Jerusalem lost and found

Looking at Movit, I was uninspired. 2 hours and 46 minutes from my home to my meeting. 

A bus. A wait. Another bus. Another wait. Another bus.

On bus #2 I fell asleep and when I opened my eyes, they saw the hills of Jerusalem. They were covered in buildings and a rail line that weren’t there several years ago. But still, they were the hills of Jerusalem.

I thought, “What was I complaining about? I’m in Jerusalem. Jerusalem.” I thought, I wish I had a window on the other side so I could snap a picture of this and post it to my blog. Because… what?

Image

Because I can get on a bus and go to Jerusalem, any time I want. It was moving to just think about this.

It’s an honor to be living in this place, at this time. 66 years of Israel. It is not the same Israel I came to 24 years ago. My children will never have the privilege that I had, to live in this country while it could still have some pretense of integrity.

I don’t know what our future is, but I know our leaders do not have a vision. Abba Eben wished for a country that was “normal” when he read the Swiss newspaper headline about someone injured in a road accident. We have a normal country now. Our headlines are just like everyone else’s. Being normal has given us iPhones but it is taking our soul. We still think we are Zionists but we have forgotten why, and we don’t know where we are going. 

About a week ago, my daughter got her ID card at a ceremony at her high school. They talked about the country and what it means to be a citizen and sang the anthem. 

I cried the whole time. I thought: 24 years. I thought: a quarter of a century ago I had the dream to raise my children in this country and I have achieved that dream. It took a quarter century, but look, my children have an identity that none of the generations before them had, and I doubt the next one will have. 

They is precious to me, these years when of being close to Jerusalem. It is precious to me, this heritage. And maybe 6 hours was a long time to spend on buses today. But today I am truly blessed. 

 

Nudity in the Locker Room

I thought the point of separate locker rooms (and steam rooms) was that you would feel comfortable strutting around nude.womenintowel

It’s shocking how many women seem to keep their privates private, even in the privacy of the ladies locker room.

I find myself apologetically wrapping myself in the towel when walking from my locker to the shower in the ladies locker room at the gym. I don’t do a very good job, either, I just kind of hold it on the front with my backside hanging out. I can’t be bothered.

Why do I have to go through this farce? I am supposed to be naked! It’s a locker room! I’m taking a shower!

Ok, but I feel I have to be polite to all the other ladies, who seem to be carefully covering the half of their body that isn’t dressed while dressing the other half. (Some do top first and some bottom first, which is admittedly more modest as you can slip the panties up into your towel without exposing even a wisp.).

That’s why they have separate steam rooms

Today the absurdity reached the point where I could no longer be silent.

As I was blissfully and buck-nakedly steaming myself in the ladies-only sauna, a woman came in wearing a thong.

A thong? It’s beyond my comprehension. What is the difference between the thong and naked? Are you afraid I’ll find out that’s not your natural hair color? Why do you want something uncomfortable in your crack as you take a relaxing sauna? Am I missing something? Is it just the hair we need to cover and then it’s OK? I don’t know, but I didn’t make any attempt to cover my hair with my towel. Of course, I didn’t need to because my paunch and cellulite were doing a fine job already.

As if that wasn’t bad enough…

No sooner had I gotten over my initial shock at thong-lady, when fully-dressed lady came into the steam room. She was wearing almost knee-length training tights and a tank top. Hey, lady! Most of the girls wear less fabric that to the aerobics class! And you’re wearing it in the sauna? What is up with THAT?

You’d wear less on the beach

Seriously, these same women probably wear bikinis to the beach, but in the privacy of the women’s locker room, on the 5-meter walk from shower to the locker, they must cover themselves and keep that towel on until their panties are firmly in place.

And nobody’s looking

And Nobody’s Looking! Because we are so ashamed of nudity we can’t possibly look at a nude person. Conversations in the locker room must be conducted with no eye contact.

It’s not like that in the guys’ locker room

Now, I haven’t done extensive research, but I did boldly ask a couple of guys. A few of the men wrap themselves in towels, I’m told, but wearing only a smile is perfectly acceptable as well. Of course it is. It would be weird to stand next to a guy at a urinal and then have to cover your junk to take a few steps into the shower, wouldn’t it? I don’t know. I’m just guessing.

One of my FB friends did post that it was going over the line when a guy at his gym shaved in his birthday suit. So apparently, full Monty OK, full shaving routine and full Monty is taking it too far.

Maybe it’s not so funny

How did we become so ashamed of our bodies? Obviously, I have no problem with other women seeing mine – or do I? In fact, the protocol is not to look. I mean, duh, you don’t want to be staring at other people’s treasures, but in fact, if you pay attention to yourself in such a situation – even at the beach, you will find you are deliberately NOT looking. Deliberately not looking is different from just not staring. Check yourself, and you will see it.

I once went to a women’s spiritual weekend, and there was a moment when we were asked to look at one another’s bodies. Like, really look, not in a lewd way, but just look. I realized I had never done that. I had deliberately, always, avoided looking at other people’s bodies, but especially female bodies.

We are ashamed of our bodies. We are unaware of other people’s bodies. And I have news for you.

They are a thing of beauty.

I was struck at that moment at how beautiful so many people were, without knowing it. If you think about it, it’s obvious. You see so many figures of women in art, because they are a thing of beauty. And yet.

We are shamed

We are shamed into thinking that certain body types are right and others are wrong. We are shamed into thinking that we shouldn’t be looking at ourselves or others.

How can we love ourselves completely when we are so ashamed we have to hide our bodies even when we are getting dressed? Who are we protecting? Who am I protecting? Am I so worried I’m going to offend someone if they accidentally get a glance of my bush in the 10 seconds it takes me to pull on my skivvies? I visited the gym in London, and it’s even worse there. They have little separate dressing rooms with curtains so that if you don’t want to change in the regular locker room, you can get more modesty in those little cells. Needless to say, I took the locker nearest the door and made a point of undressing and dressing with reckless abandon.

Take a look

If you are ready to take a stand for womanhood, for the beauty that we all are, it’s time to recognize the beauty and wholeness of our bodies and the bodies of others.

If you aren’t yet ready to prance around in the buff, that’s fine – but if you wear a bikini on the beach, it’s time you stopped wearing it in the ladies’ locker room. It’s stupid. You look fine. Plus we know what you have – you were just wearing a bikini a second ago.

And look. Look at people. Start with people wearing clothes, and with scantily-clad people, but look at them with grace and respect, just like looking someone in the eye. Notice there is a way to look that is neither judgmental nor sexual. It’s just accepting.

Hey, that’s your body. You’ve been travelling around in it for a while. When you can appreciate those bodies around you, you will find you can start accepting and appreciating yours.

And if you see me streaking in the locker room, now you’ll know why.

How to Vote for Mayor

“So, how does the city council work?” I asked the guys running on our ticket.949

“The mayor is King,” answered the most experienced one.

It didn’t take me 10 years to figure out the truth of that statement. It didn’t take me 10 months. I did stay in politics long after that, serving as the chair of the local branch of Shinui, with 3 city council members.

With the elections coming up tomorrow, I thought I’d give you voters some perspective on local elections.

First of all, your vote really, really, really counts. Most people don’t bother to vote in municipal elections, and 300-500 votes gets you a seat on the council. In my town, 8,000 votes gets you into office as the mayor. Yes, really. So vote. It impacts the streets you drive on, the shops you buy in, and the parks you go to every day.

Now that you know you’re going to vote, and you know the Mayor is King, how do you pick the mayor?

You pick the mayor by predicting what he will be like the day after the election. And I can almost guarantee that he will be different the day after than the day before.

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I’ll tell you about my first experience why I say that. Our party supported the current Mayor, Hai Adiv. He’s a congenial guy and he had brought in a group of very competent and intelligent people to support him during the campaign. It was very convincing. Soon after winning the elections, though, he began to become suspicious, though. Who can blame him? Lots of people suddenly wanted to “cash in” after having supported him. Within a few weeks, it was clear he trusted only certain family members. Within a few months, he’d rid himself of almost all the intelligent and competent people and was relying only on yes-men and those family members. I don’t think he’s a bad man. I just think that he is someone who relies heavily on family when he is under pressure. The mayor is always under pressure.

I’ve seen this pattern over and over. As a party member, I witnessed first-hand how the leadership of the Shinui party worked. There was a certain group of leaders and they trusted one another very much. Unfortunately, they didn’t open up their ranks to the other competent people in the party. But by and large, they did a good job, because they had a high level of professional respect for one another, though they weren’t related. However, when it came time to expand the party, they were overly protective, and the party eventually imploded because of it.

So, now that I’m looking at who to elect, I’m thinking primarily about character, not about ideas, platform, or popularity. Because at the end of the day, the person’s character will make all the difference. The day after he gets elected, the mayor can get rid of every single person who supported him if he wants, or he can elevate them higher. Residents will get good or bad service based on the people who the mayor brings in. The policy decisions aren’t horribly complex. We all want the same things. Competent and caring appointments will lead to good service. So all I care about is competence and character.

In our elections there’s been quite a bit of borderline campaigning. Posters littering the city or stapled on trees — legit or not? Paying the newspaper to replace the front page story with sponsored advertisements with just a tiny symbol in the corner to indicate it’s paid… very borderline. In fact, anywhere I see a huge poster or ad, I ask myself who is paying for that, and why that particular landowner has a ton of ads plastered over his field.aviva

These borderline activities truly bother me, because they show that someone already has weak character. They have weak character when faced with the fact that if they don’t win, at this point, they’ll be faced with huge debt. They have weak character when they are so close to a win they can taste it. They have weak character precisely at the moment when strong character is needed.

My appeal to you, voters everywhere, is to trust yourself and pick the best character. In the end, really,  Fortunately, as humans, we are evolved and trained to pick up subtleties about other humans. We have a radar for knowing when someone is telling a half-truth, is likely to cheat later, or is coming from an honest place. Power corrupts, and even a strong character may fail us the day after elections. But if you are feeling queasy about anything someone did before the elections, I encourage you to choose a different candidate.

Queasiness turns to full-fledged nausea on October 23.

I’m an Org

Welcome to RebeccaRachmany.org. I’m an Org now. What that means is that instead of talking about business and marketing, which is what I do at www.rebeccarachmany.com. I’m going to keep doing that, because I am all into paying my mortgage.

Here I will be talking mostly about activism, but also about other stuff that doesn’t belong on my business blog.

It all started when I started doing work to stop the mistreatment of refugees in Israel. I started doing that because somewhere around 1947, we Jews promised that we would never tolerate racist persecution again in this world, which seemed like a good idea at the time. We Jews also walked around wishing we would have a normal country, a country like the European countries. Abba Ebben, in his autobiography, at this time, reads a newspaper in Geneva where the front page article is about a man getting injured in a bicycle collision, and wishes for the country where that’s the front page news.

People don’t ride a lot of bicycles here, but this weekend, the top headline was a fatal motorcycle accident. Not bad. From nothing to an OECD  country in 65 years. Not too shabby.

As a normal country, we have all the normal problems normal countries have, like refugees are coming to our border all of a sudden. They are walking across the desert from Sudan and Eritrea.

In those 60 years, nobody made any reasonable laws about refugees, although we were signed on the UN resolutions on refugees. Like I said, seemed like a good idea at the time. But we didn’t want to talk to much about, it, you know, because there are Palestinian refugees and we didn’t envision any other kind of refugee wanting to live in Israel.

Not that the Sudanese and Eritreans don’t necessarily want to live in Israel, but it beats jail or a refugee camp, apparently. And we have no provisions for handling this situation. So here we are. I’ll talk here about the situation and what we are putting together, as a group of concerned citizens, to raise public awareness about this issue.

Thanks for tuning in!