SUCH SWEET SORROWS ...by Jerry B. Jenkins, from his book As You Leave Home (Focus on the Family Publishing, 1993).

When I first read this essay about a sentimental journey inspired by a son's imminent departure to college, the bittersweet memories and reflections of a parent at one of life's most troubling and exciting crossroads, it resounded in me so strongly that I "borrowed" it and read it to my daughter at her High School Graduation Party in 1998. I recently came across a post, where the blogger was bemoaning the transition from home to college for her child (daughter or son, not sure...only initials). So, I thought I'd post the essay here for Maritza and any other parent saying good-bye to their college bound child. Read it and weep. I certainly did!
And so it has come down to this: You're going. Really going. Oh, you'll be back. It isn't as if I will never see you again. But when you return, you will come as a guest. For all practical purposes, you are gone for good.

Though you'll always remain in my heart and remain a member of our family, nothing will be the same. You are now your own person, making your own decisions, disciplining or not disciplining yourself.

It's stunning to realize that the clichés are true. All those platitudes I heard last week, when you were born, are now indisputable. "Hang on to every moment, every day" I was told when I showed you off - our new arrival. "before you know it, he'll be gone."

I nodded and smiled and pretended to agree, to know, to understand something beyond my wisdom. What did I know? I was barely more than a child myself, and the first couple of decades of my own life had seemed to plod along.

Somehow, if everyone could be believed, the next two decades would take no more time than a turn of the head. Now I tell new parents the same. I know. I mean it. I plead with them to heed. And they nod and smile and pretend to agree. Perhaps to them last night's diaper change made the wee hours seem eternal. New Parents wonder if those tedious times ever end. Tomorrow they'll wonder where they went.

You're at an age where you don't want to be told what you understand and what you don't. Much as you don't want to hear it and perhaps don't even want to think about it, the fact is you can't understand me just now.

You will. Your own children will educate you beyond any classroom or degree. You'll cradle that child in your arms and anything else you ever cared about will pale to worthlessness. Your life, your being, will focus on that child.

Though you'll be reminded by experts that it's not healthy to center your existence on your children, you will do it anyway, helplessly. You'll be awash in a kind of love not often articulately expressed, because there are so few words for it.

And there are so many distractions to the communication of that love. As you think back to your years with us at home, you may think of difficult times, of frustrations, of quarreling, misunderstanding, lack of connecting. My years - here I go again - allow me to see those as only part of the whole, bits of a beautiful mosaic, the underside of an embroidered fabric.

I love you with all that is within me, with a love beyond words. It may take weeks, even months, to adjust to your absence. But even when I have overcome that and adapted to a freedom that long sounded attractive, some things will never change. And you need to know that.

As you grew you heard me say silly things like, "Where was I when you were getting so tall? Since when did you become so good looking? How could you be a teenager already? Weren't you just in first grade?"

You can shake your head and wonder how adults can be so nerdy. I once felt the same. Yet now, in earnest passion, I try to convince you that life is indeed short.

Watching you as a high school freshman, I wondered what your mature body would be like when you became a senior. Suddenly, the sophomore and junior years blipped past my radar screen and I didn't have to wonder. There you were , mature and defined, on the move. I tried to let go, as I longed to hang on, so forgive me if the parting has come too quickly.

A songwriter friend of mine says in a beautiful lyric that the moment we try to hold something in our hands, it slips through our fingers like sand. I heard that message and was moved by it, and I even tried to heed it. But I didn't know how true it was until now. My hands are open and reaching, and the sand is gone. The moment is past. You're leaving.

While I'm a finite, imperfect person, my goals are lofty. I want you to know and believe that I love you more than anything on Earth. No matter what you do or don't do, say or don't say, start or don't start, finish or don't finish, accomplish or don't accomplish, you will still be my child. I will still love you. You may be gone from our home, but you will never be gone from my heart.

During the last year or so, after I first realized that your childhood had inexplicably sped past, I tried not to be obvious, but maybe you noticed. In spite of myself, I tried to slow the calendar, to stop the clock. I was trying, of course, to hang on to you.

The very thing I committed myself to years ago - rearing, raising, training you for independence - I now feared. I scrambled, shored up, built walls. Every sign that indicated you had learned and matured and were ready to face the world only reminded me how young you seemed.

But I couldn't run from the truth. You were leaving and the day was coming soon. I was almost so desperate to hang on that I couldn't exult in your growth and progress.

That maddening independence that I-can-do-it-myself attitude that reminded me of your toddlerhood, that look that asked, "Why do you have to know everything?" should have cemented in my aching heart the truth: You have become your own person.

It's what I had wanted. I just hadn't wanted it this quickly. And there are days when I don't want it at all. Yet, I know this is for the best. It's time. And from my perspective, there will never be a good time. But I am committed to keeping my selfishness at bay.

I will, I must, stop pretending that the longer I hang on to you, the more I protect you from the real world. If I don't jump in, you'll never find yourself. And so I nudge you from the nest.

Seeing you go reminds me of the first time I let loose of you in the water. Only this time I am not going to be at arm's length, ready to grab as you panic. I will not stand by with reassuring words that say, "I'm just seeing if you can float alone." This is the real thing.. I will let go and you will flail and I will back away.

The other metaphor that comes to mind is your first time on two wheels. I ran alongside, reaching, adjusting, holding your seat, helping you gain momentum and speed. Soon you were on your wobbly way, unable to turn, riding through puddles, over curbs, slowing to painful, tumbling stops before leaping up to try again.

Now I will give your two-wheeler a last shove and watch. No more running alongside. You've had enough of that. Some things you must learn on your own. Another cliché has sprung to life: Experience is the best teacher.

Ready or not, here you come.

I know we won't become strangers. As I fight the feeling that one more embrace will be our last ever - and thus I would never let go - I wish you God's speed. I wish you the knowledge that you go with the deepest love a parent can have for a child.

You will nave no greater cheerleader in the game of life.


When Elephants Fight It Is The Grass That Suffers

When Elephants Fight, it is the Grass that Suffers...a Kikuyu Proberb.

I was listening today, on CNBC, to Tim Russert interviewing Tom Friedman, a New York Times columnist. Friedman used this quote, when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers, in describing the situation in Lebanon, where Lebanon is the grass. Friedman lived in Lebanon for many years and wrote the book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, which he says remains relevant to this day, despite the 17 years since it was written. I purchased the book a long time ago, meaning to get around to it. I think now is the time.

Rather than blog about my take on what is happening presently in Lebanon, I thought it might be more helpful to share some other blogs that I came across today as I perused the subject online, specifically from the point of view of peace.

Oh My God, that word seems so clear and simple to those of us sitting here thousands of miles away from the turmoil and strife and from the people who live there. I have come to know a blogger who calls herself The JerusalemGypsy and though her blog covers a variety of subjects from her perch in the city of Jerusalem, she is ardently a Pursuer of Peace. It was on her blog that I found THE WOMEN'S TENT....(The women’s tent occurred on Thursday-Friday 30-31st March 2006. 500 Druze, Muslim and Christian Arab, Jewish, American, Australian, Italian WOMEN gathered for 2 days of sharing ,ceremony, workshops, singing, food, dance and togetherness). This is just one example of her blog, called Jerusalm Wanderings .

If you, like me, bemoan the lack of moderate voices from the Arab side of THE DIVIDE, then you are going to want to vsit these next two blogs, that the JerusalemGypsy turned me on to.

The first is called Adventures of Mr. Behi and it represnts, in the JerusalemGypsy's words, Another Peace-nik in Iran. Who'da thunked it, right? Check this blog out and you begin to find something to be hopeful about. Also, it is a wealth of information about the Persian culture.

The next blog with its simple and unassuming name, bob's blog, is anything but (simple and unassuming, that is). This is how he describes it....This blog is a snapshot of Lebanon, its politics, lifestyles and history. And it will also include some book and movies reviews, and a bit about my life...
About Me


This man, Bob, is, I hope, not one of a kind. In response to his posts he gets comments telling him that they hope a bomb falls on him and his family. Because he is representing a more moderate and clear headed viewpoint of the war in Lebanon, stating that the Hezbollah is as much at fault, or maybe even more at fault than the Israelies, he is receiving comments telling him to get out of Lebanon because he is a disgrace to them and that he should go live in Israel. He loves Lebanon, but he also seems to love the truth. Check this blog out. I have linked only his last post because what is interesting to read, besides for his opinions, are the 57 comments that the opinion elicited. It is an eye-opener. There is within it equal parts HOPE and DESPAIR.


A Funeral and A Commuinty

Today was a sad day for me. The title of this post pretty much tells why. Before I elaborate, allow me to go back in time for a little background. I grew up in a middle sized town called Bloomfield, NJ, which at the time consisted of a large populations of Polish-Americans and Italian-Americans and various other hyphenated Christian Americans. Blacks were a small minority and Jews were only slightly larger. At that time, in the 1950's and 60's there were two synagogues. Ours, the Conservative Synagogue, Temple B'nai Zion, was located in Bloomfield Center (about 7 miles from my house) and the Reform Synagogue, Temple Menorah, was almost across the street from my house. The two merged in 1979 to become Temple Ner Tamid. I can not speak for Temple Menorah, having not belonged there and knowing very little about it, but the Jewish community of Temple B'nai Zion was a close knit one.

My personal family was relatively small and though my father's side had more members than my mother's, we didn't seem to know a lot of them. However, the members of this Jewish community in Bloomfield were my "extended family" in a very real sense. Many of them lived either in my neighborhood or close by. Many had children my age or that of my sister and/or brother. These were the people who came to our, what in the Jewish religion is known as "simchas", meaning joyous ocassions, such as our Bat and Bar Mitzvahs (1960, 1964, 1968 respectively). other milestone birthdays, high school and college graduation parties, weddings, wedding anniversaries, and all the other milestone events that were signifcant, happy, momentous occasions of our lives. These same people later attended my Engagement Party, the Brit Milah for my son and Naming Ceremony for my daughter. They came to decade birthday parties, the ones we made for my parents and ones that were made for us. They have also been there for the not so happy milestones of our lives. This same extended family was there at the funeral home when my father died over ten years ago and again when my mother died over two years ago and they supported us at "shiva calls" at our homes. Needless to say, I feel very close and connected to this extended family.

As the years go by, many of this family have died. For the most part, they still lived in Bloomfield and those who did not, were buried there. In death, as in life, this community remains together. They have their own lot within a larger cemetery, where almost all are buried. When I visit my parent's graves, it is like "old home week", which brings me back to the subject of today's post. I will use initials to keep the privacy of the family. Yesterday, when I got home from work, there was a message on my machine. It was from J. J lives in Massachusetts, is my sister's age and thus was her friend in Bloomfield, and I hadn't heard from her since she called me a few years ago to offer condolences and lots of notalgia, after my mother's death. So, needless to say, receiving a phone message from her was in itself a surprise. Upon listening to the message, I literally fell to the floor, crying. The message was that both her father (who had had Alzheimer's for many years) and her mother (who in recent years had been relatively healthy and well) had, in the past week passed away. Receiving news of a death of a friend's parent is shock enough, but to hear that both parents died in the same week was beyond shock.

Again, a little background is in order. As I have previously mentioned , I lived in Israel from June of 1977 through April of 1979. During that time, my mother had been very generous with my addresses and phone numbers in Israel; thus I received serveral phone calls and visits from people from home (some of whom I knew, others I did not) It was thus that, Mr. and Mrs. S (J's parents) and Mrs. S's sister, Sally (any more initials and I'll forget whom I am talking about!!) invited me to come stay with them for a few days in Jerusalem. I knew them as part of the Bloomfield Jewish community, as well as the parents of my sister's friend, but I did not know them well, especially not Sally. Yet, the prospect of a few free meals, a night in a comfortable hotel, and getting to see people from home wasalluring, so I accepted the invitation. From those few days, I gained a connection that became for me quite meaningful. I especially loved Sally, but unfortunately she passed away decades ago. As for the S's, Mrs. S. and I exchanged Rosh HaShanah cards (Jewish New Year) for all these years since that time. I would see them occasionally at a simcha or funeral or at the occasional Holiday or Shabbat service at Temple Ner Tamid (where the S's had remained quite active). What I'm trying to say is that I had a special place in my heart for these people.

So, when I received this message about their deaths, it hurt.. a lot. As it turned out, Mrs. S. essentially planned her own funeral. Mr. S. had been moved up to an Alzheimer's facility in MA about a month or two ago and Mrs. S. followed, after taking care of business in Bloomfield. She had wanted to keep Mr. S. with her, but his care had become overwhelming and the children insisted on a facility. Mrs. S. came up to MA a few weeks ago and was beginning to settle in nicely, especially having her daughters and sons-in-law close by. Then on Tuesday or Wednesday of this past week, Mr. S. took a turn for the worse and died. Mrs. S. was of course heartbroken, but the death was not unexpected. Everyone tells of how she made all of the phone calls to the Temple and caterer and friends to arrange for her husban's funeral back in Bloomfield. She was, they all told me, sad, but optimistic and even a little excited by the propects of her future. Then in less than 24 hours after Mr. S. died, Mrs. S. was with her daughter trying on clothes for the funeral, when she suddenly dropped to the floor. J got her to the hospital within 20 minutes, but the massive cerebral hemorrhage took her life soon after. So, within the span of under a day, J and her sister, R went from having two parents to having none.

This was basically what was on my answering machines on Thursday when I got home from work. On Friday morning, my sister and I were at Temple Ner Tamid for the funeral of both Mr. and Mrs. S. Seeing the two rose covered caskets set before the congregation, in front of the Bimah, from which the Rabbi and two family members spoke, was both beautiful and heartbreaking. Feeling the hugs and kisses of so many members of the Bloomfield community, many of whom I hadn't seen in a very long time, felt welcomed and comforting. And it reminded me of how much I appreciate having once known what "community" really is and still having just a little more than simply the memory of it.



 Last night I took myself to the theater, an Off-Broadway play, entitled, SUSAN AND GOD. I have been purchasing fewer tickets recently than in the past, in my unsuccessful attempts at saving money. So, the question I ask myself is why did I, on a whim, choose to purchase a ticket online for this play? The answer, I believe, is serendipity (I just love that word, how it rolls around the mouth like a magical, revolving, up & down Carousel). I believe that I was meant to see this play.

The play originally opened on 10 April 1937 in Princeton, New Jersey, and moved to New York City, New York on 7 October 1937 where it ran for 288 performances. Gertrude Lawrence played the role of Susan. In 1940 it became a movie with Joan Crawford . The part of Susan in this current production of Susan and God at the Mint Theater , was played by Leslie Hendrix, the tough-talking Medical Examiner, Elizabeth Rogers, in Law & Order and its spin-offs. I suppose seeing Leslie Hendrix, who was one of the few actors in L&O to have been with the show since its inception and one of my favorite parts, was good enough reason in itself to see Susan and God. And, I was right about that.

The plays author was Rachel Crothers (1878-1958)

Having come across this play and this author (Crothers also directed and acted), it amazed and frankly, disturbed me that both SUSAN AND GOD and Rachel Crothers are all but UNKNOWN today. How could that be? Rachel Crothers was a woman of her times. She grew up in the midst of the Women's Suffrage Movement and was 50 years old when women finally got the right to vote. Her plays addressed many women's issues, such as the pull between home life and career, as well as universal issues like the void felt by individuals and society and the consequent searching for a spiritual healing, and a wider search for the Infinite Truth that can answer our fumbling questions and help us to go on believing in Goodness, which many call God. So, why is it that we know of Ms. Crother's contemporaries like Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, but not Rachel Crothers? I have a cynical hunch. Crothers was decidedly not political, which turned off many femisnists of her time. Stein's fame as a writer is closely aligned with her circle of friends (Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, etc) who happen to be famous men. Rachel Crothers had no such allies. One has to wonder.

Susan And God is a satirical look at a group of friends in the 1930's who were members of the society in which the "ladies lunched" and the "gentlemen golfed" and they all summered at their Newport "cottages", played tennis, followed by martinis and then dressed to the "T" for dinner. Their favorite pastime was gossip. Whoever left the room was grist for the gossip mill. Susan was a member of this group, but not present in the opening scene as she was on her way home from an extended trip to Europe, sans husband. Consequently the animated discussion was all about Susan and her alcoholic husband and their "funny looking" daughter, who spent 6 months of the year at boarding school and the other 6 months at camp. Then, in walks Susan, well no she doesn't "walk" in, she prances in, she "breezes" in, with her silky flowing red dress and matching red hat. Before she could even take her hat off, Susan explodes with enthusiasm about her new found mission to rouse her friends to the realization of the dynamic power of goodness, God, that she has learned about from her new found friend and mentor, Lady Wiggams the leader of this wondrous spiritual movement. Crothers, in writing this, was lightly satirizing a then-trendy spiritual movement called the Oxford Group. It is interesting to note that the Oxford Group was a real religious movement of the 1920's and 30's and was the inspiration for the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Anyway, back to Susan. It becomes quickly, humorously and decidedly clear that she is more than a tad selfish, self-serving and self-righteous. But, as she enthusiastically and vigorously assures her friends, she has changed! We see with humor and pathos that notwithstanding her sincere belief that she has found God, Susan remains the self-serving socialite that she is and she continues to expect and to receive her own way. Her always faithful, but not always functional, husband seems to believe what Susan is espousing and makes a deal with her that if she stays the summer with him and their daughter, he will stop drinking and if he doesn't, he will grant her the divorce she has been seeking against his will. Despite herself, Susan agrees.

It is the end of the play that spoke most directly to me and my sensibilities. We are led to believe that due to circumstances, Susan's husband goes off the wagon and may have taken up with a single woman in their group. Believing this to be true, Susan becomes jealous and though a few moments before, she had been ready to throw Barrie (the husband) away, she now has second thoughts. It may have seemed too easy to some viewers that Susan has this change of heart, but as I watched the scene unfold, it did not occur to me that her transition was anything but real. Barrie explains his appreciation of Charlotte (the other woman) but, does he love her, no, he loves Susan. In the end, it is the potential of Susan's redemption that we see and the sensitivity with which this was portrayed touched me deeply. Unfortunately, it was Susan's final line of the play that I wanted to quote here. Somehow for me, that line said it all. I have been searching for it in my minds memory, as well as online, but alas, I cannot find it. Perhaps I will write the theater and ask them if they would send it to me.

Post Script:

I did send an email to the Artistic Director of the MINT THEATER COMPANY, Jonathan Bank and not only did he provide me with the last line of the play, but he sent me the entire script. That is the kind of thing that restores my faith in people. THANK YOU JONATHAN!!

Last scene in play, Susan And God.... Susan says to husband, Barrie,

"Oh dearest - I don't think God is something out there - to pray to. - I think he's here - in us. And, I don't believe he helps one bit - till we dig and dig and dig - to get the rottenness out of us......Barrie - hold me.
(She sinks against Barrie - he puts his arms about her - holding her close.)


As I've said before, the power of theater is formidable and I am forever grateful to be a part of it, if only in the audience.

Post Script II

If you read the comments on this post below, you will see the first one is from "Anonymous" and relates this final speech of Susan's in the play. Yeah, it seems that "Susan" herself heard about my query and responded. Now, how very cool is that!!!


CLOSER than ENRON: Movie Reviews

I found this movie, Closer, to be first disturbing, second unique in its approach and third interesting, most interesting. It is about two women and two men and how and why they combine and love and don't. I know that Jude Law has been in many, many movies, but I think this is the first of his for me. He was good , but very unlikable. Natalie Portman came to my attention in the movie, The Garden State and I knew that she would be an actress whom I would follow. I really liked her in this movie. I found her hard not to watch and even harder not to like, even if she is not completely an up and up characher. Julia Roberts is of course a known entity anf I enjoyed her most in Mystic Pizza, Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman and especially Steel Magnolia. She was excellent in this movie, very different than in most of her others. Clive Owen was completely new to me. I'd seen one of his movies, Gosford Park, but I don't remember him in it. He is, however, most memorable in this movie. I won't go any deeper into details, other than to say, pay attention to a small detail concerning Natalie Portman's name in the movie. I recommend seeing Closer.

I'm thinking if I called Closer disturbing, then I have to call Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, DISTRESSING, DISQUIETING, UNSETTLING, DISCOURAGING, DISHEARTENING, DISMAYING, DISPIRITING and mostly DISGUSTING!!!!

If Ken Lay's death left you with any sympathy for him, I admonish you to watch this movie. The Enron fiasco represents what is disgraceful in this country where Capitalism, at it's worst, is concerned. And besides for all the rest, what a waste of brains, talent and ambition. Oh, and if you had any sympathy for those who are currently running our government, watch this movie and it will remind you why you shouldn't.

The movie (documentary) is quite long and sometimes it was beyond me regarding the worlds of finances, traders, and big business, but I recommend it all the same.


Playing Hamas's Game

Me, in Lebanon, at the border with Israel, summer of 1968 (Lebanon is behind me. I'm wearing the yellow shirt.)

I can not lie, so I will state here and now that what will be posted here was on the Editorial Page of today's (Sat., July 15, 2006) New York Times. I copy it here rather than write my own thoughts because this article expresses my thoughts to a t and I don't believe I could do it any better.

With the circle of violence in the Middle East expanding alarmingly, it is important to be clear about not only who is responsible for the latest outbreak, but who stands to gain most from its continued escalation.

Both Questions have the same answer: Hamas and Hezbollah. And Israel needs to be careful that its far-reaching military responses, however legally and morally justified, do not end up advancing the political agenda that Hamas and Hezbollah hard-liners had in mind when they conceived and executed the kidnappings of Israeli soldiers that detonated the fighting.

The Palestinian Authority, which Hamas controls, and the Lebanese government, in which Hezbollah is a minority participant, inexcusably failed to prevent or halt these incidents. Iran, which arms Hezbollah, and Syria, which shelters the most violent wing of Hamas also shares some responsibility.

Israel is fully justified in treating these two incidents as unacceptable acts of aggression. But it needs to better adapt its methods to the circumstances it now faces. The point is to weaken and isolate Hamas and Hezbollah, while denying them opportunities to rally broader Arab support. To that end, Israel must focus its fire much more directly at the leaders and fighters of these two groups, and do far more to minimize the damage to civilian by-standers.

Here's why: The military chieftains of Hamas and Hezbollah fully understand that their primitively armed guerrillas and limited-range unguided missiles are no match for Israel's world-class military forces. When they engage in provocative operations, like the recent kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and shelling of Israeli towns, they do not expect to win any kind of traditional military victory.

What they more realistically hope for is that the inevitably fierce and devastating Israeli military response will hand them an opportunity to radicalize Arab politics and thereby pressure moderate Arab leaders to distance themselves from Israel and embrace the guerrilla cause. That is a tactic that secular Palestinian guerrilla groups like Fatah pioneered decades ago, and that Islamist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah now use for similar ends.

This perverse dynamic is again coming into play after Israel's wide-ranging forays into Gaza and Lebanon. Most Arabs are not blaming Hamas and Hezbollah for provoking these Israeli raids. They are blaming Israel for carrying them out.

That is not fair. But it is the way things work in the real world, and the provocateurs of Hamas and Hezbollah and their allies in Damascus and Tehran understand how to use it to their long-term advantage. Israel's political and military leaders need to understand it too and not let themselves be drawn into the provocateurs' game.

I Need a Laugh Do You Need a Laugh?

There's going to be a new expression soon, what comes around, blogs around, or some such thing. I was surfing blogs, you know, going to a familiar one, reading someone's comment, then clicking on that one, which brings you to yet another one and finally you have no idea where you started. But what does it really matter? So, I was at Maritza's blog and she was writing about this website called my heritage.com. where supposedly you can give them a picture of yourself and they will in return show you pics of celebrities who most resemble you or you most resemble. So, I thought, well, I'd certainly like to know who they think I look like and I'm a glutton for punishment, so, here it goes:

OK, the pic I gave them was a bit too close-up, but they said it should be looking straightforward and this was that. Don't laugh...well, actually, you can laugh, cause that was supposed to be the point of this post...but don't laugh too hard; so, here's the pic....

So, on maritza's blog the first celebrity was some good looking, sexy actress and I'm waiting for mine and here's the fist celebrity heritage.com comes up with for my best look-a-like celebrity.......

No Kidding, this is who it was

I wouldn't lie to you and I couldn't make this up....................................

Yeah, it's Tony Danza. The sexy celebrity I look like is Tony Danza! Thanks bunches, heritage.com.

But wait, there are more and they do get better.............................................................................

My next look-alike is.................................

Add Image

Avril Lavigne, that's not so bad, and the name sounds Jewish, so we're doing just fine....I can't wait to see the next one and it's..........................

Andie McDowell

/>now we're cooking. I'm feeling a lot more confident and the next celebrity that resembles me or vice-versa is.....

Anette Benning..now I'm actually excited; I'm thinking, hey I'm not too bad, so I keep on truckiing and lo and behold, they tell me that I look like none other than

Steve Buscemi and....

Joi Ito (should I know who he is?)

and after a few more, I'm about to take the gas pipe, when the very last celebrity look alike for me is.....

.................................................................... ...........................................................

Cybil Shepherd and I figure I'll quit while I'm ahead. 0;


Israel...The Palestinians...A Look Back

How and why do the Jewish people intersect with Islam and the Muslim people? How can one help clarify this very complicated issue. If we can agree to keep Reason first and foremost in the dialog, then we may be able to understand how we got to where we are today and how we can see our way to a more peaceful future. I am Jewish, but I am not a religious person. My roots are deep in traditions, history, education, language and culture, but not in Faith. I do not agree that Religion should be the basis of discussion when it comes to whose land is this land? The more you use Religion as your rationale, the farther and farther apart you will be. The question, as I see it, is not who was here first and thus deseves to be the sole occupiers of the land. Both parties, the Jews and the Muslims will claim they were the first. And then the discussion is over. Having said that, one does have to use the Bible as one source of history, not the only source, but one.

OK, so let's start with a brief history of the region. First of all the name Palestine, what is it's origin? The name Palestine refers to a region of the eastern Mediterranean coast from the sea to the Jordan valley and from the southern Negev desert to the Galilee lake region in the north. The word itself derives from "Plesheth", a name that appears frequently in the Bible and has come into English as "Philistine". Plesheth, (root palash) was a general term meaning rolling or migratory. This referred to the Philistine's invasion and conquest of the coast from the sea. The Philistines were not Arabs nor even Semites, they were most closely related to the Greeks originating from Asia Minor and Greek localities. They did not speak Arabic. They had no connection, ethnic, linguistic or historical with Arabia or Arabs. Their occupation of Canaan would have to have taken place during the reign of Ramesses III of the Twentieth Dynasty, circa 1180 - 1150 BCE (Before the Common Era, more commonly referred to as BC.) The Philistines reached the southern coast of Israel in several waves. One group arrived in the pre-patriarchal period and settled south of Beersheba in Gerar where they came into conflict with Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael. It should be noted that these Biblical figures are recognized in both Judaism and Islam, with some differences in interpretations, of course. Another group, coming from Crete after being repulsed from an attempted invasion of Egypt by Rameses III in 1194 BCE, seized the southern coastal area, where they founded five settlements (Gaza, Ascalon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gat). In the Persian and Greek periods, foreign settlers - chiefly from the Mediterranean islands - overran the Philistine districts.

The Hebrews entered the Land of Israel about 1300 B.C.E., living under a tribal confederation until being united under the first monarch, King Saul. The second king, David, established Jerusalem as the capital around 1000 B.C.E.. David's son, Solomon, built the Temple soon thereafter and consolidated the military, administrative and religious functions of the kingdom. The nation was divided under Solomon's son, with the northern kingdom (Israel) lasting until 722 B.C.E., when the Assyrians destroyed it, and the suthern kingdom (Judah) surviving until the Babylonian conquest in 586 .C.E. The Jewish people enjoyed brief periods of sovereignty afterward, before most Jews were finally driven from there in 135 C.E. (Common Era, more commonly called, A.D.). Jewish independence in the Land of Israel lasted for more than 400 years. If you think about it, that is much longer than Americans have enjoyed independence in what has become known as the United States. If there had been no foreigh conquerors, Israel would be 3,000 years old today.
In the second century C.E., after crushing the last Jewish revolt, the Romans first applied the name Palestina to Judea (the southern portion of what is now called the West Bank) in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the Land of Israel. The Arabic word "Filastin" is derived from this Latin name.

In AD 135, after putting down the Bar Kochba revolt, the second major Jewish revolt against Rome, the Emperor Hadrian wanted to blot out the name of the Roman "Provincia Judaea" and so renamed it "Provincia Syria Palaestina", the Latin version of the Greek name and the first use of the name as an administrative unit. The name "Provincia Syria Palaestina" was later shortened to Palaestina, from which the modern, anglicized "Palestine" is derived.
This remained the situation until the end of the fourth century, when in the wake of a general imperial reorganization Palestine became three Palestines: First, Second, and Third. This configuration is believed to have persisted into the seventh century, the time of the Persian and Muslim conquests.
The Christian Crusaders employed the word Palestine to refer to the general region of the "three Palestines." After the fall of the crusader kingdom, Palestine was no longer an official designation. The name, however, continued to be used informally for the lands on both sides of the Jordan River. The Ottoman Turks, who were non-Arabs but religious Muslims, ruled the area for 400 years (1517-1917). Under Ottoman rule, the Palestine region was attached administratively to the province of Damascus and ruled from Istanbul. The name Palestine was revived after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I and applied to the territory in this region that was placed under the British Mandate for Palestine.
The name "Falastin" that Arabs today use for "Palestine" is not an Arabic name. It is the Arab pronunciation of the Roman "Palaestina".

On December 9, 1917, as World War I neared its end, Jerusalem surrendered to the British forces. Two days later General Allenby entered the Jaffa Gate on foot, at the head of a victory procession. This act marked the end of four centuries of Ottoman-Turk rule and the beginning of thirty years of British rule.
The mandate system was established by Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations as formulated at the Paris Peace Conference (January-June 1919). Under this article it was stated that the territories inhabited by peoples unable to stand by themselves would be entrusted to advanced nations until such time as the local population could handle their own affairs. This concept was incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.
The basic features of a peace treaty with Turkey (the Treaty of Sa¨vres) were adopted, and mandates in the Middle East were allotted to the various Europeancountriess involved.
In the case of Palestine, the administrative control, in the form of a Mandate, was given to the British. By naming this territory the "British Mandate for Palestine" the area that is today Israel and Jordan became the first and only geographic division with the name Palestine since before the Ottoman Empire controlled the area (beginning in 1517). In July 1920 the Mandate civil administration took over from the military. For the first time since Crusader days Jerusalem was again a capital city.
The terms of the British Mandate incorporated the language of the Balfour Declaration and were approved by the League of Nations Council on July 24, 1922, although they were technically not official until September 29, 1923. The United States was not a member of the League of Nations, but a joint resolution of the United States Congress on June 30, 1922, endorsed the concept of the Jewish National Home.
Like the Balfour Declaration, the Mandate recognized the "historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine," called upon the mandatory power to "secure establishment of the Jewish National Home," with "an appropriate Jewish agency" to be set up for advice and cooperation to that end. The World Zionist Organization, which was specifically recognized as the appropriate vehicle, formally established the Jewish Agency in 1929. Jewish immigration was to be facilitated, while ensuring that the "rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced." English, Arabic, and Hebrew were all to be official languages.
In March 1921, Winston Churchill, then British colonial secretary, convened a high-level conference in Cairo to consider Middle East policy. As a result of these deliberations, Britain subdivided the Palestine Mandate along the Jordan River-Gulf of Aqaba line. The eastern portion--called Transjordan--was to have a separate Arab administration operating under the general supervision of the commissioner for Palestine, with Abdullah appointed as emir. At a follow-up meeting in Jerusalem with Churchill, High Commissioner Herbert Samuel, and Lawrence, Abdullah agreed to abandon his Syrian project in return for the emirate and a substantial British subsidy.
A British government memorandum in September 1922 ("The Churchill White Paper"), approved by the League of Nations Council, specifically excluded Jewish settlement from the Transjordan area of the Palestine Mandate. The whole process was aimed at satisfying wartime pledges made to the Arabs and at carrying out British responsibilities under the Mandate. Unfortunately for the Zionists and counter to the whole expressed purpose of the Mandate in the first place, by this action more than three-quarters of the territory of the British Mandate was taken away from the potential Jewish Homeland without any corresponding action favoring the Palestinian Jews.

I have spent considerable time looking for sites that would give me a better understanding of the conflict from the Palestinian viewpoint and I have found a few. The problem for me is that right away in these sources I read words like "ethnic cleansing" and I find blatant half truths and innuendoes. They talk about that most Jews in Palestine were not citizens of the country, what country? At that point it was a land being divied up by the Europeans and formerly it was part of the Ottoman Empire and if it was ever an Arab country, it could be said to have been southern Syria, in some historical contexts. There simply was not a legitimate country called Palestine. That is not to say there were not many Arabs living there, there were. But they were either citizens of Syria or Jordan or some other Arab country. I am still not saying that these people don't have a legitimate right to claim some part of this small parcel of land as their own. They do and they were offered a Partition in 1948, but it was refused by the Arabs. I have read arguments explaining why it was refused, but I must say that I did not understand them. And whether the Arabs who left in 1948, did so at the advice and demands of the Arab leaders or because they were pushed out by the Jews or a combination of both, the fact is that there are consequences of war. The Arab nations: Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon declared war on the new State of Israel and they lost. There are consequences. No other nation in the world is judged so harshly as Israel is when it comes to consequences of war, even though in their case, the war (wars) were not statted by them. Also, the Arab nations were proudly on the side of the Germans, closely aligned with the Nazis, during the Second World War. There clearly was no love lost on either side of the equation.

Which brings me to the last point I want to make here. For those who may not be aware, Jews have been persecuted from time immemorial. From being expelled from England and Spain to the Crusades to the Pogroms in Eastern Europe and ultimately to the Holocaust in Germany and throughout Europe by extention. Good, bad or indifferent, they were Jews and for this they have been hated throughout history and we all know what atrocities come from hate. The reason for the movement called Zionism was to establish a land where Jews could not be expelled, humiliated, kept from certain jobs and clubs and universities, etc, persecuted and systematicallyy tortured and killed. Until 1967, when Israel won the Six Day War, even in the United States, anti-Semitism often went unchecked. After 1967, Jews in America walked with their heads a little higher, their self-confidence a little stronger because Americans saw that Jews would not be pushed around anymore, they were no longer weak and at the mercy of the bullies. Israel's strength had long coat-tails.

Now, it is common and accepted practice to see Israel as the aggressor, the bully, the big bad demon keeping the poor Palestinians down. It is simply not that simple. I do not want to see Arab children killed. I do not want to see any people living in inhuman conditions. I want all people to have equal rights. But the rights of others can not be at the expense of the Jewish people. Jews have been historically dispensable, but like the slogan that came out of the Holocaust says, Never Again! Somehow, both peoples have to live freely and securely, not one at the expense of the other.

That it was the land of Israel that became the Jewish homeland is certainlyl more than coincidence. The Jewish people in Israel go back to Biblical and pre-Biblical times and Jerusalem has always been the center of the land. (Also, just for the sake of information, many people argue that Jerusalem is also holy to the Muslims and it is, but not nearly as holy as Mecca and Medina.) But, as far as I am concerned, I would have been just as happy if the Jewish Homeland had been established in a less forebodingg place than in the middle of the Middle East. But where might that other place be? They talked briefly about Africa, specifically Uganda, but that didn't take hold. It seems to me somewhere in the middle of Canada where though the weather may be foreboding, at least the population was low. But as far as I know, Canada wasn't considered. The Jews were associated with Israel and Israel was to become the homeland. And so it goes......


Passion for REASON vs Passion for FAITH

I value Reason, perhaps above all else, when it comes to dialog and debate. Religions far too often divide us into separate and definitely unequal communities.. Reason allows for exploration of what makes us all human, what we have in common and why we are more apt to survive if we accept our common humanity. I wish to share with anyone who is reading my blog a program on TV that has satisfied my soul and intellect more than anything I have seen on the tube in a long while. Bill Moyers has returned to PBS with a series called, Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason. This is how he introduced the series.

"With the buzz around the book and then the film version of THE DA VINCI CODE reaching a fever pitch and The PASSION OF THE CHRIST ranked among the 10 highest-grossing movies ever, what is it about religion that’s got America hooked? It's an old debate between absolutes, the contrasting viewpoints of belief and disbelief that stirs the passions. From the popular to the public square—79% of self-identified evangelical Christians cast ballots for President Bush in 2004—the tug of war between reason and faith is the undercurrent of our society in what some see as a fundamentalist era. On one end of the spectrum people say, "Only religion counts." On the other end, "Only reason counts." How do we keep the public space between reason and faith, where most of us spend our lives, from becoming a no-man's land of constant warfare?" -- Bill Moyers (Read the full essay.)

His guests to date have been Salman Rushdie, Mary Gordon, Colin McGinn, Jeanette Winterson and Will Power. Some are believers and some are not. All are articulate and people of profound thought and reason. I rivetedted to the TV every Friday evening at 9 PM on PBS (channel 13 in the NY Metropolitan area). I believe you can either see or listen to the old interviews at the site I linked above. I highly recommend you catch them and those to be aired in the coming weeks.

Israel...The Palestinians...Is Reason and Dialog Possible?

I do not have a large following of readers, but those I have are thoughtful and reasonable people. It is with you and any others who wish to dialog in an open and respectful manner about an issue that is very dear to my heart. If you have "perused" (quotes are for one special reader and you know who you are) my blog, you know this to be true, as I have devoted a great deal of this blog to the subject of Israel, via pictures and journaling from a recent visit

I must start by saying that mine is not an unbiased viewpoint. For full disclosure, I am not only Jewish, but my husband is from Israel (born in Morocco). I went to Israel, as I have written before on this blog, for the first time at the very impressionable age of 16 for six weeks and since then I have been back innumerable times. I lived and worked there for almost two years in the 70's. I have spent time working on a kibbutz, I have studied in an ulpan for six months and worked in my field as a Speech Pathologist at Asaf HaRofe Hospital in Tzrifin for about six months. At that time I fulfilled a dream of mine by actually living in Jerusalem. I have traveled the country extensively, including parts of the Sinai in Egypt that were for a short period of time part of Israel ( Nuweiba, Dahab, Sharm el Sheikh, the ancient monastery of St. Katherine and- the climb of Mount Moses, also called Mt Horeb or Mt Sinai. I have crossed over to Jordan to visit the ancient city of Petra. Within Israel proper I have visited Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beersheva, Eilat, Haifa, Sefat, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Petach Tikvah, the Golan Heights (mostly in Givat. Yoav.), Nazareth, Bethlehem, Jericho, Hertzileah, Netanya and many other cities, towns, and villages in-between. So, I am no stranger to Israel.

And yet, I am not closed minded. I know there are at least two sides to every story and many viewpoints on every conflict. It is not always easy to maintain an open mind, but I pride myself in general on trying to keep one. Of course pro-Palestinian viewpoints are not new to me, but usually what I read and hear in the media and what I hear among many fellow Jews, is one sided, be it the Pro-Israel or Pro-Palestinian side. What I want to hear is how people can imagine peace being Pro-Both Sides. As far as I am concerned there has to be Peace some day. How that Peace will look, I do not know and am even a bit afraid to consider, but I know for certain that the only way for the bloodshed to end and for the Palestinians to live fruitful lives on their own land is that there must be Peace.

So, I ask you to answer these questions. Please consider them thoughtfully.

1. In your opinion, is Peace possible between Israel and the Palestinians?

2. What do you think Israel must relinquish in order to achieve Peace?

3. Knowing that historically all of the Arab nations and the Palestinian people have not wanted
the presence of a Jewish state in their midst, how can security for Israel be assured?
4. What do you think should happen with Jerusalem?

Map of Modern Day Israel


The March of the Gates in Central Park

Near the end of February 2005, I spent the day walking around Central Park in NYC, surrounded by varying shades of saffron and orange and watching the light change and glimmer as the sun played with these pieces of fabric. The biggest delight was in being amongst New Yorkers and others who were in the City to see this orange phenomenon, a gift given the city by the artists who made them, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who had no other agenda but to give delight to the people of New York City. And according to the cab driver who took me back to Port Authority, The Gates did just that. He said he had not seen so many smiling people in a long, long time. He said he's going to miss The Gates when they come down in just a few days and he's going to miss the atmosphere they helped create. What a colorful and wondrous day!

I come matching the colorful spirit of the day... Posted by Hello

To see more of this wonderful saffron day, click here.