Thursday, January 29, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

To the Ice

The tournament was great on the ice as well. Tuesday night we had a 2 hour scrimmage for the players who had already arrived at the hotel. We ended up with 3 goalies, so we had to rotate. Coming off the ice, I felt was playing well enough to not lose a game for my team but not good enough to steal a game.

There were 4 teams in the tournament, one representing Canada and three representing Israel. The teams had to be rejigged shortly before the tournament as some players had been called up.

I was on the Black team representing Canada. My team included Allan and his son Zvi. From the time I made the annoucement of our move at hockey he would come over to me at hockey and tell me that I was to play for Canada in this tournament. Cliff was running the team, who was also from my games in Toronto. Debbie works with my Mom. We also had JJ who was reffing the games he was not playing in. He was writting an article for Hockey USA. They wanted him to cover hockey in Israel, the tournament and how it relates to Gaza.

The Red team had Danny who is the tournament organizer. His team was the favourite going into the tournament. They also had two goalies on their team, splitting ice time.

The Teal team was considered the weakest at the beginning of the tournament. One player on their team was Lisa. She lives in Kfar Hadumim and was supposed to get a ride with us up to the rink. She ended up tremping instead. Her family is a hockey family that made Aliyah and moved to Metulah. Her older brother just got out of the Army and is on the National Team. He was going to play in the tournament until they decided it would not be fair. Her younger brother is also supposed to be a pretty good hockey player.

The White team had Debbie's husband Barry. The offer of a shwarma and 5 NIS was not enough to get someone to trade teams.

We played the first morning game against the Teal team. We won 10-3 in the biggest blow out of the tournament. The second game had the Red team easily taking care of the White team. The showdowns were set for the evening games.

In the early evening game we played the Red team. The game was close making the running time a major issue. At one point we were playing 4 on 4 and scored with 3 seconds left in our penalty. The Red team decided to treat it like a PP goal and left the penalty box. By the time we got the Ref to fix the issue the PP was almost over. In the game Danny dislocated his shoulder twice before calling it a game. With 8 minutes left we were winning 4-3. The Red team through everything they had to try to tie up the game. I shut them down until and we scored an EN to win 5-3. I was told afterwards that I was the 3rd star of the game. For me it was the highlight of the tournament.

I heard the second evening game was really rough. The White team beat the Teal team bringing their record to 1-1 and Teal dropping to 0-2. It looked like Teal was going to be the push over team of the tournament.

On Wednesday morning Teal handily beat the Red team in the first game. Red was eliminated from championship game. We went into the game versus the White team knowing we had already clinched the game in the finals. If we won and gave up less than 5 goals we would be facing Teal. Otherwise we would rematch against the White team. JJ was taking the morning off with a slight injury.

We started off the game strong scoring a goal before the game started (timekeeper forgot to start the clock). We pulled out to a 4-1 lead before the White team started chipping back. They had pulled the score to 5-4. We were killing another penalty and the faceoff was to my right. They won the faceoff, with the ungaurded winger in front of the net. I made a tough glove save to perserve the win.

The consolation game was between Red and White. There was one play where a White player dangerously took a Red player out along the boards. The son of the Red team player went balistic earning a game misconduct. For the next 10 minutes the game was rough with lots of players getting penalties for running into each other. The White team managed to take 3rd place.

We were playing Teal for the championship. The ref told me that they were going to be strict on calling goalie interference. Once again we started out strong and pulled out to a 4-1 lead. The Teal team just kept coming back. At the end of the second period a shot was taken seconds winding off the clock. The buzzard went and then the puck went into the net. The ref with the best angle thought it was not a goal but felt it was too close and consulted with the other officials. It was eventually ruled a goal.

Teal team just kept coming and they managed to come back. There was one play where I had made an initial save and puck squirted out behind the net. Lisa picked up the puck and try to stuff in a wrap around. I managed to reach out and hold the puck along the post to keep it out. The whistle went and then I was pushed. A player on their team tried to say it was a goal. I yelled at him that it was only because he had pushed me. I think I scared him a little as he backed away. With us killing another penalty late in the game they had the same play as in the morning except I was unable to come up with the glove save. The game was tied at 5 going into overtime.

Time was ticking down in overtime. I had made one save where a centering pass from behind the net hit my defenceman and I had to make a quick save. Danny was starting to panic as we were out of ice time and they had never had OT in the final game before. We managed to win with 3o seconds left on the clock. It was the first time the Canadian team won the tournament.

We went undefeated in the tournament and I proved my goaltending ability. I had a great time and hope I can play again next year. The week did make my dream to have a rink built in Central Israel that much stronger.

Y A H O O O O ! ! ! !

Today I got all of the packages I have been waiting for! I got a box of ziploc bags, a box with ziploc bags, cloth shopping bags and soap (apparently someone thinks I smell funny) and all the tights a friend shipped me way back in the first week of November.

I also got a package my mommy sent me the first week of November.

Note to self. Regular packages to this country can take 3 friggin months!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I am in ziploc heaven :) No need to ration them for a long while now :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Touristy Stuff

The view of Har Hermon from our hotel first thing in the morning. Now, I love the views where we are and still often stop and just stare in awe at the view spread out before me, but nothing we have down here even begins to compare to the vistas in the North. It has the high stony pathways of northern Ontario, the Green rolling hills of the Catskills, and the peaks of the rockies all in one place.

Add to that the gorgeous blue of the Kinneret (Galilee Sea) and you have some of most incredible views I have ever seen.

After Jason finished his first game on Wednsday morning, he came back to the room, showered (there is no way I was getting into a car with him after hockey if he missed that step!) and got en route to the tour we booked at the Golal Heights winery.

We booked for a public tour in English. Not having the slightest clue how to get there (and having terrible Israeli style directions "go left at the third kikar and then you will see signs"... um, yeah, we finally saw a sign 45 minutes down the road!) we left really early and got there over an hour early. Turns out we were the only people registered for the tour, so we got the private version. It was just the 2 of us in a theatre meant for 40 people! We were wondering if we were obligated to start making out...

Whatever. The movie was terrible. some genie with a wierd little wipsy tail that looked sort of like an upside down NIKE swoosh in a tux.

The rest of the tour was great! We saw the bottling room
and the room where they age the wine in oak barrels. 1.something or other million littres at any given time.Then came the tasting. We had a nice reisling, a young red (which neither of us liked and we think was just given to show the difference between young and old wines as it was followed by) their syra which is what they consisder their best red, a moscato (which neither of us liked as much as some of the other moscatos we have tried) and then, the best in both our minds, their "Heights Wine" (an ice wine made in a country where frost does nto last long enough to make real ice wine but competes internationally as an ice wine). It was AWESOME!

We bought a couple of bottles of the reislinig, one of the ice wine, and one mascato to take home with us and asked for other suggestions on places to go. we were told about a kibbuts, not far away, with a gormet chocolate factory and tour. Hot damn we knew where we were going next!

After sobering up a little bit in the parking lot we were on our way.

We got there to find out that they did not have a tour that day, but we did manage to come away with soem awesome chocolate and a bottle of milk caramel liquor. Going to have to try to arrange that tour if we go to the tournament again next year.

From there we drove down to Teveria by way of the Kinneret and the Jordan Valley. It was beautiful!

We grabbed lunch at a street shwarma vendor. I think it was, hands down, the best shwarma EVER! Mehadrin so totally fair game, with a "toppings bar" of about 35 different types of salads. Well wrapped so that it never fell apart and you did not get that icky wad of bread at the bottom.

Two pictures of Teveria in the winter.

After lunch we wandered around for a while and then headed over to the Rambams grave site. I got a few pictures, but honestly not as many as I would have liked. For someone who was "the poster child for rational Judaism" his burial site has certainly taken a turn for the chareidi. The markings on the srcofacaus itself was sllit lengthwise by a mechitza so the entire yomb was split in half. Yes, that meant that women did not have acees to the other tombs, including the Rambam's father on the mens side.

I have no problem with wanted seperate areas to daven, but to cut me off from whole areas with PERMENANT dividers because I do not have a penis seems a little insane.

Anyhow, the grave itself it really cool looking. There is a giant metal sculpture designed to look like a flame, and leading up to it are stepps bordered by columns with the names of the sections of his famous work the Mishna Torah. Oh, of coruse there was the quintesential gift/hair covering shop at the entrance. I was wearing a baseball cap. I considered myself good to go.

there is also a small cemetery on the side with the graves of other tenaim including the Shelah Hakodesh and some other's whose names are excaping me at the moment. All in all not a terrible 20 minutes ide trip.

Leaving the tomb Jason gave some money to a Breslover Chassid (I like them, they make me smile) and got pulled into street dancing with him. I wish I had gotten it on video, but I was too busy enjoying it in real life ot remember ot pull out the camera.

We went driving down to the water front (although we could not find anywhere to stop to park so we did not do much walking this time) and en route came across a sign for "Kever Rachel". Now, I may stink at geography, but I was pretty darn sure Rachel was buried in Beit Lechem and that it was a little lower down in the country.

This was the grave of Rabbi Akiva's wife Rachel. Although it is likely that Rabbi Akiva was tortured and killed south west in Caesarea his wife is burried here in a small (but clearly well marked) tomb. we both thought that it was rather interesting that in a religion that does seem to cover up most of the women, this gave site was maintained through the years.

This was the view driving back towards Teveria from the Kever Rachel. IT is amazing ot see how it really does just sort of rise from the Kinneret.

Day 2's pictures were mostly posted under an earlier entry about the hotel and grounds at K'far Giladi. We were thinking about going in to Tzfat, but instead took the local tour (something not readily avaialble if we were to happen to be up north at any other time) and then went ot the Naot show factory (where I got a really adorable pair of naot Mary Janes for a great price.

After that grabbed lunch at Esh Besh, a Mehadrin place in Kiryat Shemona that had some of the best meat we have ever had. For about $40 total we got the special which was 250g rotisery shish ka bob (he had beef, I had chicken), 6 various salads, home made bread and drinks. Toronto seriously needs some nicer kosher restraunts.

After that we went for a swim at the Canada Centre and Jason played the championship game (he won!) before attending the end of tournament banquet and heading home.

Oh, did I mention we managed to do all our day 2 touring and shopping in Hebrew? Including figuing out the menu and ordering?

We got home around 2am and crashed! We woke up with enough time to get Channah from school, pack, and head to friendsi n Maale Adumim for shabbat.

I am now thouroughly beat, but relaxed, happy and in a great mood. A good nights sleep or two should kill the post vacation exhaustion and I will be ready and raring to go!

K'Far Giladi (our Hotel) and "the Sleek"

For more on the historical background of K'far Giladi please visit the wiki article at or their website For a Hebrew video with great pictures please visit . At 1:11 on the video you can see them opening the slik mentioned later in this post. It also shows the rooms, lobby, pool, gym, dining hall, other places and activities at k'far Giladi. Even if you do not understand the Hebrew, the pictures are really nice and it is worth watching.

Kfar Giladi is one of the oldest Kibbutzim in the country having been founded in 1916 and named for one of the founding families who lost two members to influenza in one day.

The kibbutz was founded by members of Hashomer, the original organization established to protect Jewish interests in what would become Medinat Yisrael. The model below illustrates the way the kibbutz looked at some point in the past, but I forgot to note the year. The building at the very bottom centre of the picture was the orriginal barrack that housed 16 famlies and their horses. Over time, they moved into the "Founders House" in the middle of the shot.

The picture below is Jason and two of his teammates taken at the banquet on the last night in what was the orriginal dining room of the "Founders House".

The views from the Kibbutz were unbelievable.

The picture below is the Israel/Lebanon border. Cars driving down that arched road on the right hand side would be Lebanese cars (if we had seen any). We also had a spectacular view of the Carmel mountain including it's snow capped peaks. I should add we were looking at it while complaining we were too warm in the sweaters we were wearing. Apparently in other years there has been snow in Kiryat Shemona and Metulah during the tournament- but this year the weather was fantastic for a vacation!

On the last afternoon we took a tour of the kibbutz and went to see "the Slik". Now, apparently everyone except me has heard of this. I guess I wasn ot paying attention that year in Jewish History (yes I know that would be very hard to believe!). In any case, the slik was a cache of illegal weapons, hidden from the Brittish (as Jews being found with weapons was a hangging offense!). It was built under the cover of night by 3 m3mbers of the kibbutz, and was stocked with weapons to use to protect the Interests of the Jews in the future Medinat Yisrael.

It was so secret that those working on it would not explain to their families where they were going at night, leading one wife to remove her young children from the kibbutz. She died years later still believing her husband had been having an affair.

The original slick was tiny and not nearly as water proof as they would have liked. Over time a new slick was built that was, even according to a British officer who looked and knew there were weapons being hidden, "impossible to find".

It was revealed to the public in 1983. I am pretty sure it was only reveled becuae another, more secret, better stocked, one has been built in a new location on the kibbutz.

Inside the orriginal slik

The entrance to the new slik. It is hidden below a 3 ton working machine. In order to open it you have to know which of the screws holding the mchine in place is the "lock" and use a special wrench to loosen it which in turn unlocks the sliding mechanism. Once it is unlocked Jason was able ot move the 3 ton trap door by himself.

You can see the mchine and how it moves around the 1:11 mark on the video posted above.

Inside the slick.

Our Trip, part 1- The Hockey

I am going to leave it to Jason to tell you about the actual games because, let's face it, what the hell do I know about hockey, but I figure since it was the main purpose for the trip that I should cover it as well.

To be honest, I was not 100% sure I wanted to go on this trip. Anyone who knows me will know that I have a bit of a hockey stick shaped chip on my shoulder. I was worried I would be bored silly! I will be the first to admit though that in this case I was wrong. I had a great time, saw some good hockey (and some really, really bad hockey) and even enjoyed watching the games I went to (the evening ones. It was my vacation too and I deemed sleeping in of more vacational value than getting up early for breakfast and hockey).

First off, the rink. As always, pictures from inside the rink STINK. I have NEVER been able to get a good shot of anything inside a rink in my life- why start now? Isn't Jason cute back on the ice?

5 games in 2 days was sort of a lot considering he has only played one other time in the last 5 months-he was totally exhausted by the end of the tournament (he started taking on Ken Dryden poses during the last game!) but on the whole I think he had a great time.

The rink itself was pretty cool (pun intended. In fact, it was bloddy freezing! Because it is Israel and fairly warm by hockey standards, in order to keep the ice surface frozen, they refridgerate the entire floor of the arena. It is basically like watching hockey outside on a cold day in January in Toronto (and no one I know is dumb enough to do that- course here I needed to. It is not realy hockey unless you are freezing your tuches off!).

The Canada Centre (the building the rink is in) is all the way up in Metulah. It is so close to the Labanese border that our directions actually included the line "If you start seeing signs in Arabic you have gone a bit too far. Find somewhere to turn around. Fast."

The building also contains a lobby and restraunt, coffee shop, bowling alley, basketball court, weights room, and awesome swimming pool. I did not get any pictures of the pool but we had a great swim. 2 hot tubs, massage jets in the regular pool as well as i nthe hot tub, kiddie pool, chaise lounges and palm trees out the window!

Not sure it gets any better than that!
Best laugh came when one of the other wives showed me that the Canada Centre also holds the Israeli olympic bobsled!
The Israeli (and Canadian)hockey community is quite varried. There are men and women, aged 18 or so to late 60s. Total Russian Chiloni to pretty frummie. It was actually really nice. those who wanted the hot springs, went. those who wanted to daven, did. Those who wanted a daf yomi shiur, had one. Allowances were made for everyone who wanted to come and what they needed. It was a real show of achdut- people working together for the common goal of having a fun filled few days.

If there were any real clashes (other than on the ice of course!) I did not hear of them.

Jason is sitting on the ice near the far right. also playing is a family friend who took up hockey as an adult and her husband, my old school administrator and his son, some people Jason used to play with in Toronto, a guy whose sister was a year a head of my in elementary school, and lots of other fun people with whome we made friends.

Gratuitous Goalie shot.

Black won the tournament winning every single one of their games. Jason is the undefeated goalie of this years Canada Israel Hockey Tournament.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hello from Hockey Land

Quick post from hockey land. We got here to find the "Hotel" was nto exactly what we expected. Iti s clean enough, simple- just not exactly what the website made us believe.

The people are nice- seems a lot of Torontonians come out to this thing. No complaints though. It is nice to see some familiar faces.

In other news.

We got slowed up on our way here by a convoy of tanks. Now, tanks can go roughly 80 km an hour (or so I have been told). Apparently, tanks on a truck go a whole lot slower and can slow up traffic for quite a distance.

First time you see this little spectacle you go "Holy Crap! There is a TANK on the road!" The next time it becomes a little different. "Holy Crap! There is a tank on the ROAD!"

I think we might be getting just a little too ISraeli...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

So you want ot boycott Israel

For those who have not seen this

Saturday, January 17, 2009

3 hours from now

3 hours from now Israel will stop defending herself and her southern citizen from the rocket attacks being launched form Gaza.

Gilad shalit is still not in our hands.
Rockets are still landing.
There are NO conditions to the ceasefire.
For the next 10 days, there is no reason for HAMAS not to try to wipe southern Israel off the face of the map.

But at least now political campaigning can begin in earnest... that's the main thing right?

Some things about this country sicken me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Channah's perspective on the war

I tried to speak to Channah about the air raid sirens going off today. She didn't think their was anything unusual with having the class moved into the backroom (also the bomb shelter) before lunch. She didn't even notice the siren.

However she did offer her commentary on the 3 hour humanitarian ceasefire that Israel has been adhering to.

"There was no boom today because the helicopters were taking nap."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Air Raid Sirens

I was walking home from Ulpan today. I turned the corner and passed the Makolet. I was less than two blocks from home when the air raid siren went off. There had been rumours the sirens would be tested for the last two weeks. There had been no warning that there would be a test today.

The next though was how far can I sprint in a minute and fifteen seconds. I figure a full sprint including the stairs, it would take me at least two to three minutes before I could get to the safety of my Mammad (sealed room). Then I remembered that for other cities you could tell the difference between a test and a real alarm by the length of time the siren was on. At that point I had no idea how long the siren had been going for. I decided to pick up my pace and get home as quickly as possible. The siren stopped as I got to my street and I didn't hear a loud boom.

It is now 45 minutes later and I am still in shock from the event. This was just a test. I have no idea how people can handle this happening multiple times each and every day.

Toroto Rally

Sunday, January 18, 2009
1:00pm - 4:00pm
Dundas Square
Yonge and Dundas
Toronto, ON

Bring Your Israeli Flags. Flags and posters will be handed out at the rally.

The students of Hasbara Fellowships, Hillel of Greater Toronto and The Canadian Centre for Israel Activism present

Toronto for Israel

A student led rally that is expected to attract both student and community members in support of Israel.

The rally will demostrate solidarity with the people of Israel who have endured over 10 000 Hamas terrorist missiles and mortar shells from Gaza for nearly nine years.

Torontonians will send a clear and unequivocal anti-terrorism message as Israel continues to defend close to a million residents of southern Israel who have been targeted by Hamas missiles.

The rally is organized by a cross section of univeristy and college students across the GTA through Hasbara Fellowships, Hillel of Greater Toronto and the Canadian Centre for Israel Activism, all representing Jewish and Zioinist students on campus.

The rally is supported by larger Jewish community represented by B'nai Brith Canada and UJA Federation of Toronto

Other sponsors:
Stand With Us, Magen Boys

AEPi International, Birthright Alumni Community, Bayview Glen Day Camp, Beth Israel Synagogue of Edmonton, Camp Biluim, Camp Hatikva, Camp Moshava, Camp Northland, Camp Shalom, Camp Wohanowin, Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, Canadian Jewish Congress, Edmonton Jewish Community Centre, Evangelical Christian Church of Canada, Delta Pi, First Filipino Baptist Church, Hasbara@York, Hagshama, Jewish Federation of Edmonton, Magen Boys, McMaster Israel on Campus, Orthodox Union - Israel, StandWithUs, St. Joseph Worker Churches, Queens Israel on Campus, Young Judea

Aleph Bet Judaica, Bistro Grande, Cafe Sheli, Dairy Treats, Golden Chopsticks, Grodzinskys, Hartmans, Israels, Kiva's, Kosher Second Cup, Levi's Catering, Me Va Me, Miami Grill, Milk and Honey, My Zaidy's Bakery, My Zaidy's Pizza, Oasis Cafe, Richmond's Bakery, Tom's Place, Tov-Li Pizza, United Bakery,Yehudales Falafel and Pizza

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time flies like the wind (and fruit flies like bananas)

Time is just flying by so fast. It seems like only yesterday that we were scrounging to get in the last of our paperwork in order to meet the NBN deadline and make sure we had seats on the August flight from Toronto. It is hard to believe that it has been almost 5 months since we left.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thank You Canada

For having the courage to vote against the UN human rights council. In the end it did not help, but thank you for trying.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

First Israeli Simcha

We had our first family simcha on this side of the world this evening. It was weird to be part of the local to this side of the world portion of the family, but to still not know the majority of the "local" family members. On the other hand, it was great to see the ones we did know and a lot of fun to meet some of the ones we did not.

Channah had a great time playing with some cousins who she is just getting to know. I was informed that one of them MUST be invited to her birthday party next month. I am perfectly okay with that :)

So we had the shbbat part of the Bar Mitzvah yesterday. funny enough it was at a shul right near us. Someone asked if it was our regular shul. we said no as it was too far (as well as not exactly our cup of tea as far as shuls go). They looked a little confused and double shecked that didn't we just live down the street... well, yea, but there are still a half douzen shul that are closer!

The Bar Mitzvah was really nice. Small by Toronto standards. About 50 people including kids for shabbat lunch, and maybe 150 for dinner tonight (plus loads of other people for dessert and dancing after). By ISraeli standards it was gorgeous! Heck, even by Toronto standards it was gorgeous. The music was good, the food was good, the company was great.

Jason actually wore a suit for the only time since we have gotten here (our shul is not exactly a jacket and tie sort of place!) I felt a little underdressed as for dinner it was more "Toronto-like", but once it gor crowded I fit right in.

And Channah looked awesome if I do say so myself. I plopped her in front of the computer and let her watch Care Bears while I did her hair. She got so many complements on her hair. No one could believe I did it myself.


I am having an "I miss my mommy" sort of night.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Smells like Bubbie...

We were out for both meals for shbbat, and for one when I asked what I could bring she said a kugel. Ok, no problem... I have a stock of easy to make kugels that I could make...

But wait! I got a food processor for shabbat with a shredding/grating blade! I could finally attempt a potato kugel without risking my hands and my sanity by actually grating the potatoes (something I began refusing to do roughly around the time Uncle J told me that is how Vira lost her missing fingers).

We made Bubbie C's potato kugel.

Popped it in the oven, then got into the shower. When I got out the whole house smelled like Bubbie's house!

Kugel turned out awesome- but I need to ad da little more onion and salt next time. That is what happens when the directions include instructions like "add some salt and pepper". Great measurements there...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

They call him Meyer and he is the Meyerist Meyer of all...

If you ever hear me telling a story that start with "I have a brother named Meyer" listen up- it is bound to be a great story.

I love my brother. We have not always gotten along, but I think that can be said of most siblings. The older we have gotten the closer we have become. I think that can also be said of most siblings. I really enjoy spending time with him now, and have had the pleasure of watching him grow up into a wonderful and participating member of adult society.

But still my heart leaped into my throat when I found out he was coming to Israel and planned to use my place as a landing pad.

I should not have worried. First of all, I have to say that he was a wonderful house guest. If he ever needs a place to stay, do not hesitate. He ate what we ate, entertained himself, and was great company. He kept his smelly socks out of the living room and even helped clean up after dinner. He knew to be quiet once Channah was in bed and remembered to turn off the hot water heater when he finished showering. He was in town for 3 weeks and did not even ask to use the laundry machine (which might account for the smelly socks).

On the flip side, he was his usual hysterical self. He had our shabbat guests rolling. I can not for the life of me remember what we talked about, but I do know that they called after and told me how much fun they had. Lunch on shabbat was focused around trying to get one of Channah's toys to work propperly. We were all passing the thing around the table. After 3 or for complete circles he finally noticed two button on the bottom. With that him and our friendly shabbat guest engineer managed to get it all back to normal.

He was here for candle lighting the first 2 days and then was off with the program he came with for the next week.

The following shabbat we spend in Yerushalayim. We were staying with my old Bat mitvah teacher (a long itme friend of the families) in the German Colony. Dinner was with my great and and uncle and there family who were all here for one of the grandchildren's Bat Mitzvahs. Funny enough my uncle UJ happend to also be in town with 2 of his boys so it really was a lovely family meal- the first one we have had in a while. Even Meyer managed ot get away for dinner to join us.

I can not believe how much I miss having my family around.

Be that as it may, dinner was lovely (as anything hosted by Aunty R and Uncle H tend to be). It was great ot see everyone. Then the three of us and my uncle and his kids (those that were here) went back to where we were staying.

The house was incredible and perfectly decorated. It was stunning without feeling like a museum. Our hostess and Channah hit it off wonderfully! It was so nuce to see Channah take ot her so well as she is someone who I have always liked as well. We went ot shul with her shabbat morning and were back at her house for lunch and the afteroon.

This week Meyer was back with us for a couple of days. channah had re-warmed up to him and we spent a lot of time laughing (and following the news). It was really wonderful having him here.

We had a great last evening (yes I cried. you should know by now that is just what I do. I cry.) We all took the bus home from Jerusalem together. Channah helped him pack while I checked his travel arrangements and printed his ticket. Got him a cab and he went to the train station to catch the last train of the night at 11:23.

Yeah, except for the fact that I am an idiot it all worked out great! He got to the train station to find it locked and desserted. I had misread the timetable and the last train was an hour earlier. Crap! What now? We ended up calling Lor and Avri to see if we could borrow their car. Jason cabbed it over to their place, grabbed the car and drove Meyer to Tel Aviv. He then drove back and Avri was nice enough ot give him a ride home rather than havign to call for and wait for another cab at roughly 2 am.

I need to learn to read.

Winter in RBS-A

Pictures from on the walk to the shopping area of town- taken Monday.

A Taste of War

The closest I have ever been to war is watching coverage of Canadian troops on television and history books and videos. In the last few years there have been a rash of gang violence not that far from where I lived. In terms of feeling the effects of those battles they might as well been on the other side of the city.

With the war in the South we find ourselves just outside of the front lines. Homefront Command has established a 40km radius around the Gaza strip as the danger areas. Schools have been closed saving countless lives as rockets have landed in Kindergartens and other schools during school hours. Rockets have landed as close to us as Kiryat Gat (35km from Gaza) 20 minutes down the highway from us. My Tuesday Ulpan teacher lives in Kiryat Gat. They don't have any type of bomb shelters in the area she lives. She has relocated to Bat Yam until after the war.

There are some fears that the front lines could be extended to 60km. There are a number of factors that could keep us out of harms way if such a situation arises. If someone has a missile that could hit Bet Shemesh or Tel Aviv, they will be aiming for Tel Aviv. We are up in the Judean mountains. The altitude of the various mountains would reduce the range a missile could travel. We are also surrounded by a bunch of Arab villages. While Hamas would have not have an ounce of regret if it were to hit a village it is not their primary targets. We have closed the steel grate over the window in the Mamad (sealed room). There is not much more that would need to be done to have it completely ready. Unlike the people on the very front lines that have 15 seconds to make it to shelter we would have a whole minute and fifteen seconds.

We can still feel how close the war is. Planes and helicopters regularly fly overhead. There was one night where I could hear a fly by and see the results in the news 20 minutes later. The children not only know the difference between a jet and a plane, they can identify the difference by sound alone. For the first week of the war, all of the noise kept Channah awake. Yesterday the children were enjoying watching the smoke trails the planes were leaving behind.

Yesterday, Channah didn't full grasp learning about Asara b'Tevet in school. I explained to her that it was the day they broke down the door to the gate in Jerusalem. As she was familiar with Yaffo gate it really brought it down to her level. She then responded "Hashem sent the helicopters to shoot the bad people."

We are also in a position to be able to help. We are on the list of places willing to take in people should the need arise. More people have volunteered spots than are currently required. Rachel has been taking care of the website for the big local tzdakah organization offering help. The Matnas where I take Ulpan has been over run by two schools that are busing in kids everyday, so that they can continue with their lessons. Other schools are also taking in schools from the South.

It is strange being so close to the battle lines. I would rather be here, where I can make a difference, than having to deal with such vicious and unfounded attacks focused on Israel from around the world.

I am glad we left

I am glad we left North America when we did. It seems that nowhere is safe for a Jew anymore. Even here in Eretz Yisrael it is not safe- but I believe that it is safer than anywhere else. Here, say what you will of the government, you are going to be physically protected no matter who you are.

I know there are those who read here who do not agree with Israel's policy and war on Aza- and who would gladly blame the rise of antisemitism in the last few weeks on events in the middle east, but I just do not believe that to be the case.

The terror attacks in Mumbai took place before Israel decided it was time to stop the attacks on her citizens. One of the kedoshim in the Chabad house was from Toldos Ahron community. They are not even zionist! Who owns what piece of land is not of any particular significance to them.

The world is not becoming friendlier towards us. A simmering hatred is slowing starting to come to the surface. The hope is it will never resurface completely, but we are already starting to see bits of the old evil.

Walking around Beit shemesh I have met more and more recent olim from France and England who feared for their safety in chu"l. What we are seeing worldwide is not a rise in antizionism. It is a rise in people who now believe they have a loophole to show their antisemetism in the open.

Stabbing doctors? Stoning cars? Banning professors for their political beliefs? Setting fires to shuls? bomb threats to day schools? In Denmark school adminsterators are asking Jewish parents not to enrol their children in the secular school system (for their own safety).

You can believe the protests we are seeing- the thousands who came out in Toronto to protest Israel's stand against Aza- are merely "peace" protestors, but again I can not agree. What do many of the signs say? Sure I am sure a lot of us saw the sign about someone hating "Juice", but we all know what it was supposed to say. Not "I hate zionists". Not even "I hate people who I beleive took land they did not have a right to". No, it sais they hate Jews. All Jews. You. Me. That child whose kindergarten in Sderot now has a whole in it's roof. That man having a big mac who barely remembers he had a bar mitzvah. All of us.

You may think you are exempt. That you are different. But history has shown us that we are a hated and tormented people. And the cycle is rising again.

So stay safe. Watch your back. Watch your front. Watch your sides. If you are down south watch the skies.

Come home now. come home while you can.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lema'an Achai

This letter is real. It appeared on the local Beit Shemesh list by a man who is known to hold this position. This is a really helpful organization, backed by everyone we know. There mandate is to help anyone within the borders of Beit Shemesh- and evacuees running to us count.

For those who have been asking what you can do or how you can help- this is it.


We Need YOUR Help!!

Over One Thousand Two Hundred Shell-Shocked Kids Are Coming Here Tomorrow!!

They have been rocketed, and shelled out of their schools and homes
throughout the South of Israel - and are heading up here by the busload.

From Ashdod, Kireat Gat, Ein Zurim, Shomreya, our small
town of Bet Shemesh.

They're coming here, because we have the privilege of being the first
town out of Hamas missile range from the Gaza Strip.

And let's face it, Bet Shemesh has a national reputation for
pulling-off grand-scale prize-winning Relief Operations: from the 2nd
Lebanon War (1000 Refugees for 30 days), which received national
citation in the Ben Gurion University Lebanon War Report, and from
our relief programs for the Nine Thousand evacuees from Gush Katif
during the years 2005-2008.

An amazing team of charities, local and central government, and many
many individual volunteers are opening and manning the Community
Centers, squeezing the capacity of Schools, and somehow working their
socks-off to have food, shelter, educational and recreational
activities for all these kids, from so many places and cultures....

And we ain't seen nothing yet... because this number is due to rise
to beyond Two Thousand kids by the end of this week.

Plus FAMILIES. They are already arriving, in packed cars and buses....

If you think this all sounds rather overwhelming, now put yourselves
in MY shoes.

I'm the volunteer Chairman of Lema'an Achai.

Lema'an Achai is the local charitable organization which has
spear-headed all these programs, in parallel to our daily work of
aiding impoverished local families in Bet Shemesh.

Lema'an Achai is bankrolling this whole War Relief Program. For
thousands of kids. And untold numbers of adults. For an UNKNOWABLE
period of time....

Today, we have 20,000 NIS ($5000) in the bank for this, from small
private donations received over the past few days.

I am looking at a cost in EXCESS of $100,000 (that's what the 2nd
Lebanon War Relief Program cost us; the Gush Katif program cost $200,000).

Unless YOU help me out, I will have to tell our logistics people to
turn these kids *back* to the bomb shelters, danger and the terror of
Hamas Missiles.

Please therefore help now by doing these three steps:

1. - and please donate generously.

2. Pass this email on (ONLY!) to family and close friends, your
community email list, and specific organizations who may be
interested to help this zero-waste, grass-roots, immediate, practical
War Relief program.
IMPORTANT: Please add YOUR personal recommendation to the top of this
email. "I know of Lema'an Achai - they and this Project are FOR REAL,
and I have given to them myself; please do the same"!!

3. Most Important Of All: Please mention our brave soldiers who are
now in the Gaza Strip, in your prayers. For the safe return home of
all our boys.

Thank you,

More Ways to Donate:

USA Tax Deductible: "US Friends of Lema'an Achai", PO Box 532,
Oceanside, NY 11572-0532, USA.
UK Tax Deductible: "British Friends of Lema'an Achai", c/o Nava
Kestenbaum, 96 Rigby Street, Salford, Manchester, M7 4BQ, ENGLAND.
Canadian Tax Deductible: "Shaarei Tefilla Charity Fund", C/O Murray
Shore, 31 Marwill Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3H 3L2, CANADA.
Israel Tax Deductible: "Lema'an Achai", The Lema'an Achai Center,
40/7 Nahal Lachish, Ramat Bet Shemesh, 99093, Israel.
By Phone 24/6 Donations Hotline (Hebrew): 02 99.999.33

To Volunteer Locally: Hotline Ezrat Achim: 02 9999822
Bet Shemesh Municipal Hotline: (Ms Shula Erev): 02 9909845

SMALL PRINT: In the happy event that the war finishes, and any funds
remain, they will solely be used for helping families in need.

David Morris, Chairman
Lema'an Achai - It's All About Caring

Direct Tel: +972 2 9997107
Office: +972 2 9991553
Fax: +972 2 9997027

40/7 Nahal Lachish
Ramat Beit Shemesh,
99093 Israel.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pro Israel Rally at Beth Tzedek

Yesterday in Toronto there was an Anti-Israel rally that brought out over 2000 Anti-Israel protesters.

On Thursday January 8th from 7:30-9:30 pm there will be a city wide rally in support of Israel at Beth Tzedek. 1700 Bathurst Street between Eglinton and St. Clair.

Please do not use the comments section of this entry to debate what the IDF is doing in Gaza. I live to close for comfort and am doing everything I can to help over here. Please do likewise if you are at all able.

If you know someone here, you are effected.