40 More Reasons to be Proud

This week, many headlines reported protests involving Israeli soldiers.

Kotel image, Western Wall image

Anyone who is not a frequent visitor to the Old City

 might have missed what has become a regular event in Jerusalem.

Near the Kotel, in the Western Wall Plaza,

the IDF holds swearing-in ceremonies for soldiers.

Soldiers of the Golani Brigade were sworn in last Thursday

Canadian flag image

and smart supporters knew to arrive early to get a good spot.

Israeli soldier image, Ethiopian image

Hundreds of young men

Female Israeli soldiers image,

and young women participated.

Joining with the hundreds of young Israelis were lone soldiers

from the Ukraine, France, Brazil and Venezuela,

Nevada and New York, Baltimore and Los Angeles in the USA.

Before the ceremony began,

over 40 lone soldiers were treated to a delicious dinner

 sponsored by the Lone Soldier Center in memory of Michael Levin.

As at most Israeli gatherings, food is a central feature,

but lone soldiers do not have the families to bring them treats to eat.

Israeli soldiers image, Ethiopian image

Lined up and ready to go,

 hundreds of soldiers filled the tunnel near the Kotel.

Golani Brigrade image

Inside the tunnel a group of soldiers started singing, 

“Mi Mesugal” Division 13… can do it.”

soldier using cellphone image

Finally it was time to start…how did we find anyone before cellphones?

Western Wall Plaza image

As the young soldiers marched in

Ceremony at the Wailing Wall

the plaza was packed with thousands of spectators,

 as family and friends

Israeli soldiers at attention, image

and visitors all tried 

to see

Iphones as cameras image

and photograph the newest graduating soldiers of the IDF.

Israeli flag image

The Israeli flags flew and the flame burned brightly.

Golani soldier, Golani emblem image

Congratulations and thanks go out to all those who serve.

Yes…I am biased to the Golani Brigade and lone soldiers,

as my two sons served as lone soldiers in the Golani Brigade

and just typing these words brings tears to my eyes.

Along with the parents of last week’s inductees,

we are filled with pride and concern. 

 Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next generation 

 would not have to be called to serve in the army?

If you have a minute check out this video of the singing


and many more photos from the dinner and tekes, ceremony can be found here:



Accepting Diversity

With so much bountiful rain this week it was hard to go outside

and even harder was to get out of bed from under the warm covers.

Holding a dripping umbrella on the windy streets,

on the buses or light rail train, while trying to stay dry, was a real challenge.

Jerusalem light rail train, Machane Yehudah station, rain

Like this scene at the Machane Yehuda light rail train station,

Jerusalem was wet, cold and dark much of the week.

Ethiopian immigrants brought their protests to Jerusalem,

and headlines were of religious intolerance and racial discrimination.

It was hard to find something positive to write about.

But then on Sunday, in spite of 28 mm of rain,

more than 145 people attended a symposium entitled,

  “The Challenge of Accepting the Diversity of our Children’s Choices.”

Gilo neigborhood, Beit hayeled

The symposium was held at AMIT Beit Hayeled,

located in the Gilo neighborhood, 

a home to 120 children who for various reasons

had to leave their family’s homes.

 AMIT’s goal is to strengthen Israeli society by educating and

 nurturing children within a framework of academic excellence,

religious values and Zionist ideals.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein

 In his opening remarks, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of New York City

spoke of the need for ahava, love.

Dr. Tovah Lichtenstein, professor emerita of the Bar Ilan University

 School of Social Work, who has inspired thousands of students,

said that we should seek a thinking person,

not clones of ourselves from our children.

Benny Lau, Rabbi Benny Lau

Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau, who works tirelessly for religious unity,

spoke of the relationship of Avraham and Lot, 

a model of one family member giving space to the other,

while remaining nearby when needed.

Dr Tova Hartman

Dr. Tova Hartman, Bar Ilan University psychology professor and 

 activist for women’s inclusion, stressed the importance of 

parents giving a clear message of their agenda to their children.

The three panelists answered questions after their presentations.

People bundled up and went back out to face the cold winds.

The special speakers at this symposium, spoke of the need 

for tolerance and unity and acceptance of differences.

The teachers in AMIT schools, “just do it” daily.

The AMIT network of 98 schools serves over 25,000 students 

and is supported by many volunteers and generous donors.

With the help she received, the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants

was able to study at the Technion and became a doctor;

 today she is serving in the IDF…

now that is something positive to write about.

Tweets from Jerusalem

While once again on Sunday haredim in Mea Shearim were rioting,

SMX Israel , tweeting, Barry Schwartz photo

 across town these people were tweeting.

No riots at SMX Israel, the Search Marketing Expo in Jerusalem,

but  some of this “techie” crowd may have their work cut for them.

Afraid of cyber terror attacks,

 Israeli banks are blocking internet access from abroad,

new business ideas are bound to come from this situation.

On my way to the conference I went by  Beit Hanasi

the President of Israel’s official residence.

Jerusalem garbage

 There seemed to be a lot of garbage outside, since the president

David's Village, Jerusalem

is reported to be staying in temporarily in David’s Village 

during renovations to the living quarters at Beit Hanasi.

Maybe they had inside information…

as the next morning was the beginning of a municipal services strike.

No more cute garbage photos;

Jerusalem garbage strike

on the first day of the strike the bins were overflowing onto the streets.

piles of garbage

As people try to figure out where to put their trash and rubbish,

bird on garbage bin

the birds 

garbage in strike in Jerusalem

and the cats are loving it.

A good thing is that temperatures are low,

 not cold enough for snow,  so it’s raining again.

Since the real streets are not a pretty sight right now, 

 why not see what went on inside at SMX Israel this week:




8 Things that Won’t Make Headlines

Everyone loves pictures of Jerusalem covered in white, 

but there was no snow today, even though

refrigerator thermometer

 it was cold enough to use a refrigerator thermometer inside.

When the sun shines…it is time to go outside and warm up.

While walking around Jerusalem today, I found 8 things 

that won’t make the headlines.

1. Bikur Cholim Hospital did not close as was threatened

and babies are delivered there by the thousands.

Mea Shearim Street, Jerusalem

2. On Mea Shearim Street,

there were puddles on the sidewalks, but buses were running in the streets.

3. Traffic backed up on this side street long enough

for people to stop honking and  get out of their cars to look.

The problem…a delivery of toilet paper around the corner.


Perhaps the guys on the Segway have a good idea?

Mea Shearim Street, Jerusalem

4. There was no sign of separate 


for anyone,

but some signs were gone.

5. Pink laundry was hanging out to dry,

 demonstrating that not all Mea Shearim clothing is black.

However, long black clothing can be attention grabbing too.

Arab women

6. It’s sale time in Mamilla Mall

Arab Women shopping

and as always…Muslim women shop.

7. Small children still walk home from school alone.


8. Flocks of birds enjoy Jerusalem everyday.

But one thing sure to make headlines…

new bus routes in Jerusalem

  the new bus routes that begin on Friday the 13th.

Two Different Worlds

In many parts of the world books may be going out of style, 

but in Jerusalem book launches happen all the time.

People come to buy the book,

 hear the author talk about it and stand in line to have it autographed.

One such event–of exceptional proportions–took place this week, 

when former Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau came to Jerusalem

to introduce the English translation of his autobiography,

entitled, “Out of the Depths.”

A long line formed as people waited for an hour to have

Rabbi Lau sign their book before the 8:00pm lecture was to begin.

Rabbi Lau spoke in English in the main sanctuary of The Great Synagogue,

where he pointed to the spot where in 1993 he was sworn in as chief rabbi.

He told the audience of his childhood during World War II:

how as a small five-year old, he lost family and home.

A thousand people listened as he told of the trauma of his mother 

pushing him away from her, off the train and to certain death,

towards his older brother and a chance to live. 

From the depths of the Buchenwald concentration camp

he arrived in Eretz Yisroel after the war, an eight-year old with no education,

but was able to continue the long line of his family’s rabbinic dynasty.

As Rabbi Lau spoke I was thinking of a different world.

We were travelling in and out of Jerusalem a few times this week

and each time we had to wait as cars were searched.

Sometimes the person at the front of the line had his papers examined.

Today an Arab woman was found trying to get in a 30 cm knife,

yesterday 19 pipe bombs were found before they could be used.

Dozens of medical cases came into Israel this week and

 88,000 flowers from Gaza were exported through Israel.

Leaving the building, 

if you look to the right you will see this sign.

The survivors of the Holocaust lived through the worst of times,

from less than nothing, they went on to build new lives and families.

The world has given millions and millions of dollars to the PA,

 what have they built?

More photos from the book signing:


Security Walls

Last week I went to Jaffa Gate hoping to get a great photo of

the mayor of Jerusalem repelling down the walls of the Old City.

The walls were built from 1535-1548 to protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

However, they did not stop the Jordanian Arab Legion from attacking in 1948,

destroying everything and forcing Jewish residents out of their homes.

This ruined synagogue is a reminder of that occupation from 1948-1967. 

I did not see the mayor, but found this scene on the plaza by Jaffa Gate.

A group of Israeli soldiers paid no attention and walked by

as this woman who identified herself as a Palestinian journalist,

coached a sad-faced Arab vendor and tourist for the camera. 

So much for the narrative of persecution under occupation

and no freedom of the press in Israel.

The Monastery of the Holy Cross was built during the 5th century

and was surrounded by high walls for protection.

Compare its walls to the new security fence as seen from Neve Yaakov.

In Jerusalem,

schools have high fences and guards at the door,

a new protective gate was put up near the Prime Minister’s official residence

and barbed wire surrounds some Jewish neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, this is part of the fence on the Israeli border looking into Syria.

Ten years ago the Karina A was stopped in the Red Sea carrying

50 tons of weapons meant to destroy life in Israel.

In 2011, 627 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza,

with a rise in the number of attempts in December 2011,

even as tons after tons of goods, gas and materials go in regularly.

New IDF information reports Jerusalem will be a target for missiles,

as terrorists no longer care about the number of Arabs or 

holy sites that might be hit.

It is a shame that the security walls of the past cannot protect us

 from advanced weapons of mass destruction, Saudi hackers

or the lies and libels spread on the Internet.