Sunday, August 27, 2006

Saturdays: A Jewish Short Story

As promised, my most recent Jewish short story is now posted on Storytellers. I'd love it if you'd check it out and leave your comments.

And while you're there, check out the other short stories that have been submitted.

And if you're so inclined, or if you feel the nudge, feel free to submit your own short story!


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

When Science Supports Religion: Exodus Decoded

There are no coincidences.

That's a belief I like to live by, though sometimes I really like the coincidence explanation. So just recently, I was (still) dead on my feet tired and flipping through channels for something to distract my brain from all of the other less fun yet still pressing responsibilities. And I stumbled across a show called Exodus Decoded on the History Channel.

There are no coincidences.

The host's accent was the first thing that caught my attention, followed by some really cool computer graphics. And once I figured out that this was an exploration of Exodus from a Jewish and archeological and geological and historical perspective, I was hooked.

Now, just for the record, my own religious life is not predicated on science. I've had enough experiences that either couldn't be explained by science or simply defied science to know that there's Something far beyond my limited understanding. So what science does or does not say has no real effect on what I believe. I don't need a scientific explanation before I accept Judaism, and I don't think that this show tries to distill religious beliefs down into a nice little scientific story. I also don't think that the show tries to remove the supernatural from the natural. I saw it as very much pro G-d, and I consider it an adjunct, additional perspectives and ideas that get me thinking about my own religious life a little more.

Too often, science is used to undermine religious belief, to prove that something didn't, couldn't, won't happen, or to cast anyone with a belief in an unseen, unknowable great mystery we sometimes call G-d as primitives with religion as a crutch and an aversion to the all-powerful Fact.

But what amazing things I saw on Exodus Decoded. The host, Simcha Jacobovici, presented a somewhat modified theory of the Exodus - the primary difference being when it took place - and came as close to proving it happened as I'll probably ever see in my lifetime. According to Jacobovici, earlier estimations of when the Exodus took place did not take into account timelines found elsewhere in the Tanakh. When he retraced those timelines, names and dates and other textual landmarks, he arrived at an earlier time for the Exodus: approximately 1500 BCE.

And when he did that, he found archeological, geological, historical, and cultural evidence that didn't just support the theory; it came darn close (in my opinion) to proving it.

One of Jacobovici's statements (paraphrased from my memory) that gave me goosebumps: But why use the effects of a volcano [Santorini] to inflict the Ten Plagues on Egypt? G-d doesn't defy the laws and forces of nature; He manipulates them.

And the most awesome moment for me was the finding of a small gold piece of artwork, on display at a museum in Greece as some sort of unknown jewelry, that could very well be a two-dimensional representation of the Ark of the Covenant. How is this possible? Watch the show!

I highly recommend watching Exodus Decoded. Not to have any bearing on your beliefs or to change your mind about religion and history. It's a stunning theory, and opens the door to possibilities that humanity once thought science had closed. And to all of the Exodus Deniers, it's a strong argument that our narrative may have more than just a little bit of history in it.

Exodus Decoded can be seen next on the History Channel tomorrow (Thursday), August 24, 2006 at 8pm ET/PT. There are other showings! Check your local listings to confirm, or visit and search Exodus Decoded. Or click here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

So Many Topics...

I am, quite literally, falling-down tired. So much has happened here and on top of it all, I'm recovering from a head cold. A few things I want to share, but don't have the energy for at the moment, so I'll post a sort of teaser and fill it in over the next week:

  • Oldest Son asked the funniest (and quite a complimentary) question about our rabbi today, which I briefly blogged about on Our Kids Speak
  • We adopted a dog!
  • We went camping on the kids' first tent-camping trip, with the new dog, and lived to tell about it
  • I wrote a Jewish short story called "Saturdays" to be posted soon on Elster's Storytellers
  • I just learned about a lump-less, undetectable-by-mammogram form of breast cancer called Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) and will post a news story shortly
  • The children's chapter book my company (Yaldah Publishing) is publishing is now available for advance reservations, PLUS I got the first chapter uploaded to the publishing web site for people to check out. More info to be posted soon on my work blog,
  • A million thoughts that have yet to take any literary form as a result of reading one of my newest favorite blogs, I Was Thinking About... Maybe I can get some of my own thoughts inspired by Yael's down in a post or two
  • As in Days of Old is coming along nicely, though I need to resolve the "Do I write or do I sleep?" dilemma
I think that's about it for now. I'm off to an early bedtime!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Happy Anniversary

It came and went and I didn't even notice it, so preoccupied have I been with publishing and writing and eema-ing (mothering) and being a wife/friend/volunteer/etc.

I have officially been blogging for one year and twelve days.


Maybe it's time to make this blog a little less random events in my life and focus it a bit more on books and beliefs. (Maybe. That might mean more work for me, so it might not happen quite so easily, but we'll see...)

Rav todot (many thanks) to all those who have visited and read and commented, some of whom have become good blog-friends. Even if I don't know who you are. :-) It's the journey that's important to me, not the identity of my current travel-mates. Thanks for being here.

And to those who have read but not commented, please feel free to say hi, share your opinion (respectfully).

The thing I like about blogging that is impossible with book-writin' is that we can have a discussion here. The closest I've come to having a conversation or discussion through a novel is when two of my most trusted readers, Tricia and Amy, read a manuscript (Tricia read the first one, Amy's read parts of the second) and wrote everything from corrections and questions to comments meant for the characters' ears. But as enjoyable as that is, it doesn't come close to the exchange of ideas on a blog.

So as we head into Year Two, I look forward to continuing conversations with those folks I've met and new conversations with those whom I haven't yet met.

Shavua tov!

Friday, August 04, 2006

On Comments and Cowardice: aka "This is Not a Political Post"

I have received my first "hate comment." Two of them, actually, from the same person.

I'm not sure if that's a step up in blogging or not.

But apparently I have a new reader who always posts as "Anonymous" and leaves nothing but insulting, sarcastic posts, all related to the war between Israel and Hezbollah. In particular, he or she takes issue with my post on sending the IDF a virtual hug. This commenter is not interested in having a mature conversation about the issues, but rather wants to bash me (and always includes my children) for writing this one post in support of the IDF.

Anyone who reads this blog ought to know by now that this is not a political blog. I don't post political commentary because I have no desire to engage in political wars of words on my blog. There are other blogs devoted to politics, including this particular war.*

This blog is not one of them.

I see my one pro-IDF post as a parallel to my stand that while I do not support America's war (or is it a "police action" like Viet Nam?) in Iraq, I do support our troops. Not to do that, in my opinion, is tantamount to betrayal of fellow American citizens who are putting their lives on the line (and sadly, losing them at an alarming rate). Personally, I would rather our troops leave Iraq and come home, and the U.S. can suck it up and call this a failed whatever-it-is and admit that maybe we didn't have any business being there. This is my opinion, to which I have a right, and I have no desire to debate that with anyone.

As a Jew, and as a person who feels a strong connection with Israel, I believe absolutely and completely that Israel has not only the right but the obligation to defend herself. Israel neither started nor welcomed this war, and it seems to me that if Hezbollah really cared about its people the way they want us to think, they wouldn't be using civilian neighborhoods as bases from which to launch rockets.

It's the old "actions speak louder than words" at work again.

That said, while I support Israel's right to defend herself, I also think the method this time was flawed. When guerrilla fighters are launching rockets from behind innocent human shields, I don't believe air strikes are the answer. There is no possible outcome aside from massive civilian casualties.

But I am not the one making decisions (probably a good thing) and I am not going to withdraw support from Israeli soldiers who are quite clearly defending their homeland when my reason is a disagreement with military policies.

As I see it, there is a clear difference between supporting a war and supporting the people who have no choice but to fight in that war. And before anyone - particularly my insulting commenter - digs out the "I was just following orders" line, I will also say that there is a clear difference between being at war and trying to wipe entire populations off the face of the earth.

Note that Hezbollah has a stated goal of eliminating Israel completely: men, women, children, babies. The more Jews killed, the better, in their view. And this is when they're not at war!

Which brings me back to my insulting commenter, who doesn't have the courage to post as anything other than "Anonymous" and takes aim at me simply because he or she thinks I'm an easy target. This morning, he or she wrote this, in part:

"So what you're saying is that you support the IDF and want to send them hugs and chockies and lots of Pollyanna goodness from your safe little hole in Minnesota provided that you don't have to think about the reality of what you're supporting? Those little kids in Quana could have been yours. And unlike yours, they didn't have the chance to stay "out of it" as long as there are dingbats like yourself supporting their mass murder from afar. Your god must be so proud."

So much anger. I would suggest therapy, but more than likely, this person wouldn't be honest with the therapist.

There is power in sarcasm because then then the person doesn't have to acknowledge their true feelings. It's a known psychological defense: sarcasm covers anger and most often, anger covers hurt.

I wonder what he or she is hurt about? Dead children in Lebanon? If so, why isn't he or she also hurt by the death of innocent Jews? Or dead children in Darfur? Or Nigeria? What about the 275 MILLION children who witness war in their own homes due to domestic violence?

Or is he or she hurt because the innocent children who tragically died in Qana didn't take out any Jews with them?

The commenter has one valid reference in a part of the comment I didn't quote: this is unconscionable. I do not support it or condone it. It is an insult to all of humanity. But I also need to be clear that supporting the men and women who are fighting and dying to defend Israel against rockets and bombs intended to kill as many people as possible is quite different from supporting kids - Israeli or Lebanese or any other - who are taught to hate.

I don't support hate in any of its disguises. I can only hope that my anonymous commenter will someday learn the same. And until then, find someone else's blog to insult.

Shabbat shalom.

* The blogs linked herewithin are the opinions of those individual bloggers and do not necessarily represent or reflect the values and opinions of this blogger (me).