General

A Fresh Start

I have been awake for quite a while this morning. Because of some pretty exciting news on he one hand but, on the other hand, probably as well because of things running wild in my mind.

When I started this blog in the beginning of 2008 I did so because I had found once the reverse cultural shock after coming back from Israel had diminished to the point of me actually being able to talk about Israel and what I had seen and experienced there, nobody was there to listen anymore. However what I was still finding out about the place had to get out; that’s probably what has driven people to write ever since.

This blog has given me a lot although, frankly, it has never quite attracted a crowd. Sad enough it were times of war that people found this blog and after the “show” was over most of them never returned. There are still many stories to tell, new and old ones. Stories that have to be told in the hope that one day it will be there to be read for somebody who’s interested. Just like the stories of other great bloggers where there to be read by me when I needed the information or the opinion or just the story so I didn’t feel that alone after I left a place that had made me feel at home.

Fact is, however, that during the two years of this blog my life has changed. I started this blog as an ambitious single student who had left Israel only in order to return. Today I am a grad school graduate, who has been transplanted to Germany for love and what had, at that time, looked like a Great New Life. I have, over the years, hurtfully learned to let go of Israel keeping the treasurous memories in my very heart and soul knowing that the time there has changed me forever. Had I an honest opportunity to return I’d probably leave here for good any minute but I have had to learn that this is not what life had planned for me – at least not for the time being.

Germany has changed me as well. As much warmth and welcoming I had found in Israel as much coldness and fear have I found in Germany. In the one and a half years I’ve been living here now I’ve made it all the way from confusion via depression to feeling sorry and grateful that I know life can be different. In a way, I feel, Germany has taught me that it is worth fighting for my Israel-self. This is how life always has a lesson to teach, even when you really aren’t looking for yet another lesson.

No, I’m not done with Israel. I’ve been collecting information on so many topics all the time – I just never got to publish it. Life has kept me busy with other things and Germany and what I have seen here has kept my mind busy with other topics as well. Topics I’ve always felt don’t fit this blog. However I don’t believe in exclusive decisions. I will keep up this blog, but I also found I have to move on and I need a space to do this.

I don’t yet know where “a Pagan Israelophile goes Australia” will take me and what it will be all about. It is my story, our story, after all. It is a journey I have been looking forward to for a while and, in many respects, have been scared of as well. However I have made it my Beltaine resolution that I will be working towards regaining my trust in the gods and the path they are leading me down.

My two blogs will be interconnected by RSS feeds, so if you’re interested in the other blog it will be easy to keep an eye on it without having to surf yet another blog.

with a crying and a laughing eye, as well as warm thanks to everybody who contributed to this blog in the last two years

yours,

Migdalit

Chaos and Confusion

Shalom everybody,

there is a comment I’ve had to approve for quite a while now. I don’t know whether you know how it works on WordPress: but basically you can choose to approve each comment right away or have the comments of first-time posters emailed for approval – which I think works great against spam. Posters already known to the blog, by their email address I’d suppose, get approved right away and all I get is a notification via mail. Which comes in pretty handy if you are a lazy bum like me not checking in on the blog as often as I probably should.

So this comment reached me during my mail account right after it was posted on April 23. I probably got it before coffee or during some other altered state of mind since when I skimmed through the comment that was supposed to go on the “about Migdalit” page I quickly decided “spam” and left it alone, again being too lazy to log into the blog just to spam one comment. It was only today that I logged in – because I got another very nice comment that made me aware that probably I should really write more often and that there are people out there who actually give a shit about this blog.

However, approving said second comment I came back at the “spam”-comment and, right before the moment I would have spammed it stopped. ‘Wow’, I thought, ‘that’s the first spam that replies to a former comment.’ It wasn’t spam, indeed, and I feel like I have to apologize to its author, Òlofur Björnsson, for the long wait. But then, reading it again I became a bit wary about what to do with it:

Hello Alan [Price] if the Nazis had succeeded in exterminating the entire Jewish population of the World perhaps that would solved the issue of ” the extraordinary chaos and confusion that has reigned ever since “, that you speak of. By the way Mr Price are you a racist scumbag ?

I can only assume this was meant to be rather sarcastic but still, it leaves behind a bad taste. And than attributing Alan, who by the way runs an interesting, though not easy blog himself, as a “racist scumbag”, isn’t quite following the netiquette (do today’s kids know about the netiquette, after all?). So Òlofur, if you come back to the blog and read this, would you please be so kind to clarify. I’d be especially interested in where you find Alan a “racist scumbag” as the comment you refer to just says:

I am interested in the history of the Jewish immigration to Palestine prior to statehood and all of the extraordinary chaos and confusion that has reigned ever since.

And even after more then a year in German exile, where everybody really is oversensitive to any syllable that might be racist I just can’t find any racism in there. I’d rather second Alan on the term “chaos and confusion” when talking about different historic narratives in the region – which of course doesn’t exclude the option that some of this “chaos and confusion” was brought about on purpose. For bot you, Òlofur and Alan I’ve kinda summed it up a while a ago – as far as all of this can be summed up in a single post, you’re welcome to resume any pending discussion there or in this post’s comment section, but for the time being, Òlofur, I’m not approving your comment on the “About Migdalit” page, as I really think it doesn’t belong there.

so long and hopefully being back with more soon

yours,

Migdalit

Silence

Hello,

I’ve been working as a tutor for students for quite some years now. Stranded in Germany I’ve just found myself a new institute and started tutoring again. I like spending time with the kids and the sensation of knowing that you did something good, something that will help the child, something that makes a difference. Of course it equally hurts whenever you get aware about the multiple problems those children take with them. To be frank: The Austrian – as well as the German – educational system is nothing short of a chamber of horror. There are teachers who are so clueless of both pedagogic and their subjects they really shouldn’t be let anywhere near any child. There are teachers who are completely over strained having to master classes of 35 mostly uncontrollable adolescents without any means to – including techniques or the proper education. In fact those who are meant to educate our children suffer from a severe lack of education themselves.

Working with (eastern) German students not only language and different ideas of education posed quite some challenges. They children did, too. They are so calm here. They are not at all like the kids of their age I worked with back in Austria. Children have be loud and impulsive. They have to be passionate about things. They have to be curious. Those are none of the above. All they do for an hour or two is sitting in the corner quietly trying to figure out their homework. And no matter how often I tell them even the elder ones just can’t be bothered to ask for help when they need it.

There’s a huge sign in my new tutoring institute that says “I want!”. When I first saw it I had no idea how important those two words were for my students. All they have been drilled to do so far, at least that’s the impression I got, was speed and achievement. Elementary school students are made doing tests in maths that cannot be solved in the proper time just to see how well they do under pressure. And with a school system as inflexible as the German one in fact at the age of eight years it will be settled whether they are headed for University or a proper job or not. So if you screw up second or third grade that’s it. There will be no second chance. Especially not in a country like Germany where all that counts for your random HR-person are grades and certificates.

When I had that talk to that head of branch office more then half a year ago we were talking about youth spending some time abroad during their high-school years. He then viewed it as a waste of time, which I back then contributed to him being rather old-fashioned and conservative. Just a few days ago I had a similar conversation with my new boss at the tutoring institute – a great ex-teacher and grandma of eight that shares most of my opinions on pedagogic and is great to get along with – and she, too, pointed out that if one went abroad for a year that year would most likely be missed later on. She was seriously reconsidering sending students abroad because of one more freakin’ year they’d spend on their education because of it!

Wait a minute: Today’s life spans are around 80 years. Likely my generation, having had a way better preventive care all our lives, will reach up to 100 years. So who the heck cares whether we spend 12, 13 or 14 years at  school?  In some German provinces school until A-levels used to take 13 years until recently. Many of those are now shortening it to 12 years, adding nothing but extra-pressure to the student’s backs. And what for? Is it really that important to access a labor marked that is everything but waiting for young people anyway one year earlier? Shouldn’t we rather grant our youth an extra year of school instead of stealing one from them?

As you might have noticed that’s a touchy subject for me. I do stick to the 1990ies-idea of children being our future that seems to have been forgotten these days. Guess who’s been most gravely affected by the global economic crisis? Right: youth. Guess who’s been spending years and quite an impressive amount of money on education and is now living on a tiny amount of public wellfare? Right: A good friend of mine who just graduated a MA in Sociology and just can’t find a job. And there is more where that one comes from: prospective lawyers, managers, scientists, there’s just no one right now who knows how to find a job after graduation.

We’ve been gravely betrayed, that’s the truth nobody’s willing to tell. We’re right in the focus of the whole mess of the economic crisis, in the focus of the whole mess of climate change and screwed up politics we haven’t contributed to. Worse, many of us have spent their youth rallying against environment pollution, social unfairness, an educational system systematically destroyed and politicians not even thinking twice before lying right to our face. I was only ten when I participated in my first neighborhood demonstration. Did it help? Did we make any difference?

So now people are wondering about drunken youth. People are wondering about young people who have no idea what to do with their lives. Young people not getting involved, not interested in politics.

We have been betrayed, that’s the truth. They told us we would be the future but all we are is unneeded human capital.

Ending this before she writes herself into rage even more

yours,

Migdalit