August 06, 2014

From southern Israel to Tel Aviv: green and fresh straight from the field


"Thank you very much for your support in these times. We'll be happy to supply you with our organic vegetables straight from the field in better days as well. — Meshek Damari" [an organic farm in southern Israel about a mile north of Gaza]

Meshek Damari, neighboring Kibbutz Zikim, and the region experienced steady rocket attacks the past month endangering lives and hurting businesses. The farmers are thinking out of the box and expanding their market to the country's center. Tel Aviv residents responded to their FB message, buying fresh produce delivered straight to the door.

One of two boxes Dudu delivered to me last night;
one for me and one for Yehudit my neighbor


July 13, 2014

In South Tel Aviv: the shelter of humans

With Philmon Haile in his South Tel Aviv kiosk
I sought shelter from the flaming heat of rockets, missiles, summer temperatures, and vile speech. Visiting my friend Philmon Haile, an Eritrean asylum seeker, in his South Tel Aviv kiosk (cigarettes, phone cards, popcorn kernels, costume jewelry, condoms, sugar, earbuds, shampoo) brought compassionate, gentle, human warmth. And updates, laughter, and a meeting with the lovely Helena Woldu. (A Californian Celtics fan, the Eritrean-American is doing research for her University of Maryland bachelor's degree.) Sitting in front of the sweetest golden cocker spaniel on the bus home extended the warmth. 

While composing this post, sirens wailed, sending me to cover till hearing the distant boom sounds of  the Iron Dome antimissile system intercepting missiles. All clear, till ?

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May 16, 2014

Listening to "Voices of Eritrean Refugees"

Last night, above a vegan restaurant in South Tel Aviv, I watched a real-life horror documentary in a gallery packed with Israelis, internationals, torture victims, the film director, and local aid organization workers. If every person would watch the prize-winning "Sound of Torture" maybe — just maybe we might shift from blaming terror victims to bringing to justice dictators, traffickers, and extortionists, and holding responsible individuals, governments, and organizations worldwide for stopping the living hell. In the film, I witnessed how cellphones are lifelines between rescuers and captive-hostages, and that rescuers suffer traumas, too.

You hit a dog in Sweden, and you go to jail for six months. And here I listen to people being tortured every hour. And the whole word is watching, doing nothing.  (Meron Estefanos, Swedish-Eritrean radio broadcaster)

May 06, 2014

Today, Israel is 66 years young

The Israeli flag flutters on mountain-like cranes

Dear Tamar . . . It is said that you have to pray always. If you don't have time than you have to write the prayers on the flag and hang on top of the mountain. Every time the flag flutters the prayer is spoken itself. This will bring peace and happiness to all the souls both departed and alive, your community, your neighbour, and your country.
With much respect, Tulasi Ghimirey (June 25, 2010)

Happy Independence Day! !יום עצמאות שמח

May 05, 2014

On Memorial Day in Israel, I remember Noam Mayerson, of blessed memory

Noam flanked by his younger brothers,
Yoni and Hilly, building a sukkah

I first published this post on May 9, 2011.

In Jewish time, each day begins at sunset. Last night, on the eve of Yom Hazikaron [Memorial Day] a one-minute siren sounded at 8 p.m. across Israel. This blast called the nation to stop activity and stand to remember and honor Israel's soldiers who fell in battle and civilian victims of terror. National flags were lowered to half-mast and so began a full day of personal and national meditation, reflection, and remembrance ceremonies. A second siren blast will sound at 11 a.m. this morning.

On August 7, 2006, during the Second Lebanon War, St. Sgt. Noam Yaakov Mayerson, was killed when Hezbollah terrorists opened fire on an IDF unit in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil. Noam, the third child of five children of my beloved cousins Gila and Chaim, was age 23.

The son of an American-born (Dayton, Ohio) father and an Israeli-born mother, Noam grew up in Jerusalem, studied in the yeshiva high school in Mitzpe Ramon, and later attended the hesder yeshiva in Eilat. Noam and Sara Ra’anan were to have been married September 10, 2006.

Chaim, his father, on learning that his son was killed:

Noam was a G-d-fearing person. The main thing for him was fear of Heaven, love of the Jewish nation and of the Land of Israel. He wanted to work in education or the rabbinate. He was full of energy, and he had a lot of friends.

Rabbi Hillel Rotkoff, one of Noam’s teachers at the hesder yeshiva:

He was a fantastic boy – a tour guide who loved the land. He loved the history of the Jewish nation, the nation that came back to its land, and the Torah he learned here. He had great faith and internal strength. [Of Noam’s commitment to protect his homeland:] He didn’t shy away from anything. Giving his life for the land was not just a slogan for him, but a way of life. And unfortunately, he did it.

Noam Mayerson is buried in Jerusalem in the military cemetery on Mount Herzl. Besides his parents, Noam is survived by his sister, Shira, and three brothers: Yehoshua, Hillel, and Yonatan. He also leaves a large and loving family and community, including nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, teachers, and students.

To honor Noam's life and carry forward the work he started and did not merit completing, his parents, teachers, rabbis, and educators joined in developing Darchey Noam. In July 2013, this nonprofit published under the same name a comprehensive online guide (Hebrew) to the land of Israel incorporating Noam's educational vision and the experiential activities he created. A unique feature of the guide is its invitation to study Torah with a hands-on direct encounter with the physical, spiritual, and historical aspects of the land of Israel.

נעם בן גילה וחיים. יהי זכרו ברוך
Noam ben Gila vChaim. Yehi zichro baruch.
Noam, son of Gila and Chaim. May his memory be a blessing.

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