Dry Bones: Startup Nation

cartoon courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen

From the Associated Press:

Waze sale signals new growth for Israeli high-tech

Google’s acquisition of navigation software is not only among largest-ever purchase prices for Israeli startup; it also cements recent push by local high-tech industry into fast-growing consumer market

Google Inc.’s $1.03 billion purchase of Israeli navigation software maker Waze marks an important milestone for the country that affectionately calls itself “Startup Nation.”
The acquisition is not only among the largest-ever purchase prices for an Israeli startup. It also cements a recent push by the local high-tech industry into the fast-growing consumer market.


Managing Life’s Transitions Is Like Counting the Omer

— by Aviva Perlo

Imagine that you are walking through the desert for 40 years. Day after day, week after week. You and 20,000 of your closest friends and tribe’s members move through the wilderness, in hopes for a better life.

You get hot, and then cold, and then hungry, and then tired. Shelter comes and goes. Everything appears to be wide open. The uncertainty of the wilderness seems disorienting, yet exhilarating. To restore some order and structure to the wide-open landscape, you — well, all 20,000 of you — try to build a holy space in the desert using specific measurements and materials, and lots of detail. “Much as we may wish to make a new beginning, some part of us resists doing so, as though we were making the first step towards disaster,” explains English Professor Dr. William Bridges in his book “Transitions: Making sense of life’s Changes.”

More after the jump.
Vulnerable to environmental and situational conditions: desert storms, the winds, the sun, we start to doubt if we will ever get there, and we don’t even know where “there” is. After months of pitching a tent together, shlepping, hauling materials, and not reaching the goal, the people around you start to get on your nerves. Complaining and blaming seem tempting, because it’s easier than facing what is actually happening. Beneath the surface, massive changes are tugging at our hearts, as our identity, security and reality are being forced to change. Tension emerges as we wonder who we are, and where we are going.

This is the story of the Jewish people in the wilderness, as they prepared for revelation. This is also the narrative of what sometimes happens to individuals and families who undergo traumatic experiences of illness, injury and loss. Shift happens, and it’s not easy.

On the Jewish calendar, writes Jewish educator Dr. Erica Brown:

The transition time between leaving oppression [Passover] and arriving at the Promised Land [Shavuot] takes us to a desert that tests us and our leadership. That transition taught us a great deal about what it took to prepare and confront uncertainty, and how important vision is.

We count the Omer, or the wheat harvest, for 49 days. The Omer marks a major transition period for the Jewish people and for the earth. We are becoming a new people on a new ground, and letting go of our former identity and memories as slaves. The earth provides us with her bountiful harvest, which allows us to survive. Physically and psychically, we are tested.

Life also tests us. When tragedies, illnesses and accidents occur, our worldview morphs immediately. Its stability is shaken as reality turns upside down. We try to stop the suffering, but we can’t. The question emerges: what can we hold onto? What will help nurture and sustainin us? Dr. Brown explains that it is hard to “rebuild trust after authority breaks down,” yet it is possible.

The Omer offers three powerful lessons about life’s transitions:

  1. Go gradually — step by step, day by day. When traveling to new lands or trying out new lifestyles, go slowly. Make life manageable by breaking it down into smaller parts, especially amidst murky waters.
  2. Small steps count, and can be a source of blessing. Although grandiosity has its allure, short blessings enable us to get to the next day.
  3. Each step prepares us for what comes next. We cannot just jump from one big milestone to another. There is an invisible journey that we undergo in order to restore our energy and prepare for what may follow. Quiet time and a restful space are required. We cannot dictate the pace. We can cultivate support systems, count our blessings each day, and develop relationships with compassionate mentors and friends.

Transformative experiences involve a combination of pain, growth and wisdom. May we learn to mitigate the pain and be able to receive more of the fruits.

Boston Marathon, Guns and Israel

— by Steve Sheffey

The next time Israel responds to terrorism, remember how you felt when you heard about the Boston Marathon bombings — and then ask how you’d feel if attacks like these had happened repeatedly for the last 65 years.

Background checks for gun purchasers are favored by 90 percent of Americans, won a majority vote in the Senate, but failed because of a Republican filibuster. Ninety percent of Democrats voted in favor, ninety percent of Republicans voted against. An assault weapons ban was also defeated in the Senate.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will finalize a huge arms deal with Israel during his visit there, under which Israel will for the first time be permitted to purchase U.S. aerial refueling planes and other ultra-sophisticated military equipment that could prove vital to any Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The Obama administration has requested that aid to Israel remain untouched despite budget pressures.

Full article the jump.
Between the Boston Marathon terrorist attack and the defeat of gun control legislation in the Senate, this was a very bad week.

Courtsey of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen

What did you feel on Monday when you heard about the terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon? Anger. Frustration. Tears. Sadness. Probably all of those and many more. But I’ll bet the one thought that did not cross your mind was “I wonder what we did to deserve this and what complaints the poor souls who committed these acts must have.”

Try to recapture how you felt on Monday the next time you read about Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel. On April 7, someone was videotaping a Holocaust Memorial ceremony in Israel when rockets struck. Watch this. It’s 30 seconds long.

What kind of people would do this? The people who want a state right next to Israel. The people Israel is trying to make peace with. Yes, a two-state solution is in Israel’s best interests, but the people upon whom that solution depends have leaders who think that terrorism is a legitimate form of political expression.

Israel has been victimized by terrorism since its rebirth 65 years ago. Remember how you felt when you watched news reports about the Boston Marathon the next time you read about Israel’s efforts to defend itself. Try to imagine if you would show the restraint Israel has shown. And ask yourself how you would feel knowing that Iran, a terrorist state, is attempting acquire nuclear weapons.

How do we make sense of what happened in Boston? We don’t. We can’t. But I think Patton Oswalt was right. This is what he wrote on Monday:

Boston… horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”

But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here’s what I do know. If it’s one person or a hundred people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running towards the destruction to help out… This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

The Manchin-Toomey background check amendment failed because of a Republican filibuster. Fifty-four senators voted in favor, but that wasn’t the 60 needed for cloture. Only four Democrats voted no and only four Republicans voted yes. Ninety percent of Americans favor this amendment. Ninety percent of Democratic senators voted for it. Ninety percent of Republican senators voted against it. Don’t let anyone tell you that party labels don’t matter or that both sides are equally to blame.

President Obama was right: All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.

How many people need to die before we enact gun control? How many people need to die before we end the filibuster rule? How many people need to die before we realize that party labels matter? How many people need to die before we realize that the Second Amendment is not a suicide pact?

The Senate also rejected a ban on assault weapons. You can check the vote tallies on this and the other gun control measures the Senate rejected here. Yes, all in all, pretty shameful.

We cannot give up. Nothing will change until politicians realize that the price they will pay at the polls for opposing gun control is higher than the price they will pay for standing up to the NRA. If you haven’t read it yet, read what former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords wrote last week:

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

The Obama administration will provide Israel with ultra-sophisticated military equipment and maintain aid to Israel despite budget pressures. The Times of Israel reports that “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will finalize a huge arms deal with Israel during his visit starting Saturday, under which Israel will for the first time be permitted to purchase U.S. aerial refueling planes and other ultra-sophisticated military equipment that could prove vital to any Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

President Obama has requested that American aid to Israel remain untouched for fiscal year 2014 despite budgetary belt tightening in other areas. Read more here.

This Is Real: Lapid Gets 19 Knesset Seats

Election Day in Israel was declared a national holiday and the weather was gorgeous. The public voted and then most of us went to the beach, to cafes, or shopping for the rest of the “day off”. It was a delightful, very Israeli experience. Everyone seemed happy and up about being who and what we are.

In the morning we found that we’ve handed our politicians a classic Israeli post-election dilemma. It feels so very Israeli and nostalgic that I did today’s cartoon in Blue and White.

— by Amir Shoam

Update: after counting all votes, including all IDF soldeirs, Habait Hayehudi got another seat and went up to 12 on the expense of Raam-Taal, that went down to 4. See full table below.

After counting 99.8% of Israel general elections votes, Yesh Atid, former journalist Yair Lapid’s one-year-old party, gets 19 seats in the Knesset. The unification of HaLikud and Israel Beytenu gets 31. HaAvoda gets 15 seats, two less than expected in TV channel samples. Right party HaBait HaYehudi gets 11 seats, like orthodox party Shas. Religious party Yahaduth HaTorah gets 7 seats. Center-left party HaTnuah and left party Meretz get 6 seats each.

Ultra-left party Hadash gets 4 seats, while Arab parties Raam-Taal and Balad get 5 and 3 seats respectively.

Kadima, largest party in current Knesset that was eliminated in TV samples, eventually enters the Knesset with 2.09% of all votes (2% is required to enter), and 2 seats.

HaAvoda had announced that it will not join a coalition headed by HaLikud. Assuming Halikud leader and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will get to build a coalition, his partners are likely to be Yesh Atid, HaBait HaYehudi and Hatnuah (67 of 120 seats total). There is also a risky possibility of having a coalition with Shas, Habait HaYehudi and Yahaduth HaTorah (60 seats). Netanyahu will speak with the leaders of all mentioned parties trying to form a 85-seat coalition, but it is not likely to happen. If Netanyahu fails to form a coalition, Lapid will get the opportunity to do so, but only if he reaches agreements with all HaAvoda, Shas, Yahaduth Hatorah, Hatnuah and Meretz (64 seats total).

Cartoon courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen.

The Dry Bones Kickstarter Haggadah Campaign

— by Ronit Treatman

Do you love the Dry Bones comic strip?  Yaacov Kirschen, its creator, is working on a new project.  In a culmination of a lifelong dream, he is designing a Passover haggadah.  This haggadah will feature his characters from Dry Bones.  How is this project different from all of Kirschen’s other projects?  He is getting his funding on Kickstarter, the funding platform for creative projects.  The Kickstarter Haggadah campaign will end on November 16, 2012.  If you want to have a direct impact on Yaacov Kirschen’s ability to turn out some of his work, this is your opportunity.

Sample pages after the jump.