Back home to war after several months in the USA

Hi Everyone,

We are back home after almost 3 months in the U.S. Ray had two conferences beginning at the end of April 2014, in San Diego and Chicago, and the latter also gave us the opportunity to visit Lilly and Nir, where Lilly is studying for a Ph.D. in Communications at Northwestern University. These two visits are described in the attached files. Most of the time we were in New Haven, CT, where Ray had a mini-sabbatical, and both Ray and Edie spent much time in the Yale University Archives, studying the life and work of Arthur Williams Wright and his family. And Ray had yet a third conference in New Orleans. Blogs about our time in New Have and New Orleans will follow later.

Our return to Israel was not straight-forward. We flew on US Air out of Philadelphia on 11 July, but only got as far as approximately Boston, when the pilot announced that we were returning to Philadelphia because of a hydraulic failure, but first we needed to circle out to sea near Atlantic City for several hours to burn off fuel. We landed in Philadelphia with an array of fire trucks etc. stationed along the runway. The landing however was relatively smooth. While in principle USAir was organized to care for the weary passengers with packets of alternate tickets for the next day and hotel vouchers, the execution was faulty, to say the least. Our seats on the next night’s flight were 20 rows apart, and there was no hotel voucher. After waiting around the airport for an hour or so waiting for USAir to arrange a hotel room, and hearing of others who returned from the hotel to where they were sent because there wasn’t room for them, we gave up, and taxi’ed to Ray’s niece in New Jersey. She had quite a surprise when she woke up in the morning to find us camped out on her porch!

The flight the next day was crowded, but otherwise OK. Edie convinced her neighbor to switch seats with Ray, so we were together. We landed in the midst of the “Defensive Edge” operation in Gaza, and experience our first missile alarm in the taxi ride from the airport to home.

While the war is raging in Gaza, life in the center of Israel is “almost” normal. Maybe this normality is an expression of how quickly one accommodates to a new reality. In our area all businesses are operating almost normally, all services are operating, and even recreational activities are operating more or less as usual. The war is felt in three ways. We have approximately one missile alert per day. The most interesting was when we were on the tennis court at Tel Aviv University, and decided we didn’t have time to get to a shelter (we get about 1.5 minute warning), so we sheltered next to a wall on the court, and saw our “iron dome” system intercept the incoming missiles, more or less over our heads. The second effect is the large number of citizens that have been called up for active reserve duty (none of our family so far). And thirdly, the operation dominates our news and our conversation.

In contrast, life in the area in Southern Israel bordering Gaza is very difficult. They are being bombarded with rockets with only 15 seconds warning, and by mortars with no warning, several times a day, sometimes several times an hour.

And of course life in Gaza is pure hell. Make no mistake that only one party is responsible for the situation in Gaza, and that’s Hamas. There is much truth to the slogan that Israel has an army which protects its civilians, Hamas has an army which hides behind its civilians. It’s absolutely shocking to what extent Hamas has placed arms caches in mosques, schools, hospitals, and in tunnels and bunkers under civilian residences. Furthermore almost all of the rocket launches towards Israel are from residential areas.

Today was a particularly hard day. A close friend, Gila Gershon, passed away after a long illness. Gila was active in our synagogue, particularly in organizing youth activities, and was the mainstay of a choir directed by her husband, Eli – a choir in which Edie has sung for many years.

And an hour after what was supposed to be a 3 day cease fire, Hamas attacked an Israeli patrol, killing several soldiers and kidnapping a young officer who lives in nearby Kfar Saba. So the war is continuing in full force particularly in Rafiah at the southern end of the Gaza strip, as the IDF tries to isolate the area where the soldier was kidnapped, and search for him.

After Gila’s funeral, Ben and Inbal, came over for an early dinner with Abigail and Eliana. Playing with our gorgeous granddaughters tonight was a special pleasure.

Eliana and Abigail Boxman - bathing beuties

Eliana and Abigail Boxman – bathing beuties

And a bit of other good news….we’re looking forward to Yael ‘s wedding to Oren October 17 – the fourth wedding in our family in four years!

Yael and Oren

Yael and Oren

Southern California April 25-May 4 2014 Chicago, May 5-11 2014Chicago, May 5-11 2014

A Tale of Three Cities: Lisbon, Coimbra, and Padua – March 2014

Off again….it seemed that we had barely settled at home, but this was a short trip, a bit over two weeks. Ray had a “COST” conference in Lisbon (also referred to by us as the annual meeting of the European talking fund) and plans to visit a colleague in Coimbra. The last time Ray was in Portugal was in 1976, when we were young and poor, and Edie had never been there. So we were not inclined to pass up the opportunity, despite an upcoming wedding in the family (Yoni and Lian on April 4), missing Purim with Abigail and Elianna, and Ray’s sister Marlene’s arrival for Passover (and as it turns out, also the wedding) the day after we returned.

We continued on to Italy, where Ray gives, every year or two, a short plasma course in a master’s program associated with the University of Padua. This time he gave also the short writing course so Edie spent many hours reviewing and commenting on exercises. Sightseeing in the Veneto was selective but that’s okay- every trip we see a few more things.

Those of you who have patience to read the attached file may learn a bit more about:
• the Masonic principles behind the construction of Lisbon’s new lower city,
• the development of coaches as a more comfortable mode of transport for royalty and nobles (and the origin of the word “coach”),
• the Catholic saint who lived in Lisbon, Coimbra, and Padua more than 800 years ago and what he has in common with Isaac Abrabanel, a Jewish philosopher, Biblical commentator and financier to royalty in the period leading up to Jewish exile from Iberia.

Everything going on after we got back has delayed posting this report and we are already in United States for another short sabbatical, starting with conferences in San Diego and Chicago. More to follow!

CLICK ON LINK BELOW FOR THE FULL STORY

Lisbon Coimbra Padua March 9-24 2014 final

Back Home

Dear Folks,

We are truly enjoying being at home, spending some time with our kids and granddaughters, and puttering about in our garden. We have some travels coming up in the coming year, though maybe not as adventurous as OZ and NZ.

We wrote trip reports on some of travels in the past — if you enjoyed our tales from OZ and NZ, you can check our takes about Korea, Turkey, some parts of Spain you might have missed, and Ray’s “roots trip” to his mother’s birth village in what was once Hungary. They are all at https://sites.google.com/site/rayandediestrips/

There are links at the bottom of the web page. Its probably best to download the pdf files onto your own computer and read them there.

All the best,
Ray and Edie

Leaving Sydney November 5-15, 2013

Leaving Sydney November 5-15 2013

A brief account of our last week or so in Sydney, written while waiting for a delayed flight from Melbourne to Christchurch. It wasn’t delayed enough for us to finish our account from Melbourne!

We’re are quite behind in posting, partly due to lack of internet connections while tramping in New Zealand, but mainly due to Don Selina, Edie’s father, passing a few days ago.
We spent much of our time in Melbourne considering options for Edie to fly back to Connecticut, and skyping to Connecticut. About the time that Edie decided that she could not handle the travel and jet lag involved in going back, with no certainty that she would get there in time (and against her father’s expressed wishes), our daughter Lily decided to fly in from Chicago to see her grandfather. Blessedly, she was able to spend his last weekend with him.

Although he weakened rapidly, Don remained mentally sharp and involved with people till near the very end. We will miss him greatly but are thankful that he had a peaceful death when he was ready.