Sunday, May 31, 2020

Let’s Change

Years ago, when I was first married, an older man showed up in our Phoenix synagogue one Shabbat morning with his son in tow. That son was a young man of about twenty, thin with rather long, unruly hair and wearing sunglasses. As a way of making him feel welcome he was called to the Torah to recite one of the blessings before the reader began his chanting. It was at this point the young man caught everyone’s attention. Overcome with emotion he began crying.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Torture Device or Privelege

The first time I saw someone wearing tefillin was in a photograph. A black and white image it had come from relatives in Israel and I was horrified. I was all of eight years old and, in my ignorance, thought the leather straps looked like some sort of torture device.
My father, who had worn tefillin as a teenager, wasn’t home to explain that those straps were not the least bit painful. My mother, who’d had as much exposure as I’d had, was frustrated by not being able to make me understand that tefillin was part of my Jewish heritage.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Liberating Shechem: Re-posted in Honor of Jerusalem Day

Everyone has a story and living in Israel I feel as if I am surrounded by human history books. The gentleman in front of me in the bank, the woman sitting next to me on the bus, the man leading the prayers in the synagogue, and the lady processing my forms at the health clinic can most likely tell me the most spectacular tales. A prime example is Rabbi Yitzhak Spatz, a mild-mannered teacher who has taught several of my children, and continues to be a valued member of our community giving Torah lectures, leading prayers, and helping to make sure the synagogue runs smoothly. Rav Spatz has many tales to tell and one of the most interesting is how he helped liberate Shechem during the Six Day War.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Tears at Kotel

Forty-eight years ago I saw the Kotel for the first time. As I stepped onto the plaza the tears started.

My plane had landed just a couple of hours earlier and the tour bus had taken us, a bunch of American college students, from Lod Airport (as Ben Gurion was originally called) to some spot in Jerusalem. We followed our guides through the maze of an Arab marketplace and down some steps and there it was. The Western Wall. For years it had been called The Wailing Wall and on that day the old-fashioned name was more apt for me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

My Father’s Israel Independence Day

My father never had a burning desire to live in Israel. When, in !933, his mother knew they needed to leave Germany, America was always their focus. Yes, she had two sisters who had settled in Palestine but they were struggling. Her brother-in-law, on the other hand, had come to The Golden Medina before World War One. He made his fortune, had connections with a Congressman, and managed to get my father into the United States in 1937 with one brother coming six months later and the rest of the family coming after The Kristallnacht.

America didn’t have a more loyal citizen than my father and he often said to me, “America took me in when I had no place to go.” He believed that a good Jew supported Israel financially but wasn’t even interested in visiting the Holy Land. It was only in 1975, because my mother wanted it so badly, that he agreed to a trip to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. It was a good vacation but he probably had no intentions of making a return trip.

Remembrance Day in Israel 2020

When the siren sounds at eight in the evening I stand outside alone. I light the two memorial candles and think of last year, before Corona, when I sat in Shilo’s sports stadium. With me on the crowded bleachers were my husband, son, and grandson. Three generations witnessing that the Nation of Israel lives on. Next to us were the father and younger brother of murdered Baby Yehuda, proof that terror and war will not break us.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Not Praying For Normal

On March 12th both my husband and I needed to be in Jerusalem for only an hour. For various reasons we decided to just jump in and out, skipping going to the Kotel as we usually did. Five days later we were planning to return to town for an appointment at the Ministry of Interior in order to renew our passports. We could have nice, leisurely prayers at the Western Wall then. Or so we thought.