Monday, January 26, 2015

I'll Hide With You or Je Ai Froid

After the jihadist attack in Sidney (remember that?) any public tendency to protest was quelled before it gelled by the lethal one-two punch rope-a-dope tactics of the Anything But Islam crowd.  First, the left jab: "He was a lone wolf.  This does not have anything to do with Islam.  He had a history of mental disturbances."

Mark Steyn said it best: Is this one of those parlor games - like "Dead or Canadian?" Or "Gay or European?" Don't forget, if you're playing in the western media's daily Nothing-to-See-Here quiz, in the "Crazy or Muslim?" round the correct answer is "Crazy", every time.

Then the right cross: "I'll ride with you!"  Yes! The worst thing that could happen would be for ordinary Aussies to fall into the cesspool of Islamophobia.  How uplifting.  We will not let these monsters bring us down to their level.

Now that's alright in general. But if you are a Jew in modern day France, you'd be better off having concerned citizens telling you: "I'll hide with you.  Get in the fridge!" If you feel the need to hold up one of these Je Je Je signs, like everybody seems to want to do nowadays, then hold one up that says: "Je Ai Froid."

El Def

Hamas claims that Muhammad Def is still alive.  Yes, our great military leader is invincible, they say. If he is or if he isn't, does it matter?  Hearing this "He's dead. He's not. He's dead. He's not" reminded me of the blockbuster of the sixties, "El Cid."  Now that was back when the white Christians were the good guys and the Mohammedans were the bad guys.  For the most part. A very long time ago, it seems. Anyway, El Cid was winning back lost lands for the good guys when oops, he upped and died on the eve of the big battle. What to do? The men's morale! What to do? Word gets out that big Cid is dead, and the Mohammedans show up the next day assured of victory.  Lopped-off-heads galore! Pan over to the Christian army slowly appearing. Wait.  What is this? No! It cannot be! It is El Cid! He is alive, risen from the dead! Retreat!

What the Arab leader should have done was shout: A periscope! A periscope! My harem for a periscope! He would have seen a Sancho Panza type holding El Cid up with a broomstick. Which is kind of how I picture El Def's next public appearance.  Eventually, the only way to quell the rumors will be for him to show his face. How to do so? I can see his assistants vying for the privilege of shoving him up out of the tunnel a bit so that his head shows, scotch tape holding his face in a smile. It is El Def! It is El Def! Terror upon you Israel!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Paucity of Nourishment

[NOTE: I have redone some of this post after receiving comments from my main critic, my mother. Self-editing does not come natural to me, but that is no excuse for serving-up half-baked thoughts. I apologize to my readers and will do my best to improve the product.  Thanks, Mom.]


Another fast day.  The tenth of Tevet on the Jewish calendar.  It's a half-day fast, meaning from morning to evening (the Jewish day having begun the previous evening), and it is the easiest fast of the year, always on a short and cool winter day.  Caffeine addicts can get up before sunrise for a quick fix, and have another cup right after, about 5:30 p.m., thus escaping the usual headache.  But sometimes headaches come for a different reason.

Palestinian shenanigans usually don't bother me. They are the shenanigans of the elite, so-called leaders of the Palestinian people. This leadership is of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist terrorists who got their start in Arafat's PLO. They were born in terror and they rule by terror. Unfortunately, they are recognized by most of the world, including, sadly, my own country Israel. They do not produce anything of note; as it is in all non-oil Arab entities, this leadership cannot feed their own people, let alone provide employment for them. These issues do not even concern them. What concerns them is the Legend of Palestine, an ideological wonderland they have created that provides the perfect golden parachute for escape from leadership responsibility and intellectual rigor, in a single word that has enchanted myriads: Occupation.  No other explanation is necessary for their failures. Poor Palestinians are poor?  It's the Occupation, stupid.  Rich, European subsidized Palestinians are rich? Occupation. High unemployment? Occupation. No Nobel Prize winners except for the greatest shakedown artist of all time? Occupation. Spontaneous murder of Jews? That's the Occupation too. Palestinian leadership praising the murderers and naming streets after them, and calling for more of the same? Unfortunate, maybe, but it is the Occupation don't you know. This word, together with the word "other" (as in: "All hail the Other, at my expense, but in particular, at your expense), is the double-barrelled shotgun that has blown holes in the fabric of western societies.

So why was I bothered when the Palestinians applied for membership to the World Court (or whatever it is called)?  It's simple. I didn't get up early enough on the fast day to drink coffee. I was irritable. What would have been just another day of Israel-bashing (the Occupation!) actually started on a lighter note for me. What I saw first in the news was Israel's reaction to the application. "Only full-fledged countries are allowed to apply for membership to the Court, and there is no country of Palestine," our representatives shouted to the heavens.  I laughed out loud.  If, since the Oslo accords, Israel helped them walk like a sovereign nation, and approved of them speaking as a sovereign nation, then why feign indignation when the Palestinians act as a sovereign nation. Quack!  I admit, I'm quick to laugh, but while I laughed at the Israeli Foreign Ministry foibles I became saddened. Soon enough, Gentiles will be sitting in judgement on the Jews, in the heart of the sacred Jewish burial ground that is otherwise known as Europe. By putting Israel in the dock, post-Christian Europe sees itself righting an injustice. Not any injustice done to the Palestinians, but the injustice they feel has been done to them, in carrying the burden of an almost unbearable guilt that the surviving Jews of Israel have long ago ceased to apply to them, but nevertheless is renewed and evidently unrelievable as long as the Jews continue to survive. It is a poetic justice for the post-Christian Europeans, a "correcting" of the trial of the Saviour in whom they do not anymore believe. It is as if they are saying: "let's see how your "chosenness" is working out for you now, Jews." Armageddon anyone? They profess no belief in their former faith, but through cynicism and outright cruelty their diplomats are engineering the ultimate test of that lost faith. They cannot leave the Jews alone. They are picking at their imagined scab. So they  have devised a test, the one sure way to find out if the Hebrew prophecies are true: arm the Persians! To paraphrase Chekov: if there is a nuclear bomb hanging on the wall in the first act, it needs to explode by the third. Then we'll know. Europeans act as if a smoldering Tel Aviv will give them relief from the smoldering ovens of Auschwitz.

Of course, those Iranian missile officers may have trouble finding Israel on the maps, now that they have insisted that no maps showing Israel be allowed in the Arab world. It's kind of funny: "Your highness, how will we know if we have killed any Jews, if we cannot see them? We wiped them off all of our maps."  "Just bomb, you idiot.  And send cleanup crews to look for the circumcised.  If you don't find any, then bomb again until you kill some Jews, dammit!"

It's hard to pinpoint where all this began, and how it snowballed to the current absurdness, but at least the situation as it stands today clearly demarks the sides to the conflict.  Except for a few Oslonian Jews, there is no grey area anymore.  Either you stand with the Jews, or you stand against them.  One can claim otherwise, but the terms used in so doing mark one indelibly.  To choose the most popular example, one can say "I'm not against the Jews at all, but I have serious criticisms of Israel."  In the past, one could get away with this, and could even believe it, but today it is not possible.  If you have something against Israel, you have something against the Jews. If you say this, you have taken a stand.

What flagged this incident for me was an article I had read a few months back.  It appeared in Wabash Magazine, a glossy quarterly published by the college I attended in Crawfordsville, Indiana. I spent two years at Wabash in the mid seventies, and received an education. In addition, somehow the college saw to it that my tuition and board were paid, including for my third year abroad at Haifa University, a year abroad from which I never returned to the college.  I have nothing but love for that institution.  The article in question, "A reminder of Struggle and War." is a journal of impressions by students on an "Immersion" trip, as part of a course given in the religion department.  It's a fabulous idea: learn the basics, then go to where the what is at, and see for yourself.  This is typical of Wabash and what helps make an education there priceless.  However, right at the outset my neck-hairs bristled:

"During Spring Break Wabash seniors Scott Morrison and Ian Baumgardner traveled to Israel and Palestine with Professor of Religion Robert Royalty for the immersion component of his course, Contested Sites, Contested Texts--Morrison as a student in the class, Baumgardner as a photographer to document the experience.  These are their reflections..."

Just to check myself before allowing disappointment to overwhelm me I turned to the reliable source Harper-Collins and was relieved to see that there was no "Israel" on the map, just Palestine. (See above).  For a moment I thought that I was going to be reading that the illegitimate apartheid, Zionist entity known as Israel was going to be given the same standing as the long recognized and firmly established Democratic State of Palestine. Facetiousness aside, I wondered: even the perennially Israel-bashing U.N. does not recognize a State of Palestine (though their terrorist "permanent representative" does sit behind a sign that reads "Palestine"), Wabash does? I remember my learning at Wabash as being rigorous: you make a claim? Back it up!  Someone else makes a claim?  Question it!  When I studied there in the seventies, there was a weekly quasi-symposium called "It seems to me that..." wherein a teacher or advanced student would pontificate upon what seemed to him to be the case regarding some subject or another. The fact that these were well attended tells you something about life at an all-male college.  I loved them. You had to know your stuff if you were going to contest what was being said, and many in the audience did know their stuff and came well-prepared. I, at the time knowing very little stuff about very little, kept my mouth shut.  For the most part. One time Bill Placher was telling us something about how Spinoza seemed to him. I had been following silently for months, and we all wanted to find favor in the eyes of Dr. Placher (of blessed memory).  I was in Placher's History of Western Philosophy and was recently enamoured of Spinoza.  I was newly enamoured whenever we began to study a different philosopher. Placher of course knew with whom he had business: half-literate products of a passable grade school and high school education. He knew that when we became enamoured of one of the subjects of his course, what we were actually becoming enamoured of was the idea of being enamoured of anything. Real learning was new to us, and wonderful; we just didn't know yet how to learn. He saw that as his main job: get us to know and struggle with the primary sources.  So on that fateful day, when even his brightest students were afraid to speak up, I raised my hand. I don't remember what I said, but I remember the answer. Instead of the sought-for "Interesting, I haven't thought of that," I received the dreaded "Have you done the course reading?"  To the uninitiated, the answer to that is either yes or no.  If no, then what business did you have opening your mouth?  If yes, and you had said something as foolish as what I had said, then what business did you have opening your mouth?  Unpleasant though it was, from moments such as these, we learn to learn. Even if at first it is only to learn to do your homework. Eventually, the rest falls into place.

The article had me confused.  I am aware that much has changed since I was in college, but I kept finding myself conflating impressions.  What was I hearing from my beloved Wabash?  "It seems to me that there is a Palestine?"  Though many Jews in Israel and abroad do heartily wish that there be a Palestinian State, including the supposedly far right-wing Prime Minister Netanyahu, it seems to me that until now, the Divine Presence has not seen fit to shine Its blessing upon such an endeavor. So until It does, or the UN does, what are you doing when you use the term "Palestine," unqualified, as if it is a fact? You are taking sides. That may be what you intend, or it may not be. But that is what you are doing nonetheless. The article soon reached a familiar junction. "We had seen dozens of checkpoints during our trip.  What were these like for them?"  This question is straight out of the de rigueur template of modern western consciousness: "What is it like for the Occupied Other?" The students get their answer. It is difficult for them. It is oh so difficult to be an Occupied Other. In the midst of all this anguish and sorrow, the question begging but left unasked was: "why are there checkpoints?"  If they had asked this question, as they should have, then they might have been surprised to learn that after the Oslo agreements, there were virtually no checkpoints, and Arab movement between towns was free. As was Arab movement in and out of Jewish cities and towns. A Wabash student of the seventies might have said: "It seems to me that if the Israelis set up checkpoints, then there must be a reason." A complementary question to the one asked by the student Scott Morrison would be: "What was it like for the Israelis when there were no checkpoints?"  This one I can answer. There was Jewish blood in the streets.  Much Jewish blood.  Restaurants and buses were blown up on a weekly basis.  The architects of the Oslo fiasco, wholly invested in this colossal mistake, could not admit defeat and thus called these poor dead Jews "Sacrifices for Peace."  To make a long story short, more buses and more restaurants continued to be blown up, until the Arabs were able to show that even the self-guilting Jews have a red line. Some doped-up Arab punk, dreaming of virgins, blew himself up in a hotel on Passover.  Much more Jewish blood was shed.  In short order, but at the cost of many soldiers' lives, the Israel Defence Forces retook the areas that had been handed over to the Arabs and re-established the dreaded checkpoints and forthwith put and end to the terrorist attacks.  And they have not been renewed to this day. Because there are checkpoints, through which Jews pass freely (though after waiting in the same traffic), and Arabs are scrutinized.

This is not really fair to Mr. Morrison, as events since his trip have supported his take on things more than mine: European country after shakened-down European country have recognized the State of Palestine.  His parting shot, though, was oh-so-expected, given the build-up.  "But days later a death occurred that did not make the news at all.  An 18-year-old Palestinian college student was shot by Israeli forces while herding his sheep in the West Bank."  And that statement, my friends, stark as it is, is what in other possibly more civilized times would be called a blood libel.  It is painfully clear that Mr. Morrison is not aware of anything wrong with what he reports. It is just another day in the occupied territories. Israeli forces see an Arab sheep herder and shoot him. To add insult to blood libel, Mr. Morrison claims that this event did not make the news at all.  Now this is what we Twainians call a Stretcher with a capital "S."  Armed with the easily obtained knowledge that hundreds of Israeli and European NGO's working in the area would never fail at fully documenting even a broken Arab fingernail as long as it could be blamed on the Jews, I went ahead and googled "palestinian sheep herder killed by Israeli soldiers."  There was no shortage of pertinent results. I did not think that there would be. For the record and to be fair, I googled "Palestinian fingernail broken by Israelis." The results of that search were depressingly similar to the results of the first one.

To be honest, aside from the obviously unintended blood-libel, Mr. Morrison comes across as a relatively fair-minded and even-handed young man.  Wabash is fair-minded and even-handed.  The entire state of Indiana is fair-minded and even-handed.  If Hoosiers ran the world the world would be fair-minded and even-handed.  But they don't, and it isn't, so we must keep up our guard.





Monday, December 1, 2014

Keyboard Kabbalah

When you are a religious person, you are always kind of floating through life.  No matter how down-to-Earth you may hold yourself to be (paying bills, disciplining children, mowing the lawn), you are always looking beyond the surface of things looking for the spirit of things.  Since I have made my living at the keyboard over the last twenty years,  I looked and considered it as others in the past would look and consider their pencils.  A tool, nothing more.  And since I did not look for the spirit of the keyboard, it came to me of its own accord.  My work involves writing in two languages, Hebrew and English, so I need a multi-lingual keyboard.  There is a hot-key combination to toggle languages on the fly.  Sometimes, however, certain programs or certain "computer situations" change the direction automatically without user intervention.  So I can find myself , when wanting to write my name Ehud in Hebrew, typing in English, and the result is tvus.  If I want to write Ehud in English but the Hebrew keyboard is active, the result is קיוג.  Now tvus is not a good result for me. tvusa is failure, so tvus could be Hebrew slang for "loser."  Or, basing ourselves on a different root, it could signify a peacock-like quality.  A strutter. Well, a peacock.  So if my keyboard is off in one direction, every time I write my name I am proclaiming myself a stuck-up loser.

Going the other way, things are not much better.  Because although קיוג is not a word in Hebrew, when the letters are reversed according to the rules of Keyboard Kabbalah, it becomes גויק, which transliterated is Goik.  The k is in place of the letter kuf, which has a numerical value of 100.  So when my keyboard is off in this direction, every time I write my name I am proclaiming myself 100% Goi (gentile).

So we learn from this that it is very important to keep your keyboard direction in synch with your spiritual direction.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Three Stooges

I'm famous.  I have been published.  OK, so it's a blurb.  I don't mind hitching a ride on greater wings (that last is why I'm not published on my own).  Before I go any further, buy that book.  If you have enjoyed life until now, and are interested in life, curious about life, and  fiction has helped you arrive at that assessment, then buy that book.  I am addicted to quality short fiction, and these stories are of the highest quality. You feel wiser after having read them. That's an added bonus beyond the pleasure of reading the stories themselves.
So I wrote Alison Baker (Zapped her an E! on her website) and told her so.  Of course I included a link to this blog--zapped her an L!--and to my surprise she sent me an answer, thanking me for my kind words about her writing, and mentioning her surprise at learning from my blog that the Three Stooges had been Orthodox Jews.
Now, ever since learning this tidbit, a little while after the internet matured and we became inundated with mostly useless information, I have used it profusely as a talisman.  Few are my acquaintances who would crassly ask what I know to be in their minds: "why the hell would anyone want to become an Orthodox Jew?" (unwittingly echoing what was in the minds of the Rabbis who sat on my conversion court).  The answer I never need to provide: (wave the talisman and chant after me) "if it was good enough for Larry, Curly, and Moe, then it's good enough for me."
But wait!  There's more!  What did Alison Baker have to say after she  expressed her surprise?

"I never dreamed Jews would treat each other that way"

Who in this world who knew them, would think of that to say about them when learning they had been observant Jews?  Yours truly, the neo-yid, would not have thought that.  I would have thought, and did indeed think: "what a strange and wonderful world, wherein three knuckleheads don their phylacteries each morning and proclaim 'Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One', and then poke each other in the eyes."  

I wish I had never encountered this tidbit of useless information.  Is it asking too much that our world be ordered to the extent that knuckleheads be knuckleheads, and Yids be Yids, and never the twain shall meet?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Martha's Vineyard, Koufax, and the Golan Heights

The Martha's Vineyard Times just published an article my Mother's planned trip to Israel for her 80th birthday.

http://www.mvtimes.com/2014/10/08/islander-israel/

A little too much about me in it but what the heck, it's a hoot seeing yourself in the paper.  There is a short passage mentioning our having played baseball in the lot next to the Hebrew Center as kids, with the sense that that was as close as I got to anything Jewish on the island.  By its nature, a newspaper article of this sort is limited in what it can include. When Rich Saltzberg sent me some questions by email, I, containing multitudes, replied with half a life's story. Seeing the well-written result, all I can say is: "Good job of editing at the MV Times!"
Anyway, back to baseball.  We were at the age when a really well-hit ball would just reach the hedges at the end of that lot.  There were only two of us who where real long-ball threats: Robert Trebby and Gerry Issokson. Gerry was one of a handful of Jews at Tisbury Elementary School.  He was the one who later, in high school, introduced us to Lenny Bruce.  Having endured years of him trying to wean us from the Three Stooges in favor of the Marx brothers, we geared ourselves to endure, once again, for that is what friends do.  By the way, it turns out that Larry, Curly and Moe were observant Jews, and would not start filming each day until they had donned their phylacteries and said their morning prayers.  Woop woop woop!  So Gerry puts on a scratchy LP containing a scratchy recording of Lenny Bruce drunk or high or both , and he's laughing like a maniac at every punch line. We're smiling, trying to laugh at something we don't understand--trying to humor the humorist--and are too ashamed to admit that it's all beyond us (except the profanity). Gerry, a true friend, took us on as students of the revolution.  He began to stop the record here and there to explain what we were hearing.

Lenny, depressed, sits down at his regular spot in the local Chinese restaurant.

Waiter: "Hewo Mr Broose. How wife and kids?"
Lenny: "She left me."
Waiter: "You betta off!"

Now Gerry's howling at this every time he plays it, and tries to explain: "You see, the waiter is just asking without really giving a crap, and when Lenny tells him that they left him, the waiter tells him what he really thinks.  Or he actually does give a crap and tells him both times what he thinks Lenny wants to hear, which changes with the circumstances.  Or then again, he doesn't give a crap and tells him both times what he thinks Lenny wants to hear, soothing words that a paying customer would expect.

Multiple layers of meaning.  Profanity on stage.  Authority in question.  Those scratchy LP's with Gerry's commentary had it all.  Later I would understand that one of the greatest gifts that the Jews gave America in return for America's unprecedented tolerance of them was Jewish humor.  Much as black America's most enduring gift to the country that enslaved it--Jazz music--was born of the blues and the centuries of pain that the blues spanned, so too Jewish humor was born of pain.  Laughing at other's pain was not foreign to the gentiles.  Laughing at your own pain--or in the face of your own pain--in short, laughing at yourself, elegantly, was something new.  Whereas slapstick humor, or all humor at the expense of others, seems visceral and seminal, and had its place in Jewish humor too in the character of the shlemazal or shlumiel ("loser," loosely translated), it was in self-deprecating humor that earned the Jews their place of honor in the entertainment industry.  Because that is the type of humor that can only be born of a supreme self-confidence (or over-inflated ego, some might say).   That same self-confidence led to Jewish success in many areas of American life, especially in business and education.  And in all of those successes, there were gentiles watching and learning. Once, it was as embarrassing to see a Wasp give an in-your-face yiddisher sales pitch as it is to watch a white trying to act black.  Today it is almost expected.

Who knows, once Americans have learned all there is to learn from Jews, their welcome may wear out.  Let's hope not.

Now long before Gerry incited us to rebellion, he educated us in something closer to home, back on the baseball diamond next to the Hebrew Center. He taught us about Sandy Koufax, the great left-handed pitcher of the LA Dodgers. Now we knew Koufax in baseball terms: he would win 20 games a season with scores like 1-0.  His team couldn't score runs at all; they were pitiful at bat. We respected Koufax, because he was an excellent baseball player.  Gerry respected him because of that too, but he respected him more because he was that and he was Jewish. What pride he took in that man!  Yes! You could be a proud Jew and a grade-A American too.  We loved baseball with all our hearts, but we had never seen a reverence for the game such as the reverence Koufax inspired in Gerry.  He had his moves down pat, his trademark all-body stretch and in the end, Gerry became an almost unhitable pitcher too.  We were afraid of that wind-up.  Who could concentrate on the ball?

By the time the Dodgers reached the World Series in 1965, with Koufax already an ace of aces, we were primed.  Koufax was scheduled for the opener. A sure win. And then he refused to play. What! Why not? What do you mean, Yom Kippur? We turned to Gerry, and he was somewhat embarrassed to have to explain this bit of Jewish folklore to us.  If a star of the stature of Koufax could refuse to pitch because he wanted to go to Jewish church, then where would it end? But slowly we came around. Yeah, Koufax needed to honor the traditions of his people.  If he did not, then where would it end?  Of course, Koufax won two games including the seventh game (while injured, no less) and the Dodgers won the series.

Then the inevitable happened.  Back at the Hebrew Center lot we had sides chosen and Gerry had taken the mound.  Then his mother called him from down the street.  "Gerry! Bar-Mitzva lessons!" We froze, and looked at Gerry.  He gave us a look and we understood that he had no choice.  We looked on with the reverence that he himself had instilled in us as he slowly left the mound and walked home to honor his people's traditions. We felt the larger for it.  We cancelled the game out of respect for Gerry.

A few years back my wife and I were spending a Shabbat weekend with her school at a hotel on the Golan Heights.  The administration did these get-togethers once a year and Dvora and I liked them. At each meal we would sit with different people and get to know them.  As a rule, I avoided sitting with Americans during these things because I found Israelis more interesting.  This time though, we sat with the Schneids from Netzer Hazzani, another settlement in Gush Katif.  So I asked them where they were from in the States, and Haim says Connecticut, and we go on talking about farming and his kids (very successful: two boys pilots in the air force, a daughter doctor).  Dvora was talking with his wife Raz about school.  Finally I asked Raz where she was from and she says New Bedford.  I looked at her and said "I didn't know there were Jews in New Bedford." It was the first time that I was able to ask the question that everyone asked me whenever I told them where I was from: "Oh, I didn't know there were any Jews on Martha's Vineyard," they would ask.  I would answer: "Oh there are, but I wasn't one of them when I lived there."  Raz continued: "I don't know if there are any at all now, and there were few when I was growing up, but my father was the Rabbi and we stayed until there was less than a minyan (10 Jewish males above age 13)."  Then she asked where I was from and I told her and immediately tagged on: "I bet you didn't think that there were any Jews on Martha's Vineyard, right?"  She was shaking her head before I finished.  "Of course I knew.  My father used to take the boat over to prepare the boys for their Bar Mitzva."  I looked at her, feeling as if my jaw were drooping all the way from the Golan Heights down to the Sea of Galilee.  It just goes through your head like a whirlwind: "what are the odds that this could be?"  There was just one thing that I could say to her.

"Do you know how much baseball I missed because of your father?"






Sunday, September 7, 2014

Face to Face

During one the the last rocket attacks before the present cease-fire I was babysitting my two and a half year old grandson.  As I bent to pick him up I realized--we realized--that it was the first time that we were alone together during an attack.  Until then in my house there had always been a crowd when Eliyahu had been here. He would do his siren imitation and we would join in and the noise we made would muffle the sound of the rocket exploding or the explosion of the intercepting missile. This time was different.  He wasn't looking at me as we ran down the hall and entered the room, and he wasn't doing his imitation of the siren either.  In that way, a two-and-a-half year old let me know that he had scheduled an executive meeting with me.  When I secured the door and while we were waiting for the explosions he called the meeting into session, by looking at me; eye to eye, soul to soul.  The entire edifice of trust between grandson and grandfather was put to a existential test so unexpected and so immediate that any stock reactions that I had at the ready for lesser challenges were obviously and totally irrelevant.  He was too young for the explanation that the redemption will come slowly, slowly, or that the Land of Israel is redeemed through great hardship.  He had learned to say "Amen" when he heard a fellow Jew blessing the Creator over a morsel, but I had no reason to think that there was more to him spiritually than that.  I stood corrected, and I began:
"Those who bless you shall be blessed, those who curse you shall be cursed..."