20 September, 2009


As you can imagine, the most popular question I've been asked is: "how was Israel?".

Even though I've been asked approximately 14,000 times, I still don't have an answer. Like "what was your favourite part?", there is no real answer to that. How do you sum up two years into one thing, or one word, or one conceptualization?

I saw this video today, and I think it gave me an answer: Israel was moments.

I'll write a proper post later, and talk more about my return to the US. I've spent the last month travelling, visiting friends and family; it was only yesterday that I returned to DC and my old flat. I'm still waiting for it to hit me that there's no return flight to Tel Aviv...

06 September, 2009

If a kidney falls in the woods, but no one hears it...

About a week ago, a Swedish tabloid published a story that IDF soldiers were harvesting organs from Palestinians that they had killed and selling them to Israeli Jews on the black market. It was all over the Israeli press. The Israeli government condemned the article:

"This is an anti-Semitic blood libel against the Jewish people and the Jewish state. The Swedish government cannot remain apathetic," said Israel's Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

"We know the origins of these claims. In medieval times, there were claims that the Jews use the blood of Christians to bake their Matzas for Passover. The modern version now is that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers use organs of Palestinians to make money."

Three days ago, CNN publishes a story interviewing an Israeli man who illegally sold his kidney in the US for $20,000. American authorities arrested a Hasidic Jew accused of illegally trafficking kidneys to recipients in Israel and the US for the past decade.
"...law enforcement sources said Rosenbaum had been the centerpiece of a kidney-for-sale operation, which he called "United Lifeline," that operated extensively for nearly a decade.

The donors and patients in this network were linked by one common theme -- they were Jewish. Investigators say the donors usually came from Eastern Europe, were mostly poor and willing to sell their kidneys to U.S. and Israeli patients."
The twist, related to the first article, is this:
"Prosecutors in the West Bank (sic) town of Nazareth sent nine Israelis to jail in 2007 after uncovering a black-market ring that was buying and selling organs.

Gilad Ehrlick, the assistant district attorney for Israel's Northern District, said he was shocked by the case. Secretly recorded conversations showed that Arab and Russian newspapers were targeting low-income Israelis and Palestinians with ads saying there would be payment in exchange for providing a kidney."
Interestingly, nothing in the CNN article made the Israeli press.

14 July, 2009

The beginning of the end

"The saddest things in life are separations and deaths."
-Jenseits der Stille
In the therapy process, patient and counselor broach the subject of the end of treatment a few sessions before the last session. I'm finding that this approach works well for real life, too. I don't know what it says about me that it's taken me this long; at 28, I've moved over a dozen time in my lifetime. You'd think I'd be an expert at "goodbyes" by now.

A month ago at the Machon, I attended my last staff meeting. I always liked the staff meetings because, between the spoken Hebrew and the ISL, I could understand most of what was being said. This meeting, though, they opened with a goodbye: mine. The director of the Machon, Yael, briefly went through the work I've done with them for the past two years and said a formal "thank you". Then they gave me a 3D book of sights of Israel, which is awesome except for the page with the tank which is kind of frightening cause the barrel of the tank comes out really far and you kind of feel like it's going to take your eye out.

The nice thing about this goodbye, though, was that it wasn't really a goodbye. I was still in Israel for the better part of a month, and still coming into the Machon regularly. But it started the process and got me really thinking about leaving, and what that means: how do I maintain ties with people, what more do I need to get out of my time here, what have I already gotten out of it.

I got my haircut for the last time at the French barber shop. I chatted with my barber and told him I was leaving. He made me promise to come get my haircut there when I come back to visit. I visited with my friend Dvora, a CODA and author, and she said she was really going to miss me when I went back. It was hard to even begin the process of leaving.

And here I am in my last week. The goodbyes are continuing, some harder than others. I have to say that I'm glad I started the process so long ago; it makes the insanity of the last week that much easier, both practically and emotionally. Not to say that I'm leaving scot free; there has been plenty of angst and heartache as I say my final להתראותs to people. Not "goodbye", just "see you later".

I owe Dvora a lot for, among other things, starting me early on the "goodbyes". The sadness of leaving and the excitement of returning to the US are almost more than I can stand as it is now. But that's just the way things are. Sometimes life is just sad כך, and we muddle through it best we can.

09 July, 2009

Next it'll be separate water fountains...

Pool Boots Kids Who Might "Change the Complexion"

More than 60 campers from Northeast Philadelphia were turned away from a private swim club and left to wonder if their race was the reason.

"I heard this lady, she was like, 'Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?' She's like, 'I'm scared they might do something to my child,'" said camper Dymire Baylor.

Jaffa pool restricts entry of Arab residents
Jewish neighborhoods' committees find original, controversial way to deal with violent incidents by local Arab pool goers by restricting their access to facility for one day every fortnight.


You know, if people put half the effort into solving the problems as they do to blaming each other and writing nasty comments on these articles, we as a human race could be way past this. This is 2009, right?

05 July, 2009

A picture is worth a thousand words...

There's a big brouhaha in Jerusalem right now over a parking lot that the city authorized to be open on Shabbot. The ultra-Orthodox have their knickers in a twist because it's another business open on Shabbot. The seculars are up-in-arms about the ultra-Orthodox being up-in-arms because there is a huge parking problem in Jerusalem, especially on the weekends (it goes hand-in-hand with the huge housing problem in Jerusalem, but I digress).

Yesterday was the second (or third?) Shabbot wherein a large group of ultra-Orthodox protesters got together and made a scene/rioted/set things on fire/attacked police. And, while I respect them for standing up for what they believe in, I'm more annoyed by their complete disregard for the desires or viewpoints of everyone else. Them and the settlers. But I digress again...

Anyway, this picture was from last weekend and it just made me laugh. If they're going to be obnoxious and make my life difficult, the least they can do is provide more pictures like this:

Leaving Israel in less than two weeks. Still getting things in order, finishing up projects, starting up other projects and generally pretending that my leaving isn't really happening. Hurray for the power of denial!