Why bad news is news.

Have you ever stopped to think of why the vast majority of news-items are portraying negative and bad events?

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It is because good and positive things happen all the time, so they are not an exception worth mentioning. They are the norm. Isn’t that just wonderful?!

We live in a good world. People are helpful to each other and try to cooperate and build something positive together. It is when people try to harm each other and be destructive that it is an exception and makes the news. While I wish there would be less events worthy of news reports from my surroundings, I am thankful that they are the exception, and that goodness is the norm.

So many good things are happening, small and big. Children learning new things. Families and friends celebrating Shabbat together. Everyone rejoicing over the showers of rain which blessed our land lately. Walking the streets of Jerusalem on Shabbat and being at synagogue praying along with everyone else for peace to bless our people and our land. Sharing a smile and a shalom for the second time with the elderly man on a neighborhood bench today. Moments of goodness.

Or moments of coexistence, when you wait for a green light right next to a Muslim person, or end up being helped by an Arab in a shop. Lately there have been many photos shared on social media of Israeli soldiers sharing their food with Arab children. Why doesn’t it make the news? Because it is the norm! It is no exception! Isn’t that just great?!

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The good news is that evil is still the exception! Goodness is still the norm! We have reason to rejoice! We live in a good world!

As God created everything, He saw that it was good! And God Himself, who is so good, created man in His image, – so each one of us have a little bit of His goodness in us! May we look for that in the people we meet on our journey through life!

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Good reports from Zion

I like to write. And I guess the reason why I write a blog, is that I like for people to read what I write too. I want to express what I see as the truth, and I want people to read it and be influenced by it. This is meaningful to me.

However, sometimes I have the feeling that different groups of people need to hear different messages, or the same message with a different emphasis. Allow me to explain.

It is like when you are having conversations with different people. Some things seem obvious to some people, and you therefore don’t need to convince them about those things.

People who live in Israel now, have no need to be reminded of the challenges we are going through here. It is quite clear and in your face, so to speak. Spreading the threats of terror only helps spread fear, and that is the goal of the terrorists, – something we DO NOT want to help them with!

So when I think of my Israeli readers, I write posts about how the Israeli people keeps on living in spite of everything, and why I love living in Israel.

On the other hand, when I think of people in other places of the world, who continue with their regular lives, and might even just miss all that Israel is going through, I feel a real need to wake them up, so I write posts like World, – Wake up!!!

These two sides are both true. Both very real parts of our life here in Israel. Parallel realities, as I like to call them.

When I write that things are difficult, it is in case you didn’t already know that. And I imagine this is what motivates others who write those types of messages from here now too. It was when I read other people’s negative reports on life in Israel that I realized how much I didn’t like it, and it was just what I had done too!

Because really, we have plenty of reasons to send good reports out of Zion! Good things are going on! God is doing miracles here! People who were just about declared dead as they arrived at the hospital, are now being released to go home from those hospitals! Terrorists are not able to decide which bus to get on, which Jews to stab, and end up being stopped before they have carried out their attack fully! Our guards are “by chance” stopping the terrorist, without even realizing it until later! These are all huge miracles, that I for one am very, very thankful for!

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God has brought His people back here to LIVE, to THRIVE, to BUILD – and it is really happening now and in our days! It would almost be surprising if the enemy did not try to stop this type of thing! And even if this does make it difficult at times, it is very clear that God is still with His people!

I do not want to be one of the ten spies that brought back a bad report from the Land, but rather like Caleb and Joshua, who saw reality for what it really was. Yes, there are giants in the Land, but our God in whom we trust is even greater!

Od Avinu Chai! And AM YISRAEL CHAI!

Intense times and such different “sides”!

Seldom have I experienced such contrasting feelings as I have during the last few days. Wonderful joyous moments of love and laughter coupled with deep sorrow and a feeling of hopelessness. We have been in our time of rejoicing in the Jewish fall holidays and very much enjoyed time together with family, at the same time as tears have filled my eyes and sorrow my heart as I hear about terror attack after terror attack coming against our people in our country.

Take just today for example. You get the children ready for their first day of school after the holidays, send them off and go to work. Then midmorning, the news alert ticks in on your phone about another Palestinian terrorist with a knife attacking more Jews in the same street as the horrible terror attack we are still shocked by that took place Saturday night. While you are still in the first wave of shock and sorrow for the victims in this attack, you receive the news that the terrorist was an 18 year old girl! The one on Saturday was 19, and then there have been a couple that were 15, and even a 12-year-old!! What has the world come to? How can we go on hoping for any type of coexistence with people who are bringing up this type of next generation?! What hope can we still hold on to for the future??

The day moves on, and we keep hearing about more and more terror attacks. One count says five serious attacks during this one day only, and that is of course in addition to all the ones that were stopped before they were able to do any damage. It is so sickening! The details, the videos, the survivor’s firsthand witnesses. We are dealing with people who wish to kill us all, and are willing to die in the process! It makes me sick to my stomach to think of what can bring a person to that type of situation. The lies, the indoctrination, the twisted realities.

And let me tell you what angers me the very most! – Hearing the international leaders around the world call upon “both sides to show restraint”! Achgh!!! Those two sides should not be mentioned together in the same sentence without pointing out how extremely different they are! In fact I think it would be hard to make them any more contrasting! Here we have people who run after us to murder us! And we, what do we do, – we take the injured terrorist in an ambulance to be treated at the same hospital as the ones he or she tried to murder!! I am ok with that, we want to be the way we are, living lives of good values and integrity. But for anyone to then dare to talk about “both sides” as though they actually have any type of resemblance one to another, – that is totally unacceptable!

When we find ourselves in such difficult realities, the important question will be; – How are we to cope with this? On Saturday night when I first heard about the horrible attack where a young Palestinian terrorist murdered a young Jewish father, injured the mother and child, and murdered another Jewish man who came to help the ones being attacked, and how Palestinians called for a third intifada, I must admit that one of my first thoughts was that I wanted to just lock myself and my dear ones up at home and stay there. Who needs to go anywhere when these types of things are happening?!

A man stood holding this flag by the Old City of Jerusalem when I walked by there Sunday morning

A man stood holding this flag by the Old City of Jerusalem when I walked by there Sunday morning

But then, when you start thinking about it, – that would be giving victory to the terrorists! They want to spread fear, they want to paralyze us all, they want us to change our plans and limit our lives. But you know what, – we are not going to let them!!! Later that Saturday night I went to an overflowing concert where we sang prayers together to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the one who has brought us through so much all the way to where we are today. We are not about to give up hope, because we know where hope is found! We know the promises and we know who is going to bring us through to a future full of hope!

The good and the bad

Has it really been over a month since I wrote anything here?! Time flies when you are having fun! Even if you are not having fun, time can pass really quickly. This is sort of what inspired me to write now. Not about time passing, but rather about having fun and not having fun.

Here in Israel we live with such parallel realities. Constantly. We have amazing highs of the Jewish holidays that we get to celebrate together in such a special way in the Land that God promised to our forefathers thousands of years ago. As a Jewish people in a Jewish Land. It is really special. The togetherness is tangible. The joy. The depth. The thankfulness.

Our table ready for Shavuot, just before we said the blessings and entered into the holiday.

Our table ready for Shavuot, just before we said the blessings and entered into the holiday.

Then, Jerusalem Day, – one of my very favorite days of the year. Celebrating the united Jerusalem. The undivided capital of Israel! What a celebration!! The songs! The flags! The masses of people! What a huge privilege to get to be a part of this.

I am so thankful to be alive, right now, right here, together with the people who happen to have been blessed with life right now also. May we together build something beautiful and meaningful on the basis of what the people who have gone before us have prepared, and that the next generations can keep building on,  – until our Messiah comes! May we do what we can to take our part, to live faithful lives, to make the most of this amazing opportunity that life really is!

The Flag Parade on our way to the Western Wall on Jerusalem Day.

The Flag Parade on our way to the Western Wall on Jerusalem Day.

So, yes, this is the one side of our realities. The positive, optimistic, hopeful and building side.

Then there is the other side. Which we are so reminded of right now when we can’t stop thinking of our three boys who are in the hands of terrorists. Even writing it is painful. The letters, the words, they cannot describe the depth of this catastrophe, this horrible tragedy, this black hole.

Imagine life for the families of these kids. Two of them are only sixteen years old. Sixteen! Think of a sixteen year old that you know, and imagine him in the hands of Hamas. The third is nineteen. Teenagers. Kids! Oh, God!!

(photo from Facebook)

(photo from Facebook)

We pray that God will give wisdom to our leaders, to our military, to each one who is working night and day to return those boys to their homes! Oh, God, hear our prayers!! Protect our boys, their minds, their hearts… May you fill them with your peace that is beyond understanding. Oh, Merciful One…!

The Torah Portion for last week included the story of the twelve representatives of the twelve tribes who were sent to tour the Land of Israel to see what it was like, when the people of Israel were still in the dessert. We all know how it goes. Only two had a positive report to bring. The overwhelming number of ten against two, had a negative report to bring. Actually, come to think of it, their reports were not all that different, it was their attitudes that were miles apart. What does it matter if giants are against us, if God is with us??! What do we have to fear when we have the Almighty on our side? He is faithful to His promises to us, and He will not leave us! He will keep us, lead us and stay with us, just like He has promised!

Western Wall on Jerusalem Day

Jerusalem Day celebrations at the Western Wall

May we take this to heart also in our days. We want to bring a positive report. And more than that, – we want to keep our faith! We want to see things for what they really are. Yes, there are massive enemies surrounding us. Yes, most of the world seems to side with our enemies, not interested neither in truth nor facts. But listen, – the Almighty God is with us! The Creator of heaven and earth, – He goes before us! He holds us in His hands! What do we have to fear?!

So yes, – in the midst of parallel realities, – laughter and tears, in the midst of the intenseness of it all, – let’s keep our perspective right where it should be! We are promised a future and a hope! And we can feel it already in our days! There is something here! We already have a taste of it! And it is here to stay and to grow. And we get to be a part of it! Halleluyah! I would not want to be anywhere else than right here, where God has placed me!

 

Shabbat in Jerusalem

Hanukkah is over, but we decided to leave the decorations up until after Shabbat. So we get to enjoy them a bit in the peace and quiet that came after the holiday excitement was over.

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It has been a lovely shabbat in Jerusalem. Just walking the streets of Jerusalem is a spiritual experience on shabbat. Really. I thought of it today as we were out there walking on this beautiful cold and crisp but sunny and dry Jerusalem day. There were lots of other people out there also going to and from synagogue and home. People are wishing each other Shabbat Shalom. You bump into people you know and stop and talk with them for a while. It feels more like a village than the capital it really is.

A view of Jerusalem from one of my runs last week

A view of Jerusalem from one of my runs last week

Whenever we are not in Jerusalem on shabbat, I miss it. There is just nothing quite like it. You can basically feel it in the air you breathe, that it is shabbat. There is no way you for a moment would forget what day it is. There are no buses or public transport, people are off from work and shops are closed. It is a real shabbat. People have time for each other, for the things that really matters (*which as the saying goes, aren’t things…).

Another photo from my run last week

Another photo from my run last week

In the weekly portion that we read this Shabbat, we learn about Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers when they had come down to Egypt for their second time. The most amazing words in this portion, I think, are: “Ani Yosef.”“I am Joseph.” Just start to imagine what is going on in the heads of the brothers as they hear it!! In that very instant all their questions and mysteries get their answers! All of a sudden all the puzzle pieces fall into place!

And this is what it is going to be like when the Messiah comes and reveals His identity. When we will hear the words: “I am the Messiah”, our questions will get their answers, and all the pieces will fall into place. We may very well be surprised, but at the same time it will all make sense! What a day it will be!!

winter movie night

We enjoyed good reads, yummy treats and fun games at home on this shabbat afternoon. And as our family tradition is on winter motze shabbat (saturday nights), when shabbat goes out early, – we had a movie night.

Yup, it’s been a good day. Life is not all that bad after Hanukkah either!

What is Hanukkah all about??

We have been counting down days, hours and minutes, – and here we are! It is Hanukkah! The house is all decorated. The gifts are wrapped. The cookies are baked. The fridge is filled to the rim with all kinds of goodies. Life is really, really good.

Hanukkah gifts

I thought that maybe I would take this opportunity to explain the basics of what we are celebrating in Hanukkah, for those who are not as familiar with it. It will not cover everything, of course, as that is impossible in a little blog post. 🙂

Hanukkah cookies

The name “Hanukkah” means “Dedication”, and this refers to the rededication of the Temple. The Greeks had occupied the land of Israel, and forbid anything that had to do with Jewish faith and tradition. They even took over the temple and made it unclean in all kinds of different ways.

Hanukkah cookies

One of the saddest things was that there were Jews who left their faith and people, to join the Greeks and their ways. The Jews who stayed faithful to their Jewish faith and the God of Israel, were the Maccabees. They kept on living faithful Jewish lives in spite of the danger this put them under.

Wrapping Hanukkah gifts

Wrapping Hanukkah gifts

So there was this war going on between the Greeks and the Maccabees. And at one point the Maccabees, lead by Judah the Maccabee and his brothers, were able to recapture the Temple. A newer tradition tells that in the process of cleansing and dedication of the Temple, it was very important to light the Menorah, which of course was lit by oil. They only found a small jar of oil, enough for only one day. But this is where God did yet another miracle; the oil lasted for eight whole days! Enough time to bring new oil.

Hanukkah candles

So the Maccabees were able to light the Menorah and rededicate the Temple, – and they stayed a separate Jewish people, and did not all become part of the Greek occupiers. This is certainly worth celebrating!!

Hanukkah gifts

May we always stay faithful to God and His call to us! And, thinking of the fact that God has said that He will dwell in us, we are in a sense His temple, – let us take this opportunity and rededicate ourselves to Him!

Another trip-day.

I have had another one of my work related trip days. Today the trip went to Haifa, where I met seven families from different communities in the north.

Haifa Mall

I have actually been feeling a bit “under the weather” for the last few days, so if it was not for the fact that I had already made these appointments, I probably would have just stayed home and laid low today. Anyway, it all worked out, and there were even enjoyable moments!

coffee

I had a good time in the car driving through the Land of Israel. I listened to a CD I love, but that I for some reason had not listened to for a while. One of the songs is about us coming back to Eretz Yisrael, and about the holiness of the Land. Listening to this, while looking at the views of the beautiful hills of Samaria, the sun reflecting on the Mediterranean, cities built on hilltops, fruit-trees and fields of agriculture, – it was just perfect! (I even sang out loud, with my voice which is now very influenced by the fact that I have a bad cold… Good thing I was alone in the car!)

coffee

My time in Haifa started with a cup of mint tea and ended with a cup of vanilla flavored coffee, – so yeah, not all bad. (The shop we use there, has some really nice people who called in the morning to find out when I was coming, and when they heard I wasn’t feeling well, they immediately promised me a cup of tea upon arrival!) The seven families each received their needed item, be it a refrigerator, a washing machine or a cookings stove, – and all left very thankful. And I again felt uplifted by the fact that I get to be a part of such a meaningful thing as helping the people who God has brought back, settle in their homeland! What a blessing!

coffee with a dear friend

The cup of coffee I had with a dear friend who is a Jerusalemite at heart but for the time being lives in Haifa. It is always a treat to get together with her, and was definitely one of the bright points of my trip today.