Drew T. Noll © 2023, all rights reserved

Friday, November 23, 2007


When I woke up the morning of my wife Adele’s return from her first journey chutz la’Arets (out of Israel) since we moved here, the house had just been cleaned by May, the Pilipino woman that Adele had arranged three weeks before, Shabbat dinner was planned, and I had time before driving to the namal ta’ufa (airport) to shop for the week and then get dinner started, or so I thought. The morning started just as any other Friday morning had. I quickly grabbed the load of laundry that was still left, headed downstairs and shoved it all into the mechona hakvisa (washing machine). Then, I started looking for my cellphone…

After I waited while the ridiculous washing machine (see Adele’s letter for further information on that one at - http://adventureoodle.blogspot.com/2007/08/european-clothes-washers-and-tears.html ) to drain so that I could open the locked door and rip the clothes out, I found it… in the bottom of the washer. Its light was still on in a desperate attempt, it seemed, to live. It didn’t. I quickly took it apart, dried it off, put it in a plastic bag, and drove to Hadera to get it fixed. Now, as luck would have it, I have a new cellphone and I also have a new case that goes on my belt so that it will never go into my pocket again. But that left me with one hour to go shopping and get dinner done… priorities, priorities…

I got the shopping done on the way home from Hadera, I prepared some of the dinner and had Zach help with the rest while Josh and I drove to pick up Adele. Yehe’ea beseder… or, maybe it wont be OK… you see, when Josh and I were walking out of the house to get to the car we needed to pass through my little basement studio. As we passed, I noticed that something wasn’t right. I looked closer and there was a big mess on the floor. There were clamps scattered around. I scanned the direction of the origin of the strewn clamps and noticed my $1,000 aluminum frame full suspension mountain bike, buried and yes, bent. Because I was late and now swirling in a pool of adrenalin driven angst, I just left the mess for later. We got to the airport in record time with just enough time to buy a little lady bug balloon for Adele. Well, I was probably not thinking about the drive much and thank G-D for the little airplane on all the road signs to direct me considering my limited ability for concise thought at the time. Josh later said that he was afraid to go with me at first because of the intensity of my emotions (get it under control Aba…) but we both used the opportunity to practice our stress management skills… breath deep… blow it all out… breath deep… blow it all out.

Don’t worry; the story isn’t over yet… Adele had been stressing out since before she left about the new mountain bike she was bringing in to the country. We had heard horror stories of appliances, technological gadgets and gizmos, and yes, bicycles becoming the focus of the tax collectors at the border to the Holy Land. Long story short, we paid, through the nose in money and in time. We waited for about two hours and Adele had to go back the next day with her sister Kate for five more hours to get the bike released… Oy.

On the good side, dinner was great, we got the beautiful new pink mountain bike for Adele, I got a new blue cover for my phone (that will never see the inside of my kies (pocket), and after a few days of worrying about how to fix or sell the bike and what to ride in the meantime, I duct-taped the damage in classic Israeli fashion, and while taking a picture of it for this blog saw the most amazing sunset (see above) from the street in front of our house! Ye’heey beseder! Now I just hope I don’t break the bike completely while bouncing down the boulders around here… Neereh,

Shavua tov kulam,
I know I need one!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Building Walls of Peace

At work at the factory of Beth El in Zichron Yaakov, they are building a wall. It is a wall, like any wall is, to keep out thieves and undesirables, a wall for privacy, and a wall for protection. Walls have been built throughout time for the same reasons. We feel secure behind walls but if we are on the wrong side we feel threatened by them. A wall is a symbol of many things. It can symbolize the primordial awareness of ‘fortress’ or it can just be something to perk our curiosity… what is behind that wall anyways? I have heard tales of giant walls surrounding giant homes in Johannesburg, South Africa to protect from rampant violence and thievery. I have been to the only wall I know of that was built to keep people inside of a country instead of out, the Berlin wall in what was then, East Germany. I went to the Pink Floyd concert at the L.A. Forum entitled “The Wall” and watched a mach plane land on it and crash it down. In my youth, while spending my Summers near Yosemite National Park in California, I spent countless hours toiling on hand stacked stone ‘walls to nowhere’ to continue the project started by the Tung Chinese Mafia informants from San Francisco that had been hid away 50 years earlier. Walls are an indefinable aspect to our physiology and our thought process that can be as physical as the Great Wall of China or as ethereal as the wall of silence that instantly flew up when we asked our parents about the birds and the bees.

So at work we have been instructed to keep the doors locked during breaks. The men building the wall are Arabs from Nazareth, a notoriously anti-Israel city. One of them has a sticker on the back of his car supporting Nasrhalah, Israel’s Osama Bin Laden. Early on in the project, one of the Arabs was continually caught walking around the factory asking for water or the bathroom. I have heard of at least one thing that has gone missing. This isn’t what bothers me though. What is most disturbing is that one of them, an old guy with a long grey beard, was heard at the front gate saying that they should just kill all the Jews working at the factory. This was said in Arabic and he evidently thought that the guy searching their car didn’t understand it. Maybe the old Arab guy was just annoyed at having to have his car searched for bombs every morning. Maybe it was just a joke amongst brother Arabs. Whatever it was, it illustrates a valuable point with regards to the Israeli-Arab conflict. It is not going to go away anytime soon, regardless of whatever the peace deal of the day is.

Former Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir once said, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”

The last I heard, Palestinians were still dressing their children up as little homicide bombers with toy plastic bomb-belts and everything. I think we have a while to wait…

So the Arab workers are almost finished. I am really glad about that. It is a strange feeling to feel threatened in this way. It is something that simmers around in your head and creates boogie men around every corner. On the positive side, the ti’ach (plaster) crews of Arabs are a little friendlier then the concrete block layers. I got a smile and a nod from one of them while on break behind the building. Maybe it was just from my American accent or maybe it was something else. I did catch one of the younger Ti’ achim (plasterers) scanning the building through the window. I asked him if I could help him with something and he replied, “Ani rok mistakel.” (I am only looking) yes… but looking for what, I wanted to ask. He must just have been curious about what was behind the wall that they were building, right? And speaking of walls, here is a good joke I heard recently about another famous wall.

A journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Wailing Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time. So she went to check it out. She went to the Wailing Wall and there he was walking slowly up to the holy site. She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane in a very slow fashion, she approached him for an interview.

"Pardon me Sir, I'm a journalist and my name is Rebecca, What's your name?"

"Maury Fishbein," he replied.

"Sir, how long have you been coming to the Wailing Wall and praying?"

"For about 60 years."

"60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"

"I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims. I pray for all the wars and hatred to stop, I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults, and to love their fellow man."

"How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

"Like I'm talking to a @$%&*$% wall."

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Americans out there and while you are eating turkey and remembering the Indians and the Pilgrims, take a moment to remember what happened to the Indians when they traded land for peace. On the other hand, they did get to legally operate big casinos on their reservations. Maybe it was just a wash after all…

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Sixth Day

At work the other day, I was having a great day. It was morning and I had many, many cabinets to make. It had just rained and the day before it was so clear that I could see Har Hermon from my mirpeset (porch). Har Hermon is a mountain on the borders of Syria, Lebanon, and Israel. It is the place that (Bisrat Hashem ye’heyea sheleg) we will go snowboarding this year. There is no out-of-bounds skiing there. The area is surrounded by a military presence and Syrian mine fields that were left from the last war. You still can hear stories of cows wondering off and becoming instant hamburger from an ill fated step. That little story is a side step to this one so to get back on point; at work that day, I was feeling really great. The rain felt good, and my nephesh (soul) was content and happy.

Often times at work I start writing a story or blog in my head and later write it down. Recently, I had studied a text or two with my friend Moshe about the sixth day of creation, deepest, darkest Africa, and other shadowy places both in the spirit and in the real world. This started the ball rolling on one of these stories in my head. I become really inspired but the weird part was that the more I thought about it, the worse I began to feel. The day went by really fast and before I new it, it was almost time to go home. Just a little while before this I had stopped thinking about the story in my head and this seemed to help the way I felt. At the time, I thought, maybe it just isn’t time to get into a story like that. It is a very charged idea and has many, many ramifications for me. The thought crossed my mind that I could also just simply be getting sick.

Having had this episode at work reminded me of another similar occurrence in my life when I had an emotional and physical connection to something such as this. I was in Collage at U.C. Santa Barbara and was involved in an art history class. My professor was a local expert on the customs of the North American Indians and as it happens African art and customs from the Ivory and Gold Coasts. He had collected ancient masks and artifacts from these regions and was sponsoring an exhibit with some of his and other barrowed artifacts. The students in one or two of his classes were invited to be involved in a marketing scheme for the exhibit. We were asked to wear the masks of these ancient cultures from deepest, darkest Africa. We were to create a procession around the campus doing a traditional dance and act out the original African tribal custom to spark the interest of the other students and faculty.

We had a choice of masks to wear. There were many white (good spirit) masks that were mostly chosen by the women to wear and there were only a few black (evil spirit) masks. Strangely enough, these were chosen by only men. The few men that were chosen to continue with the masquerade were warned of the dangers before hand. These were not physical dangers but spiritual. You see, these masks were worn by only the greatest of shaman from the villages where they were made and the tradition was that the masks contained the energy of the spirits that had worn them before. As it happened, my mask was one of the oldest. It could easily have been 100, 200, even 300 years old and when I first put it on, I could sense something sinister, something dark, within its husky texture and the smell of its peculiar history.

We were to parade around the campus, the evil spirit incarnations attached with chains that were held tightly by 6 good spirit incarnations. We all had a role to play as well. The good spirits were to flutter and chirp, in a characteristically good manner and the evil spirits were to growl, retch, and scream, in a characteristically evil manner. At first, because I was a bit shy, I was a little timid to really become the evil spirit incarnation. I remember thinking, “why didn’t I choose the good spirit mask?” oh yeah; I was also a man… so I got into it. I retched and I roared for about a half of an hour. As I did so, my stomach began to hurt. Then my head started in. was I getting sick? Maybe the smell of the mask or maybe just a lack of oxygen was getting to me. Or maybe… it was the smell of the history of the mask. My mind began to race as I screamed and growled while being led about by these good spirits with there chains clanking. At one point, I remember that I began to sense real fear in the women under the good spirit masks (maybe just the good spirit in me). This is when I decided that I had had enough. I was either going to feint or loose myself for good into the dark depths of the evil incarnation in that mask. We stopped and I took off the mask. The world around me swirled a bit. I was wet with sweat and I remember that I felt so good to be in the air, the clean fresh sea air. The women, I sensed, were still afraid of me as I sat there on the curb. They left me and the professor came out to check on me. He had an understanding look on his face… as if he had been there… done that.

So, I did get a little sick after that day at work and I also decided to continue with the story that I hatched in my head. I found that I just needed to balance it with some good, uplifting spiritual energy and ultimately give it the respect that it deserved. I believe that there are more things to this world then what we see. There is a place that we all sense something more, just around the corner. Sometimes it is good and sometimes, we know that it is not.

My Son Zach told me a story the other day about how one night while he was on his way to a friends house that he avoided going through a field that was the most direct route. He walked all the way around it, just from a feeling that something was not right. Maybe it was just wild pigs snorting in the underbrush, ready to battle for their territory, or maybe it was more… (“And G-D said, “Let us make Man in Our image, after Our likeness. They shall rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and over the animal, the whole earth, and every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”… And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.) Tradition states that something else was created before dusk of the sixth day commenced to illustrate the point to us that it is OK to let something stay unfinished when the Shabbat comes in. G-D chose to create something that was never to be complete and to this day, it haunts us in our dreams and in dark places all over the earth. Maybe it is just human intuition, common psychology, or biological impulses in our brains that warn us of danger and impending doom… I think it is more and as such, deserves respect.

Sun Tzu on the Art of War wrote, “All war is based upon deception.”

The truth is here, inside us… waiting just to be unmasked.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Army, Love, and Faith

My Son Zach is now 15 years old. He will be 16 in April and at that time; he will need to register for the draft. I remember when I was young and also turning 16 and needed to do the same in the U.S. I remember that my father told me that I had to do it, but that it was a big decision. I now wonder what that meant… a big decision, but that I had to register anyways.

At the time, there were still a lot of vibes going around about the Vietnam War and how it resulted in mostly lost Sons, Fathers, and relatives, with nothing but a lost battle in the War against Communism to show for it. It was a very unpopular war in not only the U.S., but in the World. All the wars before that were accompanied by fanfare and support for the men and women that fought for the ideals and freedoms of the United States of America and the larger free world. Vietnam was different. It changed the public eye about how to think about government. To this day, we see with the current crises in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the War on Terror, and how to conduct such an illusive battle against an indefinable and mostly unseen enemy that the U.S. is still suffering from the realization of this schism within government and society. The need to do the right thing, make the right decisions, and still be willing to fight ‘the good fight,’ against whatever foe threatens the ideals that we try to cling to is becoming ever more difficult to see thanks to, mainly, the media conglomerates that filter information into what they believe is the ‘one’ truth.

Sometimes, fighting ‘the good fight’ is really just fighting within our own selves and sometimes it is the evil enemy that is knocking on the gates to our locked and climate controlled castles and communities. How do we know who to believe? When the ‘entertainment’ news tells us one thing and it spreads like an overgrown gossip tree, by the time we realize that there are other versions of the same story out there, the damage is already done. Click here for a particularly disturbing albeit accurate version of this phenomenon as it relates to the current events in the Middle East.

In the U.S., when the troops came home from Vietnam, there was not only no fanfare, there was public outcry against atrocities like ‘baby killing’ that had occurred in a foreign land, in the name of The United States of America. How do we really know what the truth is; and ultimately we need to ask ourselves is there just one truth? I believe that in the end, everyone puts the information that they glean from the many modern sources into there brains in a way that can be processed and accessed when needed. We actually become something that just takes over and has a life of its own and one that can sometimes take us down roads that we could never have imagined. I have already lost a few, not really friends but, acquaintances directly as a result from my move to Israel and what that meant to their compartmentalization of information and the definitions that they created of themselves by refusing to look at the bigger picture and ask... what if?

Back in Zichron Yaacov, my Son Zach had been taking a chug (after school class) in mountain biking. He did this for about a year. Recently however, he decided to stop doing that and to replace it with something called Kosher Cravie (strength ‘extreme’ fighting). It is a pre-military training school that is basically like (after school) boot camp. It is really amazing what they do. He runs, swims, exercises, carries loaded backpacks and mach stretchers, and does it all in the dark woods with other teammates from the local High Schools. It is exactly like what we might all imagine boot camp to be. His goal, I have recently learned, is to be in an elite fighting unit in the Israeli Army, and not the desk job in engineering or intelligence like we had hoped. He even went so far as to say that if we needed to move back to the States, he would return to serve anyways. Well, so much ‘for reason number one’ for not making Aliyah in the first place. We brought him here, to the front line on the War on Terror and really didn’t expect anything different. He has cousins, aunts, and uncles that have served, cousins that are currently serving, and cousins and close personal friends that will be serving, along side him, to protect his family, his Country, and in the big picture… the free world.

So when my father said to me, so long ago, that I needed to make a choice and that I had to sign up for the draft as well, I believe that what he really meant was that I always have a choice. There are some things that we just need to do but that does not mean that we need to stop thinking about all of it and potentially get stuck with only one truth. My father was telling me that I should be aware of the world and that there are many choices to make in life. We always need to be on the lookout for ‘the good fight,’ whether it is the bad guys at our front and back doors, or the schism of truths within us all. In the end, we need to love our families and friends, regardless of the choices that have been made. Faith is a big thing… and growing all the time.

Shabbat Shalom

Friday, November 2, 2007

Alone, in Gan Eden

(Garden of Eden)

My wife Adele has been out of Israel for only one week of a planned three week visit to the States. Even though we already miss her, early on all four boys in her household were ecstatic about the new found freedoms. Well, maybe the dog wasn’t so thrilled. Dude the dog had an unfortunate experience with nerves and missing his Mommy when about two days into this so-called freedom of the household he decided to change his poop schedule. He usually had a daily bowel movement on my late-night walk with him, but no… he wanted to go right in the middle of a really good movie and a cold beer! I, conveniently, didn’t heed his rather obvious warnings of impending doom and continued to watch the movie with the boys. Just being able to do this without the nagging insistence on playing with the toy of the day should have been warning enough for me of what was to come. To make a long and unpleasant story short; when it was bed time and I took him for his walk, he didn’t go poop like he normally did. Then, from down the street I heard Josh crying and running up the hill barefoot. “Dude crapped in my room! I can’t go to sleep in there, it smells!”

So, I was bummed and so was Josh. Dude isn’t allowed upstairs in our house, like many Israeli households, and he must have just been trying to find a place outside of his normal terrain. OK, my fault, I know!!! We finished up with the unneeded walk and went to clean the mess. We walked up the stairs and yup, it did smell bad. Luckily it was on the carpet and all we had to do was carry the rug outside and to then squirt it in the morning. We ran some fans and cleared up the stink in no time, or so we thought. With Josh tucked into bed, and Zach off to one of his ‘all night-er’ shvita (school strike if you remember from a few blogs ago) parties, I decided to hit the sack as well, you know work in the morning and everything. So, I walked into my room and low and behold, the stench had returned. Dude was in real trouble now. He had also gone in my bathroom on the throw rug and just to drive his point home he left me a nice neatly stacked pile on top of my bed, right in the middle…. oy. (Good thing I am the bed-maker in the house) The next day Zach informed me that Dude had initiated his room as well. in the morning, when Zach had returned he also noticed the smell and, oy va voy, in the middle of the floor on the tippi top of the giant pile of mixed up folded and dirty clothes, Dude the dog had made his statement, just like a cherry on the top of a very long night.

The rest of the week went great for everyone, until the food that I had bought earlier in the week (you know the usual cheese, beer, cucumbers, pita and humus) ran out. That is a good way to clean the fridge because on Yom Reviyi (Wednesday) it was completely empty. I had planned on taking the day off of work on Yom Hamishi (Thursday) to celebrate my birthday and maybe do something like go to the desert for a mountain bike ride. Instead, I shopped, cooked, and cleaned. (Hence the picture above of all the amazing varieties of tea that I found stuffed in the cabinet cracks while cleaning) so now we have Cholent, Spaghetti, Lasagna, vegetables in the fridge, and plenty of tea! Yay! And just in time for the shvita to end too. Yup, that is what I heard, maybe on Yom Rishon (Sunday). That would really be a wonderful thing, even now that we have a fridge full of ready made food to eat for the kids during the day. You never can tell. Things really happen here when they want to. We really learn to let go of the reigns that we think we have and let Hashem take over.

For instance, instead of going riding by myself on Yom Hamishi, I went on a fun bike ride today with my friends Bruce and Andreas. We went to a Christian Monastery called Mukraka where Eliyahu HaNavi (Elysiah the Prophet) had created a sacrificial fire alongside of one from the Philistines that were praying to a Baal (Idol) of some sort. The two Prophets had a sacrifice- off and in the end, Eliyahu won (of course) and killed the Baal Prophet by a river that we could see down in the valley far below. We then rode on to Daliat HaCarmel (a Druze village) and back. It was fun!

Tonight, we are having Cabalat Shabbat (receiving the Shabbat) at friends and tomorrow we are going to more friends for Suda Shniya (second meal) we are being well taken care of… what did you all expect, we live in a country full to the brim with Jewish Mothers! But it will be great, though, to have our very own Jewish Mother back in Gan Eden with us; be safe Adele.

Shabbat Shalom Kulam.