Expectations

Can we talk for a moment about unrealistic expectations?

Whenever I do a simple job search, I find a laundry list of expectations: the degrees and certifications you should have, the years of experience you need to have, the very specific talents and abilities you absolutely must have.

Many of the job postings I read are the size of a novel, and for entry level positions! Who are they looking to hire — God? It certainly seems like it.

Yes, my complaints can certainly be spun as the quibbling of a ne’er-do-well, or the incessant whining of an unemployed “millennial” who is now crying and imploring the government for assistance. But I am neither of those types. I can’t accurately identify myself as a “type.” I’m not sure anyone should.

While I am definitely not saying that I am qualified to be a doctor, or a software engineer, or even a social media manager, I am genuinely wondering is whether we, as a society, have overemphasized the so-called requirements for being even remotely considered, and forgotten that many people can, in fact, be trained and taught (and oftentimes are) to learn on the job. What happened to people training as an apprentice or assistant with no experience whatsoever?

Jobs like those do exist. But they are few and far between. And we are increasingly forced to have to do curriculum vitae acrobatics and empty our wallets to gain more certifications, degrees, and licenses.

Don’t even get me started on the push for higher education and the racket that college has become. I say this, naturally, having already spent two years in the college system, and I return in the fall of 2017 to finish my half empty degree. But more on that later.

What are your thoughts?

Expectations

Modernity

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What kind of world do we live in? Where sentiment is an emotion and a love letter is a text. When morals are subjective and change according to how one feels. Where likes and dislikes are black and white and we swipe right to find not a soulmate, but a one night stand. When sex becomes less taboo than kissing, and murdering a child in the womb is a woman’s choice. Where one fears to speak the truth or stand up for justice and readily embraces lies. When positive thought is exchanged for philosophy and exercise is the new Enlightenment. Where bloodshed and killing are only evil with select groups of people. When quiet is exchanged for music and booze and soul-searching is traded for soul-selling. Where the obscene is commonplace but anything sacred is ridiculed. When instant gratification is sought and relationships tossed away without further thought.

What world is this that we live in?

 

Modernity

Exile

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“So do Jews hate Jesus?” a coworker asked me the other week. The question itself wasn’t particularly disturbing; I knew it was asked out of genuine curiosity and naivety. But the truly unsettling part was the remembrance that I was in exile. A stranger in a strange land.

I had gone from living in Israel – the Holy Land – the Promised Land – to living in מצרים, Egypt, the land of slavery. Yet, rather like the initial purpose of the descent of Joseph’s family to Egypt in search of food and bounty, I had come here willingly seeking much of the same. In my case, it was also for the sake of family.

It is a self-imposed exile. And with it comes the necessary evils that accompany all migrations, though my case is a strange one, for I find myself in my old “homeland,” the land that I was born and raised in.

I am reminded of a book I read some years ago called Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut. The protagonist describes feeling torn between two nations and somehow, simultaneously, nation-less. I, too, feel torn between the two countries of my heart – America and Israel. It’s hard to say whether I will ever truly feel comfortable in one place over the other. In Israel, I lack family. In America, I lack home. All these reflections have me recalling some thoughts I had while living in Israel: How could any Jew voluntarily live in exile, when Israel, the land of our ancestors, exists in the present?

It seems that, once again, God has given me the opportunity to answer my own – and perhaps others’ – question. It is self-imposed exile, yes – a seemingly ludicrous and nonsensical choice. But like Joseph’s family discovered, there is a reality that must be grasped, a truth which lies in a sometimes fickle reason: we have no other choice but to pursue greener pastures.

Exile

Hiatus

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I return to Machshevot after a months-long hiatus which came about after an unexpected sequence of events.  One of these unexpected events was my sudden migration from Israel, the country of my soul, to America, the land of my heart, which despite its many flaws still never fails to mesmerize me.

This post will not be a tirade against the media – though granted, the mass media always deserves some lambasting. This will be a very brief discussion on why I left Israel, meant for those readers, however few in number they may be, who are curious about my decision to leave Eretz Yisrael, which still is and always will be a place I call home.

Let me start by referencing an interesting article which was released some months back, around the time my husband and I decided to move back to the United States, titled “Sure you can make it in Israel – if your parents help, say economists.” Unfortunately this article presents a truth which hits too close to home. Although my reasons for leaving Israel were primarily familial in nature, the economic opportunities or lack thereof proved to be a significant hindrance to a normal work-life. Living in an urbanized area in Israel, which is a must if you do not own a car, is equivalent to living in some of the most expensive metropolises in the world. Yet the wages are disproportionately low and work, in general, is hard to come by unless you are in certain specific fields (technology, science, etc.).

Nevertheless, my motivation for leaving depended on one fact which would most likely never change: the distance from family. At approximately 5,900 miles from my parents on the East Coast and approximately 7,400 miles from my husband’s parents on the West Coast, there was little to no plausibility of frequent visits and vacations on either of our parts. And, as it does for most normal folk, finances naturally play a role in it. Who can afford several round trip tickets between Israel and the United States, even only once per year?! The sacrifice of leaving Israel was monumental, but the imminent sacrifice of time with loved ones was far greater.

That said, I will deeply cherish the time I spent in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The experience I gained there will stay with me forever, and I pray to see it once again soon.

“If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.” (Psalm 137:5)

Hiatus

Paris

In light of the Paris terror attacks, I would like to point out a few hypocrisies.

While Israel has been facing terror attacks for nearly two months, nobody bats an eye. Obama (and his administration), possibly the worst president in the history of the United States, though a good representative of popular opinion, blames both sides, equating the Israelis to the Palestinians, believing both are capable of acts of terrorism (so these attacks on innocent civilians are justified, because both Israelis and Palestinians have been involved in terrorist acts…?).

On the other hand, the Paris terror attacks, perpetrated by people whom he does not even wish to think about or label (Muslim terrorists, are you surprised?), are unequivocally branded by Obama as “an attack on all humanity” and an “outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.”

The world reaches out in support of France, posting pictures of an Eiffel tower peace sign, writing about how terrible and awful that innocent civilians are being gunned down by people who are most certainly terrorists and have no justification whatsoever.

What if I turned it around, and said that both sides – the French and the Muslim terrorists – were equally responsible? What if Obama called on both parties to stop inciting violence? What if he did not condemn the terrorism very strongly, instead hinting that in some way, these attacks are justified?

I think there would be a mutiny on his hands if he ever said anything like that about almost any country – except Israel.

Israel has been suffering from terror attacks almost daily for two months – and probably many more that are either prevented or go unreported – and these include stabbings, shootings, firebombing, and rock throwing, to name a few. But there is no mass swelling of support for Israel. Because in the sick, twisted mind of popular and public opinion, the attacks on Israelis are justified.

While Israel has certainly been very lucky, and has avoided mass casualties, that is due to a combination of the Divine, ordinary but vigilant citizens who have become accustomed to a lifetime of terrorism, and the Israel Defense Forces. Perhaps if there was a confluence of all the attacks of the Stabbing Intifada on a one or two day period, the world would reach out in support of Israel and condemn the terrorism. It’s unlikely, but possible. However, I think the more likely scenario, the one which is already taking place, is either total silence or uproar against the killing of Palestinians during this time period. Meanwhile, these same people who say nothing or scream their support for Palestine even when innocent civilians are targeted, weep over the tragedy in France. These same people look on in shock and anger at the Paris attacks without so much as blinking at a headline about Israel’s Stabbing Intifada.

Here we are, well into November, and the State of Israel has been suffering from attacks for nearly two months. Where is the outcry against this?

So before you post your Eiffel tower, and before you weep about the civilians in Paris, ask yourself – are you truly concerned about the innocent lives which have been lost? Or are you operating out of an agenda, perhaps subconsciously, believing at heart that some lives are more significant than others? Do you believe that the French are completely innocent, while the Israelis deserve to have chaos and terror wreaked upon them? Will you plainly label this as terrorism, perhaps even go so far as to say that radical Islam is to blame, but simultaneously call for justice for the Palestinians?

“Only crime and the criminal…confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to core.” Hannah Arendt

UPDATE: As it turns out this, this was more strongly linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict than I had previously realized. The Bataclan Club was specifically targeted due to Jewish owners and a history of having Pro-Israel events.

Paris

Rage

For quite a long time now, I’ve felt a wild fury growing in me. I’m not proud of it. I don’t live for anger. And yes, I know it’s unhealthy. But this anger is burning with such insistence that I cannot simply fold it up and put it away neatly into a little shelf in the corner. If, at the very least, my anger was directed at something that was not such a hot topic, I could let it go. If, at the very least, people who knew nothing on the subject kept their mouths shut, I could let it slide.

But even the world’s most supreme morons have something to say on the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When I read the news, and the headlines blare: “Palestinian X shot after XYZ,” I feel that rage simmering beneath my skin (did you not hear the part where Palestinian X was throwing firebombs at cars?). When I hear about Pro-Israel students and professors on college campuses throughout the USA being silenced and drowned out by the outcry against them, that wrath jumbles my thoughts and all I want to do is scream wordlessly at those warmongering savages who won’t come out directly and say that they wish for the end of the State of Israel, by any means necessary.

Yet despite their illogical approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I know that it is important, despite my anger, to combat such insanity with facts, logic, and truth. I don’t delude myself into thinking that the majority of people actually listen. The majority is a mob, moving and acting only with the crowd, rejecting reason and favoring impulse. Take each person by him or herself and you will find that they are much more open and rational-minded than they would be in a group.

So I say this to each and every individual person: for God’s sake, or for Truth’s sake, or for whomever’s sake you wish: if you have an opinion, fine. But why are you so desperately trying to drown out the other opinion?

Why do you refuse to listen to facts? Or reason?

Why do you perpetuate the cycle of violence and hatred, instead of seeking to educate yourself and others?

Why do you allow yourself to be manipulated by age-old propaganda that has been recycled over and over again in order to effect the kind of change which in retrospect you will probably regret to have supported?

As the familiar catchphrase goes, “You are part of the problem.”

Rage

Pigua

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Pigua, or פגוע, is the Hebrew word for terror attack. We all hope we never have to use this word, but the reality of the past few weeks has resulted in its too-frequent usage. The word itself evokes a sense of dread, and then the attack itself must be contended with.

I remember reading stories of people who witnessed 9/11 from surrounding areas, as well as the testimonies of those in the thick of it. There’s a sense of awe – can this really be happening? – and then all you can do is weep, until the tears are spent and then you’re left with the thoughts of either people you know or the victims and their families.

Now I wasn’t here in Israel for the Second Intifada, and while I’m not sure that this is officially the Third Intifada, I do know that this is very, very bad, even by Israel’s standards. I have heard the word “pigua” volleyed back and forth most days of the week, I have seen the looks on fellow public transport passengers’ faces when Arabs board, I have felt the transformative effect of fear on all of us. We do not normally look at Arabs this way, and we do not normally check twice over our shoulders, but current circumstances necessitate it. There is a fear lingering in the atmosphere that cannot be so easily dismissed – people die everyday in car accidents, right? Is there really a difference, when you can lose your life in an instant?

The difference is that someone is forcibly trying to take your life from you. The difference is that you don’t spend every single day worrying about being in a car accident, but you do worry that the man who is walking behind you, looking angry, might pull out a knife and stab you. The difference is that you weep when you get home, with both relief that you successfully avoided death, and sorrow at the attacks.

Last week was disturbing and upsetting due to my proximity to several terror attacks; first, the attack at Ammunition Hill by a male and female Arab; second, the attack in Pisgat Ze’ev by 13 and 15 year old Arabs; third, the multiple attacks on Tuesday, October 13 in Armon Hanetziv and the City Center. The first and second terror attacks were closer to me than the third; I had been in Ammunition Hill and Pisgat Ze’ev within minutes of the attacks. Tuesday’s attacks were further away, but nothing in Jerusalem is very far. After Tuesday’s attacks, I had my first experience calling friends who lived in Armon Hanetziv to make sure they were alright (thank God, they were).

My normal schedule is as follows: wake up around 6 AM, leave around 7:30 for Jerusalem’s City Center, and have class from 8:30 AM to 12:45 PM. Most days I return directly home, usually arriving by 2 PM. Today, I just so happened to have an appointment, after which I ran some errands – all in all, not an extraordinary day, but an average one in an adult’s life.

My timing couldn’t have been more uncanny. After getting onto an uncomfortably crowded bus, we are stopped on the road right near my yishuv (Hebrew word for settlement) in the Shomron (“West Bank”). Suddenly I hear the word “pigua” over and over again. Really? Another attack? My mind is racing. Then the messages and calls start. “Are you okay?” “I heard there was an attack right near where you live.” I quickly check online to see the news: a female IDF soldier was stabbed in the neck by a terrorist who may be wearing a bomb vest. The bomb disposal unit is on its way. Meanwhile, the highway is blocked off and we are sitting on the roundabout with a growing number of cars and busses. The sound of honking, chattering, and yelling fill the air. My Hebrew is decent, but I can’t make sense of all the chaos.

We’ve become almost numb to the invasion of emotions which might normally rattle a person. Instead of crying, or screaming, or panicking, we do our best to fill the space with words. We all call or answer the calls of family members and friends, struggling to piece information together. Whatever known details of the story are repeated over and over. I put my thoughts on mute as I watch the policemen and soldiers hopping out of cars a few meters away. I sit. I wait.

Finally, we are moving – rerouted through a road that is normally blocked off. We drive uphill. Make a turn. Pass an Arab village. I see the yishuv to my right. A sigh of relief escapes me. The bus makes its stops as normal. It’s almost as if nothing happened – but we’re all looking at each other. Kids are huddling together as they walk to their houses. All I can think of is getting to the safety and comfort of my home.

As soon as the bus reaches my stop, I’m racing out the door and heading home. I reach my front door. Unlock it and open it. Everything is normal here, thank God. I unload my backpack and take this moment to sit down – and to process.

But can I really process this? I have too many different feelings. I am livid and full of sorrow, knowing that this took place right near my home. I am unsettled, disturbed, and yet at ease to be home, and thankful that I am alive. Any one of these attacks could have happened to me. And all of these attacks have been close to home – but this one was too close.

May we never hear the word pigua again.

Pigua