Thursday, November 11, 2010
Yuvi was born and raised at Kibbutz Ginosar on the seashores of the Kinneret along with his four brothers. I recently had the privilege of hearing about a few of their youthful escapades as kibbutzniks and fishermen.
Yuvi is a ‘rock artist’, but not the ‘rock ‘n roll’ kind. His work is out of real stone found in the area. A particular carved stone of his is only one that makes up the Peace Arch as you enter the hotel at Nof Ginosar. He refers to it as ‘the Family Book’. This is one of the stories he related to me:
My father and mother grew up on Kibbutz Ginosar. When they married, a woman gave my mother a pair of white doves which represented their marriage. Everything about our family life is written in the book. (SCULPTED INTO THE STONE: Two doves are engraved into the stone at the top. A book is open and a man and woman are kneeling within it. The photo is of the practice run before the finished product.)
It was very important to my grandfather that everyone spoke Hebrew. Seventy or eighty years ago people did not speak Hebrew in Israel. Jewish immigrants came from Germany, Romania and other places in Europe mostly. They brought books with them in their native tongue or yiddish, so my grandfather wrote a book in Hebrew. He gave it to the people to learn Hebrew so eventually they could communicate in Hebrew.
But when he met with the people, they told him, “We have no money for bread! Why are you bringing us a book?” So he said: “Okay, the book stays here and I will return in two months so we can talk in Hebrew.” Gradually, the people learned Hebrew and slowly more and more people talked together in Hebrew.
This is the story in my grandfather’s book, and that’s why its engraved in the stone of my parents’ lives and is one of the foundation stones in the Peace Arch.
II. MY BROTHER BENI
Yuvi introduces me to his brother Beni who is driving a tractor and playing a harmonica.
Beni is my older brother and he is in charge of everything on the Kibbutz. He takes his harmonica with him all the time to play music. He just came from playing music for the children, and he likes to make people happy.
We like to dance Israeli dances on the Kibbutz and Beni used to play all the different musical instruments at the dances before tapes and CDs came along.
There is an antique tractor displayed on the Kibbutz but the one Beni gets around with on his daily rounds is even more antique.
III. ROCK ARTIST APPRENTICE
ESTI is from Poriya and she is learning to sculpture the rock.
I come every day. I just cannot stop. I told my child I can work here 7-9 hours a day and I don’t feel tired. I don’t need to eat; I don’t want anything. Every night I just wait for the morning to come.I have the freedom to do everything that I want whether I fail or succeed it doesn’t matter.
Right now I want to make many butterflies. At first, when I started to make a butterfly, it becomes something else. But that’s what is so magic about the stone. You think you want something and suddenly in the middle the stone tells you a story and it becomes what’s inside.
If someone were to ask me if I’m a ‘stone cutter’, I would say ‘no’ because I’m a writer and artist. I also create from ceramic. And now I can’t leave the stone alone.
IV. ROCK ART AT KIBBUTZ GINOSAR
As a rock artist Yuvi wants to leave behind a legacy of his civilization so that in another 2000 years archeologists will be finding rocks that endured the difficulties and traumas of years between now and then.
He believes there is a story within the rock and when it is handled with care, the rock will reveal its hidden identity. The artist may start out with one idea in mind, but the end product will be something totally different. Every sculpture of Yuvi’s has its own unique personality, and usually has a little humor in its character.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
You get to meet a lot of people at the roadside pitstops which are few and far between in
Children are never bored between the food, playground and camel rides.
Speaking of camel rides! It can be very hilarious to observe parents and grandparents attempt to mount a camel, and even more humorous to watch them ride it. Kids adapt well as the imagination takes them to the place of freedom, riding a camel in the hot desert wind.
But I could certainly understand why the camel would take flight and run into the open dunping the rider into a pile of sand on the desert floor when I heard the alarming squeals of a woman as she shrieked: “Ima-leh! Ima-leh!” I mean give me a break! That would terrify any animal even of the mildest nature! (SAVTA SHOSH from Ramat Gan, with her grand-daughters, Lia & Dolev)
But all too soon, tourists ascended back onto their buses and left for parts unknown. Well, maybe not too soon to please the vendors and the camels who just want a siesta break from the noonday sun.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Gemma's succah was full and overflowing with friends who came for her annual spaghetti dinner at Succot 2010. One of my demands was for her to sing a few of her childhood favorites which she grew up with.
This was Auntie Alma's first time to visit Gemma's succah even though they have been friends for some time. They met at their favorite spa in French Hill, Jerusalem. For her participation in the evening's event, she sang one of her favorite childhood songs.
THIS OLD MAN DAVID BEN REUVEN
David is really not that old but the song he sang is about an old man, Paddy-whack! David brought along his guitar to Gemma's succah and sang a number of songs while everyone else ate all the spaghetti. His music added a little more flavor to the evening and evidently to the food.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Families came in buses, loaded vans and private cars as young kids and old kids unloaded the vehicles and hurried to the activities which awaited them. The last remaining building of the abandoned IDF Army base Adurayim may be in need of a lot of cleanup & repair but all this did not deter the crowd of adults who crammed into the meeting room to hear VIP speakers: Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba, MK Professor Aryeh Eldad, Yehuda Glick.
Young children gathered to paint a banner of the Temple Mount provided by their dedicated art teacher, Yehudit Eisenberg. Each of them really take serious their part of the painting! I drooled over the banner trying to come up with a plan to get it into my Succah, but in the end I surrendered and let it go to a much larger cause.
The older kids – well, they just went wild over the SUMA wrestling as they battled it out for the place of #1 Suma Victor. Believe me! Suma wrestling can get ‘purty ruff’! Especially, when the battle to be in first place is between brothers.
Everyone in between got plenty of exercise on the inflatable slides, climbing walls and just bouncing in mid-air. But in the end, not only the children who participated were drained of energy, but also those of us looking on. Okay, you go figure.
Balloonists, Elazar Brandt and his wife Krine, worked hard to satisfy the demand for creative & colorful balloon-wear. They kept up with the demand with a little extra help from Rene Morgulis and her daughter Chaya. By the end of the event, they had designed some 300-350 balloons. Satisfied customers proudly donned colorful hats, or waving swords!
Plenty of IDF troops kept close guard over the place full of activities. When Women in Green provide these special events, there is never had a dull moment for the soldiers who keep watch in the hills. They are never bored as the children surround them asking so many questions. The attention of bright smiling little faces or the boldness of adolescents keep them entertained
The Mussa Berlin family struck up the band and put the men into action as they mounted the children on their shoulders and began to dance to the music, ending the event in the true tradition of Simchat Succot.
By the time came to say “l’hitraot” and part company, kids were exhausted, parents were wilted having used up their energy, yet all separated with joy that renews our strength to enter Shabbat with rejoicing. A small reminder of what Am Israel will eventually be at all times! (Women for Israel’s Tomorrow website can be found at http://www.womeningreen.org)
Monday, September 6, 2010
Rosh Hashana is the Coronation of G-d as King. We accept the yoke of His kingdom, His rulership. A king can only be appointed by the people who endorse his authority. But he then becomes a ‘moshel’ (dictator) who asserts his will over the rest of the people who resist his authority, according to Rav Zev Leff. The following story is an example of the King, the Moshel.
Feivel was a well-known tailor in his community. He had a modest shop, but even the rich and famous came for Feivel’s clothes. Yet, he never made any distinction between the wealthy and the poor for he was also well-liked for his humble ways and his honesty in business.
So, when the King sought out a tailor for a very important event, his daughter’s wedding, Feivel’s fame reached all the way to the throne of the King. One of his servants told the King of how meticulous Feivel was when sewing garments which ranged from tailored suits to royal robes.
Immediately the King sent his royal carriage for Feivel. Feivel shook in his boots at the very thought of an audience with the King. But, at he stood before him, all the materials necessary for the King’s royal rode was brought to him. It was to be white embroidered with colored threads of purple and red. The lapel was to be laden with silver and gold.
In all humility Feivel promised it would be a magnificent garment, truly fit for a King.
In the days that followed, all kinds of people embarked upon the doorstep of Feivel’s shop. His demanding customers said: “:Oh Feivel! You have favor with the King. You have to enlarge your shop! Increase your prices! Hire some help and let them do the work! Then you can relax and take it easy! Do this! Do that! You have plenty of time to do the King’s garment before the wedding!”
Feivel, the humble little tailor, soon turned into a wheeling, dealing businessman. He enlarged his shop, hired others to do the work, and he sat up late at night counting his money. Humility turned into pride and arrogance, and the quality of the work suffered since the help had no experience.
The day was quickly approaching when he was to submit the royal robe to the King, so Feivel hurriedly put it together boasting to himself: “This is no problem. After all, I’ve been doing this for years! I can practically put this thing together in my sleep!”
Once again, he appeared before the King. Yet, it was apparent that he had changed. Instead of the humble Feivel, he was somewhat pompous as he presented the garment to the King.
The King’s face turned red, and he stood upright in a rage! Knowing they were suddenly confronted by a Moshel, everyone in the court fell on their faces, as he bellowed out in indignation: “This is NOT the royal robe I ordered! Do you honestly think I would wear this to my daughter’s wedding? You have even ruined the material, and haven’t embroidered the royal seal into it! The gold and silver has been sloppily set into the lapel! GUARDS! TAKE HIM AWAY!”
Feivel fell to his knees, begging and pleading that he be given another chance! He would work day and night and definitely present the King with a garment that would be the finest ever made in time for the special occasion.
The Moshel calmed down and said he would give Feivel another chance. BUT, he also promised if one little detail was wrong or out of order, off to the dungeon Feivel would go. NOT EVEN ONE LITTLE MISTAKE WOULD BE ALLOWED!
Feivel ran out of the court and down the road to his shop as fast as his short legs would carry him, his peyote and tzitzits flowing in the wind. Once inside the safety of his shop, he just sat down and wept, crying out: “How stupid I have been! Full of pride and arrogance! I had the King’s favor! Now I have the Moshel’s wrath!” After some time, he contemplated on what to do: “I love the King! I want the King’s favor! I will make him the most glorious robe a King has ever had!”
Feivel went to work straight away. Every thread was woven with a fresh humility. The seal was embroidered with the royal colors of purple and red, and each and every precious stone on the lapel was embossed with gold and silver. Soon Feivel had completed his finest garment ever. But he had not done it for his own ego; he had done each and every stitch out of love for the King.
Waiting in fear and trembling, the King’s horsemen came to escort him while he clung to the new garment. He humbly bowed before the King and laid the garment at his feet. Everyone present was silent, almost holding their breath, as they waited for several minutes while the King inspected the garment. They shook in their place pondering: “Poor, poor Feivel! What will be Feivel’s fate?”
The startling sound of the King’s voice broke the silence! “Arise Feivel!” Worriedly Feivel peeked out of his closed eyes as he arose, and was finally relieved as he saw a smile across the King’s face!
“Feivel! You have done an incredible job! It is better than what I even imagined! You are free to go! Let this be a lesson to all! You will prosper in every good work that is done in humility and love for your King and his subjects!”
Sunday, August 8, 2010
But in Biblical times, romance was much simpler. You didn’t even have to buy a dress or rent a hall for the simcha. The daughters of Israel borrowed a dress – of course, it had to be white, and it had to be simple. The rich girl and the poor girl were to look alike since not all could afford the luxury of others. The young women dressed in simple attire so as to break down the barriers of class distinction. In turn, the young men were to focus on the girls’ virtues, instead of outer beauty and prestige of family.
I can hear some of you skeptics: What an imagination! While the suspicious are questioning: Where do you get your facts? And the inquisitive are asking: When! and where! is this happening in Israel? And the hopeful exclaim: I want to participate!
I’m glad you asked! The ancient story is found in Shoftim 21:15-24. The Tribe of Benjamin had been disavowed from the nation of Israel due to their treacherous behavior. When it later became a reality among the other tribes that this particular tribe might become extinct, they came to the conclusion to drop the prohibition to intermarry among the tribes in hopes that Benjamin would be restored. The Jewish people were reunited when the tribe of Benjamin was permitted to reenter the community on the 15th of Av. Then, at a certain time on that date, the young women were all let loose and ran through the vineyards at Shiloh as the young men chased after them in hot pursuit to select their wives.
This date has remained on the Jewish calendar as a minor holiday and has become a popular date for weddings in Israel and in western countries among Jewish Communities. The acknowledgement of this day provides an opportunity to encourage Jews to date and marry within the Jewish communities.
Tu b’Av follows exactly one week after Tisha b’Av and is considered one of the two most joyful of days of the Jewish year even though it seems strange that this gleeful day should follow the day of mourning, which annually highlights the lowest suffering in Jewish history.
The theme of joy and optimistic hopefulness has carried through to today.
The people wept and mourned as they sat on the ground wailing lamentations in remembrance of the
Later, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai’s reply to their questions was: “Now you must bring Hashem acts of loving-kindness for He desires mercy and not sacrifice. Yes, the houses built for G-d are gone, but the Torah says:
ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם
And let them make a mikdash for Me so that I may dwell inside them. Shmot 25:8
The verse does not say inside IT meaning the
Therefore, each of us is actually a living temple and we pray that by acts of loving-kindness we will be able to expedite the redemption of our people,”
Tragic events which occurred throughout the history of our ancestors on this day:
1. The sin of the spies caused Hashem to decree that the children of
2. The First
3. The Second
4. Beitar, the last fortress to hold out against the Romans during the Bar Kochba revolt in the year 135 CE was destroyed sealing the fate of the Jewish people
5. One year after the fall of Beitar the
6. In 1492, King Ferdinand of
7. World War I began the downward slide to the Holocaust on Tisha B’Av
8. The most shameful - Expulsion of 8,000 Gush Katif residents by their own government of their own Land
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Neve Dekalim was Israel’s agricultural homeland. How can you not feel sadness for those living there? The greenhouse and geraniums, palm tress and paved streets – they were beautiful – it took so much time to grow and build, and only a few days to destroy it all.
GRAINS OF SAND inspired me to search for photographs and articles that chronicled the destruction of Neve Dekalim. The photos that shocked me the most were those showing the destruction of the synagogues because they were the spiritual heart of the community.
I encourage everyone to read Shifra’s book. I think they will want to learn as much as they can about Neve Dekalim and what was once a wonderful and thriving place. Shifra’s book is a celebration of her community.
I was fortunate to have chance to ask Shifra some questions. I asked Shifra what she would most remember about Neve Dekalim. She answered: “The houses, the gardens, the brick sidewalks, the sand dunes, the view of the sea in fair weather and storms, the sunsets and sunrises, the rain water rushing past our house, flowing down the hill, the fresh air.”
I started thinking, how could anyone get over this kind of loss?
Could I? Could you?
Elimelech & other readers can be heard at: Readers Discuss the Book Grains Of Sand: The Fall Of Neve Dekalim -- Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9DfQ_4yywc -- Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2Q44W09Dd8&NR=1
(For a copy of the book, go to the author’s website for a list of bookstores: http://grainsofsand.insightonthenews.net/studyguide.html Or contact Mazo Publishers; also a Literature Study Guide is available for the book for free downloading. For more information, contact the publicist at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
After a pep talk at the ‘rally’ from leaders and rabbis, the boys went one way and the girls another way to fields which had already been cleared. This photographer went with the girls and the experienced young man that was their madrich for the day.
At first, both of us were just shaking our heads as we watched with fear and trepidation as the in-experienced girls started whacking away at the ground in the sandals and crocs, skirts blowing in the wind and gold jewelry necklaces swinging freely from side to side. I looked at him and asked: “How did you get this job!” He rolled his eyes, shook his head and patiently walked to the girls and tried to give a few instructions: “You are standing on a field. This is a sapling tree in my hand. You are going to dig a hole. And then we will plant the tree in it.” Easy enough! Right? Absolutely not! Being females, no one was listening and everyone was talking.
But they took to the field with weapons – oh! Excuse me! – tools in their hands, two by two, and started punching the ground, hardly scratching the surface. Anyone knows in Israel there’s nothing but rock under the surface. So, after scratching the surface, everyone was yelling for their instructor to help, yelling at him: “I hit a rock! Come and get this rock out of the way!” They would just stand there in a prissy pose like they were running for “America’s Next Top Model” as he made his way from one to the other digging the hole for them. Believe me! He needed to solicit the help of a whole lot more heroes for this crowd.
This was the girls’ strategy: Two girls stood face to face, one with a pick-axe over her head and one with a pick-axe to the ground on the count of two they were to swing simultaneously. One axe went up, the other went down. And eventually you were to have a good rhythm working as a team. In the midst of all the giggles and the timing w-a-y off, this is where I closed my eyes and just aimlessly clicked the camera button, hoping we would all leave the area in one piece and hopefully NOT in an ambulance or worse.
When this proved to be futile, some of the girls opted to remove rocks from the field, so they tiptoed through the pile of rocks and carefully selected the not-so-heavy ones to throw out. This took more time than if they just rolled over one after another. But what do I know!
Okay, that’s too much for a girl to do, so what’s next? To accommodate giving them something workable, yet easier, a few were told to go to the vineyard which had been planted some time back, has taken root and growing nicely. In that place, they were to remove the weeds. Wow! This proved to be the easiest task of all since Israeli weed roots are only surface deep and don’t grow any deeper because of the rock. Yeah!
As we descended the hill, I looked again across the field of labor below. The girls had taken on a new attitude and were working together with determination. They were applying muscle behind the tools and swinging them with more power. It seemed my perspective from a higher position was more revealing and I thought of Hashem and His perspective of things from His position must be yet even clearer: I smiled as I thought: “Does He see this as humorous as I do?” And for a moment I was comforted by the thought that it really doesn’t matter how much is accomplished. It is the effort we extend to live, grow and develop His Land that He is pleased with.
Gleaners of the fields like Ruth they are not, but these Jewish girls are Esthers, queens in the making.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Buses were full of parents with their kids as we made our way to Adurayim for different activities for children. Others joined from nearby communities so there was a full house of tiny tykes.
It didn’t take long before chocolate was on their little faces, cheeks were bulging with tasty treats. Then, they reclined to hear the story-teller weave a story and dress them up to play different characters.
Elazar Brandt & wife Karina were the ‘balloonists with the most-est’, but the balloons seem to burst more quickly than they could be blown up, especially since some kids took a big bite thinking they were edible.
Hands were dripping with paint as the banner of Israel, designed by Yehudit Eisenberg, unfolded and they began to dibble & dabble. Some put their heads together and worked together in a team.
But it took all to make up a fun day of activities for these precious children.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Among the hikers was a beautiful 18 year-old by the name of Eliraz Binyamin from Otniel. She found a shady quiet place to rest and play a few songs on her guitar before continuing with the youth group on their journey through hostile territory.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I recently took one of my favorite friends home after a very tiring, yet very learned, walking tour of the Old City ending with a visit and shiur of the rebuilt Churva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter.
As we pulled up to the Family Castle, Princess Chaya was at the doorstep to meet us and I was invited in for a tour of grandeur of which I am not accustomed to. During the course of our tour of her new home, she informed me she was not yet sleeping in her luscious bedroom, but camping out downstairs, since the water is not hooked up in the bathroom, and the bed has not yet arrived.
I met several members of the Royal Family, including Prince ‘Mo’ who was shortly off to parts unknown to study. And all the while, I was wined and dined – water, coke & pretzels - by Princess Chaya, who also proved to be the ‘hostess with the most-est’. Before my departure, she sat down at the piano to show off her skills by playing a couple of ‘do-wah-ditties’ she has been faithfully practicing on.
Hats off to the little Princess Chaya who is camping out in a castle!
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Kashering utensils for Pesach
Boiling pots of hot water are found throughout religious neighborhoods for the convenience of certain pots being kashered for Pesach by immersing them in boiling hot water, ridding them of any remains of chametz.
It is customary to search for any remaining chametz the night before Erev Pesach. The custom is called ‘b’dikat chametz’ and is made a big game among the children of each family as they search every nook ‘n corner of the house to remove every crumb. The search is preferably made with candle-light, but flashlights have also been used.
Burning the Chametz
Saturday, March 6, 2010
I have to tell all you young'uns that you never get too old to be a 'kid', and you never get too old to enjoy friends and birthday parties with birthday cake and all the trimmings.
That's what us older 'kids' did in the outdoors on the hillside of Netzer this past Friday. The broadcast went out loud and clear that it was the birthday of one of our most loyal participants and photographer friend, Rivkah Ribak. So, we took up the opportunity to celebrate the moment with her.
I never got the age since there is just some things a girl doesn't tell!
יום הולדת = birthday
מסיבה = party
עוגה = cake
בחוץ = outdoors
לחגוג = to celebrate
גיל = age
מורד הנבעה = hillside
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Kings and queens were seen recently throughout the streets of every city of Israel. Along with them were angels and butterflies. All species of wild and domestic animals were roaming about as the evil Haman disguised himself in numerous garbs trying to flee his ill fate. Megilat Esther is read to remind everyone of the Jews’ victory over evil when Haman was tricked by the beautiful Queen Esther and hung by the King.
So one of the traditional foods to eat in the celebration of Purim each year is אוזני חמן or Hamantashen (Yiddish) = HAMAN’S EARS.
CELEBRATING PURIM WITH CATS/KATZ & FRIENDS
The before-dinner entertainment began with Ori and his father, Akiva, as they broke out into song and dance around the kitchen.
One of the young guests for the evening was 12 year old Chaim Yair who o-o-h-ed & ah-h-h-ed everyone with his juggling performance.
Nine year old Chaggi, 10-year-old Yedidiya, and 12-year-old Michal stepped up to the plate to demonstrate their ability to make use three cups with a bridge of knives braided together for a glass to stand on. It took some time to achieve the feat, but three heads of three brothers put together with determination caused them to succeed in the end.
Ori came up with the bright idea of filling a glass with water and swinging it around without spilling it, and WALLA! He succeeded in not spilling it, but he slung the whole glass of water in his father's face! We all decided the kids need to practice this game alot before they name it "How NOT to Throw Water in Your Father's Face!"
Sunday, February 28, 2010
An event ponsored by Women In Green; The Committee for a Jewish Shdema; Judea Action Committees; Netzer Settlement Group;Yibaneh Fund. See: http://www.womeningreen.org)
This year, celebrants took to the hill of Netzer which overlooks a valley of vineyards and olive trees planted by Arabs with the financial aid of EU and US sponsors. A vast majority of the land has already been taken illegally, but there are still areas which is considered 'no man's land' and is up for grabs.
Netzer means 'offspring' (of a tree) which is not a branch, but materializes from the root. Biblically it is a reference to the 'offspring of David' and is very important to Jews who have returned to the Biblical heartland of Israel, Judea and the Shomron (Samaria). So, we refer to this particular lonely hillside as Netzer.
Grandparents piled out of vehicles bringing along their offsprings who are now moms & dads who brought along their offsprings. Everyone came bearing gifts– trees and grapevines - in appreciation for Hashem giving us the Land.
Although there was such an atmosphere of joy and celebration brought on by our family musician who walked through the fields playing Israeli songs on his accordion, the children were sincere and intent about leaving an indelible print deep in the Land as they dug down into the rocky soil and planted the pardes (orchard) of olive trees and vineyard.
As I observed through the camera's eye, I realized these children themselves are the 'planting of the L-rd' in their own Land, taking root in the harsh stony ground of the Land; their roots reaching down into the depth of the soil where water is eventually found. They are the 'netzer', the offspring of David.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
The almond tree is the highlite of late fall to early spring in Israel. It awakens the soul from its slumber and photographers travel the highways and biways for the challenge of that one shot that creates a unique photo. I took advantage of the opportunity of a morning walk with my faithful companion, Gypsy Roz, through the wadi below my apartment. It has a small stream lined with abandoned almond and cherry trees. Following the heavy rains, everything was so fresh I just wanted to lay in the sun and take in Hashem's creation which surrounded me in my small part of His world before man has the opportunity to pollute it all over again.