Aliyah on My Mind

Monday, September 18, 2006

You're the Best!

Hi All,
I think it's time for me to branch out and create another blog. I did a lot of thinking during my blog break, and this seems like the right way to go. I'll call the new blog "Finding Her Voice."

It looks like I will have to work on the parnassah (making a living) part of my life for the time being, and that requires a lot of focus. Of course, I'm doing that mainly in order to be in a position to make aliyah, but since my daily focus cannot be on making that move at this time, it doesn't seem appropriate to keep writing regular "life" stuff in an aliyah blog. So I will start a new blog, which you can find on my profile page, if you are interested. (And I hope you are interested!)

If I lose you, my audience, it will make me sad, but I will understand! After all, you came to this site expecting to read an aliyah blog. You've come to virtually know me during a pivotal time in my life: after I had taken a long sabbatical to focus on what I really wanted my life to be about. Now that I've answered that question, it's time to make it happen.

Another reason for a blog switch is that I want to explore what the whole Christian Zionist experience could mean to me. I may try writing some about that, and I wouldn't quite feel comfortable or respectful writing about those explorations in an aliyah blog.

The ironic thing is that now my aliyah hopes are closer to coming true than ever. My family is actively helping me-- sending me the necessary documents for the Jewish Agency, being emotionally supportive of my decision, and it's more than I could have ever dreamed of! I will post about those things in my new blog, as they come up. (It would be strange to keep going back and forth between blogs, so I'll just stick to the one for now.)

My mother and I will be visiting Israel in June, and she may indeed try the IDF volunteer program, or a kibbutz experience, either of which would be very exciting. During that time, I would most probably rent an apartment and start looking for a community and an investment property to purchase and rent out until I'm ready to move in. I am now also hoping my great uncle (and perhaps his long-time companion, Debbie) will join Mom and me on our trip. We shall see!

The cocktail party experience will continue on "Finding Her Voice," and I still plan to post those stories every Monday. They are just too crazy to keep to myself!

I hope to see you in the blogosphere,
Your friend,

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hors d'oeuvres, Anyone? (Installment Numero Uno!)

Please note: you may want to read the preceding post before reading this, as it explains the new weekly feature!

Theme of the cocktail party: Pretentiousness, apparently.
Food served: salmon en croute, caviar appetizers, sushi, prawns, mini-Caprese salads, creme brulee (Sorry, these events are never kosher!)
Service: mixture of buffet and circulating waiters
Beverages: a variety of beers and wines, soda
Beverages I consumed: one glass of White Zinfandel
Location: private home in the Sweetwater Oaks Country Club community, in Longwood, Florida

Wow. This party was notable for one thing: it's pretentiousness. After a very busy week with my overseas client, I had really been looking forward to some good food and nice conversation, so this kind of ambience was not what I needed!
As I checked in at the gate house, I thought, "This is going to be fancy!" I had no idea then about the sharks that awaited me. I was a lamb among wolves, I tell you. I proceeded through the gorgeous, oak-lined winding streets, edged with gated entries galore. Some of these places would have put Tara to shame!

I finally pulled up to the house, no, mansion, sized at a mere 8,000 square feet, set on 3 acres! (By comparison, an average 3 bedroom, 2 bath house has about 1500-2500 square feet.)

To start with, this house party had valet parking. I'm too cheap for valet parking. I'm happy to give my money to a good cause, but I don't consider paying $5 to have someone park my car, when I could use the extra 10 steps of exercise, to be a good cause. Especially since they parked all the fancy cars (Jaguars, Porsches, etc.) on the front lawn next to the house, so they would get noticed. That's just tacky. So when I told the guy I would park my own car, he said, "Oh... (long pause, staring at me) I guess you could do that..." Not an auspicious beginning to the event.

Next stop: the front door. I was greeted by a man who was so annoyingly self-effacing that I'm surprised he didn't offer me his own kidney. Please. My mind shut off somewhere around the time he mentioned that the house came with "His and Her garages." You can't make this stuff up!

I finally got past his schpiel and made it to the hors d'oeuvres, which was a big improvement! A bit of good caviar will boost my mood any day!

Then I took a look around the house. Holy crap. Can you say spontaneous consumption?? Who needs 8000 square feet?! Do these people realize that there are starving children in this world?? A few notable tidbits: this house had a circular atrium for the children's wing (complete with a rotunda and recessed lighting), a separate "Christmas room," and a jacuzzi that would fit well over 20 people! And I'm not even exaggerating!

But the features that really got my attention were, get this--- the two enormous laundry rooms! My living room is smaller than either of their laundry rooms. One laundry room in each wing. As a lady joined me in the 2nd of them, I exclaimed to her, (a complete stranger; I assumed she was a Realtor like me), "Two freakin' laundry rooms?! Are you kidding me?!!" She responded with "Yes, I thought it was good idea. Do you like them?" OMG, I was talking to the lady of the house!! Well, I quickly adjusted my tune after that, then excused myself, a little embarrassed, to the bar.
Anyway, I don't know what she was doing there. The home's sellers are not usually encouraged to attend Broker's open houses, as agents need to candidly comment on the features and price if necessary. Which, by the way, was $4,900,000. Yes, you read that right. Almost 5 million dollars.

I found the bar and got a glass of wine, some more food, and looked for a nice person to sit and chat with. I picked the wrong person. As soon as I sat down by this woman and introduced myself, she barked, "How long have you been in the business?" Not a good way to start. Even though I've been in the business for four respectable years, anytime someone starts a conversation with that question it's because they've been in the business a hundred years, and they just want to hold it over everyone.

There are a lot of these nasty types of Realtors in posh areas, who were apparently raised devoid of any manners or class whatsoever. They can be so territorial about "their" areas that I wouldn't be surprised to see them marking on the marble columns!! I spent the next 5 minutes evading her demeaning attitude and questions. Yuck.

Fortunately, I can keep up with the best --worst?-- of them (if I have to). So I made a few offhanded --yet true-- comments about my upbringing, which thankfully shut her up. Feeling at once self-satisfied and ashamed for stooping to her level, I escaped her presence and wandered into another room, where a presentation was taking place.

As I walked in, a guy was using a powerpoint presentation to introduce an upcoming and extremely pricey home community. The individual house lots in the community (not including the houses themselves) start at an insane $800,000. I listened to him drone on about "We like to think that we're creating a community of unpretentious luxury..." (to which people chuckled and snorted audibly!) When he got to the part about "The gate house alone cost over four million dollars," I thought to myself, "If I wasted 3.8 million dollars of my future residents' money, I wouldn't go around, broadcasting it publicly!" and I took that as my cue to get out of there.

From the snarky attitudes of so many of the unbearable attendees, I can confirm what we all know to be true: money certainly doesn't buy happiness.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hors d'oeuvres, Anyone?

Introducing a fun new feature to my blog: the weekly cocktail party experience!!!

I've often admired bloggers who post fun weekly features on their blogs, but I never knew what contribution I could make. Until... could it be? Could I write about these (mostly) real estate cocktail parties that I attend all the time?! Some of them are pretty noteworthy, for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it's the personalities, other times it's the properties, or the food, or the party's theme, or whatever.

To explain my intentions a little further: I used to be an elementary school teacher. If there is a less glamorous job to have, I don't want to know what it is. (Though trash collector and stay-at-home mom come to mind as potentials, which are honorable and, just like teaching, undervalued careers!) But I digress. When I was teaching, I remember muttering to myself "I just wish someone would serve me something on a toothpick!" I would have killed for a cocktail party back then. My work environment was dingy and dreary, save the charming kid-art that cheered up the classroom walls.

I used to see people in cocktail parties occasionally, whether I was walking through a hotel lobby or passing by a restaurant. And as I watched, I wished so much for a chance to be among the invitees. Mostly, as I said, because my life at that time was completely devoid of any glamour or luxury. Now, as a Realtor in an area where development has positively exploded in the recent past, I get invited to more "Broker's Open House" events than I could ever have time for. And glamorous they are, so I thought (perhaps) my readers would like to have a "fly on the wall" vantage point!

As I look toward the possibility of aliyah, I recognize that my days of swanky cocktail parties will in all likelihood come to a close. Not that they are so important to me anymore; I've been to so many at this point that I've become jaded. But once they're in my rear-view mirror, I'll feel pretty wistful and nostalgic about all the ritzy parties I attended! So I do this as a remembrance of my glamorous days, and also for any of my readers who could use a little "glamour infusion" into their daily lives.

I think I'll post my installments of "Hors d'oeuvres, Anyone?" on Sundays, for those of you who are in Israel and could use a glamour shot to start off the week. I went to two parties last week, so I have a lot of good material to write about. Believe me--what it will lack in good taste will be made up for in entertainment value!

Finally, a disclaimer: these are not meant to be advertising of any type. In fact, if you live in Central Florida (or anywhere else) and want me to be your Realtor, please DO NOT read these posts! :) Especially since I plan to "call it like I see it." I may occasionally use links to the property advertisements, for the sole purpose of giving you readers a view of where I've been, particularly until I find my digital camera's battery charger. But I don't mean those links to be used as advertising (unless you see something you like; then by all means contact me via a comment on the blog, despite what I write about the cocktail party!)

I hope it's a fun read for you.
But most of all, I hope I don't get sued!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Yay! Shabbat is coming!

Where do I start?
Here I am blogging again, a little earlier than I'm ready to, but since two of my meshugeneh readers (you know who you are) guilted me into it, here goes!

My commercial client is on the plane back to Ireland now, and we had a very successful time together. I did a LOT of work for him prior to his arrival, and we viewed many commercial properties during his visit. It's so important for foreign --or any-- investors to get a good feel for the market before diving in, so I spent a lot of time educating he and his adult daughter, who has also become much more active in the process.

We had the closing on a small office condo yesterday, Hallelujah!! And though we were unsuccessful in getting an accepted contract on another contract during this trip, he did get a great feel for the market. In his absence, I will continue searching for properties that match his specific investment requirements. I also introduced him to:
  • 2 international tax/investment attorneys to set up the LLCs (limited liability companies) as well as provide legal guidance
  • 2 international commercial accounting specialists
  • a fantastic int'l. commercial lender (who I sort of, maybe, might potentially like romantically)
  • an insurance agent
  • an internationally-oriented property manager

It was a full week. Between getting to the appointments, property showings, setting up all the appointments, getting the closing documentation all ready and so on, it has me worn out. But nothing that a good Shabbat won't fix! Yay for Shabbat!!

I haven't written about this before, but on a spiritual note, I think it's ridiculous that the church holds to the Sunday sabbath concept. How anti-semitic and filled with Replacement theology can you get-- "We don't want to share our holy day with Jews, so let's change it! Poof! It's changed!"

Humph, I wonder what G-d thinks of that logic. After all, G-d gave the commandments about Shabbat early on, and it applies to all people, not only Jews. So I advocate returning Shabbat to the correct day, please. As for me, I'm just going to follow the Bible. In the unlikely event that you're confused, Shabbat is Friday at Sundown until Saturday at sundown. There, I've said it. If you don't agree with me, well, I don't know what to say to convince you. Research it yourself, it's pretty darn clear.

OK, enough of my soap box; where was I? Oh yeah, so here's where my client and I stand: He feels that his family owes me a debt for my assistance, and must welcome me to Ireland! Well amen to that! Let's go!! I sent him off this morning with good investment reading material for the plane trip, and a packet to take to his brother, who is interested in buying a condo in the Walt Disney World area. Incidentally, I am very proud to say that almost all of my business is by referral, which means I must be doing something right! I'm grateful that my past clients know that I will take good care of their friends and family.

Do you see why I didn't blog for a week? Looking over this, I think, "Who wants to read this stuff?" And yet, it's pretty much all that's occupying my mind at the moment.

Of greater interest to the average person would be the whole real estate commission subject. As you can probably tell, I absolutely love helping people. I have a great time helping them get oriented in a new community-- it's one of the many things that I love about my job.

But there's another part of being a Realtor that I don't love, and many people outside the real estate industry do not understand it at all. I don't love being taken advantage of. And in real estate, it happens all the time. I mean, so often that I frequently consider just working as an investor, because I get sick of people-- my own clients-- taking advantage of me, my time, my work, my expertise, etc.

Consumers think that Realtors are greedy and dishonest-- and many are, but I certainly am not one of them. But much of the confusion also comes from Realtors becoming jaded and "sharkish" because so many people have taken advantage of them. I know a lot of people have had bad experiences with Realtors-- believe me, I've heard many horror stories on both sides-- and I don't mean to negate anyone's experiences.

Maybe this would be a good topic to flesh out in another post, as now it's nearly 3 p.m. and my house desperately needs a pre-Shabbat cleaning.

Shabbat Shalom, everybody!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ahhh.... I have arrived

This, to me, is the ultimate in luxury. I am currently lying in bed with my new laptop on my tummy and communing with the blogosphere. I'm wireless, powered up and in heaven!!! This almost makes my last few days worth the effort.

Mind you, I'm still a complete novice at the whole laptop experience. Every other button I push is the wrong button. And this darn touchpad mouse! Will I ever get the hang of it?? I bought an external mouse as well, but I want to try being wire-free for once. It feels kinda like skinny-dipping! :)

Here's part of an email I sent out about my computer setup process, so you can "share my experience" [read: feel my pain]:
(OK, never mind,because I don't know how to select a segment of text in order to cut and paste it yet. Maybe next time..) In any case, I did a whole boatload of work to get to this point. And I ate huge amounts of sweets in frustration. Huge, I tell you. I don't even want to admit how much I ate, but the scale seems to say 5 pounds. (Just kidding about the weight, but I really did eat a ton of junk food!)

My cat just jumped up on the bed, and is extremely threatened by the laptop. I'm waiting for her to attack it like she did when I got a new cell phone a couple years ago. (My cell still bears the bite marks.) Now my other cat has entered the bedroom, and is eyeing the new arrival with suspicion.

I had wanted to write a bit about the week's very challenging and educational experiences in commercial real estate transactions, but that will have to wait as I don't want my cat to destroy the computer. Maybe she's jealous, because the laptop has taken up residence on my tummy, which is prime real estate in her mind.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Blog Break

Wanted to let you all know that I'll be taking a blog break for a little while. My out-of-town client is flying in, and I will be very busy with him. In a business kind of way.

When I come back, I'll be using my new laptop! Yay! This old dinosaur that I'm using now is ridiculously slow and is taking all the joy out of the internet! If you know of anyone in central Florida who wants for a free --and slow-- PC, just leave a comment on my blog.

I'll still be reading all of your blogs (ahem--except Maureen's, because she still doesn't have one-- hint to Maureen!) I won't be commenting on ChayyeiSarah's or EmahS', because your blogs aren't allowing me to. Grrr... But I assure you, I will be reading them, and wishing I could put in my two cents! Just so the authors know, I've written many a witty comment on the aforementioned blogs, which unfortunately didn't publish! :(
Of course, I'll be keeping up with Baleboosteh's and Evan's blogs, too! And even though they don't read mine, I'll keep reading Yael's and Eugene's blogs, as well as many others!

As you can see, I finally learned how to hyperlink! Next, I'll learn how to blogroll.

Ciao, everybody!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What a day

Once again, I'm exhausted. Today was primary election day, and I was a poll worker. I was in charge of the touchscreen computerized voting booth at the voting precinct. These booths were mainly intended for disabled voters, but since they are brand new here in Orange County, everybody and their brother wanted to try them out! I worked from 6 a.m. until 8:45 p.m.

Our neighborhood association did this as a fundraiser. Our coffers are pretty empty after a recent unexpected payment, so a group of us volunteered to donate our payment for the poll work to the association. I am the 1st VP of said association, so of course I also volunteered. I tend to do a lot of volunteer work; I'm not sure if it's because I'm single, or what.

At this point in the day, I don't really care why I do it. Who has the energy to be analytical?


Sunday, September 03, 2006


Ever get the feeling that someone is watching you? Namely, your own mother?
I think my mother learned my blog's URL --via Uncle Bud, no doubt-- and now my family may be reading my blog. It's a little disconcerting, but that's life. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but just in case it's not all in my head:

Note to Mom: Hi! Feel free to read my blog, I don't mind.
P.S. Please don't tell our other relatives about this. Thank you. :)

Sorry for yesterday's pathetic freak-out blog post. My readers deserve better.

I talked with my mom today, and she clarified a couple things. She isn't actually considering relocation, but rather going to Israel to do some volunteer work. She's interested in volunteering in a program that the IDF runs, which permits civilians to help out. She may also be interested in working on a kibbutz for a while. (Unlike yours truly!)
I would love to see her get involved with these types of opportunities, and hopefully at a later time, she may choose to live there as well. I mentioned that perhaps during a summer, I could rent an apartment while she works on a kibbutz or with the IDF volunteer program, and she seemed receptive. This seems like a much better and more manageable idea.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Exhausted, Overwhelmed and Grateful

A big "thank you" is in order to all my blogger friends for your kind words!

As the title states, I'm not starting out this week with a whole lot of energy. Good things have gotten me to my present condition, so overall, I'm happy. Obviously the news about my mom was huge. Really huge, and unexpected. I just-- Wow. It's great.

But now I have a million thoughts running through my mind.

When is she thinking of doing this? Will it be before I have my savings in place? After all, if I wait too long, will she still have the health to do all she wants in Israel? (Will I??) And will we both still be motivated to go? How much will she be looking to me for financial support? I want to be able to support her, and I've made a commitment to doing so in her retirement. (Even though she insists that's not necessary.) So many things to consider. I don't want to be poor. And I definitely don't want my mom to be poor. I've been poor before, and I'd rather not repeat the experience, thank you. Not if I can help it, anyway. I'd much rather arrive in Israel with the ability to bless others. And I'm scared that if I don't pick up Hebrew (Does anyone call it Ivrit anymore?), then I won't be successful in real estate there. If I don't have enough saved up prior to going, then of course a job will be a necessity!

Random thoughts: maybe I'll win the lottery. (It might help if I bought a ticket!) Maybe NBN will accept my application, though I seriously doubt that. To tell the truth, I don't even know if I'll bother applying to NBN. I use their website all the time, but I don't feel like setting myself up for rejection, although the assistance they provide would be priceless. (I definitely won't be applying for their financial assistance.)

The first step is for Mom and I to take our initial trip to Israel next June, to see how we like it! Our trip was postponed from last month until next June. Incidentally, both Mom and I have moved internationally without ever first visiting our new country of residence, so I suppose that's why we feel comfortable talking about moving even before visiting Israel. We are exceedingly adventurous.

I'm getting ahead of myself, I know. But it's my blog, so I'm just writing what's on my heart. Even though I've said many times that this is what I want, having the possibility so real and within reach is terrifying!! It's such a dream come true that my mom is considering this, but I'm used to being self-centered. (Did I mention that I've never been married? And I'm 39?) Factoring in another person's plans definitely adds more layers of ...well, everything.

I had a conversation with an Israeli guy today, and I couldn't even properly say "tzedakah." It was discouraging, and hopefully not a sign of things to come! Tomorrow, I'll try to blog about the conversation and where I went today. It was interesting.

Good night, All. I have a feeling it will be "counting sheep" kind of night.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Uncle Bud Saves the Day!

There is happy news in the blogosphere! You won't believe what I did. I was too bashful to actually call up my great-uncle and ask him about "The Letter," so I emailed him a link to my blog. Yikes! Anyway, he read it and responded in what I believe is the affirmative. Very good news, indeed!

I also called my mom today, and ~wonder of wonders~ she said she's also considering a relocation to Israel!!! She said it as if it were her own idea!! (Maybe it is??) She said that she feels she has skills that Israel needs. Now this is funny. Keep in mind that my mother is over 60 years old. Here are her "skills" that she would like to bring to Israel:
Her ability to (happily) shoot a gun of just about any type. Not to make fun of my mom; she truly is skilled in marksmanship. But I think she may be let down when she finds out the IDF doesn't encourage grandmothers to take up front-lines positions. (Let's just not tell her! Wait and see what happens!)
Her second skill is being a paramedic. It does not seem to faze her that she retired from her job as a paramedic --disabled-- over 10 years ago, and became a professional artist. Never you mind; she still wants to help out in Israel.
Personally, I applaud her spirit!
Ahh, the apple does not fall far from the tree...

So... look out, Israel! Here comes my mom!
Shabbat Shalom, everyone. :)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Letter

It's a slow day in blogland, so I'll take this opportunity to write about my aliyah requirements. As I've mentioned before, my grandfather (may he rest in peace) was Jewish, and it's solely because of his ancestry that I'm eligible for aliyah. I'm sure that he would have been both mystified and happy about my desire to make aliyah.

A quick synopsis of our relationship: as a child and young teen, I visited him multiple times every year. Our relationship was tempestuous-- he had very high expectations, and enjoyed putting me to the test, and I had a smart mouth. When I was nearly 16, we had a falling out which lasted about 20 years, when I moved to Florida. Our falling out concerned both of us being extremely stubborn.

I didn't move to Florida because of him, but the positive change in our relationship certainly helped! Once I moved here, I visited him frequently, made his favorite foods (blintzes, lox and bagels-- what else?) and we regained our old relationship. I cherish that time with him, which lasted almost a year before he passed away. I wish he could be here to know about my plans, but still, at least I have the hope that he sees me.

His passing away has complicated my aliyah plans, though. I need proof from a rabbi about my ancestry, and he was the natural person to obtain that. What the agency needs is a letter from a rabbi stating that my grandfather was Jewish and born to a Jewish mother. Since my granddad can't help me, the next people recommended by the agency are his siblings, my great aunt and uncle.

Wow, this is going to be uncomfortable. Who to ask for the letter? I don't think either of them belongs to a temple. I am not positive about my great uncle, but I'm sure that my great aunt doesn't. I don't relish the thought of putting either of them in this position for my sake. My great uncle is a very nice guy, and has been supportive, so I'm trying to get the chutzpah to ask him.

Yeah, I think he's the one to ask. He lives in California, and since I moved from there 5 years ago, we really lost touch. But he has been very helpful of late. Incidently, we had a good conversation last week. I told him I'd been doing some ancestry research recently, and did he know his grandmother's name was Yetta Rosenthal? Yes, he did know, and he suggested I name a daughter after her. Isn't that sweet?

Can't someone else do this for me?? What if I didn't have any relatives, what then? As you can tell, I am really dreading asking for help with obtaining the letter. I can whine all I want, but at some point, this is a bridge I will have to cross.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Hurricane" Ernesto. What a wimp. Looks like Cuba pretty much did him in, so now all Florida is going to get is a whole lot of rain.
I had fun writing the invitation to my not-a-hurricane party, so I'll post it here for your enjoyment. I wish my blogging friends could come! But who wants to fly to Florida during a big rain storm?

Hi All,
I hope you will be able to attend tonight's dinner party, which is now called a big rain party as opposed to a hurricane or tropical storm party!
The event is no longer potluck (unless you would like to bring something, which is always welcome!) Here is the menu:
I have put a brisket of beef in the crock-pot, as well as some carrots, potatoes and onions. There are no side dishes. I have no time for side dishes. You may wish to bring beano. That is up to you.
On our libations menu, I have half a bottle of white wine (thanks to Lynn), and an assortment of reds. Of course, fuzzy navel wine coolers and rum and coke are available by request. As are any number of anxiety medications. (For both women and canines.)
For dessert, we will be having a dark chocolate fondue with almost-ripe bananas and peaches, and very ripe plums. It's the best I could do. We will not be having any cake with the fondue, because let's face it-- who among us wants the extra carbs?
For after-dinner entertainment, we could play "Worst Case Scenario Survival Game", which I have, or Rummikub (Lynn, please bring the Rummikub!)
We look forward to the pleasure of your company!

Again, Bloggers: wish you were here! :)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Odds and Ends

Not a lot to blog about today...
Tomorrow, I'm expecting the Hurricane that Wasn't (Ernesto), so I'll have a few of my friends and their dogs over for a hurricane party. Should be a lot more fun that waiting out the storm by myself!

The Red Cross has now contacted me 7 -- yes, seven times since yesterday to ask me to volunteer during the storm. I am a Red Cross volunteer, and I am trained to serve in several roles. I have worked on the disaster response teams and family service (ie. handing out cash :) I volunteered for a whole month last year to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina), and I'm trained to staff and run a shelter. Oh yes. I must have been either crazy or on drugs to get certified for that. The Red Cross here doesn't have many people who have received all the training and also complied with getting a background check, so voila, I'm in demand.

I really hope they get some more shelter management volunteers quickly! I'm happy to help, but actually running a shelter is no small task. And I have an ethical issue with it, too.

The problem is, the Red Cross does not allow pets into its shelters. And I'm sure you know that definitely rubs me the wrong way. But besides my feelings about it, anyone can just look at how many people refused to leave their homes for safety during Hurrican Katrina (and every other hurricane), and often, people and their pets die in their homes because they have nowhere to go that will accept pets. Last year, I complained to the Red Cross about this, but I don't think they have changed their policy. I believe the National Guard shelters may allow pets (which are kept in their cages in a separate room from the people), but not the Red Cross. It's just dumb. And inconsiderate. So we'll see if I volunteer again. I probably will, but I'll give them a piece of my mind, too!

On to more titillating (hee hee!) news: I think that my gardener made a pass at me yesterday! (What, has he been learning stuff from Desperate Housewives??) I have never had an experience like this with a gardener! I didn't know how to respond! (I mean, my answer was NO, but I still didn't know how to say it. Politely.) I just said "No, thank you anyway! Oh! I had better go take care of my dog. Bye!"
It was an uncomfortable situation. But on the brighter side of things, he did a fantastic job with my gardening yesterday. He's never been so thorough!

I hope you all have a peaceful day. :)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Welcome to my virtual garden :)

Yahoo! Avatars

This is the virtual Yaakova with my dog, Angel. Apparently I've lost 10 pounds and straightened my hair.
Notice that I no longer go barefoot in my back yard after my recent tetanus shot incident.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Warning: Deep Thoughts Ahead

Something interesting is going on in me.. I have been trying for a long time to figure out what my place would be in Israeli society. I'm not like Jewish people who just automatically fit in; my story isn't that simple. (Then again, whose aliyah story is simple?) That scares me a lot, and yet I feel like this is the path my life should take. It's very important to me to understand the role God has for me in Israel. Otherwise, I will not have the strength to remain, once I get there.

Lately I've been thinking about this, and I realize that it will require being my authentic self. And who I am is a person who is -- for many reasons-- an ardent zionist and a Christian, and I love both parts. I feel like my emerging role is to be something of a bridge to Israel for my Christian friends, to help them keep supporting Israel. That's already a lot of what my life is filled with here, but I guess I'm starting to see my role more clearly.

During the war I was talking with some Christian friends, and we agreed that it is good that the US is so supportive of Israel. They said that they can't imagine this ever changing. I then told them about my desire to make aliyah. Once I explained what that meant, one of them said, "Really?!" Now although he didn't explain his surprise, I can read between the lines. They don't understand why I would do such a thing. They are shocked. But they are extremely open to hearing about it.

I went on to tell them (to their amazement) that I can definitely envision scenarios in which the US might not remain so supportive of Israel, and that the need to have a country that takes responsibility for keeping Jewish people safe is one of the most important reasons for Israel to exist.

I didn't go into more detail, but I wish I had also mentioned some other things, such as:
  • In response to the US being so "supportive" of Israel: The US pushed Israel into the whole "land for peace" crap in the first place, and that certainly didn't show support for Israel's safety. (My apologies if you are a fan of that policy, but I think we can agree that it was a flawed plan.)
  • In the US, we may feel very badly that the Holocaust happened, and about the (current and past) treatment of Jewish people around the world, but those are just feelings. To the Jewish people who were caught in the middle, these same issues can be (and of course were) a matter of life and death. As an example, in the US we teach that "we" (the Allied forces) won WWII. Well, my family didn't win, and I'll just go out on a limb here and say that I definitely don't think anyone at all won WWII. We all lost. But obviously Jews felt this loss, Jews were this loss, whereas most in the US had/have the liberty of just "feeling bad."
I can't go on at the moment, as it's really late here and I need to get some sleep. But in any case, I would like to be able to bridge this gap in understanding that Christians have about Israel. I think I'm a natural person to do that.

(BTW, my thesis in college was entitled "The Future of the US-Israeli Relationship.")

Technology Update

There are big technology goings-on in my little neck of the woods.
First of all, you should know that I'm rather tech-challenged. I'm great with power tools, and I can even do some electrical wiring, but I'm not so confident with modems, routers and the like. So my tech news isn't earth-shattering by many people's standards, but it's big for me!

I just got my digital camera back from repairs, which means that very soon I will have an image enhanced blog! My digital camera is a Panasonic Lumix. Although I like it, I would not recommend that anyone buy one like it, because Panasonic only has ONE repair place in the entire USA! I think this is ridiculous. The local repair shops will fix, and I quote, "any camera besides a Panasonic." That may be an exaggeration on their part, but still...
So $150 later, I have my camera back from the shop. Now if I could only find my battery charger.

Also, I'm buying a new computer! My current system is beyond old. It freezes up all the time. And running the Millennium edition in 2006 is just pathetic. Microsoft has even stopped writing updates for it.

The new, fully loaded "Dude, you're getting a Dell" notebook is going to cost about $2000. I just about fell off my chair when I heard the price. Since I'm very frugal, here's my justification: this will be my second computer purchase EVER, so I might as well do it right. I'll get some bells and whistles, like a GPS locator and a "streets and trips" navigational system, which should be a big help in my job. And in real estate, a laptop has become as essential as a cell phone. I also want to be able to travel with it to far-off lands. :)

One unfortunate note is that Dell won't sell a full warranty to anyone in Florida! Gee, I wonder why... It couldn't be the hurricanes or the daily electrical storms, could it??

Quick note: my dog just walked into the room carrying my new umbrella in her mouth. Apparently it's time to buy her some more dog toys! :)

Monday, August 21, 2006

My huge thanks to all of you who commented on yesterday's post.
While it's true that I should slow it down a bit and make firmer aliyah plans, it's also true that if this villa had been in a better location, I would have had no problem putting a deposit on it today and flying over to see it! I mean... it could have been great.
I'll keep looking. And planning.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Someone please help me! I found a property online that I'm very interested in, and it's within my price range. But it's in Givat Olga, which is a suburb of Hadera. I think that it's a poor, stigmatized area. Am I correct? Is the area "gentrifying"? It's just such a lovely property! You can see it here:

Isn't it great?! I could easily entice my mom to come be my interior designer and maybe even relocate, since it's a villa right by the beach. (As long as I buy her a plane ticket, she'll go just about anywhere!) There's room for my pets, a large garden...
It seems too good to be true. Is it??
This would certainly throw my aliyah plans into overdrive. Or perhaps I could rent it out to tenants for a while. So far, I've mainly focused on Netanya and Ra'anana and environs, but who knows?
Please help me! I need input!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Straw Poll

Hi, All.
Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I've been very busy with real estate transactions. I may not have mentioned before that I just finished a sabbatical year, so I'm not used to working hard any more!
Boy, if I ever had your sympathy, I know it went out the window with that last sentence. To redeem myself, may I just say that had I not taken a year off from the regular grind, I never would have gotten my priorities straight to make the aliyah decision. Like a lot of people, I was so busy being busy that I forgot my deeper purposes in life.
I'm now refreshed and invigorated, which is a very good thing, because I seriously have to make-- I'll say it again-- a LOT of money!! I'm 39 now, and I'm trying to retire in the very near future. I say "retire", but what I really mean is "have enough saved up to not starve in Israel."
Here's the goal-- and I'm sure you'll forgive me if I neglect to state how much I've currently saved: a mere million in cash (not including my primary residence), and I'll be able to live --comfortably, if not extravagantly-- off my investments. I should be able to draw about $70,000 per year from the investments (so says my stockbroker) without tapping into the principal. I think that I can live off that easily, barring some pretty serious devaluation of the dollar or double-digit inflation!
Of course, if by some miracle I should marry and have a family (yes, the clock is booming! Prince Charming had better hurry it up if he's planning on my having babies!), then my funds will be far from enough. Does anyone know a wealthy, single man? Just kidding. With my outspokenness, I only last as a "trophy" for about 1.5 dates, then I get way too real. Tends to turn off the shallow, wealthy guys.
Wow, that was quite an unexpected tangent.
Okay, back to the original reason for tonight's post. I would like to take a "straw poll" to find out very honestly what you readers think of the name Yaakova (for a woman, in Israel). So far, I've been told that:
A. It's not a name, and there is no way to feminize the name Yaakov in Hebrew, and
B. In Israel, many people have stranger names that this, so go for it.

So what do you think? Currently, my first name is a feminization of Jacob, and I'd like to retain that aspect of it. I'm also open to your ideas, whatever they may be.

This and that

For the funniest site I think I've ever seen (as in, I was laughing so hard I just about... well, you know..), go to this link! It's the site's disclaimer, and be sure to click "don't get it" at the bottom. But the entire site is funny.

P.S. Someday I'll learn how to hyperlink!

Have I mentioned lately that commercial real estate is hard? I think that just scratches the surface. But I've never been one to back away from a challenge-- (a cursory look at all my ex-boyfriends would prove that beyond a doubt), so I've continued to plunge into these dark commercial waters where few women have gone before. It really ticks me off that this field is steeped in the "good ol' boy" network, and most of these good ol' boys (with more emphasis on 'old' than 'good') are intent on keeping it a male dominated business. Grrr.
I'll show 'em. I am now working on another commercial deal, but it's just a lease. And just so you know that I have a bit of charity in my heart, I'm also helping a single mom find and purchase a piece of land on which she plans to put a trailer, for herself and 3 kids to live in. It's all about the good deeds. :) But not as many mitzvot as I used to do, because now I have goals!

Speaking of good deeds. What is wrong with me? You know I love animals, but things are getting terribly out of hand. This week, for example, I dog-sat 2 neighbor's dogs. A third neighbor asked me to watch her dog, too, but please! This place is turning into a zoo! I've barely seen my cats all week. (They are hiding in the closet.) A fellow Realtor called me recently and teased, "I hear you're the one to call if I need a good dog-sitter." Gee, thanks! Does the adage "all publicity is good publicity" count here?!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Still sick of the war...

But much more than being sick of the war, I'm sick of the appalling news commentary. They say that laborers who were loading fruit were hit and killed. Innocent civilians, they say.
Welllll, I have a couple of problems with that:

1) Hezballah guerrillas pretend to be civilians, so how does the news really know whether or not they were innocent? (Remember, even a shepherd "innocently" herding his sheep signalled to other Hezballah members.)

2) Who in their right mind would be standing near a truck in the midst of war, when you know the IAF is targeting truck-mounted rocket launchers and trucks full of munitions? It's a war zone, people!

And I'm irritated about something else, too. Mel Gibson. Hollywood had better not let him back into their good graces!!! Look, I'm a Christian. I can understand the need to forgive. But forget? No. Gibson and society as a whole needs to learn about consequences. I wish him the best of luck in exorcising his personal demons, particularly if that means he will conquer his antisemitism. (Though I am skeptical that he will succeed, or even try.) But I sure won't be seeing any more of his movies. Besides encouraging his behavior, I would feel nauseous watching him.
Enough. I'm feeling ill.

So yesterday at around 5 p.m. I had the good fortune to step on a filthy, rusty nail while walking barefoot in my back yard. Great way to begin shabbat, no? It was so deeply embedded that I had to stifle a scream when I pulled, no, yanked it out. Around 1/4 inch deep. I'm such a baby. (Should I not mention my pathetic stuff with a war on? Or does it comfort people to remember the mundane?) Of course I have no idea when I last had a tetanus shot, so after reading about the very unattractive (not to mention deadly) side effects of tetanus, I schlepped myself to "urgent care" this a.m. .. $170 later, I have a lovely new puncture wound, in my *ss. :)
Shavua tov, everyone.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Two sentences that say it all...

I found this on Rafi's blog,

If the Arabs put down their weapons today there would be no more violence.
If the Jews put down their weapons today there would be no more Israel.

Well, that's that.

If you've been fasting, I hope that has been going easily. The meaningfulness (did I just coin a new word?) of the fast sure is apparent now.

I'm sick of this war.
And writing that is unforgivable, since I'm not even in the war. People from the North, I am so sorry for what you are enduring. I pray that it's not without effect. What I mean is, I pray that after all this death and destruction on both sides, the IDF manages to truly debilitate Hezballah. That would make it all worth it, so Israel could at least have a little respite on the northern border.
You know I support the IDF. But as much as they are doing, and doing it exceptionally well, you can't deny that Hezballah's tactics of using civilian shields and "shoot and scoot" truck-mounted rocket launchers have been very effective. It's just too disgusting for words. May the name of Nasrallah be forever blotted out. Let's include Ahmedinejad in that too, for good measure. I also pray that the IDF won't have --any? many?-- more casualties as now they have to individually ferret out the rocket launchers, munitions caches, and Hezballah members. It's very dirty work, and the IDF has my huge appreciation for doing it.

So it's 6 a.m. here, and I couldn't sleep, which is why I'm posting at such an unbelievable hour. I am NOT a morning person.
I've been crazy busy at work this past week, which is actually a blessing, because I'm trying to amass some major funds. I'm now working on 3 commercial real estate transactions, which is fairly new for me. Two of them are international purchases, one is a lease, and that is also relatively new for me. It's been a challenging week, and the learning curve has been unbelievably steep.
I usually represent people to buy and sell houses (aka residential real estate) and I've gotten so I can practically do that blindfolded with one hand tied behind my back. (Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it makes a great visual, doesn't it?)
Anyway, here I am trying my hand at commercial real estate. It's very hard.
A little background may be in order. I have a bachelor's degree in International Studies, and I went to school at the George Washington University in D.C. for about 3 years, until I dropped out and finished up at a state university in California (Hayward). I then got my teaching credential, taught for 5+ years, and realized that being a public school teacher is even less fun and profitable than they tell you. Now there's an understatement! So I left my teaching career behind, got my real estate license, and signed on with Century 21. That was almost 4 years ago. Most of my family members are also real estate licensees or at least R.E. investors, as am I. My grandfather (yes, the Jewish one, obviously) was broker/owner of a large Century 21 franchise in Boca Raton. That's why I decided to go with Century 21; it was already in the family.
Oops! More on my debut into commercial real estate later; I have to get going!
Thanks for tuning in!

Friday, July 28, 2006

More temporary homes for people from the north!

Liaura, my new favorite person in Israel, has posted the following on Israel Anglo Homes, a Yahoo group to which we both belong. She wants us (that means YOU) to provide this info to people from the north.

Thanks to your efforts and generosity, we have been able to place 50 people in vacant apartments and families in the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem area.
Please continue passing on these messages to the relevant people. The current openings are:

Jerusalem & area:
1. 3 room furnished apt in the German Colony for up to 5 people from the 2/8
2. 4 room furnished apt in Abu Tor from the 3/8
3. Room for 8 in large family house in Kyriat Yovel
4. Room for 3 in religious family's apt in Old Katamon
5. Room for 2 in religious family's apt in talbieh
6. In Ramot Beit, large unfurnished apt. need to clean it and bring mattresses + folding table
7. Room for 2 women or teenagers in Kyriat Arba
8. Room for 4 in a religious home in Bet El
9. Room for 5 children w/ single Haredi mom in Neve Yaacov. The host is a nurse and is willing to help parents who need help w/ their children.
10. Room for 2 small children w/ a single mom in Bakaa

Tel Aviv:
1. 3 room apt available from the 8/8 in Northern Tel Aviv
2. Room for 2-3 people in an occupied apt in North Tel Aviv

The Northerners who receive unoccupied apartments will sign a document in which they commit themselves to leave at the pre-agreed date and have to give a guaranty check with to a lawyer which will be returned to them upon the return of the keys.
To refer Northerners to apartments, please contact Kim: 052-3056460

Liaura Zacharie
Real estate broker,
Telefax: 972-2-5667664


Now back to my comments: If you or anyone you know needs a Realtor, please call Liaura! She's intelligent, compassionate, and has spent a lot of her time helping people from the north, for free. That's the kind of person I like to do business with. As a fellow Realtor, I definitely recommend her.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Tomato Thief

If you are from the north and are looking for information on free places to stay in Israel, please click on the post entitled "This Just In." Possibly the one before that, as well.

This evening's post is not important. But it may be mildly amusing to dog lovers.
I've mentioned my gorgeous, beautiful, splendid golden retriever, Angel, in previous posts. This post is about her.
Angel loves tomatoes. I've recently discovered that she also enjoys blueberries, bananas, nectarines, apples, and carrots. I don't feed her from the table; I discovered her produce fetish by giving her items that I thought she would surely NOT like, as a joke. Well, the joke backfired when she snarfed up every type of food that I offered her, except mushrooms. She's just a produce-loving dog.
Early this spring, I bought 2 tomato plants. Because fresh tomatoes are so delicious, and, well, have you noticed they are usually expensive? So I decided to try my hand at farming. They grew admirably, and started producing fruit. Angel asked me for some tomato, which I gave her to show her that she wouldn't like it. Of course she loved it. And she took note of where I picked the tomatoes, and since then, I've caught her on countless occasions with her head deep in the tomato plants, looking for ripe tomatoes. She puts them in her mouth and gently tugs them from the vine, and oh is she proud of herself. I put fences up around the plants, but she happily jumps right over them. So now I'm back to buying tomatoes at the market. The End.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A delicious way to help

Here's a fun way to show your support for the IDF: click on the link below, and it will take you to a site where you can write soldiers a message-- and Elite will deliver your message, ALONG WITH CHOCOLATE, for free! It costs nothing for you, and like I always say, you'll always feel loved if you have chocolate. A great way to make someone smile and show you care.
Here's the link:

Just the facts, Ma'am

I just called the Jewish Federation to find out a little more.
Phil at the JF said he didn't want to divulge the amount that was raised yet, as his boss hasn't even been informed of the amount yet. However, he did verify that they were shooting for $700,000., and that the UJC (United Jewish Communities; click here for more info on the effort) is trying to raise 18 million USD. He was careful to mention that the amount could change, depending upon how long the violence continues, if it spreads, etc.

The money will partly be routed through the UJC to Hadassah and the Israeli govt. to set up kids' summer camps; they say that one child can attend camp for a week (away from the north- probably in Beer Sheva and Jerusalem, Phil said) for $350. I don't know how else the money will be used, but they also have an Israel Crisis Fund, and some of the money will go to that.

I know that there's no way it will be enough, but I include this info because I want it to be an encouragement to people reading from Israel that here in the US, we do care, and we want to help you.

If you are able to provide financial support in any amount at all, please donate! Here are 3 places to give to help people in the north:
  • Through the UJC's site (again, it's
  • If you would prefer that your money go directly --as in cash-- to those in the north, please give generously at These guys seem to be doing a great job of getting money out to needy families.
  • I would be remiss if I didn't also include this Christian site:, which is headed up by a friend of a friend in the Golan. They provide humanitarian aid to new olim, though I imagine at this point they've expanded their efforts to be anyone who is in need (which would be, um, everyone in the region..). It is a religiously based effort (Christian), so give there if that's how you feel more comfortable.
I don't care where you give. As Nike says, Just Do It.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Rally at the JCC

Well, actually the rally was at the Jewish Federation, but I'm more accustomed to saying the JCC. The rally was quite good. A woman who just returned from being in Israel for 5 weeks spoke (among others), and she described what it was like for she and her family to experience a huge change in the mood of the country during their stay, what it's like to spend time in bomb shelters, the wailing of the sirens, the sound of the katyushas hitting, etc. It was sobering. A Christian Zionist guy also spoke about why it's important to support Israel, to much applause. Apparently he and his wife run a pro-Israel lobby in D.C.; I think his last name was Strang, of Strang Communications.(?) At the conclusion, they collected funds for programs to help affected Israelis from the north, including camps for the kids from the affected areas. I have only read one brief news item about these kid's summer camps, so if anyone knows more about them, please let me know.

How embarassing...

My dog does not keep kosher. As for me, I go back and forth. So maybe my bad influence is partly to blame, but... there is just no excuse for her (my dog's) behavior. Angel is an absolutely gorgeous golden retriever; everyone we encounter comments on how lovely and well-behaved she is. Unfortunately, her behavior around pork is a different story.
We've recently started going to this upscale pet shop, and they have these bins on the floor, full of cow's hooves, lamb's ears, rawhide, and so forth. But none of those will do for Angel; one sniff of that treyf pigs ear, and it's all over for her. Today was the third time in 2 weeks that she's picked a pig's ear right out of the bin. Then, so I can pay for the item, I have to try and remove this disgusting, (now saliva-covered) thing from her mouth, amid her protestations, tossing her head this way and that like a horse, in front of whoever happens to be watching.
Maybe if we make aliyah, these items won't be available in pet stores. One can only hope.
My cat, on the other hand, loves salmon. At this point, it's all about the little victories.

Monday, July 24, 2006

This just in...

I just received another email about several free places to stay in Jerusalem. Here are the emails:

Hi,I have been organizing families from the North in apartments in Jerusalem.At the moment, I have room for three people in a vacant room of a friend's apartment, and room for 2 in a room of another friend's apartment. Both are religious families.If you know people from the North who could use this space for a few days, let me know.Liaura 052-6789494

(Note: If you call and stay with one of these families, please leave a comment on my blog so I'll know when to remove this notice. It is such a blessing to be able to help-- I'll keep the blog updated with any new offers of shelter. Also, a little plug for Realtors, since I am one: Liaura is a Realtor, who is finding shelter for people from the North, and is not charging for her help. Thank you, Liaura!!)

I have a large apartment in Yerushalayim. It it empty for the summer, but it's unfurnished. If you think that it can be utilized for our families in the north, please let me know .Greta 410-653-3347

In other news, tomorrow I'm going to the Pro-Israel rally at the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. It's open to everyone. (Well... I can think of a few people and groups who wouldn't be welcome, but the JF didn't mention those...) It starts at 7 p.m. at the intersection of Maitland Blvd. and Maitland Ave., in the city of, you guessed it, Maitland. If you live in Central Florida, by all means, come!! (I don't think either of my regular blog readers live in Florida...)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Change of name, no change of heart...

Hi All.
The email to Israel Anglo Homes (finally) got posted to the whole group, and so far I've received one response. It was from a man who is renting out quite a few affordable apartments on a short-term basis in and around Jerusalem. I'm waiting to hear back from him if he will let people use these for free, or even cheaper than the already low price he's asking. I'll keep you posted.

Update: I just received an email from Sam, apparently a property manager in Jerusalem. I'm cutting-and-pasting it here:

"We have many apartments available all the time and there is NO REAL ESTATE agent fees. Some of the owners may also give a discount." Sam 054-727-2350

In other news, I will shortly be changing the name of my blog from "Aliyah on my Mind" to "Israel on my Heart."
This is due to the fact that I can't commit to an aliyah date at the moment, especially after having an hour-and-a-half long meeting with my stockbroker yesterday. I think I should stay here in the States where I have a great career (I'm a Century 21 Realtor), and I already speak the language fluently, for a few more years. I do hope to continue my real estate career in Israel, but obviously that would necessitate some serious time in ulpan. With my current savings and investments being what they are, I'm not yet ready for retirement. I'm getting there, but I still have a ways to go. And I would really like to not have to work when I make the move, given the difficulty of the transition, etc.
In real estate, it's obviously very imortant to know different communities very well, as well as business customs, etiquette, legalities and contracts, real estate licensing, and so on. So I will definitely have my work cut out for me even before going to work! I really don't know how long it will take me to become successful there, so I'm going to wait a while longer. Do the reasonable thing. Can you tell that I'm feeling conflicted?? Arrgh.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Better Late Than Never...

Never one to join a cause prematurely, I have waited around (to my shame) to join the Stop Iran Now campaign. No more. Things have really gotten terribly out of hand and I certainly don't want to see Iran progress further with their nuclear ambitions. If recent situations in the Middle East aren't enough to mobilize us, then what is?? May God forgive me for my complacency thus far.
I'm hoping you, too, will join the campaign, so here is the U.S. national "Stop Iran Now" website link:
Please visit it and see what you can do to help. I mean, really. What is it going to take to wake us up?? A recent letter from Ahmadinejad (oh how it pisses me off that I now know how to spell his name, may it be forever erased) to German Chancellor Merkel
(see here:,7340,L-3279147,00.html ) shows once again how crazy and determined this guy is.
Please do what you can. Don't sit back and think it will all work out in the end. We tried that not too long ago, and we all know exactly how things did NOT work out in the end. How can we say "Never forget" that and ignore this?!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

How Can We Help?

Hi again.
I've been wishing there were a way to help people in the North, and here's an idea.

A few months back, I joined a Yahoo group called , where individuals publicize their vacant homes (all over Israel, including Eilat) for rent. I keep getting emails from them, which I can't use right now.

At the same time, I keep reading people's blogs, in which it's obvious that it would be a very good thing if they vacated the North for the time being. For the sake of their kids, if nothing else.

So a light bulb went off in my head: I'm sure some of these homeowners from the Yahoo group would like to help out; many people are looking for ways to help right now. So I contacted the homeowners to ask if they are willing to let people from the North temporarily use their homes for free or at a greatly reduced rate, and now I'm just waiting to hear back from them. If you want to join the group, great! Bear in mind that it takes a few days to get approved, so if you're in a hurry (which would not be surprising given the current situation), you can check back here for updates.

I will also post this on some other blogs.

If you know of anyone in Israel with a room or a home to share, or anyone from the North who wants to get away, please direct them to my blog and I'll do what I can to help connect people with each other.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

To Those in Israel

My thoughts and prayers are with you. Please be careful. All of you who have made aliyah are my heroes.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What the...

WHAT is going on here? I don't know how to express.. Lebanon, Gaza.. 3 soldiers now abducted, more killed. I'm thankful that Israel so values life; that of it's soldiers, citizens as well as citizens of other countries/groups. Which is in sharp contrast to the way people in these other countries/groups seem to attribute no value to life at all.

I fully support Israel's campaigns. The language of retribution is, unfortunately, the only thing these entities (Hezbollah, Hamas) seem to understand. I would love for them to prove that statement wrong.

So I'm having a personal crisis about this, a crisis which has been going on since Gilad Shalit was taken over 2 weeks ago. Not that my own crisis matters in the greater scheme of things; it doesn't. First and foremost, I pray that these real crises will end quickly, and that the kidnapped Israeli soldiers will be returned home in safety. But my own crisis is of a religious nature. The phrase "What would Jesus do?" is such a cliche, but one I have to consider now. As a Christian, I prefer to stifle these militant feelings I get. Because while I agree completely with Israel's response to the current crises, on a personal level, I think I'm not supposed to hate people in Hezbollah and Hamas. But they certainly make the commandment to "love thy neighbor" a very hard one to keep.

I don't like to see innocent civilians get killed. Who does? But I have to admit, I often wonder how many truly "innocent" civilians there are in Gaza. I mean, are the men willing to launch explosives over the wall? Are the women raising their kids to become suicide bombers? Do their children already hate Jews, and peace? Thoughts like these are troublesome. How do you deal with your feelings of anger, even hate, towards terrorist groups? This is not a rhetorical question. I'd love to get some answers.

The Bible says "Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord; I will repay." But leaving it to God, and loving one's neighbor, is a lot easier said than done.