Dating & Great Sexpectations

Hi friends,

Inspired by a recent conversation, this little diddy goes out to all the singles out there…but especially the ladies. In it, I discuss dating and great sexpectations! As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Smooches & pooches, Lara’leh

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It’s a GREAT time to be a Zionist! ♥ ✡ ♥

Hi friends,

Since we last connected, I’ve decided to try something new. My written blog got away from me, so I’m pivoting into a video blog in the hopes that I’ll be able to post more frequently this way. If you want to follow me on YouTube, you can subscribe to my channel Glamour and Guts. It’s young and still coming together, but I’ll be talking about a greater range of subjects: headlines, eyelashes, love and everything in between. I hope you’ll enjoy this new incarnation.

Here’s some gutsiness to get us going. As I’ll explain, no matter what you see in the news, it’s actually a GREAT time to be a Zionist. xo

UPDATE: One of my favorite organizations, StandWithUs shared this little video and the response has been amazing. I’m so happy that all us good guys have found each other. Just goes to show Zionists rock and it IS a GREAT time to be a Zionist. :) Here’s a link to their post so you can see all the love and support we have out there.

 

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Amsterdam, Anne Frank and Us

DSCN1186Picturesque canals, charming architecture, tulips galore and waffles-to-go, Amsterdam is a beautiful place to visit. I reread The Diary of Anne Frank in anticipation of my trip. We’ve all read it (if you haven’t, do!), and clearly, the young girl’s story resonates across cultures, languages and time, as evidenced by the long, winding line outside her WWII hiding-place-turned-museum.

Every girl identifies with Anne, and I am no exception. The pictures of movie stars on her bedroom wall reminded me of my own room growing up. Her dream to become a prolific writer, I also share. But what remains aspirational about the 14-year-old Anne, was her vibrant optimism, her ability to see the sun, if only through a mirror’s reflection, and to, despite the news and growing danger, hold fast in her belief that people are good, and that good would not only come, but triumph. How many of us, much older, can boast such clarity, courage and strength, though our trials are thankfully, much less severe?

2 Takeaways
anne frankTheir Would Haves are our Opportunities

Numerous notebooks and stacks of pages lay in the museum, miraculously spared, collected and preserved. These handwritten pages became Anne’s dream-come-true. Deliberately crafted with care, I marveled over her even script and draft rewrites. She didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but she began writing anyway.

Since my visit to her Huis, Anne, and the many other Annes who don’t have museums, frequent my thoughts. Their chances to live their dreams or simply breathe fresh air were stolen. But our chances are now; their would haves are our opportunities. This takeaway has inspired the smallest moments from walking my dog, to resurrecting this blog. Long neglected goals continue to call for reasons we may not understand. We may never know the next step or for whom our work is meant; we don’t have to.

Otto FrankFramed Pictures Reframe Today

There is a photograph of Otto Frank returning to the Secret Annex after the war. Of the eight who hid there, only he survived. Chilling, in this photo, it’s as though we can see what he sees—the memories, faces and fates. I imagine my grandparents, also survivors, experienced moments like his when they returned to Hungary after the war to empty neighborhoods. And yet, from that place arose the greatest generation.

Hopefulness requires courage. The essential steps of lifting one’s eyes, trying again, building and striving to create a life, a family, a country; to unite with others, have faith, let go, and smile, all evidence that happiness is positively brave.

In Europe, every cobblestone stands witness. Now on city streets and squares, plaques stand where people stood. Were the year different, my shoes might be theirs.

DSCN1167Several co-travelers opted not to visit the Anne Frank Huis. They thought it would be too depressing. They were mistaken! The Anne Frank Huis inspired a way to vanquish whatever gloom dares darken our view! It also beckons with the promise of partnership: in converting their would haves to our opportunities, we help them live, elevate their holy souls, and engage in a level of mind-full living that ensures their memories are truly blessings, forever illuminating the everyday fortunes we might otherwise miss.

 

 

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Read “The Haj”: Understand the Tribal Mentality

The Middle East is not the West.

It sounds obvious, but this distinction evades the Western press and people, and it’s a problem because Extremists exploit this failure of understanding to advance their own nefarious agendas.
What do I mean? Westerners believe all people are good at the core. We presume that all people deep down just want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This presumption is wrong. As we are seeing in the Middle East, there are Islamic Extremists that do not revere these fair aspirations, but instead glorify death, subjugate and oppress, and silence individual pursuits, dreams and freedoms through violence, torture and murder.

That comment sounds severe to your Western sensibilities, doesn’t it? (I’m sure I’ll get some nasty-grams about it.) You can’t believe it, you won’t believe. And that’s how they get you.

Terrorists can continue apace so long as the West refuses to ignore the obvious, refuses to ignore their true nature, which they are shamelessly demonstrating over and over again. In the last few weeks alone we’ve seen: Christians persecuted and crucified, and thousands of civilians mass murdered in Iraq and Syria. We’ve seen thousands of rockets lobbed into Israel, discovered tunnels armed with tranquilizers and handcuffs, primed for mass massacre and the kidnapping of 200 civilians. Yet we still can’t concede that these people’s ideology fundamentally differs from our own. Ergo, we grant them the freedom to take away others’ freedoms because we believe in freedom. It’s twisted.

the hajTo better understand, let me recommend some summer reading. “The Haj,” a historical fiction based on over 1,000 interviews, delves deep into the tribal mentality of the Middle East and exposes, from the inside, the ideology the West is up against. It encapsulates, in detail, the early years of Jewish-and-Arab Palestine. Written from the Arab point of view, The reader sees the slippery slope of extremism. The action-packed book moves, rich with history, description, character, and some of the finest writing I’ve ever read. Uris too wrote, “The Exodus,” the famous novel and film that led us all to believe that Paul Newman was the greatest Zionist of all time. Though missed by many in my generation, I hope to bring it back to people’s attention. Understanding the Arab tribal mentality and Jihad is crucial right now.

Lest anyone try to dismiss this novel’s authenticity because Uris himself was a Jew, let me share an honest review I found on a book-review site:

“Being an Arab myself, I felt extremely sad about the misery of our race in the last century. Facing our brutal facts as Arabs is the only way to hope for a change and a better future…This book, and although it is very harsh to read, is a true representation of the story of what happened at that time. It also gives a great description of the Arab character. Although now its quite different, some villages and rural areas are still stuck in the stagnation of the past century.

 

It is highly recommended for all my Arab friends and for those who are interested in the historian and cultural knowledge of the middle east in the last century.”

We have entered an era where Israel again fights blood-libel allegations that it intentionally targets and kills women and children. Communities around the world chant “gas the Jews” at violent rallies that have ended in burning synagogues. Groups whose sole raison d’être is to destroy Israel and worldwide Jewry have bottomless funds, weapons, man-power, political legitimacy, and wide-spread support in the press. Hatred at such proportions terrifies Westerners because it is so foreign and antithetical to our basic belief system. But we must open our eyes. Our enemy is sophisticated and is relying on our naivete. 

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What can I do? 14 Ways to Help Israel Now

I can help Israel joyish how can i help what can i doIf you’re anything like me, you watch the news and want to jump into action. What can I do? How can I help? Well you CAN help and here’s how: Give your time, prayers, money or all 3!

Give Your Time

Defend Israel : You Are an Ambassador of Israel

  • Get Beyond the Choir: take 30 minutes a day to comment under articles and reply to friends online. Don’t have time to research? We did it for you. I have worked with others to create these concise talking points with supporting materials. We are always updating this site – save time, be effective!
  • Tweet for Israel: Want to tweet for Israel, but don’t have time to compose tweets? Visit this stream of pro-Israel tweets and simply click the “retweet” symbol. Tweets only live 10 minutes, you can tweet often and repeat yourself.
  • Follow and share the posts of: IsraelUnderFire (@IsraelUnderFire), StandWithUs (@StandWithUs), FIDF (@FollowFIDF), and IDF Spokesperson (@IDFspokesperson). Follow trustworthy news sources. Get the word out.
  • Use these hashtags in your posts for maximum visibility: #IsraelUnderFire, #ProtectiveEdge, #KidsAreNotTargets, #IDF, #HamasTerror, #FreeGazaFromHamas, #HumanShields, #IronyDome, #PrayForIsrael, #IsraelUnderAttack. Use these hashtags to reach the anti-Israel community: #GazaUnderFire, #AsymmetricWarfare, #PrayforGaza, #GazaUnderAttack.

Sign These Petitions

Give Your Prayers

Give Your Money

Donate to these Grassroots Efforts

  • The IDF’s elite 6646 Paratroopers Unit is about to go into Gaza and needs certain items to be more effective in their dangerous mission. Help raise the $20,000 our boys need.
  • Deliver Underwear to the IDF soldiers. Why? Health & hygiene matter to our fighters, especially in war. It’s hot on the Gaza border and though funny, this is what they’ve requested. Kits include: boxers, a clean tee, army-regulation socks, a body towel, and a package of fresh wipes. Donate here.
  • Feed our soldiers! Army rations fuel but don’t inspire – want to show your love the Jewish way – through food? Deliver pizza to our platoons on the Gaza border.
  • Help needy Israeli families in the south: cover the credit lines of needy families in grocery stores, buy food vouchers for needy soldiers who serve in the IDF’s Search & Rescue Unit of the Homefront Command of the IDF. This unit is dispatched every time a rocket hits a target in Israel. Many soldiers serving in this unit come from under-privileged families in the South.

Donate to these Important Organizations

  • StandWithUs – Creating an army of advocates, SWU is responsible for much of the powerful social media work you’ve been seeing online. Support this vital organization.
  • Magen David Adom – I am personally involved with this effort to donate an ambulance to Magen David Adom NOW. Help Israel save lives by strengthening our first responders.
  • One Family rehabilitates, reintegrates and rebuilds the lives of Israel’s thousands of victims of terror attacks—those who have been bereaved, maimed, or suffer from post-trauma as a result of terror attacks.

We are one. Our unity is our superpower. Do your part, show your love!

 

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Dance in the Face of Hate

Get ready for dancing! We need it, don’t we? What other people besides the Jews have the audacious spirit to sing and dance in the face of hate and terrorism? This instinct to unite in song and dance contrasts starkly with Israel’s enemies’ crude compulsions. In case you haven’t heard about them, here’s a handy-dandy Hate Fest Round-Up:

GERMANY: The anti-Semitic genie left the bottle as Islamists and neo-Nazis (because birds of feather, etc, etc) united in Berlin and Frankfurt to protest, hurl stones at police officers, and denounce Jews as sub-human animals. [Monday, June 14]

UNITED STATES: Anti-Israel protesters in Seattle screamed anti-Israel slogans and blood libels, claiming Jews kill and eat gentile babies and drink their blood. (More ironic because Kashrut laws forbid Jews to eat any animal blood.) Their unbridled, anti-Semitic spectacle climaxed with a call to destroy the Jewish state, and demonstrated again that anti-Zionism is indeed just anti-Semitism repackaged. So to be clear, they accused Israel of genocide, but in the same breath called for the extermination of the Jewish state. Clearly their continuity person was out to lunch. [Monday, June 14]

No, this isn't in the Middle East. This is Paris, France.
No, this isn’t in the Middle East. This is Paris, France.

FRANCE: A peaceful protest in Paris turned violent when anti-Israel mobs chanting anti-Semitic slogans cornered 200 Jews in a synagogue and hurled stones at them. At least 3 Jews wound up in the hospital as a result.  [Sunday, June 13] This is one of a series of anti-Semitic attacks in France recently that include firebombings and stabbings.

UNITED STATES: Pro-Israel demonstrators in Boston were swarmed by anti-Israel protestors, told to “drop dead,”  and called “Jesus killers.” Some were physically assaulted. [Sunday, June 13]

UNITED STATES: A beautiful pro-Israel rally in Los Angeles turned ugly when four violent Muslims with sticks beat any Jews in their path before police intervened. [Sunday, June 13]

No, this isn't the Middle East, it's London, England.
No, this isn’t the Middle East, it’s London, England.

ENGLAND: Hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators brought London traffic to a halt by swarming the streets, scaling a double-decker bus, and chanting slanderous accusations against Israel. [Saturday, June 12]

MOROCCO: A popular rabbi in Casablanca, Rabbi Moshe Ohayon was beaten on Shabbat on his way to Friday-night services. The Arab attacker said it was “revenge for Gaza” and committed the assault in broad daylight. Passersby did not heed the rabbi’s calls for help. The Rabbi’s nose and ribs were broken. [Friday, June 11]

AUSTRALIA: A former IDF soldier in Melbourne was attacked from behind, beaten and cut by a knife by several Arabs who called him a “Jewish dog.” [Thursday, June 10]

UNITED STATES: Hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators in New York City turned their protest into an all-out hate fest by chanting genocidal threats against the Jews. [Thursday, June 10]

UNITED STATES: 300 anti-Israel protesters surrounded 30 peaceful, pro-Israel demonstrators in San Francisco, calling for another intifada and the destruction of the Jewish state.  [Monday, June 7]

AND MORE: Thousands in Japan, Malaysia, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Norway and Indonesia marched in solidarity with Hamas, burning Israeli flags along the way. A popular hashtag trending in anti-Israel circles is #HitlerWasRight.

Think there’s a growing harassment of Jews? Have we entered a time when freedom lovers exercising their freedom of speech and religion risk assault? Will this improve as Islamic-supremacists continue to topple regimes, seize power and weapons, silence dissidents, and populate the West? You decide.

In the face of hatred, the Jewish people sing of Hashem, unity and miracles and let their song drown out the vicious chants of their depraved enemies.

This hatred is what Israel faces. And yet, her people choose to dance. They dance on the front line. They dance at the rallies. They sing of Hashem, unity and miracles and let their song drown out the vicious chants of their depraved enemies.

There’s a lot of darkness out there. But we are the dancers, the singers, the light. So, let’s get to it, ’cause that’s what we do!

My New Favorite Video – IDF soldiers & Breslov Chassids Dance, Face Their Mission in High Spirits with Emunah (Faith)! ♥

Our Brave IDF Soldiers Sing Their Way to the Kotel

Even During War, IDF Soldiers Sing of Faith & Miracles

L.A. Pro-Israel Rally – No Incitement or Hate Speech Here, Only Love

A Beautiful People – We Sing and Dance to Silence Hate

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You are an Ambassador, Like It or Not

PrimeMinister'sOffice_LaraBerman_You are an ambassador_joyishWhen I started this blog, I intended to keep it apolitical. Obviously, I love Israel, but I thought I’d leave it at that – spread the ♥ ahava ♥ without getting into the politics of it all. I wanted my blog to be light and fun-to-read-no-matter-what for all kinds of Jews and Judeophiles.

While those objectives remain true, I’ve chucked my apolitical plan. You’ve probably noticed by my last couple of posts.

Get Talkin’

Part of living Joyishly is being part of something bigger than yourself. So when Israel is misrepresented, demonized or delegitimized, we as Jews, the people of Israel, defend her.

Granted, some Jews would rather not. They’re uncomfortable with their inherent affiliation with Israel, and find the duty to defend her burdensome.

Their inner dialogue goes something like this: “Ooh, politics: touchy, muddy, controversial, polarizing, complex, ug! I really don’t know enough to say anything. I’m not even sure we’re in the right. I can’t answer questions. I’d probably get my facts wrong, or get too impassioned. People might dislike me; it would create tension. Plus, is it really appropriate? Work isn’t the right place, and I have so many different types of friends on Facebook, that’s the wrong place too. I’ll just distance myself from it all and talk about…the World Cup!”

Remaining silent is how good people become accomplices. When we don’t correct misinformation, we allow false narratives to take root. We risk them becoming THE narrative, and policy follows public opinion.

We’ve all had our moments. But, remaining silent is how good people become accomplices. When we don’t correct misinformation, we allow false narratives to take root. We risk them becoming THE narrative, and policy follows public opinion.

You Are an Ambassador, Like It or Not

Growing up in Texas, I was the first Jew some of my friends had ever met in person. To them, I represented all Jews. Even now in Los Angeles, I am the first Israeli some of my co-workers have gotten to know well. To them, I represent all Israelis. It means, I need to know my facts and represent well, because although I didn’t ask to be an ambassador of the Jewish people, or the State of Israel, I am. And not just me, all of us.

This “burden” is actually an awesome opportunity. We can give the conflict a face and use our relationships to spread the truth. Your friends feel comfortable with you, let them know you welcome their questions about the conflict.

Quit Yer Whining

Our family in Israel is at war. Reserves have been called up. Their lives are on the line. The least we can do in the diaspora, is defend them in the court of public opinion. Don’t let the media shame or confuse you, Israel’s wartime morality and fairness is unprecedented. The world should know about it.

It’s an Honor to Defend Ourselves

billmaher_joyish-israelIt’s an honor to defend ourselves, a privilege we haven’t always had. We all must use our resources to help Israel now. If your resource is your mouth, your blog, your money or social media, use it and use it well! Wear your Magen David necklace as a sign of unity. Maybe it will invite questions, and you can share Israel’s story.

My fellow ambassadors, may we each embrace our role as representatives of the Jewish people and proudly share our nation’s bravery, strength, restraint and fairness. Am Israel Chai!

 

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Pray for Israel, Pray for Victory

Prayer is not enough. Please volunteer, speak up, and share facts.

But then, in your quiet, private moments, yes, pray for Israel. Use your own words or those below. With all your heart, pray for the safety of the Israel Defense Forces, every single Israeli, and the State of Israel. It makes a difference.

And yes, pray for victory. All out victory. Who cares about public opinion when our people are being targeted for death? Pray that Israel’s leaders are blessed with wisdom, our soldiers with bravery and skill, and that our people win, succeed and triumph over terror! Because when it comes to the Middle East, the bitter reality is that Israel can never afford to lose a war.

Emblem_of_IsraelPrayer for the State of Israel

Our Father in Heaven, Rock and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the first manifestation of the approach of our redemption. Shield it with Your loving kindness, envelop it in Your peace, and bestow Your light and truth upon its leaders, ministers, and advisers, and grace them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our holy land, grant them deliverance, and adorn them in a mantle of victory. Ordain peace in the land and grant its inhabitants eternal happiness.
Lead them, swiftly and upright, to Your city Zion and to Jerusalem, the abode of Your Name, as is written in the Torah of Your servant Moses: “Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you. And the Lord your God will bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers.” Draw our hearts together to revere and venerate Your name and to observe all the precepts of Your Torah, and send us quickly the Messiah son of David, agent of Your vindication, to redeem those who await Your deliverance.
Manifest yourself in the splendor of Your boldness before the eyes of all inhabitants of Your world, and may everyone endowed with a soul affirm that the Lord, God of Israel, is king and his dominion is absolute. Amen forevermore.

israelprayer

IDFPrayer for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)

He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God, from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.
May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.
May He lead our enemies under our soldiers’ sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is the Lord your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.

idfprayer

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In Honor Eyal, Naftali and Gilad: Murdered by Terrorists

3 boys

We cannot recognize light without dark.
We cannot recognize warmth without cold.
We cannot recognize good without evil.
Yesterday, we recognized them all.

Like so many others, my heart broke reading about the tragic deaths of Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaer, the 3 Israeli teens murdered by terrorists simply because they were Jews. I mourned with their families and with Am Israel around the world. My Facebook feed filled and spilled with mourning, scrolling from trios of candles to trios of candles.

As the brave IDF soldiers searched day and night for the kidnapped boys, pictures began surfacing showing Palestinians celebrating the abduction. Average, everyday citizens passed out sweets in the streets and posed for photos holding three fingers in the air; representing the 3 hostages. The photos gloated and endorsed the terrorists’ actions. The most disturbing photos showed children making the 3-finger sign. The PA (Fatah) ordered shopkeepers to destroy their security surveillance videos, lest the IDF use them to find the kidnapped children.

The search lasted 18 days and ended when IDF soldiers found the 3 boys’ bodies abandoned in a West Bank ditch. They’d been shot to death shortly after their abduction. Palestinian mobs attacked the Israeli ambulances brought to transport their lifeless bodies.

Over those 18 days of waiting, Jews around the world united in solidarity. They formed vigils, created petitions, prayed, supported, raised awareness via social media, and maintained hope, using whatever resources they had to bring back our boys and hold the perpetrators accountable. And when the boys were found yesterday, all world Jewry mourned and grew resolute together.

golda meir quoteLet no one say the conflict between Arabs and Jews revolves around a “land dispute.” The conflict arises from hate, from a culture of hate that breeds more hate, that indoctrinates its people to believe that terrorism pays personally and nationally, and only respects strength. In other words, the conflict comes from good, old-fashioned antisemitism, the kind that inspires ordinary people to embrace terrorism and become murderers. After all, the two Hamas members suspected of kidnapping the boys are likely just a few years older than the boys themselves. But hatred isn’t born, it’s taught. We know this: the mother of one of the suspects said she’d be proud if her son were responsible.

Many media outlets ignored the kidnapping, others denied it was a kidnapping at all. Speaking the only language her enemies understand, Israel will send the message this week that terror will not be tolerated. These same media outlets will report this news, critically.

We cannot recognize light without dark.
We cannot recognize warmth without cold.
We cannot recognize good without evil.
Yesterday, we recognized them all.

How strange to cry for people you’ve never met. Yet that’s what we did, because these boys were family, not strangers.

May their memories forever be blessing. May their families be comforted among the mourners of Zion. Baruch Dayan haEmet.

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Israel Facts: Trusted Middle East News Outlets

Israel Facts-Trusted Middle East News OutletsSeeing the news lately, you probably wish you could do more to support Israel. Well, you can, and it’s not that hard!

To help Israel: know your facts.

I personally believe that Israel’s enemies’ manipulatively twist and turn the facts, using our liberal, Western values against us. But, education is the way to peace. When you become an ambassador of the truth, you can correct misinformation when you hear it. Armed with facts, you can educate others and stymie false narratives. There is the war on the ground and the war of hearts and minds. We can all be soldiers in Israel’s PR battle and defend her from ignorance, half-truths and lies.

Hi, Remember me? I know, it’s been a while. Several whirlwind weeks took me from California to Israel to Jordan to Israel to Georgia and back again. What’s better than a global adventure?

But, reality stung when I returned to read the heartbreaking news of 3 Israeli teens kidnapped by terrorists, rocket fire from Syria & Gaza landing in Israeli cities, and terrifying terrorist advances in Iraq. However unsettling, I kept hunting for more information; the ticker tape underlining news programs never offering sufficient detail.

To quell my thirst I headed to the outlets below, my trusted sources for Middle East news. Let them also help you better navigate our landscape of misinformation.

News Aggregators:

1. Daily Alert
If you read nothing else, read this. The Daily Alert curates the day’s must-know news concerning Israel and world Jewry. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and The Conference of Presidents, responsible for the daily digest, includes top news and think tank articles, plus a few choice op-eds. I consider this mandatory reading. You can subscribe for free here.

News Outlets:

1. The Times of Israel
When rockets land in Israel, too many international news outlets skip it. “Again?” they shrug, letting the sirens and terror fade into unrecorded history. No wonder so many people view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of context. TOI reports what too many papers omit, the whole story.

2. The Jerusalem Post
Although the ads can get tiresome, JPost gets the job done. I especially enjoy their analysis pieces and pay particular attention to columnists Hillel Neuer, Caroline Glick, Daniel Gordis, Alan Dershowitz, Sarah Honig and Shmuley Boteach.

3. The Wall Street Journal
The WSJ is my American paper of choice. I get the weekend version and read the first section from cover-to-cover. Unlike never-ending online news, once you finish section 1, you can feel you’ve gotten both the international and domestic “essentials.”

News Watch Dogs:
As I alluded to before, mainstream news outlets’ Middle Eastern reports too often cast Israel as the villain, omitting essential parts of the story, sensationalizing or outright misrepresenting events on the ground. Thank goodness for these organizations that keep news outlets – the official recorders of history – accountable to the facts.

1. Honest Reporting: Defending Israel from Media Bias
2. CAMERA: Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America

News Bloggers:
If you can’t handle sarcasm, avoid these sites. The bloggers will often introduce articles they care to share in their own voices, editorializing along the way. I don’t mind. I regularly find hard-to-find news articles and op-eds on their sites, gathered from local news channels and papers across Europe, the Middle East and America.

1. Elder of Ziyon (EoZ) – the blog’s name satirizes the anti-Semitic propaganda book, “The Protocols of the Elder of Zion.”
2. Israel Matzav – Translation: The Israeli Situation.
3. Israpundit – Quite professional, more like an e-zine than a blog.

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Israel Nail Art

I’m late to the nail art party but making up for lost time. Till now, it never captured my imagination. Dotty flowers and flourishes aren’t my style. But recently, I’ve come across manicure masterpieces! These 10 baby canvases can provide a portable place of expression.

Israel Nail Art JoyishSo given my upcoming trip to Israel, I wanted to indulge my latest curiosity. I’m not the first to try this theme. For my take, I tried not to be too literal.

I went with blue nails, featured some silver sparkles, and for the accent nail, dark blue stripes over white, as a nautical nod to the Mediterranean. The Magen David gives a flag effect and the heart on the other hand says, “I ♥ Israel.” Israel nail art: a stylish way to wear Zion Pride.

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Jerusalem: There’s No Place Like Home

yom yerushalayim joyish

I’m headed to Israel this weekend. Eeeeee! I can hardly think about anything else. My countdown has begun.

I start my trip in Jerusalem, a city I was privileged to live in several years ago. Although spiritual, I’m not the most religious person you’ve ever met, particularly by Jerusalem standards. And honestly, when I imagined myself in Israel, I always thought I’d be in Tel Aviv with my tush in the Mediterranean as much as possible! But when it came time to go, I asked those who’d gone before me: what’s it like?

“Tel Aviv is amaaaaaaazing!” they’d gush, clearly rooting for that choice. “The beaches, the nightlife—it’s like the best of New York meets the best of Los Angeles.”

“Wow,” I’d reply, not really needing to be sold. “And Jerusalem? What’s it like?”

“Well…,” they’d ponder. “There’s no place like Jerusalem.”

I’d lived in New York. I’d lived in LA. So, much to my own surprise, I wound up in Jerusalem of gold.

Being in Jerusalem is like being in Hashem’s living room. You’re so close to Him, you can feel His heartbeat and along with it, the heartbeat of the Jewish people. It’s unexplainable, irrational, and exemplified by this story: A few years ago, I was a madricha (counselor) on a Birthright trip. I brought twenty-or-so 20-somethings to Israel for the first time. Though Jewish by birth, most of them were otherwise disconnected and non-practicing. The tour delighted them of course, who doesn’t love to travel? But then Friday night rolled around.

We were at the Kotel (the Wailing Wall or Western Wall) for Kabbalat Shabbat. As the sun set, Jews from around the world gathered to pray and sing and dance. They didn’t know each other or each other’s languages, but they knew the same songs and sang them together, arms around one another, stranger beside sabra, soldiers beside religious, Jews beside Jews. The reverence of the day combined with the passion of the songs and the thunder of the dance reached high and deep and beyond. The holiness was palpable.

Too soon, it was time to go. I stood at the back waiting for my group. One after another, the participants returned, their eyes brimming with tears. “I don’t know why I’m crying,” they said. “I just, I was there, and suddenly this!” For a surprisingly large number of them, that evening was the highlight of their trip and the most powerful experience of their lives to date. And it wasn’t because they had strong religious upbringings.

Israel speaks to our souls, and our souls respond.

Yesterday was Yom Yerushalayim or Jerusalem Day, which celebrates the reunification of the capital of Israel. Before the Six Day War, Jerusalem was split, and Jews were forbidden to access their holiest sites. Now under Israeli sovereignty all religions’ holy sites are protected and visitors of all denominations can visit and pray in peace. Incredible moments, like the one above, happen regularly. That’s the power of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is at the heart of Zionism, after all, Zion is the ancient name for Jerusalem. What is Zionism without Zion? What is the Torah without Jerusalem?  Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times in the Tanach (Hebrew bible), we pray facing Jerusalem, next year in Jerusalem! We break the glass on our wedding days to remember the temple in Jerusalem, and if I forget you, O’ Jerusalem, תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי…may my right hand lose its skill!

“Without Jerusalem, the land of Israel is as a body without a soul.”
— Elhanan Leib Lewinsky, Hebrew writer & Zionist leader

I am so grateful to have lived in and to be returning to Yerushalayim where the stones that witnessed history’s most epic events shine gold under its people Israel’s flags; to return to the heart of the Jewish people, and to spend time with Hashem in His home, our home. What’s better than going home?

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