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I was speaking to a young woman yesterday about her upcoming 12th grade “March of the Living” trip to Poland. These trips – which my own children will be considering not too far down the road - have become an Israeli Ministry of Education-encouraged tradition.   It’s a tradition about which I am distinctively ambivalent. I understand the drive to see the sites of the Nazi genocide firsthand. I’ve done it myself - with admittedly equal amounts of horror and grim fascination. Yet I can’t shake the feeling that the institutionalization of these trips is wrong on so many levels.   Here’s one problem, for starters: while many of the remaining Holocaust survivors go hungry or languish in poorly-staffed hostels, is it right to spend millions to send tens of thousands of students to parade at Auschwitz wrapped in Israeli flags? A fraction of the money spent on the March of the Living and other Holocaust-themed trips (for Knesset parliamentarians, IDF soldiers, police officers, etc.) could help ensure the comfort and health of these survivors, in their remaining years.   So, why is it that we send our kids to Auschwitz on a massive scale - but don’t encourage them to...
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I was recently in a nasty Facebook war with someone close, and it got ugly. Unfriending ugly, in fact. And the fact that it became so emotional leads me to conclude that there must be more fueling the argument than just my rival’s vociferously Cro-Magnon political views. It took me a week or so to figure it out. And it’s something I’ve been wrestling with internally for the past several years: the increasingly-clear line in the Israeli collective consciousness between questioning and acceptance, between conscience and loyalty. Growing up in the US, I never gave a second thought to the expression of criticism. And after a quarter century in Israel, I’m no slouch when it comes to complaining loudly and publically. In fact, based on the results I’ve achieved on a local level, I’m more effective than most native Israelis at it. However, once upon a time there was a blessedly blurred line which has in recent years coalesced. Complaining about certain things, to certain audiences, is not just complaining any more – it’s considered disloyalty. Israel is a microscopic country that is literally an island in a chaotic and hostile region. It is our national cohesion – in stark contrast...
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Posted by on in Steven
I just revisited an article I wrote for the Times of Israel site entitled Looking the Beast in the Eye. In it, I challenged those unwilling to consider the dystopian scenario in my first novel, Enfold Me, because it was out of their comfort zone. Three years later, with another dark novel set to be released, I’m still looking at the world – according to valued friend – “with such negativity.” This got me thinking about this “comfort zone” which we’re all so intent on preserving. Since I spent four years writing a novel in which I basically tore my world down and watched my family’s downfall – I think that I can say with some authority that a comfort zone is a healthy thing. A comfort zone enables us to rest our overloaded and suspicious minds, accept beauty and love, and free ourselves of the burdens that come with too closely examining the world in which we live. Frankly, I was glad to be done writing that book, if only to leave behind the terrible (yet darkly compelling) world I created. This is not to say, of course, that you shouldn’t buy it… But I also learned a lot while...
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Posted by on in Steven

“That’s my worst nightmare.”

I’ve heard these exact words from literally dozens of neighbors, friends and readers since I released my dystopian novel, “Enfold Me,” which is set in an appropriately nightmarish Middle East after the fall of Israel. This phrase is usually followed by “That’s too real, I don’t even want to think about it.”

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My daughter sat down to dutifully complete her math homework. She did one problem, and got up to go to the bathroom. She came back, stopped to twirl happily on the way, humming, and did another half-problem. She got up to feed to the cat. She came back, via the refrigerator, got a snack, stopped to sharpen her pencil, and finished the second problem. She got up again, little feet dancing around the chair, and dashed upstairs to get an eraser. Before she sat down, she got a tissue. This continued for almost an hour, until the ten minutes worth of questions were finally answered.

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