What a wierd heading for a blog entry! But I have a few things to write about and did not want multiple entries; besides, time is short.
YOM HA'ATZMAUT: It was our last one here in Chicago. Every year, I participate in the Bnei Akiva davening along with about 500 others. It always is a nice experience, but at the same time, I have never been able to muster the excitement commensurate with the importance of the day when I am not in Israel. The joy and celebration seem (FOR ME) tempered when it is self-contained in one building and not city-wide.
And while I am on the subject, allow me to pontificate just a bit. It is quite sad that this day has become a flashpoint among Jews. Hallel with a Bracha, without a Bracha, Tachanun, neither one...all of these fuel the on-going debate after 61 years. And isn't that sad! We do not have arguments about customs such as "gebrokht" or about other things that serve to identify us, by differing traditions. One never hears that someone is an Am HaAretz for not eating kneidlach on Pesach; yet, we hear all types of negative comments about people who will look upon the day of Yom Ha'Atzmaut as a day to celebrate. People hurl epithets (there goes one now!) at those who recite Hallel and recognize the Nissim and Niflaot of a state born out of the ashes of the Churban of Eastern European Jewry. This gift from Hashem should not be what divides us...it is truly sad.
End of pontification...begin blogging again: I had the opportunity to speak to the Fasman Yeshiva High School/HTC today about what were some of the motivating factors in our decision to make Aliya. Once this is posted online, I will add a link here to listen to this 15 minute presentation. (ADDED: The link for the audio is here: http://htc.edu/index.php/Audio-Library.html Just scroll down to ISRAEL and click on my talk. Thanks to the HTC for posting this audio!)
FLU: While indeed there are a lot of people getting sick, the BIG concern seems to be the NAME of this flu...SWINE Flu...that has been cause for consternation. People from all over the world have called for a change to the name. Allow me to weigh in on the subject as well...I think we should officially call this "The Jimmy Carter Flu." Why, you may ask? Well, Jimmy Carter has blamed every world ill and problem on the Jewish people and Israel, so I figure we can blame HIM for this flu and name a flu after him!
Basement Stuff: Our basement has been the official home of anything in our home that did not have a home somewhere else in the house. So, over the years, it became more and more cluttered and filled with "stuff." Well, after years of not seeing some flat surfaces down there, I can now proudly say we are making major progress in clearing out, packing and donating a lot of things. It is amazing how much you find when going on a treasure hunt of this magnitude! I think I found a guest who came a few years ago, and who was still down there somewhere!
Once the basement is cleared out and our lift goes, it is highly likely that it will become the sleeping quarters for some of us, as our large, American mattresses wing their way (boat their way??) to Israel on the lift.
Ok, back to work...SIXTY-SEVEN days and counting....