm doing OK, nothing terrible to report (thank God!), and looking forward to handing in these assignments so I can breath for the weekend.
The following email was just posted on Janglo, the listserve for English-speaking residents of Jerusalem:

Expressions of sympathy for David Hatuel of Katif, whose wife and
daughters were murdered by Palestinians, can be sent to him via his
neighbor, Irit Ben-Aryeh, whose email address is

Hebrew preferred, but English would still be very much appreciated.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

From the Things My Shaliach Never Told Me File, an impromtu ode to my washing machine:

In New York,
the city that never sleeps,
I never slept
on laundry night.

Up and down the elevator
I shlepped heavy baskets of clothes
and sheets
and a heavy box of detergent.

And an old film container full of quarters.

Would the machines all be taken?
Would there be cockroaches in my path?
Would one of my quarters turn out to be a nickel
that I mistook for a quarter--
Would I have to beg my roommate for proper change?

Would I forget about the laundry
and get into my pajamas
And then have to get dressed again to
put my wet belongings
in the dryer?

That is all in the past
A memory of the Old Country.
In the Holy Land,
I am renting a Holy Washing Machine.
It is inside my apartment

(My apartment
Because in Israel I can afford to live without

a roommate.)

I do my laundry
in my pajamas.

I do my laundry
whether I have any change or not.

I do my laundry
without waiting for the old lady from apartment 6A
to remove her towels
and sheets.

But what of the dryer?
No, no dryer here
In my apartment
In Israel.

I hang my clothes
and sheets
to dry in the Holy sun.

My clothes always smell fresh.
I have ascended
to laundry heaven.

Monday, May 03, 2004

I'm trying to get work done, but can't stop thinking about Tali Hatuel, who was killed yesterday with her four daughters at close range by Arab terrorists.

Also, about David Hatuel, who woke up this morning completely alone, his entire family -- his wife and all of his children-- gone for good.

What really angers me about this is that her killers claim this was revenge for the assassinations of Rantisi and Yassin, as if that makes it all right.

On what planet is there an equivalence between targeting known terrorists (and, I might add, the Israeli army had previously given up other opportunities to kill them because they were surrounded by "civilian" family members) and shooting at a random car, going over to see who is inside, and, finding a pregnant woman and four little girls, shooting them each at close range?

The PA allows this to go on, and we're supposed to negotiate with these people? On what planet does that make sense?

One can argue over whether the Hatuel family should have been living in Gush Katif to begin with. Many might make a legitimate argument that they had no right to do so. But even if so, their biggest crime was building a house where they shouldn't have. For this a 34-year-old woman and her four little girls deserve to die?

Lovely neighbors, we have here . . . I'm sure there are those among them who are reading their newspapers today and are thinking "that poor woman." Or at least "those stupid terrorists, we'll never have our own state if this keeps up." I just wish there were more of them, and that they were more vocal.
So here is my musing at the moment:

I think one of Israel's problems is that we are too good at "getting on with life" after a terror attack.

When a Palestinian is killed, the Arabs call for blood. When an Israeli is killed, we say "we will not let this derail the peace process/disengagement plan/our resolve."

Deep down everyone feels pain. But very shortly we just keep going on with our daily lives. People say that this is Israel's strength. I'm starting to see it not as a symptom of strength, but rather a symptom of deep despair and shell-shock. We Jews learned to do this after 2,000 years of persecution, culminating with the Holocaust: Don't express anger. Don't make waves. Just keep going and start rebuilding. Rebuild, and when those who hate us destroy what we have built, we will rebuild again. That is the Jewish way. That is the way that has kept us alive for over 3,500 years.

But . . . why should the world care when an Israeli is killed, if Israelis themselves say "well, we have to go on"? If we are not angry as hell, why should the rest of the world be?