Friday, April 27, 2018

Shabbat-O-Gram for April 27

Shabbat Shalom

As we look forward to Mediterranean Shabbat on Friday night and Shabbat-in-the-Round on Shabbat morning, we also turn our attention to some concerns on college campuses. This Shabbat-O-Gram features first-hand accounts from TBE students reporting from two significant flash points. Both students have given me permission to share their thoughts.  I've heard from other collegians recently as well, one in the Boston area, one at UConn, and another who just visited Auschwitz while studying abroad.  I've also heard from a very concerned Barnard alum.  We can be really proud of what our students are doing in standing up for who they are.

The atmosphere has become more challenging than ever, making it clearer than ever before that our kids are on the front lines in a worldwide struggle to define and often malign Israel, while dredging up old anti-Semitic canards.  While these front lines can't be compared to what Israeli soldiers deal with (and we look forward to welcoming some Tzahal Shalom visitors tonight), there is no denying that the pressures are great.  For that reason we have a right to expect that Israel will see the need to arm us for battle, not with talking points and propaganda, but by acting in a manner that we and our children can find defensible - one  in line with Jewish values.

After sharing from the students who wrote to me this week, I'll share an email from a recent grad who wrote from abroad a couple of weeks ago.  We - and Israel - need to hear his concern too. 

I appreciate the engagement of our students, many of whom have been to Israel on Birthright and feel much more invested than the prior generation.  It also speaks to how well our community (synagogues, JCC, schools, federation, youth groups) has made Israel come alive for them.  Their continued engagement needs to be a high priority for us.  

Which reminds me - anyone who will be in Israel on Birthright this June and July, let me know!  There could be a free Shabbat meal with our group in it for you!


First an exchange with Stephanie Hausman, who goes to Syracuse:

Hi Rabbi Hammerman.

Right now the environment at Syracuse is pretty intense. Videos were released from an engineering fraternity, Theta Tau, that included ignorant and hateful sentiments towards basically every single minority group. This has resulted in a huge backlash with protests on campus and a "Recognize Us" student movement calling for action from administrators. 

Even though this has all stemmed from such a horrible event, it's interesting to see diverse parts of campus come together.

I'm an assembly member for our Student Association so I've been taking an active role in everything going on. The most disheartening part of all of this is that there isn't much involvement from the Jewish students on campus. Our Hillel has been very proactive, such as speaking with students and holding discussions, but it's a two-way street and Jewish students aren't doing much to be a part of the conversation. I'm also in AEPHI, a predominantly Jewish sorority, and only about 15 of us attended the main forum the day that everything happened, which was really disappointing.  

I have never felt discriminated against as a Jew at Syracuse University, and I honestly don't know many others that have either. The problem on our campus isn't anti-Semitism--I think it's apathy. Black and Latino students have been extremely loud and involved to make change, yet even though the majority of the video was hateful towards Jews, there are hardly any Jewish voices. I haven't really figured out why this is the case, but in the meantime, I'm trying to be as much of a Jewish presence in this movement as possible. 

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on why Jewish students haven't been involved or any advice you have on what I can do to get them involved. I hope you're doing well and I'll keep you updated!

My reply:
Wow - thanks for the update, Stephanie. So sorry to hear about this. Apathy is common and not relegated to college campuses. I see enough of it here too!  I think many Jewish students also feel uncomfortable being seen as victims. They also have trouble believing that anti-Semitism is so prevalent, since they haven't personally experienced it. They (and we) also didn't have to grow up with it, whereas other minorities face bias all the time and are more prepared to confront it. 
I think it's really important to cultivate alliances among these other groups, to show that Jews care about them - and by extension, that support for Israel does not preclude support for their concerns, but in fact the two go hand in hand. Jews on campus will take notice. Now is a real chance to strengthen those alliances.
There are so many Jews at your school that it's easy to sink into the background and ignore the problem. So it's important to meet people in small groups, or one on one, which it sounds like Hillel does.
In the end, it's best to think less about who isn't getting involved than who is - and keep growing your movement, one person at a time.
I am soooo not surprised that you are leader in this (and of course I'm less surprised, since I spoke to your mom last week). 
Thanks and have courage! 
Rabbi H

Thank you so much! I've really thought about everything you said and am going to focus more on the people that I know who do care and are trying to help, and to work with them as best as I can. Last night I also went to another forum about bias on campus and there were tons of administrators there taking notes and listening, which gave me hope that maybe something will change on campus. 

Feel free to share my thoughts with my name, too!

- Steph


Here's an exchange I had with Maura Welt, who studies at THE George Washington University.

Hi Rabbi,
My dad forwarded me your latest newsletter which requested to hear about anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses.  As you may have heard, BDS passed at GWU late last night.  The resolution has been brought forward to the Student Association two years in a row now, only losing by a single vote last year.  
Prior to this, our latest Student Association elections experienced a controversy surrounding the issue of anti-Semitic.  The Grad Senator at Large, Brady Forrest, who was running for Vice President was called out for concerning anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist comments that he had made in the past.  Here is a link to an article that explains these comments and the controversy around them.  
The senate had discussed removing Brady from his post as senator, yet that evidently did not come to fruition.  He however was not allowed to attend the BDS vote for obvious reasons.  Last night was especially troubling because the senate voted in favor of Brady voting on the BDS resolution by proxy, despite his blatantly offensive and anti-Semitic comments.  Senators failed to reach a 2/3 majority to censure Forrest.  Despite many senators being members of groups such as SJP, JVP, and Divest This Time, this was still shocking.  Jewish students, such as myself were left hurt and appalled, and we left the proceedings, as it became clear that the Student Association cared more about passing a resolution than it did about protecting its Jewish students from hateful rhetoric.  
Earlier this year, senator Joe Vogel, was removed from his post after "missing meetings."  He was the first senator to be impeached in three years.  Vogel founder of "GW Together" on campus, objected that his removal was due to his pro-Israel beliefs. Yet, Brady, one of the senators who pushed for Vogel's removal and a rabid anti-Semite, was allowed to keep his post.  This speaks volumes.  StandWithUs shared a powerful video from last night of Joe condeming the SA for failing to stand up to anti-semitism.  
Today, the president of the University came out to express that the views of the senate do not necessarily reflect the views of the university at large. This was comforting to many students who felt unsafe and unwelcomed on campus after the events that took place last night.  Luckily, GW has a very close-knit Jewish community who has been very supportive of one another through this difficult time.  This community includes groups like GW for Israel, J-Street, GW Together, GW Hillel, and GW Chabad.  
I also read an interesting student-written opinion piece in the Forward yesterday.  I don't whole heartedly agree with everything the article says, but in terms of early Jewish education it raises some valid points.  
I hope that you and Mara are doing well, and maybe that I will get to see you when I am home for the summer! I am currently taking an Arab-Israeli conflict class which I am thoroughly enjoying, as constructive dialogue on the issue happens too infrequently on college campuses.  

Hi Maura

I just read your email and thought the article I sent out to the congregation today might be helpful, as well as the Hoffman Lecture video with Beinart and Gordis, if you have time to watch it. I really feel for what you are going through. It sounds really bad - but also constructive, as Jewish students are becoming more engaged - and impressively unified.  I've also heard some disturbing things from other campuses too. 
I think that Forward article you linked to is helpful.  In Stamford we've tried to prepare kids to engage with Israel in a comprehensive and nuanced way, but it's hard to prepare people for what they are going to face on campus - and this year has been particularly challenging. Combine the old BDS stuff on the left with the new infusion of White Supremacist anti-Semitism, which has been given lots of winking approval from the White House, and then throw in a combustible situation in Gaza and Syria, plus the disintegration of social media into a chaotic, uncivil mess, and voila.  
Anyway, just know that Mara and I are here for you.  You are doing a great job and we are very proud! 
Keep the faith!

Rabbi H
And here is the third correspondence:
Dear Rabbi Hammerman,

I hope everything is going well with you!

I know we don't often see eye to eye on Israel/Palestine issues, but I thought the recent news out of Gaza was an extremely troubling omission in this week's Shabbat-O-Gram. I want to be clear that I don't think it is by definition a responsibility of diaspora Jewish clergy to comment on Israel, but by consistently pushing a connection to the modern state in our congregation I believe you have a responsibility to address when it acts in conflict with Jewish values (a daily occurrence, but this is particularly egregious).

I applaud your continued effort to teach Judaism's relationship to pressing issues of the day. Your loud, active push against the proliferation of gun violence was particularly moving. However, your silence in the face of gun violence of a different nature makes me uneasy.

We read the Passover story every year to remind ourselves of the need for liberation in all forms. The state of Israel slaughtered peaceful protesters in Gaza simply for demanding basic human rights and freedoms, similar to the liberation demanded by our ancestors in Egypt. Their metaphorical plea of "next year in Jerusalem" were way more real than at our seder tables, yet they were fired upon for this by a state that our community supports for somehow relating to and representing our values. I am disappointed and disturbed that you did not feel this injustice-particularly at this time in the Jewish calendar-was worth discussing.

Best,   _____
Hi ____

Your comments are totally fair.  Given the plethora of urgent issues right now, it's impossible to give each situation a fair shake.  Right now I am apoplectic about free speech and press freedom, as exemplified most recently by revelations about Sinclair.  As a fellow journalist, I think you can understand my first-amendment concerns.  But I haven't gone whole hog into that one yet.  This week is Earth Day and I intend to focus on environmental matters, and next week is Yom Haatzamaut and Israel 70, so I will undoubtedly find a way to address Gaza and other matters regarding Israel over the coming weeks.  BTW, we've been doing a year long course on Israel that has been really good - coordinated by the Hartman Institute.  And if you did not catch the Hoffman Lecture last November, with Peter Beinart and Daniel Gordis, it's definitely worth a watch. 
I'm greatly concerned about Gaza - IMHO, it is symptomatic less of Israel's longstanding policies than of Netanyahu's attempt to distract from his legal woes by demonizing the enemy (even more than Israelis already have), assisted by Defense Minister Liberman.  Hamas is not innocent here either. 
Anyway, thanks for reading and keeping up - and keep after me! You can be sure that, while I always try to be fair when it comes to Israel, and will never stop loving Israel, I will continue to hold it up to a high standard. 

Rabbi H

God's Clubhouse
As we celebrate my 30 years here, I've been rummaging through articles I've written over the years.  This piece from 2002 is not among those that I would consider my most influential, but it chronicles an important transition that occurred here, as well as an evolution my own thinking.  The moment we shifted the center of gravity from the pulpit to the pew, we instantly became more inclusive and participatory.  I stepped off the Bimah and begin to sit in the front row, breaking the proverbial "fourth wall" that separates spectator from performer.  Since then, we haven't looked back.  See the transcribed article below the photo:
As I sat in my ritual committee meeting last week, and all I could think about was a Berenstain Bears story that I used to read to my kids at bedtime. It was the one where Brother Bear decides to build a clubhouse up in a tree to get away from his tag-along younger sister. Sister takes a walk into the woods looking for Brother and is shocked to see the big sign out front of his hut, “NO GIRLS ALLOWED.” A big to-do ensues, with Mama and Papa Bear eventually helping Sister to build her own girls-only clubhouse, fully stocked with a smorgasbord of honeycomb and salmon. This attracts Brother, who is invited up for a snack and recognizes the errors of his ways.

The Berenstains would have appreciated the committee meeting, because Topic A was that elevated piece of real estate that seems to cause more controversy among Jews than any other property this side of the Green Line: the Bimah. Not that this is anything new. God’s Clubhouse has been a hot topic for thousands of years. Ever since the days of King Josiah, who destroyed lofty holy sites as often as Barry Bonds destroys fastballs, Jews have been obsessed with the architecture of worship, alternately building up and knocking down these high places, while consuming oodles of energy trying to figure out who belongs up there and who does not.

For my congregation, the issue was finding appropriate ways of involving non-Jewish parents of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah on the pulpit. For other synagogues the issue might be the presence on the Bimah of women, non-Jewish clergy, animals, mini-skirts, Republicans, ex-presidents, board members who’ve been indicted, husbands who haven’t given their divorced wives a proper “get,” or Bibi Netanyahu. Rabbis have been fired over whom they’ve invited onto the Bimah. Congregations have split over it. No doubt even Stan and Jan Berenstain have been burned by a Bimah snub at some point.

I tend to take an inclusive view when it comes to these things; but more and more I’ve come to realize that the question shouldn’t be who gets to go on the Bimah, but rather why we need to have a Bimah at all. I love the symbolism of seeking God in high places, but if God is everywhere, why not low ones as well? While Psalm 121 speaks of how we “turn our eyes toward the mountains, from where my help will come,” Psalm 130 suggests a more humble approach: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.” This latter verse has inspired the construction of some Bimahs below the level of the sanctuary floor, sort of like an orchestra pit.

For most of Jewish history, the reader’s pulpit was located primarily in the center of the sanctuary and not where the ark and Torah scrolls were found. That changed in the 19th century, when the Reform movement located both the Bimah and ark in the front of the sanctuary, modeling itself after European church architecture. This innovation was vigorously protested, leading to proclamation by 100 Orthodox rabbis prohibiting worship in a synagogue that does not have a Bimah in the center.

If these rabbis were concerned that the frontal Bimah would lead to a more theatrical, less participatory service, they were right. The liberal movements have been paying the price for that innovation ever since, and many congregations have lowered their nosebleed pulpits in recent years. But I wonder how many of the Reform originators of the modern pulpit had any idea that it would eventually become a vehicle for arbitrary discrimination. If the stifling lack of participation weren’t enough reason to cut it down, the fact that it has become a weapon for pettiness and unnecessary exclusion should be.

Maimonides understood this nine centuries ago. In the design favored in his Mishnah Torah, the entire congregation sits in rows facing a fixed platform up front where the ark and Torah scroll are placed. Most have their backs to the Bimah, which is located in the center. But the Bimah is where almost all of the service takes place, including the sermon and reading of the Torah. (This configuration differs from many contemporary synagogues and Havurot, where congregants sit in a semi-circle facing the Bimah in the center, with all eyes on the leader.) In Maimonides’ scheme, the service leader is meant to be heard, not seen; humility is emphasized, so that nothing might distract us from contemplating the divine. In the 17th-century Altneuschul in Prague, this concept is brought to an extreme: the Bimah is enclosed in a wrought iron cage (a great idea for tag-team wrestling, but please do not try this on your local clergy).

Appropriately, the focus of Halachic sources is not on who stands where, but on who is qualified to represent the community in leading the service. While I do not agree with some of the traditional restrictions (excluding unbearded men, for instance, or a person who pronounces an aleph as an ayin, or one suspected of being a “freethinker;” oh yes, and women) at least it gets us beyond who has the right to stand in the front of the room and eliminates the possibility of Bimah-envy.

There is much to be said for abolishing the frontal Bimah. At my synagogue, we hold many Bimah-free services outside the main sanctuary, and even in the “big room,” I now spend most of the service off the pulpit. The primary result is that we’re less preoccupied with who’s been invited to God’s Clubhouse. Board members now get to sit with their families or be warm and welcoming in the back. Seeking God has become less a matter of who belongs up there and more of what’s going on down here. Liberated from the distractions, I’ve actually caught myself praying from time to time. Perhaps even God has relished this release from wrought iron captivity. The mountain has become a molehill and we’ve discovered that at its peak there’s room enough for us all.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Friday, April 20, 2018

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Evan Roth on Tazria Metzora

Shabbat Shalom!

    Thank you all for coming as I become a bar mitzvah today.  
    As you may have guessed,| I am the one who got stuck with the portions about leprosy.
    Actually, Tazria and Metzora are very important portions because illness and healing are very essential topics, both in biblical times and today.  My parshiot teach us some important lessons about how to care for those who are the most vulnerable because they are not well. For instance, it’s important to try to keep people from feeling isolated. It was the Cohen’s role not only to treat the illness, but to reconnect the person back into society.  Healing, in the Torah, is about more than finding a cure. It’s also about extending a helping hand and giving people a sense of love and dignity.
    In a way, it’s sort of fitting that this is my portion, because as you may or may not know, my cousin Brad, who is my age, was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago.
He has been through tough chemotherapy and radiation making it a difficult year.  So today, I’m sharing my bar mitzvah with him.
    Also, my aunt Ali was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when she was a teenager.  In both my aunt and cousin’s honor, I am dedicating my Mitzvah Project to them.
    For my Mitzvah Project, I raised over $6,000 to support Pet Partners, which trains therapy dog  for people who are suffering from illness or otherwise in need. The money  will help Pet Partners train 63 therapy dogs teams. Each dog visits a number of people, at nursing homes, hospitals and at homes.
    When hospitalized kids see therapy dogs, it brings them joy and excitement. When therapy dogs visit my cousin, it takes his mind off of how he’s feeling. I'm a dog-lover, and truly understand the joy, excitement, and love that dogs bring. I baked homemade dog treats for some of the therapy dogs at Stamford Hospital.
    I've been baking since I was 2 years old and have loved it from the beginning. I have a huge passion for baking and dogs, so I think it's the perfect Mitzvah Project, especially for my Torah portions.
    One thing that Judaism emphasizes is that illness should not be seen as a punishment.  In ancient times, people couldn’t understand why someone would randomly get sick so they sometimes saw it as a punishment from God.  In truth, sometimes illness has to do with our actions, like when we go out into the freezing cold without a coat.  But for the most part, it may have something to do with genetics, but it’s basically random - and it’s not a punishment.
    In Metzora even houses get sick, which the rabbis claimed was a sign that there is no peace in the home – Lo shalom bayit - something that’s never a problem between me and my sister!
    So I hope you can see that even though my portions can be a little depressing, their message is very meaningful - and powerful. Everyone is human and should be treated with dignity. As I become a bar mitzvah today, I hope that I can help make the world a more loving and respectful place

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Shabbat-O-Gram for Yom Ha'atzmaut

The Shabbat-O-Gram is sponsored by Dana and Stuart Roth, in honor of Evan's Bar Mitzvah

Drones (peaceful ones) above Jerusalem, tonight

Shabbat Shalom! 

Happy Yom Ha'atzmaut and an early Shabbat Shalom! Mazal tov to Evan Roth, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning.
As we celebrate Israel's 70th, we are overwhelmed by memories, reflections and feelings, a sensation not so different from how you feel when you get off the plane for the first time at Ben Gurion. The light is blinding, the sights, sounds and smells so powerful and multifaceted.  Beyond the cynicism and partisanship, there is something pure and thrilling about the realization of a 2,000 year old dream.  
Many American Jews are conflicted about Israel, and for good reason. It is troubling that so many feel like second class Jews at our sites and that human rights organizations like the New Israel Fund are being demonized by a government that bows down to, among others, the Haredim, 83 percent of whom don't even celebrate Independence Day
But that's the view on the ground.  This evening's ceremony on Mt Herzl began by imploring us to take the long view - to look down from the mountains.  Herzl himself did that, and fittingly for Hi Tech Nation. the show's climax was when 300 Intel drones lit up the Jerusalem sky  with Herzl's face, so that Mr. Zionism himself would get to judge his life's work from a thousand feet up.
If you feel that Israel has veered from the correct path, my advice is this: register your concern.  That is also the recommendation of Don Futterman, whose column I've pasted into the bottom of this Shabbat-O-Gram. His points are well taken. We can and should speak out.  

But in the end, as the song goes, "En li Eretz Acheret," there is no other Jewish state to fall back on.  Israel is the only Jewish state we've got.

En Li Eretz Acheret

So if you are discouraged that Israeli leaders no longer seem to care about you and question your loyalty, know that we are all stakeholders in this once-in-a-millennium project.  Israel is the Jewish magnum opus;   I own a piece of it (and have the tree certificate to prove it) and so do you.  Don't let anyone disenfranchise you.  We're all part of the conversation.  For American Jews, America is our home. But Israel is our canvas.  The former is where we live our lives.  The latter is where our lives will have mattered - or not - a millennium from now.  

The view from 30,000 feet is quite different, and an anniversary like this one requires that we look down from that height to fully recognize what a miracle Israel is, and what an opportunity it represents for the Jewish people to contribute mightily to the future of a desperate and fragile world.  That contribution is already happening. 
Here's a list of 70 reasons to admire Israel just from the past year.  The Startup Nation is great at inventing things.  So what's to say that they won't be able to invent peace?  New ideas are coming forth all the time.  No less an authority than author AB Yehoshua came up with an alternative to the two state solution in Ha'aretz today.
I asked the congregation to share reflections on what they love most about Israel. Here are a number of replies that I received. I'll keep adding to this as more replies come in. Scott Allen shared an amazing list 70 things he loves about Israel. A few examples:
58) shaking my head in amazement at the aggressiveness of Israeli drivers
59) trying to understand Israeli politics
60) eating bourekas right from the oven of small bakeries
61) the feel of brand new Israel currency
62) walking thru parts of the Old City in Jerusalem
63) checking out European fashions that are in Israel but haven't made it to the States yet
64) feeling the joy of being in a country where Jews are the majority
65) seeing how tikkun olam is practiced by so many average citizens and how important it is to them...
To each of them I say, "AMEN!" See the rest of Scott's list here.
In June, God willing, I'll be bringing a group of over 20 people from our congregation for a two-week Israel adventure.  I was just there several weeks ago and can't wait to go back.  BTW, for those in the group - your homework assignment is to devour this Israel tourism brochure - and while you are at it, maybe check out some of these these restaurants
This group will consist primarily of those who have never been to Israel or last went there many years ago.  While reservations are officially closed, there may still be space.  As of last week, our hotels and flight still had room. If you have always wanted to go and have put it off, there is no better time than now. Check out our itinerary and registration details here - and let me know if you would like to join us from June 24 - July 8.
Israel is many things for people - but most of all, it's family.  To experience that sense of family more fully, you need to go there.  But for the moment, the video below will suffice - it's gone viral, and it is spectacular

Happy 70th, Israel!  We'll continue the celebration at services this Friday night and don't miss our Mediterranean Shabbat next week!


This weekend is also Earth Day.  Given the swirling events of these turbulent times, we can't forget the increasing intensity of that turbulence is partially due to unchecked, human caused climate change.  As we reflect on the fragility of our earth, here's a noted passage about our earth, followed by a Jewish prayer:

Hashivenu Yahh elecha v'nashuva, hadesh yameinu kekedem.
Let us return, help us repent,
You Who Breathe all Life;
Breathe us, Breathe us,
Breathe us into a new path-
Help us, Help us,
Help us Turn to a new way of living
Make-new, Make -new, Our world of life intertwining -
Splendor, beauty, joy in our love for each life-form - Tamara Cohen

Here's Don Futterman's Ha'aretz article:
Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

70 @ 70: Reflections on Israel by TBE Congregants

70 Things We Love About Israel

Fridays in Jerusalem:  there are so many different ways the people of Jerusalem celebrate and observe Shabbat.  What unites them all is that feeling you get walking around Jerusalem on a Friday with everyone running around getting ready for Shabbat.  Love feeling that there really is an end to one week and a beginning to the next one. – Leon Shapiro 

One of the most impressive and memorable things from our last trip to Israel was the time we spent at Kibbutz Ketura and the Arava Institute of Environmental studies where they train young men and women from Israel, the US, the West Bank and Jordan on regional agricultural issues and techniques.  The students live and work together and develop friendships outside their normal circles.  Special teams also come in for training from across Africa.  Among the many notable accomplishments there is the Methuselah Date Palm, a male from a 2000-year-old seed that was successfully germinated about 10 years ago.  They now have a few young females that have germinated and within a few years will know what the local dates tasted like back then.  - Bob and Susan Friedman

The incredible abundance of flowers in the Spring. – Barbara Brafman

From Donna Wolff:

I love that so many Israeli's know how to sing in perfect harmony!
I love how it's different every I time I go!
I now have my favorite niece ( the challah)  there and will visit more often. We are Skyping next week!

One of my favorite things was always that the ONLY word for Saturday is שבת.
Susan Schneiderman 
Scott Allen adds 70 of his own!
1) the relative peace and quiet of Jerusalem on Shabbat
2) the chaos of Mahane Yehuda on Friday as people shop for Shabbat
3) the view from the Haas Promenade, especially on a Shabbat afternoon
4) hummus from P'nati in Jerusalem
5) lunch in Abu Gosh
6) the Tel Aviv beach on the weekend
7) all the great photo shots from either Mahane Yehuda or Tel Aviv market
8) sunrise in Jerusalem
9) sunrise from the top of Masada
10) springtime in the North
11) jumping into the pools at Ein Gedi during a hot summer day
12) the underwater aquarium at Eilat
13) walking through the art galleries in S'fat
14) movie watching and then dinner in Emek Refayim
15) leisurely coffee at Aroma by the Shuk, with fresh pastry from a nearby vendor
16) the smell of fresh pita right out of the oven
17) the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv at night
18) the air show on Yom Ha'atzmaut from a hotel balcony in Tel Aviv
19) seeing all those Israeli flags waving in the wind
20) the eerieness of stopping a car in the middle of a highway to stand in silence as the siren blares for Yom Ha'Zikaron
21) landing at the airport in Tel Aviv and the feeling of being home
22) eating really good falafel or shwarma any time of the day or night
23) discovering and trying out all those homemade ice cream and gelato shops
24) going to different synagogues every Shabbat
25) not knowing which way to face during the Amidah because of being in Jerusalem
26) the sound of Hebrew being spoken everywhere
27) the beauty of Israeli women
28) breakfast at a hotel or b&b
29) the history that is a part of every stone, grain of sand, or amazing view
30) the signs in Hebrew, English, Arabic, and Russian
31) the occasional misspellings on those signs
32) the technology that comes out of Israel that is used everywhere, is so useful, and often not known as an Israeli product
33) the diversity found in Israeli hospitals
34) celebrating a major holiday in Jerusalem
35) driving or walking in the Ramon Crater
36) the taste and crunch of fresh fruits and vegetables that haven't been grown to withstand long trips from distant farms or countries
37) all those small appetizer dishes that precede lunches or dinners
38) holiday preparations taking place everywhere
39) being with family and friends
40) the great museums
41) bougainvillea growing on the sides of buildings
42) Jerusalem stone
43) the respect given to soldiers who have died in various battles or combat situations
44) the numbers of stones placed on many headstones by loved ones
45) really strong coffee
46) the sheer number of small shops
47) improving my understanding of spoken Hebrew the longer I am there
48) the sound of the wind whistling through the Judean hills
49) imagining the ancient battles that took place there
50) being in the North
51) being in the South
52) being in cities
53) being in small villages
54) swimming in the Mediterranean
55) swimming in the Red Sea
56) swimming in a rooftop pool in Tel Aviv
57) driving a car and managing to get to my destination without getting into an accident
58) shaking my head in amazement at the aggressiveness of Israeli drivers
59) trying to understand Israeli politics
60) eating bourekas right from the oven of small bakeries
61) the feel of brand new Israel currency
62) walking thru parts of the Old City in Jerusalem
63) checking out European fashions that are in Israel but haven't made it to the States yet
64) feeling the joy of being in a country where Jews are the majority
65) seeing how tikkun olam is practiced by so many average citizens and how important it is to them
66) seeing all those plastic bottle recycling containers scattered about
67) feeling so relaxed
68) the memories from days gone by and of the people I shared them with
69) amazement at how many dogs and cats there are
70) the longing to return

And this personal recollection by Chris Maroc:

My grandmother, Pola Weinbach Hoffmann Stout was a well established international textile designer.  She was educated by Josef Hoffman at the Kunsgewerbe Schule and then at the Weiner Werkstatte in Vienna.  She married his son, Wolfgang Hoffmann and they came to NYC in 1925 opening an architecture and design business.  She met my grandfather, author Rex Stout, in 1932, at which time she began designing textiles.  She designed exclusively for Hollywood and international designers, such as Adrian, Irene, Edith Head, Pauline Trigere, Mainboucher, Bonnie Casin, Muriel King, Valentina, and others. 

My grandmother was good friends with Ruth Dayan, Moshe Dayan's (Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister of Defense; Minister of Agriculture) wife.  In 1968 my grandmother and I went to Israel as she was invited by Ruth Dayan to educate students and exhibited her textiles (several attached) at the Maskit fashion house. Founded by Ruth Dayan, Maskit is an Israeli fashion house founded in 1954, the countries first fashion house. Maskit produces textiles, clothing, objects d'art and jewelry.  In the early years of the state, when government was seeking work opportunities for new immigrants to Israel, Ruth Dayan realized that many of them were skilled in decorative arts.  The concept of Maskit was to take modern European patterns and combine them with ethnic embroiderty.  Maskit enjoyed worldwide success in the 1960's, with clients that included Audrey Hepburn. Maskit employed over 2000 people in the 1960s, with 10 stores in Israel and one in New York.  Maskit garmets were sold by Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

I have fond memories of this trip.  Ruth Dayan was a lovely human being.  Though,  Moshe Dayan frightened me with his appearance and guardedness. 

This was my one trip to Israel.  I was quite young and do hope to return. Soon.