Is it Saigon or Ho-Chi-Minh??

We arrived at the last stop on our vacation. It’s the longest time that we have been away from our family and we miss them all.
The capital of Vietnam has had name changes that reflect the ruling “party” and just like in olden days when a new king came to power the old temple gods were destroyed, so too in modern day Vietnam.. the names of cities change with a change in ruling power. The capital of the South was called Saigon but when the North won the war and the name changed in 1975 to Ho chi Minh to honor the North’s communist leader. (see)
The sheer number of motorcyclists is mindboggling.  They even take to riding (or is it swarming) on the sidewalks during rush hour. It’s like an army attacking the road. You’d think that you’d get used to seeing this mode of transportation but it is endless…

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We walked around central city and took the elevator 49 floors to the top of The Bitex center to get a 360 degree view of the city.

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The architecture is a mix of French colonial with magnificent building mixed with more typical small building.

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We visited the Post Office building which is a working post office, then off to the Notre-Dame Cathedral and to the Presidential palace or as it was renamed The Reunification Palace. Lots of important meetings took place here and there is huge bunker in the basement. It’s an impressive building built in the 1960 architecture style surrounded by palm trees with a helicopter pad on the roof. It is associated with the 1975 fall of Saigon to the North , yet it is as though time stood still.

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The war remnants museum is a reminder of the Vietnam War. There is an exhibit that details the US involvement and an exhibit of war photos among them the famous naked girl running from a napalm bomb. I have been reading the book ” The Girl in the Picture” which gives a detailed description of those days. There are also photos of the victims of Agent Orange the chemical weapon that was used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Remnants_Museum

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Vietnamese use herbs to cure almost anything.  We visited the Fito museum which is an old house in the Chinatown neighborhood and learned that the bones of different animals can produce different medicines. Dried herbs are used with water to remedy other stuff. Cinnamon for example mixed with water can cure diarrhea.

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To finish our tour we visited two temples. One is a religion called Caodi which is a monotheistic religion established in 1926.

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Our adventure is almost over. We started in Hong Kong which is reminiscent of New York with the tall buildings and a modern skyline.  Then we flew south to Cambodia to embrace the ancient temples of Ankgor Watt . We then continued to Vietnam; starting in the North and going down south as-if following the communist Viet-Cong on their way to conquer the south. It is a different world. We tasted different foods with different spices. We learned about the religion.  We talked to people who grew up after the war yet carry in their DNA the effects of the war.

Vietnam is a communist-run country with strong capitalistic influences. The government is corrupt but there is no alternative…  yet. There is beauty in that world and I am glad we chose to go there.

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The Power of Water

Halong Bay is three hours from Hanoi. Once we get out of the city see rice fields and Buffalo grazing. We stop at a rest stop which really is a shopping trap for tourists.  You need to spend half an hour there in the hope that you’ll buy an embroidered picture or a semi precious gem. One can define it as “Capitalism” at it’s best..
Halong translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’, and legend claims the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon from the mountains. As the dragon charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out valleys and crevasses. When it finally plunged into the sea, the area filled with water, leaving only the pinnacles visible.

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We boarded a “junk” sailing boat for the overnight exploration.
There is a mystical atmosphere as you look at the islands that pop out from the water at different perspectives. For a close look at the limestone rocks we take a kayak. It was a lesson in coordinating strokes as no one wanted to fall into the bay. We saw a floating fishing village although some boats were stuck on shore..

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The next morning we went back to Hanoi and flew south to Da-Nang. Da-Nang is the third biggest city. We did not stay there but arrived at the most amazing resort – The Nam Hai. There are three infinity pools ending at the beach… breath-taking.

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These are the best beaches in Vietnam by the China sea. Hoi-An is a historical village 15 minutes away which is another shopping mecca.  You can get a suit or shoes made in 24 hours . We took a tour of some old houses. It seems that the architecture of the house did not change there is a long room which is divided between living/bedroom and kitchen in the back.

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Half an hour bike ride took us through palm tree field, rice fields and into a farming village. The farmers grow rice for their own consumption, raise chickens, pigs , banana trees, papaya trees, lemon grass, basically anything they eat they grow.

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We were treated to a home-cooked meal of spring rice rolls and learned how to make rice by separating the husk till the white kernel emerges.
We then continued biking to a vegetable garden village where they grow vegetables to sell at the local market.

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we could see how the Viet-Cong were able to hide in between the palms or rice fields and come out at night.
Most days we woke up to a gray sea but on our last day the sun came out so we indulged in a day of rest, it is a vacation after all.

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The Kingdom of Wonder

Cambodia is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia.
Officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia and once known as the Khmer Empire. We flew to Siem Reap which mean Defeat of Siam. Images of Yul Brenner in The King and I came to my mind, even though Siam is in Thailand but as we learned, this country has a long history of changing rulers and the neighboring countries. Vietnam and Thailand, took constant bites of this land.
More about it you can find it here.

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The main attraction are the temples and the main one is called Angkor Wat.

The temples were build in the 7 -10 century A.D. They were build for one religion, Hinduism but then a new ruler came who believed in Buddhism, thus he destroyed the  images of the exciting religion and new ones were carved. Nature also took it’s toll but an extensive restoration work was done on most of them so we had  a full “plate” on our hands.  We started with Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple then on to Preah Khan then Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat. Each one was unique. The biggest is Angkor Wat. The temples have the same basic architecture. They were  build with 4 corner prayer/meditation rooms, courtyard in the middle and three towers each symbolize a different god. It seems that the numbers 3 and 4 are important, which sums to 7. Nothing is random and you can find meaning in everything.  I find that I tend to compare it to Judaism. There is so much in common even though these believes developed in different parts of the world.

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I marveled at each one but I got restless in Angkor Wat. I found out later that its the only one that served as a burial place for the kings. This reminded me of the Taj-Mahal which is another wonder but also is a mausoleum and let’s not forget the Pyramids… what is it with the obsession with death?

The Next morning I woke up at 4am, took  a Tuk-tuk which is a motorcycle attached to a carriage, to the town of Phnom Krom. Took a steep hike and arrived at a pagoda on the top of a mountain. It’s a monastery and the monks were getting up for their morning chanting. After the chanting I joined a purification ceremony which included chanting, prayers, meditation and final blessing with holy water by the abbot. I was also given a red string on my right hand. I joined an Indian family who cam for the blessing, for breakfast and watched the sunrise.

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We heard there was a place called a Thousand Lingas.  Yes…  it’s a phallic symbol but again it symbolize beginnings. We drove an hour and half out of the city. The landscape consists mainly of rice fields. The farmers live in huts on stilts, they don’t have any electricity or running water.
We learned from our guide that it is the government’s interest to keep the people poor and uneducated.
We climbed for an hour and arrived at the famous Thousand Lingas river. Back to Siem Reap we stopped at the ” pink temple” Banteay Prei which is big but has no ornamentation.

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The next stop was the Landmine museum. This was a reminder that Cambodia was under the Khmer Rouge dictatorship regime that killed over 2 million Cambodians.

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There are few staple Cambodian foods. I took a cooking class which started with a trip to the market to get the fish or rather make sure it’s the fish I can eat … then to the kitchen to make banana flower salad with smoked fish, coconut soup with tofu and fish amok.
We leave Cambodia to go North to Hanoi. We leave a country with a rich history that is filled with wars and pain and hope for a brighter future.

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Good Evening Viet-Nam

We landed at the new Hanoi airport (it opened yesterday). We drove to the hotel on the new highway and the new bridge which took 20 years to build with help from Japan. There are motorcycles everywhere, like a swarm of bees. We find out that motorcycles are the favorite mode of transportation, as cars are expensive and the price of gas is controlled by the government.
The contrast between the temples and rice fields of Cambodia to the busy streets of Hanoi makes me feel as though I am in a different planet, a different civilization. It’s not only the new airport but the amount of people and being in a city where you are immediately immersed in the busy life.

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The Metropole Hotel, where we stay is an old magnificent hotel.  We are staying in the original wing and our room was used as the first Israeli embassy in Hanoi in the years 1994-1995. There is a plaque outside our room (111) dedicated by President Shimon Peres. What an interesting coincidence! During the Vietnam War (or as the Vietnamese call it the “American War”) Hanoi was bombed.  There is a bunker in the hotel where the guests took shelter. It’s three narrow rooms with low ceilings and feels like a prison. Joan Baez who came to visit the American soldiers in prison composed the song “where are you my son?” during the Christmas bombing of 1972.
Here is a link to the full story.

We had one full day to explore the city. Early morning we headed to see the Ho Chi Minh memorial, well it is a mausoleum.  You walk in line, soldiers in white uniform watch you and make sure that your behavior is respectful of the dead president. I entered the room where Ho Chi Minh is lying on a bed, the body is embalmed but he looks alive. I did not expect to see a body. You cannot stop or talk, but just keep walking. We walked to see the house where he lived in the last three years of his life. He was “married ‘ to politics and lived a spartan life. He brought communism to his country. He believed that order will save the Viet-Nam nation. (Viet is the name of the people who live in the country which is Nam which means South as in South of China)
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We then went to see the one pillar pagoda which was build by a king who prayed for son everyday till his wish came true. We continued to the Temple of Literature and were introduced to Confucius who supported education, respect for one’s elders and much more. It is the university of the past. There are 82 doctorate stelae standing on top of turtles and engraved with the names of the royal court doctors who passed the royal exams from 15th to 18th century.

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We took a ride on a motorcycle, it was scary to sit behind the driver while he maneuvered in between the throng of motorcycles and cars. We arrived at the “Hanoi HIlton”. It’s not the hotel but the oldest prison in Hanoi where the French and then the Japanese kept their prisoners shackled at night and the American prisoners were kept during the war.

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We walked around the lake, saw a water puppet show and ended the day with a fabulous Vietnamese/French diner.
Hanoi is the second biggest city in Viet-Nam and was the capital of the North.

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New beginnings – 2015

Martin Buber said :
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

I believe that traveling opens our mind and Intrigues or awaken our senses. Life is a journey so in a way we start traveling the minute we are born.

I started the year 2015 with a trip to Hong Kong . We were invited to a chinese wedding on January 1st. I like numbers so somehow I saw the hidden reason to the trip. We are celebrating 33 years of marriage (3+3=6),2015 sums to 8 and 8-6=2 which where we started our family which grew to 8+6=14, 1+4=5..Ok , I am not getting crazy just having fun.

The sun welcomed us in Hong Kong , with no fog in the morning we ventured to Lantau Island to see the Big Buddha.
We got to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car at the hotel which allowed us to skip the line. Getting off the cable car it feels like you stepped into Disney Land, which is only a subway stop before we reached the island.

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There was even a kids talent show but the Giant Budhah is impressive and eating vegeterian lunch at the monastery was a treat, they dont cook meat or fish because they don’t believe in killing living things.

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The sun continues to smile upon us so we took the car to the Victoria Peak ( the peak). As it was clear we took the peak circle walk and got a 360 view of the Harbour, China Sea and Hong Kong city. The building looked like a lego set but very close together.

We took the tram down , the grade is so steep that the buildings outside seem to lean at 45 degree angel.

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I wanted to check the contemporary art galleries and to my delight some familiar names, Gagosian, White cube, Lehman Maupin opened branches in HK, Central Island. Well two were closed Haanart , a chinese gallery opened a show for a HK artist .

To celebrate New Year we chose to eat at Mamason, a mix of chines, thai food with a set menu and moscow mule and champagne. After we walked to see the fireworks. I have never seen the streets so crowded. Police was everywhere, the streets were blocked for car.Everyone was celebrating and going from bar to bar.

The next day I read that 35 people died in a stamped in Shanghai.

The wedding took place in a party hall , it seems that pictures are very important. The bride and Groom and three albums done before the wedding with different dresses and in different locations.
The ceremony was basically signing a document witnessed by a notary.
After the relatives were lined up for photo op and bringing red envelop which has money in it and gold jewlery to the couple who in return were serving tea to the relatives for the gifts.
The meal had 13 courses served family style. No dancing just pictures and food. We learned that the bride and groom were up since 5am with other rituals.

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The next morning we boarded a flight to Cambodia.

Love -Art

Last week I travelled to Miami, away from the cold. Not because I wanted to get away from the first taste of winter and get some sun … but for art. Art fairs are abundant these days and for the last ten years I find myself on a plane heading South to see what “Art Basel” has to offer. It’s not all about art.  Yes, there are parties, previews and many other fairs. And, yes it seems that every year another art fair pops up, just like mushrooms!  There are collections to see and  this year, even a new museum. If it sounds confusing, it is. After all,  isn’t contemporary art supposed to make us wonder? Some of the art can be explained, some works I like and some I just don’t get, but overall Art Basel is a quick view of what’s happening in the artistic world today. I am not an expert, but I like to see how people relate to what they see. I ask myself: Is it the object that catches our eye? Is it the color that ignites the imagination? What makes us stop and think.

Here are some images I captured. It’s a journey for the mind.

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Walking the main fair I came across beds, people were lying with headphones , covered with a blanket . It is a project by the artist Marina Abramovitz. At a talk with the artist, she explained her method, she tried to give us the opportunity to claim time for oneself during the art fair.  She created four projects, beds for rest-time, counting the rice tables, and a portal long chair. These projects were a collaborations with the architect Daniel Libeskind and designer Patricia Urquiola. She believes that Technology is good and bad. Technology takes all our time and doesn’t give us time to ourself.

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I spend three days running around trying to see it all but off course that is not possible.

Marina had another project in Sean Kelly gallery. It was the last day so you would think I had had enough but NOOO, I had to see what else she created. The project is called “Generator”, there is a quote form Alexander Dorner (art historian 1893-1957) ” The new type of art will be more like a power station, a producer of new energy”. You are blindfolded and your ears are covered with earphones and then one is led into a room. The idea is to walk slowly around or just stand. It focuses on “Nothingness”. But is there really nothing? Once some of the senses are blocked, you are aware of the space in a different way. You are entering a meditative state but yet you are part of the community of others. You are part of the exhibition and therefore creating art on your own. It is radical.

I wanted to see another exhibit of the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami which is called In the land of Dead, stepping on the tail of a Rainbow. The sculptures of mythological creatures and painting of smily faces are painted on skulls. Murakami explored natural catastrophes, things that are caused by nature. He said that to make sense of it we invent stories.

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I can never have enough of seeing art, of creating art and even without paint brush or clay we create and that’s what makes me happy.

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What does it mean? Democracy

For the last two weeks I’ve been in Israel to celebrate my mom’s birthday. The weather is warm; sitting in the garden at The Norman Hotel is magical. Israeli breakfast which includes fresh tomatoes, salad, fresh eggs, cheeses and great bread is a must. The cafés are full of people, all day long and breakfast is served anytime of the day.

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Tel Aviv changing skyline

Tel Aviv changing skyline

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We heard about a rally for democracy that will take place in Rabin square. Upon arriving at the square I was struck by the number of young high school kids, most of them in scout uniform. The signs read “enough to racism, yes to peace” another smaller one said ” Bib will bring us to the next war”. There were no political speeches only a call for peace, accepting the other, being united. Naftali’s mother ( one of the boys who were kidnapped and killed during the summer) spoke in a passionate way about being tolerant and hoping for peace. Later I found out that the rally was primarily meant for the youth. To empower the next generation and give them hope.

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I met with a young comedy writer who is planning a conference called “Comedy for a Change“,  what a great idea. Israelis like to make fun of themselves and of everyday events. I guess comic relief is part of life. Friday night there is a new comedy show called ” The Jews are Coming” which mocks biblical and Jewish historical events. Maybe we could bring it to the American TV …. Israel is more than “Homeland” war shows..

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Saturday morning we joined a group called ” Machsom Watch” which mean “gate keepers”.  It was started by women whose mission is to make sure that human rights issues are kept at the checkpoints. We wanted to see what happens on the other side. How does the West Bank look from a different point of view. Olive trees fill the scenery.  Arabs are waiting at a crossing . They are resigned to the situation, there is not much they can do. In another town there is a demonstration every Friday morning demanding to open a road that is too close to the settlement nearby and is closed to the villagers for “security reasons”. That means that the farmer has to go around to get to his grove. We stop for falafel and sweet cheese desert. On the way to Tel Aviv we stop at ELhanan; a Jewish settlement and see another crossing where the fence surrounds an Arab house; ” Hani’s” home.  Mr. Hani was given a key to the gate so he can enter his home. The settlement houses are a stone throw away. When you look at the map there is area C where Israelis can travel and the settlements are near each other with some arab villages in between, then there is area A which occupy the middle of the West Bank where it is  ruled by Palestinians. We could draw a border line which will include all these settlements but it includes the green line. Unfortunately no one agrees on the placement and the conflict, the arguments, the disappointment, the fighting and the demonstrations continue.

On the way home we hear of clashes near the Calandia crossing in east Jerusalem, Some Palestinians tried to climb over the fence. In the north Israeli Arabs and Druze were fighting over wearing a cafia.

A few days later we are shocked by the killing of five rabbis in a synagogue in Har Nof. I cannot erase the images of the bloody talit and prayer book from my mind.

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I visit the Israel Museum and climb on the Big Bamboo , the biggest installation by the artists Mike and Doug Starn. From the top you get a 360 degree view of Jerusalem. I sit on  top and meditate. My country is full of beauty, the population is diverse, there are so many faces, there are so many smart people, lots of inventions. You need to use all five senses to really appreciate it all.

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The Knesset is trying to pass a new law, Nationality Law,the right wing emphasize that Israel is ” a national home for the Jewish people in which he fulfills his desire for self-determination in accordance with historical and cultural heritage: a right that is unique to the Jewish people but Prime Minister Netanyahu suggests a compromise “Israel as a Jewish and democratic state “ . The debate can topple the goverment but it could alienate the Jews who live outside of Israel. It all sound like political games to me.

Kadishman, an artist I like wear a kippa that says “Mashich is not coming, he is not even calling” the words are from a song by Shalom Chanoch about a buisnessman who is not fullfiling his obligations ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucWs-5xprD8), but did we loose hope for a brighter future.

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Shabbath is coming, My mom lights the shabbath candles and says a special prayer for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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I am on my way home, I have been away for two an half weeks but lots happened, I pray for peace, I pray for finding a way to bridge the gaps.

Although sometimes it seems that there is no end to the conflict …. when you hope for a break you get hit by a terror attack .

Today, it’s the deadline for the talks with Iran. There are so many unsettling situations, so many unknowns. I feel that there is turmoil, the earth is bubbling.

I don’t have answers but I know we all need to be together and help spread the creativity, the tastes, the smells, the beauty that is my country-Israel.

What’s inside the sandwich ?

It’s saturday morning , It’s quiet in Tel Aviv, the streets are empty. I am walking in “old “Tel aviv among refurbished buildings. It’s November and I am back in Israel to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

The last two weeks I took care of my two adorable grandkids while their mom went to visit her grandparents. It was an honor to be asked and I said “yes” without hesitation. The idea of spending two weeks with these little munchkins was tantalizing.

I put on hold any my regular schedule and started planning . We planned to spend the weekend in the country so a trip to the farm to enjoy pumpkin picking, hay ride and rolling in a heap of corn kernels was one of the activities.

Weekdays are school days; the boys follow a routine, wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed and out the door by 8:15. Our ride in the stroller is a spaceship, it’s grandpa’s game and it works. I have free time till 2:00 but after exercise , grocery shopping and catching up on emails, it was time to go back to school for pick up. “Safta, did u bring a snack?” Let’s go to the playground and here we go …. play time ,dinner, bath, reading and bed..

Two days into this routine I was struck by the realization that being a full-time mom is a full-time job. When my youngest left to college and there was no one to wait for late at night or prepare breakfast or lunch or dinner for, I kept asking so what’s next.  I also wondered how quickly the years went and what happened to me? When I grew up I did not see myself being a stay-at-home-mom as my mom was but here I am… being a stay-at-home-mom. “Stay at home” grandma was just a reminder of how rewarding it is to be greeted with a hug and a big smile. To witness the joy of reading a new book, build a 3D puzzle or playing hide and seek.

Two weeks went so fast.  The last night I was sad.  Who is going to come wake me up in the morning, pillow and blankly in hand asking to sleep in my bed ..but ..there will be more sleepovers.

I had a day to pack , hop on a plane and here I am…  on to care for my beloved mom. As she gets older and is not able to travel much I find myself on the New York-Tel Aviv route every few months as though to compensate for the years I was busy raising and caring for my own kids . Now my mom needs me by her side. To hold her soft hand, to take walks to the neighborhood coffee house to visit the museum or go to a concert . I listen to her stories from her youth growing up in Tel Aviv. I try to make her forget the pains of growing old. The pictures of her grandkids and great grandkids light up her face and makes her happy.

I am the bridge , I let my grandkids ride on my back and my mom to hold my hand.

So, when I sit on a plane flying East I think of this beautiful combination and how lucky I am to be able to enjoy these precious times… and be the jelly in this wonderful sandwich

May we all have many years to enjoy each other.

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I am in the west and my heart is in the east

Thursday, July 31, I flew back home. It was hard to leave.

When I landed, I learned that a ceasefire will start Friday at 8am, but by the time I sit down to sum up my “adventures” this past week, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a tunnel creating a diversion and one Israeli soldier was kidnapped and two soldiers died.  All that ended the ceasefire which lasted maybe one hour.

Last Saturday another ceasefire was declared. Early morning while waiting for my friend to go for a walk it felt calm….

The streets are empty of cars, you can hear the birds. At 8am you can spot some people going to shul with their talitot on and some walk in their running shoes. It’s the 19th day since operation “Protective Edge” or in hebrew “Tzuk Eitan” started, and as a ceasefire was declared since 8am the optimist in me is looking forward to a quiet day, a true Shabbath.

My friend chose the route. We walked through Rothchild blvd to Neve Tzedek then the beach promenade. Usually by 9am the promenade would have been packed, but not this morning. We did see some surfers in the water and bike riders. We finished the loop through Dizengoff Street and Nordau Blvd. I decided to visit my cousin who just moved from the Arava (Negev Desert) to Michmoret, a yishuv by the sea. His son is in a special unit operating in Gaza. They haven’t seen him for six weeks. To the excitement of new home there is a layer of anxiety. We all hope for a safe return for all the soldiers.

The day is quiet, no rockets, who knows maybe this time the cease fire would hold..

In the afternoon I met a young man who spent the last 12 days in Israel as part of Taglit (Birthright). He was not fazed by the situation. He felt safe and traveling to Masada, the Western Wall and the Golan Heights gave him a sense of the country. He said that he was confident with his Jewish identity but now after the trip he connects to the country and plans to come back. That brought a ray of sunshine to know that the magic is here no matter how scary it might seem when reading the paper.

I heard that there was going to be a demonstration in Kikar Rabin this evening. The “Left ” were going to demand a ceasefire. I don’t believe we are ready for unconditional ceasefire, all the humanitarians ceasefires were kept by Israel and were broken by the Hamas who kept sending rockets towards Israel.

Arriving to Kikar Rabin we saw people holding signs that said Jews and Arabs don’t want to be enemies. But mostly people were talking to each other, you could hardly hear the speakers and no one around me knew who they were.

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The municipality building was lit with the Star of David

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There were police guarding the demonstration and on the other side of the Kikar the people on the “Right” were holding Israeli flags and contesting the left. The whole demonstration lasted 2 hours and it was over. On the news they said that there were clashes but I did not see any.

All week I felt the unity; unity in the government, unity among the people, no matter what one’s political orientation. It felt that the whole country is united against the evil Hamas. There is one mission we stand for and it is to make sure that the threat of the tunnels will be obliterated.

Shabbath is over, a rocket was shot towards Ashkelon. Officially there is a ceasefire but again it was broken.

I planned to take my mom on a retreat, away from constantly watching TV. There is a new hotel spa only 35 minutes from Tel Aviv so although rockets continue falling and fighting goes on in the south , life must go on.

Two days of pampering worked, my mom was able to relax.
Monday night at 2:30am there was an alert siren in Tel Aviv, at least we escaped that.

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Wednesday morning I spend with Justin who works for JDC visiting an elderly center in Bat Yam. I was impressed at the activities . Bat Yam has a mostly elderly population and these days it’s important to make them feel safe.

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Wednesday evening my friend invited me to a play by an Israeli playwright who is known for his macabre humor. The play’s name is “We all want to live”. Before the play started to a full theatre the main actor came out and gave us instructions of where to go if there will be a siren. A sobering reminder that although we are attending a cultural event we cannot forget what’s happening outside the theatre hall.

I am taking the 4pm El-AL flight back to the States. It was not easy to leave. I did not want to leave my family, and friends. I did not want to leave my country . Life goes on but you can sense the anxiety, you can sense the uncertainty. Reading the newspapers I felt like many other Israelis …. isolated. I felt that the world does not get it. The world does not understand.

I know that I am rambling. I know I am emotional.
I pray for Peace. I Pray for the end of the conflict. I pray that all the soldiers will be back.

Some statistics are in order, Operation Protective Edge is on it ‘s 26th day.

2,874 rockets shot towards Israel, Hamas claims to have 20,000 rockets.

It is not entirely clear how many tunnels there are but Israel estimates around 50

63 Israeli soldiers died since the beginning of the operation.

For more info check : mfa.gov.il , Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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TO LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Tel-Aviv- red alert

My mom needed new shoes so we headed to the mall. The car in front of me suddenly stopped, the driver came out and the Israeli in me wondered, hey what are you doing? He pointed to the sky.. A red light went up, whoa its a siren. So we left the car in the middle of the road and went to the nearest building…  stayed there till the siren sounded again, signaling that it’s safe to come out. Later I found out that there were three rockets aimed near that were intercepted by Iron Dome. To my amazement everything continued as usual. All I could think is how frustrating it is to think of when and where the next siren will sound. Art is a great therapy. We can make weapons into beautiful objects and maybe they will loose their destructive connection. 20140724-160036-57636639.jpg 20140724-160037-57637334.jpg 20140724-160037-57637699.jpg In the evening we said fare well to President Peres and welcome the new Israeli President 20140724-160141-57701166.jpg 20140724-160141-57701364.jpg It’s 12pm on Friday, on my way to meet a friend and the alarm sounded. My brother and I went to stand in the hallway in our apartment building.  We heard four explosions and then it was over. My mom met a friend for coffee and they used the shelter in the restaurant. Life goes on but Rothschild Boulevard is not as busy. There is a feeling of numbness. One has to think twice before going to the beach or a restaurant- is there a shelter nearby? It’s almost Shabbat.  I pray that Hamas would take a rest. I pray that all the wounded will be well soon, I pray that we will have a true cease fire and not just a temporary relief , I pray for PEACE. If you read till now you realized that this post was supposed to be published on Friday..  There was a cease-fire that started Saturday at 8am but Friday evening during Shabbat diner at my brother’ home out side of Tel Aviv, the alarm sounded. We all went to the Miklat (Shelter) and when the boom sounded …  it was safe we came out. A miracle happened and Hamas held up and there were no further rockets shot during Shabbat. We all could use a day of rest. … Shabbat Shalom.