This is the front door of the building where my grandmother lived until a few months before she died at age 99. This is where my mother grew up. I’ve been in the apartment many times – and remember the view of the sea from the porch. Now the building is a law firm.
All the other pictures from Haifa have family members, so… sorry. At least, though, I did meet one of my cousins and his two children – people I’ve never met before. And for giggles, here’s the menu of the restaurant where we ate lunch. Not much open on Shabbat, so we took what we could get. I had the kebab and a couple of knishes. I was tempted to try the brain… braaaaains… but no. The chopped liver, ordered by one of my cousin’s kids, wasn’t bad and the wife was gushing over the calfs foot jelly which was, apparently, a food she ate when she was young and brought back fond memories. Basically, gelatin with pieces & bits of meat in it that you spread on the bread. I tried it; edible but not high on the list of things I’d recommend.
(I know, I know, tref and on Shabbat to boot. So sue me – never said I was perfect.)
My mother was a Sabra – a person born in Israel – but while raised as a Jew, it was a “social” Jewishness. Sure, we celebrated Hanukah, and Passover; we would eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah and would attend Kol Nidre services on Yom Kippur… but aside from that, there was nothing. No Shabbat candle lighting, no prayers, no blessings, and certainly not even an attempt to keep kosher.
Thus, these two pictures of my first prayer at the Kotel (Western Wall) wearing tefillin. I cannot describe what this meant to me, to be connected to my faith and to Jewish history.
I still have so much to learn – so much that, thanks to my late parents’ apathy and disinterest, I never learned. It will be a lifetime’s journey to learn my faith’s birthright that I was denied growing up.
This day I took the kids to CALIBER 3, a combat shooting / martial arts training school. Originally I’d intended to do a full-day course with the wife and kids taking a short course in shooting and an hour of krav maga training… but the wife didn’t want to come, so I switched to just doing what the kids were scheduled to do. (Unsupervised & bored kids + shooting range = recipe for disaster.) But first, lunch – which I was thrilled with, but – like with the whole trip, the kids were picky-picky-picky with eating.
To truly be in the mood, I bought an IDF BDU; and man, I need to get in shape. (My standard joke: “I am in shape… ’round’ is a shape,” but really, have to get back on the wagon both diet and exercise wise.)
On the firing line. Most participants were from New York, and barely knew one end of a gun from the other. I was amused – during the initial briefing with wooden guns, everyone had their fingers on the trigger but me. I had, even with a fake gun, good “trigger discipline,” which led to the instructor calling me out and saying “You’ve handled guns before.” My reply, with a wide grin, “Oh, a time or two.”
On the road to Hebron after the shooting school. Hebron is an Arab town. Apparently, through intermediaries, Jews manage to purchase a building but the government doesn’t let them move in due to the dangers… but houses continue to be bought now and then. What was more interesting were the graffiti: Israeli stars and Hebrew signs drawn on saying “This is our land.”
Approaching the Tomb of our ancestors… we arrived and were walking up the steps when the calls to prayer from the mosque came on. Interspersed with that were calls of “Allahu akhbar!” (Allah is greater!) It was more than a little disconcerting – knowing there were a just a few border guard soldiers between me and the kids and a town whose inhabitants, given the chance, would enthusiastically kill us.
This is the reality: the Arabs don’t want peace or coexistence. They want a destroyed Israel fertilized by the blood of slaughtered Jews. And even the current warming of relations between Israel and many Arab nations is something I suspect is due only to the threat of Iran (Shia) vs. the Arabs (Sunni) – and even before Islam, the Arabs and Persians have hated each other something fierce; were Iran to cease being a threat the Arabs would quickly turn on Israel, with Israel having been an ally-of-convenience until such a time as the alliance is no longer needed.
I am on the board of Connections Israel, a 501c3 charity that does projects for people in Israel; we focus on the IDF though not exclusively. We are ramping up our project to give Purim baskets to IDF soldiers throughout the country. Last year we did over 2,000 baskets and would like to blow that number out of the water. Here is the video from the 2018 effort:
Link if the video doesn’t work… it seems to be spotty.
If you support Israel, please…
- Share this video with friends / groups that could contribute
- Adopt a unit (a unit of 30 soldiers is $450)
- Post on FB / LI / twitter / whatever about this drive to get more donors
Let’s get to 4000 baskets this year!!! Please help.
Here’s the donation page link: DONATE TO PURIM 2019
I’m tickled pink they even made a page for my fundraising efforts….
Again, please join me in the DRIVE FOR 4000!
Spent a couple of days in Tel Aviv with most of the daylight hours on the beach. Warm enough for us New England types, but a little chilly in general. The kids had a blast though.
View from the hotel room. I definitely got “husband points” for making sure we had a sea-side view.
Interesting that swimming was prohibited (not that this stopped some people). The waves were pretty choppy… especially the second day.
What amazed me was how clean the beach was. I’ve been on some US beaches where the sand was one big cigarette tray. Ewwwww. Perhaps it was cleaned up and with few people because of the winter, but still – amazing!
View from the hotel roof at night.
Nothing replaces my joy at seeing Old Glory fluttering, but this is definitely – and firmly – in second.
Skipped a day – three – because it was Shabbat. This day we drove from Jerusalem to Masada and the Dead Sea.
Looking back at Jerusalem, about to go through the tunnel that leads to the desert…
And through the tunnel. Note the change in the level of greenery…
Bedouin encampment – I’d really not even call it a “village” – to the right. Apparently, from my host, to claim the “Bedouin” moniker they’re supposed to move every so often.
Well below sea level at this point.
Jericho to the left in the distance… the green is a large grove of date palms.
Masada visitor’s center:
Had initially planned on hiking up, but…
- Am way out of shape! 😦 Next time for sure, though!
- Time. We also wanted to get to the Dead Sea.
Looking back down at the visitor’s center.
The largest of the water cisterns. Huge. Apparently Herod figured out how to channel the water from winter rains to Masada to fill this, and the other, cisterns.
The Roman encampment from when they attacked.
You can see the start of the ramp the Romans built to get up to the top.
And now to the Dead Sea. Sorry, no pictures of me bobbing like a cork.
A Sabra – or prickly-pear – cactus:
Lastly, I get a picture of myself in front of McDonalds when I travel overseas.
A view from the apartment in Jerusalem:
Starting to walk:
Ben Yehuda helped invent modern Hebrew by creating all sorts of words that biblical Hebrew did not have… i.e., modern things like gloves, and ice cream, and so on – in a large part, he is the father of the currently-used language:
Pizza Hut is everywhere… (and kosher too – so no sausage!!!)
I bought a few kippot here.
Streets in modern Jerusalem…
Yes, I needed coffee (body still being back on the East coast) – well-named!
Approaching the Old City…
The below picture is of an Arab area… every once in a while, through an intermediary, a Jew manages to buy a house. And usually the person who sold it gets arrested – selling a house to a Jew is a capital offense.
The sense of history and millennia are everywhere…
The Western Wall (Kotel):
Prayers inserted into the wall. This is the women’s section; the wife borrowed my phone as her battery died.
This was Friday afternoon; we took a taxi to the apartment. Israel pretty much shuts down for Shabbat. I wanted to go food shopping at 3:30 PM and, on the way to the market, was told it was already closed & shuttered. This is a country that lives the Faith.
Fortunately we had enough food in the apartment to make it through to when the stores opened again… but that was more by luck than deliberate intent.
This December I took the family to Israel; I hadn’t been in 25 years – and when I last went I was visiting my (now late) grandmother, so I didn’t see much. Obviously pictures that have family members are not shown, but…
Arrival in Ben Gurion airport, and the mob to get through immigration:
Picked up by my friend, we drove towards Jerusalem.
Stopping at an open-air military museum (and training center) for tanks that also has a radar that tracks migrating birds.
On to Jerusalem proper:
Walking around… I come to Israel and find Pringles? ROFL!
Shopping in the Shouk (market):
I come to Israel and find… Corona?
I come to Israel… and find Hellman’s?
Dinner my first day. Yum!