I tried to come up with a clever headline, or something lyrical and quotable; especially now that Jewlicious seems to be a pit stop for journalists researching local opinions by English-speaking Israel-dwellers. But I just kept coming back to this essential concept: war is hell, war sucks, hatred is as upsetting and contemptible as it is pervasive and unfortunately, human.

From the minute I woke up this morning, it became clear that although at one point I spent some time deliberating over whether I should come back from the Holy Land early, not being in Israel doesn’t mean that you’re not at war. The war on terror continues, the threat level rises to “critical” for air travel after UK police uncovered a plan they said aimed to create “mass murder on an unimaginable scale” by detonating explosives on up to 10 aircraft. My sister-in-law is bound for London today. Or maybe not.

Then I saw this report, which makes clear that the end of the world may indeed be nigh:

In Islam, as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time […] Mr. Ahmadinejad and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the U.S. about nuclear development by Aug. 22.

[….] What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427 […] by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to “the farthest mosque,” usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.

Yes, very wise to keep threats in mind, especially the ones we can’t ourselves fix. And especially if we’d like to work ourselves into a panic…news like this comes in very handy in encouraging a shut-in lifestyle among the exceedingly frightened. Well, I say no to this kind of terrorism. In fact, I’m announcing that this news will in no way spoil my plans to host the Sushi, Sake and Karaoke event at the Manhattan JCC on August 24th.

Aharon lacing up his bootsBut seriously, these are difficult times, and inspire more sadness than singing. When one friend is called up to serve in the IDF, another friend shares his feelings of frustration at not being able to go. As for me, having begun the rumination two weeks ago, I experience continued immersion in my thoughts. People putting on uniforms is important and praiseworthy, but makes me feel sad, helpless and out of control, not to mention more than slightly panicked as the abstract of a citizen army becomes more concrete, reaching out to touch those in my immediate circle of social and intellectual influence.

Then there’s the feeling that I just can’t shake, that although I’m actively involved on a daily basis in developing the present, and hopefully the future, of the Jewish people, without being there and being a part of it on this intimate, risk-to-self level, I’m somewhat dysfunctional as a Zionist and as a Jew.

It’s not clear to me if this pondering has a purpose, and whether I believe that after the deliberations there will be an answer to the questions that I ask of myself. I recognize the distinct possibility that after a deep intellectual and emotional inquiry, there will be only the most succinct, if unsophisticated, of conclusions. War sucks.

[picture stolen from Ariel Beery]

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.


  • You know, I see Esther as the conscience of Jewlicious.

    While ck mouths off at old people and Michael cusses out the people near the shuk, and Mufti does…whatever Mufti does, I always look forward to Esther’s articles because she brings Jewlicious back down to Earth and humanizes things. She ‘keeps it real’ you know? Esther, you’re wonderful.

  • Oh, I forgot to ask, exactly how much of the IDF is active, or deployed (whatever the word is I’m searching for) currently? Different news agencies I listen to give different accounts as to how many soldiers are where at any given time, it’s impossible to get an accurate description of how the IDF is reacting from American television.

  • I love how bloggers are so totally self absorbed in their self importance.

    Thank you for the comic moment.

    We do need cm’s in these horrible times.

    Tell Olmert to flatten these villages up in Leb. where they fire from. THis damm thing would have been over already.

  • Christopher, check out

    also, are u hot on esther? i wouldn’t blame you if you were though.

  • From now on I promise no more positive comments.

    I will refer to you all as shitbags and make random farting noises while typing.

  • I really appreciate your feedback, Christopher. If you didn’t have your own blog about being a 21-y.o. ex-Catholic guy, I would have thought your comments came from my mother. 🙂

    And here’s a thought… If someone really thinks this post was intended to provide a comic moment, maybe his comment is not worth responding to. As TM likes to say, don’t feed the trolls.

    But thank you for all those things you said. Looking forward to hearing about your journey.

  • hi esther. as you know, i made aliyah over a year ago and have committed my life to being an israeli (whatever that means) in israel. some of my friends have been called up for reserve duty. i do not have plans of leaving israel any time soon. and yet– i also feel dysfunctional as a zionist.

    i think this feeling comes from the reality that there is very little i can do to help the people of the north right now. i can help make packages filled with food, games, etc. to send to families in bomb shelters. i can donate money to various aid organizations. but these are things that anyone anywhere in the world can do– and i had hoped that by making aliyah i could help the israeli people more directly and effictively than when i was living in the states or canada.

    And so i too have spent many an hour pondering and questioning what it means to be one with israel. i’m hoping that the purpose of my pondering will empower me to seek out every opportunity possible to help those israelis in need. there’s not much i can offer- i’m not a soldier, or nurse or doctor. and as a jobless grad student, i certainly don’t have billions of dollars to found a refugee tent city on a gorgeous beach.

    what’s a girl to do? any thoughts?
    and oh yeah, war totally sucks….

  • Unfortunately, no, I have not. I’m going to a Reform temple today though to speak with a woman in charge of their conversion program to see if they’ll have me. (Right after I go to the dentist, which I always place on my list of things to do, right next to gauging my eyeballs out with rusted spoons)

    As for the 10,000 Israeli fighters. What the hell is up with the IDF troop movement? Every morning when I turn on the news the Israeli Defense Force is invading Lebanon, then the next day they are pulling out, then they invade again. What the hell is going on?

    Then I figured it out…

    Israel is screwing Lebanon!

    Pull out, invade, pull out, invade…

    Sorry, bad joke…I know.

  • I’m A troll???

    This is not the most prentious crap you have ever read: “although I’m actively involved on a daily basis in developing the present, and hopefully the future, of the Jewish people, without being there and”.

    At least I am not a troll whore. I just snipe on rare occasion when I have some time to kill which is not often. And I make it Israel twice a year on my own dime. Oh yeah, the great Madricha. Thanks for the giggles, wiggs.

  • Christopher,

    there is no love for the reform movement on Jewlicious, but don’t let that get to you, everyone else seems pretty smart, reasonable, etc. etc. I am converting on September 9th, i am excited even though I’d still have to go to Cyprus to marry my Israeli sweetheart(who i haven’t found yet, hopefully she’s been born though (oops bad joke))

  • Congratulations, Jon. =)

    I had to go by the dentist before I stopped by the temple, so I was in pain the entire time I was speaking to the lady in charge of converting folks. But other than that it was a pleasurable experience. She recommended that I read some stuff and attend some services and make a more informed decision before altering my life. Now I have to go by Border’s and see if they have the book I want.