Reflections from Sderot

Visiting Sderot felt a bit too much like disaster tourism. I kept wondering how those who live there felt when we drove by in our bus. Are they used to it? Do they consider visitors flooding their town to be a second wave of disruption, preventing them from getting on with the normal lives that I’m sure they want to live? I would have liked to ask that question to someone in Sderot, but unfortunately the group wasn’t given this opportunity. We did however, have a fascinating meeting with the mayor of Sderot, David Buskila. Buskila has the difficult role of trying to restore order to a town filled with constant disruption. He can quickly quote the number of rockets that fall in a given year, and describes vividly the 15 seconds between when an alert is issued and the rockets land. Of the statistics that was most difficult to hear, we learned that 25% of the residents of Sderot are afflicted with post traumatic stress disorder. But what was most surprising was what he said next: The children in Gaza are also suffering. Do you think they are responsible for this violence either? How can their parents vote freely

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Love- of what exactly?

I remember the first time I got off the plane in Tel Aviv. The excitement at every little thing. Falling in love with Israel, my country.The foreign landscapeThe ancient treesThe street signs in Hebrew, Arabic and EnglishCNN internationalSpeaking Hebrew to ‘real’ IsraelisThe sense of historyJerusalem stone Between that visit and now, I’ve been in Israel a number of times.Each visit less and less exotic. This time, as I sat in the sherut from the airport to Yerusahalyimwith the sun setting golden over the Jerusalem mountainsand the moon, nearly full faintly on display,It should be more romantic.Instead I felt empty. Perhaps it was not Israel that I lovedbut traveling. Since that first visit to IsraelI’ve seen more foreign landscapesmore ancient treesstreet signs in many languages.I’ve watched other tv channelsspoken in more languagesand seen more historyand more stones. There are memories I relish moreand places where I have felt more free.What is Israel to me?Why do I feel so empty?

Being Invisible

This morning- I got to minyan early. I’m standing in the synagogue, reconnecting with someone I haven’t seen in years when three others walk into the room. One of them says, “great we have four people.” To be honest I don’t remember his exact words, but I do remember math. When does 2+3=4? When one has the xx character trait thereby making her ineligible to count in an Orthodox minyan and apparently rendering her invisible and not a person. This experience has happened to me before- Unfortunately, I have been relegated to non-person status in cities all over the world, almost always by  men, who, I hope, don’t realize the pain that they have caused . What makes this time different is that I’m at the Siach conference- an environmental and social justice conversation. More info here. It is certainly a great group of very talented people. Most of the conversations that I’ve had have been with fascinating people, presenting the challenge of not wanting to extract myself from intense and good discussions. I was having a great time until this moment, and I’m not sure what to do with it. Perhaps I was tired because this morning I just

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