Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Girl Power

"This is a wonderful day!  Thank you, Mommy."

There is nothing quite as empowering - for a five year old or a 46 year old - as having the opportunity to stroke the horn of a rhinosaurus.

(The chief care taker of the herbivores at the Zoo says that the two beasts, named Shalom and Carmi, are like "big sloppy dogs," each one wanting attention.)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Growing Up

This morning, from Raphaela: "I need a proper pocket book, because some day soon I am going to be a Mommy."

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Every Friday night, after I light Shabbat candles, I give Raphaela a blessing, and then the two of us sit together and say "thank you" for the gifts and the positive experiences we have had in the last week.

This Friday night, Raphaela said, "Mommy, I want to give you a blessing too."  I leaned over, she placed her hands on my head and whispered: " Mommy, I love you so much. I never want you to die. I love you so much and I thank G-d for keeping you safe."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

How does a single mother in Jerusalem celebrate her birthday with jet lag and the background stress of a war?

I spent most of the day not working (the present), so I could wear a dress today instead of clinic clothing, and invested a little extra time with make up and jewelry.  After dropping Raphaela off at camp, onward to errands all over town:  post office, bank, supermarket, dry cleaners and electrolysis (sort of a present).

Grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then I picked up my daughter from camp;  together we made my birthday cake and had it for dessert.

Wild times, I tell you.

Tomorrow I get to clean the house for Shabbat and take Harry to the vet for his yearly shots.

Mostly, I am grateful to live in a country where despite a war, I can have a "normal" day and I can see signs of community all around me:  Raphaela's class made pictures for injured soldiers and delivered them to the hospital, and they also assembled a care package to be sent to soldiers on the front lines.  30,000 Israelis, most of whom did not know the American-born soldier who died this week, attended his funeral on Mount Herzl, and continue to stream over to the hotel where his family is in mourning, sitting Shiva.  All over the social media, posted information regarding the support of soldiers and their families, and the people living under constant bombardment, especially in the South of the country.

Maybe when this phase of the war is over, we will remember that we must remain united, and not just during those times when our enemies actively attempt to wipe the State of Israel off the map.

Monday, July 21, 2014

War Report from Jerusalem

Upon arriving home, I noted that the two eggs in the pigeon's nest in our window had hatched, and there sat two somewhat large chicks, being tended by their parents.  Since then, one of the two chicks has lifted its wings and learned to fly;  his sibling adamantly refuses to budge from the window sill.

It has been almost amusing, the perpetual "conversation" between the adult pigeon and this baby, which probably translates to, "Come on already, your brother/sister figured it out, it's not scary.  Get out of the house and get a job..."  And yet in the last week there has been no progress, the chick is staying put.

Watching Dora last night on cable television, the show was regularly interrupted with notifications of bombings taking place in real time throughout the south, a free service courtesy of the government.

I get it, it is scary out there, and now more than ever for those of us living in Israel during a war.  Last night we both went to sleep early in an attempt to finish off our jet lag, and I woke up with a terrified start in the early hours of the morning, having just dreamt that I got separated from Raphaela during a missile attack, playing out the horrible possibilities as a parent.  I never really fell back asleep after that, my heart was racing too fast and I did not want to close my eyes and replay that scene in my head.

Then, while walking Raphaela to camp today, we stopped at the usual spot to feed the street cats for whom we have taken responsibility.  An Israeli soldier sat on the wall, he could not have been more than 22 or 23 years old, unlit cigarette dangling from his fingers.  I told Raphaela to thank him, to acknowledge that he is putting his life in jeopardy to keep us secure.  I asked the soldier where he was stationed, and he told us that he was waiting for his ride to the army base, and after that he would be placed on the border of Gaza in the South of Israel.

With tears in my eyes, I wished him well and told him to "stay safe," as if he or I have any control over the matter.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Home Again, Home Again

From New York to Kansas to Boston to London, we have arrived home, to Jerusalem.  I must admit that I did not want to take my daughter into a war zone, when life in America seems so familiar and so comfortable, superficially easy.  Honestly, I know very few of my friends and family in the United States who wake up each morning and think, "Who is trying to kill me today?"  (There is always a little room for paranoia, especially in New York City...)
On Friday morning, jet lag be damned, Raphaela and I went to Palmach street; we dropped off clothing at the dry cleaners, got supplies for Shabbat and restocked the fridge from the supermarket.  Everything and everywhere, Raphaela proclaimed with joy, "That's my Gan!"  "That's my bakery!"  "This is the best day ever, I'm home!"  And I was reminded why it was so important for us to come back to Israel, because in her heart, Raphaela is an Israeli and Jerusalem is the place where I found my life.
Yet, regardless of my jet lag, I stayed awake all night waiting for the sirens to go off, and wondering where Raphaela and I would be safe from attack, and praying for the safe return of our soldiers involved in the ground operation in Gaza.

Monday, July 14, 2014

An Apology to Tora Dojo

I have returned from Kansas from my brother's wedding, a beautiful event for my brother and his new wife, and our joined families , and I now have the time to sit and catch up with my parents.

My father happened to mention a very old post on this blog, in which I referred to his teacher, friend and mentor, "Sifu" Sober of the Tora Dojo karate training, and an event which occurred over 25 years ago.  My comments were taken as a slap in the face to an old and dear family friend, and have been hurtful over the years.

For the sake of my father, and my own conscience, I called Professor Sober this evening;  we spoke candidly about our perceptions of the event, and of our desire to make peace, especially in light of the greater terrible threat to the Jewish Nation.  True friendships and connections always find a way to reconnect and forgive, and I am thankful to report that we have succeeded.

Perhaps the hardest part of being a grown-up is taking responsibility for our actions and being able to admit that our approaches were flawed, and then finding a new way to heal a wound. I am grateful that Professor Sober and I were able to forge this path, and I am grateful to my daughter for teaching me that as a parent and as a human being, we can embrace our imperfections and try to learn from them, if we are just a little brave.