Boker Tov (Good Morning)

Well, I found a new way to procrastinate. “Oh! I need to write about this in my blog!” became the new joke after I said it about 457 times yesterday. After a year and a half, I’m really starting to appreciate this digital camera.

A few people have asked, “how long are you going to keep this daily writing thing up?” Good question-I guess I’ll have to see what happens when my life gets busy. In the meantime, can’t a guy put off unpacking for a few minutes? This will be a shorter entry. In half an hour, I’m leaving for an end-of-the-summer party to see our Israeli staff from this past summer which includes a lot of my colleagues that I work with during the year. In the New York office, we spend far too many hours holed up in our cubicles, despite our close proximity (a couple of hundred feet?) to Central Park. Here? Picnics on Friday. Not bad, huh?

Last night, I saw my friend Michal who worked for Young Judaea in LA for a couple of years. She picked up me and Ziv and we met her friends at the beach in Herzliya, a Tel Aviv suburb named for __________ (this isn’t just fun, it’s educational! Do your homework, kids!) We sat on the sand, eating and shmoozing while someone played guitar. It seemed like the quintessential Israeli activity to me. Unfortunately the pictures didn’t come out so well in the dark.

On the way there, we talked about, what else? The matzav, or the “situation”, the word that people used to describe the state of affairs during the most recent intifada. In Israel, as it’s always been told to me, you can’t avoid talking about politics because it’s everywhere, and at this stage, I’m eager to ask everyone what they think. Michal said that she’s constantly having moments where she (and everyone else) has to question what they thought were their rock-hard beliefs. Michal, an admitted lefty, recently decided that this war is different from the one with the Palestinians. Whatever their motives, at least there’s room for negotiation about issues such as borders and right of return (even if Israel won’t budge on the latter, it’s something to talk about). Whereas with Hezbollah, they HAVE no demands, unless you think “all Jews get our and die” is something worth discussing. So this war seems different from the past ones.

Something else came up: when looking at the title of this blog, Michal wondered if I realized that we were at war. I admitted the same thing to myself before she brought it up. Israel-supporters in the States and around the world are constantly fighting the idea that Israel is some big war-torn country where you’d be nuts to visit. Anyone who’s been knows that’s not the case, period. Life in Tel Aviv has not changed at all and you didn’t need to ask anyone on the beach if they felt like they were on the front lines. Even in the worst of times, it’s never nearly as bad as the news would make you think. Nobody is dodging bullets to get get their cup of coffee from Cafe Aroma in the morning. That said, Israel is at war, and needless to say, there are parts of Israel which aren’t safe by most standards of measurement and I have no rush to visit. I’ve been so busy trying to calm the fears of some people who have never been that Michal and I wondered yesterday if I had mentally gone too far the other way. I told her that although anyone who reads the news knows factually that Israel is at war, I don’t think I can understand what that means. In such a small country where everyone is like a big family (imagine playing Jewish geography in a place where EVERYBODY IS JEWISH), every Israeli knows somebody who has died at war or from a terrorist attack. I don’t. Every Israeli says life here is hard and there are both goods and bads. Although I’ve been here a lot of times and have a lot of Israeli friends, I haven’t suffered yet or felt the pain of an Israeli. I have a feeling that only when the matzav affects me personally will I have a full understanding of what it means to really be Israeli. Let’s just hope I’m not affected too closely. Please don’t everyone start responding to this part. I’m not asking to suffer, I’m just explaining what I think is true.

So I don’t know what I think about the title of this blog. In an effort to get it up and running in my few hours before leaving the States, I picked something quickly to answer everyone who thinks simply stepping foot in Israel is crazy (although I have to say I’m proud of my ability to insert a speech bubble and the picture on the beach drinking beers. That rocks.) Without having given it any thought, I’ll ask, anybody have any good suggestions for a name? That should really get the comments going. The over-under on number of friends who make fun of me is opening at 20.

Oh yes-and as many of my friends know, when I say “this email will be short”, it will usually be approximately 493 pages.”

Ok, I’m out the door, more later. (Why am I in such a rush? You’ll all be sleeping for at least another 5 hours or so.) Bye!

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