We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
July 30, 2006 (yesterday, for us in the US) Shabbat News at the front
Here’s what happens at a Jewish front.
A unit returns from Lebanon, all alive (on a day before nine others are killed). As their tanks, bulldozers, armored carriers cross into Israel, a “mitzvah mobile,” a Lubavitch version of Ken Kesey’s Kandy-Kolored Kontraption of the 60’s, greets them. The Lubie-mobile is blaring songs from an oversized speaker that strains against its metal stays, as if it might collapse backwards at any moment -- from its blasting volume, rather than from driving speed. Hairy faced Lubies leap out of this van, many more emerge than seems feasible to fit into this contraption. An Orthodox version of circus clowns piling out of a VW welcomes these worn soldiers. Tzitzit fly as Lubies twirl (like Dervishes), leap like gazelles, bear tefillin and extra talletim (fringed prayer shawls). They fling talletim on soldiers, grab arms, yank up sleeves, wrap the tefillin seven times around the left forearm, followed by the mysterious wrapping of knuckles that write “Shadai” on the fist ... and begin to pray. Soldiers appear stunned, or pleased, and mostly exhausted. The bearded, black-hatted, black-suited, fringed clowns of God are dancing about the soldiers, leaping on tanks, singing the praises of God for returning these men alive and well.
The Lubies believe that such performances influence God well.
A Jewish front.
A few hours before Shabbat, the major TV station takes some twenty minutes of air time to show the following scene with a unit from Ga’ash, the historical armored unit of Kahalani, which held against the Syrians in 1973 oon the Golan. Against a background of flying Katyushas, four singers first interview, then begin singing with the guys in front of an Israeli bulldozer and Merkava tank. An inner semi-circle of perhaps six guys are in front. The blond, pony-tailed singstress with dancing blue eyes passes the mike from her to one Ethiopian soldier, a kippah on his head, as a shaven headed singer in jeans and “T” begins a pop song. The Ethiopean seems a bit awkward, perhaps too close to this woman for an Orthodox kid, and one of his buddies, a thin man, intervenes, holds the mike between singstress and Orthodox soldier. Shaven-head tries to duet with a muscular, gingy (red-haired) fellow with gleaming smile, perhaps two meters in height, shoulders that don’t appear to fit through a doorway, and shaky voice. But the singer, a Phil Collins-look-a-like, hoarse voice like Mick Jagger (without the tongue), belts away. He is the kind of singer who gets you also to belt away, leave inhibitions aside. They sing Shlomo Artzi, Shoshana Demari. If the words are forgotten, the singers lead the soldiers in La-la-las. A second haphazard semi-circle begins to form just behind. One fellow, perhaps 45, more prominent in girth, hair-line receding, a Blue-tooth cuffing his right ear, claps first hesitantly, then more heartily. His voice begins to reach the mike. The tunes have the wobbly Yemenite, perhaps Moroccan quality, at times nasal. Atop the narrow bridge of the bulldozer, sitting just above the blade sits one fellow, mask-faced. The camera sneaks on to his right boot, however, and reveals it tapping at the metal in rhythm with the tune. A few minutes later, his lips move. Some soldiers reach for their cellphones, so that their families will see them live. Being seen live is no small matter for these guys.
Gingy, the handsome hulk, has not much of a way with tunes, finds his own notes much of the time, but his enthusiasm bursts through his smile. The thin man, buddy of the Ethiopian, does the Yemenite noodling well, is offered his own mike. The shoulder-length haired guitarist comes up with a battered acoustic and plays back-up to these boys in olive drab. The lovely blond pony-tail singer relinquishes mike, reaches for soldiers and by the end a semicircle of soldiers, punctuated by one most beautiful singer, are chained together.
Blondini lights the Shabbat candles, a pack of soldiers protecting her flame from the winds whistling over the Benjamin mountains.
Twenty minutes of reporting from the front before Shabbat.