Thursday, July 14, 2011

Leiby Kletzky

Chana's post about Leiby Kletzky says it all.

The song she quotes- A rose among the flowers- is the song that rings in my head when thinking about the passing of former classmates of mine- Aviva and Chaya, a"H. The song states the tale of how the king found a precious rose in his garden, and rather than let it stay and wilt, he plucked it before its time to be by him. If anyone has the whole lyrics- I am searching for them. It begins: "Once upon a kingdom, so very long ago..."

Hashem took these pure neshamos from us so quickly, and the only thoughts I have are that they must be such pure roses for G-d to want them in His garden near Him.

May Hashem comfort all mourners for Leiby, a"H, and for all those children who are taken from us early.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Silent Scream

Yes, the title is a bit freaky. But that's the song from the Shira Chadasha Boys' Choir that makes me tear up every time I hear it.

It's an emotional song, about Chana, the mother of Shmuel HaNavi, (Samuel the Prophet), one of the Jewish people's greatest leaders. Most who read this blog know that Chana suffered from infertility- as the first wife of Elkanah, she watched as her co-wife, Penina, bore child after child, while she had none. Penina (albeit with good intentions) even teased her about the fact in order to get Chana to pray to G-d with more fervor.

Chana eventually had a child, Shmuel, who's name means that G-d listened to her. My husband and I continually have a fight (well, more of an argument) on what Chana asked for in a child. I learnt, as did many of the women I checked with, that Chana asked for a normal child- average, nothing extraordinarily different, but she was granted the exceptional. He learnt (and looked up for me) that Chana wanted a child like Moshe and Aharon, (Moses and Aaron) and was granted her request, showing the importance of prayer, and of belief in our children. (Did anyone else hear one of these explainations?)

Either way- this song truly captures the essence of Chana's plea to G-d, and her reward. May all those suffering from the utter pain that is infertility find hope in the story of Chana, and may G-d bless them with children in abundance.

Sorry about the annoying background, but it was the only youtube I could find easily to link to. Listen to the words, forget about the screen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Israel Air Force Induction 2011

I couldn't attend- grad school interfered- but I sent my mother, a recent immigrant to the country to the IAF- Israel Air Force induction ceremony in Be'ersheva. Nefesh B'Nefesh tracked down some extra tickets for this amazing experience, and armed with a Teudat Zehut and a love of Israel- my mother was allowed to attend.

It is only open to those who are relatives of the pilots, former pilots, and any of those with the special tickets granted to the event.

Speaking to my mother after the event, she remarked that it was a truly beautiful experience. All the pilots, neat, handsome, polite and respectful, were truly a sight to behold. HaTikva was sung with grace, and a music concert lightened up the air.

The pilots themselves showed off the individual planes, speaking in English and in Hebrew, and answering questions to all who wanted. There was an air show, with precision moves, gracefully sweeping through the sky, for two hours of awe and amazement. Many of the pilots were wearing kippahs, my mother said, many were religious as well. All were absolutely proud and joyful that they reached this day and earned their wings.

A proud parent of a pilot remarked to my mother that he himself was in the 1967 war, and it was only due to the pilots in the air that he on the ground lived to see this day. He stood there with his son the pilot, his other son the yeshiva student, and all with proud grins on their faces.

May G-d safeguard these soldiers- may they never have to use their excellent skills in war, and if they do, let them all come safely home.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I would like to write, but...

I feel like I have a list of excuses why I never post any more, with the major ones being: work, school, NBD (who is not so NB anymore!) , Mr. NMF, family, friends, and so on.

So many beautiful things have happened here in Israel since I posted last.
Chesed abounds in this fabulous country- and I have been the recipient of much of it.

There is a custom in some Jewish families' households to hang pictures of famous rabbis that they would like to emulate on their wall, in the fulfillment of the verse that our eyes should view our teachers. Namely, that everyone that you hang on your wall should be someone that you would like to learn from.

After rereading for the dozenth time about R' Aryeh Levin, ztl, I would love to put him on my wall. Why? Simply that his Ahavas Yisroel- love for all Jews- knew no boundaries- across religious and nonreligious barriers, across political barriers, and ideological barriers. The chesed (lovingkindness) he performed for so many Jewish people- it defies logic.

Here's a quick story from his life. A man that R' Aryeh Levin knew as one of the fellow teachers in his school had to stay up all night with a sick member of his household. As such, he was falling asleep during the day, and up all night- ruining his livelihood. One night there was a knock on this man's door. R' Aryeh and his wife were standing there in the darkness. R' Aryeh said, "Now you can go to sleep. My wife and I need to discuss something privately, and we can't doing at home for fear the children will overhear."

He was known as the Rabbi of the Prisoners- for his job of visiting them every week, rain or shine, sleet or not- political uprising, or not. When the prisoners were asked if he should become formally the Rabbi of the Prison- they were all for it. But it never ended up happening for various political machinations. In the end- the prisoners remarked- that it was a good thing- for R' Aryeh was never the Prison Rabbi- but the Rabbi of the Prisoners. It wouldn't have suited him.

Chesed abounds in this county- I just have to wake up and see it. And then write about it so you can see it too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tough Exterior, Hearts of Gold

It gets me everytime. These hard boiled Israeli people- said in the nicest possible way of course- just melt at the slightest emotion.

They live through wars, send their children to be soldiers, work hard, pray hard, learn hard- life in Israel is hard. After all, it's a Gemara- Israel was given with trials and tribulations.

But when the guard makes silly faces at my 2 year old, or the mother on the bus carrying her packages home from Machane Yehuda Shuk helps another young mother wrap up her newborn, or even when the post office lady doesn't yell at me today because I have my toddler with me- I just melt.

This is such a special country. Tough exteriors, hearts of gold. No wonder this city is called Jerusalem of Gold. It reflects their souls.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Parenting Perspective

Okay, I admit it. My husband says I'm part of a cult. And sometimes I agree.

How so? Well, I'm a bit of a [says in quiet undertone voice] attachment parenting mama.

Flee while you still can!! I am one of those! You know the kind, the ones who are active (or like me, used to be active since I have NO time right now, but still give advice when asked) in La Leche League (which speaking of that, there are 2 awesome groups, one in Hebrew and one in English running in Jerusalem right now- email me for details).

The kind that breastfeeds a toddler, interested in baby led weaning or baby led foods, tries to wear or hold her baby as much as possible, doesn't believe in cry it out sleep training, has co-slept with her baby for now close to 2 years, and still has her in her room when not... I know. I'm a freak. I'm facing it.

It's not a cult, I tell my husband- I raise a happy, well adjusted, independant, smart, courageous and adorable toddler this way! Her needs are met, I am in her life, despite working during the day, and all is right with the world! And then he conceeds, that yes, everyone is happy- and then mutters "LLL, it's a cult" under his breath. And we both laugh.

Now. I am usually a very non-judgmental person. I try very hard to be like this. The problem is usually not me- but people around me. Like for example, if someone mentions she's giving her one year old milk, and I remark, "Oh that's nice.", she immediately feels she has to defend herself and say, "Well, I breastfeed for a year, and now I need a break, and I'm happier and so is he, so now we stopped nursing."

Okay lady. I get it. And truthfully, a side of me says- yay! You are happy and your baby is happy! So what's the problem? I certainly don't care! I think 3 days of breastfeeding is a huge accomplishment and mothers should get awards for it!
Yet AP parents get a flak, sort of, of being judgmental of others' parenting, so hence the response.

Yay! I'm happy you found a bedtime routine that works for you. Do you really think I care that your kid is in another room than you? Do what works! As a wise friend once said- if it ain't broke, don't fix it. (Now, if you let your kid scream for hours alone to get that result, don't expect me to praise you. I may nod and say, OK, but I'm certainly not going to lambast you in public for it. If I feel you are receptive to a comment, I may recommend The No-Cry Sleep Solution as an alternative.)

So I'm throwing this out to the blogosphere. Do you feel people judge you on your parenting style? Are you judgmental of others? Do people feel they have to defend their style to you?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chanukah in Israel

One of my favorite holidays of all time- but here in Israel, Chanukah is taken to a new level.
Besides for my daughter having learnt in Gan for the last 3 weeks consecutively every last detail about Chanukah- dreidel spins, menorahs are polished and then lit with oil, the Pach Shemen was very important- did I leave anything out- and then actually coming home with several songs about Chanukah, Israel tends to make a big deal about this holiday.
The Ubiquitous Sufganiyot line the street, so much so that you can smell them practically everywhere- caramel, jelly, and plain- you name it, they've got it. Livivot, or Latkes, are being baked everywhere, so potatoes are on sale at your local grocery or makolet.

But not only that- traffic hits a new high at around 4 pm, as everyone frantically rushes home to light their candles as soon as they possibly can. I got home at 5- and my whole block (practically) had their menorahs already proudly displayed in their windows, or in the aquarium boxes on the street. The Kollel men shift their schedule tocome home at 4 and then head back at 6.

I guess it's nice having such a nice, big, deal made of the Chag HaORim, Festival of Lights. It's beautiful to see even those who are not religious celebrating this day. Where I work made a special effort to erect a menorah and light it on time for all the workers still there.

So whereever you are, have a very Happy Chanukah this year, and may we be able to see the Temple that the Jewish people fought for rebuilt speedily in our day.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Top Ten Things I'm Grateful For

I think it was R' Avigdor Miller who said that one should write a list every once in a while to say thank you to Hashem for all the good He does for us. This can also be applicable to everyone- as everyone has something to be grateful for. In one of R' Shimshon Pincus's books, he says that every mitzvah leads a person to realize something he/she is grateful for. If you see a Mezuzah, and you head to kiss it- be grateful you have a house. If you get something Shatnez-checked- be grateful you have clothing, and so on. Each leads to a way to thank Hashem for all we have.
Without further ado: Top Ten Today (not necessarily in perfect order)

1. Breathing- air- respiration- oxygen
2. My body, with all of it's intricacies, from the organ to the cellular level
3. My Neshama- soul
4. My Parents and Family
5. My Husband
6. My daughter
7. Having a Parnasa in these rough times
8. The world we live in- the sky, the earth, the grass, the trees, the beauty
9. Yerushalayim- the zechus to live here, and this special city
10. The ability to think.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Erev Shabbos #25- Short Friday

People view me as a generally 'emotional' person- when I'm happy, I'm happy, sad, sad, excited, angry- you name it, I display it. It's something I think I have to work on in my life. After all, my face is public property.

But no more of that- frantic- is the emotion I generally feel on a Friday afternoon that leads to a Short Erev Shabbos. After all- I have to have everything ready by 4:00 in the afternoon- and no, I don't cook during the week. All is done on Friday, fresh and early. Even if I have guests, most of the time I don't prepare in advance.

I do however, during each recipe on a given Friday, try to make doubles or triples- to stash up in my freezer for times of need, a friend in need, or an emergency.

Yet early Shabbosim, and the Short Friday syndrome (everything is always ready, exactly when Shabbos starts, no matter what time it is) often prevent me from doing everything.

A rebbitzen in our community once discussed a lady who was very stressed out on Erev Shabbos. The lady complained that she had no time, and couldn't manage to get everything done, so she vented her frustration on her husband and family. (I'm sure we all can relate to that.) So my rebbitzen's answer- buy some ready made and use paper and plastic. Hence the reason that she is a practical rebbitzen, and I am not.

So I try. But- sometimes the Short Friday overtakes me, and I'm found rushing from one thing to the next, ordering my family around, and generally frantically frustrating the world.

Yet I continue to hope that every week I will find the right balance- between getting everything done, and getting frantic about it- between having it all and doing what I need to do.

It's a work in progress- just like my kugels. But it'll happen eventually- with Siyata Dishmaya- help from Heaven.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Busy, Busy, Yet Grateful

Busy doesn't even begin to describe it- what with deadlines, school, work, home, house, and family.

Chanukah always has meant to me a time when one could actually celebrate and relax with family. Thanksgiving was a family time too- but due to family members having different dietary requirements (ie, kosher and not) and differing schedules, it wasn't always celebrated, except with the obligatory turkey on sale.

But Chanukah was different. Gathered together, around the menorah as the lighting commenced, the little ones hanging around, my mother playing the piano's sweet tunes- I can't even remember a Chanukah in which my family wasn't together in some shape and form.

That family togetherness is something that I realize doesn't always happen by everyone. In Israel, the kollel men have a weird schedule, in which they come home really early to light the menorah exactly on time, and then go back. It's not like the family gatherings that started at a covenient 7-8 for everyone. But the togetherness is still there.

And that's what I'm thankful for today- the time to reflect on the fact that I have a family, that we do try to come together, and that they all still want to spend time with each other. That in of itself is a miracle- that everyone is willing to spend time together, to join in something so simple- yet so powerful.

So Happy Thanksgiving to all- and a future Happy Chanukah. May we all realize the things that we are most grateful for.