An Audible Sigh Day

Not one of those, “I-keep-dropping-everything” days…

Not one of those “Holy @$#@&^%#^I-AM-IN-THE-BATHROOM” days…

Not one of those “I-have-3-hours-to-do-100-things” days…

It was a day where the body could no longer handle the physical, the mind no longer handle the mental, and the heart could no longer handle the emotional, so there was nothing but the sound of an audible sigh every few moments that made it bearable.

It shocks me how much easier it is to cry when one is too tired. Too tired because of a thousand reasons. The children, the internet, the worries, the thinking…how and why does this happen? You can be exhausted but the minute you lie down the brain has this way of making you go over your day, your conversations and everything and anything that may have flitted through it that day, that week, that MONTH and you lie there. Awake. Tortured. Until the eyes can no longer handle it and finally there is some rest.

sleep01Until your subconscious awakens you at 4:30 AM. seriously. 4:30 AM? I have no newborn. I have no bladder issues. Why? WHY?!? I internally scream.

So…I am tired. Which makes everything else, just bad. It hurts my face to smile. The effort to be sociable is overwhelming. Tears randomly pop up at every mediocre thought. Not a good day to cheer my favorite helper on, but as mothers and natural nurturers we put ourselves last. We are martyrs through and through and we put on a brave smile for those we love and want to protect.

And I find myself every few minutes audibly sighing.

Your Worst Parenting Moment

easy-hardIt’s what we all fear. Making the wrong choices for our children.

Usually instinct kicks in, but what happens when you are on the fence about an issue? Finding the right voice to listen to is hard when there are lots of opinions being thrown your way.

This week I struggled. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Among all the other day-to-day decisions, and feeling quite ill, I was forced to address a situation head-on. No one ever makes good decisions when they are not performing at 100% so I was in a bit of a pickle, I was aware that I could not trust my own judgement, and yet – there I was swaying back and forth on a specific issue. I felt tormented all week.  I needed sound advice – but that too seemed to be a struggle…whose voice to listen to?

I needed someone I could respect, someone who “got” me, someone who understood that the thing I needed to decide about was something I took very seriously. I had quiet panic attacks as I went on about my regular duties, I arranged play-dates and made shopping lists, while I suffered deliberating each side of that fence whenever a “free” moment arrived.

Usually if I see something I like or need, I purchase it, take it home and am fine, never second-guessing my choice. When faced with the challenge of making decisions for others? I take that to heart. I tried to look at every angle and there I was stuck between the pressure of my peers (which is insane considering my age – but there you have it), and separating from the pack and making a sound decision based on facts, and where my heart and mind were telling me was the right thing for us. For my child.

I knew not to ask too many people, too many people can cloud one’s judgement.

I chose specifically people who were good listeners, who understood this issue, like-minded people who could be objective without an ulterior agenda. It was hard to seek them out, for they are not my general go-to friends, or my spouse, but others whom I respect and were not emotionally connected like I was.

So here I am at the end of the week with my decision, not to be swayed by the masses, to forge my own path and judgement based on mutual respect and not peer pressure.

But I am frightened and I think this is natural. Since the day these children are born they look to us for protection and guidance and any parent knows this burden is the heaviest one ever to bare. In Judaism there is a concept that every woman is born with a natural sense of intuition. We all make mistakes and the smart ones learn from them, and don’t make the same mistake twice. But, now at this possibly life-altering moment, my nerves are frazzled, my mind jumps from one side of the spectrum to the other in an attempt for rational decision-making. My natural instincts are leading me in a different place than that of my peers and breaking from the pack is making me doubt myself.

And so today, I am feeling the brunt of possibly my worst parenting moment. Choosing the wrong path. Because this is not my life, this is the life of my child, and while they are healthy and strong and opinionated, they still need my guidance and look to me to help with their decisions.

I know what I want to do. I know what my heart and mind are screaming to do, and yet, I shudder when I think, what if I am wrong?

What if I am wrong?

Emergency Moustache Anyone?

I can’t help but laugh.

I’ve had a seriously busy last 2 weeks and this week isn’t any less hectic. Working 2 jobs, attempting to manage my children’s schedules with Judo, swimming lessons, packing my teenage son for a 2 day hike, speech therapy, prospective high school visits and the occasional scrub-down as I’d pass a particularly gross corner in my home I am pooped and craving the weekend.

But even with all THAT going on, I feel this is a must-have. I haven’t blogged in a while and as soon as I saw this particular item, and on WEDNESDAY no less, I knew I had to break for a few minutes to share my most recent finds. These are gems. WHO MAKES THESE THINGS UP????

Geniuses that’s who.

mustacheSo I present to you the Emergency Moustache. Yes, of course there must be an occasion when one thinks to themselves, “Oh Man! Where the heck is my moustache? This is a real emergency!”

Maybe guys like Tom Selleck or Ron Swanson would need this after a shaving mishap, but the general fellow (or worse, after my “research”, the occasional woman) would not need to keep one of these in their back pocket. In case I’m wrong you can purchase these for a mere £6.99.

pop-up cupAt a rave and realize the guy in front of you just got that last Red Solo cup – no worries. Now you can bring your own pop-up cup to the party! For the drinking emergency you know? What impresses the ladies more than this?

Oh wait, I know what does…women are generally attracted to those guys with the Macho ‘staches, as well as the man who carries his own cup to parties…but those “bad-boys” always get the ladies…

Sure enough any man wearing this t-shirt can’t possibly be single. The assumption is, if he is wearing the shirt, he must know. And anyone woman who has ever watched an episode of Prison Break surely knows how smart these jail-birds can be.

Jail tshirtPS. These shirts are not as funny as you think they are. Do not wear them unless you actually went to jail or look like Mr. Wentworth. (swoon)

love-gloveLastly, the very worst way a guy can profess his love for his main squeeze or aim to impress her with his creativity would be giving her the love glove. I can’t say whether this is the actual name for this product but it is what I would call it if I had created it, which I would never do – because it’s so weird and lame and well – dorky. Even though we fall for those guys all the time, gift giving and more importantly, impressing the ladies is a whole science. Actual science.  According to Business Insider, and this is no joke, there are actual reasons why some women react and are attracted to men.

Naturally women prefer men with a good sense of humor and a certain degree of personal grooming, not a rude shlub who hasn’t changed his socks in 3 days…just because. Wishing everyone a wonderful Wednesday, and here’s to hoping you find lots more things to keep you smiling.

If you find something on the internet you find funny, feel free to share it, let me know, and I’m sure others will too. Until next time…

A Shiva, A Bris & Chanuka Wedding Bliss

say wha?

That’s Hebrew folks! When a person in the immediate family dies, the mourner sits (literally) shiva (for 7 days) in a low chair, stool, sometimes even a mattress. It’s meant to be a healing period and gives the mourners proper time to lament and reflect on the lives of the deceased. It’s a time to conjure up old stories and funny memories, happy and sad times and to really honor the deceased in a way, helping those left behind to cope with the loss.

Then there is bris, the covenant between man and G-d, a Jewish ceremony of circumcision, which occurs 7 days after a baby boy is born. The mohel, (or as Seinfeld made popular, can be pronounced: “moil”) is trained and performs the ritual, more often than not, this ceremony is serious and not as humorous.

It’s the circle of life – people don’t live forever and this week at least 4 death notices came across my e-mail and I knew people connected to those that passed on. That is a lot. I’m not THAT old…where that should be the status quo, seriously!! So it was especially comforting to know that at least 2 of my friends had babies.

It’s hard to see my friends and colleagues lose their loved ones and especially for a person like me, I feel EVERYTHING, I am so super sensitive. I cried at the bris this morning during the ceremony as the congregants sang about angels. The translation is roughly that the Angel of Redemption is with us through any bad times, so of course even though I was at a happy event it sort of tied in last night’s shiva visit as well.

This weekend was one long party as I hosted my nephew, his 3 (out of 8) sisters, 3 brothers, parents, cousins, future brothers in law and friends. People were everywhere! There was so much food, fun, laughter, alcohol, and not enough time.  Living in a different country than most of our family has a real downside. Not getting together all the time for holidays and weekends or special occasions is a real bummer and it weighs on us. We feel like we miss out and it’s more often than not too expensive to fly everyone in. So we send a representative. BUT, this time, we get to party in our neck of the woods and it feels great!

This plus Chanukah is right around the corner, my baby just turned 7, miracles are abundant and all around us. The Maccabeats put out a new song and besides that I was already addicted to the original version, their parody has me smiling from ear to ear and really just makes me feel like making a batch of latkes (potato pancakes) and dancing and being merry! I know some people think it’s cheesy, but I know some of those guys since they were teenagers and I feel like a bubbe (Yiddish for grandmother), I just want to pinch their cheeks and say good job, yingele (Yiddish for ‘children’)!

Now is the time to spread joy and happiness. With my nephew’s wedding and Chanukah just a few days away, there are dresses to be bought, hair to be coiffed, presents to be wrapped and sufganiyot (Hebrew for donuts) to be eaten. Spread the love and share good news, or dog videos on YouTube (like the one my cousin posted, of a dog dancing disco style – which I generally am annoyed about – but sometimes they are funny!) and be nice to one another, try to greet each other with a smile and share a kind word. Happy holidays to all…

Peace y’all.

The Day After

I finally cried my first tears. I believe perhaps I was in shock until now. We are all connected to those murdered yesterday. Either we knew them specifically or know someone related to them. It’s all anyone is talking about, it’s the only piece of news finding it’s way on my Facebook feed and it’s all we can think about. The horror of the attack, the overwhelming somber thoughts of all those fatherless children, the terrible way the media has portrayed this event is a reminder, that we must keep our enemies close but not THAT close. It was a targeted slaughter, you can not call it anything else, the offenders brought a butcher knife. Call it what it is.

We are left questioning why? Rebbetzin Schachter, visiting from the States, told me yesterday, “it’s our fault”, that “we are a greedy people and because we want cheap labor”, so we let them into our neighborhoods and homes to build our houses and stock our supermarket shelves. We invite the enemy into our private sacred spaces and we want the world to see us as a fair people but when is enough? Hashem, G-d has chosen us to be better than the rest, we have a higher standard that we are asked to uphold and to be a light unto the nations. And we continue to get slaughtered, day after day, week after week, year after year, century after century yet we remain strong and bonded to our Savior more and more after each tragedy.

When will we wake up?
When we will say dayenu, Enough!

So many questions are left unanswered. Mostly people are asking, why? Why so brutal? Why so random? Why must we suffer this way? What are we not doing right, how much more can we be doing? Prayer. Prayer is key to finding the answers. In our prayers there are answers and we must repeat over and over again until they flow from our lips and continue their flight to heaven.

My boss, though I hate to refer to him that way since he is never bossy and always asks politely for anything and shows true appreciation for each task done, walked into the office today hunched over, the sorrow weighing heavily on his shoulders. He lives in the community where the massacre took place. He was learning only a few blocks away at a different house of worship and those who were murdered were his friends, colleagues and neighbors. Listening to a Yonatan Razel song about G-d “saving us”, the while he walked in, the tears came. To be attacked from behind with prayers on their lips means G-d took them at their highest level of devotion. Wrapped in garments specifically made for men in prayer, the same garment one is wrapped in to be buried is holy, but to martyred brutally causing us to cry in unison our fervor and sincerity for salvation from our savage enemies is heart-wrenching. Looking at the photos is a must, for if we are blind to the damage our evil brothers can do unto us we are not protecting our innocent young, we are fools.

From where I sit in the holy land, there are two sides people seem to be taking. Fire all Arab workers and give them nothing, which the opposing side feels will only lead to boredom and encourage their wrath. What other culture or country would allow their enemy to benefit from the government meant to protect its people? When a light-rail is built and rocks are used to throw at it causing damage, when tractors given for work are used to run over innocent drivers, when cars are rammed to innocent citizens waiting for a bus it is time to take things away, not continue to give. We are over indulging this petulant child. We are enabling them to be lazy and point fingers at the hand that feeds them. Let them create a better society for themselves. They live next to us and benefit the same as we do, yet we are the ones who came to a barren place in the 1900’s and were blessed with a land of flowing milk and honey. We are the chosen people for this reason. You can believe what you want. I believe if we continue to pray, we will be rewarded with light and kindness and compassion. While we suffer through this life with disappointments we can not let them break our spirit. We must continue for G-d counts our tears and hears our prayers. Sure we have come a long way and are a highly complex, intelligent species, but to be so bold as to think we can understand everything is foolish, we are taught that some things we must just accept. We put our faith in something, sometimes beyond reason, though this still does not ease our pain. We hope the world will open their eyes to the evil that is around us and put an end to terror so that we all may live peacefully

May we move past these dark days into a redemption worthy of our chosen people. 

I Still Talk To Dead People, High Five.

And you probably do to. You just may not admit it. No, I don’t see them, and no, they don’t talk back.

Starting as a young child, I would talk to those who have passed this earth before me, sort of like an imaginary friend. I only talk to those I knew before and only when there (was) is a specific concern that call(ed)s for it. If I feel that person in life would have been there with helpful words to ease a certain situation, I sometimes reach out with a non-verbal convo.

BubbyFor example, I remember clearly my beautiful Bubby. Her skin was soft, her eyes a kind and sweet understanding blue and when she was buried on my 6th birthday (if my memory serves me well) it solidified the connection between us. She became my go-to friend or listening partner. When I was sad or angry or upset by something family-related, I would go to my room and talk to her, sometimes out loud (or more like a whisper) but most often in my head. It helped me sort out my feelings and release the heavy emotional burden I carried.

hands heartWhen my friend lost her mother, though I had only remembered her mother lying on the couch when I’d visit *never realizing she was ill, just thought she was always resting*, when I went back to pay my respects we had a “conversation” and I asked her silently to make my friend’s pain go away. It was awkward at a young age and I had no experience in comforting someone on that level, so I searched her mother’s features in my mind and begged her to make it better. Because in my mind, dead people had super powers.

In high school, there was a student struck down by a driver, hitting him while he was mowing his own lawn. Horrifying. Terrified to know these things could happen, even when you think you are safe on your own property, I sought out my Bubby’s face to make it better because I still had a weird concept of what happens to people when they die and this poor young boy needed someone. He was only a year or 2 older than me and all I could think of was to ask my Bubby to watch for him so he wouldn’t be so alone.

I have lost a few really close friends, mostly to illness. One friend in particular died after we were both married, had children, but someone I had known since we were in kindergarten. We used to talk on the phone all night and as teenagers shared many feelings about the future and things that frightened or excited us. He used to drive me home and we often took detours for nature walks or to a sports complex just to spend more time together. After he was gone I’d find myself “talking” to him. Things I’d think he would have appreciated or acknowledged or simply taken notice of, I would say a quick – hey, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

cloud heartThis past year, I had a friend whom I channeled more than any of those in the past. I felt like she would always have said something to help me with the struggle of balancing parenting while working from out of the home (an issue I deal with weekly). When I notice someone in need I can bring up her silent voice egging me on, convincing me not to be lazy but to take action. I know this is my yetzer tov, *positive inclination*, but it has her voice all over it. When I notice the pajama pants my daughter is wearing that she left for me on my front doorknob a few years ago, she reminds me to pay it forward. I never asked for those clothing that no longer fit her daughter but she thought of me, and I truly appreciated that random gesture of kindness. And now, about a year later after she left us, I have spoken to her many times and asked to give me strength as an emissary of G-d. I’m not cuckoo, I believe that G-d is the only one who can answer my bakashot, *requests*, but I can’t help but imagine that if there is such a thing as souls being G-d’s helpers I’d bet she is there making things happen.

high fiveSo I still talk to dead people. After all these years, so what? Lots of people have ways of coping with (or avoiding) issues that we find difficult. When there are stresses in life, or worries that we have no control over perhaps it seems we are powerless to make effective change. We need chizuk, *strength*, from things we find comfort in. As devout as I’d love to be, I wish I could have the memory to bring up certain phrases from prayer to balm the sores of sorrow, panic and fear, but I am not. Some people abuse food, some people exercise, some people garden, paint, play music, meditate or sleep it off. Me? I still talk to dead people, so there.

Being Unique: or Just Plain Weird, Whatever…

This week I learned a few things about myself. I am not judgy, I accept things that I now see others may have difficulty with.

Am I naive? No.

Live in a religious bubble? Nope.

Have my head stuck in sand? I don’t even like the beach.

I guess I just see things differently than others. While I may not agree with another person’s decisions on how they choose to live religiously, or perhaps their sense of fashion, or what they eat or don’t (like Vegans), I don’t look down on them or think my way is the BEST way…unless we are talking about my kids.

I took this excerpt from one of my posts on my business blog (which I neglect to keep current – but the articles are really good) because the message is important:

“There was a time in college when all the ladies in the dorm decided to go on the cabbage soup diet.

A few points to keep in mind. We were young. We were stupid. We stank up the joint. Besides cooking lots of pots of soup, each apartment was making their own version, there was the after effects of eating all that cabbage.  There was not enough air freshener in the world to mask what was going on.

What I learned from the cabbage soup phenomenon?  Don’t always do what everyone else is doing.”

girl bulliesAs an adult, of course I see the need for each person to self-express, and that’s whats makes us interesting. At my most recent book-club meeting a topic came up about bullying and I was shocked that the majority of women, all ages represented, NOT including myself were bullied as children at one time or another. I’m not tooting my own horn but I saw people and still do, as just people. Whether it was the boy who ate seaweed in 5th grade, the teenager with Downs Syndrome who came to the high school event, my college roommate of color, or the current neighbors with the nose piercings. All these people have parents, who love them. They all have mouths with which to communicate, they all have their own ideas about what looks nice, what tastes good and what art is.

But what I found surprising is what happened to those kids who were bullied, meaning how they turned out. Low self-esteem, adolescents who turned into adults with clear PTSD and are even shocked when they are liked for just being themselves.

I took this even one step farther, not just as a student, friend, or neighbor but as a parent of a child who was clearly bullied for being different. As a mother, it was difficult to watch my child grow up without friends because he was labeled “weird”. What the other children and worse the teachers failed to understand was that he suffered from SPD, Sensory Processing Disorder. When he couldn’t deal with the annoying noises a pencil made or the way a material felt when it accidentally rubbed against him, other people saw this as a behavioral issue and often got him sent to the principal or singled out or made fun of. He was isolated in a way that a mother like me couldn’t understand. In my mind, EVERYONE had some issues, be it a lisp or a stutter or a limp…I never understood why these kinds of people needed to be treated any differently, or if they did, in my mind it was to be extra sensitive to them and make MORE of an effort to be friends with them. As a mother I saw that he was bright and cute with a nice smile and had just as many Hot Wheels as the next kid. Sure I also saw the meltdowns and fits of rage when he couldn’t deal with regular things, like the smell of ketchup, but perhaps I overlooked what the rest of the world saw.

 wordle 1

 

Life is unfair and unkind that way. We are often challenged to be unique and special but then are confronted with fitting the mold. Each society and culture has their own model, I just wish there was a way we could create a Utopian society where we all agree that being different is okay, within the expectations of our own community and family needs.

Maybe I like the ‘weirdos’ because I am so plain. I keep it simple. I like to wear mostly black. I eat copious amounts of unhealthy food balanced by a really great salad once in a while and exercise only when I feel guilty or jiggly. I’m the average height for a typical Jewish woman. I’m sometimes funny, mostly thoughtful, and basically care about friendships, family and the environment. Nothing about me stands out as far as I know. If I had to choose one thing about myself that would be ‘weird’, and only because of this most recent dialogue among bright, intelligent, successful women, is that I am overly sensitive to other people. Sadly this is a unique trait. That most people are NOT like me in this regard is what I find most disturbing. Let’s try to be better. I know I always say that. I truly mean it. Let’s be kinder, more patient, and understanding to ideas or people who seem different than us. Are you with me?

Let’s Play: Name That Weird Product!

Or better yet, let’s name the newest invention on the market a really weird name…

Lately I have come across some pretty funny, albeit, weird product naming for inventions that are most probably as-seen-on-(late night)-tv. These made me giggle and I hope if you needed to smile today, this will do it for you.

face eraserOkay, I saw this product while waiting online in the pharmacy for Children’s Advil. My 6 yr. old was feeling miserably and we ran out of the stuff while his fever was spiking and my face was tired from his all-night whimpering and feverish demands for olives…(his desires are so random when he’s out of it). So there I was waiting when I saw the Face Eraser, unfortunately there was no time to check it out since he was ringing me up. What a crazy name – though it caught my attention,  read: good marketing – even if it’s bizarre. I felt I could use a face-eraser every once in a while – I can never hide my true emotions – no poker face for this Lady Gaga. But the weirdest part was not even the name, rather the company who made it . Hyundai. Isn’t that a car company? So I researched further and found another product called the BODY ERASER. No Joke. That was it, I thought Ureka! Jackpot! What all women have been waiting for. The ability to erase the parts we were too lazy to exercise away…until I read up on the first product (in Hebrew) which is a hair removal SHAVER for women..for their face, from the root, ew. More info on the Body Eraser I could only find in Arabic, so with the help of Google translate I realized it’s basically an Epilady.

whatsthatNext up – and I have no idea what the heck this is as I don’t read Chinese nor do I even recognize this product. It was in the beauty section of the supermarket and I was perplexed and confused and giggling all at the same time. If you have any info on this item feel free to let me know in the comment section below.

TiresOnto non-face items. After getting a flat and rushing to get it fixed, there I sat in the dingy garage “office” as my husband hung out by the tire machine – the one that rotates in water to see where the puncture is…boys and their toys…and across from me were rows and rows of different tire covers. I imagine this is where the big boys shop, the packaging reminded me of the Hot Wheels section of Toys R Us. Cool lightening background, see-through cellophane to get a glimpse of the product with a Super Hero font and usage of the letter ‘X’ to bring it all home. But the name is what got me. ROKX. Totally meant for guys. Marketing plus and I get it, even though I’m a girl. I can see the attraction but not the connection between the name and the actual product.

gasWhile on the topic of husbands, we were out window shopping when this item caught my husband’s attention. Though it’s not technically ‘weird’ as it was probably meant to be a home decoration for those who collect retro stuff, he made me laugh when he mentioned we should purchase it and place it over his side of the bedroom. TMI?

frdgeballsThese last 2 items are my favorites of the day. The first is a product which claims to help keep your produce fresh 3x longer. Fridge Balls. I watched a video online for this product reviewed by ABC – the result was that it didn’t really work, according to one person’s experiment. I absolutely love the name, it made me laugh and if I had an extra $5 to blow I’d purchase it and try it out myself just for the fun of it.

slushifyAnd now because I was kind of a slush-a-holic during my pregnancies this item really caught my attention when I received it in my e-mail. I especially enjoy how they turned it into a verb. Slushify. Why didn’t I ever think of that?!  I am always making up words. This one slipped past me…Making slushies in a matter of minutes? I’m on board. It’s called Slushy Magic and on the side of the box describes the use of Snowflake Science – not sure what that is exactly, but it sure sounds cool. This product promises to turn any drink into a slushy in a matter of minutes and the special cup it comes with is BPA free, plus they include a super long spoon-straw. win win win, in my opinion. The only downside is the reusable ice cubes. They must be frozen, and the whole system works better the colder your drink is – so there goes my quick ice coffee slushy plan. The picture is kind of misleading though. After watching a product review, the presenter filled his magic slushy cup to the fill line with orange Crush soda, shook it for the 2 minutes as directed and when he poured it out, it was only filled about 1/3 of his plastic cup. Boo – I may need to find a new way to slushify to make it worth my effort. What about you?

A Sweet New Year

ew

Fishheads

We did it. I did it. I survived another year of mad-dash cooking for the High Holidays. There was the fish head, and there were sweetened boiled beets, and carrots and leek and gourd and dates, pomegranates – ooh yeah – what a messy treat, can’t forget those. There could have been black-eyed peas but they just look creepier than a fish head to me, so I opted out. These are the foods we eat on Rosh Hashana that are symbolic to the blessings we ask for.

appleThat and of course apples and honey – the fam favorite! I made sure to pick the prettiest apples I could find.

And then I cooked like never before. There were round challot and long challotchallah and then one with sprinkled cinnamon-sugar and one with chocolate chips and one with a fish-tail braid…plus chicken wingsroastwings and a French roast and then honey-mustard cutlets and steamed broccoli, edemame, squash kugel (pie)lunch, potato kugel  and basmati rice, salmon, salad, couscous, chicken with sweet potatoes, garlic salted green beans and the list went on!!!! There was 3 pots-worth ofsoup hearty chicken soup and of course there was dessert. There was a whip-pie that found its way into the freezer, Ben & Jerry’s and an assortment of Sharon sorbet plus DH’s red velvet cake and an apple pie. I mean tons of food! Too much food! I felt so bloated, in a good way though after every meal it was worth all the effort. 

 

The beauty of all this prepping and eating and celebrating though for 3 days straight meant that I was really looking forward to Yom Kippur. The fast days of ALL fast days. The Holiest Day Of The Year! I was going for the ultimate cleanse. No eating for 25 hours and you know what? I was only a smidge hungry. Before the fast, there was another meal to prepare but I kept it fairly simple.  And because I felt bad for my daughter who suffers with Celiac’s Disease I made her these Betty Crocker gluten-free cupcakes that my sister-in-law was kind enough to bring to us all the way from the States. They were plain yellow cupcakes that I jazzed up with Duncan Hines vanilla frosting and good ol’ colorful jimmies. I placed then in the fanciest cupcake holders I could find  and the result was awesome. She was in heaven, after not being able to eat the apple pie, the whip pie or the red velvet cake – I made it up to her with these.cupcake

What a way to start the new year. Hoping it’s a sweet new year for everyone. SHANA TOVA~!

The Countdown to Meltdown

What a rough morning. No one wants to see their child lose it. Especially from too far away to step in and diffuse the problem. 

Mommies always want to make things better, but this morning there was no way for me to reach my child on time and the fact that I could hear him screaming, “NOooo” as my daughter and others encouraged him to get on the bus, he was not budging, and I was left watching from my window across the street in my pajamas crying for what I was witnessing. Well it was between that, and this. 

OH-NO-YOU-DITTENT

He needed a tissue. A simple fact. He felt something icky and needed a tissue, which my daughter didn’t have on her. When he refused to get on the bus, even though they were holding it for him, and there was only one seat left, he wouldn’t go. My daughter was embarrassed by his behavior and then hers, for publicly admonishing him, for trying to push him too hard to do something he didn’t want to, for feeling like a failure in our eyes if he didn’t make it on time. I could see other kid’s fathers on the ground trying to encourage him to get on the bus, friends of ours who I am so thankful to for even trying. I even sent another daughter running to the rescue but she too failed and when they returned home, there was a heaviness. I was so sad. I was pretty angry. I was in a quandary…what to do, how to handle this delicate situation.

Little brother sat on the naughty step for creating a scene and missing the bus, but there will be a discussion and probably therapy about learning how to deal with difficult situations when feeling pressure. One daughter returned pretty disappointed that little brother used her sweatshirt as his tissue and had to change. The other daughter came home in utter tears and was an absolute emotional wreck. She was mortified but worse than that was suffering a shoe crisis. 

So one would think that little brother is the reason for this title, however he was just the beginning my personal mental meltdown, or so I thought. After trying to calm my daughter down, we managed to find suitable shoes for her outfit regardless of the fact that a friend made her feel bad about them the day before. She was self-conscious, I knew that, I understood that, but the fact was, the bus was coming and she still had no prepared food for lunch. The morning was so hectic there was little-to-no-time left to prepare a ‘normal’ lunch. So when I grabbed last night’s leftovers (which btw – were AWESOME) and threw something together she left with a hug only to walk back in 10 minutes later shoulders hunched and shaking, face sodden with tears. The energy it takes to calm down a hysterical teenager over wardrobe issues and a missed bus is like trying to grab the egg before it hits the ground – missing it, and then trying to scoop the goo off the tiles with a tissue. It’s almost impossible in one go. There was back rubbing, and tear wiping, hugging, deep breathing, and then finally there was a final sigh.  

I was like a ticking time bomb – waiting for the next thing to happen – not necessarily a BAD thing, just another ‘fire” I’d have to put out…another issue to deal with and honestly…I’m usually calm and deal with each thing as it hits me. Today, however it felt like I was in a batting cage with the automatic ball pitcher … without a bat. Ducking and dodging and every once in a while making a catch but really? I was just picking the balls up one at a time trying not to get it hit by the next one.  

QuotationBut the meltdown never came and I even got to work on time after dropping off my daughter at school and it was a rather pleasant day. I kept a lighthearted attitude, laughed things off and smiled at every one who walked in. I know I have work to do when I get home and there are going to be a lot of difficult conversations that we need to have, I just pray no one ends up crying. I aim to have an open discussion about how our actions create reactions and perhaps ways of coping when things don’t seem to go our way. Heck, I am just as guilty half the time of not having the best knee-jerk response, nevertheless we can all learn from listening to others. “Listening is key to all effective communication” and one of my goals is to teach my children to listen to each other, listen to us as parents and perhaps we can avoid more frustrating scenarios like this morning. I always try to learn from each incident and this was a huge lesson. The older I get, the more I can see why the people who were old when I was young were so cranky. Patience is a gift, one that I have been blessed with and never take for granted. My hope is that I never reach that ornary place and that I can always greet each person pleasantly, “b’sever panim yafot” as the Mishna in Avos states.

Wishing all a year of peace, good health, happiness and prosperity in the new year.  

  

Saying Goodbye

bookIt’s been a while since I posted though my life has been anything but dormant or boring, I’ve had lots to say but it never felt like the right time to say it, until now. This week, the 10 days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the time each of us must make the last-ditch effort at amends and ask for forgiveness from our fellow Jews, friends, associates and G-d. The Good Book is closing and as I child I would actually visualize this, this, this massive over-sized giant book and have to squint to see if my name was written in it.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had time to reflect about the past year – what happened and how I handled certain situations and what this year has planned for me, rather what goals or dreams or accomplishments would I like to achieve? Perhaps not letting time go by without reaching out to make more of an effort to tell those I love them, even if they live far away.

Holding me as a newborn

Holding me as a newborn

This year I said goodbye to my Grandpa Mickey, Michael Marks, who more recently was referred to as G-pa. Though we didn’t really communicate too much the last few years he was always so special to me and I had always secretly wished we lived closer. I felt even as a child that my paternal grandparents were more “for me” and that my maternal grandparents were more “for the cousins”. They all lived in Florida and we lived in the tri-state area. It seemed only fair that we each got to be spoiled by at least one set of grandparents so as a kid, there was always a slight distance that I kept. Once I moved countries with my family as an adult it became increasingly difficult to connect on many levels however the memories and love I had as a child really carried me through the years of separation.

apple picking

Apple Picking

at the circus

At the circus

At the end my grandfather was recognized as the true hero he was, but to me, he was the funniest grandpa ever. He had a twitchy mustache and was built with muscles that reminded me of Pop-eye. He had the warmest eyes and the roughest hands and the baldest head and the best voice. When he held us, he hugged with strength. When he helped us, he did it with a good heart. When we vacationed, it was the best of times. And when we danced?

Dancing at my brother's wedding

Dancing at my brother’s wedding

Seriously, that’s the very best memory of all. While we didn’t dance at my wedding for religious purposes, my grandfather blessed me as all the fathers do and then we honored him with the prayer over the bread that initiated the dining. He would tease me and my cousin Lisa, mercilessly, dance his pectoral muscles and then made us squeal when he said it was the girl’s turn next. While many thought he resembled a ninja turtle, to me he was larger than life and I will always miss that smile. He was mischievous and would make my grandmother use his full name when she reprimanded him, but this too is just a faded sweet memory. He was from what I could see from afar the most supportive great-grandfather, always in the bleachers, cheering his kids on. He was generous and kind and funny and everything grandfathers are supposed to be. He made everyone smile (except grandma – sometimes) and that’s the way I’ll always remember him.

Infiltration? Are you Ready?

In my head it went like this, Infiltration? Are you ready? If so, let’s go, starting with…holy cr@p!! There are soldiers are on my block…lots of soldiers…

Remember the game Concentration?

Are you ready?

If so?

Lets Go…

Starting with…names of… and then there was coordinated clapping and snapping. I tend to make light of awkward or sad situations because it’s a nervous habit, coping mechanism, Sorrrry!

So, Friday was a day of hustle and bustle in our home…because my elderly in-laws were staying over we decided to host the Sabbath services in our home to facilitate an easier time for my father in law, as walking has become increasingly difficult.

Cleaning and cooking, washing the floor, setting the chairs and lights and A/C so that all would be comfortable. I lit the candles on time and then the prayer service started and somewhere in between, the phone rang. This is highly unusual since everyone knows we are Sabbath observers and the phone almost NEVER rings during this 24 hour period. No message… so we continued on. Until a friend went outside to get her baby’s stroller and she returned saying there were tons of soldiers outside.

Over the last 2 weeks my personal alert radar has been on since the war had escalated and local rioting started but for some reason – coping mechanism I guess, kicked in, and I asked my older daughters to invite them in, perhaps they needed to pray…not for once thinking – there was a problem. Then (like an idiot – or just totally not thinking smartly) I – we went outside and wished them a good Sabbath and asked what was going on. When they said not to worry, but go back inside, it will be safer, my inner alert system kicked into high gear. Then the phone rang a second time.

It was a call from our emergency team leader saying we must stay inside our homes, check our WhatsApp messages for any other security messages.

Panic. I made an announcement as the prayer service had just ended to all the men that kindly helped us out. One guy was like, ‘I’m outta’ here, I’m gonna’ be with my family” – others were a bit more hesitant…I mean what was out there? Everyone decided to take their chances and head home, even though I offered them to stay for dinner.

Being observant of the Sabbath – it was strange to turn on my phone and check for messages and to see my husband grab his gun. We locked the doors and windows and tried to remain as normal as possible. The soldiers were headed up the block, where the speaker of the Knesset lives. At least I am comforted by knowing there is always extra security close by. (“The Knesset is the unicameral national legislature of Israel. As the legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister, approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government”)

We began our meal, but my mind was elsewhere, thinking of all the crazy possibilities. Every set of headlights up the block had my eyes turning to the window. Every bleep from my phone had me quickly checking to see any updates. My daughter saw a soldier in our garden checking the perimeters to check for anything suspicious.

I was distracted the majority of the meal and we finally got a message that all was okay and that there was nothing to worry about.

The next day I was told that there was a hole found in one of the gates and naturally that created a domino of events  in our neck of the woods or hilltop to be more accurate.

I’ve been asked repeatedly would I move my family out of Israel to feel safer. Based on the news today, uh that’s a negative definite heck no! There is a crazy fever running rampant in all parts of the world from Miami to Chicago, from Lebanon to Iraq. From France to Nigeria. I’ll take my chances in good old Israel, the safest most secure and holiest places of all, believing in G-d and the IDF to protect me. I’m not a religious zealot and know that bad things happen to good people all the time, I will most certainly be staying put with extra precautions living in a gated community where we celebrate life and mourn death.

Saturday, I was invited to a celebratory dessert gathering for boys of friends that made it back from Gaza alive. There were light refreshments, baked goods and fruit that many neighbors contributed so that right after the morning service there was a pleasant crowd and a real sense of the word community was felt.

However today is a new day, and I as I sit here typing these words my Red Alert App is dinging. 14:04 “Rockets Attack : Sderot” The war is not over, and our enemies still attack us. My hope for today us that our soldier boys, and men will not be injured, and that there will be no more Jewish blood spilled.

flag

Our Land. Our Right.

If there is a message for today it would be this: Our enemies are close, whether you live in Florida, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Boston just in the US alone. Moving onto Europe, if you live in Paris, London, Brussels, Casablanca, or Frankfurt, you’ve seen it yourselves. Jews are the most targeted faith – that’s a fact. If there was one place I’d want to feel most protected? It’s the state of Israel. OUR state. Our land. Our right. The sooner you join us, the better we’ll all be.

 

Hitting Close to Home. Literally and Figuratively.

cheriblevy:

Forced to run to our safe room less than an hour ago from rockets sent by Hamas from Gaza.

Originally posted on SILLY OL' ME:

In the last few days things seem to be getting worse, but still okay. There is no cease-fire no matter what Hamas says – they are liars. Still planning to attack, still sending rockets, and now the locals seem to be getting restless. Being a ‘settler’ we are surrounded by Arab villages. While some find this scary, there was always a certain security that came with it, for me at least. See, I thought, well, no one is going to send a rocket so close to his cousin’s home, right? Until there was a rocket that landed in Bethlehem, then another in Hebron. When we ran to the bomb shelter, not 10 seconds after shutting the window, we felt it. We heard the boom and felt a tremor – okay maybe that was my heart pounding – but it sure felt like it hit close by. After when we checked…

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Hitting Close to Home. Literally and Figuratively.

In the last few days things seem to be getting worse, but still okay. There is no cease-fire no matter what Hamas says – they are liars. Still planning to attack, still sending rockets, and now the locals seem to be getting restless. Being a ‘settler’ we are surrounded by Arab villages. While some find this scary, there was always a certain security that came with it, for me at least. See, I thought, well, no one is going to send a rocket so close to his cousin’s home, right? Until there was a rocket that landed in Bethlehem, then another in Hebron. When we ran to the bomb shelter, not 10 seconds after shutting the window, we felt it. We heard the boom and felt a tremor – okay maybe that was my heart pounding – but it sure felt like it hit close by. After when we checked the news and saw that it did – my reality took a right turn to hello-stupid-wakey-wakey. Hamas doesn’t care who they hit – I’ve listened to videos of women praising their suicide bomber sons. One Palestinian woman, whose baby was being treated in a hospital in Israel by Jewish doctors and nurses, fervently repeated that their people were not afraid of death. When the interviewer asked her then why bring her child to the hospital, why not just let him die? Her response was that she has had 2 other children die in her arms before, and that it is very painful and that she has no control over what happens, “it’s a natural thing, what can I do if he dies?…Allah gave us a gift – to forget…gave and Allah has taken away…don’t you believe in death?” The interviewer (and most people I know) answered, “No, we consider life valuable”. Her response? “Life is zero. Life is worthless”. Don’t believe me? Here is the interview: ( I do not know the person who posted this).

When your enemy has complete disregard for life, there is no brokering deals. There is no meeting of the minds. There is good vs evil.  And if the good doesn’t make every effort to destroy evil from the midst it becomes like a virus, spreading and there is no other way to make it stop.

The last few days there has been local rioting. In Bethlehem (12 minutes away), just 2 days ago, “violent incidents have been reported, including pipe bombs thrown at Jewish worshipers.” In Husan -(10 minutes away), “The rioters threw rocks, Molotov cocktails, and burning tires at security forces”. In another article I read, “Arabs near Gush Etzion (where I live), south of Jerusalem, set fire to a guard tower” and then there was this random act of violence not 5 minutes from my house:  Lastly, there was this just yesterday: Only a 10 minute drive away from my home, headed towards the town where my daughter is in horseback riding camp, border police stop a potential disaster: “Inside his car officers found pipe bombs, gas canisters, explosives and a detonator, according to a statement put out by the IDF after the incident. The officer who arrested the man said the back seats of the car had been removed and the entire area was full of gas canisters rigged with electric wires.”
 
Living in Israel is never easy, there are lots of sacrifices many of us make to live here. The rewards are great and mostly internal – not an external materialistic display of wealth, rather a bank of spiritual wealth. A belief that there is a unique holiness that surrounds us, protects us, lets the desert bloom and creative minds expand, explore and produce. I am not one to push my feelings and thoughts on others. However, if you think you are safe in a different country, like America, you are kidding yourselves. For every pro-Israel rally there is the enemy, right across the street, screaming in your face. So while Hamas militants in Gaza are building tunnels to terrorize ready to attack us in Israel, we know and are taking action to prevent the ongoing terror to our cities in the southern region. How will you protect yourselves? There is this evil spreading in your midst and in every city. The proof is out there, you’ve seen the articles, you may have witnessed it yourself. My Facebook feed is bombarded by videos and posts and articles and photos that back this up. This video is in Miami! ( I do not know the person who posted this)
I’m not saying you all should move to Israel, because each person needs to decide for themselves what works best. I just have a hard time people justifying living anywhere else. I feel most protected here, because I am aware that my enemy is close. I fear death just like the next person (well not my Arab neighbors it seems) and every month is a battle to ‘make it’ financially in the life we are accustomed to. 
We have been fortunate that no sirens have sounded in at least 2 weeks, but I know this creates a false sense of security. With smaller rioting matters at hand, the threat is still very much imminent.  We are all at risk, we must all take extra precautions but at the same time, we have to live our lives as regularly as possible. We continue to drive to work, to go to camp, to shop for food, to prepare for Shabbat. Most importantly we must continue to pray. We must continue to let our soldiers know how much we care.  Feel free to ask me how you can contribute – there are lots of ways, some not even asking for your money, just your time. 
I pray today is quieter than yesterday. I pray our boys come home soon. I pray that the next post I write is not about this.

My Story. From Over The Green Line.

I don’t even know where to begin but I feel now is the time to share.

There is so much going on in our region of the world now that it should come as no surprise to any of my followers. We are at war.

I thought about writing a piece as a mother, then as a Jew or an American or an Israeli or a settler or a blogger…not sure what angle I should be writing from made it all the more difficult to begin.

But here I sit, the stress I’ve been enduring the last few weeks has left my face looking like the battlefield. Lack of sleep, on constant alert in the event that there MAY be a siren, constantly checking and rechecking my news feed for more or any information that seems new or better than the last-minute of awfulness, the constant pinging of my RED ALERT app alerting me of more rockets flying – mostly towards the southern communities, all have made the bags under my eyes weigh a ton and pimples sprout for no other apparent reason.

max-steinberg-300x234

Max Steinberg, 24,a Los Angeles native who immigrated to Israel and enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces, was among the 13 soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. The slain IDF soldier who was laid to rest on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem earlier today.

I will not be going to any funerals today, but that is not true for many of my friends. I can not begin to imagine,  and yet in my subconscious daze I sort of do imagine, what its like to have to say goodbye to your young soldier boy as he leaves you to go protect the rest of our country. My teenager is turning 15 in 1 week – that’ s like a blink of time before its his turn. And. I. Just. Can’t. Go. There. Because then I think of Max Steinberg, z”tl.  I think about his parents. And my heart breaks into a million more pieces.

I struggle with figuring out what to do, I want to pray but I can’t make it through the passages without breaking down. I want to help the efforts so I sent out a message on Facebook and within 2 hours and some amazing friends who networked faster than I could have even imagined, had raised close to $1000. I was literally shaking at the thought as I worked my way through the pharmacy picking out products I know they needed first-hand. Wipes, check – but how many packages? was 20 enough? 15 Bottles of sunscreen? And muscle relaxers and cream to help with jock itch – clearly not anything I am used to buying and then getting a strange look from the pharmacist when I told him 10 tubes of each. I explained my purchase but I was so worked up I’m not sure I was making any sense.  I felt bad taking all the boxes of energy bars off the shelf so I left one. Then I went to the next store and bought 60 bags of gummy candy and 20 more containers of gummy candy shaped in hearts to send a message that our hearts are with them. I bought more wipes and about 400 granola bars. And batteries, so many batteries!

I spend my day at work barely able to keep my mind on the tasks at hand and am distracted about 95% of the time, reading multiple articles and blogs, opinions vs facts and videos of idiots who call themselves political satirists. I follow some comments on Facebook posts that lead me to viewing sites from the opinions of our enemies and I am even more frightened by the amount of anger and violent hatred that is aimed at us, call us whatever you want. Jews. Israelis. Zionists. What have we done? Occupied a land as small as NJ? That was ours to begin with and that we cultivated with our own hands, blood, sweat and tears?  A land where we plant flowers and vegetables in our gardens not dig holes filled with cement and weaponry with the intent to creep out like ants waiting to grab the first morsel/life that walks by? Who does this?  When we dig below the earth it’s because scientists want to educate on a global level in the hopes that the  “results of this project will have vast implications in the fields of science and environment and will shed light on new natural resources”.

I am sad and angry. I am exhausted and weary that we will lose more sweet 20-year-old boys to this evil on the other side. And they are pure evil. Why there are so many who still support this entity of violence is beyond comprehension and then, then to read that other countries are willing to give millions, MILLIONS of dollars to aid them in rebuilding the homes of the ring leaders –  that we just sacrificed our young soldiers for – who hid weapons of mass destruction in their basements? In their schools? In their places of worship and hospitals? The last time they were given piles of tax dollar monies they spent it on cement to dig tunnels with the direct aim to do massive harm to innocent civilians or kidnap a soldier. Those are MY tax dollars being used to torment me. Outrageous! I can’t think of enough curse words to express my outrage at this expression of  sympathy. The world has gone mental if the general thought is that innocent women and children are being displaced. That does not mean I don’t feel for them because running for your life or losing a child is awful no matter what your religion is or what you believe. However, these are the women who raised terrorists and continue to praise their efforts. These children are receiving and education which will almost inevitably lead them to become terrorists. Televised programs encourage hatred and are what their children watch for fun, cultivating a life worth dying for at a very early age calling it martyrdom. It’s murder. It’s detestable. It should shock the world, and yet, as I continue to watch rally after rally in countries all over Europe, the UK, France and United States the world cries out in their defense, reminding us that we are “settlers occupying the land” and what this war is supposedly about. I live “over the green line” labeling me a settler.

Not one of the Arabs I employ (but feel free to call them Palestinians if you want) has ever been or felt mistreated in any way. I offer drinks and the use of my bathroom if the need should arise if they are working on my house or in my garden and there has never been one word in anger that passed between us. For goodness sake, they are helping me build my house on OUR land!!!

There are huge very clear red signs that state if I enter into their neighborhoods I risk my life.   

Why would I be risking my life? What’s on the other side of that sign? A pothole maybe that I can fall into like Alice in Wonderland and find myself deep in a tunnel and when I finally get to a stop am in the basement of some guy’s shwarma shop? Maybe. Who knows now? Not me, that’s for sure. How will I know that somewhere when I least expect it, there will be a sewer lid that lifts and out comes a terrorist? Yes, so now I’m paranoid, but what choice am I left with?!

tunnel roadThis is not our way. When we build tunnels, they end up looking like this: and was built in order to travel to Jerusalem and not through the Arab neighborhoods. Oh, and on the other side of this tunnel, only a few meters away is Bethlehem, and the Tomb of Rachel – where we all can pray – but with completely separate entrances. We are a fair nation with a moral conscience. We pulled our own people out of our own homes to give the enemy a chance. To show the world we are a just people. We gave and gave and now we must take back. The world needs to be a better place. We will lose innocent lives and mourn and then wipe off the dust and begin to build again. We have started to defend OUR right to live here and until the rest of the world wakes up we are going to have to fight hard to continue to live here. There is one thing we have going for us though, that no other surrounding nation has. The love of G-d. We have His blessing.

Deuteronomy 15:4

“However, there will be no poor among you, since the LORD will surely bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess”

Deuteronomy 7:13-14

“He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. “You shall be blessed above all peoples”

Deuteronomy 28:7

“The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways”

Here is my favorite line of the day though that I want to share with you. It has helped me time and again over the last 2 weeks and I firmly believe it.

Psalms 29:11

“The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace”

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Dear Social Media ‘Friend’, My Soul Is Famished.

Dear Social Media Friend,

It’s hard to concentrate on daily tasks when my social-media mind takes me from one article posted to another then another, no good news. Hateful commentaries, op-ed pieces, fake videos, false pieces and “writers” submitting their work on grounds I am sure they feel they have a right to espouse, what are we even to believe? Blaming everyone but them/our/selves, speculation, lies, hate, stone-throwing, all around me there is no good news. Our own people re-posting their opinions about why we are just as bad as “them”. As if. Wake up. Enough of the liberal mumbo-jumbo. I am literally distracted and sick. Dizzy from all the misinformation, holier-than-thou attitudes of some people claiming to be my “friends” on Facebook. I am not generally vocal about my political or religious stand on lots of issues. People see me as a pacifist because I am, but in my heart there are a lot of issues that I am very ‘to-the-right’ of, but my opinions are my own and I don’t try to change anyone else’s. If you ask me, I’ll be very clear and share – but sometimes, like today, I am just so over it. I want to scream out, “JUST SHUT UP!”, most of our mothers taught us, if we have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. We will never learn will we? Tell us your opinions, but be wise about it. Say it nicely. Don’t hate on your fellow Jew. Don’t be sarcastic – most of you are not funny. Say what you really mean and sound educated if you ‘put it out there’. I try to shut it all down BUT. Then, I see something, a small sliver of something uplifting and I think, okay there is hope for us yet.

For the young girls who baked and left pastries at a bus stop for soldiers protecting them. For the delicious steak someone is having most probably at a lunch meeting – being productive. For the friend who found a way to return precious lost items to their rightful owners. For the community who felt it was a good idea to spend their money to send a representative to visit the mourning families. For my old neighbor who took his guitar to sing with children.

If I can help it, for the rest of the day I am going to try to disappear from all of you and reflect on the ways I can be a better person, use MY time more wisely. Too much of my time has been spent (and probably wasted) on here-say and falsehoods. On opinionated stuffed shirts and hot air.

A piece of my mind is probably atrophied and continues to shrivel up due to drivel and anger. My soul is famished and seeks proper nourishment. So dearest social-media ‘friend’ I hope you read this and post something positive today and feel free to tag me so that tomorrow when I come back, my head won’t hurt as much and I won’t feel as sick and unproductive. Remind me why we are friends. Challenge extended.

Cheri

Ein Milim – There Are No Words

cheriblevy:

An appropriate response, our hearts are broken.

Originally posted on Aviva Woolf:

“Ein milim,” said the woman reading at the prayer vigil for the murdered Israeli boys at the Isiah Wall outside the UN tonight. “There are no words.”

Ein milim, people write sharing posts on Facebook. Baruch Dayan Emett. They say. Because that’s what you say when you don’t know what to say. There are no words to describe the death of three innocent Jewish teenagers on their way home from school. 

Well, that’s not entirely true. There are words like tragic, senseless, horrible, violence, heart-breaking. But those words don’t cut it. Those words don’t make us feel better, they won’t bring them back. They won’t fix the Middle East or make people care. 

But for the parents of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, all they have are words now. Instead of sons, they have stories. Instead of children, they have memories to share. 

“Naftali loved to play basketball,” they’ll say. But…

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A People United


We are always on the verge, it seems. On the verge of war that is. We have been warned to obtain gas masks for our families, ensure that our bomb shelters are up to code, and that our sirens are functional. Our soldiers are training and we hear stories from our sons, and our friend’s sons of what its like in the field, on the border, at their posts, with their guns, or standing alert. We hear about children’s kindergarten’s in the north being bombed,random missiles being shot and the absurdity of the loss of a teenager’s life out and about with his father.

The war on us has reached a new level. It has once again entered our neighborhood, when 3 young boys leaving school are taken against their will. Kidnapped. The last kidnapping had the country shouting for 5 years to release our soldier-boy. A soldier, not teenagers leaving from school and this has to stop. The world needs to see that this type of activity is not because Palestinians are being mistreated, what a joke! We gave back convicted terrorists to save ONE LIFE, and in turn these same animals attack us again and again after receiving freedom.

In no other country would a murderer be let free. Yet we look like the bad guys. How is that even possible?

They are allowed in our malls, in the supermarkets, on the same busses and trains. We employ them to work constructing our homes, tend to our gardens, tailor our fabrics. We offer electricity and water and food supplies when needed. And they steal our children. They enter our homes when we are sleeping and bludgeon our babies to death. They drive tractors over innocent motorists killing our families. They walk into our schools with semiautomatic weapons and shoot our children randomly. They are wolves in sheep clothing, entering our cars waiting with hidden knives to attack when we offer them a hitch, or dress like us only to blow themselves up on a bus hoping to take as many Jews with them.

We are a defensive people. We were given the gift of the land of Israel and we respect it, cherish the history from our forefathers, are blessed with making it flourish and we use stones to build a community not to throw at passing cars. We teach our children to build healthy relationships and yet they have summer camps that instruct their children to destroy at all costs, innocent people. When we left our productive land, forced by our own government, physically pulled out of our homes by 50,000 of our own soldiers as an olive branch, what happened to the wonderful homes built with love, or the fields of produce that once flourished? Destroyed and now? Now nothing, absolute nothing.  Where has there ever been any kindness from the other side.

The world wants peace. They want us to give, and give until there is no more to give.

There is no rest for the weary, our boys have not yet returned home, our communities are offering food and kindnesses to the soldiers. Our 22 “settlements” all baked, and bought, cooked and served to show appreciation in the efforts of all they do. When asked to prepare cakes, rolls and Challot for the Sabbath to give to the boy’s high-school for all the students, in accordance with baking enough in order to make a special blessing, there were 159 women who signed up. Together we delivered 349 rolls, 207 Challot and 60 cakes to the school that houses close to 300 students. We are bound by a commandment, “all the people of Israel are responsible for one another”. We are brothers, we are one family. We are bound to protect and love each other as we love ourselves and during this awful time we offer what we can in action, deeds and prayer in the hopes that we flood the gates of heaven with our cries. We beg for mercy, we trust in G-d and together, a people united we continue to hope that the boys are returned unharmed.

Please continue to pray for Gilad, Naftali and Eyal.teens_jpg

Honoring Our Past

handYou may not see what I see, because perhaps, you never met my grandmother. Genetics are a weird thing. Bits and pieces passed down through the gene pool end up popping into a new person and changing with them as they grow older. There were a couple of small photos my mother once had hanging on our metal oven wall with a magnet of her and me looking VERY much alike as children. Weirder than that was a picture my paternal grandmother hung on her wall *also happens to be my absolute favorite* of my great-grandfather centered between my uncle and father in a beautiful moment captured in black & white. Underneath, tucked into the frame was a color photo of my great-grandmother centered between my brother and myself. Seriously, my dad and I look like twins. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE that I look JUST like my mom and JUST like my dad at different ages, when they themselves look nothing alike? Early on I learned about genetics since I was the only one in my immediate family with blue eyes. My maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather passed them down to me bit by bit. And then, there are moments when I look in the mirror and there is a glimmer of my mother looking back at me. Or I am washing the dishes and I see her hands soaping the pot. But most recently, I was reading a novel and there was something that hit me beyond words. There staring back at me was my grandmother’s hand. Though she had longer more elegant fingers, always clad in shiny rings that seemed to be slipping off (she was always cold) and her hands always smelled of Jergens or Shower to Shower powder, sure enough there was that moment.

Today is a day we honor the past and hope for our future. My grandmother was American and though I have no personal familial stories to tell of atrocities and triumph of my own (though my grandfather was an American paratrooper in WWII) , my Facebook feed is full of old black and white/sepia photos of grandparents and great-grandparents who suffered through the Holocaust. My friends, all adding their own personal stories, have helped me to connect to a reality I know nothing of, only learned about since I was very young. Looking at their pictures I try to find the resemblance either in my friend’s faces or their children’s faces. I search for the depth in their eyes and search for answers. What was going in their day-to-day lives? How did they manage to survive? What could they have possibly told their children? How did they get past these atrocities and rebuild their lives to produce some very large families and continue their G-d given heritage? I hope I never need to find out for myself.

Today, we honor their memory with a siren that blasts for 2 straight minutes while the whole country stands still. Cars stop on the side of the road, drivers get out of their cars and silently bow their heads. People in offices and stores, children in school, workers in the fields, everyone stands respectfully until the siren ends remembering the fallen. Throughout the country memorial candles are lit and programs and ceremonies are held. Holocaust Remembrance Day (or here in Israel it is known as יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Day) is a national memorial day. 

 memorial candleWe are a resilient nation, conquering the wrath of our enemies, proving triumphant and victorious over evil hateful nations that wish to destroy us.

We are a simple people wanting nothing more than to be just what we are. The Chosen People, which has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. “You alone have I singled out of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) Children of Israel (Exodus 6:6). A people of the land  (Genesis 12:7). My memories of my grandmother are sweet with mostly no sorrow. What will we pass down to our children? What will they remember about us? These are the questions I thought about today. How about you? We continue to honor our past and always hope for a brighter, more tolerant tomorrow.

When Giving Means Receiving

flowers

My beautiful surprise

 There comes a time in everyone’s life when a choice has to be made or a question needs to be answered. More often than not we ignore or push-off making a final decision or finding the best solution until we are emotionally or financially ready. That’s a good thing. It’s never smart to make decisions without proper thought about consequences. Sometimes a rash decision will cause tremendous ramifications and that’s not a good thing. Taking the time to really hash out our feelings is an important part of the process. 

BUT. Then there are times when you get a certain feeling to do a certain something and just act. Without thinking too much. Even though some may say is “adventurous”, some…”stupid”, may be the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else. Now, this could be bad or good.

Let’s say your cousin shows up with spiked hair and you decide to just do the same (Hair Today, Idiot Tomorrow). That, most probably, will turn out bad and last the whole summer and not grow out for the first day of being a freshman in high school. 

However, if you decide to do an act of kindness, because you see another person needs help or, an extra hug, or something that seems insignificant like a ride, or a call, or a smile, you know what will happen? A chain reaction.

Either you’ll want to continue doing these small kindnesses because it brightens someone else’s day, and THAT makes you feel good, or the person on the receiving end will want to do something similar for someone else. 

When I decided to take upon myself the task of baking Challah bread every week for Shabbat (the Sabbath) and pray that my niece’s baby have a complete and speedy recovery, a tradition that many religious Jewish women take on, it was a mother daughter affair in honor of my daughter’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah, but a tradition I kept on throughout the year. The more I became comfortable with the dough, and the prayers, the more people I started to pray for, the more intense my prayers became. Then one day, it hit me. I had the strongest urge to share some loaves with one of the families I was praying for. I first asked if it would be helpful, did they want it, did they need it? I was thrilled the answer was yes, well mostly because we as a family, even if I invite guests won’t finish 7 large loaves in one weekend. But more importantly, by bringing my son along to deliver the bread, I was able to bring another person along for the journey. He could witness the look of appreciation on the receiving end. That made him feel good too.

Once there was a neighbor (we are not close with) who knocked on the door and asked if we happened to have a spare roll just so that he could make the blessing later that evening. The store had closed before he had a chance to purchase enough for his family and I was thrilled to be able to share. Another time while about to get in the car to make deliveries, the same neighbor was saying goodbye to friends of his and the guest had commented about my loaves. I offered them the ones in my hand and asked my son to run up to get more. The guest was speechless, his wife was a little shocked, kept protesting and saying that it wasn’t necessary and I think mortified that her husband so willingly accepted, but was gracious when I reminded her that she was leaving close to Shabbat and that with the travel back to Jerusalem (and her screaming children in the back) there may not be enough time to purchase their own. Her smile was worth a million thank yous and her husband was telling his friend how lucky they were to live in such a warm neighborhood.

We got in the car to deliver and my son (who often brings his sullen teenage attitude with him) was going on and on about how cool that was. How awesome it was  to make another person happy, simply by offering a kindness. When we delivered the first set my son was able to play with a dog – so naturally he was in even better spirits and finally to our last destination where my son returned to the car holding a beautiful bouquet. For me. What?!? That was such a nice surprise! I certainly had no intention or expectations for a return gift. I gave freely with my whole heart never needing or wanting anything in return and thus being on the receiving end of someone’s thoughtfulness was overwhelmingly pleasant. This is the chain reaction I was referring to. One action leading to another, creating a good example for my son. That with my one act of sharing, I was able to create a smile for at least 4 other people.

I’m not sharing this piece to toot my own horn, its nothing really. I know lots of people doing lots of nice things, however, I recently read The hole story, by my friend Elie Klein, and the lesson I took away was that it’s important to share these details with others and hope that a chain reaction begins. They say that sharing is caring and I couldn’t agree more. Setting good examples for my children means I sometimes do the right thing and those are the actions I hope they remember me most by.