Monday, July 31, 2006


"What a Fine State of Affairs"

What a Fine State of Affairs
I was invited, for Friday evening, to a friend's house for dinner - in honor of a birthday, no less.  As I sat in my study trying to decide just how to tell my friend that I wasn't coming my phone rang - my friend was on the phone.  So I told her I wasn't coming to her husband's birthday dinner - just like that.  Why?  Because she lives over the Green Line and a part of the road to their house is quite empty and deserted.  A big road - beautiful - new - well lighted - but deserted with Arab villages off to the sides.  I was fine about driving on the Begin (that's Begin - as in Mehachem), and fine about driving through the suburb of Ramot - but after having to go through the "machsom" (barrier - checkpoint) I would then be on the deserted road.  She suggested I call some mutual friends who were also invited and ask for a "tremp" (lift - ride) with them.  Which I did - and had an absolutely hilarious and wonderful evening.  There were about sixteen of us there and by tacit agreement we did not talk about the "matzav" (situation) even once.  She is a wonderful and imaginative cook - so the food was delicious.  And her husband owns a "yekev" (winery) - so there was plenty of very good wine to drink.  And as I didn't have to drive - I felt free to drink - great fun.  And one of their friends is a  raconteur and had us all in stitches - and for the first time in two weeks I forgot about all our troubles and laughed and laughed.  On the way home at about 1:30 in the morning - driving along the deserted stretch of road - I couldn't help but think that I was so grateful not to be alone in my car.  Isn't that a fine state of affairs?  Not to feel safe in my own country?  To be nervous because of whatever ramifications there might be due to the fighting in Lebanon?
But on the other hand - in Israel there is always another hand - on Saturday I was invited to another birthday party - this time a luncheon.  This friend's children and grandchildren decided to take her to Abu Gosh for lunch.  Abu Gosh is an Arab village, not far from Jerusalem, which has traditionally been friendly to the Jews.  For years and years - before the Jerusalem/Tel Aviv highway was built - we had to take small roads that naturally took us to Abu Gosh - where there was one restaurant - "The Caravan" - which had wonderful arab food - I'll tell you about the food another time.  "The Caravan" - which still exists in greatly expanded form - still has good food  - and that's where we had lunch - sitting in one of the gardens under a grape arbor.  Today there are many more restaurants and lovely shops in Abu Gosh - and on Saturdays you can hardly get into the village nor easily find a parking space because the place is filled with Israelis out for a good time.  And isn't that also a fine state of affairs?  I felt perfectly safe in this friendly Arab Village!
And now - sound the horns - ta ta ta da ta ta! - my blog is up and running.  Just click on to the address below and you can access it - and even send me comments.  I love to hear from you so do write.  If you think any of your friends and family would like to read my blogs - feel free to send them my address.  I think my blogmaster (is that a word?  If not - it is one now) did a good job for me. 
So - this is the last blog I'll be sending to you directly - just "click" from now on to read what I have to say.  If anyone has difficulty logging on just let me know.
One word about what happened at Qana yesterday - what do you expect to happen if you use women and children as human shields?  Israel does not target innocents and civilians.  Why is the world not crying about the Israeli innocents and civillians who have been killed and maimed and kidnapped and forced to leave their homes?
Stay Safe
Rena's Blog

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Dear All

I had no idea when I started sending out these letters that I would get such phenomenal response. I'm getting e-mails from all over the world asking me to keep on writing.
And you are all wonderful. I didn't realize I sounded so plaintive when I said that this is the one time when I didn't like living on my own. I have gotten many many phone calls
and letters from abroad telling me to feel free to call in the middle of the night - my middle of the night is only evening abroad so I don't have to worry about waking anybody up. But I've also gotten phone calls from here asking me to call - when my middle of the night is also theirs. No one seems to be sleeping here. It's so wonderful to discover that you are loved when you are still alive to hear it.
So on to yesterday in the war zone. Jerusalem has been quiet - no "piguim" (terrorist bombs) thank G-d although Netanya and Haifa have been very badly hit. I spoke with my cousin - who lives on a moshav at Beit Yitzhak - just opposite Netanya - and she has a full house. Her oldest daughter and boyfriend are studying at the Technion in Haifa and feel very unsafe there so they are camping out at my cousin's. And there are also friends there. (In fact, when I called she was frying schnitzel. What do Jews do in time of trouble? We eat. Schnitzel and puree seem to be the Israeli comfort food. Schnitzel is simply breaded and fried chicken or turkey cutlets and puree is mashed potatoes. And it covers all segments of the population - Ashkenazi and Sepharadi.) Her youngest daughter has just been recently inducted into the Army and is serving in Gush Etzion ( the Territories) and her son, who is in the Navy, is stationed in Eilat. He's the only one she doesn't have to actively worry about - for the moment.
We all try to carry on as usual. I did my marketing yesterday and don't remember seeing people buying such enormous quantities of food on a Tuesday. Before Shabbat? Yes. Before a Hag (holiday)? Yes. But on an ordinary Tuesday? Anyway, when I got home in the late afternoon I began to cook and as I was in my kitchen I, of course, had the TV on. What a strange feeling - to stand in your own kitchen cooking and watching the North of your country being bombarded with Katyushas. It was surreal.
But when I went out to dinner last night with some friends the restaurant was busy and bustling and the people seemed to have no cares in the world. I guess life will go on here as usual until the Katyushas hit Jerusalem. And that's a real possibility - as we are told on the news. It is said that the Hezbollah now have rockets that can reach Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
I think this whole mishegas is summed up in a letter I received from an Israeli friend who lives in London. He wrote "I sit here in London trying to make sense of the whole thing.
Sense? Middle East? What am I thinking?"
Stay safe. Rena


Is Israel the World's Shabbas-Goy?

Worse than the withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking, worse than going on a diet and craving that piece of chocolate cake -- is the pain of not having a computer! Last week we had a country-wide blackout - only lasted a few minutes but enough time to do serious damage. A combination of that and my brilliant idea of trying to up-date my anti-virus program by myself - aided by my friend, Marallyn, (whose technological ignorance is second only to mine) and who "advised" me on how-to - sent my computer crashing.
However - my fabulous computer mumche (specialist/authority), Elad, came to the rescue and here I am again. He is very very tall and aside from taking care of my computer he also changed a light bulb for me - which he does with great regularity.
Anyway - on to the situation here. We have been watching TV and reading the newspapers - and making ourselves crazy. The news is not good - many on both sides being killed and injured. I'm not sure how clever it is to conduct this war in the media. Aren't we giving too much away? Shouldn't there be an element of surprise? Should reporters actually be reporting how many reservists have already been called up and the strength of our armoured divisions? Should we be telling Hezbollah exactly where their Katyusha's hit so that if they missed their target they can perfect their aim for the next time?
Just took in my newspaper (Haaretz/Herald Tribune) - how's this for a headline -- "U.S. wants Israel to end war in Lebanon within a week; IDF expands operation". We are certainly getting mixed signals from the Bush administration. On the one hand, Condoleeza Rice is headed here today and she says she has no quick fixes. On the other hand she has said that a cease-fire is no solution as in a short time we will be back to where we started vis-a-vis Hezbollah. On the other hand the world is happy to see us doing their dirty work - I feel as if we are the shabbas-goys (non-Jews who are asked to perform duties during the Shabbat that Jews can't perform for themselves such as turning on lights) for the world in this war. And on the other hand the U.S. is sending us bombs that can penetrate deep bunkers. Yes - there is more than one "other hand". And therein lies the problem. Are we to expect support from other nations - notably the U.S.? Or are we to be stopped in our tracks and go back to square one?
Support from other countries? I am so angry. The other day I saw on TV a shot of Spain's Prime Minister Zapatero proudly showing off his scarf made of keffiah fabric (the black and white fabric that Arafat used to wear). Has he so quickly forgotten the train bombings in Madrid? Why is he appeasing the Muslims?
Must get on with my day - important things like going to the misrad ha rishui (Motor Vehicle Bureau) to try to - finally - get my permanent driving license. I sent in my renewal in August 2005 as I was supposed to - went back again to see why my license hadn't arrived - was issued a temporary license good until February 2006, went back in February 2006 - was issued another temporary license good until this coming Wednesday - enough already. It was bad enough being without a computer. What will I do if I can't drive my car?
Stay Safe.

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This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus system.


Chik-Chat from Jerusalem

I think it's time to tell you why I call this Chik-Chat From Jerusalem. There is a Hebrew expression "chik-chak" which means "immediately - if not sooner". There is also a type of literature which is called chick-lit. So I've taken both of these terms and put them together to mean - more or less - news immediately out of Israel written by a woman - although not to be read by women only. And why did I have to title my missives? So glad you asked. I'm in the middle of setting up a "Blog" - which, of course, has to have a title. It's not up and running yet - and won't be for a while - this being Israel I don't exactly know how long "a while" will be - a week? - a few days? A while.
I already have the format and an address - and in the middle of everything I think I have to up-grade my computer. My computer is still not working properly and as Elad, my mumche (expert) told me some time ago, the time has come to upgrade. In the meantime everything is working "k'mo she tzarich" (as it is supposed to) and so I'm writing to you now while the writing is good - so to speak. I'll keep you posted on the progress of my blog - and let you know when you can click directly on to it.
I won't go into all the day-to-day progress of the war - notice I'm still calling it a war - with a lower-case "w" - you get enough of that from your TV and newspapers. But I'll tell you what is happening to us here. We're exhausted - and nervous - and worried. I thought that if I ran around all day like a meshuggena (a crazy person) I'd be so tired at night that I'd sleep. Wrong. Ran around all day yesterday - got home for the last time at almost midnight - fell into bed - fell asleep immediately - and boiiinngg - at 1:30 I was up - and again at 3:00 - and finally at 5:00 I gave it up as a bad job - and have been up ever since.
Spoke with my cousin who lives in Beit Yitzhak - opposite Netanya. Her older daughter went back to Haifa where she is at the Technion. Katyushas are still dropping there but the University has decided to re-open and as she has to defend her thesis shortly she had no choice but to return. Her son, who was stationed in Eilat has just been sent to Haifa - so another one to worry about. And her youngest daughter is still station in Kush Katif.
More and more we're hearing each day of boys being called up - "miluimnikim" (reservists) - some of whom have only just been released from the Army. The rationale for that is that they are still in great physical condition and also conversant with all the latest technology. Aren't they lucky!
By the way - in case you are wondering - I went to the "misrad ha rishui" (Motor Vehicle Bureau) yesterday and got my.........third temporary license. This time I was promised that I would receive my permanent license "gag hodesh - bli tashlum nosaf" (in no more than a month - without additional payment!!!). Can't even get angry - there are more important things to worry about at the moment.
Continue to pray for us and for our soldiers - those who have been kidnapped and those who are fighting so bravely.
Stay Safe.


Mommy, The Emperor is Naked

And is he ever. The Emperor I'm speaking about is Kofi Anan. He has, finally - and in front of the whole world - shown his true colors. How dare he? How dare he? Blaming us for deliberately killing the four UN soldiers. Before waiting to hear the truth. The truth - from the e-mail of one of the soldiers - saying that Hezbollah was using the UN's building for cover. Shame on him!!
Furthermore - the Israelis have gone out of their way to try not to harm innocent civilians. The Army drops leaflets advising people to leave the area when they are going to bomb. The reason some of our soldiers were killed the other day is that the Army left part of their line open for trucks carrying humanitarian aid to get through - and Hezbollah took advantage of that. Does anybody tell you about that? Does Hezbollah do that?
By the way, a friend of mine (the mother of the soldier in Gaza) brought this to my attention - KOF is the Hebrew word for monkey - ANAN is cloud. So - what shall we call him? A cloudy monkey? A monkey under a cloud? Whatever we call him - he has finally confirmed what we have always thought about him - anti-Jewish - anti-Israel - you call it. Certainly not qualified to be the head of the UN - but who ever said that that "august" body was fair anyway. The same friend has a sticker on her car which says UN - UnNecessary.
This very minute - as I am writing to you - the TV is reporting that Gilad Shalit - the captured soldier in Gaza - may - just may - be released imminently. Abbas says yes. Saeb Erekat says there is nothing definite - but at least there is movement. Nothing confirmed - nothing definite - just pray.
Now - what about the two soldiers in the North? In any event - it appears that we are weakening Hamas - 23 of their men were just killed - and this will ease the pressure on us in the South.
When I started writing I never meant to turn these letters into a political forum. We all get enough of that. I wanted to write about how we are managing, about life in Israel in general, about food, about my friends v'choole, v'choole, v'choole (etc. etc. etc.). Today was just too much. I couldn't help myself.
I have to go now - impossible to concentrate on this and also the breaking news.
Stay Safe.


What a Waste

I was going to send this as part of my new Blog - but as I am the most technologically challenged person I know I am having trouble getting it all together - as it were. In the meantime, I have been getting phone calls asking where I've disappeared to - so I'll just continue on in this format until I straighten myself out.
My computer mumche was here again yesterday - he seems to be becoming a regular part of my household - and put in FIREFOX instead of INTERNET EXPLORER - so that should take care of some of my current problems for the moment. I don't really know what that means except one is orange and the other is blue - so I have to remember to hit the orange button. Also - and I'm almost embarrassed to admit this - yesterday my brother showed me how to do an "attachment'. And he showed me this little procedure over the telephone - cllick this - click that - done. And I sent an attachment for the first time. Idiot - you must be saying. Is she really part of the 21st Century?
I've been rambling on about everything because I can hardly bear to write - or even think about - the War. Yes - I've upgraded war to a capital "W". Woke up this morning - put on the TV immediately - and the first thing I heard was Nasrallah saying that no Israeli is safe anywhere in the country. There is always this great awareness that the pictures we see of Haifa could be us next. And that is a very sobering thought. Why am I knocking myself out worrying about my "shiputzim" (renovations to my flat), or my diet, or stopping smoking - again?
I look at the pictures on the TV - the people in the North - the innocent Lebanese - the soldiers who are giving their lives for us - and I say what a waste. A waste of lives. A waste of energy. A waste of money and resources.
And yet - while Israel has been told that our response to the kidnappings - and let's not forget that that's why this this all began - and the Katyushas and the Quassams has been "disproportionate" - what else are we to do? Call a ceasefire and let Hezbollah build themselves up again? Go back to the status quo and let the shelling continue in the North and in the South? Put ourselves in mortal danger every day of our lives? Cease to exist - "chas v'halilla" (G-d forbid)?
And someone said yesterday that we will be given ten days to two weeks more to rout Hezbollah - that should be enought time! What rubbish. America has been in Afghanistan and Iraq for years - and that story isn't over by a long shot (poor choice of words).
I received a beautiful and heart-wrenching letter this morning from my friend who has a son in Gaza. She knew that soldiers were killed there and that the names aren't published until the families are notified. She waited all night - with heart pounding and stomach churning - for the phone NOT to ring or there NOT to be a knock on the door. And finally this morning her son called - he is safe - and she cried and I cried - and we both prayed - and this is what life is like here at the moment.
Stay Safe.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Hi Rena!

Welcome to your new blog!

You are going to have a lot of fun with this, and I look forward to seeing you become fabulous and famous.

Good luck!

- John Little

PS. We'll remove this 'post' when you get your first post up.

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