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Riot police preparing

The mundane in Oakland

I’m sitting in my friend Shawn’s apartment in Oakland, California. Less than a mile away, a crowd has gathered to protest the Ferguson verdict. Helicopters are buzzing overhead. Since it’s dark, there’s no way to tell how many are media helicopters and how many are police helicopters. Part of me – the sensible part, I…

newspaper article about the Sinterklaas news program

Black Pete redux

Speaking of local traditions, Sinterklaas is approaching again, and with it, the controversy over Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). As I posted last year, Sinterklaas (the holiday) takes place on December 5th. On that day, as well as the weeks leading up to it, Sinterklaas (the person) delivers gifts to children, landing on their roofs on…

My piece of the Berlin Wall

Here it is: my own little piece of the Berlin Wall. Today is the 25th anniversary of its fall, and it’s all over the news again. I got this piece from a student of mine when I was teaching in California. Her parents had already booked a trip to West Germany, including West Berlin, when…

Republicans, Expatriates and FATCA

This entry is part 2 of 23 in the series US citizenship

Last week I posted about the possibility of renouncing my American citizenship due to the onerous requirements the US government imposes on expatriate Americans. That post broke the record here at Rachel’s Ruminations: the most “hits” ever. And, in the process, I’ve learned a lot more about the situation from the many people who responded,…

Giving up US citizenship?

This entry is part 1 of 23 in the series US citizenship

For several years, I’ve been thinking about giving up my American citizenship. This is not an act of disloyalty or of protest, I hasten to add. I admit there have been moments – when George W. Bush was reelected, for example – when I was angry enough to repudiate my nationality in protest. But I…

Considering the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS ice bucket challenge has arrived in the Netherlands, and my husband and son took the challenge today along with all their Sunday morning soccer buddies. When I first saw one of these videos a few weeks ago in my Facebook feed, I decided that I would not do it, even if I was…

Masada and the Israeli Army

Masada, July 31, 2014  In about 66 C.E. (Christian Era, which is the term Israelis use for A.D.), a Jewish rebel movement captured a great fortress and palace built by King Herod. Called Masada, it stood high above the Dead Sea on a flat-topped mountain, surrounded by desert. After the destruction of the Second Temple…

The sound of the siren

Jerusalem, July 30, 2014 I experienced my first siren last night: the signal warning of an incoming Hamas rocket. Darkness had fallen and I was visiting my cousins at their moshav (a uniquely Israeli planned village) for dinner. We decided that my cousin Tamar would walk us around to see the features of the moshav….

The Via Dolorosa

Jerusalem A 24-hour ceasefire has been agreed, and swiftly failed. Palestinian civilians are suffering terribly – many dead and wounded, houses destroyed, shortage of food – and Israelis, particularly in Ashkelon, are living in fear of the next rocket attack. Only the politicians on each side seem to want this war to continue. Nevertheless, I insist…