by Moshe Saperstein

September 14, 2014

[I am being nagged for my opinion on Obama's ISIL speech: I believe he is a genuine Triple M, a Malignant Muslim Manipulator who wants Islam to rule the world. Hard for you to accept? Okay, let's say he is simply an egomaniac, so totally self-absorbed that he sees everything solely in terms of how it reflects on him. Either way, the Western world is screwed.]

My mother passed away, peacefully in her sleep at home, early in the morning of September 9. She was 97. The funeral was at 4pm that afternoon, and the official, formal Week of Mourning began that evening.

I thought I knew my mother. Certainly the major facts and events of her like were known to me. The formal week taught me how little I actually knew about her personally. Rachel and I spent it in my brother's home in Har Nof, Jerusalem, where my parents had lived nearby since the early 1980's.

My brother and sister-in-law, two angels, had devoted themselves to caring for them both until my father passed away fourteen years ago, and to caring for my mother since that time.

My mother was loved by many, held in awe by many more. She was direct, and absolutely certain about her correctness. Diplomacy was not her style. Though she was stunningly beautiful as a young woman and a young mother, only if there had been a Religious Jewish Mongol, Genghis Cohen, could she have served as head of his diplomatic corps.

She had two core beliefs.
First, she believed she was never alone, that the Almighty was with her always. In difficult moments, of which she had many, she always said the psalm and if my spirit leaves my body, I shall not fear because He is with me. This assured that the point of her life was serving Him by constant performance of good deeds, chesed.
Second, she believed that children cannot learn by being told what to do, but only by being taught by example. So unlike those who perform chesed silently, she performed it loudly. This was so that children would learn by her example, and act accordingly. Annoying as this often was, my brother and our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are proof of her success.

Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself.

My mother's parents were born in the area of Kiev, Ukraine and came to America in the first decade of the 20th century. My mother was born in New York. In 1929 the family moved to Palestine. [Yes, the Jews were the Palestinians. Local Arabs didn't identify as Palestinians until the late 1940's, when such identity became a method of attacking the Jews.]

My wonderful, saintly grandfather was a designer and manufacturer of ties. This, at a time when people in Palestine couldn't afford shirts. Business was not his strong point. The family lived in Jerusalem, then Tel Aviv, returning to New York as a result of the Arab riots in 1930. On their way back the captain, drunk, ran aground in the Dardanelles and it was two weeks before the passengers could resume their journey. In public school in New York, where every class day began with the Pledge of Allegiance, my mother would whisper 'Palestine'. So, my brother and I were inculcated with a passionate love of the land and people of Israel, the purest Zionism, from our earliest days.

Rachel and I were fearful of approaching my parents with the news that we wanted to move to Israel, taking their first grandchild with us. My mother's reaction: "What took you so long?" We came in 1968. My parents followed in 1980. My brother and his family in 1982. [Which brings up a different problem. If immediate family is all in Israel, who do you sponge off on visits to the States?]

The funeral:

No funeral is easy, but it is made far more painful when the people who run the funeral parlor — after expressing perfunctory condolences — tell you 'hurry it up, hurry it up, we have lots more stiffs to bury'. And as you deliver your eulogies for the departed loved-one a character stands at the side loudly complaining about how much time it is taking.

The room was packed with family, friends, and hordes of neighbors from Har Nof. English was the common language, with Hebrew a distant second.

As the elder son I gave the first eulogy. I chose to speak in Hebrew, with comic asides that bewildered many of the listeners. At the conclusion I made a serious faux pas. I said I want to address my father, who passed away fourteen years ago and is watching us now. "Pop" I said, "your vacation is over. Mom is on the way." Some laughed. Most gasped at what they viewed my disrespect. It was not disrespect at all, but I can understand their discomfort and should have kept my mouth shut.

My brother and his two sons spoke in English. The tears freely flowed. As did the grunting and foot-tapping of the loathsome parlor director.

The official week of mourning:

The official week of mourning, as I mentioned earlier, was in my brother and sister-in-law's large Har Nof apartment. This meant that Rachel could sleep in one bedroom while I snored in another, and we had our own lav. Though the death notice with visiting hours was widely posted, it didn't stop visitors from coming whenever they felt like it. My brother handled them all politely, graciously, repeating the same stories over and over with each new visitor. My sister-in-law matched him in courtesy, and with help from Rachel dealt with seating, refreshments, prayer books. As most of the visitors were locals, each with a tale of my mother's kindness and generosity, I could hide a great deal.

I even tried to be polite as each and every visitor, after greeting my brother, would turn to me with "do you remember me?" Invariably I would say 'of course, how could I forget?', then wait for my brother to whisper who they are. But sometimes, shamefully, I lost it:

"I'll bet you don't remember me," said one very offensive character.
"Congratulations!" I cried. "You've won your bet!"
"Do you remember where you last saw me?" said another offensive character.
"Yes" I replied. "I looked out the window of my spaceship as it flew past Uranus."

My mentor, Rabbi Chaim Eisen, also kept a close watch on me and had calming words whenever he saw the smoke starting to come out of my ears. So, between my brother and sister-in-law, Rachel and Ari, and Rabbi Eisen, I managed to get through it.

The formal week of mourning could best be described as Pious Platitudes, Prosaic Profundities, Passionately or Pleasantly Portrayed in Prolonged Perpetual Performance.

Show-time is over. Now the real mourning begins. Thank G-d I have Rachel to help me.

I miss you, Mom.


[A cautionary tale: Every afternoon at 2, in the Ashkelon mall where we do most of our shopping, there is a prayer service. I chose to say kaddish for my mother at that service. A mistake. The week of mourning services where in Ashkenaz, as opposed to the Sfard I am used to. But the differences are not that great, and my Ari was always there to keep me from going off track. Alas, the service in the mall was in Eastern Tribes Sfard, literally a different world, and I struggled as the sole Ashkenazi.

It is customary to end the service with a short Torah lecture, and this one was devoted to what prayers are said over fruits and vegetables and nuts whose shape and taste are changed by being cooked, like chocolate, peanut butter, etc.

The character delivering the lecture was having a high old time going through the list. Then he came to 'knaidlach' or matzoh balls, which he announced to near universal laughter, 'is junk that doesn't mean a thing to us'.

Looking down, under my breath, I said in English 'Just like the @@#$%^ that you eat doesn't mean a thing to me'.

Alas! The guy on my right not only had super-hearing, but spoke perfect English. 'How dare you say that?' he yelled. 'How dare you insult us?'

'I respect what you eat' I tried to tough it out, 'I expect you to respect what I eat.'

After some mumbling and grumbling, silence. I realized I was lucky not to have been strung up by my prayer shawl. I won't press my luck by going back to that place.]


IGNORANCE IS BLITZ or, a quote from La Passionara, "THIS WAR HAS DONE ME IN"
by Moshe Chicken-Heart
October 24, 2014

[Many of you keep asking about progress on the new house. The combination of Tabernacles, Muslim and Druse holidays meant nothing was being done. Now, we are back in action. Or inaction. The real question is, will we live long enough to enjoy it. The street, FYI, has been renamed Burial Society Boulevard instead of Boulevard of Broken Beams.]

[Rachel is having a fit over the subject of these rants. "You're like a baby obsessed with toilet functions." She really lost it when she saw me putting up a sign, THIS WAY TO THE DEFECATORIUM which she immediately removed, though I explained that it wasn't my invention but that of the great Roman sage Toiletus. I also tried to explain that at this moment my existence revolves around secretions and excretions, fore and aft, over which I have little control making the smallest room in the house the most important room in the house.]

I can't stop crying over the three-month-old girl murdered in Jerusalem. Nothing but the Canadian attacks on all the news channels. Doubtless because the infant's killer was a Palestinian, and by definition a freedom-fighter. And the girl would have grown to be a Jewish Israeli, by definition an occupier/oppressor. This world really sucks. Certainly the US does. A State Department spokescreature said both sides should show restraint. Was Canada asked to show restraint?

Israel is divided between the center of the country, ie Tel Aviv and environs, and the periphery, all borders. For those in the center, ignorance is bliss. If they aren't being shot at, all is well and they can continue their fantasy life. Largely secular and white Ashkenazi, they are free to demonstrate for their version of social justice.

They want lower prices on apartments, lower prices on food, lower prices on everything. Muslims aren't at fault for anything. Haven't we signed peace treaties with them? True, minor misunderstandings have to be worked out. The real enemy are the religious/settlers/Sefardim, by definition fascists/racists.

They want government/courts/law enforcement to protect the rights of illegal African aliens who have largely taken over the south Tel Aviv central bus station area. True, they rob, rape and murder the locals, but that is unimportant as the locals are poor, elderly Sefardim, ie persons of no consequence.

They want the government to provide more funds for protecting what they deem endangered species. One point with which I am in agreement concerns sterilization of cats. Though I disagree on the method of sterilization. I want sterilization by decapitation. This would not only prevent reproduction, but would prevent the existing furry fiends from driving me to the poorhouse with their food and to the asylum from their noise.

For those of us on the periphery, ignorance is blitz. Nothing was accomplished in Operation Protective Field because we stopped before forcing a Hamas surrender. All of us on the periphery are shell-shocked, waiting for the next attack. Every ambulance siren is thought of as an air-raid warning, as is every siren on a tv movie. Every moving light in the sky is thought of as an approaching rocket, until you hear the sound of a plane or helicopter. As Rachel — who has suffered inordinately because of my macho b.s. about refusing to move to a relatively safer place, and her insistence on staying with me — puts it, "This war has done me in".


December 27, 2014

[We are in the process of moving, and may be off-line for some time.]

Hannuka is ended. Christmas is over. Time to forget the festive flames that fueled our fantasies and face the looming darkness. For darkness it is. A war pitting secular socialists and their pseudo-religious supporters against the Islamo-Fascists. The sole matter of agreement between the warring sides is that Jews are expendable. So please, my Christian friends, don't waste time grieving for us because as soon as we are gone it will be your turn.

I was asked if I thought President Ruby Rivlin is an improvement over supposed-to-be-gone-but-never-leaves President Shimon Peres. Of course a moron is preferable to a monster. If that offends you, how about a dummy is preferable to a devil? Or a retard to a reptile? In truth, it makes no difference as they are all part of the same team. At a meeting between brain-dead John Kerry, [expletives deleted] Tzippy Livni and supposed-to-be-gone-but-never-leaves Shimon Peres, it was decided that all would work together to see that Isaac Herzog is the next prime minister. And the key to that happening is Mr. Rivlin.

My views on Mr. Herzog are well known. He is a genuine receptacle for spermatozoa. If he is a] a liar, b] an idiot, or c] both a liar and an idiot, I vote for c.

When the elections are held in March 2015, and no party receives sufficient support to govern on its own, President Rivlin will approach the head of one of the parties and ask her/him to form a government. Rivlin, who should approach Netanyahu as current prime minister, will approach Herzog instead. And a government will be formed that guarantees a Palestinian state on 1967 borders, to world applause. And our doom is sealed.

My greatest hope is my predictions are wrong and that you mock me mercilessly for the rectal cavity that I am.


December 29, 2014

[Several years ago I was in some hospital or other, being treated for something or other, when my doctor said "Moshe, chronologically you are almost seventy, physically you are over ninety, and emotionally/intellectually you are just fourteen." Do you think I was insulted? Not one bit. I thought of myself as a backward twelve year old, and he had placed me on the road to manhood, a full year after bar-mitzvah.]

I assumed that most of you would wait to see if my predictions came true. Alas, many of you couldn't control yourselves, and with a ferocity that would have made my hair fall out were I not already bald...

An oft repeated question was why, given my views that doom looms, I am so involved in and supportive of Rachel in her struggles for the new house. Simple. Rachel has more cojones than anyone I know. And she is an optimist/fantasist and believes passionately that the Almighty will save us despite ourselves.


From the lawn of our new home [in Bnai Dekalim in the Lachish area between Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Gat] we look out at the Hebron Hills, an unbroken line of Arab villages from which our peace partner neighbors try to steal at night whatever their Israeli Arab cousins didn't manage to steal by day. Shots are occasionally fired at night, to prepare us for the rockets to come when/if my predictions come true. But I smile and smile and play the fool pretending an interest in light fixtures and bathroom tiles and door frames and everything that captures Rachel's attention, because I adore her and am unworthy of her and will do whatever is necessary to keep her from seeing me for the homunculus that I am.

The house, still unfinished, will be magnificent. It is already stunning, and worthy of inclusion in fasionista magazines. True, all builders — like politicians — are liars, thieves and incompetents, and anyone having a home built has to prepare for udder despair. Utter, yes, but udder as well, as everyone you deal with thinks of you as a cow's teats, to be milked until dry. We bring items over almost daily, and should make the final move in the first week in January. [More details will follow, until you are sick of it...]

Whatever time Rachel and I have left, let it be spent together.


October 30, 2015

[When I was a kid there was a product - I think it was a hair cream for guys - that said all you needed to attract girls was this cream. Their motto was "A little dab will do ya..."
Our present neighbors have adapted this:
"Wanna go to Paradise?
Want the 72 virgins to make nice?
All you gotta do
Is kill a Jew!
A little stab will do ya..."]

Do not be upset (or delighted) at the title of this blog. I do believe that my departure is imminent, but I have had this belief since my bar-mitzva sixty two years ago, and I am still here. Nor does it mean that I have decided to commit Harry Carey. HC is forbidden, and the one time I seriously considered it I told Rachel I was going to have a fatal car 'accident'. To which she replied, not unkindly, "You are such a klutz (ie clumsy oaf) that instead of dying you'll just get paralyzed and the kids and I will have to take care of you."

I genuinely believe that my demise is imminent. I believe that is the case for most Jews in Israel. This is the third time since the Holocaust that we face a genuine existential threat. In 1947 we were about to be overrun by all our neighbors. In 1967, the same. Both times we were saved by a Creator who inspired us to fight for our lives. Both times we preened in our prowess and forgot Him who had really saved us. Now we face a clear existential threat. Hizbollah in Lebanon brags of 20,000 missiles pointed at us. Hamas in Gaza brags of missiles and tunnels. Have I forgotten Iran? People fear going out to shop or get on a bus or even throw out the garbage. Our Piss Partner neighbors openly speak of our annihilation. And how do we respond? Do we pray to Him? Our articulate invertebrate leaders... Oh, shut up, Moshe. Have faith. He won't allow us to be destroyed. I hope you are right. So how do we cope?


Rachel is building a beautiful home. Even obsessively depressed Moshe is awestruck. Chateau Rachel, enough plants for a forest, two waterfalls, would look perfect in Provence. Visitors stand in line to gawk. I answer the complimentary comments by giving all credit to Rachel. "Other than saying 'yes, dear' I kept my mouth shut." I do not remind them we are living in what the Australians call 'the back of beyond', an area isolated and surrounded by Piss Partners drooling at the prospect of finishing us off..

Save us, Lord. Not for my sake. I am so tired. Yes, I'm terrified of dying, but have no fear of being dead. Save us, Lord, for Rachel, for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Please.


The reason this blog exists is the unceasing torrent of requests that it be written. In truth, there have been three requests, the most importunate being from Rachel who could no longer endure my vocal kvetching and assumed if I were busy typing my mouth would stay shut.

The title has been lifted from a wonderful book by Jonathan Tropper, a fine young author. ONE LAST THING BEFORE I GO is so good I can admit that Jonathan's aunt is my sister-in-law, that Jonathan's father has been among my best friends since the third grade, and that our families have always been close.

And as I'm recommending Jonathan, [recommending anyone isn't easy given my egomania about my own writing] I must recommend three others whose work is insufficiently known and of whose writing I am in awe. Dr. Moshe Dann, Jack Engelhard and Daniel Greenfield (aka Sultan Knish) make sense of our simultaneously terrifying and seemingly incomprehensible situation. Dr. Dann is the only one I know personally. You will find all three indispensable.


Our credit cards were no longer valid effective October. Our bank in Jerusalem claimed they had been mailed. We didn't receive them. I went to Jerusalem to have new cards prepared. I was also anxious to see our friends, Mendy and Sharon Bauman, who have an apartment in the center of town and have become pillars of the community. I also wanted to see my comrade-in-arms Pomeranz the Bookseller who stayed with us in Gush Katif to the bitter end.

I went to Jerusalem on Thursday, leaving Bnai Dekalim at 5am to avoid traffic. Apparently everybody else had the same idea. Crawling all the way, then finding that even most Disabled Parking spaces were taken. I parked near Mendy and Sharon, intending to visit when I finished at the bank which is located several blocks away, in the very center of town.

In the forty-seven years we have lived here I have never seen people so grim, so glum, so frightened. A string of bus stops is in front of the bank, with buses going in all directions. These stops are always crowded, the benches always filled. My first impression was that the crowds must be miserable because it was only 7am, cold and wet. But the way they huddled in silence, glancing distrustfully at every passerby, made their anxiety painfully clear.

The only noise, other than the buses, was grotesque in the extreme. Delivery trucks were bringing supplies to the shops that lined the streets, and the people carrying the boxes and crates were Arab teenagers who were singing and shouting and laughing as loud as they could, noisily contrasting their delight and our fright. The guard who opens the door of the building housing the bank is an old friend. We first met in 1974 after I was wounded and began using the bank. Moments after his arrival he invited me inside — "it's safer here" — and found a plastic chair for me. He vented his own bitterness at the government's unwillingness or inability to protect its people. Several times we wept and embraced.

The bank visit was short and unpleasant. The staff, all old friends, seemed nervous and distracted. I was told our new cards would be ready in a week and would be mailed to us. Given that the first cards were lost in the mail I said I would return to the bank and pick them up. Too emotionally exhausted to exchange pleasantries with anyone, I promised myself that I would visit Mendy and Sharon and Pomeranz when I returned.

I apologize for the inadequacy of the description. My specialty is inane humor. I am clearly ill equipped for tragedy.

One week later, same time, same weather, same parking space. But something had changed. If the smiles were more like grimaces, they were still an improvement over the glum visages of last week. To avoid another hugging/weeping session with my bank guard buddy I decided to wait on the Ben Yehuda mall, which has many chairs and benches. Stores were opening, shopkeepers stood in doorways chatting, there were few customers and they were all male. And all were armed. Men and boys, many wearing prayer shawls, all with rifles or pistols. One old geezer had a baseball bat. Another, a cricket bat. Canes were carried like swords.

I long ago gave up buying cigars retail. I buy wholesale or mooch off visitors from abroad (thank you, mooched off visitors). But I had to buy something from a retail cigar and liquor store I patronized while we still lived in Jerusalem. If I gasped at the prices I consoled myself that the more painful the mitzvah the greater the reward in the afterlife.

Across the walk was a bakery specializing in chalot for Shabbat. "People are afraid to come out" said the owner when I commented that it was usually packed and I was the only customer. "Now our regular customers order by phone, and we deliver."

What also struck me was the change in the Arab delivery boys. They were quiet, grim-faced, and would race back to the safety of the delivery truck.

The bank transaction went relatively smoothly, and I rushed back to the car, too physically and emotionally exhausted to inflict my misery on Mendy and Sharon and Pomeranz. Consider yourselves lucky, my friends.


Back down south the mood was scarcely better. I was in a shop, Auto Depot, in the Ashkelon mall. There are eight checkout counters, all normally packed. Today only one was open and the girl at the cash register was a trainee, with an older constantly yawning woman behind her, clearly her trainer. I was one of six customers on line, unsure if the deep gloom was the result of the general security situation or being trapped behind Miss First Day at School. Probably both.

Aloud, to no one in particular, I said, "I've been studying the Koran, and have discovered there has been a serious misinterpretation. Instead of seventy-two renewable virgins, there is one virgin and she is seventy-two. If we can make this known..."

Laughter, cheers, applause.
"But what does a female shahid get?" asked someone.
"One husband who does the dishes, changes diapers, and takes out the garbage."
Moshe Triumphant.

I raced home to tell Rachel of my brilliance. Fortunately I was sitting down because she responded with a 'love tap' that would have knocked me off my feet, giving me a sweet smile and saying "I'm seventy-four...".

Win some, lose many.


The Koran is not the only thing that has been misinterpreted. Our warm supporter Florida's Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, criticized for supporting the Iran deal, supposedly replied "I could never endanger Israel because of my Jewish heart." An examination of what she said reveals she is being protected by the Politically Correct media. What she actually said is, "... my Jewish fart".

Every time she makes an odiferous expulsion she is immediately identifiable as a member of the tribe that controls the world media and finances, and oppresses the Poor Palestinians in the Wholly Land. By supporting the Iran deal our Debbie shows she has risen above her stifling Jewish particularity and now embraces all mankind.

Like all our gJg [genetically Jewish gentiles] leftist critics, in Israel or abroad, whether they are well-meaning rectal cavities like the Letters Editor of the Post or malevolent receptacles for spermatozoa like Obama's shadows Jeffrey Goldberg and Rahm Emanuel, the result is the same. If we have no respect for ourselves, why should others respect us? If we hate ourselves, why should others hesitate to hate us?

We are our own worst enemies.

[One of you looking over my shoulder said "Moshe, you live in movies". Of course I live in movies. Given the reality of the situation, it certainly beats any alternative. And I now understand why, when in danger, after saying Shema Yisrael, I find myself doing Edward G. Robinson and saying 'Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Moshe?'

Another looking over my shoulder misunderstood my writing and said "You really are a mensch, wanting to die alone". Didn't he realize that if I die as part of a mass erasure of Jews, who will remember me? Alone, I remain the center of attention...

If the end is imminent, as I foresee, I envy those who have kept their faith that all will be well. They will die with a prayer on their lips. I will die with a curse.]

[[Finally — really — I was just watching the movie EL CID. When it ended, there was an announcement that it would be followed next week by EL MAX, EL SAM and EL YANKEL. Something to live for!]]

[[[Finally — really, no kidding — about Rachel. When she isn't supervising the construction of Chateau Rachel, this amazing and extraordinary woman is working with our Head of Security on a project to start a music school. May He grant them their wish.]]]

[[[[Finally — really, no kidding, seriously — about Dafna, who represents the left on our family spectrum. She has many Christian Arab friends in Lod and Ramle. If they speak Arabic they get the look of death from passers-by and are stopped and examined by police and soldiers. If they speak Hebrew they are terrified that Arabs will murder them thinking they are Jews. They are panic stricken. Doesn't that break your heart?]]]]


November 08, 2015

Has it occurred to anyone why Israeli Jewish civilians are generally stabbed, while soldiers are hit by vehicles? Simple. Geezers are too old to run and not in condition to fight back. Children are still untrained in hand-to-hand. The haredim [ultra-Orthodox] have never been trained to fight. So all are easy targets for stabbers. Soldiers are armed and trained to fight, so it is safest to run them over.

The Profit Muhammad has a great racket going, a really win-win situation. Stab a Jew and get killed as a result? Apart from the 72 virgins, your family gets money and prestige. Stab a Jew and get wounded? Money and prestige, excellent medical care, prison conditions that put you through university at the expense of the people you tried to kill, media access that makes you an international celebrity.

Israel is a pathetic excuse for a country. We are run by a Supreme Court so ideologically Left that last week it struck down a government law allowing the destruction of the homes of terrorists as 'inhumane' and ordered the police to destroy a synagogue in a Jewish neighborhood which an Arab claimed was built on his property though all the documents were presented to the court proving the purchase was legal.


Remember my visits to Jerusalem re the credit cards? I received replacements for the cards that we mailed but never arrived. Well, they did arrive eventually and I made the mistake of using one in a supermarket. The card rang up as 'stolen'. The clerk snickered. A security guard wandered over. These are people I've known for years: the clerk an obese but pretty Russian; the guard an elderly Russian whose hands tremble and whose lenses are like Coke bottles. I was cringing with embarrassment as I explained why this card came up 'stolen'.
"Moshe, you could come up with a better story than that" the clerk said.
"Moshe, you want to give me the stolen card?" said the guard as I exited.


Oshri, Tamar and the girls have just returned from two weeks in the USA. Oshri spoke — so brilliantly, from what I've heard, that they have invited him to return for the 2016 sessions — at a conference on the Middle East in Washington. Tamar and the girls were feted by family in NY and NJ, and had a wonderful time. Tamar is between treatments and her doctor told her the trip would do her good. The girls English, according to Rachel who was on the phone with them regularly, is excellent. Family members describe hordes of young men "sniffing around" them. Can shidduchim be far behind?

I envy them. What a passionate Zionist I would have been had we remained in America. I would be out there at every BDS demonstration, wielding a placard like a hatchet. Instead I sit here, almost an anti-Semite. Almost. 'Oh, Moshe', I can hear the groans, 'you hate everybody.' True. But there is a special niche in my hate larder for geneticJewishgentiles.

Rachel would point out that I have Christian friends for whom I feel a closeness that is largely lacking otherwise. And I would point out that an Americans for a Safe Israel group is coming in about a week, and I am... well, passionate is an inadequate description. I am simply nuts about AFSI. I could tell a story about each and every AFSI visitor, but this time I'm limiting it to one story about a character who had me simultaneously in fear of death and laughing uncontrollably:

It was before the expulsion from Gaza, and Helen Freedman [no, it's not about Helen] had arranged for speakers from Gush Katif to speak to a group of Yeshiva University students. It was early evening, already dark. The West Side Highway was closed for some reason I've long forgotten. The East River Drive was flooded from heavy rains above 135th Street. Our driver was Charlie Bernhaut. He turned off into Harlem. It was pitch black. There must have been a general power failure. The sole lights were from auto headlights, few and far between, and a fire burning about a block away. A lifelong New Yorker, I was — shall we say — most uneasy. Especially as Charlie had the window rolled down and the cassette blasting his great passion, hazzanut [cantorial music] at full volume.

At this point Charlie stopped and yelled "Hey, Bro!". In seconds our vehicle was surrounded by large though indistinct figures. I said Shema Yisrael in the certainty these were my last moments. Charlie grabbed the hand of the figure nearest him. "Help me out, Bro, I'm trying to get uptown. What do I do?" I knew that Charlie Bernhaut was about to become Charlie Burn-out.

The figure stuck his head in the window, gave Charlie directions, then stepped back and said "You take care now, Bro". And off we drove, with me cursing myself for not having brought a change of underwear.

So thank you, Charlie. If we had any class in this country, you would be Sir Charles Bernhaut.


Dafna called to ask if I was being sarcastic about her Christian Arab friends, torn between suspicious Jews and murderous Muslims. Of course I was being sarcastic about feeling sorry for their plight. But on reflection, having met them at a family gathering and finding them very pleasant, I do feel sorry for them.


We just received an email from a psychologist working for the Local Council with instructions on how to calm children during the present 'crisis'. Apparently all the communities here in 'the back of beyond' are subject to stone-throwing by our Piss Partner neighbors. I would have thought it's better than being stabbed or shot, but it seems toddlers and youngsters are freaking out. Aren't we lucky to be grandparents?

It is close to midnight and I was taking out the garbage when there was a very loud explosion nearby. It was beyond a hill so there was nothing to be seen. We have been hearing explosions, in bursts of three or four, since 9pm. Rachel is shaken and has downed some Drambuie to help her sleep. Two neighbors walking past me were returning from a Talmud study session and arguing passionately.

"What was that noise?" I asked.
"Just an explosion" one of the men answered, clearly annoyed I had intruded on their argument.
"Doesn't it bother you?" I asked, incredulous. "It's practically on top of us."
"If you came to our study sessions, little things like bombs wouldn't frighten you" said the second gentleman, and renewing their argument they stomped off.
Are they insane? Am I insane?

Apologies for the melodrama. If the explosions were set off by our neighbors we would be ordered into shelters and safe-rooms. Clearly we are the noisemakers. So why am I over-reacting? I suspect it is the smog. Four straight days, and we aren't used to it. Everything beyond fifty feet is a blur. Creepy. Our village looks like a set for Godzilla.

[At least Godzilla, apparently a member of our Tribe, had endless sequels down to the present day. So may it be with us.]

[For those of you — actually, all of you — more interested in the progress of Chateau Rachel than in my blathering, I heard Her Magnificence discussing a replica of the Eiffel Tower made from bright green half-sour pickles.]

Moshe Saperstein and his wife Rachel 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. This remarkable couple has had the fortitude to reconstruct their lives. They've withstood the government and the bureaucracy. Now, more than ten years after seeing the government destroy their home and community in Gaza, they have built a new home in Bnai Dekalim in the Lachish area between Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Gat. Contact them by email at

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