Friday, May 21, 2004

I feel VERY loved :)

Twenty-two years ago today my mother gave birth to her one and only daughter. Thank you to my wonderful family and friends who all called me to wish me a wonderful birthday. I truly feel loved. My grandmother called all the way from Israel. I had the biggest smile on my face when she called. I promised her we'd celebrate in a week when I would see her in person.

Please read the post that follows this one.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Berkeley's Intifada

"As students embrace the Palestinian cause, UC Berkeley has lost whatever reputation it may once have had for tolerance."

UPDATE: I decided to rewrite this entry. Here it goes...

I have spent many entries bitching about Berkeley and its anti-Semitic, anti-Israel sentiments and how I can't wait to get the hell out of here. Many of my friends are not Jewish and are also quite liberal and thus it was always difficult for me to get them to see what I was going through. Some didn't understand, or just didn't think it was as a big deal as I was making it out to be. I felt alienated and alone. I lost a few friends that way. We no longer understood eachother. For a while, I thought I was going crazy But as it turns out, I am not crazy...Berkeley is. Or rather, UC Berkeley is. This week, in the
East Bay Express (a rather liberal newspaper), the feature article discusses Cal's intolerance. Finally, after four years, I feel like the mental and emotional suffering I went through has been validated. As it turns out, I don't feel that much better knowing I'm not insane because it concludes that people are still hateful, close-minded, and evil.

The article featured a friend of mine, Micki Weinberg. It seems absolutely in place that they picked to interview him because Micki is very well known on campus by people of all backgrounds. He's very social and quite the intellect. He reads mounds of books and argues with everyone and anyone. Any party that I saw him at, I could find him off talking about politics with someone. I would roll my eyes because it was just so like him to incessantly talk politics. Even on Shabbat, in a room filled with Jews, he manages to discuss the current situation in Israel and what not. His intentions are only good even if it does get a bit agitating after a while. I found him once on campus talking to what looked like some kind of a monk. An hour later, on my way back from class, he was still there talking to him about G-d only knows what. There is no doubt he knows his shit, added to the fact that he's traveled to many places around the world, the boy knows a lot. A whole hell of a lot actually.

The article begins with him but goes on to talk about many other situations and conflicts that have arisen on Berkeley's campus. I got chills as I read the article recalling all the things I had witnessed here at Cal, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. Things that I guess I tried blocking because I had forgotten all about them. Probably for the best.

I guess what upsets me the most is to know that when I left for college at the young innocent age of 18, I believed that people had truly progressed into letting go of prejudices, stereotypes, and intolerance. I believed it because that is how I was raised. To judge people by their character and not by anything else. I clearly remember the arguments with my father declaring that I would marry whoever I wanted as long as he loved me. I didn't care if he was black, white, muslim, christian. Whatever so long as it was based on love. But all that has changed. Four years later, I am still Yael, my inner character has not changed, but my perception of the world has. The world is not as tolerant as I had thought it to be. The prejudices are still there. I have spent 4 years having it thrown in my face. I am a Jew. My people are the cause of the conflict in the middle east. Right? That's what is being spit in my face day after day on this filthy campus.

Don't worry, I don't believe any of that bullshit for a second. But it just proves to me that nothing ever changes. Every generation deals with the same filth and human nature never progresses.

All this came back to me as I read the article. Please, if you have a chance, read it. I know it's long but it very clearly gives a feel for the Berkeley trash.

The article has some great photos showing protests at Berkeley:

Protesters outside a Daniel Pipes talk:

Picture of Micki:

Here are 2 exerpts that gave me chills:

By April of 2001, Students for Justice in Palestine had become large enough to stage a high-profile sit-in at UC's Wheeler Hall. The group had demanded that the regents divest from companies with significant holdings in Israel. When the regents failed to respond, dozens of group members chained shut nine of the building's twelve doors. They formed human chains to block two of the remaining doors and ushered students out of the building through the last door

I remember their "occupation" of Wheeler Hall. It left many of my Jewish friends in tears when they tried to get to class and were greeted with intense harrassment.

Later that year, 23-year-old Aaron Schwartz was walking toward the Hillel building as part of an obviously Jewish group celebrating the annual holiday Simchas Torah. According to accounts in The Daily Californian and the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, one onlooker mocked the procession by goose-stepping in place, chanting "Heil Hitler," and performing the Nazi salute. After punching Schwartz in the face and knocking him to the ground, the man and his two companions strolled away.

Please, if you have some time, read the article. It is very well written, and very clearly describes the insanity of Berkeley.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Tasting Summer

Tomorrow's my last exam of the semester! I have a grin on my face in anticipation of summer vacation beginning. Next thursday I leave for Israel (the best birthday present my parents could've given me) and I will get to spend an entire month in the homeland. I'm so excited! I'm getting antsy! I am guessing that blogging will be less frequent while in Israel but I will stop in from time to time to let you know what I'm up to.
As far as school goes, this semester has been really... interesting. I haven't concluded yet whether I think it was a good semester or not. Last semester was, academically speaking, amazing. I learned so much and loved all my classes. My classes this time around were so boring. Nothing inspired me really (other than my human cancer class and even that one had a professor who just could not keep the morale up in the room). But so much happened outside of the classroom. Lots of positive things. Which leads me to believe there really always is a balance in life (even if you do live in Berkeley).

Monday, May 17, 2004

Jerusalem Day!!

This Wednesday the 28th of Iyar is Jerusalem Day! Here are some exerpts from an inspiring article written about the first soldiers to touch the Western Wall:

Read the whole article here

Slowly, slowly I began to approach the Wall in fear and trembling like a pious cantor going to the lectern to lead the prayers. I approached it as the messenger of my father and my grandfather, of my great-grandfather and of all the generations in all the exiles who had never merited seeing it - and so they had sent me to represent them. Somebody recited the festive blessing: "Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe who has kept us alive, and maintained us and brought us to this time." But I could not answer "Amen." I put my hand on the stones and the tears that started to flow were not my tears. They were the tears of all Israel, tears of hope and prayer, tears of Chasidic tunes, tears of Jewish dances, tears which scorched and burned the heavy gray stone.

And here's an article about why Jerusalem matters.

As a little aside: 28th of Iyar is also my Jewish Birthday! What a cool day to have been born on! :)

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Berkeley Disgusts Me (yet again)

So I decided that I would not be a lazy ass and get out of bed at 11AM (heehee) on Saturday morning and go to Synagogue. I went to the Berkeley Chabad to get my fill of Judaism for the day. So I am in there praying along with everyone else and it's a rather warm day so the windows and doors are open to allow the breeze in. In the middle of Kaddish I hear a car drive by with one of those megaphone things attached to it barking incoherent words in the direction of the Synagogue. I later asked the kids (who had been playing outside at the time) what the people had said and it turns out it was an anti-Israel group going by and Shabbat to let us know that the US should divest from Israel and get out of Palestine etc. The same old shpeel. The kids found it all very funny. I wish I could find it funny. Personally I see it as serious harrassment. They were barking their political views at Jews who were praying on Shabbat, our day of rest. It wasn't as though we were outside protesting something. Infact, for all they know we could be left-wing Jews. I mean, afterall, there are so so many self-haters in Berkeley.

Here's something else I found interesting:
On friday afternoon, after my final, I met up with a student from my Nuclear Engineering class to do a problem set. He's a graduate student in the class so he was very helpful since he had seen all the material before. Anyway, since I am a fourth year and it's May, everyone asks me if I'm graduating and what my plans are for afterwards. So he began the game of twenty questions. I had to first tell him that I am taking it slow and won't graduate till December. And then comes the question of what I'm doing after that. I should be keeping a list as to the responses I get when I say I am moving to Israel. So far it's quite a mixed bag. Most people wonder why the hell I'd do that. I can't explain it. It's not rational necessarily and how do you explain love to someone who can't see it? Right? Well anyway, I told him I was moving to Israel and when he asked why I told him that four years of Berkeley has pushed me to go back. His response was very telling. Before I tell you what he said, it should be noted that the guy got his undergraduate degree in Florida in a very Jewish very pro-israel university (I didn't know any existed in the US) and he saw the huge contrast to Berkeley's sentiments. He says to me: "Yea, I have never been anywhere where they hate Israelis as much as here in Berkeley. I mean they just hate Israel here." FINALLY! A non-Jew who gets it!

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