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by Judy Lash Balint
October 29, 2006

The transition of seasons in Israel is always abrupt. There are none of the soft Indian summer days that slowly morph into the chill of autumn, accompanied by falling leaves with their bright hues. No gentle raindrops soften the ground. Here, the first rains that fall right after Sukkot pound the pavement and flatten the flowers in their last blooming before winter. The wind bangs shut windows that just the day before had let in warm air and sunshine.

For me, this transition week was marked by a deep sadness that's been hard to shake. The unexpected passing of a friend, age 50, who left a husband and two young children; the painful realization that an intimate relationship that had once been vibrant and joyful had been allowed to wither rather than grow; the news that an old comrade-in-arms is back in the hospital with a recurrence of a rare cancer all contributed to the dark week. Not surprisingly, I ended up in bed with the first flu of the season.

I've been grasping for any smidgeon of positive news to counteract the bleakness, but it's been hard to come by in this bizarre post-war political season. The media is full of the latest internal political machinations surrounding the inclusion of Avigdor Lieberman into the Olmert government. The Labor party voted overwhelmingly to remain in the coalition,preferring to hold on to their coveted privilege-laden cabinet positions rather than act according to their ideology, and so we can expect no coherent foreign policy to emerge while the three divergent philosophies cancel each other out on the Knesset floor. Every day brings new corruption charges against politicians of all stripes´┐Żgenerally leaked to the press from police investigators. Meanwhile, arms continue to pour into Gaza via dozens of tunnels from Egypt; Sderot is under constant bombardment from the area of the destroyed Jewish communities of Gush Katif and Iranian president Ahmanidejad fulminates anew against our very existence.

Starting last Saturday night here in Israel we started to ask for rain in our weekday prayers. 'V'tein Tal U'matar livracha--and grant dew and rain as a blessing.' It's sometimes difficult, but ultimately we have to see it all as a blessing. The rain, the pain and even the seemingly endless search for sound leadership and peace.