No No No, I will Not Let Them Go (Explained)

Sh'mos 9:12 "And The Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not listen to them..."

We all know the story. Moshe asked Pharaoh to let the Jewish people leave and he said no. HaShem sent plague after plague and Pharaoh would say "Ok you guys can go" and then HaShem would "harden his heart" and he'd change his mind and accept more punishment on his subjects in the form of another plague. Why? What could possibly make him say no when all logic says he should be saying yes?

I get it now, and here's why:

Yesterday I got a message from my friend Miriam. It said "Help me defend Israel. Go to my pg and see what (name removed) is commenting on my post plz."

The original post was a pro-Israel video talking about how Israel has every right to defend itself from rocket attacks. The VERY FIRST comment was this "I don't agree, a leader does not take his entire country into a war over the killing of one dead teenager. It is a Tragedy on both sides now." The comment section on this post literally exploded. 

ONE dead teenager? First of all, it was three. And this war is not about the teens. The teens were the teeny tiny microscopic straw that broke the camels back. After the teens were kidnapped, tons of rockets started falling on Israel from Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Anyway, we normal people were trying to very calmly educate Miriam's acquaintance about this situation, but she didn't seem to read any of it. Her main points she kept going back to were: I still just can't understand why the country would go to war over slain teenagers; doesn't Israel realize that it's the month of Ramadan (as if that matters whatsoever in this argument); doesn't Israel realize that fighting Hamas might ostracize their allies in Jordan and Turkey.

It was utter nonsense and drivel. And I finally understood how Pharaoh could keep saying "no" while logic screamed "go". Antisemitism makes no sense unless you remember that HaShem rules the world. It's our unfortunate lot in life that occasionally, He hardens the hearts of our enemies and no amount of logic and reason can sway them from their beliefs. 

May HaShem quickly thaw the hearts of our enemies and help them to see sense again. Remember, in the end Pharaoh finally did let us go.


Everything I Wanted, I Have

To pick my family up and move to another country was quite a daunting task. We had to leave behind the life we had built together for close to 5 years of marriage and settle into a new town and make new friends, find new jobs, learn a new language and buy all new furniture and appliances too. The potential risk of failure was high.

But the potential to get everything out of the move that we wanted to was high as well, and I think we've already found everything we wanted to. We furnished the apartment. We're going to be starting Ulpan (hebrew learning school) shortly. We went to IKEA and made our house look like a real home. We even got Rivkah her dream refrigerator with the freezer on bottom.

But most importantly, we found our "crowd". Yesterday was my birthday. We have lived in this country for all of 19 days and our house was teeming with really awesome people all afternoon and into the evening. The talk was loud, the nosh was great, and the place was oozing with friendship and fun. Yaeli and Sophie even had a friend come over for a little while.

We may be in the middle of a war here in this beautiful country, but in under three weeks we already feel like we are finally at home. I encourage anyone reading this to think about a goal or dream that they have today and take the first step into turning it into your reality. "Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." - Earl Nightingale


Hockey in the Holy Land

I left the house tonight hoping to get a great scoop for my blog. Hockey? In Israel?

The best I can give you is that while I was waiting for my ride a group of Israelis came over and grilled me about what the heck all this stuff was. They'd never heard of hockey nor had they seen a hockey stick. It was a very surreal experience.

Other than that, hockey is hockey, hockey players are hockey players, and ice is ice. I had a great time meeting new friends and getting a chance to skate again for the first time in a month and a half. The only disappointment is that someone spent millions of dollars to build a rink in the middle of Israel and only made the ice 2/3 the size of an NHL rink so play is limited to 4 on 4. Besides that, I can't wait to play again.

Bugs and Bombs

BUGS!!! The mosquitoes are eating me alive! We've now been here in Israel for a little over 2 weeks and I've sustained many many mosquito bites. Too many to count. I'm convinced that they are Muslim mosquitoes as they prey five times a day. The worst I've had so far are about 5 on the bottom of my feet, making it incredibly annoying and painful to walk on.

In other news, BOMBS are exploding all around us. We've lost track of how many times we've heard the air raid sirens, but it's probably over 10 at this point. I know that is very few times compared to our brethren to the south, but it's been plenty. Thanks to the #AhrnDome though there haven't been any casualties here in the merkaz. While we run for our bomb shelter each time the Tzeva Adom sounds, it's not really out of fear of a rocket exploding nearby as much as making sure we don't get hit by falling rocket shrapnel after the rocket is shot down out of the air. Seriously, the Iron Dome technology blows my mind and makes people here feel so safe and secure.

That's all for now. Oh, I'm going to be playing ice hockey tonight! It's SUPER expensive to play here but TOTALLY worth it!



Way back in the days of Moses, 12 spies were sent to the land of Israel to determine the status of the land. Was it livable? Could crops be grown there? Was it safe? What were the people like? Would they destroy us?

The spies came back and reported that there were giants that would consume any people who lived there. Rashi explains that they encountered many funerals and that it was a dangerous place to live.

Fast forward several thousand years and we are still here, inhabiting the land of Israel. There are millions of Jews living here and there are projections of another million who will make aliyah in the next decade (that number is likely to be exceeded). Chances are, Jews will continue to inhabit the land for thousands more years. We are here now and here to stay.

עם ישראל חי


The Keystone

Having lived in Pennsylvania for the last 11 or so years, I am very familiar with images of keystones. PA is the keystone state (don't ask me why). I don't know much about archway construction but I do know that there's a focal point in them called the keystone, and that it's what holds the archway up.

They keystone in any good community is, of course, the people. And the people here in Israel are the thing I love the most. Pittsburgh actually has an awesome feeling of community. Within the Jewish community there are all different types of people and they all generally get along better than in any other Jewish community I've observed.

Israel takes that sense of community to a whole new level. People at the airport helped us carry car seats around. I had a bunch of IKEA furniture delivered to the bottom of my staircase (we live on the 4th floor and IKEA wanted to charge 500NIS to deliver to my door) and two people from the community showed up to help me shlep it upstairs. Our next-door neighbors let us use their fridge for several days as we waited for ours to arrive. And just today, we got a call from someone in the community (who is the sister of the aunt of my best friend) inviting us for Shabbat lunch this week. Community here is such an important and amazing part of the whole Israel experience.

I love it!

You've Got Mail

Last night I received a message. No via FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, voicemail or even through the post office. It came via air...and air raid siren.

Last night Hamas sent me a message loud and clear. It said "GO AWAY AND DON'T COME BACK". It was not a very nice welcome message. I mean, c'mon Hamas, I've only been here a week! Some neighbors you are.

Anyway, I don't like tolerating when people are mean to me. When they are I usually just ignore them.

Message deleted.


It's Been One Week

Last minute packing. Drive to New York. Catch our flight. Fly for 11 hours with 2 kids. Arrive, what a rush! Absorption, we're full citizens! Head home to drop off our bags (15 of them). Then off to our friends house for a few days and through Shabbat. Rent a car and take a day trip to IKEA. Stay our first night in our apartment. Start building our furniture. First Shabbat, I love the solitude and quiet in the city. Back home and moved in full time. Slowly continue to build the furniture, house starts looking and feeling like home (toys everywhere helps). Finally got our fridge today and then went and spent 770NIS on food. Heard our first and second air raid sirens. Had to wake the kids up the second time. Off to bed.

I don't usually write paragraphs like the one above but my week has pretty much felt like a large run on sentence. It's been crazy, hectic, peaceful, warm, and now a bit scary. But I have no doubt that we made the right decision. Incoming rocket fire be damned, this is my home now and I have the baddest army in the whole dang world covering my back. I will not back down. I will not be afraid. I was more afraid of having to put my kids back to sleep than I was of the rocket fire.