by Rachel and Moshe Saperstein



by Rachel Saperstein
Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
February 12, 2013

I've often wondered why Moshe and I get so few visitors. Are people avoiding us? Our Sabbath table is set only for two. We have always had a busy social life, with visitors and people dropping in for meals. Suddenly, no takers.

With great pleasure we welcomed our son and daughter-in-law and three [out of now six] grandchildren. Beds were made ready. Moshe did his grand shopping. I prepared the chicken soup and noodles. Fresh apples mixed with strawberries bubbled on the stove top ready to be whisked into a sauce. Cabbage was cut and carrots and peppers were grated for my home-made coleslaw.

The children arrived and ate a hearty pre-Sabbath lunch of sliced meats and mustard on freshly cut chalah.

Efrat and I lit the Sabbath candles and the men folk went to our synagogue. Chana, the youngest, made for the jigsaw puzzles and began to put the pieces together. I opened my prayer book, thanking the Almighty that the children were with us. The men came home and we began singing 'Shalom Aleichem', the beautiful melody with which we welcome the Sabbath angels. Clearly the evening was blessed. Or so I thought...

We went to bed filled with the joy of seeing our table crowded with family, eating and singing and saying words of Torah, enjoying each others company. The grandchildren are growing up. Our children have done a splendid job of raising bright and charming children of their own.

At 1:30am the peace of the Sabbath is broken by the shrill sound of an air raid siren. We got the youngsters up. We have ten seconds to get to the sewer pipe in our cul de sac. This is the first time our guests have experienced this unearthly sound. We get them into slippers, throw jackets around them, and run outside. The siren continues to wail. We meet one of our neighbors sitting alone in the dark sewer pipe.

We wait for the explosion. We are tensed up. Our sewer pipe will not protect us against a direct hit. Do I tell the children I am in fear for them? I don't dare show them my fear. I marvel that Gush Katif families brought up their children under five stressful years of continuous rocket and mortar attacks. Five years in Gush Katif and two wars in the south.

There is no explosion. We return to our caravilla. It is 2:30AM. The youngsters are shaken and we talk about the experience.

"You'll have what to tell your friends when you get back to school" I say.

"But there was no explosion" one grandchild says.

"It's still scary" says a second.

"Can we have some muffins?" they shout in unison.

We begin a pre-dawn party, then put the youngsters to bed. Slippers and coats at the ready in case we need them again. The siren heard here and in Ashkelon was apparently a false alarm. But we know it won't be long before the alarms are real. I understand why no one visits us.



by Rachel Saperstein
Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
September 15, 2013

I stopped writing my blogs for almost a year, but I'm back. I need to communicate with you and to feel the closeness of friends who care about Moshe and me.

One of the memories I have of Yom Kippur prayers is the weeping of elderly women during Neila, the last prayer of the day. It is our final time to ask the Almighty to remember us with kindness and to give us a sweet year.

Something new has taken place in our synagogue. Tears have been replaced by joyous singing and clapping. The first time I experienced this transformation I was shocked. Isn't one expected to cry at the final moments of Yom Kippur when your fate is sealed? Instead, the new approach is one of turning to the Creator with joy in the full belief that we welcome the new year in the knowledge that the Lord is our dearest friend and we accept His decree with happiness rather than tears.

I had expected war to break out with Syria on the first day of Rosh Hashana. We were braced for a Syrian response to American threats. Syria could not attack America but could with impunity hit the Jews. Hamas, our Gazan neighbors, would certainly join the 'Bash Israel Fest'. We were relieved the attacks were put on hold. The High Holidays were days of tense quiet.

Speaking to my friend Roz up in the Golan Heights gave me a picture of life in the north.

"Roz, are you afraid of a Syrian attack?"

"Rachel, I don't think about it. I'm not going to leave the Golan so we'll just stick it out."

Roz and her husband built their home in the Golan after their expulsion from Gush Katif. Chaim was a successful farmer of organic vegetables. Roz was director of the English Department in the Ulpana Girls High School in Neve Dekalim. They had lived through five years of incessant bombardment in Gush Katif. Now they hear the explosions in the Golan. Despite the noise, their children and grandchildren will be visiting for the Sukkot holidays. Cousins from the USA are terrified, but coming anyway.

What the American administration fails to understand is that Israel will be the whipping boy for their indecision. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives today. I'm sure he will pressure Israel to cede more land in order the appease the Arabs. Israel is always at fault.

Our son, with the help of his sons, is building our sukkah. The sukkah is the outdoor booth we build to remind us of our forty years of wandering in the desert before our entrance to the Land of Israel. We eat and sleep in the flimsy booth. We are protected from those who try to harm us. We will sing with joy in our sukkah just as we sang on Yom Kippur.

We wish you, our dear friends, a joyful new year.



by Rachel Saperstein
Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
October 1, 2013

Eight years have passed since our expulsion from Gush Katif. We are finally at the beginning of building our house in the Lachish area. Our new town is called Bnei Dekalim, [Bnei=children, Dekalim=palm trees] Children of Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif.

We have been living for the past eight years in the refugee camp of Nitzan, slapped together by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Built to last four years, maximum, our crumbling huts are slowly disappearing as people move to permanent housing. Many have built in an adjacent area of Nitzan, near the Mediterranean and equidistant between Ashkelon to the south and Ashdod to the north. Nitzan has a dramatic history of defending the Northern Negev from an Egyptian onslaught in the War of Independence.

Moshe and I chose to leave the refugee camp and settle in the Lachish area, also in the Northern Negev, south of Beit Shemesh and north of Kiryat Gat. It is a large swath of land, within the so-called Green Line, with barely a Jewish presence. Surrounded by rolling hills, it is a grape-growing area resembling the Napa Valley in California and the Loire region of France.

Lachish has a Biblical history going back to Joshua. Caves dating back to Bar Kochba dot the area. A riot of wildflowers covers the ground in the spring. Google Lachish to learn about the area. I love the fact that Moshe and I will play our part in the history of Lachish.

We get emails from our builder asking us to come and discuss various aspects of our home. Our architect submitted all our plans but there are always points that have to be finalized. So we come, awed by the tractors, workers calling to each other, the slamming of tools, the white dust of chalk from crushed rocks filling the air. The excitement of building a new town...

Friends who have already moved, or are in the process, call out to us: "Come see our new home." Proudly they show us the layout of their kitchen, and the magnificent view from their picture window. They tell us they appreciate that, despite our long wait, we are finally starting to build.

We sit with our building foreman, Waseem, a Golan Druze, most of whose workers are relatives from his home village. He is well known for a very high standard of work. We have visited the firm that will supply the kitchen. I chose a French farmhouse design. Moshe fully agreed, ie, he sat outside smoking a cigar while I made the decisions. Soon we will be off to the stores that sell the flooring and kitchen tiles. My only concern is that Moshe has plenty of cigars.

I suppose life would be simpler if we could move into an already built house, but to see our home go up is so exciting!



by Rachel Saperstein
Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
October 22, 2013

Moshe and I have become great-grandparents. Our great-granddaughter was born two weeks ago. Her mother, Doriah, turned us into grandparents. Now she has turned us into great-grandparents.

Her name is Rivka Nehama. Rivka became a matriarch when she married our Patriarch Isaac. Nehama means comfort.

I love Biblical names. My name is Rachel Leah, the wives of Patriarch Jacob. And Moshe is Moses.

Back to Rivka Nehama. Her parents are Breslav hassidim, having come to this as they grew up. Doriah [whose own name means Generation of the Almighty] decided at age sixteen that her religious high school was not giving her the deep spirituality that she craved. She sat her parents down and told them she wanted to enroll in a hassidic seminary for women. Her parents insisted she complete her high school matriculation exams while she studied at the seminary. This she did, and then completed an intensive two-year computer graphics course. She is extremely talented and has clients who have had her design invitations, posters, business cards, and even a book.

Her husband, David, became a hassid while in university in Toronto. He, too, followed his heart and came to Israel to study in a yeshiva.

Their shared rabbi introduced them [that's called making a shidduch] and shortly after Doriah called me, her grandmother, to tell me that "the Almighty has decided it was time for me to start a family."

"Does that mean what I think you mean?" I asked. One has to be up on hassidic terminology.

"Yes, Savta [Granny], we are on the way to tell our rabbi that we have decided to marry." We learned that the rabbi and his wife made a beautiful Mazal Tov Tish [gathering] with the young men of his yeshiva.

"MOISH!!!" I screamed. "Doriah is getting engaged!!" So we hugged and even Grumpy celebrated with a glass of wine.

We received pictures of the couple on our computer. They have a most remarkable resemblance to each other, though David has very long peyos [side-curls] and a full beard.

Now, back to Doriah. She is an eighth generation Jerusalemite. Her great great grandfather, Rabbi Zonnenfeld, was Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. A street in the Meah Shearim neighborhood is named after him. We found this street on one of our wanderings around the city.

There is something mystical in having the privilege of welcoming a ninth generation Jerusalemite into the family. There is something equally mystical in having five generations of Saperstein women. Moshe's mother, now 96, is a great great grandmother. Sephardic lore has it that this is an especially powerful blessing.

Our decision forty-five years ago to come and live in Israel has granted us this extraordinary gift.

Welcome, Rivka Nehama.



by Rachel Saperstein
Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
November 8, 2013

"A lawyer's letter arrived", Yehuda tells us, his usual smile replaced by a pained expression. "We have to leave our premises." Gush Katif people who established businesses in Nitzan must dismantle their shops and leave. A hefty fine for each day they don't comply will be inflicted upon them.

Yehuda Gross, one of my favorite people, is in limbo. With the help of the Job Katif organization Yehuda put together a small business at the entrance to the Nitzan caravilla site. Yehuda is a picture framer, a true artist in his profession. Many of the pictures he frames are of Gush Katif. He will also make copies of your keys, sell you shower heads, locks, screws and other household items you might need in a hurry. He can fix your screen door or window. He even fixes tables and chairs.

Now he must close his shop. He is not alone. The pizzeria, the paper goods store, all the facilities that make life bearable in this small village of tumbledown shacks are to be closed and removed from the site. All have received the lawyer's letter from the Ministry of Labor.

An evening walk brought me past the pizzeria. Parents were sitting with their small children, enjoying the still warm air as they feasted on pizza and ice cream and soda. Other nights I have seen balloons strung across the wood ceiling of the pizzeria terrace as teenagers celebrated a birthday party.

The simple joy of a pizza party will soon be a thing of the past for the Gush Katif refugees in Nitzan.

Why is the livelihood of some of our people being taken away? Who is responsible for making our lives a bit more miserable?

The people of Gush Katif have been living with the trauma of eviction and the trauma of rockets raining down on us from the endless conflict with Gaza. Surely a few stores selling sweets, pizza, picture frames, etc, cannot be on the agenda of the Ministry of Labor. Clearly, someone is deliberately targeting our people.

More on this, soon!



by Moshe Saperstein
November 28, 2013

We Jews are our own worst enemies, as witness the election of Isaac Herzog to lead the opposition Labor Party.

[But first, two principles to always keep in mind.

The first: Everything is a lie. If that seems extreme, try Nothing is as it seems. Even what you see with your own eyes, hear with your own ears, is not what it appears to be. It is, at best, an approximation of the truth.

The second: No matter how bad things seem to be, no matter how hopeless, how desperate, know that the truth is far worse than anything you could imagine.

Keeping these principles in mind won't make your life any better, but at least you'll never be blind-sided.]

I encountered Mr. Herzog in 2005, several months before the expulsion from Gush Katif, at a convention of Christian Friends of Israel Communities [CFOIC]. The venue was Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, a suburb of Jerusalem. Some 300 CFOIC members from all over the world had gathered specifically to discuss the coming expulsion.

There were three speakers. Mr. Herzog represented the pro-expulsion government. A Knesset member whose name I will not divulge, for reasons that will soon be clear, represented the anti-expulsion forces. And yours truly was there as Simple/Sample Settler, to tug at the delegates heartstrings.

Mr. Herzog spoke first. For 25 minutes he was articulate and passionate about how the 'disengagement' would enhance Israel's standing in the world, concluding with the statement that 'if a single shot is fired from Gaza after we leave, we'll go back in there and smash them, and the world will applaud our efforts'. Many hands were raised, but Mr. Herzog apologized and said he could take no questions as he had to leave. He explained, to the best of my recollection, that his car was double-parked, or parked next to a hydrant, or he had to return to the Knesset.

The next speaker was the Knesset member from my side, and I literally trembled in joyous anticipation as I knew he would shred Mr. Herzog's nonsensical arguments. Alas, he never mentioned Mr. Herzog, and prattled on for 70 minutes with a variety of tales meant to be entertaining but because of his flawed pronunciation were simply gibberish. As when he talked about his Polish forbearers being 'fur traders', which came out as 'fair traders' to general confusion. He reached his zenith, or nadir, when his poor pronunciation combined with his lack of comprehension about the nature of his audience. 'I was ice fishing in Alaska when I saw a polar bear coming toward me. I was so scared that I s..t myself'. Dead silence followed. 'Any questions?' he asked. More dead silence. He collected his aides — there were four — and left.

My turn. 'How many of you' I asked, 'agree with Mr. Herzog that the world will support Israeli action against Gaza after the withdrawal?' For the first time that day, loud and sustained laughter.

So the question must be asked. Was Mr. Herzog lying, or was he simply stupid? Either way, what are the consequences for us if he is leader of the opposition? In truth, he is quite suitable, given that our government is led by another practitioner of AI. No, not Artificial Intelligence. AI in Mr. Herzog's case is Articulate Incompetence. AI in Mr. Netanyahu's case is that he is an Articulate Invertebrate. And like many invertebrates he is a chameleon, changing shape to accommodate whoever pressures him.

May the Creator save us. We certainly aren't able to save ourselves.

[I am on a roll. I would much prefer a bagel, with cream cheese (hold the lox), or rye bread with mustard and extra fatty corned beef. I will now crawl back under a rock and resume my silence, which some of you mistake for wisdom rather than what it is. Despair.]



by Moshe Saperstein
December 22, 2013

Yes, I am aware I haven't sent OOWE 2. No, this is not because I am digitally challenged and cannot count, though I do have a history of problems with math. What it is, is that OOWE 2 deals with this year being the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. Every year at this time I go crazy [how can you tell, Moshe?] or crazier than I abnormally am.

I grew up on VICTORY AT SEA and endless documentaries on WW2, and always thought of that as my war. But the YKW became truly mine. What I learned before, during and since has poisoned me forever. And this is totally apart from it having given me the opportunity to learn to swim in Cripple Creek. The great Fang Dynasty philosopher Sakitumi wrote: "When your prose flows like it's coming out of your nose, shut up." For the sake of historical accuracy, there is another translation: "When you shout and spout like its coming out of your snout, shut up." So I will shut up.

[Some of you thought it unfair of me to include Labor party leader Herzog in the OOWE Hall of Shame. Several days ago the well-spoken rectal cavity met with Mr. Abbas, now in the 7th year of his 4 year term as leader of the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Herzog declared that all Jews must be removed from Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem must be re-divided and made the PA capitol, and the United States must be trusted to guarantee Israel's safety. I rest my case.]


by Moshe Saperstein
December 22, 2013

Most Israeli Jews will tell you that they revere the Ten Commandments. Some actually do, though even among these certain commandments are treated with greater relevance than others.

There is one commandment, not among the Top Ten, a commandment with a corollary that is passionately observed by most Israelis. "Don't be a sucker" is best translated as Get Away With Whatever You Can, the corollary being If You Get Caught, Blame Somebody Else. This results in a lack of courtesy, a lack of elementary decency, that astounds even naturally churlish New Yorkers like myself. Some examples?

I'm at our local clinic patiently waiting my turn to see our doctor. My turn arrives and I enter the office. We exchange the usual pleasantries. The door bursts open. "Just one question" a gentleman yells, "just one question." I look at the floor. One question, which is answered, which leads to another question, etc, until my doctor says "Please wait outside, Moshe. I have to examine him." When my turn does come, my doctor — a local who is married to an American — says "Sorry. You're just not trained for this."

Another example. I am at a large supermarket in an Ashkelon mall. There are ten checkout counters. I am at the counter marked '10 items or less'; it is also marked 'Cripples to the front'. In all my years shopping there I have never been ushered to the front, nor do I push my way forward. I wait my turn patiently. My turn comes. I'm unloading the shopping basket. "Please" says the guy behind me, "I just have two items. Please let me ahead of you."

"Sure" I say, but my heart is sinking. I know that no good deed goes unpunished.

He puts two large bottles on the counter. They are marked Lizard's Testicles Tequila. The clerk, a Russian lady I've known for years, says "These are on special. Three for two. Run back and get another bottle."

Off he goes. And doesn't come back. Three minutes go by. Five. The slow lanes on either side are positively flying. We are still.

"What if he was run over by a shopping cart?" I ask the clerk. "Do we have to wait till he recovers?"

"Shame on you, Moshe. That's not nice," says the clerk.

Ten minutes have gone by.

"What if he died? Do we have to wait till he is buried?"

She is about to lecture me on being nice, when the gentleman returns. He is holding six full plastic bags. "I saw some other things I needed". He puts them on the counter and gives me a smirk best translated as "Up yours, stupid."

But it ended well, sort of.

"Now you have more than ten items," said the clerk. "You have to go to another line."

Rachel goes to a hairdresser, an old friend. She patiently waits her turn. Repeatedly, just as she is seated, a woman bursts in and says "You have to let me go first. It's an emergency. I'm late for a medical procedure." The procedures have included breast enlargement, a tummy tuck, a reshaping of the rectum. What she really needs is a brain transplant. Rachel moves aside. The hairdresser, who should intervene, never does. "You're just too nice, Rachel."

My favorite occurred several years ago. I was driving north on the Ayalon Freeway that passes through Tel Aviv. It was February, and already dark though early in the evening. The Freeway was having repairs done, so the usual four lanes going north were compressed to one. Bumper to bumper, barely crawling forward, everyone in a foul mood. About eight car lengths ahead of me I saw a car trying to pull in from a side road. He was blowing his horn, blinking his lights, waving like a madman. Everyone ignored him. As I pulled up I signaled him to enter. He waved, seemed to be in tears, and much to my embarrassment was blowing me kisses.

Half an hour later the highway had now widened to two lanes. I was in the left lane, and had to turn right to exit. No one would let me in. I found myself alongside the fellow I had allowed in. I tried to get his attention. He ignored me. Finally, my window rolled down, I yelled "Didn't I let you in?"

He stared at me, a look of genuine incredulity. "Just because you were a sucker, do I have to be a sucker too?"

So there it is. Expect nothing. You'll never be disappointed.



by Moshe Saperstein
December 25, 2013

[Merry Christmas to my Christian friends. May the G-d we all worship continue to protect us as only He can.]

[Cruel and unusual as it may seem for me to force myself upon you again so soon, I am obsessed with the feeling that we are hurtling toward disaster and our time will run out sooner rather than later.]

[I prefer to start these things with 'I don't know whether to laugh or cry', but this one is so awful I have to say I don't know whether to sob or weep. Or scream. Whatever one thinks of Jonathan Pollard's actions, his punishment has been absurdly disproportionate. Many others, and not just the mentally challenged like me, have concluded his treatment reflects a deep and persistent American anti-Semitism. And the lack of protest by the American Jewish establishment reflects an inherent and persistent insecurity.

Now we are presented with a performance so painfully obvious, and so potentially disastrous:

The American president says no pardon for Pollard is being considered. The gives our spineless prime minister an opportunity to pretend he has a spine. He is, adept poseur, pretending anger and outrage. It was obviously cooked up between the American and Israeli governments some time ago. The minutely choreographed 'peace process' will soon hit a snag on the removal of Jews from Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu will give in, but only for the return of Pollard. Obama will pretend he was forced by Netanyahu's determination. Most Israelis, willfully blind, will cheer. Hundreds of thousands of us will join the Gush Katif refugees. Another nail will have been driven into our coffin.]


OR When Scientific and Political Postulates pretend to be religious dogma, the effect is to make facts, logic and truth irrelevant and turn holy writ into wholly spit
by Crazy Moshe

I have just spent an hour scraping ice off the windshield of my car. We are in the midst of the coldest, most sustained winter in 132 years. The past decade has been the coldest in a century. Could any of these be seen as proof that Global Warming is nonsense? Of course not. GW has gone from scientific postulate to religion. GW's proponents have gone from scientists to clergyman, using their positions of power and authority to protect the faith.

An example. Some years ago GW believers announced a symposium to discuss how to protect the endangered polar bears. The acknowledged expert on polar bears was not invited. When he asked why, he was told his presence "would not be helpful". When he persisted, he was told that given his views that there are more polar bears now than ever before, and they are not an endangered species, he was not welcome at the symposium.

By chance or design, GW believers control most levers of power and are able to suppress/ignore/demean all dissent. I recall reading of a young man who applied for a grant to study a heretofore unknown snail. He was informed that his chances of receiving the grant were minimal. But, he was told, if he rephrased his request to 'The effects of global warming on the development of heretofore-unknown-snail' his chances were greatly improved.

From personal experience, you all know me for the shy, unassuming genius that I am. So I will forgive you if you are unaware that I have been a scientific wunderkind for many years. Not long ago I discovered a previously unknown species of slug. This creature simply goes round and round in a circle until it dies of exhaustion. I wrote a learned dissertation on the creature, which I modestly named Sluggonis Stupidicus Sapersteinius, and sent it off to the renowned Bulgarian Journal of Pseudo-Science. Only to be told that unless I made GW a part of my dissertation, it would not be printed.

Just as Global Warming has become a religion, with dedicated defenders/protectors of the faith, so has the Two-State Solution. Far better writers than I, writers whose logical and orderly minds are impeccable, have shredded the advocates of the Two-State Solution. To little avail. Moshe Dann, Carolyn Glick, Martin Sherman, Evelyn Gordon, Yehudit Tayar, Helen Freedman, to name just a few, have done it so much better than I ever could. Please, look them up.

[Finally.... Several of you have asked me to discuss BDS. I assumed you meant Boycott/Divest/Sanctions. Until I learned that BDS, for you, meant Brain Dead Saperstein. The rest, until next time, is silence.]


OPERATION DIGNITY needs your help to furbish the new kindergarten in Bnei Dekalim. We want you to buy the furniture and toys for our first group of youngsters. May you have the privilege of being among the first to care for our children.

Checks of under US$250 should be sent directly to us — Operation Dignity, POB 445, Nitzan 79287 Israel — so we can send you a proper acknowledgment.

Checks of US$250 or more, earmarked for Operation Dignity, should be sent to Central Fund for Israel, 13 Hagoel Street, Efrat 90425, Israel.

See our website — — for further information.

Rachel Saperstein and her husband Moshe were among the thousands of Jews kicked out of their homes in Gush Katif in the Gaza strip in 2005. They were forced into temporary quarters so dismal, their still-temporary paper-based trailers in Nitzan seemed a step up. Eight years later, this remarkable couple has had the fortitude to reconstruct their lives. They've withstood the government and the bureaucracy. Now, eight years after seeing the government destroy their home and community in Gaza, they are finally seeing the start of their new home going up. Contact them by email at

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