Prior to and subsequent to my mother’s untimely death, we’ve had some interesting kibbutz experiences. As most of you know, we live on the extension of Kibbutz Merchavia in northern Israel. It’s located next to the city of Afula in the Jezreel Valley. If you recall from the last regular update, Stacy and I participated in the Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) commemoration. Because Stacy was such a big hit, she was asked to play for Yom Ha-atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day).
The day before Yom Ha-atzmaut is Yom HaZikkaron (Memorial Day for fallen soldiers). Israel knows how to honor her fallen heroes. Every community gathers together on the evening of the day and remembers the sacrifices of the fallen. On our kibbutz everyone gathered solemnly just before dark. At 8:00 sirens sounded around the country, and everyone stood. When the sirens stopped, the ceremony began. Every former kibbutz member who perished during either war time or in a terrorist attack was remembered. There were probably about 25 of them. A photo was displayed for each person, and someone read a short history about them accompanied by thoughts from loved ones. Our kibbutz is one of the oldest kibbutzim in Israel. If I remember correctly, the earliest person killed in action was from the 1930’s during Arab riots against Jewish settlements. Others were killed during the war of Independence in 1948, the 1956 war, the 1967 war, many during the 1973 war and then several others killed in various Lebanese excursions, up to 2005. The ceremony was very moving and compelling. This year we were actually able to understand some of what was said – a huge accomplishment for language dimwit Jamie Cowen.
The following evening began Yom Ha-atzmaut. Stacy was already scheduled to play a song with another kibbutz member – they had been practicing for several days. Somewhere along the line, they asked us to present the Israeli flag, a huge honor. See the pic. Consider only 5 + years ago we were sitting in a jail cell at the Israeli airport – quite a change. As soon as we presented the colors, a spark shot down from a wire above us and lit a fire display right behind us, showing a Star of David with the number 66 in the center (66th anniversary of the founding of the state). See the pic. Then, immediately thereafter, fireworks were set off, essentially right above us. I cautiously watched the sparks floating down on top of us.
After that we were directed to sit down where the entertainment began. There were a number of children performances, and then Stacy and group were called to play. She was joined by a neighbor, Naomi, who sang, and a relative of one of Stacy’s students, who looked and acted like a pothead but did a decent job on a makeshift drum. See the pic. Unlike Yom HaShoah, this was a celebratory event, and it seemed like most of the kibbutz residents were present. Stacy is becoming a celebrity here.
The final event was the dreaded Lag B’Omer. At the beginning of Passover, according to the Scripture one is to count the omer (sheaf of a barley plant) for the next 50 days up to Shavuot (Pentecost). Essentially, one counts the days and says a prayer each day. On the 33rd day of the count, the holiday of Lag B’Omer is celebrated; lag b’omer in Hebrew means the 33rd of the omer. The day has varied significance depending upon the celebrants. For the Orthodox, the day is in memory of a 2nd century rabbi, who supposedly was the father of Jewish mysticism, in my view, an incorrect historical attribution. For the secular, the day honors Simon Bar Kochba, a 2nd century Jewish revolutionary, who unsuccessfully sought to overthrow Roman occupation. Regardless, the day is celebrated by making fires all over the land – a wonderful gesture in light of Israel being a dry country, not to mention adding to the world’s accumulating air pollution. Oh what a day!
Anyway, Naomi, the neighbor who joined Stacy for the performance at Yom Ha’atzmaut, invited us to her house for a barbecue, and again, Stacy was asked to bring her guitar and play a few tunes. When we arrived, it was basically a block party, at the end of their street where Naomi and family lives. It was actually a great opportunity to meet more neighbors, most of whom we didn’t know. A few knew English and so communicated with us in both Hebrew and English. I think I appear to the neighbors as Stacy’s arm candy, except I’m not blonde, just gray. Near the end they asked Stacy to play some songs. Most of the Hebrew songs she knows are religious ones from the synagogue, and most of the folks didn’t know them. I actually sang along with Stacy to give the songs more volume. Finally, they said, sing a song in English. Stacy sang the Herman’s Hermits hit, “End of the World.” Interestingly, most of the folks knew this song and sang heartily along, although most weren’t even born when the song was written. Strange!
Law Practice and the Messianic Jewish Business Entrepreneur Conference
As most know, Messianic Jews in Israel have been a marginalized community. That has begun to change. Last year some young Messianic Jewish business people organized a conference for budding Messianic Jewish entrepreneurs where they could display their inventions or business ideas to a group of foreign investors. This year was the second one with much greater attendance of both entrepreneurs and investors. Our law firm rented a table and displayed our new brochures although we’re not looking for investors per se. Rather, we’re seeking clients from both the entrepreneurs who need legal assistance in establishing a business and the investors who may want to do business in Israel.
We made numerous contacts including the head of the chamber of commerce from Taiwan, who wants to direct business to Israel and an Israeli government official who is responsible for overseeing business investment in Israel. The Israeli official was a significant meeting because he will be responsible for any foreign investor in Israel under the new E-2 Treaty Investor program, which I’ve written about previously. Apparently, while there is tremendous interest in Israelis investing in the US, he was not aware of interest on the part of Americans to invest in Israel. I told him that was not the case. I already know of many who are interested, and our law firm hopefully will be handling many of these investments. He seemed quite intrigued. It was a very good contact.
In addition, my practice has picked up significantly, and I actually have some very good clients, not just the strange ones I’ve written about. I’m actually now needing assistance to handle many of these cases. So thank you to those who have been praying.