Sunday, July 20, 2014

IDF soldiers singing their prayer as they prepare to go to war

Photo by Naomi Litvin
my friend Berdie Held shared ‎עידן חיים‎'s video.
"Makes me feel so proud to be here....and yes, teary eyed too because its going to take time to accomplish this operation and these beautiful young men's lives are at stake... But they sing..they SING! I love them all!
Please Hashem protect all of them."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

in Israel, a people resolved to survive

Dear Friends and Family,
Here in Israel we are doing our best to keep on living our lives. There is no need to link to events as everyone is on top of the news. I just want to contribute my take on what is happening. In a few days I will have been here for four months, inside of a time warp actually, as the nights and days have melted together in checking Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo news, Hebrew language TV stations (of which I understand little of), and going about daily tasks in searing heat and humidity without knowing where and when a Code Red siren will shriek a warning. Whether to lie down flat in the road, or run into the nearest shelter is the question on my mind as I walk with my eyes glancing upward to the sky. I left Tel Aviv a day before the war, not because of rockets but because of personal matters. I can't help but feeling like G-d was guiding me to get out of there, as my new location is quite calm and quiet with a minimum of Code Reds so far. Tel Aviv, among most other sites in Israel, is under a barrage of Gazan rockets, leading to much fear and disruption.

The numbers of Gazans who have died and been injured is more than Israelis. Is it our fault that we have developed self-defense tools? If each rocket that is launched by Hamas hit the target intended, then we would have more casualties than them. When we say #NeverAgain we mean it. They raise their children to hate; we raise Israeli children to value life and to defend. So when we lose one person, each one of us aches inside, and I am sure we all hear the same wailing noise inside the mind. I won't mention what they are threatening to do to us in more personal ways, there is no need to illustrate their evil and scare tactics.

Currently I am reading Golda Meir's autobiography (no longer in print) My Life. My copy of this paperback is falling apart. The pages are torn and yellowed, rubber bands and paper clips holding it together. Every word she wrote is gold, and I am reading it ever so slowly. A copy on costs a small fortune. Since the book is not widely available, I don't think Golda would mind if I quote a bit from it.
"...I don't know what forms the practice of Judaism will assume in the future or how Jews, in Israel and elsewhere, will express their Jewishness 1,000 years hence. But I do know that Israel is not just some small beleaguered country to which 3,000,000 people are trying hard to survive; Israel is a Jewish state that has come into existence as the result of the longing, the faith and the determination of an ancient people. We in Israel are only one part of the Jewish nations, and not even its largest part; but because Israel exists Jewish history has been changed forever and it is my deepest conviction that there are few Israelis today who do not understand and fully accept the responsibility that history has placed on their shoulders as Jews..." 
"...I wish to say that from the time I came to Palestine as a young woman, we have been forced to choose between what is more dangerous and what is less dangerous for us. At times we have all been tempted to give in to various pressures and to accept proposals that might guarantee us a little quiet for a few months, or maybe even for a few years, but that could only lead us eventually into even greater peril. We have always been faced by the question "Which is the greater danger?" And we are still in that situation or perhaps in an even greater one. The world is harsh, selfish and materialistic. It is insensitive to the sufferings of small nations. Even the most enlightened of governments, democracies that are led by decent leaders who represent fine, decent people. are not much inclined today to concern themselves with problems of justice in international relations. At a time when great nations are capable of knuckling under to blackmail and decisions are being made on the basis of big-power politics, we cannot always be expected to take their advice, and therefore, we must have the capacity and the courage to go on seeing things as they really are and to act on our own most fundamental instincts for self-preservation. So to those who ask, "What of the future?" I still have only one answer: I believe that we will have peace with our neighbors, but I am sure that no one will make peace with a weak Israel. If Israel is not strong, there will be no peace."

Golda Meir Interview on Arab-Israeli Relations and Terrorism (1973)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

we the people of Israel have a message for the world

Friday, June 27, 2014

As our world turns in Israel

I have been here in Israel for three months, had three moves including two cities,  two Ulpans (Hebrew schools), inconvenience, joy, fear, new friends, and a babel of people speaking more languages that even I thought possible, even after working in a multi-lingual call center in Oakland, CA. What is this all about? I admit that I have wanted to come home several times due to homesickness for the conveniences of America and missing my family and friends. Last night was White City in Tel Aviv, Laila Lavan, in Hebrew. I watched the USA/German Soccer game on a big screen TV at Royal Beach, and then headed to Gordon Beach to watch the Israeli dancing. To see these Israelis dancing can only be described as pure joy. In the crowd young people were passing out yellow #BringBackOurBoys bracelets and helping folks take photos standing behind the poster with that same hashtag. A rally is being planned to take place in a few days in Tel Aviv and I will be there to lend my support.  Three Israeli teenage boys were kidnapped by terrorists in the Gush Etzion area, where I coincidentally was visiting new friends Hagith and Sam Ashen on the same evening. I stayed for Shabbat weekend and we didn't hear any news as to whether the kids were safe until Shabbat ended. And then all hell broke loose. My friends have two daughters that live in the same area. Everyone in Israel is affected by this. Every Jew in the world is affected. We are a family. A big one. I think that is why I came here. I felt like I was coming home to my family. We (I can say "we" now) do not ever give up on Jewish prisoners. That includes Jonathan Pollard, who has paid for his crime over and over and is still held in an American prison after 10,445 days (almost thirty years) by Barrack Hussein Obama. 

There is something about Israel that can only be felt after being here. The collective feeling of what we were born from, what we strive for, and the daily threat to existence is a magical glue that binds us together. We don't like everyone, we argue, and fight for our places in lines. But every day there are the tears and the smiles of our existential joy seen on the streets and everywhere you go. Young men and women (really boys and girls) in uniform carrying automatic weapons ride the buses and trains, causing me to sigh in relief every time I see them whether either on the local autobus or Egged to Jerusalem.

Stay tuned for more commentary of what I see and feel in Israel.

This is how we feel about the IDF:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

from Haifa to Tel Aviv with love

Haifa, Israel
I just don't know where to start not having blogged since 17 April. It wasn't because I didn't want to or had nothing to say. My computer just stopped working while I was living in Haifa and although it was brand new and under warranty I wasn't able to get it fixed. It's a long and ugly story which I won't bore you with. Suffice it to say that I bought a Lenovo Lemon and they told me not to worry, that it would be fixed at no charge. After almost two months of doing without it I stormed into the repair shop and took possession of it. I finally bought another new computer and so far so good (it's been one day). So here I am reporting from Israel again.

I have since moved to Tel Aviv. I need a bit of time to reorganize and transfer my hand written notes and photos into some cohesive information. Everything in Israel happens so fast and time feels like another dimension; one that I have not experienced before. Living in Israel is different than being a tourist here. I have had my ups and downs, especially living in the terrain of Haifa. No one told me how hard it is to walk up the hills and steps.

I tried to keep in touch on twitter and facebook during this time and wish to thank all of my online friends for hanging in there with me! A lot of people have reached out to help and befriend me both in Haifa and now in Tel Aviv. Thanks to all, and especially my family who have been cheering me on long distance!

Tel Aviv, Israel

The Rolling Stones are performing in Tel Aviv, Israel tomorrow night!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jerusalem: Potato bread and non-existent riots on Passover

Naomi Litvin - Kotel April 17, 2014
photo by Vicki Moliver Schwartz
I am in Jerusalem and I can't get over that everyone in the restaurants and cafes are eating bread and pastries on Passover, made out of POTATOES. Just doesn't seem right. If you want matzoh you have to ask for it.

By the way all the reports of continued riots at the Temple Mount are simply a LIE. Of course police limit visitors to Muslims and Christians as "No Jews are allowed." All I saw was mobs of tourists doing the Jerusalem Disneyland thing and the Cohenim doing their priestly blessings by making one of their three foot festivals (Pesach, Shavuot, Pesach). In honor of the foot festival, Vicki Moliver Schwartz, my first cousin once removed and I went shoe shopping....

Vicki and Naomi
dinner in Emek Refayim
photo by Andrew Schwartz

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Jews are subhuman, says South African Nazi

Naomi Litvin, self portrait
As many of you know, I am living in Israel now. This morning I woke up and checked my email.  A good morning to you, you subhuman Jew greeted me. The email was an alert to the comment by Johannesburg, Gauteng, South African  "bob mcdonald" below, and refers to a blog I posted four years ago. The gist of the subject was about the advantage of relocating the Jews to Israel so that we could all be destroyed in one fell swoop. Now that I live in Israel, as an Israeli citizen, this gave me something to think about today as I continued to shop for furnishings for my new apartment in the Homeland.

Thank G-d the Israel Defense Forces are here to protect me. But wait! Good ole bob mcdonald says that his god will destroy us. But bob, we are the chosen people, and you are just a stinking nazi!

The original email trail from South African racists was passed to me from a friend in 2009. I have continued to get hits on this posting but haven't had any comments lately. Who would have thought that this story would still have legs after all this time? But the simple truth is that this hatred never goes away. Scapegoating the Jews, is as old as Father Time and continues, as the comment below proves.

bob mcdonald has left a new comment on your post "

EXCLUSIVE SHOCKER: anti-Jewish email from South African racist published here

"I really like the idea of all jews going to Israel ,especially since they say that god will destroy that hole , with the long history of child sacrifice ,blood letting , rape and torture ,they surely must rate as the most subhuman people all time .the Holocaust was a great lie ,for which the jews received much pity ,well I pity the jews for being the people they are ,and I can not wait for god to help free humanity and destroy Israel with all jews on board"

Posted by bob mcdonald to Naomi Litvin נעמי ליטבין at April 12, 2014 at 1:25 PM*

*I have bob mcdonald's IP address, and his actual location, if any law enforcement agency needs it, email me at

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

my first week as an Israeli citizen

נעמי ליטבין self portrait, Haifa Israel 3/26/14
This is day seven in my life as an Israeli citizen. Please forgive me for not blogging sooner. I have had so much to say, yet found myself tongue tied. Navigating a new country has been wild. Thanks to the kindness of strangers in a strange land, it has been the most sweetest of strangeness ever. I am encouraged by the people who have helped me. Only in Israel can you take a bus ride, begin a relationship with a person sitting next to you, attain heights of friendship in a millisecond, and then say goodbye in a matter of minutes. One beautiful young red haired girl said, "Haifa is a small world, we will see each other again!"
As for chronicling the day to day drama and hilarity of my new milieu please follow me on twitter and friend me on facebook for the raw details!
As for learning conversational Hebrew (I'm only good as a reader of print and cursive; and able to write phonetically) I had wanted to postpone jumping into that until after I'd gotten out of my temporary digs. But after this week, I absolutely do not want to delay being able to communicate with anyone in this vibrant society. After all, how else can I actually become a part of this? No Anglo ghetto for this gal. So today, after meeting yesterday with my Nefesh B' Nefesh Haifa guru, Smadar Stoller Porat, who arranged for me to have a meeting at a Jewish Agency Ulpan, I am beginning the 5-5-5 on Monday! "What the heck is the 5-5-5," you say? It is 5 days per week, 5 hours per day, 5 months of Hebrew. Wish me luck!
Today after a scrumptious lunch in Carmel Center of smoked salmon, feta cheese, tomato, and spring onions on whole wheat, multi seeded hearth baked focaccia bread, and a fabulous salad, all washed down by my new addiction, Coke Zero in a bottle, I serendipitously walked right into two tall dark and handsome guys with cameras and a microphone. They spoke to me in Hebrew of course.
Me: I only speak English!
Guys: Great! (in English) We want to know who you think the next President of Israel should be?
Me: Netanyahu.
Guys: But Netanyahu is the Prime Minister.
Me: I know that!
Guys: Then why do you say that?
Me: Well, Netanyahu may lose his position soon, so he will need a job!
Guys: Then who do you think should be the Prime Minister?
Me: That guy who insulted Obama!
Guys: Ya'Alon!
Me: Yes! Ya'Alon!
Guys: Thank you very much!
Me: You're welcome. By the way, I am a new Israeli citizen and I am studying up on the politics.
Don't ask me what channel they were from. I have no idea! Just let me know if you see me on TV!

Near the Bahai Gardens, Haifa, Israel. Photo by Naomi Litvin


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rabbi Yehuda Y Steinberg's new book has arrived! "Glimpses of Light..."

While I was writing my last book, Beneath A Stormy Cloud: Moving On Without Her, I happened upon the Kindle version of a book by Rabbi Yehuda Y. Steinberg called Tears of Hope, Seeds of Redemption. To me, when a book is found that has a healing force, and speaks to me, especially in a time when my soul is searching for comfort, it is a profound experience. Rabbi Steinberg was kind and generous to allow me to quote passages in my book and also offered an insight into what I was attempting to convey to my readers. I won't go into details of that insight, as this posting is about Rabbi Steinberg's writing, not mine. His new book Glimpses of Light, Revealing the Constant Hashgachah Pratis in Megillas Esther and in Our Daily Lives, has arrived on my doorstep, and I have begun to read it, as I am packing up to make Aliyah. I have no doubt that reading this will be another profound experience for me. 
Glimpses of Light, Revealing the Constant Hashgachah Pratis in Megillas Esther and in Our Daily Lives
Judaica World
via Judaica World
"The oppressed Jewish nation faces complete annihilation, but is miraculously saved by an unexpected series of natural events. Was the chain of changes a string of natural coincidences and events, or was it a medley of masterfully orchestrated miracles? Is the Purim story a one-time occurrence? Or is there a deeper, timeless message hidden within this ancient account?
In Glimpses of Light, Rabbi Yehudah Steinberg, delves into Megillas Esther and extracts the underlying messages hidden in the seemingly straightforward Purim story. Presenting the words of Chazal, midrashim, parables, and anecdotes in a lucid fashion, the author brings home the profound relevance of the Megillah's lessons for us, even today, so that we can truly appreciate the concept of hashgachah pratis and discover a fresh inspiration for trust in Hashem.
An invaluable sourcebook for rabbis, educators, and laymen alike, this enlightening and inspiring book is vital for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of and appreciation for Megillas Esther and a more meaningful Purim experience."
Rabbi Yehuda Steinberg is a product of the Yeshivahs of Gateshead, England, and Be'er Yaakov, Eretz Yisrael. He is the author of the popular books Harvest of Kindness on Megillas Rus and Tears of Hope, Seeds of Redemption on Megillas Eichah. Glimpses of Light is the third of a projected five-volume series on the Megillos. He is also the author of Kavei El Hashem (Hebrew) on bitachon. Rabbi Steinberg resides in England with his family where he is the Rosh HaKollel of Kollel Zichron Nosson Tzvi and a popular and sought-after speaker.