The Person Behind The Posts

Sunday, March 31, 2024

But I’m Old Now



 But I'm Old Now

But I’m old now. Not
walker with green-yellow tennis balls old, not

But those who were young mothers alongside me are
grey (or white-haired) now.

Our faces, lined with lives more lived than not yet lived.
Our jowls, softened with years.

Each summer, I float in blue pool water on my back,
face tipped to the sun.
The joy of it makes me weep. I
take less for granted.

A good day is when I can
read for six hours and not trouble
to work. I work

sometimes, but my career is more past
tense than future.

I found myself
long ago.
My soul
dominates mostly these days,
about pizza, the body
still holds sway.

Just as I failed
to learn the stories of my own grandparents (I should have forced them to tell me
their secrets),
my grandchildren
won’t know me. Not really.

Afternoon naps are more frequent and
sweeter. And

even so, I have work yet to do. I’m making plans



Friday, January 12, 2024

Ninety-Seven Days


 Ninety-Seven Days

Ninety-seven walk through glue days.
In a row.
Soul rubbed raw.

For better or worse, the inside of everything is showing now.

My eyes are dust. The harshest images
defy tears.
I cry only from that which is tender.

Too much of this. Not
Enough of that.

Half my heart is severed.
And half soars towards redemption.


Thursday, January 04, 2024

Bearing Witness... While We Still Can (A Photoblog)


This is a map of Gaza and what Israelis call Otef Aza, the Gaza envelope. These are the Jewish communities that wrap around the border of Gaza and are within 7 Km (4 miles) of the rocket launchers in Gaza.

Today, along with dozens of other English-speaking Jews from the Greater Jerusalem area, we visited five of the sites connected with the massacre of October 7.

Our first stop was Kibbutz Be'eri, one of the communities that was the hardest hit. While waiting for kibbutz member Yardi Tzemach to show us some of the devastation of his community, I noticed on the sign that Kibbutz Be'eri was established in October 1946. That's nearly two years before the founding of the State of Israel.

The pastoral Kibbutz Be'eri had 1200 members prior to the morning of October 7, 2023. Twenty-seven hours later, approximately one in 12 kibbutz members were dead.

By the time our group arrived in early January, the bodies and blood had long ago been cleared away. This sign, as well as the Hebrew spray painted on the house announces that ZAKA, Israel's leading non-governmental rescue and recovery organization, certified the house as free of human remains.

What remained were the devastating signs of total destruction. Aside from the live artillery fire from the nearby war in Gaza, the first sound that impacted me was the jangling of nearly 50 pairs of human feet walking over shattered roof tiles. If you have ever been to Israel, you will likely recognize these as the mangled remnants of the distinctive orange roof tiles common to Jewish communities throughout the Land.

I bent over and took possession of a small piece of one of the tile fragments from one of the worst-hit homes, a somber souvenir.

Amidst the utter rubble, it is still possible to pick out what was once the family's oven and dishwasher, with dishes still inside.

Over and over, I was struck by the artifacts of normal life that somehow survived - spots of color amidst so much charred grey.

We heard the story of Yardi's brother Shachar who was one of a small number of men who fought against the terrorist invasion until 2:30 in the afternoon. Shachar was killed at the site of the kibbutz clinic just 30 minutes before the IDF arrived.

Our second stop was Shokeda, a religious moshav very close to Be'eri that was saved by an open miracle. On the morning of October 7, which was Shabbat as well as Simchat Torah, an IDF helicopter was downed, hit by Hamas fire, and landed in the fields of Shokeda. Fifty IDF soldiers emerged from the downed chopper and killed dozens of terrorists before they made it into the entrance of the moshav.

There's a lot of empty land in this part of Israel. Our next stop was a huge tract of land where thousands of cars that were shot or burned on October 7 were brought. At this site, mounds and mounds of burned out automotive carcasses were visible.

And in the middle of all of them, someone climbed up the pile of automotive rubble and planted an Israeli flag.
About six weeks ago, an unprecedented decision was made to bury the cars still believed to contain human remains.

From the car yard, we went to Re'im, the site of the Nova music festival. All across the site are small memorials to the nearly 400 festival goers who were murdered there.

This memorial marked the spot where the dead body of one of the bartenders, Yaron Efraim, was found.
Throughout the field are poles with pictures of the victims.
Some of the poles are further decorated with small remembrances, such as stones and candles.

On this sign bearing the names of the 394 victims, three additional names are handwritten on the bottom left.

Our last stop was just outside of the religious moshav called Shuva, not far from Netivot. In the early days of the war, one family of brothers started feeding soldiers coming directly from the battlefront in northern Gaza. Their early efforts have blossomed and now the site feeds thousands of soldiers each and every day.

After a very hard day, bearing witness to bitter barbarism, being pounded again and again by the price our fellow citizens - the maimed and murdered, the burned, the injured, the captives and the displaced are paying - Shuva was a carnival.

We dropped off the bags and bags of purchases we brought to donate to the Shuva store, where soldiers can come and take anything they need - from tea bags to toiletries to thermals.

Joyful music played. Volunteers cooked and served burgers to the soldiers. We heard from one of the brothers about how their humble project has grown and grown and how the people of Israel just want to help.

This sign reads: v'ahavta l'reacha kamocha - Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Rabbi Akiva says: "'You should love your fellow as yourself' is a basic principle of the Torah.”

It was, finally, at Shuva, enveloped in so much kindness, that I was overcome with tears. Click here to donate to the inspiring Shuva Brothers project.

Today, I witnessed the consequences of some of the most debased actions of humanity.

And I ended the day so fiercely proud of the inherent goodness of my people who, though battered and bleeding, want nothing more than to help.

NOTE: The government announced today that they will start allowing displaced citizens to return to their homes in certain parts of Otef Aza as early as mid-February. These trips will only be available for a short time. To join a trip scheduled for late January, contact Rabbi Moshe Rothschild at

Friday, December 01, 2023

Today I Borrow Strength From The Future


Ariel, Shiri and Kfir Bibas, Israel's most well-known hostages.

GUEST POST by Syma Steinberg Davidovich

I made the choice to peek in on the news during the “ceasefire”.

I thought that seeing hostages returning home would give me something to celebrate. My lips say thank You but my limbs speak other truths. My eyes leak and leak with salty, oh so salty! tears.

While I am grateful for every soul back in our borders, I am horrified by psychological warfare. My mind and heart travel to places that threaten my equilibrium. I’m distraught by parents forced to wait for their children to walk off the ambulances that deliver them to their safe embraces - how excruciating those moments of wait are!

My breath skips when I see Rimon Kirsht Buchshtav refuse to follow orders to smile and wave at her captures and instead with one look and gesture - energetically slaps him in the face.

May he rot in hell.

This is no less heroic than those small children who do smile and wave - how much strength does it take to do this for the cameras of the world stage???

I look at my beautiful ginger-haired babies and my heart aches for Kfir and Ariel and their mother Shiri; their names echo in the chambers of my twisted dreams.

How strong are our people! My voice is hoarse, screams left unscreamed, not even surprised by the terror attack in Jerusalem killing three and wounding others yesterday. (There is only truth and no chuckle to the joke - we cease and they fire.) Our enemies are many. Thank you HaShem for the revealed and hidden kindnesses and miraculous salvations taking place all around us.

My Chanukah box has been left, abandoned in the closet. I’ve been unable to muster the strength to pull out my decorations as I normally do on Rosh Chodesh Kislev. Today I pull it out. Today I borrow strength from the future. Today I unwrap the symbols of my faith — my ancestral DNA is packed with victories over all other heinous enemies and nations that threatened our survival. I dust off the chanukiyahs and remember that small lights conquered vast and deep darkness.

This is a war that has been won by our people many times, and I renew my conviction that we are participating in the last and Final Battle, and I know that it only ends in Hashem’s Glory. I can almost say “dayienu”when I pass the billboard covering the tallest hotel in the center of Jerusalem proclaiming “Shema Yisrael. HaShem Elokeinu. HaShem Echad.” a mantra that has been reverberating louder and more prominently throughout the generations and into this now moment, keeping to the beat of my heart.

I purchase pure olive oil to remind me of how abundant and prosperous and anointed and absolutely royal we all are. I breathe new life into our home full of this holy holiday spirit, and prepare to greet the Shabbos Queen, grateful that She is near again, and pray for more miracles to manifest.

Please HaShem, take these fragments of unfinished prayers and form them into a song of praise and hope.
Our home is blessed with the smells of holy rituals and traditions and the tears that continue to leak from my eyes, taste a little less salty.


Rosh Chodesh Kislev - the first day of the Hebrew month of Kislev which generally falls in late November/early December. Chanukah begins on the 25th of Kislev.

- A reference to the 9-branched Chanukah menorah, as distinct from the 7-branched menorah in the Holy Temple.

Dayienu - Literally "enough". Dayienu is the refrain from a cherished song in the the Passover Haggadah.

Shema Yisrael HaShem Elokeinu HaShem Echad -Literally "Listen Israel! The Lord is Our God. The Lord is One." Shema is the most basic and lifelong expression of faith and the one Jews teach their children as soon as they can speak.

Friday, November 24, 2023




Since the war started, I haven’t known what to say when, in greeting, a person inquires, “How are you?”

For weeks, I’ve been avoiding answering by saying, “Next question.”

It just occurred to me how I’m feeling.

I’m utterly raw.

I cry watching videos of soldiers on 12- or 24-hour leave surprising their children, grandmothers, parents and siblings. I cry watching videos of the endless kindness pouring out of my people. I cry when a non-Jew openly acknowledges that we Israelis are the good guys in this existential war.

These tears are prayer.

I feel sick reading about the moral darkness that exists in our world. I feel sick seeing people tearing down posters of hostages with a sense of righteous indignation. I feel sick witnessing the crude illiteracy of so many who actually believe they are standing up for what's right.

I wake up thinking about whether the women in captivity are sitting in bloody clothes when they get their periods, whether they are still being raped and how any of the hostages will recover any semblance of a normal emotional life if they get out alive, please God.

And I use my words and my imagination to manifest the Final Redemption as the concluding chapter of this nightmare.

How am I? 
I’m raw, perpetually alternating among competing emotions that cannot coexist.

My heart is in a ceaseless tug of war. 



Thursday, November 16, 2023

Days of Darkness and Also of Light

There was a terror attack near our home today. Three noxious beasts left Hevron this morning in a vehicle packed with axes, guns and copious amounts of ammunition. They were stopped at a security checkpoint before entering Jerusalem, the same checkpoint we pass through every time we travel to meet friends, go to a doctor's appointment or see a movie. 

All three savage terrorists are dead now. Before breathing their last, they managed to inflict gunshot wounds on five security officers. One of the soldier who was guarding Jerusalem died of his wounds. Others, including two civilians, were treated at the scene.

These repulsive, reprobate gunmen clearly had aspirations of killing lots of Jews today.

I found out about it as I was leaving for my volunteer shift at the local charity bookshop. The northern gate was closed, all the WhatsApp messages said. Try leaving through the southern gate.

I sailed through the southern gate. There was no traffic on the main highway. Five minutes later, I pulled into the neighboring community where the bookshop is located.

It was clearly not business as usual.

The yellow entrance gate was tightly sealed and the area was thick with army vehicles and security personnel. They denied entrance to the delivery truck in front of me. I was permitted to enter only after the officers checked my trunk.

The shift was a bust. None of the usual hum of customers, coming to stock up on reading material for Shabbat.

I left early.

As I reentered my community through the southern gate, I was rerouted by strategically placed roadblocks, clearly intended to slow entering vehicles. Right across from the guard house was a soldier, hidden behind sandbags, his gun loaded and pointed right at me.

And I was grateful he was there.

It's not normal, the things we get used to.

A few hours later, a soldier mom in our community posted that she and her husband were given last-minute permission to go see their son on his base in the south.

"Anyone have extra food for soldiers??" she asked. 

The replies flooded in.

"Ok, I'll make cookies now."

"I'll make rice."

"I'll make a tomato salad."

"I have care packages ready to go. How many and where to drop off?"

"Grilling eggplant for you."

"I just took out shnitzel and challah rolls."

"I have gluten-free tehina sticks I made for chayalim (soldiers) in the North. You can take it and I'll make more."

Points of light... an otherwise dark day.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

This Bread Is Moldy And I'm So Proud Of My People



My brain on Day 16 of war.

I need frozen broccoli
and I should go say ten chapters of Tehillim (Psalms).

The laundry basket is overflowing and the images of burned bodies I accidentally saw on social media are seared into my eyelids.

Our safe room needs to be stocked with bottled water and non-perishable food and how will life change when Moshiach (the Messianic Redeemer) comes?

I’m learning more Torah than ever before and maybe I can make challah rolls for chayalim (soldiers) on Thursday afternoon this week.

We need milk and how will I react if one of the bodies identified will be someone I know personally?

I have a work deadline to meet and if I die al kiddush Hashem (as a Jew in the Land of Israel) during this war, what will my soul experience?

I hear birds chirping and what will happen if Hezbollah opens a front in the North?

I should take a sweatshirt and please Hashem release the captives!

I shouldn't forget to take my vitamins and will I ever see my relatives in America again?

I'm looking forward to the winter strawberries and cauliflower and we need a plumber who isn't on miluim (reserve duty).

Have we bought enough bottled water for our war supply and I've been to the toilet five times this morning because that's how I experience stress in my body.

I need to go to a medical appointment in Jerusalem and I'm going to say Tefillat haDerech (the prayer for protection while traveling) with extra kavanah (focused concentration).

These sheets need to be changed and what is I24 News reporting today?

I can't keep up with my WhatsApp messages and are the hostages being tortured?

I have so much work to do and should I judge people who openly side with our enemies as malicious anti-Semites or merely misguided?

I need to charge my phone again and how are we supposed to understand the massive intelligence failure?

I need a shower and is this the war of Gog and Magog (the final war according to Biblical prophecy)?

This bread is moldy and I'm so proud of my people.