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Omer Counting Journal

Fall in Philadelphia -- by Shai Gluskin

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Israel. At this dark time in Israel I'd like to share some poetry and punditry. For me, art is a good response to darkness. It doesn't try to answer, it simply leaves room for the heart to resonate with human feelings that can never be judged right or wrong. The kids poetry is here because it's fun. The punditry is here because I am amazed and thankful that I can find voices which I find sane in this time of craziness. Most of the articles are by Israeli authors.

Israel Poetry

Israel Poetry for Kids, their Parents, Friends and Caretakers

Israel Punditry


Poem: The Place Where We Are Right, by Yehuda Amichai. I first read this poem while visiting the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem on August 20, 2001. This poem contrasts "love and doubts" with "being right." The one leads to fertility, the other to destruction.

Song: A Home Loving Man, from the Arik Einstein/Miki Gavrielov album by the same name (produced in 1986). I'm moved by the simple desire to live a normal life. I haven't been able to find this album at the typical American internet vendors. I recently bought it at Ben Gurion Airport.

Poems of Alex Lazarus. These are rich poems written from the soul of someone living/visiting Israel/Jerusalem during the first year of the intifada. Alex is a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Poem: I'll Be Magnified and Sanctified by Yehuda Amichai. The title of the poem evokes the Kaddish prayer (May God by Magnifed and Sanctified), used in Judaism by mourners to praise the divine. It is also used as a segue between different parts of a Jewish prayer service. Here the poet imagines God's desire for sanctification through ever-increasing circles of empathy.

Song: One Drop at a Time, from the Arik Einstein/Miki Gavrielov album A Home Loving Man. This song inludes a series of negative statements about everything the poet doesn't want to do. It is punctuated with a refrain expressing the poet's desire to "add one drop at a time." In a time when it is difficult to know exactly what to do, I found this song comforting.


Israel: Kid's Poetry from Israel

Song: How is a Song Born? by Yonatan Gefen from the CD and book, The Sixteenth Lamb. Gefen reflects on the creative process through humor.

Poem: The New Battery Powered Car by Yehuda Atlas from from his book, This Child is Also Me. The child's toys are second rate compared to the stuff in his Dad's toolbox.

Song: Shabbat Ba'boker/Saturday Morning from Arik Einstein and Yoni Richter's children's album, When I Was a Kid. It is a jazzy tune celebrating the simple joys of a day of rest.

Poem: Don't Explain to Me by Yehuda Atlas. The author relates extremely well to the plight of both parents and children, thereby pleasing both.



The Lorax and Deuteronomy by Shai Gluskin

Drawing: Joseph by Day and by Night by Sophia Gluskin-Braun

Drawing: Hanukkah Mandala by Sophia Gluskin-Braun

The Way of Man According to the Teaching of Hasidism Material inspiring for the Yamim Noraim, the High Holy Days.

Photo: The Joy of Collaboration. From the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation's August, 2001 Educators' mission to Israel .

Photo: Jewish Planes by Wendy Marx

Photo Lesson: Use evocative photo of an Israeli flag hanging over a street sign where Arabic has been crossed out. Discussion questions and background provided to spark discussion aimed at getting teens and adults to think about flags, language, democracy and competing nationalities.

Swim On - photo by Shai Gluskin

Let Freedom Ring - photo by Shai Gluskin

Warning Light - photo by Shai Gluskin

Link to JRF web site

Israel: Punditry

Ha'aretz op-ed piece by Ze'evv Sternhell, September 12, 2003. A time to act. A passionate call to peace activists in Israel to take to the streets against the Sharon government.

Ha'aretz op-ed piece by Amira Hass(January 15, 2003) "[The] Israeli majority is not ready to listen to hints that perhaps the military policies prevent, in the short term, some of the attacks and destroy the infrastructure, but in the long run create hundreds more volunteers for the unofficial Palestinian armies, and increase the danger of terrorism."

Ha'aretz op-ed piece, (December 4, 2002) Fundamentalist logic, by Amira Hass. Hass sees fundamentalist thought taking over on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, each group holding out for a "big war" in which it will win.

Ha'aretz op-ed piece, (November 19, 2002). Brothers, the village is burning, by Avirama Golan. The author claims that the settler movement has embraced the rhetoric and attitude of classic diaspora existance and is in fact posing the greatest threat to the Zionist enterprise.

Ha'aretz op-ed piece (June30, 2002). A million people under curfew, by Gideon Levy. "Few if any Israelis can understand what it means to be under full curfew for 10 days, incarcerated with the children in a crowded house, usually without an air conditioner or a computer or games to play, maybe a barely functioning television set."

Ha'aretz op-ed piece (June 26, 2002). Both sides are wrong, by Amira Hass. A chilling look at the inability of both sides to recognize the horror it is inflicting on the other.

Two items in response to Bush's speech. (June 25, 2002) 1. An eyewitness description of Shimon Peres' (very negative) response to Bush's speech. 2. Editorial from the Israeli daily Yediot Ahoronot: "There was nothing (in Bush's speech) but the narrow worldview of a person who is willing to help everybody become an imitation American, and wants nothing to do with anybody else. Nothing but a promise that, while the roses continue to bloom in the White House garden, the red spots seen on Israeli and Palestinian streets will be no flowers." Read more.

Ha'aretz op-ed piece (June 23, 2002). Send more teaspoons, by Doron Rosenblum. A practical argument for why violence won't put an end to terror.

Haaretz Editorial (May 1, 2002) Dishonorable Conduct in War. "There were more than a few occasions in which private property owned by Palestinian families was vandalized indiscriminately, and without any visible purpose other than vandalism for its own sake."

Ha'aretz op-ed piece (April 11, 2002). The Turning Point by Meron Benvenisti. "Leaders who inflict great sacrifices upon their people cannot let it be known to all and sundry that they were wrong, so they make the goals absolute: 'A war for our homes' or 'a war for our existence' - goals with infinite price tags. The issue of the relationship between the goal to its price is decried as irrelevant, and raising rational arguments is considered blasphemy, an attempt to quantify something that has no price."

Ha'aretz op-ed piece (April 1, 2002). The Abyss at the End of Victory by Akiva Eldar. "Those who are not ready to allow the attacks and the extremists to seal the coffin of peace can find a ray of hope in an article that was published last week by the Palestinian Center in Washington."

New York Times Op-Ed (March 30, 2002).More War is Not the Route to Israeli Security by Yossi Beilin. "The Israeli war against the terrorist infrastructure will give birth to more terrorists because the terrorist infrastructure lies within people's hearts."

Ha'aretz op-ed piece (March 7, 2002) Balata Has Fallen by Ze'ev Sternhell. "A society in which dozens of children are killed as a result of army operations can easily lose its last remaining moral inhibitions. "

Haaretz Editorial (March 6, 2002) titled, The Helpless Government. "It is not the existence of Israel that is at stake, but the existence of the settlements, which Sharon has fostered and nurtured for a generation."

Haaretz Editorial (December 18, 2001) titled, A Glimmer of Hope, is a response to Yasir Arafat's December 16 speech in Arabic calling on all Palestinian terror to stop.

Haaretz Editorial (November 2, 2001) which advocates for immediate withdrawal of the Israel Defense forces from Palestinian towns.

Haaretz Editorial (August 26, 2001) which advocates for immediate withdrawal of Jewish settlers from Hebron.



Omer Counting Journal.

These entries into my omer journal, which begin on the 29th day of the counting, were written in 2001, and are my personal response based on inspiriation from Kabbalah and my life. Some are missing because I did not include entries for Shabbat.


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