Tag Archives: heroes

Izzy and Friends

Yes, this is going to be another “Dang Sheila gets to meet cool people and hear interesting speakers!” kind of column. Because I do.

I recently attended a Friends of the IDF event, with the IDF being Israeli Defense Forces if you hadn’t guessed that.

The evening started out with a lovely welcome from the organizer and the master of ceremonies. I believe I heard this was the first event like this that the organizer had set up, and she did an amazing job, so I’m hoping it won’t be the last. We then sang The Star Spangled Banner and HaTikvah, the national anthems for both America and Israel, of course!

Then it was movie time. As we just commemorated the 50 years of the reunification of Jerusalem they had a wonderful video to show us, and the three soldiers in the iconic photo have been touring the U.S. and talking to audiences.

The Kotel, Jerusalem 1967

Sadly, we did not get to hear their talk, but we did get to hear two other real life heroes that night.

We next saw a video on Friends of the IDF and it talked about all the different programs they offer. They are certainly a lot more involved than I would have realized. The little movie did a segment on each program. Wikipedia has info on the programs as well as the FIDF website. I admit to only knowing about a couple of the programs, the Lone Soldier of course, and the wounded veterans. They do a lot more than that, and impact lives of the soldiers and their families in a multitude of ways. For each segment they showed there would be an IDF soldier to tell how that program had affected their life. It certainly did a good job of putting a face and a human to the programs.

We then heard our first hero of the night, First Sergeant Keren Shlomi. Keren said she did not have a typical childhood, and I would imagine she’s right. She was born in Israel as I recall, but her family fractured and she ended up living in Canada with her her Mom. She said that she missed Israel, and felt like there was a hole in her heart. She got to go back to Israel on a trip and then she knew what was making the hole in her heart and what would fill it. Keren went back as often as she could, and when she was of age she decided to move back and serve in the IDF. Up on the projection screen flashed a picture of Keren wearing sunglasses and holding an Israeli flag. Her smile said it all, in Hebrew and in English, she was home and whole. She served in the first co-ed combat unit which was on the Egyptian -Israeli border at the time. She became a sharpshooter and eventually moved into Intelligence. Over time she became completely disconnected from her family, but she says she never felt alone. She had her IDF family, and the Friends of the IDF also were supportive. After her army career she worked three jobs, baby sitter, and courthouse security were among them. To be honest, if it were me? I could actually only do one of those, and it wouldn’t be babysitting. I’ve done it, I know. Keren wanted to go to college, she had a dream and if she had to work three jobs, she was willing to do it. She figured within a few years she’d have saved up enough money to go to college. But then someone told her about the FIDF impact scholarship and she applied. She won one of the scholarships. She gives 130 hours of community service during every year of schooling so not only does the scholarship impact her life, she impacts the lives of others, 130 hours a year worth! It seems like a great program and Keren certainly is a good ambassador for it.

Our next speaker was First Sergeant Izzy Ezagui, and his dog. Nope, not kidding. Though Izzy did all the talking. Why you ask did First Sergeant Izzy need a dog on the platform with him? Well, I’m so glad you asked, let me tell you!

American born Izzy began his talk in moderately thickly accented English. As I sat there listening I kind of marveled to myself that I had never noticed how much an Israeli accent sounds like a French accent, and how had I never noticed it before when I talked to people? Sorry Izzy. After a few lines he asked us how he did with his fake Israeli accent, that he had practiced it for a long time for us. He got applause for that. Then he told us about his friend on the stage with him, his service dog. He says people ask him why he has a service dog. He says he tells them that women are heavy, the dog helps him pick them up. I can believe it, the dog was adorable, and better behaved than many children. So why does First Sergeant Izzy need a service dog?

First Sergeant Izzy Ezagui

Izzy said he had originally planned to make Aliyah to Israel as a Lone Soldier, but his family messed that up for him by making Aliyah as well. So once in Israel, his family lived in Jerusalem and Izzy began his IDF service.

One Shabbat Izzy’s Orthodox Commander called, so Izzy knew it wasn’t going to be good. They were being called up, and Operation Cast Lead began in response to about 80 rockets a day being fired into cities in Israel, with kindergartens and civilian areas being targeted. This time as far south as Beer Sheva, this was before the Iron Dome was in place. As far as I’m concerned, that could have prompted a massive bomb in the middle of Gaza, but then I adore Beer Sheva, and do not claim to be impartial. In two weeks Hamass had fired 500 rockets into Israel. Just part of our tax dollars at work. So the IDF ground forces entered Gaza during stage II of the operation. During that excursion a Captain in his brigade was killed. He had sustained a neck wound, but held it shut and continued to give orders to his men in an effort to save their lives, and he succeed in that, losing is own life in the process. Izzy’s company was going to be sent in to retrieve the Captain’s body. Izzy said he now face one of the most terrifying times to date of his IDF service. He didn’t know what to do. It seems Izzy had told his Mother that he was being sent to the Lebanon border (which was quiet at the time). When he talked to her he told her they had him in the kitchen doing dishes since they were rookies. So, now does he tell her where he really is before they go in? What if something happens and she had no warning? Should he tell her? Should he not? As he was sitting there pondering his dilemma, a mortar shell landed and ripped his arm off. The medics responded quickly and gave him some morphine for his pain. Then they loaded him up in the ambulance. The ambulance crew looked down sympathetically and asked if he had been given morphine for his pain. He earnestly replied no, he hadn’t. They have him some. They took him to the helicopter that was going to fly him to Saroka in Beer Sheva. He was loaded up into the helicopter for his flight to Beer Sheva, the air ambulance crew being a sympathetic lot gently inquired if he’d been given any morphine. No, no he hadn’t. They gave him some. He said he landed in Beer Sheva half loopy. Honestly, I’m surprised he even had a fourth to loop. But he had enough presence of mind to realize he stood a very real chance of dying. Because when they landed he realized there was a news crew there. A news crew with a camera, and his mother thought he was on the Lebanon border doing the dishes. A slow painful death awaited him, no doubt. Izzy then did what any combat wise veteran of the IDF would do who hoped to survive. Despite having massive quantities of morphine in his system, he more or less thought on his feet and threw a blanket over his head so when they took him into Saroka it would buy him enough time to talk to his mom before she saw him being wheeled into a hospital in Beer Sheva, no where near Lebanon.

Izzy says recovery was slow, and not at all simple. Recovery involved learning to ties shoes and open bottles, and dealing with phantom pain.

But as Comrade X commented on another column I did recently, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Izzy is a Tibetan Mastiff.

Tibetan Mastiff

Izzy was determined to remain in the IDF. So his recovery also involved learning to jump 7 foot walls, load an unjam a rifle, all with one arm, Izzy remains a sharpshooter still. His last training exercise involved hiking from one live fire exercise to the next. For 30 hours. The training is a week and a half long. One year when they trained on Hanukkah, on the fourth night Izzy borrowed rifles. He removed their slings and stuck them in the ground, upright. He then placed a candle in the barrel and lit them creating a makeshift Hanukkah menorah. Then he had a friend take his picture with it,which went viral. He said he couldn’t really lie his way out of it, there aren’t any other one armed soldiers in the IDF. He said the higher ups were not happy, not happy at all, but he was not worried about being arrested. He said in fact, he doesn’t ever worry about being arrested. Because it’s impossible for anyone to handcuff him, so he is pretty much golden.

Izzy’s Hanukkiyah

His final assignment was leading a squad of 13 men. Amazing, just amazing. It’s like Comrade X says, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight…

Izzy is now a motivational speaker and has a book coming out next March. If he is as riveting to read as he is to listen to, this is going to be a wonderful book!

We all face battles in our lives, some health related, some personal, some financial, some spiritual, but face them we will. It’s harder when we face more than one kind at once, but perhaps when you think about people like Gal Hirsch and Izzy you can look and up ask for what you need be it courage, strength, stamina, or whatever, and with G-d’s help, continue to fight another day.

I’m sure this is what Izzy would tell us, Live Like A Warrior

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A Partisan Passes

nyberg-iii-flag

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, August 10, 2016, Mike Vanderboegh passed away. In recent years, he battled cancer as well as tyranny.

MikeVanderboegh

Longtime militia and ‘Patriot’ leader Mike Vanderboegh dies at 64
Mike Vanderboegh, a longtime leader in the “Patriot” movement, died Wednesday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 64. Vanderboegh also was founder of the “Three Percenters,” who vow to use force if necessary to resist what they see as oppressive gun-control laws.

I say ‘partisan,’ although Mike was not formally associated with The Zelman Partisans. Nevertheless, we were fellow freedom travelers. He could be darned controversial, but he recognized the threat of gun owner control and victim disarmament. He backed up his words with actions. I believe that his smuggling of standard capacity magazines to states banning useful tools against tyrants was far more effective than many people realize: In terms of logistics support,the magazines meant little except to a few hard-pressed individual who benefitted, but it demonstrated — oh so well — how magazine bans are pointless. A lesson we should have learned from Prohibition and the War on (Some) Drugs. Even when he announced a smuggling run, the powers that would be failed to intercept a shipment.

As parent, Mike also performed well. He raised a son who not only stands up as his own man, but has stood up to continue his father’s work. That is a legacy of which any person should be proud.

לנצח לזכור, לנצח החמיץ.

Requiesce in pace, Mike.

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My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

I’m of the generation that grew up watching John Wayne and Roy Rogers, and greatly admired both men. After I read a few of the books written by Dale Evans Rogers, Roy’s wife, I admired him even more. They were straight shooting, honest men. Hard working, with guts and integrity. And that was just in their private lives, let alone their persona in the movies. As you can tell, I’m from a time gone by.

I guess what got me to thinking about heroes was a facebook meme I saw a couple days ago. It had a picture of Batman and said “My boss told me to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Now I’m sitting in Human Resources at a disciplinary meeting dressed as Batman.” I was telling a girlfriend about it and said I wanted to find one that said I’m sitting in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Judah Maccabee. She seemed a little astonished. She said Judah’s battles were in many arenas. Spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological. She felt that was quite a chunk to chew. I agree.

The night before I had watched a 1982 movie called “The Wall” about the Warsaw ghetto, and how the resistance came to be. Well, at least Hollywood style. One of the leaders of the resistance turned out to be (in the movie anyway) a woman named Rachel. She was one of the first to insist to the resistance the cattle cars weren’t going to the Ukraine. She was the first to insist they were going to have to be responsible for defending themselves. She was the one that was teaching them how to shoot a pistol. Sadly there is not enough back-story in the movie to know how she acquired such knowledge, but her directions were pretty good. But as best as I can tell, she was just a nice woman who was enjoying a nice Jewish life with her family when the world went crazy.

Judah was the same, he and his family were having a nice Jewish life in Modin. Well, as nice as you can have when Antiochus has decided your religion will not be allowed to exist and you must abandon it and now accept HIS religion. Oh, and if you follow yours, you will die.

My girlfriend pointed out some of my thought processes are a tad bit different than a lot of peoples. Ok, maybe so. So I asked her who HER heroes are? She is quite a bit younger than I am.

Her choices were Corrie Ten Boom, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nathan Hale, Patrick Henry and all the founding fathers. For quite similar reasons. Corrie? A nice old lady building and fixing watches, well, until the world went cray-cray. Laura? She and her family were some of the early pioneers. Their lives were not easy and they went through many difficult and trying times. But they stuck it out to help settle their land and have nice lives. The founding fathers? Well, they were farmers and simple men. Men with families just going about their daily lives. Yet, when the need for them to rise to the challenge in the case of freedom and liberty, they did. She summed it up with ordinary, everyday people doing extraordinary things. People with regular lives becoming amazing heroes. Ordinary people overcoming extraordinary odds.

I asked a relative of mine who her heroes were. She is five years younger than I am. Hers? Winston Churchill, “Iron” Margaret Thatcher, and sigh, Colin Powell. All for the same reason, they were people who took unpopular stances when it was necessary to do the right thing, because it was the right thing.

A friend of mine a couple years older? Leonard Bernstein. Because he stepped in and did such a marvelous job when the chips were down. I kind of caught her off guard with the question as our whole conversation up to that point had been a completely different topic.

My point is this, all of the people I surveyed are within about 15 years of each other. We have similar reasons for picking our heroes.

What are children taught today are heroes in the public schools? There are pages on Michael Jordan, paragraph on George Washington? Really. The media tells us it is a football player who is “courageous” enough to tell the world he is “gay”. Ok, takes courage, but is the result the same as Nathan Hale? A man has a sex change operation? Courage? Um, well, ok. But actually I think his/her saying on public television that he/she is a Republican took more. It reminds me of collage in the 60s. All these kids dressed alike, bathing as often, chanting the same slogans and protesting for the same causes claiming they are “bucking the system” and never seeing the irony.

Today we have celebrate “diversity”, as long as you go along with what the liberal political correctness tells you IS diversity. If not? You will be attacked in the media as a hater, your bank account subject to IRS seizure and the tolerant left will try to shut your business down. We must be diverse, as long as we are diverse the way it’s “allowed”. Ahh, what was it Hitler said about giving him a generation? I’m sure professor Bill Ayers said similar though. Just a guess.

So now I will sound like the old person I am. I will bemoan that today the main topic is who will win American Idol, what are the Kardashians wearing and where is Paris Hilton, while they may not know there is a Paris, France.

Perhaps it is just me, perhaps it is the rainy day, but I can not help but wonder, for how little can the title “Hero” be purchased today? Will people be the same today as they were in the meeting in the film clip from “The Wall”, they delayed fighting evil, because they did not recognize evil for what it was, and if they began to they were unable to admit to it. Almost every hero listed above, no matter who selected them, recognized a threat to their area and addressed it.

From 1st Maccabees 3:17

Now when Seron, a prince of the army of Syria, heard say that Judas had gathered unto him a multitude and company of the faithful to go out with him is to war ; he said, I will get me a name and honor in the kingdom ; for I will go fight with Judas and them that are with him, who despise the king’s commandment. So he made him ready to go up, and there went with him a mighty host of the ungodly to help him, and to be avenged of the children of Israel.

And when he came near to the going up of Beth-horon, Judas went forth to meet him with a small company: who, when they saw the host coming to meet them, said unto Judas, How shall we be able, being so few, to fight against so great a multitude and so strong, seeing we arc ready to faint with fasting all this day ? Unto whom Judas answered.

It is no hard matter for many to be shut up in the hands of a few; and with the God of heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great multitude, or a small company: for the victory of battle standeth not in the multitude of an host; but strength cometh from heaven. They come against us in much pride and iniquity to destroy us, and our wives and children, and to spoil us but we fight for our lives and our laws. Wherefore the Lord himself will overthrow lo them before our face and as for you, be ye not afraid of them.

Now as soon as he had left off speaking, he leapt suddenly upon them, and so Seron and his host was overthrown before him. And they pursued them from the going down of Beth-horon unto the plain, where were slain about eight hundred men of them ; and the residue fled into the land of the Philistines.

Then began the fear of Judas and his brethren, and an exceeding great dread, to fall upon the nations.

Judah Maccabee Meme
Judah Maccabee Meme

So who are YOUR heroes, and why?

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HaHaganah Museum

The next museum I will share with you is the HaHaganah museum in Tel Aviv. It was originally the meeting place of HaHaganah, because the building where the museum resides is the former home of Eliyahu Golomb, one of the founders of HaHaganah. Many an important meeting took place there. The topics would have ranged from how to get more Jewish refugees into Israel to defense of the settlements. The meetings held in the house were secret and they would have been conducted from1930-1945. In 1954 the building was sold to an entrepreneur and plans were made to demolish the building. Former members of the Haganah found out and intervened. They wanted the irreplaceable house built in 1923 turned into a museum. Said entrepreneur agreed. I guess anyone would. Who wants to argue with a bunch of ticked off Haganah. I suppose the owner didn’t want to mess with them. They got their museum.

HaHaganah Museum
HaHaganah Museum

HaHaganah was the evolution of Jewish Defense forces. The first group formed was Bar-Giora, named for Simon Bar Giora one of the leaders of the revolt against Rome. Meeting for the first time on September 28, 1907 in Ytizhak Ben-|Zvi’s apartment they set their goal. It was settle the land and guard it from Arabs. Their motto was

“In fire and blood did Judea fall; in blood and  fire Judea shall rise.”

This was also one of the mottoes of Jewish defenders during the Russian pogroms. Members had to have a years worth of farming experience as well to be in the Bar-Giora.

The Bar-Giora became the HaShomer in April 1909. HaShomer meant the Watchman. The HaShomer was larger and more organized than the Bar-Giora. The HaShomer set it’s goal to provide organized defense for all of the Jews living in “Palestine”. One of the first challenges they faced was lack of weapons, due to lack of the necessary funds. They finally obtained a loan & the necessary weapons were purchased and distributed. Many of the new owners refused to be separated from their new weapons even for a moment. They soon adopted the dress and customs of the local Bedouins, Druze and Circassians. As well as advancing from being units on foot to horseback. This is always a good thing to my way of thinking. Another challenge the HaShomer faced was shortage of ammunition. It was expensive and hard to procure. This led to secret production centers being set up. The HaShomer were quite effective in their duties, despite the fact at no time was there ever more than 100 members. In 1920 the HaShomer were disbanded to become HaHaganah. Just a quick note here, some people at work asked my opinion on a “Hosmer”. I had no idea what they were talking about. Travel broadens your knowledge base. I now know they probably wanted to know what I thought about the HaShomer! I think they were amazing!

HaShomer
HaShomer

In June 1920 HaHaganah (The Defense) came into being. Initially a loose group, the Arab riots of 1929 changed it’s nature. It changed from a militia to a mature military body. HaHaganah was independent of paying locals to be watchmen nor did they depend on foreign recognition. Though the British Security Forces did work with it to form a civilian militia. The British were mostly pro-Arab and anti-Zionist. At times they urged the Arabs to attack the Jewish settlers. The Arabs soon discovered they could control the immigration policies of the British by rioting. At times the British would work with the Arabs. The Arabs would riot and the British would withdraw their troops & the Jewish police leaving the Jews at the tender mercies of the rioting Arabs. There were many incidences where the casualty rate would have been much, much higher if not for HaHaganah. The British, in general, were proving to be about as good a friends to the new yishuv settlers as they were to the Irish about that time frame.

But even the British get a surprise once in a while. Charles Orde Wingate was just such a surprise. Wingate was born to a religious Christian family & firmly believed in the Bible. Therefore he also firmly believed that the Jewish people belonged in Israel, and he did everything possible to make that happen. He was a talented horseman, who had also studied Arabic and Semitic culture. In 1936 he earned the rank of Captain and the intelligence officer was transferred to Israel later that year.

When he arrived the Arabs were regularly attacking the British & the Jews. Wingate sized up the situation and formed S.N.S. or special night squads comprised mostly of HaHaganah. The were effective as offensive units as well as defensive. They could pre-empt as well as resist attacks and were very effective at helping the yishuv settlers. Therefore the S.N.S. was disliked by Arabs & British. The Yishuv called him “ha-yedid” The friend. Bet he was glad he had learned to speak Hebrew then! For Charles Orde Wingate it was first, last and always about the Jews belonging in Israel and being safe there. He was the perfect man, in the perfect place at the perfect time. Therefore in 1939 the Brits transferred him out. His passport was stamped with a restriction that he was not allowed to re-enter the country. You can’t make this stuff up. His influence lived on though in the people he had trained that went on to become heads of Palmach and later the IDF.

One heart wrenching incident that HaHaganah was unable to stop was the helpless settlers in the Hebron Massacre. The HaHaganah had gone to Hebron to offer their protection, but since the local Sephardic Jews had lived in peace with their Arabic neighbors for years they were concerned that the presence of HaHaganah could irritate the situation. The Haganah were sent away by the ONE British Policeman who had been recruited from the Black & Tans. The terror didn’t end even after they made it to The Beit Romano police station. The level of trust in the British to protect them, and the Arabs not to attack them was way too high, and the cost was very dear. There were stories of Arabs that acted to save the Jews, hiding them in their basements and cellars and defending them with their swords.

When the new settlers wanted to fight back, they had another conundrum. They were facing the bigger and well armed British army and their buddies with whom they also shared arms, The Arab Legion. One of the answers was the Davidka. Not an incredibly accurate weapon, it was loud and tended to scare the heck out of it’s targets.

Yes, a real Davidka
Yes, a real Davidka
Davidka Plaque
Davidka Plaque

Yes indeed! That is a real Davidka!

On May 26th 1948 David Ben-Gurion dissolved HaHaganah, and the other defensive groups to form the IDF.

Take away thoughts from HaHaganah museum: If you are going to trust your life and that of your family to someone, make VERY sure they are worthy it. Some mistakes can not be made up.

If you are going to defend yourself against a government that has no interest in your survival and is siding with your enemies? Weapons, effective weapons and lots of them are a must.

There may be people that were not born of your group that will fight harder for your group than some natural born members. Charles Orde Wingate was just such an incredible man, a G-d given gift to Israel and her new settlers.

Availability of weapons and ammunition is critical.
Availability of weapons and ammunition is critical.

The cost of re-inventing the wheel would be even more astronomical this time. We don’t need to do that. Attitudes are a big key in survival.

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Profiles in Courage-updated

One of the museums we visited was the Etzel museum in Tel Aviv. That monthly pass really is a good deal. I still have a couple days left on it, I keep contemplating popping back over there to just add a bit to my story, but I guess I won’t. There is more than one Etzel museum in Tel Aviv and this one was named for Amichai (Gidi) Paiglin.

This is one of those things that at the time seemed like a good idea, and seemed like it would be simple. I’d just make a few notes on the people and topics that really struck me and I wanted to share with our readers and then supplement with info from the net and put in a few links. That’s not how this turned out. What seemed to me, like something that would certainly have a page on Wikipedia, or I could find information “somewhere” on the web, there is nothing but a barren wasteland of info. At least for my first part, which is going to have to be done only from my notes and memory. Which at times is a barren wasteland in and of itself.

Ten days before the State of Israel was declared by David Ben-Gurion (whom I like less all the time) was the last day of a truce. The British were going to be pulling out, and The Irgun had decided to capture Jaffa. The battle had been pretty fierce and there were a many lives lost. In the area of of town where our story takes place the Irgun thought that they had an area where it would be safe for the women to bed down for the night, and that by the next morning they would finish the operation. That probably seemed like a good idea at the time as well. It didn’t work out the way it was planned either. The Arabs managed to sneak past the Etzal during the night and were in the parts of the town where most of the women were.

Marion Aharoni was one of the two women in the minaret who woke up to the sound of Arabic voices the next morning and realized that there were enough of them that the forces in that part of the town wouldn’t be able to hold it. Apparently communications had already been disrupted, and so Marion told the other gal to try to get to headquarters and advise them of the situation. In the meantime headquarters had become aware of what was happening and was trying to sort out their resources and their people to figure out how to best deal with the situation at hand. One of the people in charge of a unit was Ruth Moritz, I believe I have her code name down as Dvora. Ruth was amazing, she was a beautiful woman, I think, and had shown a lot of command skill. Her boyfriend Avaham Canaaite had been killed at the battle of Yafo (Jaffa). Ruth was near headquarters when the other lady finally arrived and informed them of the situation. Headquarters informed Ruth they had talked to their people in that area and no one was left in the minaret. Ruth said she was going to head over there anyway to make sure Marion got out. Headquarters told her no. Ruth said she was going and for everyone else who had legs to get out of there now. Headquarters advised Ruth she should go see to her unit and make sure they were all ready to roll, either evacuate or fight. Ruth told them she would just go check the minaret herself and make sure no one was left behind to face the Arab mob alone. And so she went. If she met fighters along the way, she advised them to get out. She made it to the minaret where Marion was still holed up waiting for orders. Not that there was a thing she could have done. By the time Ruth made it there the Arab mobs were very close. And there were a lot of them. And so to avoid falling into the hands of the Arab mobs they chose to jump from the minaret. Many Arabs at that time, as now, have the same unfortunate goal and tendency to slaughter Jews when possible. No one really knew what happened to the women. After two years a mass grave was found with the bones of two women and three men. I believe it was four years later that they finally found out what had happened.

Another update: We knew Ruth had incredible courage to go back and try to get out Marion who was in her company because she felt she was responsible for Marion. But something that is in the video that I had forgotten is Marion’s incredible courage. Marion was still in that tower because she had not heard the command to retreat. She heard the Arab mobs, she knew they were close. But she stayed and held her position because she had not heard the retreat command. What kind of incredible courage would that take? These were two amazing, smart, strong, courageous women. They deserve to have their names known and remembered outside of Israel.

The view of the minaret I think they jumped from was visible from my “office”.

View from my "office"
View from my “office”

And the evening we walked home from Yafo to Tel Aviv we walked by what I believe is the tower they jumped from.

The minaret
The minaret

The other thing that was striking to me was the Altalena. Yes, of course I knew about the Altalena, the ship. I did not know that was the name Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote under in Russian newspapers though. The other thing was the date. I was at this Etzel museum on 1 June. 1 June 1948 was the day the Irgun, Hagana, and Lehi were all to have been disbanded and incorporated into the newly formed IDF. The cliff notes version of this is the Altalena was a ship bound for Israel carrying fighters and much needed weapons to the Irgun. Timing was an issue, and David Ben-Gurion, was aware the ship was coming in and basically sold the Irgun and Menachem Begin out. The IDF was ordered to attack the Altalena if they wouldn’t turn over all the weapons to the new IDF. That did not happen, and a firefight broke out between the IDF and the Irgun. Menachem Begin headed for the Altalena in a rowboat under fire from the IDF. He made it to the ship and they sailed for Tel Aviv where there were more IDF forces. Ben-Gurion ordered the ship sunk on the high seas by the new Israeli air force before it reached Tel Aviv.

Heiman Shamir Deputy Commander of the Air Force, tried to convince non-Jewish pilot volunteers to attack the ship. However, three pilots refused to participate in the mission, one of them saying, “You can kiss my foot. I did not lose four friends and fly 10,000 miles in order to bomb Jews.”

I told a Rabbi once, not everything that wasn’t born Jewish is an enemy of Jews. These three pilots would nicely prove this point.

In the end, Jews fired on Jews, and the Altalena was sunk despite having raised a white flag on Begin’s orders as he attempted to prevent a civil war.

Take-a-way thoughts of mine. We know the name of the shooter in the church in South Carolina, we know the name of several famous gangsters in America’s history, and possibly some names of famous Israelis. Certainly Ben-Gurion and Begin. While I was at the museum some groups of young soldiers were coming through. They were to study at the museum as part of the class apparently. In fact one room we were unable to access. It was a room where perhaps there was a movie you could view, but it was being used for a party of some sort. But these student soldiers study the people, the events and the history. And it matters to some of them, and perhaps to some, not so much. I was actually very surprised there was nothing on the net about Ruth Moritz and Marion Aharoni, but there isn’t, and so perhaps this telling, as imperfect as it is, will keep a memory of valor, courage and leadership alive.

Ruth Moritz and Marion Aharoni
Ruth Moritz and Marion Aharoni

And make no mistake, Ruth was a leader. When we have people like Shannon Watts, Dianne Feinstine, Nancy Pelosi and every other anti-gun harpie out there telling women that they won’t be safer if they can defend themselves, you know what crap it is. When you have the screeching harpies telling women that if they have a gun someone will take it away from them and use it on them, that’s crap. When you have the faux feminists telling women that a gun is too complicated, that they should get mace and a whistle, you know it’s crap. When the faux feminists tell women to just call the big strong policeman and wait, that’s crap. Ruth and Marion were true feminists, they were strong, beautiful women that fought in defense of themselves, their families and their country.

Right now part of America is busy throwing away the heritage that they have been sold by a liberal educational system and biased media. They throw it away with both hands because they don’t know true history, and don’t understand what they are throwing away. I was very glad to see those young Israelis going through that museum.

When in a dire situation, more people on your side is a very good thing.

The Altalena take-a-way? Politicians do what’s best for politicians. Betrayal sadly, apparently, should be expected. It’s about the power baby, it’s about the power.

Etzel Museum
Etzel Museum

 

I have never been so happy to need to update something as I am to add this. If you whine to the right people, sometimes, just sometimes, really great things happen. The whining was about the lack of information on Ruth online. The victim listener of my whining suggested that some problems are solved by going back to the language in which the incident occurred. That would be Hebrew. JACKPOT!!!

I had forgotten that Marion was in Ruth’s unit. A bit more than friends, I believe Ruth was her leader.

These sites are all in Hebrew, but with evil google’s translate you can read a rough version in English. Enough to get more information. AND, a movie. I’ve written the museum to see if they would consider posting the English version I saw while I was there.

Wikipedia

Etzel Museum remembrance page

Irgun Fighters of Independence

תודה לך דב עוד פעם

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It’s The Most MACCABEE Time of the Year!

I am pretty much, without a doubt, the least qualified on the team to write a column about the Maccabees. That is not stopping me.

I first learned about the Maccabees a couple years ago doing a study on the book of Daniel. I was so humbled and impressed by this group of people that loved their G-d so much that rather than submit to what was being demanded of them, that they offer sacrifices to anyone other than the G-d of Israel, or to eat unclean food, they would spark a revolt.

I ask a girlfriend of mine who knows me pretty well, if she knew about the Maccabees. Well, of course she did. “HOW could you know about the Maccabees and NOT tell me?”. She said she figured I learn about them in time. And so I did, and I fell in love.

 

The first thing that captivated me was Mattathias and his response. When he was told by the king’s officers that he was honored, a leader and to come be the first to sacrifice as all the Gentiles, people in Judah and those LEFT in Jerusalem had done(seeing as how Antiochus’s troops had slaughtered 40,000 and sold another 40,000 into slavery when he defiled the temple), he refused. He didn’t form a committee, he didn’t have an emergency conference with is sons, they didn’t do a feasibility study of defeating Antiochus, debate if he would be called racist, islamophobic, homophobic, hoplophobic, xenophobic. He just said

Though all the nations that are under the king’s dominion obey him, and fall away every one from the religion of their fathers, and give consent to his commandments : yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers. G-d forbid that we should forsake the law and. the ordinances. We will not hearken to the king’s words, to go from our religion, either on the right hand, or the left.”

And, he really meant it.

As some Jews had been happy enough about blending in with the king’s people (they picked the WRONG king) they had also become his enforcers. They were already breaking the Torah themselves, so what’s a little selling out of your fellow Jews who are trying to hold to the correct King’s law? So while Antiochus was determined to wipe out Judaism, he was perfectly willing to use the religious leaders to  convince the people that the horrible idea of turning away from their G-d was a GREAT idea. Not much has changed today has it?

When an appeasing Jew stepped forward, the kind of person that tries to appease a tiger, hoping it will eat them last, Mattathias killed him. He would NOT tolerate a sacrifice to a pagan idol, a false G-d in HIS name. None of it. He then killed the king’s officer that was forcing the people to do this wicked thing. He recognized evil for what it was. He didn’t try to rationalize it away, make it better or listen to national leaders that didn’t have the people’s best interests at heart. How can I say that? I wasn’t there? Because the people weren’t being allowed to worship THEIR G-d as they had been commanded to. They were being prevented from it, forbidden. In the most horrific of ways. Where in the beginning, perhaps they chose to assimilate, not wanting to be “intolerant” before long, it became mandatory. Horribly mandatory. Convert or Die.

One of the things those that who chose to rebel with Mattathias soon faced was the king’s army attacking them on Shabbat. When word reached the army at Jerusalem they rode out into the desert to stomp out these upstart Maccabee Partisans. The army commanded them to come out. But rather than profane their Sabbath, they chose to die, around a thousand of them, with their wives, children and livestock. They were faithful even unto death. Unfortunately, as my team mate Y.B. has pointed out,

Dying Kiddush Hashem (in sanctification of G-d’s name) is far too big a habit for Jews. We do it all the time. We’re really good at it. We have a backlog of those who have so died good for the next few thousand years, don’t you think?

The Maccabee Partisans then held a discussion and decided

“If we all do as our kinsmen have done,” they said to one another, “and do not fight against the Gentiles for our lives and our traditions, they will soon destroy us from the earth.” On that day they came to this decision: “Let us fight against anyone who attacks us on the sabbath, so that we may not all die as our kinsmen died in the hiding places.”

I don’t think Satan and the king’s army needed any help trying to wipe Judaism off the face of the earth. They were doing well enough on their own.

Other soon joined the Maccabees, and the rebellion grew. They went after all that were breaking the law. And it was about G-d, Torah and his law. There was none of this, “well, you have friends in high places”, or “they know people” or__________. It was very simple, and very fair. It was a Jewish land, and these were Jewish laws.

Lest you think that the people were converting and violating G-d’s laws because of something taught in Antiochus’s Common Core school, I will relate just a bit of Hannah and her Seven Sons. They deserve Capital letters. The first son made it plain that he would not violate the Torah by eating pork. What followed was having his tongue cut out, he was scalped, his hands and feet cut off, and while he was still breathing he was fried alive. In view of his Mother and Six Brothers, who all encouraged each other to die bravely but not give in. And NONE did, the Mother, after watching all of her sons suffer the same fate, was killed. Many of the Sons informed the king that though he had earthly power over them now, there was a Power greater, and he had NO power over that king. That the king should make no mistake, he absolutely would be called to account for his mistreatment of them and their nation. But that king was as arrogant or perhaps even more than rulers we see today. The battle was arrogance against the courage of their convictions and faith in their G-d. They perceived the horrors that had befallen their nation as punishment for having turned away from him.

When Mattathias died, he appointed his son Judah military leader, and his son Simon as the one to go to for wisdom. Father must have known his children’s strengths. Judah won amazing victories. His speech I love is:

But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judah, “How can we, few as we are, fight against so great and strong a multitude? And we are faint, for we have eaten nothing today.” Judah replied, “It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few. It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven. They come against us in great pride and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children, and to despoil us; but we fight for our lives and our laws. He himself will crush them before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them.”

When he finished speaking, he rushed suddenly against Seron and his army, and they were crushed before him. They pursued them down the descent of Beth-Horon to the plain; eight hundred of them fell, and the rest fled into the land of the Philistines. Then Judah and his brothers began to be feared, and terror fell upon the Gentiles round about them.

Judah didn’t fight for fame, glory to meet some celebrity or get a video game name after him. He fought for G-d, for his way of life, and because it was the right thing to do. Some fights are worth having. He suited up, showed up ready to fight and leave the outcome to G-d.

Eventually Judah and the Partisans often using guerrilla tactics retook Jerusalem. They disposed of the desecrated alter, cleansed the temple and built a new alter, new vessels to be made and everything was to be done properly, according to the law. For the Menorah, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the Kohen Gadol, high priest was needed. The Menorah was to burn through the night, every night. And while only one such bottle, enough to last for one night, was all that could be found, it lasted eight nights, which was the amount of time it took for a fresh supply of oil to be available. Some doubt that miracle to be true. I do not.

But whether or not THAT miracle is true, I think making one bottle of olive oil burn for eight nights is no big thing, ein ba-ya, for the G-d that created the olives, the trees, the land. I think the amazing miracle is that three years to the day that the madmen of Antiochus pillaged Jerusalem and defiled the temple, it was back in Jewish hands, holy and rededicated from what began as a one man revolt. And that one man had raised really good and righteous sons.

Please know, this is the “Cliff Note” version of  the Maccabean Revolt, from a person who has been in love with them for two whole years because she has only known about them for two whole years. I believe you will get a far better column from someone far better qualified to write it.

I know that most people think of Hanukkah as a “Jewish holiday”, some think it’s the Jewish version of Christmas. But I’m telling you now, Christians NEED to learn about Hanukkah! They NEED to know WHAT and WHY it was! They NEED to understand it, and they need to learn it very, very fast. And some Jews need to re-learn some lessons too. Hanukkah is equally as important for all of us now. Why would I say such a thing?

Because in the beginning some of the Jews were fine with the new lifestyle that was being brought in by the Greeks, the new gymnasiums, the “freedom” from all those bothersome holy laws. Tolerance, acceptance, go along to get along. Love, joy, peace and kumbaya and all that. And then the gloves came off. They were forbidden to practice their faith, forbidden to serve G-d, to worship him. Defiance was costly. I consider dead to be very costly.

Mattathias didn’t start the trouble, he didn’t go to Jerusalem looking to right the wrongs when Antiochus and his crowd showed up in Jerusalem and said “Burn this Bitch Down”. But when evil showed up on his doorstep he knew it for what it was and he didn’t muck about sorting it.

This country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Yet, in the country there are cities that are being told they can not have a float that had a religious statement on it because ONE person complained to an atheist legal group. The Ten Commandments are removed from schools and government buildings (and if ever there was a place they NEED to be, it would be government buildings). Sometimes by legal action, threats of legal action, or just choice. Army Chaplains are forbidden to use the Bible in suicide prevention classes. Children are told they can’t meet to pray before or after school on school grounds and humiliated for choosing to read a Bible during “free reading” period. So, what can the kids learn about in school? Islam. Several states have had people beginning to talk on FaceBook and to the media about the children coming home with assignments that are proselytizing for Islam. Part of the new Common Core standards lessons. Pamela Geller has been all over this. Reports from Maryland, Massachusetts and North Carolina all detailing similar events. Apparently there will be no lessons in the classroom on Judaism or Christianity. Unable to practice our religion freely? Check.

Physical violence? Did you know there is a place in America where it’s not safe for a Christian or Jews to go? The Maccabees were Jews who were able to resist and fight back because they were ARMED. They didn’t win battles with Judah’s winning smile. They fought. Yet we have far too many in America that can’t wait to put us all in a position of being in the position of the Warsaw Ghetto again where only the “State” has the means to enforce either freedom or tyranny. In many countries in Europe there is an increasing rise in Anti-Semitism, and Jews are becoming unsafe and afraid to disclose their religion. These kinds of attacks are something Jews in Israel have been dealing with for a very long time. Author Professor Phyllis Chesler said after 9/11 and the attack on the twin towers she went over and typed in her computer “Now we are all Israelis.” And we are right back where we started out, in Israel. The land of Miracles.

The shape our country is in now, we need Maccabees, we need them badly. People that will not bow down to the false king of “Political Correctness” nor allow the sacrifice good people on the alter of “tolerance” by them being put out of business, or having their TV show canceled because they talk about the Tanakh or the Bible. Nor because they choose to talk about G-d. We need people who recognize evil and teach others how to recognize it. We must become the Maccabees of today.

You know, life has been beyond hectic for me these last couple weeks. Mind numbingly, over-overwhelmingly so. The interesting thing was, as I wrote this column, I began to have a sense of peace, and calmness. The first I’ve had in some time. It was as though G-d wrapped a warm quilt around me and said “My child, I’m still in the miracle making business. They may not be on your time table, or in your way, but I still make them. Every single day, I make them. Breath.” And I did.

Happy Hanukkah

Merry Christmas

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