Monday, June 30, 2014

16 Years and 16 Days

The past 16 days in our little country were 16 days like no other that I can remember.
For 16 days our entire country was united in prayer - there was no religious or secular, no right-wing or left-wing just a nation united in prayer, in hope, and in worry.

A nation glued to the news, hoping to hear the news that was never to come.

A nation that constantly had the the words בשרות טובות on our lips - a wish for good news that was never to come.
A nation that always had the names and images of the three boys on their lips, always wondering where were our boys, Naftali, Gil-ad, and Elad (הי"ד). A nation that spent a few extra minutes hugging their children before they set out in the morning and when they came home safely at the end of the day.

And then, on the 17th day, while the country was celebrating the end of the school year and start of Summer vacation, our small nation was shattered with the news that we all feared would come, but had tried to put out of our mind - that our three young boys will never come home from school, their plans for the Summer vacation, and for next year and beyond will never come to pass.

My youngest son is Amichai, - עמי-חי - My nation lives. He is 5 years old.
Tonight as I put Amichai to bed he looked at me and asked if it was true that our three boys were now in גן עדן - in the Garden of Eden? He stopped and thought about what he had just said, and then asked with a child's innocence - "does this mean that they will never grow old"?
Before going to sleep, he insisted on saying another chapter of Psalms - I said to him that we no longer need to say Psalms to bring the boys home - "I know" he said, "but can we say Psalms anyway for the boys' mothers, so that they know that we are still thinking of them and they won't be sad". So together Amichai and I recited Psalms 130 - שיר המעלות ממעמקים קראתיך ה - "A song of Ascent - out of the depths have I cried to You HaShem", words that even a child of 5 has said so many times over the past 2 weeks that he knew them by heart.

Master of the Universe - Your children have cried enough, please now is the time to wipe away our tears.....

המקום ינחם אתנו בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים ולא תוסיפו לדאבה עוד

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Three Yellow Ribbons


Tony Orlando calls on fans and supporters of Israel to tie three yellow ribbons in solidarity with our three boys.... I'm setting a flag with three ribbons as my Facebook profile picture.

Please G-d bring our boys home soon...


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Follow up on My App Idea - App For Drivers


As a follow up to my idea yesterday for an App to keep trempistim safe by checking up on them every ten minutes, there could be a parallel database of registered drivers prepared to pick up trempistim.

Drivers would not be able register themselves, they would have to be registered by a recognized authority such as the Katzin Bitachon of a yishuv, a community Rabbi, or local police station.
Once registered, drivers receive an identification code.

When a driver stops to pick up a trempist, the trempist would ask the driver for his code, the App then sends the trempist a photo of the registered driver, and confirms that the driver's phone is adjacent to the trempist's phone and it is safe to travel together. The App would then no longer need to send a check-up message every ten minutes.
An added benefit would be that the trempist would have details of the person who gave him a ride, for example if he left something in the car it would be easy for the driver and trempist to contact each other.

Another possible option would be to allow drivers to enter their destination when they set out on a journey. The App could notify them of a trempist in the area looking for a ride in the same direction. This would save trempistim needing to hold signs with their destination written and would save drivers stopping at every trempiada to ask if anyone is heading their way.

You could easily gameify it by giving drivers points every time they pick up a trempist.

Another feature of the app could be do store travel data, similar to Ways and provide trempistim useful information for example, the average time waiting for a tremp at a particular tzomet at that time of day, suggested routs if they will need more than one tremp to get home, and even information about the location of a register driver heading to their destination.

This would make tremping quicker and safer for both drivers and trempistim.

So that's my idea - anyone see any potential problems with it or way to improve it?
Anyone have the knowledge or resources to get it developed?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Idea for an App to keep Trempistim Safe


Since Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali went missing on Thursday night, there has been a debate on the safety of Tremping in Israel.

Since I first came to Israel over 25 years ago, one of the things that impressed me about Israeli society was the culture of tremping, the idea that we are all one big family and are all looking out for each other. When I was in Yeshiva in Efrat I regularly traveled by tremp, and now that I have my own car, whenever possible I pick up trempistim.

During the Oslo War when there were many tragic bus bombings, no one suggested that we should stop all buses in Israel, rather people said that we have to find ways to make buses safer. Similarly now, it has been encouraging that people are discussing ways to make tremping safer. Life in Israel is reporting that there is a new Moked for emergencies in Yehuda-Shomron (1208), I also saw a new app today with a panic button in case of emergency.

These solutions are important and all trempistim should be aware of them. The problem is that it is a safe assumption that if someone is abducted, one of the first things the captors would do would be to get rid of the trempist’s cell phone, possibly before they have a chance to place an emergency call.

Here is my idea for an app that would help keep trempistim safe. I am not a developer and have no idea what would be involved in creating such an app, if you have the ability to create the app, feel free to take my idea.

The app would work as follows -

Trempistim would register to use the app and select codes (as described below).

When a tempist sets out on a journey he (or she) logs in and says what Tzomet they are tremping from and where there destination is. When they get home safely, or get dropped off at a different tzomet closer to their destination, they log in with their new current location, or report that they arrived safely and log out.

From the time that the trempist logs onto the system, they receive a message every 10 minutes asking them how they are. Each time they get a message they have one minute to reply with a code that they set up for one of the following responses:

- I'm still waiting at the tzomet for a temp
- I'm safely in a tremp traveling towards my destination
- I am safely at my destination, please log me out

For each of these responses, if they enter a code one digit off, it sends an emergency signal.
If they don't respond within 1 minute the app automatically sends an emergency signal.

This means that an emergency signal would be sent out within 10 minutes of an abduction, even if the phone has been disposed of, but there would be no indication on the phone that a signal was sent

When an emergency signal is sounded, the app automatically contacts any other trempistim who were logged in from the same area, as well as contacting registered volunteers who are within a 5 km area of the trempist.

Volunteers would have to register in advance, but would include not only army vehicles and police, but the private security officers in each Yishuv, Hatzalah, ambulances, and other emergency services as well as volunteer citizens.

Volunteers in the area would initially be instructed to try to locate the phone. It is possible that the distress code was entered by mistake or the phone was accidentally dropped or broken which is why the trempist didn't respond. Volunteers would have an “all Clear” code that they can enter if they can confirm that all is well.

If the phone is found abandoned, or volunteers are unable to locate the phone within a few minutes, an urgent SOS goes out to all volunteers with detailed information - location, and personal details of the trempist including a photo. This would allow security personal to erect checkpoints within 20 minutes of a suspected abduction and put other volunteers on the lookout for suspicious behaviour.

This would hopefully avoid the fiasco that is being reported that there was a communication breakdown and it took several hours between the distress call and the army being made aware of the situation.

If anyone can see any obvious flaws in my idea or way to improve it, feel free to leave a comment. If anyone has the resources to develop such an app, I give full permission to use this idea for non-commercial purposes with the objective of keeping our people safe.

May the IDF with the help Hashem quickly bring back or boys.

Tfilla for our boys


The Rishon L'Tzion, former chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar composed the following prayer for the captured teenagers, may Hashem bring them home safe soon.

Source: Srugim

תפילה להצלתם של הבחורים החטופים
לִקְרֹא מִזְמוֹר שִיר לַמַעֲלוֹת אֶשָֹּא עֵינַי (קכ), וְשִיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד לוּלֵי ה' שֶהָיָה לָנוּ (קכד):
מזמור ק"ל
שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת, מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ יְיָ. יְיָ שִׁמְעָה בְקוֹלִי, תִּהְיֶינָה אָזְנֶיךָ קַשֻּׁבוֹת, לְקוֹל תַּחֲנוּנָי. אִם עֲוֹנוֹת תִּשְׁמָר יָהּ, יְיָ מִי יַעֲמֹד. כִּי עִמְּךָ הַסְּלִיחָה, לְמַעַן תִּוָּרֵא. קִוִּיתִי יְיָ קִוְּתָה נַפְשִׁי, וְלִדְבָרוֹ הוֹחָלְתִּי. נַפְשִׁי לַיְיָ, מִשֹּׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר שֹׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר. יַחֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל יְיָ, כִּי עִם יְיָ הַחֶסֶד, וְהַרְבֵּה עִמּוֹ פְדוּת. וְהוּא יִפְדֶּה אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִכֹּל עֲוֹנוֹתָיו.
מזמור קכ"ד
שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד, לוּלֵי יְיָ שֶׁהָיָה לָנוּ יֹאמַר נָא יִשְׂרָאֵל. לוּלֵי יְיָ שֶׁהָיָה לָנוּ בְּקוּם עָלֵינוּ אָדָם. אֲזַי חַיִּים בְּלָעוּנוּ בַּחֲרוֹת אַפָּם בָּנוּ. אֲזַי הַמַּיִם שְׁטָפוּנוּ נַחְלָה עָבַר עַל נַפְשֵׁנוּ. אֲזַי עָבַר עַל נַפְשֵׁנוּ הַמַּיִם הַזֵּידוֹנִים. בָּרוּךְ יְיָ שֶׁלֹּא נְתָנָנוּ טֶרֶף לְשִׁנֵּיהֶם. נַפְשֵׁנוּ כְּצִפּוֹר נִמְלְטָה מִפַּח יוֹקְשִׁים הַפַּח נִשְׁבָּר וַאֲנַחְנוּ נִמְלָטְנוּ. עֶזְרֵנוּ בְּשֵׁם יְיָ עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ.
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ יְיָ אֶ-לֹהֵינוּ וְאֱ-לֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶיַּעֲלוּ לְרָצוֹן מִזְמוֹרֵי תְּהִלִּים אֶלוּ שֶקָרָאנוּ הָיוֹם, כְּאִילוּ אֲמָרָם דָוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ עַבְדְךָ מְשִיחֶךָ ע"ה. וַעֲשֶֹה לְמַעַן שְמוֹתֶיךָ הַקְּדוֹשִים הַכְּתוּבִים בָּהֶם, וְהָרְמוּזִים וּמְצוֹרָפִים בָּהֶם, וּתְקַבֵּל ְּרַחֲמִים וּבְרָצוֹן אֶת תְּפִילָתֵנוּ וּבַקָּשָתֵינוּ, וְתָבֹא לְפָנֶיךָ תְּחִינָתֵנוּ, וְתָחוֹס וְתַחְמוֹל וּתְרַחֵם עַל
יעקב נפתלי בן רחל,
וגיל-עד מיכאל בן בת גלים
ואייל בן איריס תשורה
בכל מקום שהם נמצאים ותשיבם לחיק עמם ומולדתם ומשפחתם, ולא ישמע עוד שוב ושבר בארצנו, ותפר עצת אויבינו ושונאינו תזרם ורוח תשאם, וסערה תפיץ אותם, ולא תעשנה ידיהם תושיה. תפול עליהם אימתה ופחד, בגדול זרועך ידמו כאבן.
וקיים בנו מקרא שכתוב: כל כלי יוצר עליך לא יצלח וכל לשון תקום איתך למשפט תרשיעי זאת נחלת עבדי יי וצדקתם מאתי נאום יי. יי יחתו מריביו עליו בשמים ירעם, יי ידין אפסי ארץ ויתן עוז למלכו, וירם קרן משיחו.
מוֹצִיא אָסִירִים בַּכּוֹשָרוֹת, יַצִּילֵם מִשִּבְיַם, וְיוֹצִיאֵם מֵעַבְדוּת לְחֵירוּת, וּמִשִיעֲבּוּד לִגְאוּלָה, וּמֵאֲפֵילָה לְאוֹרָה, וְיִרְפָּאֵם רְפוּאָה שְלֵמָה, רְפוּאַת הַנֶּפֶש וּרְפוּאַת הַגּוּף, וְיְאַמְצֵם וְיְאַזְרֵם בְּשִמְחָה וּבְגִילָה, אַז יִתְחַזְּקוּ וְיִתְרַפְּאוּ וְהַיְתָה לָהֶם שִֹמְחַת עוֹלָם.
וּזְכוּת תְּפִלַּת רַבִּים וְצַעֲקָתַם וְנַאֲקָתַם, הַמַּעֲתִירִים בַּעֲדָם בְּכֹל אֲתָר וְאֲתָר, תַּעֲמוֹד לָהֶם לְמָגֵן וְצִינָה, וְיִקְרַע רוֹעַ גְּזַר דִּינָם, וְיִקַּרְאוּ לְפָנָיו יִתְבָּרָךְ זְכוּיוֹתֵיהֶם וְכֹל אֲשֶר פָּעֲלוּ וְעָשֹוּ לְמַעַן עַמֵּנוּ וְנַחֲלָתֵנוּ. וְיִקְרַע גְּזַר דִּינָם בִּזְכוּת הַשֵּם הַקָּדוֹש הָרָמוּז בְּרָאשֵי תֵּיבוֹת קַבֵּל רִנַּת עָמֶךָ שַֹגְבֵנוּ טַהֲרֵנוּ נוֹרָא.

וִיְקַיֵּים בָּהֶם מִקְרָא שֶכָּתוּב: וּפְדוּיֵי יְיָ יְשוּבוּן וּבָאוּ צִיּוֹן בְּרִנָּה, וְשִֹמְחַת עוֹלָם עַל רֹאשָם, שָֹשוֹן וְשִֹמְחָה יַשִֹּיגוּ וְנָסוּ יָגוֹן וַאֲנָחָה. בִּמְהֵרָה בְּיָמֵינוּ. אָמֵן.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Peace Plan that Makes Sense?

5 Years ago I outlined my own vision of a Peace Plan between Israelis and Palestinians. Basically I suggested that any government negotiations centered around borders is doomed to fail as with any type of negotiation the sides are encouraged to take as hard-line position as possible.
I suggested that for the time being we should ignore the government-level negotiations, and instead concentrate on increasing personal connections between Israelis and Palestinians. If Israelis and Palestinians work together in fields like business, health care, and education, the details of if there is a border and where it is becomes less important - what becomes important is that Israelis and Palestinians have free access to each other's facilities and can interact without government interference.

Surprisingly, after I outlined my idea in a blog post in 2009, the Government didn't call me to help them rethink their relationship with the Palestinian Authority. Part of the reason that my plan is not realistic is that it forces people on both sides to abandon the arguments about who is right and who is wrong or arguing about perceived historical injustices, and instead think about how we can make the situation better for everyone.

Well, today I was pleased to see that I am not the only one who thinks that the way forward is by focusing on the personal level, not the government level. Dani Dayan just outlined a detailed Peace Proposal which has many elements of my dream, although he goes into much more detail (Summary of his plan here, more detailed version here). Similar to my plan he talks about Business, education, and health care, but he also addresses some other major issues like freedom of travel and replacing the army with a civil administration. He also talks about the role of the Palestinian Authority and important issues like access to Jewish Holy Sights, particularly Chevron, and of course a solution to the refugee problem.

There is very little in the plan that I can see anyone objecting to - but as I said before, extremists on both sides do not want a solution for Jews and Arabs to live together in peace, they want the other side to be publicly punished for perceived historical injustices.

It'll be very interesting to see if this peace proposal gains any traction, although I fear that that is wishful thinking.