Sunday, November 18, 2012

From Hurricane Sandy to עמוד ענן

שלום ילדים

I've been debating with myself about how to talk to you about what's going on right now in Israel.

I know that many of you are still getting your chin above water after Hurricane Sandy.  Lots of you have houses that have been damaged or destroyed and I know that right now things are tough for you. I also know that many of you are helping out strangers that were hit by the hurricane, and I think that's great! כל הכבוד

Yup, you have a lot on your mind, but let me tell you: things aren't so great over here either. As opposed to a natural disaster, we have a man-made one -- rockets being shot by terrorists in Gaza to cities in Israel's southern and central regions. 

Of course we're fighting back and we're doing our best to beat the terrorists. 
What I want you to focus on is the name of the military campaign we are now waging. 
It's called עמוד ענן ("Amud Anan"), and many times our attacks and counter-attacks do look like this.

So why do I think the name עמוד ענן  -- Pillar of Cloud will interest you? Because I know you study the Bible. If you've read or are reading the book of Exodus, then you're familiar with god's Pillar of Cloud.  

Here's a reminder:

Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel.
During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.

True, this is a perfect tie-in with Passover -- but the holiday around the corner is Hanukkah. So think about this: just as the Maccabees had to fight for their independence, Israel today is once again fighting to keep its country safe and free. 

May we all have a quiet and peaceful month of Kislev.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

TALE OF A FOURTH GRADE SOMETHING: A Story of Cultural Diversity in Israel

Shalom Yeladim:

Have you read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume? It introduces you to one of my favorite characters -- Fudge. Now I have a Tale of a Fourth Grade Something to tell you. It stars a fourth grade girl in Rishon LeZion who recently told the city's mayor not to fudge the facts.

Yup! She taught the mayor and me a great lesson in cultural diversity, because Rishon LeZion is like the rest of Israel. It has Jews from all over the globe living there -- Americans, Ethiopians, British, Yemenites, Australians, Iraqis, Russians, Moroccans, and lots more.

Here's what happened. The Rishon LeZion municipality wanted to tell its residents about the activities in a community center located in the Neve Dekalim neighborhood, so they printed and distributed a booklet. The girl -- whose name I don't know since I guess she doesn't want it in the newspapers -- saw it and got upset because only fair-skinned children were in the photos. So, she sent the mayor a letter. Here's what she wrote:

The booklet for the Neve Dekalim Community Center has at least 25 children.  All the kids in the pictures are fair-skinned and that does not represent all the children in town. I think that dark-skinned kids reading this booklet might feel jealous. A dark-skinned child  might say: "I can't be part of this because I'm dark-skinned." Anyway, it's also obvious that many children in the Neve Dekalim neighborhood are not fair-skinned....I would be happy to see you change that in future booklets.

Wouldn't you know it? The mayor found out that the photos were taken from an image bank. Now he's going to put together a photo archive representing all the city's children. He told the newspapers:

"The girl is right. I am happy she took the initiative and acted on this. She gave us a new perspective. Thanks to her insightful remark we will now make changes. I urge her and others to keep drawing our attention to such issues."

You gotta admit. This is A Tale of a Fourth Grade Something!

Photo Credit 1

Photo Credit 2