Saturday, November 29, 2014

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures: Women Wage Peace

It was just beautiful, earlier this month hundreds of Australian protesters literally buried their head in the sand in Bondi Beach, in a demonstration over climate change inaction. The purpose of this dramatic protest was to send a message to the prime minister and the G20 leaders ahead of the 2014 summit in Brisbane.

It is unclear whether such a demonstration will bring about the needed changes, but I cannot think of a better way to illustrate blindness and to protest against stupidity.
A similar symbolic act was chosen to mark the launching of a new Israeli movement Women Wage Peace. Last Tuesday more than 1000 women boarded  “a train for peace” from Tel Aviv to Sderot to protest against the irresponsibility of Israeli leaders whose “leadership train” has derailed and it is speedily heading for destruction of Jews and Arabs alike.

Please keep reading in The Times Of Israel

Monday, November 24, 2014

Israelis At The Thanksgiving Dinner Or Strange Food And Football

Rabbi David Kalb wrote in Ha’aretz today that Jewish people love Thanksgiving: “Jews and Thanksgiving: A Love Story”.  He argues that "There should be no surprise in the way Jews gravitated toward Thanksgiving. It all boils down to two common denominators between our religious holidays and this American one."
Although giving thanks is an essential part of Jewish religion and eating turkey on Thanksgiving means that Jews can participate in the celebratory dinner, my own experience with the holiday does not necessarily bring to mind similarities between Jewish and American traditions, quite the contrary.
We spent our first real Thanksgiving as a family at the home of a colleague of my husband. They taught together at a university in a small Midwestern town.
Please keep reading in The Times Of Israel

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Crimes and Punishments or We Need Brave Leaders

Is there a way to turn back the clock?  Following the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the three Israeli youth last June I wrote an essay proposing to regard the killing as an atrocious crime. I feared that treating it as a national tragedy would lead to another war, it did.
Today, with yet another horrible murder, more than ever, we desperately need  sane and brave leaders on both sides to stop the madness. It was done before,  Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat proclaimed:  "Now it is time for all of us to show civil courage, in order to proclaim to our people and to others: no more war, no more bloodshed, no more bereavement, peace unto you” .. "Let there be no war or bloodshed between Arabs and Israelis. Let there be no more suffering or denial of rights. Let there be no more despair or loss of faith. Let no mother lament the loss of her child:" The  Camp David Accords on March 26, 1979.
Please read more in The Times Of Israel

Monday, November 17, 2014

Five Years From Now: Some questions About Retirement

On the wall of a Facebook Feminist group a graduate student asked the members to fill in a questionnaire for her research on women’s career. Looking at some of the standard questions about setting and achieving goals (Where do you see yourself in 5 years? how would you get there? etc), I  felt a pang, clearly this questionnaire was not intended for me. Having resigned my position as a lecturer at a college earlier this fall, I am now retired.
But then I had thought some more about the questionnaire and reached the conclusion that even when we no longer have a career, it is important to ask questions. They could be especially helpful for people like me who are about to make a change and embark on a new phase in  life.
Please keep reading in The Times Of Israel

Saturday, November 15, 2014

God's Helper Or The Choice Of Not Being A Mother

Today in Israel Hayom (Israel Today), I read an article about a mother who regretted the choice she had made, over forty years ago, to become a mother. The article has brought about many different reactions. Women feel strongly about this issue, but until recently we hardly ever read or heard similar opinions expressed in Israel.
In April 2013 I was in Britain on the day when Sir Robert Geoffrey Edwards (1925 –2013) died. He was one of the creators of the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) technique, and Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks spoke on the radio (BBC 4) about the man and his invention.
This is the essay which I wrote as a reaction to Sacks' eulogy.
Rabbi Sacks argued that for the Jewish people IVF is regarded as a great help in God’s work.
I appreciate the significance of IVF and the huge difference it made in enabling women, who wanted to, to become mothers. However, it is exactly this kind of attitude which could bring unhappiness to women who either are unable to conceive, regardless of the procedure, or, God forbid, choose not to have children.
Israel is a child-centered society and in our country the Ministry of Health finances four IVF treatments to enable the birth of a first and second child in a family, and after that it allows eight more in the following two years.
With such endorsement why would any woman end up childless? This approach assumes that given a choice, all women would want to become a mother.
While I am grateful for the support of the Israeli government, which provides an equal chance to every woman, regardless of her economic situation, it clearly demonstrates the priorities of our society and its leaders. I often feel that Israel is more willing to invest in babies yet to be born than to help children who are already here and need great deal of financial help in order to thrive.
Since today many women postpone motherhood to a later stage,  IVF is especially critical. For those women who are eager to have a child the emotional and physical toll of the procedure is a small price to pay and they do it readily.
But if the treatment fails, many Israeli women are reluctant to  give up on, what they believe to be, their only chance for happiness. Others feel pressure to keep on trying, often harming their health and putting a strain on the relationship with their partner.
Still, even in Israel, like in the rest of the world, some women prefer to remain childless. They have, no doubt, seriously considered the matter and decided that motherhood was not for them.
Yet, for reasons which have to do with our religion, the Holocaust, and the demographics in the Middle East, this choice seems unacceptable. In Israel the decision to have a child ceases to be a private matter but becomes a patriotic duty. Choosing not to have a child is almost regarded as a betrayal.
Public leaders like Rabbi Jonathan Sacks should be more sensitive and  careful when they speak. Not every woman is able to or wishes to have a child. Can’t we just respect her decision and make sure that we let her feel like she has made the right choice for her?

The essay first appeared in The Times Of Israel

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Girls' Sense Of Humor

Today on the wall of a well-known religious figure and a Facebook personality I read that he was delighted to announce that after having three lovely sketches—his daughters, finally the real masterpiece --his son was born. That son would be the heir to the throne of his kingdom.
This is, of course, a happy occasion, and it is his personal post, but having several thousand friends and followers makes him almost a public figure.
I was disappointed to discover that out of the hundreds of likes and comments no one criticized the unfortunate choice of words.
Please keep reading in The Times Of Israel

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

“You Send Your Son To Welding School:” The Debate Over Vocational Education

In the late 1930s my 16 year old uncle wanted to join a kibbutz, but my grandmother demanded that he first study a vocation which would help him succeed in his new life. My uncle applied to the Max Fein Vocational School and became a welder.  Many years later he told me how proud he felt to be able to bring with him to the Kibbutz a useful gift of a vocation.
This event took place about ten years prior to Israel’s independence, and it was clear that people like my uncle, graduates of vocational schools, were exactly what our country needed.
Please keep reading in The Times Of Israel