Yesterday I completed a grueling 16 hour shiour (lesson) with a mifchan (test) at the end on how to drive a forklift in Israel. And since we are in Israel, everything seems to be in Hebrew! What was I thinking! So day one of the shiour bemalgisa (forklift lesson) started by getting a ride after work with a whole bunch of German kids from the factory to start the, you guessed it, TOFFUS! It is a word after all. Since all the kids from the factory are actually kibbutsnicks we had to make a quick stop in Hadera while we were at the Misrad Ha Rishoui (DMV) to go shopping for bike stuff. No big deal, I have been getting a lot more relaxed about time and scheduling here. The other Israeli that was with us wasn’t so relaxed about it though. “Ze Lo Beseder!” he kept saying. I tried not to be the peace maker because of what I learned with my last experience with Uri on the bike ride but a little bit kept squeezing out regardless. It is in my nature and hard to suppress I guess.
So we started the next task about 3 days later after work. Yup, this whole deal was about half on my own time and half on work time. I must either be insane or really love this Country, maybe a little of both (more about that later). We get to Amicom where the lessons are going to be and it is just a little community center. I kept looking for the forklift that we were going to drive, but there wasn’t one to be seen anywhere. We all sat down, the German kibutsnicks, the other Israeli guy from Beit El, a couple other Jews from the area, a handful of Arabs, and Me. Our instructor is busy setting up all this computer stuff and I come to realize that we are just going to sit in this room listening to forklift driving theory (all in Hebrew mind you). I kept thinking that we would do this for a day, maybe another half day and then get to practice on the forklift. Nope, three days of lessons later, 12 hours total of listening to weight ratios, load capacities, stability tables, and rules of thumb (I am not even going to try to translate that stuff to Hebrew for you… OY!), we finally got to see a real forklift on the afternoon of the mifchan.
The first thing that I did was to sit in a boom forklift like the ones you load roofing tiles onto roofs with and have one of the little German kids tell me what to do in Hebrew. As it turned out, he and I were the only ones that needed to do the Mifchan over again at the end of the day because nobody ever told us what we were supposed to do. We were supposed to pick up this load without scrapping the ground, put it up into the air, lower it and then drop it on the white line by tipping the forks so it would slide off when we retracted the boom. I was just driving it like it was a regular forklift. Maybe if someone would have explained the technique during the twelve hours of Sheurim (lessons) instead of going over statistics and such then I wouldn’t have had to listen to the guy administering the test say in a real grumpy voice, “ze lo beseder leshuffshef et ha adoma, ma ha baya? Ata lo mevine Evrete or mashehoo quese?” oy yoy yoy, I tried to tell him that I didn’t speak Hebrew so well but I guess he was grumpy from standing in the hot sun all afternoon like the rest of us.
At first he must have thought I was a German, but after he found out I was from Hartsote Habrite (The United States) he kept trying to joke with me in a hybrid Yiddish/English. Maybe he was one of those Chiloni (Secular) Israelis that don’t like the Dattaim (Religious). There are all types here, some get along, and some don’t. Oh well, after driving the regular forklift around a little obstacle course, while the other guy giving the test talked on his phone in the shade of some nearby bushes instead of watching me, I passed the test and even more importantly, thank G-D, it was finally over! At least now my boss at Beit El will be happy and all the hassle is really cidaiy (worthwhile) when we get to do something amazing like this next story.
Beit El did a Hofshee (freeday) for the factory workers (about 100 of us) and had a bus take us to a place called Kibbutz Misgav Am (People in a high place or something like that). It is right on the border with Lebanon and you can see quite a distance into Southern Lebanon. We could see the UN flag, the Lebanese flag, the French flag (I think), and the flag of the terrorist group Hezbollah, all on there own little hilltops (see the picture above). It was very quiet accept for the noise of the saws cutting rebar for fresh construction projects just on the other side of the border fence and down a little ravine. An Israeli military vehicle drove by on the border road just below us with a soldier sticking out of the top of the roof sporting a submachine gun. It was Surreal. We were given a talk by a soldier that had gone into battle there and lost many of his friends. It was a difficult war for Israel and one that I hope, believe, and know, that many lessons were learned from. What I always need to tell myself is that having faith in Israel is not just about contemporary issues. It is having faith that this place was meant to exist from the times of Moshe (Moses) and Avraham. It was meant to exist so that we could be tested, so that our faith could be realized and manifest itself in a real and tangible way.
Our bus ride to the North was filled with history and stories. We hiked to some amazing places and were told about its history. We were told stories of the Jews that have been living in this area since the time of Har Ha Beit (Temple Mount). We saw synagogues and grave sites from the Hellenistic period. We saw some of the most amazing nature and trees, with Torah stories to go with them and when we got to the border with Lebanon we heard some stories of Milchemet Lebanon Shnia (the second Lebanan war). We visited a memorial for some Miloeem soldiers that were killed getting prepared to go across the border. There were 12 Men that died there and the memorial had all of their pictures. The ketusha that killed them was also there, twisted and black. Everywhere I looked I could see where ball bearings, packed into rockets by Arab terrorists, with the intent of tearing apart civilians in major cities like Haifa and Zfat, had impacted the walls, cars, and trees. And in one case, I saw a sign post where you could see perfect 5 millimeter holes on one side of the pipe and spun metal ribbons on the other side where the ball bearings exited. Some of the people from my bus cried, I also cried. Life is like that here. You see the struggle that People have had to endure all over the country but when you want to see something amazing, all you need to do is open your eyes. It’s always right in front of you! Many of the people that live here don’t know a lot about the history of this place. If they are Israeli then chances are they know about the wars and some of the politics but to see the actual macome (place) where, thousands of years ago, King Solomon made a ruling about an infant that two women were claiming as there own, just shrinks history down to a scale that we can all identify with. It is Haval (a pity) that so many of the people that live here aren’t connected to that deep and rich history. It is something that needs to change, and I believe, something that is changing. By uprooting my family and moving here we have sent and are continuing to send a message, both to the Israelis here, and to Jews all over the world. This is our heritage. This is where we truly can become our potential. And to quote myself, “this is where we truly live”.