Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oh What a Crazy Life it is!

As many of you may have noticed Nate and I have not been posting very much lately. We apologize for this, but we promise we have a pretty good excuse. It all started about three weeks before Passover when we realized we had no idea what we were doing next year, had no where to live, and no income coming in, and we had to figure it out ASAP. As many of you know in about two weeks we managed to get answers to all those questions: we got a job at Yeshivat Shvilei Hatorah, a post high school seminary for boys. We are now the new dorm parents for the school, our title being Av and Em Bayit (father and mother of the house). This job involves living in the dorm building the boys live in and being an emergency resource for them after hours, when the Yeshiva is closed, creating a positive environment in the building for the boys, and being the boys parents in their home away from home. The job also involves some teaching, Nate will be running what is called a Chaburah (a study group of 6-8 guys) for an hour and a half a day four days a week and he will be helping to coordinate the evening classes. Further on Thursday nights from 7:30-12:15 Nate will be helping to coordinate learning programs and one night a week Nate and I will have a few boys at a time over for dinner where I will lead a Torah (Bible) based discussion. I will also be the one who brings little treats, such as brownies and cookies, to the study hall for the boys to have a snack with, and I will be making sure, along with Nate, that at the Thursday night learning sessions they have a kiddush (large snack) prepared for them.
This job obviously provides us with an apartment to live in in the boys dorms, we get a salary, and it involves moving to Jerusalem to what is called the Goldstein Youth Village, a very quaint little village for youth programs.

In addition to this Nate and I, as many of you know, are making Aliyah (becoming citizens of Israel). Getting the paperwork together for this took a large amount of time, and we are just now finishing up on getting it all together so come August 26th when we land, we will officially be Israeli. Further I applied, was accepted, and am now in the process of accepting the invitation, to attend Hebrew University, Rothberg International School, for the next two years. I will be studying to get my masters in Community Leadership and Philanthropy Studies.

In addition to all of this Nate and I have had the amazing pleasure of having both sets of our parents, and my brother and grandfather, here to visit us. Nate's parents came first over Passover which was absolutely delightful. We had Passover Sedar to which I contributed a bit with my cooking, with the Fein Family's very very close friends, the Ben-Or's. It was very interesting for me to be at a seder other then that of my parents since I had not ever been to another, for as long as I can remember at least. Of course with this came the sadness of missing my own parents seder, but at the same time I very much enjoyed being where I was. We also did some traveling to Herzaliah, where I had never been before, to go boating and meet some of the Israeli scouts Mom and Dad know, and up north to visit the cousins. It was very nice and we were very happy to get to see everyone. Our favorite part though, we have to admit, was to have Mom and Dad Fein here in our home for the last day of the holiday, to give them a bit of insight as to how we live our lives. We know that they come often to Israel, but where we live and how we lives is very different then what they usually see when they are here, so we really appreciated them allowing us to share it with them. We really hope they enjoyed their stay as much as we enjoyed having them.

Exactly 44 days after Mom and Dad Fein left, during which time we were still finalizing details for next year, my Parents, Brother and Grandfather came for a visit. I have to say that as much as I enjoyed and loved having Mom and Dad Fein, having my Dad, brother and especially Grandfather here was the most absolutely amazing experience in Israel yet for me. This was their first time ever coming to Israel. (My mom, who I of course also had missed very much, had been to Israel previously) To watch the excitement in my dad's eyes as he just absorbed everything he saw, to see the amazement my grandfather expressed at the beauty of everything around him was truly a gift I felt G-d had made just for me. I loved showing them everything I could, although it was not nearly as much as I would have liked to show them due to the constraints of time, and I loved how after seeing each thing they would spend hours talking about after. After living here for a year I have started to take on the Israeli mentality of loving where I live, knowing I am surrounded by amazing things, but becoming numb to it; for these past two weeks, that was 100% impossible. I know they are all planning to return which makes me so much happier because I can not wait to show them more of the country.

I also saw a new side to my dad that I really loved, while he was here. My dad has always been the one who brings the discussion of Torah to the table, he is the one who starts it and the one who proctors the debates. I also always knew he went to the classes at their synagogue, but I never went with him to know how important these classes truly were to him. While he was here, I saw my dad stay up for a full night just learning Torah at Nate's school, I sat with my dad as he had discussions with people learning to be Rabbis and truly challenging them to think, and I really got to see the passion my dad has for Judaism and learning that I am sure deep down I knew existed, but until now would not have characterized him as. My dad tells many people that the reason he learns Torah and the reason he is so passionate about Judaism is because of me and my brother, but Dad, now it has become the reverse, I learned over these past two weeks a new level of passion for Judaism and Torah from you! Thank you for that!

Yesterday my parents left for America, which is why today I can sit down to right this post. I hope that you all accept my excuse for not writing for so long, and understand that our lives have been a bit overwhelming lately. We will try and be more on top of it now, but who knows what direction life will take us. We hope all of you are well and we hope to see many of you soon when we return for a visit to the states in three weeks.

Be Well!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Syrian-Israeli Peace?

Recently it was announced that Israel and Syria have been having diplomatic relations through our mutual friends Turkey. Most of the world hailed the developments has a break through, clearing the way for peace in the Middle East. I, however, am a little more pessimistic.

There a a few things that I'd like to show why I'm pessimistic.
1. What would we gain? The status quo with Syria is peace. We don't fear Syrian attacks like we do from Hezbollah or Hamas. At best this treaty would give us another number to chalk up on the board of countries with diplomatic relations although I do have to admit there is a possibility that Hezboallah/Hamas would lose Syrian support, but that isn't good enough to give up the Golan.

2. The Golan. While people like ex-IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz say that we could live without the Golan Heights, since artillery is not as important as it once was (the threat coming more from rockets than anything else). It is abundantly clear to me that high ground is just as important as it once was and will continue to be. In the event that there is a war or terrorist bombardment from the Golan it would allow them to easily hit cities like Tiberias, Sfat, Afula, etc.

3. All this is a facade to remove the discussion of the indictment of our dear Prime Minister due to bribery and fraudulent election donations.

4. The Syrians said that Israel offered them the Golan in return for peace. The problem is is that most Israelis have actually been to the Golan (unlike Gush Katif) and like it. I can't imagine that the Israeli public would support giving up the Golan for relatively little in tangible results (see #1).

5. I find it interesting that the country that is moderating these peace discussions is Turkey. If we remember, back in September it came out that Israel bombed the Syrian nuclear reactor, the country to spill the beans was ... Turkey. Israel flew through Lebanon into Syria and out through Turkey without tripping any alarms and what happens? The spent fuel tanks land in Turkey and that's how the world found out. To me it seems that these two events are connected.

The Jerusalem Post recently reported "The diplomats said Syrian atomic energy chief Ibrahim Othman told the Arab delegates his country could not open secret military sites to outside perusal as long as Syria and Israel remained technically in a state of war." The IAEA wants to go into Syria to inspect, but now that Syria is limiting the inspections the world will start putting even more pressure on Israel to accept Syrian terms (give up the Golan so we can go check out more nuclear sites).

Guess we'll have to see how this plays out, but for all these reasons I really don't think that now it an appropriate time to make peace with Syria.