After Israel

Location: Long Beach, California, United States

We moved to Israel thinking, rather naively that it was our true home, but after many months of trying to assimilate, learn the language and seeking employment we were forced to face the TRUTH! Israel is a bit backward, they still tend to mix religion with government and they are gravely biased by the belief of the Ultra religious who make it difficult for secular, everyday Jews to get along.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Israel at War

Sinat Chinam …Baseless Hatred

Yesterday was a cloudy gray day here in the US on the west coast we didn't see any sun until well after three in the afternoon. As is my custom I went in the afternoon to the market to get some fresh vegetables, and other things I needed to make ready for Shabbat. The lines were long, people were crankier than usual and just as I finished my shopping and got in line behind a half dozen or so other shoppers to wait to check out and old man got in line behind me. First he complained to the lady in the next line over about the price of things and how the price of gas now is driving up everything, then suddenly the lights in the huge grocery store went out…so the scenario was like this, no lights, no air conditioning, no checkout working, and no way to open the doors of the store to let those who simply wanted to leave to do so.
After several more minutes listening to this old man go on about everything being so awful I couldn't take it anymore…" Mazieh, ze an akol beseder!" I stated it with as much vehemence as I could muster. Seeing that I had his attention, I changed to English." First you complain about the prices, and the gas, then you complain about the cost of living and the expense to eat, no one forced you to come out shopping, it was your choice. You should be grateful to go to a store where there is too much of everything, you should be thankful that you can afford Strawberries at $3.00 a half pound. You are making the rest of us miserable just with your complaints!"
" Bah!" he shouted at me, " I suppose you are going to get your food with welfare stamps that I pay for with my taxes. Look at this crowd more than three quarters of you aren't even citizens of this country. I served in two world wars! God only knows where you all come from, but in my book you don't belong here!"
"I have friend living in a war zone, without enough to eat, and barley getting by hiding every time the air raid siren goes off praying that the target isn't them! You have no right to complain!"
"Dirty old bitch," he shouted at me, "You should go back where you came from you and all the other black brown and tan people, you and the Jews"
That did it, another lady my age ( in her sixties) with two grandchildren in tow turned on him too, " You think I am not a citizen" she shouted at him," My husband served in the Air Force, our kids were born on Army bases, just because I have on an apron and look Hispanic doesn't mean I am automatically illegal!"
From the next line over a very stunning African American woman spoke up," My great-granddaddy was a slave, he worked his way to freedom so that we can have a good life, and he struggled every day for seventy five long years to make certain we knew the value of freedom. Something you sir don't know!"
"Damit to hell" he shouted, you all are just leaches on our society." Why when I was a youngster none of you would have dared to shop in such a store. We wouldn't have let you!"
By this time the doors were working on the generator and he walked away leaving his cart in the line. Good thing because there is nothing worse then a bunch of ladies of color who are angry! He might have had to fight another war right there and then.
On the way home it set me to thinking, this is the month of Av, it’s a time when we reflect on things lost, and Sinat Chinam…baseless hatred. There is a lot of that going on in the world today, baseless hatred, it's taught to little children in many of the countries of the mid east, if someone doesn't act, talk, dress or worship exactly like you then you must hate them. In some places little children are taught that it is a great honor to blow yourself up with others around you if you take the lives of those who are " not like us". Most of the wars in our modern world are fought over baseless hatred. Think about it?
There is an old saying that if it "squawks like a duck, waddles like a duck and has feathers like a duck …then it must be a duck!" Now if you are a hunter in the Midwestern United States that means you can shoot it during hunting season, and if you are an Arab Extremist and it's a Jew that also means you can kill because you hate the Jews. What a very sad commentary on our world that we can't get to a point where we accept that we are all human, created from the same gene pool, brought up out of the same murky quagmire of the ancient primordial swamp! There are geneses of human kind, like there are of plants and animals, all of us walk up right on two legs, all of us have five fingers and develop dexterity with them, we all are able to reproduce and feed our young on mother's milk. Somehow we must begin to get a grip on the facts that the world is doomed if we humans can't clean up our act.
As long as there are grumpy, bigoted old men in supermarket lines who think that the rest of the world would be a better place if there were only whites, or Aryans, as long as the Jews see the Muslims as "different, or less than" as long as humankind keeps placing tags of acceptable and unacceptable on other human beings there can never be peace!
The mid-east tensions continue to rise as I write, who knows where this war will lead humanity, into the end perhaps, if there can't be peace in the mid east soon than there may be another third world war, quite possibly this will be the war that ends all wars…and where did it all start? Sinat Chinam…baseless hatred!
I intend this next portion of my writing to challenge you as an individual to try to come into a space where you can think about all the baseless hatreds that you know of in your own little circle of life and once you identify them try in the best way you know how to set them right. I have in Israel a dear friend who is in a town in the north where the bombing has been intense…she wrote an article about being on a rollercoaster into the end of times and how until everyone on that roller coaster could find their code for the button in their hand the rollercoaster would continue on its course of destruction. There are prophecies in many of the world greatest religions that speak to the times that we are now in, and it would seem that everyone of us indeed has a part to play in the slowing down of the roller coaster, that we all have the power to make change right where we are, right now and that if we all worked very hard on doing that we might be able to cause a slowing of the escalation to world war that we are in.
Peace isn't any unattainable goal, there was a time when there was peace on this little blue planet, when the seas were new and pristine when the animals and birds and other creatures were not endangered, a time when there was everything we needed to live, but we humans, who are supposed to be sentient beings ruined that.
We, like the little old man in the supermarket line couldn't see that we were blessed, we wanted more, we became acquisitive in our nature and we began to take that which we did not need…we stole from nature, the waters, the trees, the oil, the minerals and precious stones, we made big mistakes thinking that this little blue planet could last forever. Now we are on the brink of destruction such as man has never known before, one slip of the finger, one nod of the head and the big guns some out and here we go World War Three.
We Jews are a hopeful people, we cling to life even when there are those set on extinguishing that life, the Christians all love life too, so do the Muslims, and other religions of the world, now if ever this is the time for us all to come together in Peace and love, learning again to trust each other as human beings. Never doubt that what you do in your own little circle to make peace can't help the world, it can! If each of us finds just one person with whom we can make a bond and if we turn out attention to the things that are all the same in both of us, forgetting our difference, we can stir the waters and make the ripples flow out from us to touch others. Time is of the essence right now, we have no more time to fight among ourselves, no more time to be bitter and hateful, dishonest or unjust! If Peace is every to come to this planet it will come because enough of us in our own small way try to make it a reality where we live!
I was thinking yesterday of the old Eagles song "In a New York Minute everything can change!" That is the minute we are living in, the minute when we switch the channel and suddenly there is the bomb no one wanted to see ever again in life…the bomb to end all bombs. Then it will be too late!
Think about this, do you know a Muslim, or a Jew, or someone of another culture or another faith in your neighborhood? Have you tried to make friends with them, do you know their names? How about reaching out of your comfort zone just a little, what about the strange old lady who sits in the back pew of the church and always leaves before coffee, why not catch up with her and ask her to stay, get out of your comfort zone and reach for someone who seems unlovable, stretch as bit and go over to the neighbor and ask how they are doing.
If we don't all start trying this whole mess in the Middle East between Israel and Lebanon could become Armageddon, the place where they are fighting at the border in the north of Israel and the south of Lebanon is near Megiddo, the very place where the prophets said the war to end all wars would be wagged. I have walked there with my husband, we saw that ground and it made us tremble, to see how the war is being fought right there is a frightening thing! "In a New York Minute, everything can change!"
We sentient, conscious human beings need to make ourselves heard above the roar of this war, we need to stand up and be counted as trying to make change before it is too late.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Israel at War

As the days pass and here in the US we scavange for any bit of "real" news of the town in whci we lived, I finally came to despair somewhere in the night last night! I woke thinking I heard air raid sirens, it was only an ambulance passing by our street, fitfully I returned to a disturbed sleep, I woke again thinking I heard bombs in the was only thunder.
Finally I moved from the bed to the floor at the foot of the bed, not wanting to disturb my husband who had worked hard all day in terribl heat! There I lay for several hours, in the darkness I heard crying, Israel crying for her children, my face was wet with my own tears...tears for the friends still there in Tzfat, tears for those who had fled leaving behind their lives not knowing when they could return, tears for the children I had seen being disembarked from an Nefesh b'Nefesh flight with their parents earlier in the week in Jerusalem! I wept thinking of the dream Theo and I had of living in Israel, home of the Jews. And then I stopped weeping...a sense of quiet crept over me. Not the quiet of peace, but the deeper quiet of understanding.
Yesterday while surfing the net I found a wonderfully well written piece by a private journalist who went to Tzfat to see what was happening to that ancient mystical city, he wrote from his heart, about the destruction, the lack of people in the street, his disappointment of wanting to visit a Shul and being told he could stand in the doorway, his sorrow over a small dog who was being held by his owner, poor pup a victim of the shelling of Hezzbolah.
My thoughts spun round to Theo's and my experience there in Tzfat, we had believed that we would be welcomed, we found that we didn't fit in, we couldn't go backwards in time to obey all the myriad and sundry man made rules that we faced if we wanted true acceptance from a community, a shul. I thought of this sentences from someone whom I consider a friend there in Tzfat; " Those not affiliated with shuls, we don't need to worry about, for the most part. Not because we don't care about them, haz v'shalom-G-d forbid. Only because they were the first to flee. Boy, they were out of here before I could blink. " Again the tears ran down my cheeks, because the truth is people who are not affiliated are dispensible, through away folks, like the unwanted deformed or crippled children of India. Had we still been living in Tzfat I am certain we would have been amoung those who fled, we have children, and four beautiful grandchildren here in the US, and three great nephews, family, when we decided to leave we thought we would never come back here, we thought we would call Israel home, but that didn't happen. We love the country of Israel, the idea of a country where because we are Jewish we belong, but we didn't belong in the place where we wished to live. We were misfits!
So we are here in America and in the dark hours of the night, I cry and pray and ask for peace in the mid est, and I don't cry or pray selectively, I weep for our brothers and sisters in Lebanon...Yes! our BROTHERS AND OUR SISTERS...remember Abraham had two sons, one the father of Jews the other the father of Muslims...I pray for all the injured and frieghtened on both sides, and especially for the children.
THere on the sheet on the floor last night in the quiet that comes when a person is all cried out, I realized that the people of that part of the world are much more alike then they are different...both the religious Muslims and the religious Jews are loathe to accept anyone that isn't exactly like them, the ultra religious on both sides are hateful, unkind, and prejudiced peoples. They shut out systematically anyone that won't adhere to their idea of "religious behaivor".
Isn't it a terrible thing that while the war rages on, the TRUTH is that as long as the religious fanatics on both sides continue to exist there can be no real, no lasting PEACE! Isn't it a sad statement on our modern society that we continue to cling to fanatic religious beliefs that seperate us more quickly than WAR! If there is ever to be a true and lasting PEACE not just in the middle east but throughout the world, mankind while have to reinvent religion, we will have to come to some understaning that G-D just is and Religion in all it's varying forms is man made as a toil to control and manipulate people, to make them feel seperate, apart from and in many case better than "OTHERS" much like "those not affiliated with" and after that you could add the names of many of the worlds greatest religions...Catholisim, Judaism, Muslimism and all the others too numerous to list. Point is Israel is a Jewish state, but if that is true than it would be accepting of all Jews regardless of their "affiliation or non-affiliation".
THis war is not just about two soldiers who were kidnapped, it isn't about the age old battle for land, it isn't about occupation, is about HATE! Yes, HATE...the type of dislike that causes one group to believe that they are somehow better than another group, the type that is taught from an early age, and becomes a part of a persons belief system, it is about the inability to see that we are all HUMAN, that the death of an inocent Lebanese child, or Israeli child diminishes us all...yes ALL of us are merely HUMAN!
If there is ever to be a true and lasting world peace we must come to understand that we all live here together...we are one world, not many and we are all resposible to each other, not just to those who are like us!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Reflections on Israel

Israel, no Freedom, no Liberty, no Justice
Here in the United States yesterday was the official Birthday of our nation, nearing three hundred years the country is a youngster in the shadows of older and more established nations of the world, but she stands head and shoulders above most. Ours is a unique nation, born out of a need for religious freedom. At first we totered and stumbled our way along as most nations do, but we put forth a lot of effort right from the start to set down rules and laws that would be of benefit to all of our people, we didn't hesitate to write a constitution or Bill of Rights to ensure the freedom, liberty and justice of our people. We took in the homeless and the wretched of other countries, those suffering persecution, or lack of religious freedom and somehow the peasants of England, Spain, Portugal, Austria and many, many other countries came to America to seek a new life. The immigrants became citizens of what we now call the United States of America. When I think back to where I started my life, on the rough seas of the Atlantic Ocean on the deck of a vessel filled to over capacity with what was left of the Jews after the second world war, I smile to myself. Survival is everything! For a kid who was born with no hair, no eyelashes, no toenails or fingernails, into a family where there was no inheritance except our Judaism, I think I turned out alright, I grew up strong, proud and intelligent!
As many of you know who read this blog monthly my husband and I returned to the United States in November of last year, so this is our first fourth of July back in the old US of A. We are wiser now than when we left, we see things in a different light now! We left these shores beliving with our hearts, souls and minds that we were going to live in the place where we belonged! We had dreamed of this time for years, planned for it , for long years it was hidden away in our hearts, a desire we longed to fullfill.
It still astounishes us to think that Israel is fity years old, and she is still so unsettled! She is a country that was still born, she came about for all the right reasons, but somehow, somewhere in the construction process the ideals of those who were planning a place for Jews to live for all time were lost. She fumbles along like a crippled child, not able to stand on her own, and caught in a trap formed by Zionism and the Ultra Orthodox that will forever keep her disabled. What a shame that such a beautiful nation cannot seperate religion and state in a satisfactory fashion, how terrible that at fifty years old she still has no Bill of Rights, no Constitution. Worse are the fact that she can't support herself without aide from other countries, mostly the US. In the fourteen months that we lived there the entire country was shut down for a total of 144 days out of the possible 365 that everyone could have been working. Israeli's stop for every Shabbat, a total of 36 hours from two in the afternoon on Friday until Sunday morning at 9 AM, and for other religious holidays of 5-10 days at a time, everything must stop...the grocery, the bank, the buisnesses, the USA if we shut down that many days in a year we would be bankrupt by the middle of the 365 days!
It saddens us too that Israel is now again at war with Palestine...yes I agree they shouldn't have taken a soldier hostage, but think about it. The country of Israel has held Palestine hostage for the last 50 years, trapped inside their borders they became persona non grata for all of the mideastern world, their Arab country men didn't want to take them in, and Israel shut them out so efficiently that they became sub-human.
On a day like the fourth of July one's mind always turns to the great strides this country has made in her history. We came from a few hundred settlers to millions, we saw women become equal, blacks be given full rights which should have happened sooner than it did, we fight prejudice and bondage where ever we find it, we defend the defenceless and yes, sometimes that has meant going to war in a place far from home, but we kept growing and through it all we have become a great nation. Ours is a country where Freedom is the right of every human being within our borders. We have brought democracy to a new level, and liberty was bought at a high price for us, no one handed us a nation and said here, make it yours like NATO did for Israel!
What will it take for Israel to realize that she is becoming a nation where there is no freedom , no liberty and no right some of the founders of the modern state of Israel were, who warned the government against letting the religious become too powerful. If a country is formed for the betterment of all people of it's nationality than it must have laws that protect all Jews, not just the ultra religious or the Orthodox...if a country wants to become a light to other nations than it must defend the right of all it's citizens, even the Muslims! Christianity and Catholisim, were already well established in Palestine before Israel was made a state, the Muslims were once in the majority there as well...the largest problem of the nation that my husband and I left is inequality! Yes, Israel wants people to populate the country, but they truly do not want anyone who is anything but ultra Orthodox!
So this Fourth of July here in the US, I spent a lot of time thinking about why we didn't make it there in Israel, and unfortunately I could find only one true answer...PREJUDICE...yep, yesterday as I ate my good old American hamburger with cheese I was very grateful, not just for the food which I could eat as I pleased, but for the freedom and the liberty and yes the justice of our nation. If anyone out there reading this blog wants a reminder about truly how great it is to live in a nation where you can choose what to eat, what to wear, where you work, or what you do with your life just email me and I will give you a hundred or so reasons why this old country of ours is truly great!!
Yesterday was a great mix of sadness and expression for me, I really felt what a joy it is to live in a nation where religious freedom is assured, and in the evening when the echoes of the fireworks filtered up from the beach I felt a great wave of sadness that far away in another land there is not such freedom, there is poverty, unemployment, hatred, prejudice and war all as a result of a nation's inability to grow into a democratic state!
Today on the way to my teaching position I was listening to the grand music of the National Orchestra as played at the Ford Theater last night in celebration of the USA, and for the first time in many years I felt a swell of pride hearing the Star Spangled Banner...America the Beautiful and yes, even God Bless America...Israel is not the only country with a G-D who watches over her, and perhaps, just perhaps the Jews are not the only people upon whom God bestows blessings. Maybe if Israel were more gentle, more kind, more open to the possiblity of growth and change, maybe if those who live in the confines of the rules of centuries past, burndened by rules of Rabbis long since gone from our sight, maybe if those humans could step into the light and see that all human kind is a creation of God and that we are created equal...maybe then the world would turn its face toward Israel and we all could have PEACE!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Inconvient TRUTH of June

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
So the month of June marks the half way point in this year, and what a year it has been so far, more natural disasters, volcanic activity on the rise, storms, plagues of animals and humans, death and destruction from the forces of war and of man's ignorance of the value of all human life still make the headlines of the news here and abroad every day.
With the turning of the year on its calendar axis my husband and I have made our final decision about Israel and the possibility of returning there...sadly with a depth of understanding that we now have we have determined that we will not go back! We hear from many of our friends there that the town of Tzfat is blacker than ever, (if you recall that word is not in reference to the color of one's skin but a reference to the ultra religious style of dress). Just this morning I had a wonderful call from a dear friend and learned that they are moving too, as are many of the people we knew there. This dear friend and her husband have spent long years in Tzfat, but she said to me, "It has become so ultra religious, so crazy, they shout at us when we drive in the streets on Shabbat!"
I wonder how Moses would have dealt with this predicament of the religious fanatics! More than that I wonder how in the modern world we can ever overcome the years of mismanagement of God's word! The problem seems to me to loom large right at this particular time, man over the centuries has taken the words of the prophets, the words of the religious leaders of ancient times and twisted them until they resemble those little spiral colored pastas that are used for salads!
Recently with the advent of the motion picture, "Da Vinci Code's'" popularity and the furor over the book, " Holy Blood, Holy Grail," it has become even more evident that mankind is in need of something new in the way of spiritual leadership. The movie gives us a glimpse into the hidden side of Christianity and it's various forms of manipulation of God's word while the book, "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" gives one of the deepest investigations into the man-mad God person who is known as Jesus the Christ that I have ever read, it revealed things that I never dreamed might be true but had always suspected, it also revealed the devious way in which man distorted the word of God in order to suit the needs of the church. Within its covers are revealed deceptions and deliberate distortions by those in power in the church that make Watergate look like a day at the kiddy park!
It seems to me that what we need most in this modern age is a God/Man connection that is personal, real and not based on any of the teachings of the various religions of the world. It seems that humans are seeking once again for a spiritual life ring that doesn't come with all the trappings of manmade religion, something that puts us in touch with our own souls and the force that connects us all not only to God and each other but to the planet we live on and the other living creatures that inhabit it with us.
This past weekend we had the sheer pleasure of seeing the movie, "AN Inconvient Truth" by our almost president Al Gore. Here is an example of a man who set out to do one thing, become president and when that didn't work still found a way to tell the TRUTH! It is an awesome and distinguished piece of film, one that makes clear that unless we all decide to change and become conscious of our actions and how they affect Gaia, Mother Earth as we know her will die, and many of us will die with her. This film is a must see, it gives practical wisdom for dealing with the issues of Global Warming, but for my husband and I it was more than that. It was another sign that somehow, there must come into this world a new understanding of God, the Creator, and the Author of the Planet called Earth...
A new understanding of our place as humans in the hierarchy of life on this planet, and a greater knowing of our power to aide the planet in her struggle to survive what mankind has done to her!
As a social worker I spent a long time learning about children who are abused, and when I saw this film I was reminded of the signs of abuse that we were taught to look for. Guess what! If we as sentient human beings were being watched by some social worker in the heavens we would all be in jail for the way we mistreat our child...! We have polluted our air, fouled our rivers and seas, decimated our forests and neglect the health of the entire earth. We are negligent to the extreme, in another few years there won't be enough fresh water in many places and the drought that plagues certain areas will have encompassed half the globe causing more starvation that we can deal with.
I expect that whoever or whatever God is, God is crying, possibly God has even forsaken us, left us to our own defenses because of the lack of our sentient intelligence! We were given an ability not given to the animals; we are sentient beings capable of change, capable of learning, capable of knowing wrong from right!
We need to get hold of that spiritual life ring I mentioned earlier, we need to seek our beings to their very core, and to find within ourselves the connection to that spiritual place where we awaken from our apathy and begin to take account of our actions. We need to rectify what we can, and to change how we look at the world, not just the planet and the ecosystem, but the inhabitants in all their varied forms. We need to wake up from the stupor imposed on our brains by years of teaching in the various religions to which we belong and begin to shake the tree! We need to ask the hard questions of our leaders, both spiritual and secular; we need to seek TRUTH until we find her in that most unvarnished, unchanged form that she is! We, each one of us, must step up to the bat with one thing in mind, hit a grand slam right out of the park, don't be a sideliner, don't sit in your barcalounger with you beer and watch expecting others to do it. You and YOU and YOU and I must all make a change, we must step forth as seekers on the path, we must question everything, we must make personal changes, walk or ride a bus...don't drive everywhere, eat less, use less energy in your homes, your offices, smell the roses, clean the sidewalk, water that tree in front of the apartment building that belongs to the city, don't sit there and idle away time thinking that one person can't make a change!
Speak out on subjects like Global Warming! Speak up and ask questions when you hear something in your religion that seems wrong! Ask the hard questions until someone answers you. Educate yourself on the state of the world, on the state of the people of the world, on the state of the animals and planets and fishes and wildlife! Read, get involved! GO out and tell a friend that you are seeking TRUTH! And when they ask why, tell them that you recently woke up to what is really going on in the world, and that you would like to share what you know with them!
Take nothing for granted! Life is precious; Life as we know it is short! Without change the world as we know won't exist in another 50 years! Each one of us has a responsibility to change, to wake up from the slumber of apathy and to begin to seek TRUTH!
Don't think that anyone has all the answers; don't be satisfied that because your Minister or Rabbi, Mullah, or Priest went to seminary they KNOW EVERYTHING! Seek out and read the new facts that are being exposed on a daily basis about the world's religions, her governments and her environment!
Search for knowledge and when you find a gem share it with everyone who will listen!
Our President today did an astonishing thing! He put himself in harms way to meet face to face, eye to eye with the new leaders of Iraq, he acted on his TRUTH! We should all be as brave as to act on TRUTH! We should all care enough about the rest of the world that we want to look them straight in the eye, that we want to work with them toward something better!
Ignorance of the TRUTH makes fools of us all, we must not take for granted that we know all there is to know about anything, most especially about God. Keep in mind this one fact...all religion is man made, God just is, and if we seek hard enough, if we succeed in scraping the scales from our eyes and listen well enough to that small voice within we may just find that connection to our spiritual self that is so vital to the days ahead of us and the survival of this lovely little blue planet we in habit.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Truth's Graden

May comes and as always on May day somewhere in our world there are demonstrations by the workers of the world. Here in the US it is the immigrants, legal and illegal, who marched yesterday. As in years past May always brings a renewed hope of a world where everyone is equal, spring stretches herself out across our North American continent and parts of Europe...and things begin to bloom.
In our city new flowers appear with each new day, we see that spring is definately coming, the fog of the coast here encapsulates us and we know that summer can't be far off . Last year this time I was blogging from Tzfat, Israel where the almond blossoms had come and the hills were dressed in the most beautiful display of color I had ever seen. I was still clinging to hope for a life there then, but as time wore on and it became evident that we were not going to be able to survive without employment the hope gave way to determination and I began to look at the city we lived in with new eyes, to really see what was about us, to notice that there was much wrong in this place that needed to change.
I read each day all the news from Israel, and I am currently following a terrible story about a young father, full of anger at the fact his son was born defective, who in a moment of lost consciousness, killed his son. He ended the childs life by throwing him against a wall, he admitted to this act to both police and social workers at the hospital. That young man is now out of jail, on house arrest in the home of his grandparents...why? Because the Rabbis of the Edah Haredit community caused such a protest over his arrest that the law gave in! One article states that the Rabbis want this death looked on as a 'Mercy Killing". In my mind this is not right, this is an abomination, for religious people to think that this is ok is even worse! I have a stack of comments near an inch high along with all the news clippings of this incident sitting here on my desk, and I see that I am not alone in being outraged over this incident. My husband, on the other hand, was quick to point out that this is a fine example of what happens when anyone, any human being allows a fanatic point of religious view to fog over their mind. He adds that it is a great example of how the ultra religious, especially the fanatics gain control in any situation.
Having just passed through the religious rituals of spring, and there are would seem there is at lest one for every single religion in the world, it makes me pause to consider whether religion in and of itself doesn't cause ones mind to atrophy spirtitually! When making our decision to leave Israel to work back in the US again, we were also fraught with the need to examine really what it was that we believe, and to articulate that to ourselves in such a fashion as to be able to really be truthful. We had infact to experience a spring of the spiritual sort, we examined what parts of the religion we had followed blindly for many years, really had meaning in the modern day world. We delved into the depths of our hearts, reaching indeed down into our souls and we turned over the old earth there just like a gardener turns his garden in the spring. What we found astouded us, we could see clearly that the point of most religion is control, control over what ones spiritual knowledge is, or isn't as the case might be. We kept at it long after we left Israel and were back here in the US, and we still revisit this new garden of ours daily. There are some really astounishing things growing out from our self examination...we see clearly that the fanatic religious and ultra religious of Israel are in Truth no different than their Muslim counterparts, we see that fanatics can rise up out of good spiritual ground and that their presence amoung those who believe are like the presence of weeds amoung the vegetables! We had to come to grips with the fact that life is not intended to be a constant struggle, and that knowledge of the spiritual was not intended to be fenced in, we recognize that even though religion as such serves a purpose in the world that what the world really needs most now is TRUTH! Not any new messiah, not any new religion with the rules and regulations which are intended to halt personal growth, but simply TRUTH! We have come to a deep understanding that we are spiritual beings, with the need to grow, to gain from this life all that we can, and that if we are contained and constrained by the rules of man made ritual and religion, we can not do what we were intended to do here.
Not surprisingly we have begun to fertilize and cultivate this new garden of spiritual growth and we are finding that we are much happier people than we were when we tried to live within the confines of our religion, we are infact growing and becoming more of who we were intended to be every single day. We had always been very aware of Truth as a vehicle for growth, but we are now more acutely aware of the need to share that Truth with others. We look at things that happen in the Israeli news now and we see clearly why we couldn't fit into that rigid model of religious beliefs, we had already grown beyond that when we went to Israel, we had already seen what happens to the spirit when it is entrapped by the teaching of men concerning religion.
Consider this, who are you outside of your belief system? If you are a practicing Jew, are you only the sum of your Rabbis teachings? If you are a Catholic, a Buddhist, a Muslim are you caught in the trap of another human being interpretation of what you believe? Are you able to step outside of your formalized religion and articulate what it is exactly that you believe? Are you able to do this without restraint? If not then you are a captive, as surely as a slave is captive to its master, slaves are not allowed to examine what they believe is Truth outside of what their master teaches them. Do you want to spend every spring of your life doing the same rout ritual, without examining whether or not it holds real meaning for you as an individual soul, or do you want to grow and strech and reach for the sun as a flower in a garden does? Do you want to know TRUTH? If you really do then you must take time to decide whether what you have been taught by your religion is helpful to your life.
I should like to leave you all with this one thought: A life wasted is just that, a life with no meaning outside of what is subscribe to it by those who wrote the religion in which is is held captive, TRUTH is simply that...TRUTH, to know what is spiritually possible for yourself you must be willing to til the garden of your soul, and to plant there the possiblity that what you have been taught to believe may not be all that there is! The process is not easy, it was painful for us to come back to the US, but the spiritual growth that has happened because we made the hard decision and examined our belief in light of TRUTH has opened the gates to a garden so beautiful, that no one human beings interpretation of it could describe the magnificence that exist there.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Passover...Ahh the lost dream!

The first corner of this year turns and we come to Passover, last year during this same week before the holiday I was astonished at what transpired in Israel in preparation for the Pesach. Today as I sit in a neatly furnished modern apartment in Long Beach I recall the hustle and bustle of 'Kosher Preparation' of 2005 in Tzfat! It was unbelievable to me that people could go to such extremes. Using a blowtorch for example to clean the pipes in bathroom and kitchen "just to make sure the house is pure". I guess what bothers me most looking back on all the discoveries that my husband and I made living in Tzfat is this...if Kosher is equal to clean...then why was everything so dirty, and how could cleaning the impossibly unkept just for Passover help!
Terribly complicated rules apply to Passover in Israel, and in fact they were so complicated that we were not even invited to a seder with any of the religious because we might have contaminated their seder, we were however invited to a non religious and secular seder which proved to be fun and hours of waiting to eat, no reading of the Haggadah until the wee hours of the morning, just a nice time for recalling why we celebrate the holiday at all and sharing how we felt about the condition of Israel.
Life should be sweet, and simple and not contracted by the requirements of the Rabbi's, and the laws which are man made. Passover was intended only to remind us that once we were slaves and we should neither allow that condition to overtake us again, nor should we allow it to overtake any other human being! I look back at my life and the places where genocide, imprisonment and slavery have happened in this world and it makes me want to shout from the roof tops! NEVER AGAIN!! Not to the Jews, my people, nor to the people in Dafur nor to any other living being on the face of this earth! If I could look at the holiday of Passover and see that because we remember the bitterness of enslavement we have changed things in this world I would feel pride. However, this is not the case, we stop briefly in the spring of every year and we recite the prayers, follow the traditions, eat reclining and do a million other acts of rememberance but all of that has not changed the fact that in this world there are millions, no perhaps billions of souls who are NOT FREE! I listen to the news each morning and this morning again there was a reminder of the fact that we haven't changed anything...human kind even though sentient hasn't learned how to efficiently change the human condition.
If the efforts at cleaning that take place in Israel during this period of the year was extended to an every day affair it would be a sparkling, shinning star of a place, with white streets, no garbage anywhere, clean houses and people who were clean as new born babes! Alas, alack! The poverty, the stench, the garbage in the streets and the depression of the land continues...and so does the lack of empathy for their fellow human beings.
For fifty years the Palestinians have had no place to call their own, no piece of land, no country, and for the most part no dignity! ENOUGH! It is time for a reconciliation of humanity. How dare we sit down to 'celebrate' our freedom from slavery when we have been party to the virtual enslavement of other human beings. I realize that there are those who truly believe that the Palestinians, and in fact probably all Arabs are inherently evil and bent on the destruction of the state of Israel, but I would ask of you this question, how would you react to first losing your land and then being encamped in incredably harsh circumstances, deprived even of the right to basic human needs? Don't you think that after a time you would begin to hate those who imposed such conditions on your people? Don't you know that those who survived the camps carried hatred for their persacutors? How can we ever hope to come to Peace in this world if we are not able to self reflect and see that the actions of one section of humanity towards another causes hatred. If this passover holds any meaning for me as a Jew it is because I have seen with my own eyes, and witnessed with my husband the effects of hatred. When we sit at our seder with our family, we will talk about the conditions of the Palestinians and the faces of hatred that we saw on the Jews of Israel toward those human beings, we will reflect on how the conditions in this world have not changed, and we will speak about the awful fact that little Israeli religious children not yet in school are taught to hate anyone that isn't exactly like them, we will share with any who will listen what it was like to be in a country where we should have felt at home and to have no seder because we were not 'kosher enough'.
As we observe this feast of our coming out of slavery we must remember that many places in the world there are still people who are slaves, the little children in China who work for pennys a day in horrific conditions to produce praoducts that we Americans clamour for; the people of many of the countries in Africa and South America who are mistreated and abused by corporations who use them for mass production of products for the greedy first world countries, we will remember too the faces of the Palestinians and the Arabs of the rest of the mideast where the common man or woman is no different than us...we are all human, and it is that humanity that must speak to our hearts on this occaision, we were given a consciousness to know right from wrong, good from evil and as has been said many times before by many famous men and woman...
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing!"
So I challenge you as you come to this season of Passover, and the good Christians among us come to Easter, please remember that all humanity is sacred, all of us! It doesn't matter what we believe, or how we look, or the color of our skin...we are all HUMAN, and the death of any one of us touches the others no matter whether we realize it or not. The circles of life in the world are varied, the fact that we have the means and the intelligence to change should cause us to take action against hatred, if we only care for ourselves we are but dust, nothing more than that. It is when humankind reachs out to each other that things change, not when we build walls or erect fences, not when we declare another less than ourselves.
When you walk down the streets of your city on the holidays of this month trying looking at everyone you meet straight in the eye, the banker, the teen with the tacks and tattoos, the mailperson, the officer in uniform, and the bum on the corner ...try to see their humanity, not what they appear to be or who you surmise that they are, look beyond all of that to the human being inside, and if you dare look even deeper perhaps you will meet anothers SOUL!

Addendum: 4/20/2006

Since this blog caused my email to flood I should like to add a simple note here.
After days of emails, most of which applauded my strength and ability to say what is difficult about my beloved country and 5 emails that were very angry or hateful towards me, and what I have written, I should like to say TRUTH is simply that, the TRUTH and when someone points out a fault all of us react the same way, defensively. However to all of you who wrote to say positive things, I thank you. To those of you who wrote to me of your own pain over Israel ,I would say I hear you and I understand, especially to the women who have written who are in abusive relationships in Israel I would like to send courage, don't let the men in your lives hurt you any further, and when the Rabbi tells you to 'stay put and shut up', do your very best to get you and your children out of harms way!
To those who had some very hateful and angry reactions to what I write, I would remind you that each man/woman lives their own perception of life...and to the one person who threatened me openly I would say...guess what I sent a copy of your email to the proper authorities in Israel, even though I doubt anything will come of it.
I have responded to each of the emails if I felt that it was safe for me to do so, and in any case where I felt a woman or her children might be at risk if I responded, I did not respond.
Thanks to all of you even those who protest, as I take that into consideration when writing and will use examples of these in my upcoming book.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

March...Searching the Soul

This month is well on its way into the past and it has brought with it surprises a plenty, too much water on Kauai in the Hawain Islands burst a dam and flooded a once peaceful place; we hear everyday of how much worse things are in Iraq; the bird flu spreads even as scientist rush to find some vaccine which might stem it's path if it mutates to human form...and of course they are divided in their opinions of whether or not it can actually mutate to that state! We hear of wars, and death and destruction almost on an hourly basis, and even Israel is on the brink. We hear of children shooting other children and people making horrendous mistakes in judgement, the worlds weather is out of sink and it would seem so are many of it's human inhabitants!
Last evening I did my very first radio interview on Beyond the Ordinary, It is a wonderful talk and music radio show on the net!(Http:// ). The ladies who put it on the air are fantastic, I had emailed to say how nervous I was but when the time came the frieght that I felt while preparing completely slipped away in the first five minutes and so I let the Truth roll out for the world to hear! Gosh, I hope they were listening! Because this old world of ours could use a heaping spoonful of Truth! It never ceases to amaze me that people have two very definate reactions to hearing Truth, eaither they listen with their heart, inteliigence and soul and think about what is said, or they recoil in fear and suspicion, clinging to their safety zone believing that it isn't so. The first reaction I always attribute to those who are awake, aware of the worlds condition, accepting of the fact that we are all human and thus equal, and of course those who are spiritually growing; the second I know right away that people are asleep to reality, that they have been dulled by the sensory input of our age into a lethargy from which they can not shake themselves, they neither want to know the Truth nor do they want to take responsiblity for not knowing it and being oblivious!
We are sentinent beings, our brain allows us to reason, to know right from wrong to recognize the helpless among us, to learn to appreciate the sheer beauty of this earth of ours and all of its varied life forms. I wonder though how many of us Humans really know that we are here for a purpose? That we are each a very unique individual with a gift or maybe many gifts that we should be sharing with others. It gives me pause when I think of the enorminty of speaking on the web, the fact that the cirlces of the net reach clear around our world, and come back to meet themselves where they started...think of it! Even if you don't broadcast, what you have to share is important, what comes out of our mouths is life itself. When we speak the words have powers that we do not realize, the power to heal, to help, to share love, to ease pain, or to do harm and injury to the hearer, to subvert the Truth or to pour it forth so that others may know, to teach, and to spread anger, to make change or to cause fear of change! We, the sentient Humans have so much power, if we all only recognize what we are capable of doing we could make a huge difference in how the people of this planet feel about each other, if we would only stop to recognize our Humanity, and that all of us are really the same, if we could take away the masks that are our faces, and be only what is inside of us...spiritual beings! Think about it for a moment, not one word that is uttered ever dies! Each word once said can not be retrieved, those who hear us will remember, and as long as that is true we should be constantly aware of the impact of what we say! I hope that when I spoke last night those who heard me were not injured by my speeking, but I know that what is Truth must always be shared or we are negligent of our duty to our fellow human beings.
I have been asked back to the show again in April and already I am shuffling through the piles of research in my files to prepare, to go to the next level, to be able to share more of what I know. My husband sat quietly in a chair near me for the last half of the show and every once in a while he would grab his book and jot down something that I said, later he shared with me some of the quotes he had taken from me, I was humbled by the reality that many times it is my soul who speaks with such eloquence and not really the human I am, I was honored to have been able to share and in that sharing I was also aware that our Humanity is often frail, and sometimes unable to deal with the hard realities of life, it occured to me that I should be mind ful next time to also share the spiritual side of Israel, and indeed of my own life. When very young it came to me that we are sent here with a purpose and that to live that purpose is what this entire life is about. Our souls each have their own inprint of what we are suppose to accomplish, but how many of us realize that we are here to serve a divinely given purpose? Think about it, did you ever feel the soul in you respond to some situation? If you have had this feeling, this knowing, did you respond to it? There was an incident that touched me years ago, high on a canyon wall in the Dells of Wisconsin just as the sun set I was privileged to be visited by the spirit of the Eagle, a real live Bald eagle swept down and sat staring eye to eye with me for what seemed an eternity! I have never forgotten that incident, it is as vivid as I write this as if it were yesterday when in reality it happened nearly 42 years ago. I was grieving the death of my first real love in life, my friend who had been lost in Viet Nam, and that Eagle gave me a precious gift that has remained all these years...Peace! Not just a peaceful feeling but a deep, satisfied Peace which penetrated my very soul and has rested there eversense. I call on it when I have worries, or doubts or when I have seen too much of life's pain and become disillusioned!
I wanted to share this with you so that you might begin to think about the times in your lives when something like this stirred you! It is essential that those of us who are awake are also in tune to our souls speaking, that we listen not just with the ears of our physical selves but that we listen with the ears of our souls, it is our duty to be warriors on the way, to speak Truth and to utter words that stir others to want to know that Truth. It is our purpose to share what we know so that others who are not yet awake may waken from their slumber of lethergy and begin to look around them at the state of this old world of ours! Together many can make change, but even if you are the only fish in pond who is making a splash it still counts! Make the biggest splash you can right where you are because the circles that go out from you don't end until they have encirlced the earth and returned to where they began!
Wake up from your slumber those of you who are sleeping, rub your eyes and listen to the heart beat of Humanity, Be Aware, Speak Truth ! Join with those of us who are warriors on the Path and together we can change the world!