The top photo was taken late in the summer of 2000, not long before our eldest was drafted into the IDF, when we visited the US for the first time together as a family since returning home to Israel in 1990. The kids weren’t exactly thrilled to be in New York. They were ready to go home after 2 intense and enjoyable weeks of DisneyWorld and visiting with family in Minnesota. None-the-less, we took the ferry and toured the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, walked through Central Park and along Broadway to Times Square, checked out the viewing decks of the Empire State Building and the WTC, visited Pier 54, saw the UN, the Guggenheim, ate dinner in Chinatown; in other words, we did all the usual touristy things. And then we went home and the memories of our trip to the US quickly faded into the background of our daily routines.
Almost exactly one year after our return flight home from JFK, at about four in the afternoon, my husband called to tell me to turn on the TV, that there’d been some sort of aviation accident in New York City. The first images I saw on TV were of smoke billowing out the side of one of the World Trade Center towers, accompanied by hesitating and uncertain commentary how such an accident could have happened. This went on for a while and then another plane flew into the 2nd tower. My disbelief slowly turned into anger and then disgust at what I was seeing.
Stories of loss and survival, heroism and sorrow were told in the days after the hijackings on 9/11. Many of us realized for the first time how vulnerable an open society like the US was and how easy it was for someone to intentionally turn that openness against us. The anger and frustration many felt were expressed in bigoted, ugly acts against newly stamped Americans who had themselves escaped from extremist or oppressive regimes. As the granddaughter of Russian immigrants, those acts, while few, made me feel ashamed to be an American.
Now, nine years later, recalling that day brings up emotions just as strong and an additional one, regret. Regret that it took such horrific acts to shake the US out of its stupor; regret that not everything that followed was carried out with the same pureness of purpose that the deaths of more than 3,000 people mandated; regret for the continued bigotry and hatred.
Five or ten years from now one can only wonder where the aftereffects of 9/11 will have taken the US and the world in their wake. If we forget the ideals that made the US a beacon for so many of our forebears, then I fear it will be a dark path. I would hope instead, like the sentiment expressed in the flag above, that we would choose to stand strong together.
May the coming year be one of joy, peace, health and prosperity.
(I’m releasing this card under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. If you would like to send this card, please feel free to click on the photo to go to flickr or download a PDF version, available until Sept. 19. )
After an early morning ride with Lisa and two other fellow WordCamp attendees followed by an extra strong cup of coffee, WordCamp Jerusalem is underway. Miriam Schwab thanked the people arriving from Tel Aviv for their extra efforts in making their way to the conference (we were on the road at 07:15, before I normally even wake up).
And at that point yesterday, the WiFi at the Jerusalem College of Technology, a religious school, filtered access to WordPress.com, as well as to other sites apparently. As several people pointed out this was rather ironic given the driving idea behind WordPress. Fortunately, twitter continued to work and, besides the inevitable moaners and wailers, the twitter stream for #wcjeru was very active.
Overall my experience at WordCamp this year was on a completely different level from earlier WordCamps I attended and serious kudos to WordCamp Jerusalem for not only bringing in gifted and professional local WordPress developers/designers but also for tapping into the web design community as well. The most interesting session I attended during the day was “UX Cookbook: Creating Delicious WordPress Sites” where Barak Danin of UXI.org.il talked about how users experience your site and how you want them to experience your site. I came away with a lot of insights and more importantly, lots of questions that I will now try to answer.
Networking was an important and, thankfully, built-in part of the WordCamp Jerusalem program. There’s no question that when so many people who regularly see one another at conferences of this sort get together there will be networking involved. Having time to talk, swap information and brainstorm ideas with other WordPress enthusiasts acts as an incubator for further collaborations. One idea I chatted over the lunchtime break with Yoav Farhi was the possibility of a local WordPress.com meetup. Stay tuned! (And for those of you looking for the “How to go from zero to hero” learning site for WordPress.com that Matt mentioned, it’s there in my sidebar under Blogging Gurus.)
Needless-to-say, the Town Hall meeting at the end of the day with Matt Mullenweg was the highlight of the day for me and many people. Matt talked about the development of WordPress, complimented the local community for being so active, was asked questions about WordPress usability and the future of WordPress and also said he liked the beaches in Tel Aviv.
So, Matt, here’s a small souvenir to take home from a beach a bit south of Tel Aviv, a lively reminder of why the beaches here are just so darn hot.
(Back to the version posted after the original was removed due to copyright concerns.)
Again, kudos to Miriam Schwab and her team (and, of course, the sponsors) for putting together an event that set the standard for future WordCamps in Israel.
More event posts you might enjoy:
- Gil Reich does Best of WordCamp Jerusalem
- Video of the Q&A session with Matt (via @ Felix Wasserstein-w/blog post in Hebrew)
- Photos by Elad (where the back of my head got lots of exposure. )
- Photos by Lisa (a different Lisa than the one mentioned above.)
- Photos by Reuven
- Photos by Eyal Sela
- Photos by WCJerusalem
- Israeli Security Hates the iPad (oops)
- Photos by Matt
- Behind the Scenes of WordCamp Jerusalem
- וורדפרס: מגרסת מילים
- חוויות ורשמים מוורדקמפ 2010
- WordCamp Jerusalem 5/9/2010 (in Hebrew)
- (If you know of any more, please add them in the comments.)
The final schedule and list of speakers is up on the WordCamp Jerusalem site and it looks like we’ll be having a last-minute, surprise guest speaker, too. (Or at least it was a surprise to me since I haven’t visited the WCJ site in a few days.)
Like previous years, there’s a waiting list of other WordPress enthusiasts hoping to attend. So if your plans have changed and you won’t be able to, please change your RSVP on the Meetup site so that someone else can.
Looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday! Make sure to bring along an extension outlet with multiple sockets! WiFi we may have, but without any juice – bupkes.