Category Archives: Life

How to be proud of Israel

Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean...Within the course of several days I read three interesting articles regarding Israel that I thought merited sharing. One of them bothered me very much;  I thought it deserved comment because it was rather unfortunate that an orthodox Jewish college student is taking up the mantra of left-wing anti-Semites; the other two, because they show Israel for what it is – a state built upon Jewish ethics and caring, and a land which has been waiting for Israel, it’s rightful owners, to return.

The “unfortunate” article appeared this past Sunday in the Jerusalem Post. It was an opinion piece by Atara Siegel  explaining “Why Israel is losing support from Jewish students on US college campuses“. (I still can’t figure out the Jerusalem Post’s weird choice of accompanying picture of a female student at Barnard College’s graduation ceremony who looks like an animal  about to pounce.) I expected this to either be enlightening or an article coming from a left-leaning anti-Israel student in one of the many liberal/secular colleges across the country.  Atara Siegel is, surprisingly, a student at Yeshiva University who felt the need  to explain to the world that although she loves Israel, studied here for a year, plans on working here in the summer, and making sure her education would be transferable to Israel she refuses to lobby Congress on behalf of Israel. Why? Because no matter how much good Israel does in the world it’s not enough since Israel is not a “perfect country” and the Israeli people are not perfect people. She writes:

… I wish I could ignore painful articles about price tag attacks and settlers shooting Palestinians, and simply write to American politicians and newspapers about Israel’s commitment to the security of its citizens, its medical and technological advances and aid to third world countries. But I can’t.

… Of course no country is perfect…

… But even one racist slur is a problem, even one unprovoked price tag attack damages Israel’s claim to have the moral high ground in its relations with Palestinians.

And when it is not just one racist slur, but many, not just marginal extremists involved in the melee, but Knesset ministers, it becomes harder, even for someone with a deep love for Israel, to advocate for Israel as the most democratic country and most stable American ally in the Middle East.

As someone who loves Israel deeply, this trend is extremely saddening. In addition to coming to visit, working in and studying in Israel, I want to be proud of Israel, too.

The next article  in Mishpacha Magazine’s January 9, 2013  issue, titled “Open Hearts in the War Zone” presents the perfect juxtaposition to Atara Siegel’s piece. It shows the true nature of the Jewish State and the Jewish people – and makes me really proud of Israel and her wonderful people!

Taking cover as Iron Dome swings into action.

The author, Rachel Ginsberg, relates the experiences of a team of American Hatzaloh volunteers who were called to Israel to assist during the recent Operation Amud Anan – Pillar of Defense. They had  previously trained in Israel so that they could come here and pitch-in during emergency situations. These fine people who came to help out their brothers, rather than castigate them,  exclaim about how amazing Israel really is:

[Mordechai] Soroka [of Brooklyn] says one of the most surprising things he witnessed was the similar care administered to Arab patients, in spite of the hostilities on the ground. …’We provided ventilation and medication and high-level care for over an hour,’ [Eliyahu] Feldman [of Miami] reported. ‘It’s impossible to convey our mixed feelings, except to say what the well-spoken IDF commander answered when asked why we render care to Palestinians: ‘Because we’re not them.’

And the next day…

it happened again.

The third article, Israel’s miraculous climate changepresents a rather interesting (and seldom heard) long view of history  by Joseph Farah, a pro-Israel Arab-American. It’s a great read and I hope you enjoy and appreciate it as much as I did:

JERUSALEM – Here I am in Israel, and what am I
thinking about?

Climate change.

Why climate change?

For 1,800 years it seemed unlikely that Israel would ever be reborn.

No nation in history had ever been regathered after such a lengthy period. Even the Hebrew language was lost in that time.

Meanwhile, the Promised Land became a barren wasteland – a desert no man could master.

Have you ever wondered why the Holy Land became a wasteland during the 1,800-year dispersion of the Jews that lasted until they returned in significant numbers beginning in the early 20th century?

1750 Homann Heirs Map of Israel - Palestine - ...

1750 Homann Heirs Map of Israel – Palestine – Holy Land (12 Tribes) – Geographicus – Palestina-homannheirs-1750 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever wondered why Mark Twain was so disappointed at what he found in his travels through the area in the 19th century?

Have you ever wondered why, during that period of nearly two millennia, no other people successfully and permanently settled this land that is so much in dispute today?

It was all a fulfillment of prophecy. Little did Mark Twain know when he wrote about his trip to the Holy Land that he was fulfilling prophecy, but he was.

1 Kings 9:6-8 explains it all:

“But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house?”

It wasn’t just the children of Israel who suffered as a result of their disobedience and apostasy. So did the land itself.

In his book, “Prophecies for the Era of Muslim Terror,” Rabbi Menachem Kohen points out the land suffered an unprecedented, severe and inexplicable (by anything other than supernatural explanations) drought that lasted from the first century until the 20th – a period of 1,800 years coinciding with the forced dispersion of the Jews.

Kohen sees this as a miraculous fulfillment of prophecy found in the book of Deuteronomy – especially chapter 28:23-24:

“And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.

“The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.”

The climate in Israel dramatically changed during this 1,800-period – way before Al Gore discovered “global warming.”

Before the Jews entered Canaan, it was described in the Bible as a land flowing with milk and honey. If you read what Israel’s climate and natural landscape was like from the time Joshua crossed the Jordan right up until the time of Jesus, it sounds like a heavily forested land. There were amazing crops raised by the people who inhabited the land when the Jews arrived.

Once I wondered what happened to Israel to turn it into the dusty, arid land it was when the Jews came back in the 20th century. Until I read that prophecy in Deuteronomy, brought to my attention by Rabbi Kohen, I had no clue.

For 1,800 years, it hardly ever rained in Israel. This was the barren land discovered by Mark Twain. So-called “Palestine” was a wasteland – nobody lived there. There was no indigenous Arab population to speak of. It only came after the Jews came back.

Beginning in A.D. 70 and lasting until the early 1900s – about 660,000 days – no rain.

I decided to check this out as best I could and examined the rainfall data for 150 years in Israel beginning in the early 1800s and leading up to the 1960s. What I found was astonishing – increasing rainfall almost every single year – with the heaviest rainfall coming in and around 1948 and 1967. Is this just a coincidence?

I’ll be quite honest with you: I don’t think so.

Nor do I think Israel can continue today to make bad stewardship decisions regarding the land bequeathed to the Jews by God without consequences – serious consequences.

And that’s exactly what Israel is doing today – yielding to global pressure to trade “land for peace.” It won’t work. In fact, the prophet Daniel (Daniel 11:39) warns that this will eventually happen in the last days – and bring about the final conflagration known as “Armageddon.”

That’s why I believe in climate change. But it’s not the imaginary kind caused by carbon dioxide. It’s caused by the Creator of carbon dioxide – and everything else.

He’s still got a plan for this land of Israel. And He is absolutely intolerant of anyone or anything that interferes with it.

And considering the tremendous amount of rainfall we had here in Israel just this past week, I would say that G-d is still on our side (even if Atara isn’t).

I would just like to remind Atara of two things: (1) even our patriarchs, matriarchs, and greatest leaders like Moshe Rabeinu (Moses) and Dovid Hamelech (King David)  were not perfect and (2) of the sin of the spies’ (Numbers ch. 13-14) derogatory report about the land of Israel and the aftermath.

As for me,  I’m a proud Jew, proud of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, and honored to be living in our land.

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How Yellow My Butter

Churning Butter

Got raw milk?

Over the last 10-11 years we have overhauled our pantry and refrigerator; we did away with  most of the processed foods, the polyunsaturated vegetable oils, bottled dressings, soy burgers, white flour, cold breakfast cereals, Betty Crocker, Skippy, and much more. Margarine, which we used sparingly before with meat or pareve foods, now  became a dirty word in our house. Instead, we bought cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, sea salt, whole-grain breads and flours, organic cake mixes, omega-3 eggs and free-range eggs, organic vegetables (price permitting), raw milk, organic butter, and many more natural and minimally- or un-processed foods. We started reading labels — if there were too many ingredients, additives, or other stuff that didn’t need to be in there, we put the “food” back on the shelf.  While not perfect (we all have our vices) we tried as much as we could to become (thanks to Dr. Harry Schick) adherents of Dr. Weston A. Price‘s nutritional philosophy and practitioners of “Politically Incorrect Nutrition.”

In Highland Park and Lakewood, NJ, where we lived while transforming our diet, we came to know where we could find the foods we wanted – which stores and which aisles. I got my organic butter, eggs, and vegetables in Shoprite (a large supermarket chain); organic grains, palm oil, and coconut oil from the health food stores or NPGS, a kosher supermarket in Lakewood, which also carried a selection of organic and natural foods and was often a little cheaper than Shoprite and the health food stores.  I really had it down pat by the time we were ready to make aliyah.

So, it was important to us that wherever we moved to in Israel we would have access to as much unadulterated, natural, and organic foods as possible.  Rehovot we were told, had at least 3 health food stores. But moving to a different country, or sometimes just to a different city, means that even though you had shopping down to a science before, you have to start from scratch all over again. I wasn’t quite prepared for that. Or the kashrut issues – mehadrin vs.  not mehadrin… private certifications… certifications (most) that require a magnifying glass to read… For Pesach we discovered products with two different types of certification on the same label – one certification indicating that the food was kosher but not Kosher for Passover and the  other certification specifically indicating that the item was Kosher for Passover. Huh? *

It’s gotten a lot easier since, but the first time I went to the supermarket I spent an eternity buying very few items. My knowledge of the Hebrew language  is more biblical than modern so words like resek  or tarkiz referring to (tomato) paste or sauce, respectively, were unfamiliar to me. And, a lot of additives are identified by E-numbers (probably makes it easier to hide chemicals that way).  So, besides figuring out what I was looking at on the shelf, I was checking prices, reading ingredients (to the best of my ability) and kashrut certifications (without the benefit of a magnifying glass). By the time I left the store, I had a tremendous headache and much gratitude to my new friend Rochelle who had taken me there and patiently waited while I had my first experience of supermarket shock.

We eventually found many of the items we were looking for. I was very relieved to  find yellow butter. Color is a significant indication of the nutritional value of the food; yellow is the color that butter should be, a sign that the cows were grass-fed and the butter contains the vitamins it should. It costs significantly more than the colorless Tnuva butter sold here since it’s imported, but so did the yellow organic butter we were buying in New Jersey, and I prefer nutrition. We were still searching for other items , and with yet others we weren’t sure about the reliability of their private kashrut certifications. It was beginning to become quiet distressing for me all around, until I realized that I had time. I would do what I could now and leave the rest until we were more settled, even if it was next year.

I remembered that the nutritional changes we made in the States took time… time till we absorbed the information we were reading and understood the pros and cons of the different products… time till we were able to incorporate them into our diet. It involved a lot more cooking; no more ready-to-eat blintzes, kugels, cakes and cookies with endless strange ingredients, and other prepared foods that contained ingredients nobody would have on their kitchen shelves, or ingredients I would no longer use, and canned goods were kept to a minimum. Eventually I started sprouting my own beans, soaking grains to remove the anti-nutrient phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors  which they contain, and other measures to ensure a more nutritious diet. Some things I found easier to do than others, some were more successful, and some fell by the wayside, to be picked up again at another time. It wasn’t planned this way, it just happened and I was okay with it. It was all part of the process.

Applying this “all part of the process” philosophy while acclimating to Israel, to the different variety of foods and related issues here, the different shopping experiences, and to other cultural and lifestyle differences as well, is helping to make our transition a lot easier and much more pleasant. Kol hatchalot kashot, all beginnings are difficult,  the Hebrew saying goes, but there’s no mitzvah in making it even harder by pressuring myself.

* We were told that the first agency, which certifies for the rest of the year, doesn’t certify the food for Passover; however, the second agency does. We are still stymied by this. Since the Passover labels are not  used all year round  it would be easy to remove the first certification which can only cause confusion.

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A greener in Israel

I often think about what it would be like if I had moved to a different country, say England or France, instead of Israel. Would it be easier because I’d know that the country has a long history and therefore a different way of life? Would I accommodate myself easily to the differences, forgive the English their foibles, and take my newfound inadequacies in stride? In England you have to look the “wrong” way when crossing the street, a truck is called a lorry, and the last time I was there, about 10 years ago, discovered that the English do not use paper plates except for picnics (although that may have changed by now). Moving to France would necessitate my quickly becoming fluent in French although I’d be able to rely on my hubby for a bit, who not only majored in French, but spent a year in France as well.  Different currency, different attitudes, and all the other aspects of life that make France French and England English would all have to be learned. Would I, for the most part, expect that and take it all in stride?

Somehow, when making aliyah we are surprised to find out that we have to learn how to live all over again. Perhaps it’s because the country is so westernized, or because there’s so much English used, or so many American olim here, or because we’ve visited before and didn’t notice (or overlooked) all the different ways things are done here.  Or because it’s frustrating to feel so “green.”  Being a “greener” only applies, we think, to people who came to the United States from “the old country”, not to 21st Century Anglos making aliyah.

Not too long after we get off the boat/airplane, we realize that acclimating is more than just learning Hebrew, shopping in shekels and kilograms, and memorizing one’s Teudat Zehut (identity card) number, which is asked for more than one’s drivers license or social security number. I still haven’t memorized mine. There are myriad little aspects of daily life and the larger one of “knowing the system, the way things work” that we take for granted which are vastly  different here  and require adjustment – after we get over the shock about just how different things can be.

The first few weeks post aliyah are often very hectic as one tries to settle in and take care of opening a bank account, registering with one of the four health insurers, visiting Misrad Ha’p’nim (Interior Ministry) and Misrad Ha’klita (Absorption Ministry), obtaining cell phone service, and such.  “The shock” began for us when we were made aware that Israel is not open 24/6 (or even 10/6) as we are used to in the U.S.  Besides just about everything being closed on Shabbat – which is what we came here for – most offices are not open all day every day and in fact are often closed afternoons and  one or more days during the week. Misrad Ha’klita in Rehovot is not open at all on Tuesday and our bank is not open on Friday! And, if they are open morning and afternoon, they may very well be closed for a couple of hours midday. Here, in Rehovot, many stores are closed Tuesday afternoons. If you haven’t checked all the different schedules beforehand, finding out that the office/service that you need is not open when you are ready to go is quite an eye-opener.

Another interesting thing we discovered is that when signing up for health insurance the first stop is the post office. Yes, that’s right, the post office, where more transactions take place than just mailing letters and packages. The post office can be used instead of a bank  where you can open up an account (although that’s not generally recommended), as a place to change money from one currency to the next, pay bills, and of course, pay the initial fee to sign up for your health insurance. In the U.S. there are generally stanchions which delineate the line. When you get to the banks, post office, or government office in Israel, be prepared to take a number and sit down to wait your turn. But how do you get a ticket when you don’t understand which line you need to be on?

And, while it may seem like a trivial item, Israeli phone numbers still annoy me. In the U.S. the seven digit number is split between the first three numbers – the “exchange” which covers a particular area and the last four which make it your personal number.  In Israel the numbers after the area code are either broken up differently or, more likely, are one long 7- or 10-digit string, making it much harder to read and remember the number at a glance.  (Many businesses have only 6 digits, and very often an asterisk followed by about four numbers will be a shortcut to dialing.)

A lot of the acclimation process, however, seems to be one of attitude. My daughter exclaims to her friends that she’s not bored here because it’s a different culture. She finds it exciting and interesting.  My son commented on shopping in Rehovot. He thinks it’s much more of a pleasant adventure going into all the little shops along Rechov Herzel,  than walking into Shoprite, a large U.S. supermarket (although Israel has some large supermarkets, too) for one item and coming out six hours later. He points to my husband  – walking around in shorts, sandalim (sandals) and an almost 10 gallon hat which he bought for 10 shekels ( about $3.40 these days) to keep the sun off – who, ever the people person,  has a chavaya, an adventure, wherever he goes.

Being prepared, knowing what to expect, is important before one sets out on any trip, no less when one makes a major change in life, as aliyah is. More important, however, is one’s attitude; my children keep pointing this out to me.

Oh, and then there’s dealing with military time – but that’s for another time!

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This is MY TERRITORY

When one talks about being American, Canadian, Israeli, British, Ethiopian, Russian, etc., it’s very often a cultural identification, rather than a geographic one. The longer one has lived in their country of origin, the more ingrained the cultural references, habits, ways of thinking and relating to people and the world become.  So, when one finds oneself smack dab in the middle of Israel, by their own volition, is one obliged to become Israeli? Is one automatically required to shed their frames of reference and take on Israeli outlooks and mannerisms for everything from what’s considered polite and acceptable behavior to the Israeli way of washing floors? Or does being Israeli (as that’s how the government recognizes olim) simply mean having an allegiance to the country, adapting and slowly adopting as much as possible and necessary while retaining your core essence? In a very humorous website, How to be Israeli , blogger Maya, who made aliyah from the U.S.  in early 2008, gives her take on the idiosyncrasies of Israeli life and culture as viewed by an American on everything from the Israeli version of a mop to the correct pronunciation of the name of a major Israeli supermarket chain to the difference between what is considered rude and polite in Israel vs. the States.

How hard or easy one’s acculturation process is probably depends upon one’s like/dislike for their country of origin as well as their personal attitude towards change. I would also venture that the more one is “moving to Israel,” rather than away from their home country, also plays a great part in their willingness and ease of adaptation.  A very interesting article entitled “A local girl in the IDF”  includes a letter from former Fresno, California resident Darrow Pierce, whose (progressive) opinions of Israel changed as a result of making aliyah and joining the IDF. She concludes:

I once heard that moving to Israel is like a marriage — you give, take, fight, love, disagree, compromise, and work on your relationship with the country and the people. For some it doesn’t work out, and others are happy for the rest of their lives. I don’t know what’ll happen after I discharge from the army, but for now, my marriage is going great.

If I was to compare making aliyah to marriage, I would say that a great determining factor as to whether or not you succeed is your level of commitment. Going  into a marriage – do you expect it to work and to work it – do you believe that you are marrying your bashert (destined) or do you tell yourself that if things don’t work out there’s  always the option of divorce? Or in terms of aliyah, did you come to Israel because this is the place you want to be, where Hashem (G-d) has prepared a place for you, or do you expect that if things don’t work out, you can always return to your home country? The better you are prepared emotionally, the more realistic your expectations, and the more willing you are to weather  and work through the tough times, the greater chance of success  you give your marriage/aliyah.  If the option of divorce/return is on the table before you’ve entered the relationship/made aliyah, IMHO, this mode of thinking makes one less likely to stick with it and overcome the challenges; you’ve most likely undermined the success of the venture before you’ve even started out.

Maya, in her post “Aliyah after the honeymoon,” uses the marriage analogy as well:

The aliyah-as-marriage analogy works in many other ways, too: you must get to know each other first, you must be committed, you must discuss money and how to raise the kids and where to live. (I bet that the percentage of people who “divorce” aliyah over financial concerns is at least as high as the percentage of marriages that dissolve over money.) I once heard someone say that the best indication of how happy you will be in a marriage is how happy you are out of it. In other words, if you are miserable, don’t expect marriage (or aliyah) to transform you. We are responsible for our own happiness. As I waited for aliyah, I reminded myself to practice enjoying life then so that I would be able to enjoy life in Israel.

Reflecting on my previous relocation from New York to New Jersey, I realized that after having lived in New York for many years, I didn’t feel like a New Jersey-ite all of a sudden.  My body may have crossed state lines, but I considered myself a New Yorker for quite a while afterward. I was more interested to learn what Mayor Bloomberg was doing to/for New York City than about anything that was going on in New Jersey. Truthfully, I had no frame of reference or understanding about local and state politics at that point and I wasn’t sure I cared. Over time, however, that slowly changed. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I stopped thinking of myself as a New Yorker.  I could no longer vote in New York State and my interest and connection dwindled; New Jersey became my home.

I was therefore quite pleasantly surprised not long ago, to realize the degree of ownership I feel here already. When listening to Binyamin Netanyahu (I’ve not gotten to the familiar “Bibi” stage yet) address Congress recently, I took umbrage when he magnanimously offered major land concessions in return for “piece” – the little piece we would keep.  What right does he have to offer so much of Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria), I said to myself – it’s my land and I don’t approve!

Most wonderful, however, was hearing my daughter, Tova, express similar sentiments to her friend who was visiting from the States. Trying to arrange a meeting place in Yerushalayim  over the phone, her friend was anxious about traveling in the area – it wasn’t her territory. Tova, trying to give directions, responded – “well, it’s my territory.” And, the other day, a friend, still stateside, asked Tova if she was bored. “Bored!” she exclaimed. “It’s a different culture!” I’m so glad she’s embracing and enjoying the differences.

As much as making aliyah involves learning a different language and different way of life, it is also just the opposite – it’s living in a country where everybody speaks the same language and runs on the same calendar as you do. It’s the most comfortable place to be Jewish.  For the first time we truly feel that we’re in the place where we belong.  With time the rest will come, but we’ve already got the most important part.

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Cottage cheese and false gods

The price of cottage cheese here in Israel has become a hot topic. The Israeli financial newspaper, Globes, had done some investigative reporting recently and in an article entitled We’re overpaying for more than just cottage cheese put the spotlight on the high cost of dairy products , other foods, and consumer goods and services, as well as providing a price and salary comparison with other countries. As a result, Israeli resident Yitzhak Elrov decided to do something about it and called for a boycott of cottage cheese for the month of July. Apparently, this has made it all the way to the K’nesset, where an investigation into the cost of dairy products is being launched. And some supermarkets have even reduced the price of cottage cheese, letting their suppliers know they expect them to do the same.

Because we olim are particularly sensitive to the disparity in prices for many products between Israel and our home countries, these articles have been cause for much comment on Nefesh B’Nefesh’s email list. Of course, if there is no economic reason for the high cost of many of these products, then they should be investigated; true market forces and competition should be allowed to help bring down the cost of living for all of us in Israel. Most commentators offered their take on the veracity of the article and were also sure to mention that although finances are of significant concern, making aliyah is not a financial decision.

To quote a few olim:

From IP
In the UK, students leave university carrying a huge debt of student loans – that wasn’t mentioned in the article. Neither was the relative cost of health care in Europe, the US and Israel.

It’s easy to pick and choose individual prices to make your point, just as the international media pick and choose their “facts” about Israel. You can be technically “accurate” without being “truthful”.

From HB
It is certainly true that some products here have inflated prices that would come down if more competition were allowed – and something really does need to be done about this – and not just for cottage cheese. And it’s also true that wages in many cases are lower here than they should be – and something ultimately has to give there as well. But when you really factor in everything, there isn’t the great difference that so many people describe. And while people here complain about going into minus, I know too many Americans who have their own version of minus – just going into credit card debt.

All in all, it’s great to be here in Israel, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

From RA
…take the good with the bad and keep the eye on the prize, which is NOT the cheapest cost of living, or the highest average level of education, or the cleanliness of the cities for that matter. The prize is the land itself and the Jewish mishpacha that is of every possible origin, every look, every walk of life, and of wide range of religious observance.”

From MB
I am clear about what I have come here for, I came for the people of Israel. During a few months baaretz I’ve been successful if I can say, meeting excellent Israeli people. That’s the value I look for. It’s far away from monetary values. It provides me with a feeling of fulfillment, with a venue of self-expression; I recognize myself in these people … In short, I came for the tribe and my place in it.

I still miss some of those things more easily or cheaply acquired in the States. It has taken/is taking a while for me to get used to “making do” with substitutes or paying “premium prices” for some goods. Other items are cheaper, particularly fruits and vegetables which are very inexpensive compared to those in the U.S. So, it’s a mixed bag. And, even though people who say ‘you have to realize that Israel is not America and the sooner you get used to that idea, the easier your absorption here’ are pretty much on the mark, changing one’s mindset takes time.

However, we must remember that money can be a false god and believing that living in Israel is more financially risky than elsewhere is to believe in the false god of country or currency, and not in the G-d of Israel. Consider that the world is losing confidence in the dollar as its reserve currency:

Why the Dollar’s Reign Is Near an End
Finally, there is the danger that the dollar’s safe-haven status will be lost. Foreign investors—private and official alike—hold dollars not simply because they are liquid but because they are secure. The U.S. government has a history of honoring its obligations, and it has always had the fiscal capacity to do so.

But now, mainly as a result of the financial crisis, federal debt is approaching 75% of U.S. gross domestic product. Trillion-dollar deficits stretch as far as the eye can see. And as the burden of debt service grows heavier, questions will be asked about whether the U.S. intends to maintain the value of its debts or might resort to inflating them away.

Even individual states are losing faith in the dollar:

Tenn. Joins States Considering Alternate Currency Legislation
According to the text of Senate Joint Resolution 98, Ketron’s purpose in initiating such a proposal is “to create a special joint committee to study whether the State of Tennessee should adopt a currency to serve as an alternative to the currency distributed by the Federal Reserve System in the event of a major breakdown of the Federal Reserve System.”

…The state governments of South Carolina and Virginia have passed their respective versions of the law, and both houses of the Utah legislature have passed a bill approving gold and silver as legal tender (it awaits the Governor’s signature or veto). Colorado, Montana, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Georgia, and Washington are also considering doing the same thing.

Europe has its own problems, too.

Perfect Financial Storm Shaping Up for Europe, U.S.
Meanwhile, the IMF, whose disgraced former president, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was instrumental in helping the eurozone finesse the bailouts of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, is rudderless and likely to have considerably less clout. The G8 countries are meeting this week to try to cobble out yet another way to buy time for Europe, but they will be distracted by a burgeoning debt problem on the other side of the Atlantic: the spectacle of the United States sinking into insolvency as it runs out of money to borrow. Greece, after all, has been sunk by indebtedness of around 150 percent of the GDP; can the USA, whose debt has reached roughly 100 percent of its own GDP, be far behind?

The British Health Care system needs a bailout:

Germany offers to treat a million British patients
German hospitals are offering to clear the entire NHS waiting list after the Department of Health opened the floodgates for Britons to seek treatment abroad.

Health bosses in Germany yesterday urged Britain to send up to a million patients for surgery this year – which would clear almost every person waiting for an operation.

Now, consider Israel – it has weathered the recent economic crises much better than many other countries, it’s a high-tech leader that has made possible much of the computer and cellphone technology we have today, has recently discovered huge reserves of oil and gas it can begin to develop (thank you G-d), and all this in only 63 years, all while fighting constant battles for survival. I ask you, which country is better poised for future growth?

So, while there are problems to be addressed, inequities to be rectified, and issues to be resolved, I’ll bank on the land that Hashem has not forgotten. Because He did promise us a rose garden here; we just have to till the soil a bit while we watch out for the thorns (false gods included).

Will I eat cottage cheese next month? Probably. But I didn’t come here for the cheese.

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