Monday, August 25, 2014

Telling The Other Side Of The Story


There are so many column inches being used, and words being written, about the dire situation that Israel finds itself in these past months, and about the anti-Semitism that is spreading around the globe at frightening speed. 

Some of those column inches and words have been mine.

But lost in the fear and anger, the debate and the fight is another story. A story about a people that perseveres and survives against all offs. About a people that takes care of its own. That ensures that no one is ever alone. About a religion that provides safety, security and community around the world. About the time and time again in its history that it has fought and won.

Without a doubt, the fight for Israel's survival and the struggle against anti-Semitism are of utmost importance. But also of importance is the story of this people. Our people.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Because Survive We Will

In May, four people were killed in a shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussles, but this post isn't about that.

Over three thousand rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel since June, but this post isn't about that.

Last month, pro-Gaza demonstrators in Frankfurt chanted "Jews to the gas," but this post isn't about that.

A few weeks ago in Berlin, a pro-Hamas demonstrator broke away from the large protest and physically assaulted an elderly man who was standing on the street-corner saying nothing, but holding an Israeli flag, but this post isn't about that.

In mid-July Parisian Jews were trapped in a synagogue by pro-Palestinian rioters and police had to be called to rescue the congregants, but this post isn't about that.

The hashtag #hitlerwasright has been trending on Twitter for weeks, but this post isn't about that.

Also in France, other pro-Palestinian demonstrators have broken windows on and set fire to Jewish owned businesses, and firebombed synagogues while yelling things like "death to the Jews" and "Hitler was right," but this post isn't about that.

In Antwerp, Belgium, a Belgian doctor refused to treat a Jewish woman, telling her son to "send her to Gaza for a few hours, then she'll get rid of the pain," but this post isn't about that.

Also in Belgium, a cafe posted signs in Turkish and French on their windows that read, "Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Jews are not under any circumstances," but this post isn't about that.

At the end of July in Rome, signs were posted urging the boycott of a large number of Jewish owned businesses, but this post isn't about that.

In North Miami Beach, swastikas were spray-painted on an Orthodox synagogue, but this post isn't about that.

In the United Kingdom, 40 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery were pushed over and smashed to pieces, but this post isn't about that.

Two weeks ago Rabbi Joseph Raskin, an Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn, was shot and killed in Miami while walking to a synagogue. The Rabbi was in Miami visiting his daughter and grandchildren, but this post isn't about that either.

No, this post isn't about any of those things.

This post is about the three hundred people who attended the funeral of Rabbi Raskin, many of whom had never met him.

This post is about the twenty thousand people who attended the funeral of Sgt. Sean Carmeli, a soldier in the Israeli army who was killed in Gaza. Sgt. Carmeli came from the United States to serve in the Israeli army and did not have any family in Israel. The Maccabi Haifa Soccer Club sent out a message to its fans saying, "Sean Carmeli was a lone soldier and we don't want his funeral to be empty. Come and pay your last respects to a hero who was killed so that we could live. This is the least we can do for him and for our nation." And the fans answered the call.

This post is about the thirty thousand people who attended the funeral of Max Steinberg, another American soldier in the Israeli Army without any family in Israel. Most in attendance didn't know Max, but came to pay their respects to him and to thank him for his bravery and sacrifice.

This post is about the hundreds of thousands of Jewish people all over the world coming together at solidarity rallies in support of Israel.

This post is about the synagogues around the world that were filled to capacity the night that the Israeli Army started its ground offensive in Gaza; Jewish people gathering in droves to pray for the safety of the soldiers.

This post is about a yishuv in the West Bank of Israel that, with just an hour of notice, fed 100 soldiers who were taking a break from their exhaustive search for Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped in June, and then sent those soldiers back into the field to search some more.

This post is about my synagogue in White Plains, New York that sent out an email welcoming a new family who had just moved to town, so that they wouldn't feel alone during their first week in a brand new city.

This post is about four families we didn't know who made dinner for us for our first Shabbat in our new house because our kitchen was under construction.

This post is about my good friend - the very first friend I made when we moved to town almost two years ago - who dropped bagels off at my house two weeks ago for Tisha B'Av break-fast because she knew I was coming home from a trip that day and wouldn't have time to make it to the grocery store.

This post is about my grandmother holding my sister's new baby girl - my grandmother's third great-grandchild - at my cousin's wedding last weekend and four generations of Brinn women standing together, shoulder to shoulder.

This post is about my family of five that, in eight short years, has become a family of eleven.

This post is about lighting candles on Friday night to welcome Shabbat - the moment in time where I feel most acutely the link to the generations of Jewish women who came before me and the ones who will come after

This post is about my great-grandmother's challah recipe that was passed to my grandmother, and that now lives in my kitchen, my mom's kitchen, my sisters' kitchens, and the kitchens of my aunt and all of my cousins.

This post is about three boys who most of us didn't know, but who became "our boys" anyway.

This post is about a people - my people - that takes care of its own, because really, we all belong to each other, and we know it.

This post is about having a place to call our own wherever we go, because wherever there is a Jewish community, there will be a place for us, and no one ever has to go it alone.

This post is about more than 5,000 years of history that binds us together.

This post is about saying "never again" and "never forget" and meaning it and believing it to the very depths of our soul.

This post is about our future.

This post is about survival.

Because survive we will.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Getting Fancy


One upon a time when we first started dating we went to a wedding together.

#wewerebabies

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

On The Early Morning Bandwagon


After a kind of long break, I'm back on the early morning bandwagon.

6am never, ever gets easier, but it's worth it for sunrises that look like this.

Stay tuned for more early morning musings, coming right up.