Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Blah Blah Insurance Person Come Help' and the Old Person in Peres' Video

Yesterday in an opinion article in Haaretz, Alon Hadad  had some  reservations about  the video in which the retired president Shimon Peres is trying  to find a job in different minimum wage employments. Indeed the  humorous video portrays the sad reality of elderly people in Israel, and Hadad feels that the video ridicules this segment of the population,
Prior to reading Hadad's article I had watched  that  video  and  felt that although it was amusing it had a relevant and poignant social comment. Peres himself is 90 year old, but he has always been lucky and successful.  However, dressed in a different attire, like in the famous story of  The Prince and the Pauper,  he was just another old man. As a result, the video shows that he is either transparent to the rest of the world or is treated badly. The video was so accurate that it was almost unbearable to watch how  in the Holy Land the Biblical Mizva of respecting  the elderly  has become yet another irrelevant value.
Please keep on reading in The Times Of Israel 

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Group Of Religious Feminists With No Sense Of Humor And The Desert Island

For many Jewish people Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are truly High Holidays, for me they mark yet another year in which “I won't  set a foot in a synagogue.” This phrase is taken from a famous Jewish fable/ Joke for the High Holidays...
“A Jewish sailor was shipwrecked on a desert island and the first thing he did was build two synagogues....
Years later when he was rescued people were bewildered and asked him: Why he built two synagogues... to which he replied.
"Oh that other one... I won’t set a foot there”!*
Sadly this joke reflects a less than funny reality.
When we lived in small university towns in the Midwest we always went to Shul on the High Holidays. We are not religious but being outside Israel we wanted to celebrate the holidays with other Jewish people.

Please keep on reading in The Times Of Israel

Thursday, September 25, 2014

IMA Is More Important Than

IMA is more important than

Going north on Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv you can’t miss the eye-catching yellow building with the word IMA (mother in Hebrew) in huge letters and beneath in smaller print: “is more important than.” Even once the full sentence is revealed with the rest of the word IMA--GINATION, and we remember Albert Einstein's quote, the word IMA remained with me.
So if IMA is that important, how come so many young women today still have trouble juggling motherhood and career? The following is a an amazing, yet disturbing, example of the challenges of an Israeli mother, in the relentless business world. Her daughter celebrated her birthday at the preschool and had warned the mother that if she failed to show up to the party on time, she would dismiss her as a mother.
On the appointed day the mother had to attend a meeting which was due to end fifteen minutes prior to the party. As it was rush hour, she knew that she would never get from the center of Tel Aviv to the party on time. Desperate times called for desperate measures, thus she had planned ahead and hired a delivery motorcyclist who waited for her at the end of the meeting and raced through heavy traffic to the school: She wasn't late.
That time the mother found a solution, but I have to wonder about all the other instances when she couldn't, and about the high price that the mother and her daughter have to pay, so that the mother could keep her job. Most mothers are not praised for their resourcefulness, it is part of their job. Moreover, this type of solving problem is silenced because it may hint to the fact that those women don’t have their priority straight. Even in the 21st century mothers are still expected to be at the birthday early with an elaborated home made cake and a big smile.
The story demonstrates a brave mother who thinks outside the box and comes up with innovative solutions. Those are rare and sought after qualities in both the business world and in politics. However, it is also a sad comment on our society when a mother has to literally risk her life to get to a her daughter's birthday party on time.
For generations women have been wrestling with the issue of combining home and work. The great Feminist Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex, (1953) was against women's employment and argued that combining home and work meant a burden of the ‘double day’ which underpinned the subordinate position of women in society. She further details the hardships in store for women, at all professional levels that attempt to combine marriage and work.
Things have not changed much, whether you are a young mother balancing work and children, or an older mother attempting to get back in, the workplace in general is not a friendly environment for mothers of all ages. De Beauvoir, who wrote about the plight of working married women, never married; it was her way of never facing that problem.
Not every woman wishes to be a mother, and it is a sensible choice, but But it is high time to recognize motherhood as one of the achievements listed on a woman’s CV.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When It Comes To Women Ambition Is Still A Dirty Word

The public argument between the two journalists Ayala Hasson and Geula Even resulted in many schadenfreude responses, especially in the social media. I saw very unpleasant sexist remarks on my Facebook page. Those reactions to the two strong women got me thinking about the instinctive negative attitude to ambitious women.
In 2008 I attended a conference on Women and Ambition in the Workplace. The conference was organized by the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies in Trinity College, Dublin in association with the Irish Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
Although the conference was devoted to ambition that word was curiously absent from the discussions. There was certain unease surrounding ambition itself and as an adjective for a woman.
Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Customer Is Always Right, Or Meaningful learning?

At a time when our Education Minister, Rabbi Shay Piron is trying to bring about change in the schools with his concept of “meaningful learning,” I have to wonder how he reconciles this lofty idea with the last incident concerning  the  suspension of the Israeli teacher  in Ashkelon.
That teacher  was suspended by her principal  after a  student had hacked into her private email, and published  in the class’ Wattsup his findings-- intimate photos of that teacher in the nude.
Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Is The Grass Really Greener? The Unbearable Lightness Of Leaving Israel

In the last couple of months, during the last war, I heard several intellectuals announce that they intend to leave Israel. The reasons as I understand them had to do with the unbearable political situation in Israel and the toxic cultural climate.
I can identify with this despondency, the current government makes it  hard to envision a change any time soon, and many of us feel angry and helpless.
Every so often when I am on the highway, stuck in traffic, I fantasize about leaving my car behind in the middle of Ayalon, and  walk away.
Please keep reading 

What’s In A Name? The Question Of Slavery And Goel Ratzon

It wasn’t that long ago that marital rape was regarded as a private matter, and was condoned and ignored by the court and by society. It took years of hard work, especially by feminists, to change the legal definition of rape so that marital rape will be prosecuted as any other kind of rape.
Earlier this week we heard that the Israeli cult leader and polygamist Goel Ratzon was found guilty of aggravated rape and other sexual offenses, but was acquitted of enslavement charges. Some people, mostly men, argue that since  Goel Ratzon is sent to prison for many years it is not that crucial that he would be convicted of enslavement. But one of his wives, Ma'ayan, upon hearing that he was acquitted of the enslavement charges, shouted: "I was in complete slavery. If the State of Israel had not released me, I would have been serving a life sentence"  (Haaretz September 8th)

Please keep reading in The Times Of Israel

Monday, September 1, 2014

TGIF Israeli Style

Teaching reading I am always  looking for articles which could engage my students and convince them to speak in English and to write. I was surprised how much they liked an opinion article about the significance of eating dinner together, especially with the family.  In that article the writer, C. J. Moore,  claims that “eating together is one of the most civilizing social events in life. It follows that eating with children should bring a socializing influence to their lives, too.”
 had been familiar with this approach, when we lived in the US we were told that having dinner together as a family would contribute to the  emotional well-being of our children and improve their social skills.
Please keep reading 

Writing As A Way Of Correcting Insults

 I heard a beautiful quote on the radio the other day. One of our major novelists Haim Be'er said that "writing is a way of correcting insults." I am not sure how he meant  it exactly, but I can think of several  options.

The first way is in fiction, where a real-life slight could turn into a triumph. If I were a  fiction writer I would  amend an old grievance which I have carried inside me for fifty years.

 In fourth grade a new boy joined our class. I had never seen a more beautiful boy; he had  big black eyes, long eyelashes and a sad face. He had  just come back from a long stay in the US, and I remember that he had a very special metal lunch box with Batman which we all coveted.

 Wanting to show off, I told that boy that I knew how to play soccer. To be honest, I really thought that I knew how to play the game since I played with my brother. The boy seemed mildly amused and invited me to play with him that afternoon at his house. I remember walking  happily to his house without a  worry. When I arrived he was waiting for me with his older brother and we started to play. What a fiasco! It transpired that I had no idea how to play soccer and his brother laughed at me. I felt insulted and humiliated.

 In fiction I could have changed the facts of this story and showed my friend and his brother my talent, agility and skill in the game. I bet that his brother would have hated to see his little brother defeated by a girl. Sadly it didn’t happen this way in real life.

As a non-fiction writer, this quote inspires me to revisit what has happened without changing the turns of  events or the outcome. Perhaps I could find some compassion in my heart for the little girl that I was. Why did such a minor incident  remain such a  powerful memory?

I am not sure whether it was the scorn my friend's brother who was several years older than us.It wasn’t that I felt bad in front of my friend; he didn’t seem to mind I believe that he was used to winning,  and after this soccer experience  we spent a lovely afternoon playing together in his house.

But in a way I felt betrayed by my own adored brother. In letting me win, my brother had somehow led me to believe that I knew the game. But what makes this insult stick? I believe that  part of it is  that I  experienced, for the first time, a feeling of being  found out to be a fraud.  But I also know that I was so offended because no one stood up for me and I felt alone; where was my brother in this hour of need?

In Hebrew, we don’t have an equivalent to the wonderful expression (and concept ) of “a list of grievances.” Writing fiction is a great way of amending past insults, and analyzing them takes off their edge. Even making  lists is an effective tool, as by grouping grievances we can ridicule their intention and reduce their intensity.