18 September 2006

As Promised...

A few words about the Sochnut Yehudit, aka the Jewish Agency.
According to our friend, Wikipedia, there have been two Jewish Agencies in the past 100 years. The first, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, was established in 1923, while Palestine was under the British Mandate (1917-1948). It was a Zionist organization, formed with the intention of facilitating Jewish immigration to Palestine and acting as a quasi-governmental organization which served to represent the Jewish community in Palestine in its dealings with the British and other world governments. The Agency was officially recognized by the British in 1929. Its military wing, the Haganah, was at the time an illegal militia; after the state's establishment in 1948, it became the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), known by its acronym Tzahal (צה"ל) in Israel. Israel was established on May 14, 1948. The Jewish Agency became the government of Israel, and David Ben Gurion, the leader of the J.A., became its first Prime Minister. Israel's main airport, near Tel Aviv, is named after him.

The second Jewish Agency, the Jewish Agency of Israel, was created in 1948 "to facilitate economic development and the absorption of immigrants". Apparently, the Jewish Agency is the brunt of many jokes in Israel about its immobile and incompetent bureaucracy. Funny, I thought the bureaucracy jokes were about Israel in general...

Relevant terms defined:
Yehudit: Hebrew for Jewish (fem.)
Tzahal/IDF: Israeli Defense Forces, i.e. the Israeli Army

Info provided courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Agency
Jewish Agency's homepage: www.jewishagency.org

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15 September 2006

Officially Official...No Really!

It's official. I am officially approved for aliyah. Yay me! (**Applause**)
My shaliach called me on Tuesday evening to give me the good news. I only remember the first part of the conversation; it went something like this:
"Hello?" (groggy from having spent the entire previous day puking my guts out and having lost five pounds as a result).
"Noa?" (My shaliach's name. Although in America, we generally think of Noa(h) as being a boy's name, in Israel the boy's name is pronounced Noach,
with the guttural "ch" sound at the end. Noa, with a soft, open ending is a girl's name.
"Yes! You're all approved, ready to go".
**SIGH*** "That's great!"
"I am so excited for you!"
I don't remember any more of the conversation because she then proceeded to tell me the rest of what I needed to do in great detail, after which I asked very pointedly, "Is there any way you could just email or fax these instructions to me?" I was banking on this, seeing how I hadn't written anything she had said down and remembered it not at all. "Of course, of course...By the way (after fifteen minutes of telling me what to do), is this a good time?"

So, just in case you are curious, I thought I'd provide a quick recap of the process and what I have left to do.
Apparently, when one moves to Israel and obtains citizenship, there are a few paths one can take. I opted to go through the Jewish Agency for Israel (sochnut In Hebrew). I'll post more about that agency later.
Last winter, I contacted the San Francisco office of the Jewish Agency, requested a packet for making aliyah and sent it in at the beginning of the summer. To complete the packet, I had to fill out a questionnaire, a health declaration (I guess they want to know that I'm not going to die with them having to foot the bill), a visa application, a record of my entries into Israel and when I left as well (with the relevant pages of my passport copied and the copies included), and a few other things, like a signed declaration of my intent to make aliyah and some not too flattering passport pictures.
My shaliach approved me, confirming to me that my conservative-less-that-orthodox-conversion really was enough, even though I most likely will not be considered Jewish enough by the Rabbinic courts, which are controlled by the Orthodox. No matter. Then, just last week Israel approved me, which is what she called to tell me. That makes it official.
So what's left to do? Well, I already confirmed my flight. I leave from LAX on the 29th of October. Now, once I get a packet in the mail from Noa with visa documents, I will send in to the consulate for my visa.
That's it! Sometimes it seems like a really simple, uncomplicated process. Sometimes...

Relevant terms defined:
Aliyah: immigrating to Israel (literally: ascent). Used in the following context: "I am hoping to make aliyah at the end of October". In Israel, however, because of the verb you say: "I am doing aliyah".
Sochnut: agency, more specifically referring to the Jewish Agency for Israel. Pronounced SOH-CH-NUTE. Remember that guttural ch, in the back of your throat.
Shaliach: Emissary or agent, as defined in my dictionary. My shaliach, Noa, has been the one processing my paperwork, helping me get my flight and my visa, and literally being my go-between with Israel, helping make my move as smooth as possible. Pronounced: SHAH-LEE-AHCH. Again, the ch, in the back of your throat.

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06 September 2006


Dad sent me this today. It's worth a read.

"Dennis Miller is a comedian who has a show called Dennis Miller Live on HBO.
He is not Jewish.
He recently said the following about the Mideast situation:

'A brief overview of the situation is always valuable, so as a service to all Americans who still don't get it, I now offer you the story of the Middle East in just a few paragraphs, which is all you really need.

Here we go:
The Palestinians want their own country. There's just one thing about that: There are no Palestinians. It's a made up word. Israel was called Palestine for two thousand years. Like "Wiccan," "Palestinian" sounds ancient but is really a modern invention.
Before the Israelis won the land in the 1967 war, Gaza was owned by Egypt, the West Bank was owned by Jordan, and there were no "Palestinians."

As soon as the Jews took over and started growing oranges as big as basketballs, what do you know, say hello to the "Palestinians," weeping for their deep bond with their lost "land" and "nation."

So for the sake of honesty, let's not use the word "Palestinian" anymore to describe these delightful folks, who dance for joy at our deaths, until someone points out they're being taped.
Instead, let's call them what they are: "Other Arabs Who Can't Accomplish Anything In Life And Would Rather Wrap Themselves In The Seductive Melodrama Of Eternal Struggle And Death."
I know that's a bit unwieldy to expect to see on CNN. How about this, then: "Adjacent Jew-Haters."

Okay, so the Adjacent Jew-Haters want their own country. Oops, just one more thing. No, they don't.
They could've had their own country any time in the last thirty years, especially two years ago at Camp David but if you have your own country, you have to have traffic lights and garbage trucks and Chambers of Commerce, and, worse, you actually have to figure out some way to make a living.

That's no fun. No, they want what all the other Jew-Haters in the region want: Israel.
They also want a big pile of dead Jews, of course -- that's where the real fun is -- but mostly they want Israel.

Why? For one thing, trying to destroy Israel - or "The Zionist Entity" as their textbooks call it --for the last fifty years, has allowed the rulers of Arab countries to divert the attention of their own people away from the fact that they're the blue-ribbon most illiterate, poorest, and tribally backward on God's Earth, and if you've ever been around God's Earth . . . you know that's really saying something.
It makes me roll my eyes every time one of our pundits waxes poetic about the great history and culture of the Muslim Middle East. Unless I'm missing something, the Arabs haven't given anything to the world since Algebra, and, by the way, thanks a hell of a lot for that one.

Chew this around & spit it out: 500 million Arabs; 5 million Jews. Think of all the Arab countries as a football field, and Israel as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it. And now these same folks swear that, if Israel gives them half of that pack of matches, everyone will be pals.. Really? Wow, what neat news. Hey, but what about the string of wars to obliterate the tiny country and the constant din of rabid blood oaths to drive every Jew into the sea?

Oh, that? We were just kidding.

My friend Kevin Rooney made a gorgeous point the other day: Just reverse the Numbers. Imagine 500 million Jews and 5 million Arabs. I was stunned at the simple brilliance of it.

Can anyone picture the Jews strapping belts of razor blades and dynamite to themselves?
Of course not.
Or marshaling every fiber and force at their disposal for generations to drive a tiny Arab State into the sea?
Or dancing for joy at the murder of innocents?
Or spreading and believing horrible lies about the Arabs baking their bread with the blood of children?

No, as you know, left to themselves in a world of peace, the worst Jews would ever do to people is debate them to death.

Mr. Bush, God bless him, is walking a tightrope. I understand that, with vital operations in Iraq and others, it's in our interest, as Americans, to try to stabilize our Arab allies as much as possible, and, after all, that can't be much harder than stabilizing a roomful of super models who've just had their drugs taken away.
However, in any big-picture strategy, there's always a danger of losing moral weight. We've already lost some.
After September 11th, our president told us and the world he was going to root out all terrorists and the countries that supported them.


Then the Israelis, after months and months of having the equivalent of an Oklahoma City every week (and then every day), start to do the same thing we did, and we tell them to show restraint.
If America were being attacked with an Oklahoma City every day, we would all very shortly be screaming for the administration to just be done with it and kill everything south of the Mediterranean and east of the Jordan.

Please feel free to pass this along to your friends
Walk in peace! Be Happy! Have a wonderful life!'

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