Thursday, 20 August 2015

Why I Could Never Be a Christian

What I am about to share with you is my own personal view. It is a truly sincere attempt on my part to convey a clear message, hopefully once and for all, to all those who relentlessly try to convince me that their belief and their messiah is the only truth, that they are wasting their time on me. It is also aimed at helping our fellow Jews reinstate their pride in who we are and how far we have come in the timeline of our Development as a Religion, a Culture and a Nation.

In an effort to tackle the above dilemma, I have written several articles addressing the threat posed to us, Jews and Am Yisrael, from Christian missionaries. I have called them the Eleventh Plague; I have accused them of spreading a virus called Jewish Spiritual Mutilation (JSM); I have compared them to Amalek who was targeting the weak among us and I have made every effort to expose their antics and devious ways aimed at stealing Jewish souls.
Their persistence annoys many. So I have decided to use a new approach to try and address my issues and grievance with them.
As a teacher, I would like to elucidate my view on the above issue from a psychological perspective, more precisely, a cognitive developmental angle. For that, I turn to one of the best researchers in that field; one I admire greatly, Jean Piaget.
Piaget was an influential experimenter and a leader in research in the field of developmental psychology and human intelligence. Through his work and after observing many children, Piaget concluded that the thinking process among children is considerably different than that of adults. That did not necessarily mean that children’s thought process is less intelligent than that of adults. It only meant that it was different. According to him, all children are born with a hereditarily determined mental structure which evolves as they grow older. He believed that all children undergo four stages of Cognitive Development. I will not burden the reader with all four stages, and will focus on only the two that are relevant to supporting my titular statement as to why I could never be a Christian.
The first one is Piaget’s third stage, the Concrete Operational stage. It spans the ages of seven to twelve. During this stage, children have the ability to develop a logical thought about an object only if they are able to manipulate it. They are unable yet to grasp its abstract aspect.
The Formal Operative stage is the fourth and last stage of Cognitive Development. It occurs from the age of twelve and above. Unlike in the Concrete Operational stage, the adolescent’s thoughts are able to be manipulated and there is no need for the concrete object to spin their process.
This is wherein rests, in my view, one of the most fundamental differences between Christianity and Judaism, one that separates them immensely. The concept of a god taking on a human form, attributes and physical manifestation is an example of what Piaget’s third stage of object manipulation refers to. It is one of the ways in which Christianity can come to grips with the concept of an abstract god, the G-d they borrowed from Judaism. Christianity, I believe, is at what Piaget would consider the Formal Operative stage whereas Judaism is already at the fourth and last stage of Cognitive Development.
Judaism, on the other hand, has never attempted to describe G-d in human terms. No one ever gave birth to Him. No one has ever seen Him. He never begot children, and He shares no human shape or features. He cannot be killed and hence need not be resurrected. Even when the Torah tells us that G-d created Man in His own image, it is clear to all that it refers to the spiritual facet and to our Moral compass. From a very early age, and the very first stage of our Cognitive Development both as individuals and as a nation, we, Abraham, his children, Moses, Am Yisrael and Jews, were and are expected to think in abstract terms when we try to understand the concept of our Jewish G-d. We listen to Him and His directives.  We accept His Torah unconditionally. We rebel against Him yet praise Him and thank Him at every single occasion. We have done all of this strictly because we were, are and forever will be at a higher cognitive level than other nations and religious groups. And it has not been easy at times.
Now, before anyone jumps down my throat, let me add this. It does not mean that Judaism is better than any other religion on this earth; it only means that we arrived at a more advanced stage in our Cognitive Evolvement earlier and have remained there. Others also have the capability of reaching it and may choose to aspire towards it while some may yet elect to remain where they are. I, as a Jew, am comfortable and content where our Jewish tradition, religion and our people are.
Why then would I, or we, Jews, want to change it by reverting to a previous stage?

Zionism and Judaism the heart and soul of Israel, the Jewish state



 The term “Zionism” was first coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum. The concept, though modern, is, as this article will unfold, an integral part of Judaism.  The modern Zionist movement calls for a return of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael, their ancient ancestral Homeland for the renaissance and re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty there. Theodore Herzl was the visionary who expounded, promoted and toiled relentlessly to turn the idea into a reality. Herzl’s vision was to establish a Jewish state based on the Jewish principles of justice and equality as outlined in the Torah.
It is this strong connection between Judaism and Zionism which I will endeavor to highlight and emphasize.  They are two facets of the same thought and belief system, two sides of the same coin.
The word “Zion” first appears in the Tanach which, as we all know is the holy book of the Judaism.  The Tanach is the only Biblical document that reaffirms the one and only covenant G-d has ever entered into with any people, the People of Israel, Am Yisrael.  The word “Zion” is first mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:7 which according to modern day scholarship dates from 630-540 BCE. Initially, it referred to a specific mountain near Jerusalem. Later, it became a metonym for Solomon’s Temple. According to 2 Samuel 24:18-25, King David purchased the area of the Temple Mount from a Jebusite by the name of Arvana, the owner of a threshing floor who offered it to him for free. King David refused and insisted on paying full price in gold for it: "but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offering that cost me nothing.” Zion is the birthplace of the city of Jerusalem where the history of the people of Israel was written and where Judaism has its deep roots.

The term “Zion” is also synonymous with the Land of Yisrael as expressed in the last line of Hatikvah, the National Anthem of the modern day state of Israel and other ancient and modern Jewish sources.

Zion, Eretz Yisrael, is one of the edges of a triangle called Judaism. The other two edges are the People of Israel (aka Jews) G-d and the Torah, G-d’s guidebook to His People. The three are inter-related and woven with the same golden thread that runs through the several millennia old Jewish history.

Over half of the commandments in the Torah relate to the Land of Israel.  They list the customs and practices of working the Land.  The commandments also spell out the details of a Jewish way of Life and define the relationship between G-d, His people and the places He sanctified in Eretz Yisrael.
Even when they were exiled from their Land, it was always Zion that Jews were facing and yearning for in their prayers, liturgy and poetry.  It was Zion that they were remembering and crying for when they were sitting by the rivers of Babylon. And it was Zion that they pledged to return to every year at the Passover table when they proclaimed and continue to proclaim: “לשנה הבאה בירושלים הבנויה”.
It was, therefore, only reasonable and consistent that the natural location to re-establish Jewish sovereignty would be in Zion, Eretz Yisrael, because of the Jewish People’s historical link to it.  It also follows that the movement that calls for it should have its name, Zion, as part of it.   
There cannot be an Israel, a Jewish state, without Zionism since there cannot be Zionism without Zion, an exclusively Hebrew /Jewish Biblical concept.  Likewise, there cannot and there must not be Zion without Judaism being part of it. Judaism and Zionism are inseparable.  One cannot, I am afraid, be a Zionist without being Jewish. One can, however, be a non - Jewish supporter of Zionism, for which many Jews are utterly and profoundly grateful.
Zionism devoid of any national and cultural content of Judaism, a key aspect and feature of this model, would reduce its significance greatly and turn it into just another ideological movement.

In the same way that Zionism cannot survive without Judaism, Judaism, in Eretz Yisrael, in the modern State of Israel, cannot survive without Zionism.  When I hear calls to remove Zionism from our modern day Hebrew lexicon, to do away with the term as it has "become anachronistic" and since we are now "in the Post Zionist era," I ask myself if we, Jews, have learned anything from our history.

The removal or the weakening of one of these mainstays that have jointly forged and shaped modern day Jewish identity will bring an end to the Jewish state in its ancient Homeland in Eretz Yisrael.  Together, Judaism and Zionism constitute the intertwined threads of the fabric of our national and spiritual essence, the elixir of our Jewish survival and the promise of our perpetual endurance as a nation, as a culture and as a civilization

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Political Correctness - the panacea for a guilty conscience?


The wave of Political Correctness (PC) that has swept our world, not only refuses to subside, it seems to have gained velocity in recent years and to have claimed more victims.

“Political Correctness,” in itself, is a rather harmless term. Plainly defined, it means “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.” (Merriam-Webster).

In the pre-colonial period, the above definition could be understood to mean possessing humanness and the innate ability to care and show compassion to our fellow man

It seems, however, that in the post colonial world, this term became devoid of any human element. It has turned into an automated reaction against anything that is even remotely hinting at that which took place during the colonial rule by European powers. The term was adopted mainly by the ones who were accused and guilty of mistreating those they controlled. The descendents of the culpable parties, those who would want to be careful not to repeat the sins and misdeeds of their ancestors even in the slightest, likewise, employed it as a gesture of atonement for their ancestors’ guilt. That guilt stems from crimes ranging from plundering the societies that were under their control, treating their inhabitants as second class citizens, dividing nations and peoples and contributing to pain, strife and ongoing wars.

And who wants to be guilty of such a hideous list of atrocities? Who would want to carry such baggage as part of their nation’s historical heritage or legacy? It is quite a heavy burden to hold, one that exposes one’s national essence in a Wildean reflection of Dorian Grey.

Fortunately for the guilt ridden ones, all they have to do, nowadays, to cure it is just pull out the PC card and, in no time, their sins will be washed away, their conscience will shine brightly and their bleeding heart will remove any pain, or dark stains from their ethical essence.

Or will it?

Any health professional would tell you that overuse of any remedy can be harmful. The same is true about PC. Its users have turned the term into a means of a quick fix to a modern day problem.  
Nowadays, PC has been stretched to its limits and is now being abused and misused as a tool to silence those one disagrees with or to hide real bigotry and double standards. Its exploiters have become addicted to it and it controls them. It shapes their way of thinking and their behavior. It bars them from being truthful to themselves for fear that they might hurt the other. It prevents them from becoming who they were destined to be for concern that it might be at the expense of the freedom of others. They parrot foreign words and terms which sometimes mean nothing to them yet were told that their use would make them “nice,” kind” and “loved.”  They have become devoid of their own self which they were taught, or rather indoctrinated into believing, needed to be sacrificed on the altars of justice for “the other” first.

Unfortunately, members of Am Yisrael and the Jewish people, in whose Torah Political Correctness in its unadulterated form, originated, have also been infected by this epidemic of PC overdose. Our own seem to be champions for the causes of others forgetting too often that we still have our unsolved problems. When I hear my own people claiming that the “Jews have used all the brownie  points of the Shoa,”  or that the “ovens of Auschwitz are already cold and it is time to deal with the pain of others” I feel a strong urge to rebel, to shout from the top of my lungs and wake them up.

Nothing, though, infuriates me more than those among us who join hands with our slayers and take Political Correctness to the extreme where they entirely erase their own Dorian Grey reflection in their PC embossed mirror and project it upon others. Yes, I am referring to those who point a blaming finger at us, Jews, describing us in the ugliest, most diabolical terms accusing us of the worst crimes merely to deflect attention from the misdeed and transgressions of others against Jews.
To all those among my people, I say, PC is not the solution for your disorder, it is the problem. I urge you to look into yourselves, search for your soul, your own uncorrupt one. If you can still find it under the rubble of false gods, foreign words, ambiguous and relative terms, remove the loose frail patches that you wrapped around it, hold it up, let it breath, rehabilitate it and cleanse it from the destructive effect of the intoxicating drug called PC. If you don’t, it is only a matter of time before your mask will drop for all to see that which the overuse of PC has shrunk and nearly reduced to a point of no return.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

How far will we go to be loved?


Don’t you just love it when after sixty seven years of not merely existence but of growth, thriving and great contributions to world civilization, the legitimacy of Israel, the Jewish state, is still a subject open for debate?

Let me ask you this, would you still dispute that the earth is round? Would you still debate that the it goes around the sun, or would you sink back into the dark ages of human development and question these issues? Why is it that despite historical, legal and political facts and truths, some people still feel a need to question and craft narratives when it comes to Israel, a sovereign nation that was re-established, first and foremost, by virtue of its own historical, religious, and natural rights  that was also later acknowledged by the international community?
Furthermore, why, despite the ingrained basic tenet of democratic societies where one remains innocent until proven guilty, do some Israelis and Jews rush to breast beatings and admit guilt or wrongdoing?

But above all, have you ever asked yourself why is it that Jews and Israelis are among the leaders of such debates, the first to issue immediate and uncalled for admission of guilt and the spearheads of such smear campaigns? What happened to the people described in Numbers 23:9 : "הן עם לבדד ישכן ובגוים לא יתחשב" (A People that is secluded and does not consider what the other nations think), I keep asking myself.

I always come back to the same answer. It has haunted me for many years. Whether we like it or not, two thousand years of Diaspora are, in my view, part of the roots of that. I would venture to say that this flawed characteristic of some part of our Israeli society is one symptom of it. Living at the mercy of others for so long, being a plaything in their hands, leaving their lands when they ordered us to and coming back to them when they needed us and lured us with promises only to eventually be kicked out of them again would shape the low self image for the sturdiest and the mightiest. Always being defined and redefined by others and mostly in a non-favorable demeanor predisposes the eventual fragile texture of the fabric of one’s collective sub consciousness both on individual and communal levels.

Members of a nation who have an ongoing dialogue with G-d, a dialogue where the main questions are: “Why me?” “Why us?” “Where is G-d now?” or “where was He then?” are bound to engage in polemics surrounding their self worth regardless of whether those that engage in it believe in G-d or not. It is already part of their national, cultural and ethnic genetic blueprint. Surely, logic dictates, if we are hated so much, despised so much, the reason must be within us. This, unfortunately, is the prevalent attitude among many Jews especially the “bleeding hearts” kind. After all, is it possible that so many could be wrong and Jews and Israelis, a tiny albeit a bright spec among the families of the earth, are the righteous ones?

Hence, the “We sinned” syndrome. “We did it!” “We are the guilty party!” “We are the illegitimate state!” “We are the invader!” “We are not like them!” “Go ahead, debate our existence,” “Question our desire to survive and our means to defend ourselves.” “After all, we are still your raggedy toy, so throw us, tear us apart and continue to do with us as you wish.”

Now world, will you please love us?

Monday, 10 August 2015

Collective Responsibility


Kol Yisrael arevim Zeh Bazeh, (all of Israel are held responsible for one another) is an important tenet in Talmud, one of the pillars of the foundations of our Jewish nation.  I was first introduced to it when I was six years old.

It happened one year when my father took me along with him to synagogue on Yom Kippur.  I had just acquired my reading skill and I was proud that I could read the prayers on this very sacred and awe inspiring day.  One of the prayers associated with this day is the Ashamnu (we have been guilty) confession.  The prayer lists in alphabetical order all possible sins and wrongdoings one can commit, transgressions for which we are asking G-d to forgive us.  
For the benefit of those who are not well versed or familiar with the Hebrew language, here is another brief lesson to try and help make the meaning of this prayer clearer and more significant.  In Hebrew the suffix “nu” at the end of a verb is used to indicate “we.”

One can only imagine my surprised look as I stared at my father after reading these words.  “But dad,” I said to him in a naïve childish manner, “I have not committed all these sins, why do I have to ask for their forgiveness?”

My father caressed me with his eyes, patted my head and answered, “That, my child, is part of what being Jewish is all about.  You are part of Am Yisrael. Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh. We have collective responsibility for each other, one we assumed upon ourselves when we accepted G-d’s Covenant at Arvot Moav before we entered Eretz Yisrael after we had left Egypt.  That Covenant,” my father explained to me, “demanded that each member of Am Yisrael would commit to a collective responsibility and would see to it that their friends  would also maintain their commitment.  You may not have committed all these sins,” he tried to reassure me, “but even if one Jew did commit them, it is our responsibility to ask for their forgiveness because we are responsible for each other.”  I felt proud, so proud.  To be charged with such an important task made realize, already then, how forged and cemented my fate is with the fate of my people.

“There are a couple of other lessons that this prayer teaches us,” my father continued his lecture about the important message of the Ashamnu prayer as we made our way back home from the synagogue.  “The first is that one cannot repent until after one has committed the crime and after one recognizes and acknowledges that he or she has erred. In other words, one cannot ask forgiveness for a crime one has not committed.”  I recalled that the prayer was written in the past tense. The transgressions listed were conjugated in the past tense.

“There is second and just as important a lesson to this prayer,” my father went on as he was holding my tiny hand in his.  “The Talmud teaches us that one who shames (makes white להלבין פנים) the face of his fellow has no share in the world to come.  We have to be careful not to embarrass our fellow publicly. And that is another reason why we use the word ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ in this prayer. We want to avoid shaming those among us those who might have indeed erred and committed one of these transgressions.”

That lesson still resonates with me.  All I ask is, if a Jewish girl was able to master it at the tender age of six, why cannot SOME of our Jewish Israeli leaders and SOME of our rabbis master it at their advanced age?  Why can they not understand that collective responsibility for any transgression can only be taken AFTER it was committed and not one second before?

Only in Israel!


Today, I had an appointment a few miles away from home. Naturally, I took the car as it was a very hot day. As I was looking for a parking place, I spotted one in front of a single family residence. An older woman came out shouting at me to remove my car as she was reserving it for her son. I told her that as I could not see any "reserved" sign nearby, i had the right to park there. She got very upset and I decided out of respect to look for another place which I found nearby. As I was making my way to my destination, I passed by her house and she was still outside. I asked her where she was from 
"Libya," she answered "And I have been in this house for close to 70m years," she added proudly.
Yes, she was in Libya during the war and the Nazis did round up her family leaving her in the care of strangers.

I was really touched by her story as it was only in recent years that I learned about the plight of some of the North African Jews under Nazi occupation.
She told me her story and also shared with me that she was receiving reparations from the Germans.
I could not help it but had to give her a warm hug. She invited me into her house and offered me some of her delicious food.

When I left her, my heart was smiling. It was smiling for two reasons. The first because I felt that Justice was done to my people. This woman was compensated for the harm that was caused to her and to her family and only because she was, like me, Jewish. The second, I turned a potential foe into another dear acquaintance into whose home I am always welcome. Life is great, especially in Israel. Shabbat Shalom 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Is the Duma “guess- timation” the next Al Dura narrative?


I am not going to discuss the painful issue of the recent Duma tragedy. We have had enough of that, enough of self flagellation, breast beating and guilt ridden national conscience. The incidence has been debated, written about, discussed and analyzed ad nauseaum to the point of exhaustion.

It is time to heal and move on.
Herein, however, is where our problem rests. Any doctor will tell you that no healing process can commence until the problem has been fully diagnosed and the source of it has been identified. How can we, Israelis, prescribe a cure for the malignancies in our midst if so many of us refuse to confront them?  How can we stop a small but loud segment of our society from breast beating and projecting upon the rest of us their dysfunctionalities by pointing a blaming finger at us and declaring us as the “usual suspects?”
These questions seem legitimate following another very well publicized example; one that continues to resurface; one we had allowed to remain an open wound for too long, a wound that still comes to haunt us probably because we took too long to address and cure it. I am referring to the Al Dura case of September 30, 2000.
The image of the twelve year old Gazan boy hiding behind his father who was allegedly killed by Israeli fire, is still a symbol of “martyrdom” in some parts of the world, mainly the Arab world. It appears on posters, stamps and is still fuels hatred and violence towards Israel.
Following the incident, France 2 T.V. station aired a clip of the alleged killing and distributed it for free to other networks that broadcasted it, inspiring further violence directed at Jews and Israelis.
My dear friend, Philippe Karsenty, the founder and president of Media-Ratings ( claimed  that the footage was staged. He was ready to defend his claim in court. Karsenty was sued for defamation by the French-Israeli journalist of the France 2 T.V. station. Karsenty lost in court.
On May 21, 2008, justice briefly prevailed and Karsenty won his appeal. In 2012, however, the French Supreme Court overturned the Appeals Court‘s decision on procedural grounds. According to it, Karsenty had no legal right to show the footage during the proceedings at the Court of Appeals.
It was not until May 2013, though, that a victory for Israel took place. Following the recommendation of an investigative committee set by the Israeli government, Israel formulated its official position that there is no evidence to support France 2’s claim that the young Al Dura was killed by Israeli fire, if at all.
Clearly, only some of pieces of the Duma firebombing puzzle are strewn around. These include, a dead baby, a wounded family and two burnt houses in the middle of a small Arab village. All the other details are circumstantial.
Uncertainties and unsolved issues are a nightmare. No one deserves to live with them for too long, if at all. Hopefully, the relevant Israeli authorities would, like in the Al Dura case, initiate their own probe into this case and hopefully sooner.  Otherwise, in the words of my dear friend and fellow blogger, Varda Meyers Epstein, “Duma might become the next Al-Dura case.”

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

B’ma-alot k’doshim ut-horim (The Ascension of the Holy and Pure)


The above title is taken from the El Maleh Rachamim ("G-d Full of Compassion") prayer. This prayer is dedicated to the soul of the departed person.  It is recited by a Cantor at a Jewish funeral. It is also recited on days of remembrance for the deceased and various other occasions or days in the Hebrew calendar such as his or her death anniversary (Yahrzeit). This prayer, packed with very powerful imagery, is also recited publicly during memorial days such as Yom Ha'Shoa dedicated to the victims of the holocaust and Memorial Day commemorating Israel's fallen soldiers.T

Unfortunately in recent years, we have been hearing it more often for  the souls of our young departed soldiers who died in the wars defending the Jewish state.  We have also been hearing it recited for the untimely death of the many innocent victims of terror. A few days ago, it was recited at Shira Banki's funeral.

B’ma-alot k’doshim ut-horim “ is but one line taken from this important and compelling prayer.  It refers to the heavenly stairs leading to the spheres where only the Holy and Pure could ever set foot as they make their way towards their eternal rest under the Wings of the Schechina.  For me, it is the most meaningful one.   It is generally here, at this point of the prayer that some frozen river within me thaws and a gush of tears bursts forth.
I have often wondered, why?  What in this particular line, which I have heard so many times, always triggers that response in me, and why then?  I believe I may have finally discovered the answer.
For many years, and for some odd reason, I would impatiently wait for the cantor to reach that line.  Once he did, I would immediately close my eyes.  That is where I stopped listening to rest of it. It simply did not matter.  My essence was being taken over by this very gripping vision that unfolded itself upon hearing that line.  I could never fully articulate it.  Somehow it seemed too holy to lend itself to be expressed in mundane language. Let me try to share it with you.
In the vision unfurling itself to me, I could see a stairway mounting to an unseen realm.  I could never see its top.  It was always mantled with pure white clouds.  I could only imagine  what it cradled or embraced behind  the blinding and brightly glaring splendor that adorned it - A sight reserved for the selected and very privileged, to those pure and holy souls making their way towards it.
My mind’s eye would then wander to the borders of the hanging stairs where transparent angelic entities were standing on each side of them.  Their soft tender eyes were caressing the holy and pure ascenders, women, men, children, young and old as they were slowly making their way towards the top of the stairs, to where I could only dream of getting one day.

That vision is all I ask and want to be worthy of and blessed to experience one day.  The wish to  walk in their footsteps and reunite with them under the wings of the Schechina is what my soul longs to undergo one day.  To walk in their path towards that one place is all that my soul has yearned and continues to yearn for.  The fear that I may not, rages in me, stirring the strongest emotional storm, unleashing the rivers of tears, which I pray to G-d, will cleanse my soul, wash away my sins and prepare me  to join their exalted assembly.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Out of the Heartland of Africa


A few years ago, I had the honor to join the Massai tribe of Kenya in their country's  Independence Jubilee celebrations.  I was bestowed with the great honor to be a signatory on their Declaration of Independence.  It was an amazing experience which I would like to share with you.

A bumpy, rough road, adorned with breathtaking scenery and laced with the occasional spotting of Africa’s famous wildlife unfurled itself as we made our way into the heartland of Massai Land.  The challenging nine hours trip was expertly negotiated by our very skilled driver of Massai Adventures Safaris Ltd.
Our destination this time was: The Samburu tribe.
The Samburu Tribe is one of the two sub-tribes of the Massai .  The other is Njemps.
You may wonder what a Jewish Israeli woman is doing in such a remote place that is seen by very few outsiders.
Several months ago, I was approached by a friend of the Massai community.  She shared with me that as Kenya was about to celebrate its Independence Jubilee, the Massai expressed a wish to invite an Israeli person in order to receive blessings from Israel and the Jewish people.
It was with great enthusiasm mingled with a large dose of uncertainty that I accepted the invitation. I had heard about the Massai tribe, seen their pictures of beautiful men and women adorned with colorful outfits and magnificent jewelry.  Of course, like many others, I had also heard about their jumping skill.  I had always, also, been intrigued by their ability to adhere to their old traditions and customs despite all the changes that took place in their environment.
 I was somewhat reluctant, though,  I knew no one there.  All the correspondence prior to my departure had been with people I had never met, friends from the virtual world of Face Book and Gmail.  I did not know who or what to expect.  In retrospect, it took much courage to board that plane and embark on a journey towards the unknown. I am glad I did!
Why the Massai wanted a guest from Israel, is probably another question many of you would ask.
Historically and spiritually, the Massai have long considered themselves one of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, or Israelites.  In fact the name Massai already appears in Chronicles I Chapter 9 verse 12 : " Adaiah son of Jeroham, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malkijah; and Massai son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer."
And, for those of you wondering, let me hasten and add that they have no desire to immigrate to Israel. They are too busy reclaiming Kenya.
One experience of that visit that keeps bringing a smile to my face is the recollection of me standing in front of one Massai group or another and telling them how happy I was to be with who some of us consider our long lost brothers and sisters. I could just see their faces as their eyes examined me, my light complexion, blond highlighted hair and green eyes and silently saying "you don't say…."
One of the items and customs that the Jews and Massai seem to share in common is the use of the Shofar. The Shofar, usually made of a Ram's horn is blown on special occasions, mainly celebrations, wars and yes, Jubilees. A few more include the separation between dairy products and meat (at least among members of the older generation). Neither do they eat the sciatic nerve per the commandment prescribed in Genesis 32, 26-33.
Though now Christians, mostly Pentecostal, Israel is always in the Maasai's daily prayers. They bless Israel at ever service and at any opportunity. Always.
On one of my visits to their communities, I spent the night in the same room with two elderly Massai ladies.  At the break of dawn, I was awakened by their soft, sweet voices of their melodious prayers. I do not speak Maasai but three words that I heard over and over again clearly explained to me the nature of their utterances: Yesu, Israel, Massai.  They were praying to their messiah asking him to keep Israel and the Massai safe and strong.
I spent a whole week with the Massai in their various communities always teaching them about Israel and the Jewish people.  The conditions were hardly ever ideal. Some of the places we visited did not have running water or electricity.  The very hospitable Massai hosts always served their traditional Kenyan tea and some of their typical food.  I tried to remain as polite as possible and accepted their kind hospitality even though I did not always know what it was I was served or not always certain about the level sanitation practiced by my kind hosts.  Even  on those rare occasions in which we spent the night in a hotel, were far from the zero or one star hotels scattered in our western communities, the conditions were harsh.  Hot waters were a rarity especially on those cold nights when one needed a nice warm shower so badly after a day of driving on the dusty roads inhaling the fumes of the cars ahead.
 Oh, and then there were the mosquitoes, you know, those little flying creatures that can be very dangerous and infect you with some unfamiliar diseases such as Malaria which have long been eradicated from our own western universe.  True, I took all necessary precautions. I had had every possible shot which almost paralyzed both my arms.  I had also equipped myself with all the necessary ointments and medications per my doctor's instructions.  "Still," my doctor warned, "you need to be careful, cover yourself from head to toe and those exposed areas need to be sprayed with mosquito repellant (a rather offensive substance even for humans). And then there was the need to cover one's bed with a net if one were to spend the night in a non – air - conditioned room (which was the case everywhere throughout my visit).  That, however, as it turned out was not the problem since every place pretty much offered one.  I was grateful for the net as I felt it also protected me from other undesirable creatures such as snakes or other bush indigenous inhabitants.
Mosquito watching has never been my hobby or expertise.  However, the fear of being bitten by one, especially since I had difficulties distinguishing between the harmless ones and the Anopheles ones, had certainly turned me into an excellent spotter of them. Practicing mosquito watching, warning others and ensuring that I am fully covered at the mere suspicion of the presence of one made me the laughing stock of a few but when one's life is at risk, who cares?
And did I tell you about the hyenas, especially about the one that had attacked and killed one of the Samburu residents a few years earlier? "But the hyenas and leopards only come at night to hunt for the cattle," I was reassured by one of my hosts.
Would you feel comfortable with such a reassurance?  Perhaps.   I would not.  So having to negotiate my way to my remotely located room on some occasions in the surrounding darkness was anything but fun.

The one time when we did have electricity in one of those up country hotels, it suddenly turned off and, as is almost always, at a time when I most needed it.  It happened one morning when  we were in a hurry to start our long trip back from the Samburu back to Nairobi.  Panic settled in as I was trying to open the door to my room in order to get whatever slivers of light the waking dawn could offer me. The door seemed stuck.   I called my hosts who were in an adjacent room. One of the ladies came over and much to my surprise opened the door with great ease.  It turned out that in my state of panic, I forgot that the door opened outwardly while all the time I was trying to pull it towards me at the cost of the fragile door handle which broke off.
The time that I spent in the midst of the Massai with the love, the warmth and the heartwarming welcome that surrounded me will forever remain engraved in my memory.   It offset all the hardships, the difficult and western deprived environment and conveniences that we are so accustomed to.
Will I go back there again?

Most definitely