The Flames Are Getting Higher

As I write the post, the apocalyptic heat wave continues. Today was a mere 103; tomorrow will be 109 and Monday it’s supposed to reach 113 – with intense humidity that feels like 120+.  It drains the energy. It saps the appetite for food and every activity. It puts people on edge.

This past week, Israel experienced several unwanted, unwarranted acts of violence. In the middle of the night last Friday morning, a far-right, Ultra-religious gang infiltrated a West Bank settlement, throwing fire bombs into two houses. A family of four lived in one. The baby was killed, and the parents and four year old are still in ICU in a Jerusalem hospital. Senseless, thoughtless, baseless violence. Over this last week, Palestinians in retribution have been lobbing firebombs into random cars in the Jerusalem area. The flames are getting higher…

Also, last week, there was a gay pride parade in Jerusalem. For this to happen in Tel Aviv is predictable. For this to take place in Jerusalem is a definite statement of activism, meant not only to draw attention to, but to incite. And incite it did. A knife-wielding, Haredim (Ultra, ultra Orthodox man) slashed his way through the crowd, attacking six people. 16 year old Shira Bank was in attendance. She was not gay, but her brother’s friend was, so she had decided to participate in solidarity with him. A victim of the stabbings, she succumbed to her wounds. The US is not the only place of division among races, classes, and lifestyles. We’re living in a dangerous world…

Also this past week, brush fires have been raging throughout Israel. Fires in the forests surrounding Jerusalem came dangerously close to several suburbs, this time taking with it several homes and all the inhabitants’ personal belongings. Among them, were the illustrator who introduced Poppa Smurf and the Smurf family to the world. He moved to Israel many years ago, and all he had is now gone.  We’ve had quite a few smaller brushfires in our area as well. It seems every afternoon, I can smell the smoke from another fire. So far, they have been extinguished without causing too much damage. It’s just so hot here. The world is on fire….

People are being treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration in all the local hupat kholim. An 18 year old soldier died from the heat in Jerusalem last Tuesday. I’ve ditched my modest attire of mid-length sleeves to go sleeveless. At this point, I just need relief and some semblance of comfort that even layers of baby powder can’t provide. I certainly hand it to the religious women – Jewish, Arab, and Druze, who cover their entire bodies. How they do it is beyond me…..

At the forefront of many conversations here is the Iran Treaty. Will the US Congress cave in and sign? How could they? It would be destructive not only to Israel, but to the entire world. Why is Obama being so persistent in passing a treaty that would give the number one terrorist nation money and weapons? Why are they letting Iran continue with their nuclear program? Why are the countries of the free world and the US getting NOTHING in return: no prisoners still held captive by the regime will be released; no promise of an end to Iran’s aggressive behavior and rhetoric; while the US releases 7 dangerous terrorists from Gitmo? Why is Obama trying to divide the Jewish community in the US with threats that a war will be imminent if this treaty is not passed? And that it will be on their heads and the heads of Israel? We, as innocent bystanders, are relegated to much prayer and fasting – and calls and emails to our representatives. It’s interesting that all this is happening at the time between the Jewish fast of Tisha B’Av (a day in Jewish history notorious for the horrible things that have happened – the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem; the expulsion of the Jews from England, from Spain, from France in separate centuries; the unveiling of Hitler’s final solution to rid the world of Jews….) and the fall fast of Yom Kippur. This is another time of introspection for the Jewish people, to prepare for the new year, to turn from sinful behavior, to start anew. It is also the end of the Shmittah (detailed previosly in other posts), and a period of judgement. And the world is an increasingly dangerous place. Everywhere, not just Israel. Prayer is definitely in order. As is starting a change within myself. It starts with me, with us. We must kindle the flames of love, of kindness, of peace and understanding, of respect. That certainly does not mean turning a blind eye away from the evils of this world, but fighting the flames of hatred with calm answers. Of reasonable solutions. Of taking a stand for what is good and what is true and right. Of standing up for life in all its phases.  Idealistic, but hopefully with G-d’s help, the flames can be tamed, at least a bit. Apart from that, hope and faith will see us through even the hottest of times.

As I write this tonight, my radio is playing in the background. A modern. popular version of the Hebrew prayer we recite here many times a day. Oseh Shalom (this version by Gesher. Beautiful and can be found on iTunes and You tube in various forms).

“G-d, bring peace down: upon us, upon all Israel, and upon the whole world.”

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