Sunday, August 31, 2008

Maybe our blogger community can help

I got this from Superraizy:

Elliot Jaffe, who writes the blog Weekend Hospitality, has a son who has been diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure. Elliot writes "Simply put, both his kidneys are damaged and scarred from some infection or defect that happened years ago. They will likely cease to function sometime within the next six months... the best solution for Asaf is a kidney transplant... Live organ donors are considered the best option for kidney transplants. The percentage of successful transplants is higher from a live donor and the transplanted kidney has a longer chance of surviving in the recipient's body. Please contact us if you know of anyone who might be willing to donate one of their kidneys to Asaf. The process takes about six months and requires numerous meetings with doctors, social workers, psychologists and committees to make sure that the decision is freely made and will not jeopardize the donor or the recipient. The recovery time for the donor after the transplant can be as fast at 3-4 days." You can read Elliot's entire post here. The Jaffes, who live in Israel, have also posted a letter about their search here on the Jerusalem Post website.
Elliot says that Asaf will probably need a kidney transplant within the next 12 months. All of his close relatives have been eliminated as potential donors. To donate, you must be in perfect health and have blood type B or O. The Jaffes can be reached at their blog or at
Please help publicize Asaf's case by linking to Elliot's post or letter.
May Hashem grant Asaf Jaffe a refuah shleimah.

Here, my friends, is where we can wield the power of the Jewish blogosphere. I have a small blog, but if all you guys who stop by who have blogs link up to Elliot's blog, and then your blogger friends link up to their blogs and reach their visitors and so on and so on and so on. All of our small, and maybe not-so-small blogs could potentially reach huge amounts of people. What your politics or religious views are don't matter. We can reach all different kinds of Jews everywhere, and perhaps somewhere amongst our readers is a donor that can save this young man's life.

Several years ago at the Synagogue we went to in Woodmere, NY, the call went out that a member of our shul needed a kidney. Another member of our shul was tested and was a match. In the blink of an eye he gave his kidney away, and never looked back. His wife and children were extremely proud of him, as they well should be. I was proud to be a part of the same congregation. What a huge mitzvah.

We are all responsible for each other. If this were my child....

Wishing Asaf a Refuah Shleima, a speedy recovery.

Butterflies in my stomach

That time of year. Back to school for the kids. Of course, I'm nervous about how they will do. They have all improved their Hebrew, but academic language is still quite difficult for them. This year more will be expected from them. They have many challenges ahead, as we all do. With G-d's help (and some tutors), they'll be okay. I'm sure you'll get to hear more on the subject as the year progresses.

As for me, I have decided that it's time to return to more full-time work. I am a speech pathologist and have worked with children for many years. In March of this year a job practically fell into my lap and I have been working about 6 hours a week. The administration of the school has asked me to expand my hours and I will be working four fairly full days a week. I'll be home by 3, in time to supervise the homework and cook dinner and be pulled in many different directions.

I'm sure you'll get to hear about that as well.

In other news, I got a 96 on my ulpan test, Ramah (level) Daled (D)--"very high". (I have no idea how The Cheater did on her test). I feel good about how my language skills are developing, although I know I have a long way to go. Joining the work force will only help in that area.

Also, my friend Gila, who will be coming over for some matzoh balls very soon, has Haveil Havalim up. She did a really good job, so go over to her blog and read through it.

It's been a really great first summer in Israel. I am sorry to see it end. I've had a chance to write alot; I'm afraid that my posting will be more infrequent now. But I still intend to read and write and comment. I really do enjoy being part of the blogging community.

So stay tuned.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Just got back from Mega, the big supermarket here in Modi'in. Grocery shopping is my most hated chore, especially when I have one of those huge shopping lists. This week I decided to treat myself to home delivery, because, well, I'm worth it.

The first time I treated myself to home delivery, (months and months ago), I just let the stuff sit on the counter. The cashier very snidely said that I still have to bag the stuff and put the bags in the boxes. Well, I'm paying extra for home delivery, shouldn't someone do that for me??? Sheesh.

This time, I knew what had to be done. As I started lifting a box of water, the cashier started screeching, "no, no, no!". I looked at her, puzzled, as she came running around to my shopping cart. "I'll help you," she said.

I almost fainted. Israeli cashiers are not trained to help the customer. Trust me on that one.

I said, "That's okay, I can do it." She replied, "No, you shouldn't be lifting this stuff" and looked pointedly at my mid-section. I looked down to see what she was staring at, and then the light bulb went off in my head.

She thinks I'm pregnant!

Perhaps I shouldn't be wearing these empire-waisted shirts that Mazi brought me from America.

I smiled, almost laughed, at the cashier, opened my mouth to disabuse her of the notion and then--G-d forgive me, but I stood back and watched as she loaded all my groceries into bags and then boxes. I even touched my belly a couple of times for effect.

Maybe I'll just wear the shirts when I do the grocery shopping.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Never let 'em see you sweat

One of the kids was watching Kindergarten Cop the other day. I stopped for a second and saw Arnold complaining that the kindergartners he was "teaching" were running amok. His friend gives him some advice:

Phoebe: [advising Kimble on how to be a teacher] Look, you've got to treat this like any other police situation. You walk into it showing fear, you're dead. And those kids know you're scared.
Detective John Kimble: [looks at her a moment then nods] No fear.
Phoebe: No fear.

Last night NBN held a Parent Education Forum here in Modi'in. At the last minute I decided to go, not holding out much hope that I would learn anything new, since I had attended events like this before.

I'm glad I went.

First of all, there was a session on high school students and the tests they must take (Bagruiot) if they ever want a chance of attending university. It was the first time I ever got a clear explanation of how this system works.

The other session was a more touchy-feely session, geared more towards those who just got off the boat this summer. But I felt I gained much from it.

The presenter noted that when you make Aliyah, you lose a certain amount of confidence: the language barrier, cultural differences, and most critically, perhaps, as a parent. You bring your kids here and its not easy for them. If they were good students in America, suddenly they feel stupid. And if they weren't good students in America, they feel really stupid. They miss their friends and their routine. And they blame you for it.

And you blame yourself for it.

And the kids know that. If you lose your confidence and become afraid, your kids are going to pick up on that in a second.

It happened to me several times over the year. What did I do? I thought. We had a perfectly nice life in Cedarhurst, the kids were settled and happy in their schools, they were actually learning, why did I create problems for myself, and for them?

When you start to think like that, you encounter problems. Your kids are staying up later than they should. You are allowing them certain freedoms they probably shouldn't have. If they tell you they feel sick, you let them stay home from school (we're talking those vague symptoms like a stomachache, not a raging fever--you know, the kind where as soon as the other kids leave they look at you expectantly and say, so what are we doing today? Yeah, that kind).

In general, the kids realize that on some level you have lost that confidence that brought you to this country. This is of course, very scary for them. How can they build their attachment and confidence in their new home if their own parents are struggling with it?

I myself did struggle with this at certain points during the year, but I am starting to feel a return of that old confidence. In America, I was a strong parent, setting up certain limits that I felt were appropriate for my kids. I lost a bit of that over here, partially due to a crisis in confidence (as in, did I screw my kids up forever?). But I am beginning to regain this balance. I am their parent. We made this decision to come here after much debate and soul-searching. We made this decision because we believed that Jews should live in Israel, and we could no longer go on believing one thing and living another. We stand by this decision and my kids have to learn to live with it. They have to adapt.

Please don't take that the wrong way. I am not unsympathetic to what they are going through. I know it is hard for them. I just need to teach them to cope with this struggle. And one of the best ways to do that is to show them how I am coping, indeed to show them that I am coping and not falling apart everytime a difficulty arises. And that I am still in charge around here and they have to live by the rules of the house even if life is difficult. This is a gift I can give to them and what I must remember as we approach the pressures of the school year.

So as my friend Ahnold would say:

Hasta La Vista, Baby.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


First of all, Haveil Havalim is up at Yehuda's Place. There is a comprehensive round-up of the convention over there. I'm not included, but that's okay. I have no ego anyway. Sniff. Yehuda may or may not be the person who a friend of mine met square dancing, but that is a non-sequitor.

Also, I'm adding a bunch of bloggers to my blogroll. I enjoy their blogs, and you might, too. I met some of them at the convention (and wrote about it here and here). It really was a pleasure to see the faces behind the blogs. Others are blogs I've been meaning to put on the blogroll and am just getting around to it now.

That's it for now. I'm coming up on another anniversary, so I've been writing in my head. Will soon put it in the computer.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Man Enough to Wear a Purse

Meet QuietusLeo. (Yes, yet another blog to get addicted to). He has been an occasional commenter over here, as I have been over at his blog. I had the pleasure of meeting "Sandman", as he refers to himself, at the very end of the Blogger's Conference. It was one of the best conversations I had all night.

Sandman is an anesthesiologist who writes about his experiences at the hospital he practises, which I believe is in Be'er Sheva, where he lives. He was born here, but was raised in the states. After finishing college he came back to live here in Israel, stating he never felt at home in the states. (Forgive me, Sandman, if I messed up a little on the facts). We talked at length about the state of medicine in Israel. Doctors in this country make tiny salaries and have to supplement the base incomes with extra on-call hours and some private work. As someone who knows very well the knowledge and talent that doctors have I think this is such a shame. Israel's brightest do not run to medical school, or if they do, they often leave the country. I've gotten bills from anesthesiologists in the states. If Sandman chose to practise there, he could be living the life of Riley. And don't talk to me about how doctors in the states don't make what they used to. If you're a competent physician,chances are you are making a more than decent living. I hope that someday soon Israel wakes up and realizes that undervaluing our doctors is detrimental to us all.

Sandman made a choice in his life. He lives here because he feels comfortable living here. That's it. I don't know if he thinks about living in the states or what he could be earning there. But now he is here, caring about this country and helping to save lives. Didn't they used to call people like that "idealists"? And aren't we glad there are still people like that around?

Sandman, being very Israeli in many ways, wears that man-purse that is so popular here. A while ago, I teased him about it over at Trep's blog. I keep telling Isaac I'm going to buy him one, but he says he'll never be that Israeli. I actually agreed with Sandman when he said he was man enough to carry that purse.

As long as you don't have a lipstick in there.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Name Dropping....or How I Got to Meet the Stars of the J-Blogosphere

Spent a good part of the day reading blogs reactions to yesterday's convention. Some got pretty snarky but were kind of funny. Let's not take ourselves to seriously, guys. For me the whole thing was just a fun event. I went to meet people I knew, but yet didn't. It was an experience unlike any I had ever had before. I'm starting to think of some of these bloggers as friends. Weird.

Just a note--it wasn't like a Trekkie convention at all. Captain Kirk was nowhere to be found.

So here goes:

Here's Ruti Mizrachi. She left her first comment on my recent Gratitude post. Also crazy enough to make Aliyah with teens.

There's RivkA of Coffee and Chemo. Unfortunately most of us know someone living with cancer. RivkA really tells you what that's like in a tender, humorous way. (And that's me with her; I believe I'm "outing" myself on my blog!)

Here are Oleh Girl, Safranit, and Zehava (because behind every great man blogger is a woman saying, "You sure you want to write that?")

That's Trep, the only blogger who got to do both panels and sit in business class on the NBN flight. "Be nice", he said.

That's Bibi asking how many of us are living in Israel. Lots of raised hands. "This is your land, this is your city and it will stay your city", he said.

Lots of security around, especially when Bibi was there. You can always tell the security people by the curly wire behind their ears, and the dark madras shirts. It's a look I guess. The soldier girl worked for Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) and held her hand up high near the speaker for the 40 minutes that Bibi spoke (yes, he spoke that long). In general, I didn't worry about security; I noticed lots of people packing guns. And you know how I love Jews carrying weapons.

My Shrapnel's Gila. As intelligent and witty in real life as she is on the blog. "I write for me", she said, during her presentation on one of the panels. (Don't we all?)

I also met, but didn't take pictures of Batya, Mom, Baka Diary, Chayyei Sarah, Rafi G., Commenter Abbi (who brought quite a babe to the convention), Eli's mom, and Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret (he was chatting with Trep when I went to say hello. I wanted a picture, but was totally embarrassed to ask--felt like a groupie. Oh well. Maybe next year).

I didn't get to meet West Bank Mom or Joe Settler who were there. Emah S. and RR couldn't make it and I was truly disappointed when I heard that Jack (current manager of Haveil Havalim) didn't make it after all. I hope all is well, Jack.

I was thinking of linking to every blog I read that talked about the convention, but I'm to lazy to do that. Jameel probably has one of the most comprehensive blogrolls, so if you go there you can link to all the snarky, witty commentary you want.

Overall I thought the convention was fun. The organizers did a good job and I'm sure will do even better next year. I think some bloggers, and perhaps organizers took themselves a bit to seriously. There are certain things that could be improved upon in my opinion:

1. I think most bloggers wanted more "meet and greet" time.
2. Bibi was a fun surprise, but he spoke way to long. [Is he the best we've got for Prime Minister? Sigh.] I personally wanted to hear more from the panelists, and from Frum Satire--whose comedy routine brought a chuckle or two.
3. The panelists should probably have had more direction in what they were going to speak about. It was all quite vague and general. Any tips they gave about increasing traffic were pretty basic stuff, even for a computer illiterate like me.
4. I personally would have liked to have more interaction with the bloggers who were participating via the web.
5. A waffle maker for a raffle? The only one hoping to win was Jameel (who still owes a bunch of us some waffles).
6. Food was good, but we definitely needed Russian dressing for the turkey.

This was NBN's baby, so of course they had a specific agenda, to promote Aliyah. That's okay with me. The purpose of my blog is to express myself and to write. The fact that I happened to have made Aliyah jives with NBN's agenda. For now. As far as increasing traffic by linking and promoting and blah blah blah, well that's not for me either. This is a hobby for me, not a profession. I like and want people to read the blog,but I'm not willing to spend that much time or effort to make that happen.

I have one more post about the convention, actually about a specific blogger that I met, to put up tomorrow, and then I think I will have finished beating this dead horse.

For now, good night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We laughed. We cried. We sang Kumbaya.

Just got back from the J-Blogger's Convention. I'm still smiling. At first it was a little strange looking at everybody's chests to see who was who (they gave us stickers to put our names on), but then I got used to it. Let me tell you there are alot of us bloggers out there. I spend half my life on the computer and there were blogs I never heard of. There were all kinds of people there; very religious, medium religious, not religious at all, black, white, left, right, middle, hairy, bald, tall, short, fat, thin, male, female. Sorry, no Arabs: this was a J-blogger's convention, the "J" standing for Jewish. But even this guy has a blog:

Come on Bibi, you can't expect me to put you on my blogroll if I'm not on yours!

There were about 200 bloggers in attendance and at the height of the meeting, 1300 bloggers were watching online. I got on line to be interviewed just so I could give a shout out to my blogger friends participating over the 'net. While I was waiting, I rehearsed what I was going to say and I sounded very poised in my head. Of course as soon the camera was on me, I sounded like a blubbering idiot. I wanted to say hi to Juggling Frogs, Phyllis, Ilana Davita, but I only got to Leora and Raizy. Did you guys see me? How did the feed work? Were you able to chat while the convention was running? What did you guys think? Maybe next year you can come!

I have lots of thoughts about the convention and PICTURES! But I am way to tired to put it all together now (it's 12:30 a.m. here in Israel). I'll probably do several posts over the next couple of days. But I will leave you a little taste:

Here are two favorites of mine:

The guy on the right is the notorious Jameel who lives at the Muqata. (Yep, I saw his face and its a perfectly nice face. Not sure why he feels the need to hide it.) Jameel came with his lovely wife Jameela and two of their kids, Osama and Obama. He couldn't think of other Arabic names for his other kids so he left them back at the Muqata. Interesting fact: J and J met over the internet. This was way before internet dating was around. Hmmmm.

Back to the picture. The guy on the left is my favorite blogger in the whole world, Benji. Benji is my favorite blogger because he thought my blog "sounded young" and because he thought I am his age. Isn't he just adorable? Bahn, if you don't have the best blog in the whole damn world, I'll be a monkey's uncle. (Is that even an expression?)

Okay, it's time to hit the sack. I promise more on the convention tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We're back....

Orli's adenoids are now history. Thank G-d everything went smoothly and she is resting comfortably in my bed. (I hope she wiped her feet. I hate it when she gets into my bed with her dirty feet). The procedure was done at Assuta Hospital in Petach Tikva. The whole thing was efficient, the staff caring and gentle, the facility clean and modern. For me, it was painless, for Orli, well she's handling the pain like a trooper.

After the procedure, Orli slept for two hours and I got to watch the Olympics. Unfortunately, the synchronized swimming event was on. How dull. Remember the old Saturday Night Live skit with (I think) Dana Carvey doing a synchronized swimming routine? He really hit it on the head with that one. And by the way, the Israelis are pretty into the Olympics. There is coverage on 24/7, in Hebrew, with much focus on the Israeli athletes. So far no medals. What can I say--we are the People of the Book. We win Nobel Prizes. Olympic medals? We'll leave that to the Ruskies, the Chinese and Michael Phelps.

Anyhoo, on the way to the hospital, I saw this:

Look familiar? Thought I was in a different town? Me too.

Yep, this looks like a mini-me version, or the prototype for the controversial Bridge of Strings, recently dedicated in Jerusalem:

My question is this: How many of you knew that this bridge existed in Petach Tikva? And why is it there? Did the world famous Calatrava copy the design? Or did they do a practise run in PT first, just to make sure it would work in Jerusalem? I read somewhere, about the more famous bridge that it is "Jerusalem giving her finger to the world". If that's the case,who is Petach Tikva giving her finger to?

I know some of you out there call PT home. Any info would be appreciated.


I am busy getting ready for the Blogger's Convention. I'm trying to lose 40 lbs. before tomorrow. I'm getting my hair and nails done, picking out my designer ball gown. You know how it is when you have to get ready to walk the red carpet. I am very excited about meeting and greeting my fellow bloggers. I have to admit I'm a bit nervous. I hate walking into a party on my own. I noticed that some spouses of bloggers will be attending, but I didn't even bother to ask my usual date to come with me. He would have, if they let him, but I don't think he would have had such a good time. This blogging thing is my world, not his. So I'm going stag. I'm very curious. Are we all a bunch of geeks who would have no lives if it weren't for our blogs? Are we Trekkies? Or are we super cool? Or are we weirdos who think we're supercool?

I think I've covered enough for today. I'll be back after the party.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Here's what's on tap for this week....

It's a busy week at Baila's place. Tomorrow, the owner of the apartment we are renting is taking her furniture. This means I have to pack up my stuff (or throw it all in boxes) so she can move the empty closets, bookcases etc. I've also had to clean out all her appliances as well. And yes, we bought appliances and furniture, which will be coming in scattered deliveries over the next two weeks. Oh joy.

Also tomorrow, my baby sister (who is a completely self-supporting teacher of autistic children but will forever be my baby sister) is coming, probably at the height of the owner's move. (I feel like I have to be here so the movers don't mistakenly take any of my stuff). On Tuesday, Orli is having her adenoids removed. I'm a bit nervous about this. G-d willing that'll be okay.

On Wednesday, I have a doctor's appointment and of course the Blogger's Convention. I plan on bringing my camera, and I was thinking maybe an autograph book. On Thursday I'll be getting ready for Shabbat because Thursday Night we are going (hopefully Orli will be able to, if not everyone else will go and Orli and I will cozy up at home) to Chutzot HaYotzer, the art fair in Jerusalem, and of course out for dinner. On Friday I think we'll go to the stalactite cave near Beit Shemesh, but that will have to be after some dermatology appointments for the kids.

In between all this, I'll be shopping for school clothes, groceries, school books/supplies, as well as cooking, doing laundry (if I get the washing machine), walking the dog, cleaning, baking and of course, my favorite activity of late, blogging.

It's enough to make your head spin, but I always say, it's good to be busy. I'll have plenty of time to rest when I'm dead. Not for a l-o-o-o-ng while, please G-d.

Hopefully, I'll have time to read some of the posts at Haveil Havalim 178--the Tu B'Av Edition. And hopefully you will too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Juggling Frogs is setting up a Carnival of Overdue Thanks. She writes:

...there is a pile of unacknowledged appreciation that festers in the periphery of my consciousness. Sometimes, the most heart-felt and deep thanks are the most difficult to express.

What could be acknowledged in a timely sweet note, swells by neglect into a long letter, perhaps with a few photos, to a token - and then large - and then significant gift to the person, or to a charity in that person's name... It grows from something doable to the chronic ache of failure.

It's possible to wallow in "why haven't I done it" indefinitely. But, let's not.

Her post got me thinking about recent experiences in my life that have showed me the meaning of community. Community is a word that gets thrown around alot, but I didn't really understand the meaning of the word until I was put in a position where I so desperately needed mine. And there were so many circles within circles of "community"--my family, my friends, my synagogue, my colleagues, my friends in Israel, my "old" friends from college and Bnei Akiva, the Jewish Community at large. As time went on the concentric circles just grew and grew...

Three days after her bat-mitzvah, Liat was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. As a survivor of the disease myself, I knew that it was a beatable form of lymphoma and I had faith that this was a struggle that Liat would win. But I also knew what she would have to go through to win this struggle: the fatigue, the nausea, the hair loss, the isolation, the pain, the knowledge that suddenly you are not a healthy person, the pitying looks and comments that are thrown your way. I was devastated for her and for her sisters whom I knew would also suffer because of this disease. And I worried about how my family would manage this. I was working full-time at the time, because we needed my salary, not to supplement extra vacations. Would we be able to stay afloat?

I needn't have worried.

My mother-in-law, who was visiting at the time, extended her visit indefinitely, stating she would stay with Liat during chemotherapy appointments, babysit for the other two, and just plain be around to make sure someone was always home.

My friend showed up ten minutes after she heard; she cried with me and comforted me. Her and her husband offered us their car, so that during Liat's treatment, we always had two cars available to us.

Other friends came over and held my hand. They took Liat for chemotherapy and radiation treatments. They brought us lunch or coffee at the hospital. They bought the kids presents, and me magazines. They came over to the house to keep Liat company when she was recovering from treatment and took her out for lunch when she was well enough to do that. (Because of this, Liat has a relationship with my friends that is unique). They took Tali and Orli to Target and bought them stuff they didn't need. They drank coffee with me on Shabbat morning before I went to Shul. They baked cookies with Liat. They baked cookies (mushrooms!) for Liat. They brought over Haagen Daaz Dulce De Leche milkshakes (how ironic for me to have to fatten up a child of mine). They stayed by my side. They kept me sane. They propped me up when I was so low.

My friends in Israel stayed in touch. They made special trips to the Kotel to pray for Liat. I heard from people I hadn't heard from in years, all special to me, from special times in my life. They called or wrote to tell me they were thinking of us and praying for us.

Chemotherapy compromises the immunity system, and Liat was not allowed to go to school to be exposed to who-knows-what. This applied to days between chemo that she felt well. Chai Lifeline sent tutors to the house for her Hebrew studies, and the Lawrence-Woodmere School District sent teachers over for secular studies. This didn't cost us a dime. These men and women were dedicated, compassionate teachers who cared about Liat, and gave her so much.

The executive director of HALB, the school our children attended, called us and told us not to worry about our tuition payments. He called me, I didn't have to call him. !!!!!! He spoke to me at length, showing me that in spite of its size, HALB is a school with a heart, and this man in particular is a real mentch.

My friends got organized and food was dropped off daily at the house. I didn't cook for almost six months (and then didn't have to cook for the next six because there was so much stored in the freezer). When Liat was first diagnosed I didn't eat for days, but as the situation "normalized" my appetite returned (somehow, it always does). Let me tell you something--Five Towners know how to cook.

There were people who called me and said, "This is what I'm going to do to help"--and did. This was new to me, as I am the type of person who says, "call if you need me". I never want to be intrusive. But wow. People actually knew what would make my life easier. One woman, a mother of a kid in Liat's class, organized visits by Liat's classmates. She completely arranged a schedule, making sure the kids weren't exposed to anything contagious. She always checked with me to see if Liat was up to and wanted visitors. Liat's friends, classmates and teachers stayed involved throughout her treatment, never forgetting that she was home.

Another friend organized a mass tehillim. Hundreds of women showed up at her house and at our shul, Congregation Bais Tefilla of Woodmere, to daven for Liat. She decided to permanently host a weekly tehillim group that is still running today, in honor of Liat. The Rabbi and Rebbetzin of our shul were also an immense source of support for us.

High school kids from SKA came over to do homework with Tali and Orli and to give them the attention that I could not. They made my two little girls feel special. One of the girls has become a close family friend.

Chai Lifeline sent over clowns one Saturday night, just to make our family laugh. The timing of this was particularly good as Liat had just lost her hair, and well, she needed to laugh. We all did.

My sister won a wig in an auction (one of those custom, expensive deals that I know little about) and gave it to Liat. The wig-lady spent hours with Liat to make it as perfect as possible.

Strangers dropped off cakes with encouraging notes.

My sister-in-law flew in from Venezuela to be with us, leaving her own kids for a week. While here she showered the kids with love, and with presents.

Chai Lifeline became a part of our lives. Our caseworker, Chanie, was in constant touch, making sure we had what we needed, that insurance was covering treatments, that Liat was being schooled, that we had Chanukah and Purim parties to go to, that we had enough to eat. They even sent Liat to camp!

My sister's sister-in-law, whose father is a prominent hematologist at Sloane Kettering Hospital, arranged an immediate appointment with her father, who was extremely gracious, caring and gave us excellent advice.

The doctors, nurses, PA's, social workers, child-life specialists and fellow patients at Schneider's Childrens Hospital became like a second family to us. It's hard to think of a hospital as a comforting environment but the Hem-Onc clinic was...

At P177Q, where I worked, the principal took me to the secretary (we know who really runs the place) and said to her that I was to have carte blanche as far as coming in late and leaving early. She was amazing about it. I tried not to take advantage of their generosity. Schneider's was only minutes away from work, so the routine was that I would drop Liat off at chemo with my mother-in-law or one of my friends, go check in on things at lunch, and then pick them up after work. It was a finely tuned machine, which could never have worked without every cog in its place.

Our pediatricians came by to visit Liat at home and to make sure everything was okay. They were our advocates when we needed them and were dedicated to the day-to-day care of Liat. Other doctors who lived in the neighborhood, (who we were NOT patients of) stopped by at the hospital to see if there was anything we needed.

A man who lived in a neighboring community called me to tell me about Sibs Place. Tali and Orli spent countless hours there making friends with kids who were going through the same thing and being allowed to express their fear, guilt, anger or any emotion in a safe, therapeutic environment. Amazing.

There were so many.

And then, a year after treatment ended, when we were starting to recover from the trauma of this illness, she got sick again. Not cancer, but just as serious. And in the blink of an eye, everything churned into motion again. Just like that.

She's fine now, Thank G-d. But we will never forget what it was like to be a part of that, to be swept up by family, friends, and strangers. By concentric circles of communities.

How can you say thank you for this kind of support? How do you thank people for saving your life? Your family's life? Did I ever thank anyone for what they did? I must have. "Thank you s-o-o-o- much". I must have said those words. They are meaningless words. How can those words convey what I truly feel? How can people know that their actions have changed the essence of me? How can they know the depth of my gratitude and how I always carry it with me? It is never far from me. And I don't know what to do with it. Because I can never be for these people what they are for me. There is a little shame in that. I have taken so much and given so little. What did I do to deserve so much grace? Is it possible that this is just the human spirit--to give and give and give?

It must be, and I am in awe of it...

Kosher Cooking Carnival

Leora has posted the latest edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival here. This is a round-up of anything having to do with kosher food, be it restaurant reviews, recipes, halachot (Jewish Law), or anything else. It is organized by Batya, who does a great job with it. There are lots of good recipes and interesting insights, so why don't you stop by?

And, again Leora, my apologies for not getting a post in....

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Personal Dilemma

We are kinda, sorta looking for a house. Really an apartment. You may have heard prices here in Modi'in have soared. A few years ago when we first started planning our Aliyah, we thought we could buy a decent place with a small mortgage, after selling our home in Cedarhurst.

That's not what happenned. By the time we got here, prices have spiked. Alot. The obvious choice would be to leave Modi'in. Friends of ours who made Aliyah at the same time we did decided to move to Ginot Shomron, a yishuv in the Shomron. It was a good decision for them; their kids are younger. We don't want to leave Modi'in. The kids are settled, socially (two-thirds of them are, at least) and I don't want to move them again.

We're keeping our eyes and ears open, hoping the dollar will strengthen and the real estate bubble will burst. We are not aggressively looking, but if my friend the realtor hears of something, she calls.

We went to see an apartment the other day. Price was a bit of a stretch but doable. The apartment was beautiful, a 5 bedroom 2 1/2 bathroom duplex. It was very spacious and had a beautiful garden.


It wasn't a great location for us. Far from friends--both the kids and ours. Still, I could probably live with that. What got me is that the apartment is two flights down with no elevator.

Imagine the supermarket shopping. Or our parents coming to visit.


It's a beautiful apartment. We'll never find something this nice at this price.

Today my realtor friend called me. She exerted a bit of pressure on me, telling me we would never find something this nice in our price range. I know she's right.

What would you do?

While you mull that over, you can review Haveil Havalim 177 at Simply Jews. There is lots to keep you busy over there. And once again, thanks to Jack for organizing Haveil Havalim. He's doing a great job. (I promise I'll host another one soon!) I can't wait to meet him at the Convention.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tisha B'av

Today is the Ninth day of the month Av in the Hebrew calendar, the saddest day of the year for the Jewish people. Today we mourn the destruction of our Batei Hamikdash, the first and second temples and the beginning of what seems like a never-ending exile. Through persecutions and Holocausts we have dreamed of our return. And we are here, rebuilding and visiting and dreaming, yet knowing that redemption is not yet complete.

We await that day.

We had plans to go visit the Kotel today. It turns out that with the heat, and not being able to drink, none of the fasters are up to it. But we could if we want to.

Hoping your fast is an easy one...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Orli comes home (tomorrow)....

I haven't even mentioned that she left. I feel a bit guilty about that since I devoted two posts to Liat leaving. Orli went to sleep away camp for two weeks. She cried before getting on the bus. She didn't know anyone going and was very nervous. I was as well. With only two weeks for camp, she didn't have the luxury of a prolonged adjustment period. But she rose to the occasion and has been having a great time since her arrival. A sign of this is the fact that she never calls me. She looks really happy in the pictures on the camp website.

Israelis don't really do sleep away camps. They may have some 2 or three day overnights through the youth movements, but not camp, as in the experience we had when we were kids. The camp Orli went to is quite expensive and I'm not sure we'll be able to swing it next summer.

Tali chose not to go to camp, because all her friends were going for the first session, which was for three weeks. I didn't want to send her for the three week session, because, A. it cost one-third more, and B. if the fun part of the summer is over by July 24, I'm in trouble.

It's worked out well, because Tali has lots of friends here for the summer. They are doing nothing together. It's kinda nice for her. She sleeps late, calls a friend and they meet at someone's house or in the park. They basically just hang out. Last week 9 of them went to Tel-Aviv on the train together. I know you guys in America think it's crazy, but really, this is what's done here. There are some parents here who would not let their kids do it, but nine sets of parents thought it was okay. And it was.

So tomorrow all the seats will be filled at the Shabbat table. And even though it is a time of mourning for our people, I will be smiling for most of the day. All of my girls will be home.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Birthday Wishes and other musings

Warning: this is going to be a very random, rambling post.

The man of the house celebrated his birthday today. Lunar calendar birthday, that is. I still can't get into the Hebrew date thing. I mean I know the basics like this Sunday is Tisha B'av, but otherwise...old habits die hard.

[This thought just popped into my head. I work in a "charedi" ("ultra-orthodox") facility. Today I saw an old notice up on the bulletin board, it was dated 28 Iyar and then it said, "יום שחרור ירושלים"--Jerusalem Reunification Day. I just thought it was interesting that that particular reference would be made in a charedi place of work.]

But I digress.

No, it's not Ozzy's birthday, it's Isaac's birthday. I tried to make it a nice one, with his mom and sister coming for dinner. He got presents, I baked a cake, the kids made signs, we sang the song, took some pictures and called it a day. (DAY!!)

I was going to write a depressing post about how we're getting older (note: he's getting older than me) and how I worry about him....blah, blah. Or about the pressure of buying him a birthday present.

[Another head pop. I put as my facebook status "wondering what to get the man who has everything for his birthday". My friend CK responded with "the man who has everything? are you shopping for brad pitt?" Isn't CK a riot? If she doesn't already have an anonymous blog, she should definitely start one. Here's how the rest of the conversation on FB went:

Baila: LOLOLOLOLOL!!!! What do you think Angelina gets Brad for his birthday?

CK: I know he's into racecars. But he's so enamored of his kids, she probably gets him the same tacky things we get our husbands... photo keychains, etc.

Baila: Do you think she goes to those stands at the mall for them?

CK: Maybe she just uses the school pictures and slaps them in an acrylic one from Amazing Savings.....

Which leads me to another thought: Did you know that Brad and Angelina got paid 14 MILLION DOLLARS for the first pictures of their newborn twins, Knox and Vivienne, exclusive at People Magazine? 14 MILLION! Their first-born child, Shiloh, only got 4million. Now how do you think that's going to make her feel when she finds out? And as far as I know, the adopted kids got bubkas!]

But now I'm really off topic. Where was I? Oh, Isaac's birthday. עד מאה ועשרים, (until 120) honey!

Shoot! I missed Orli's birthday! Not in real life, but over here on the blog (although I have to say that I'm beginning to confuse the two). She turned 11 while she was away at camp. She is on Kibbutz Shluchot and is having the time of her life. I miss that kid so much. Can you believe my baby is 11?

Since this has been such a weird post, I might as well take care of some b--

Wait!!! It's 11:30!!!! My friend Benji told me to go check out Channel 1 at 11:30...I'll be back soon, don't want to miss this, even though I don't know exactly what I might miss....

Wow. Benji was interviewed on Channel 1 about the upcoming NBN Blogger's Conference and about being an oleh. IN HEBREW, ON NATIONAL TV!!!! I am so impressed. You are so cute in real life, Bahn. You did great. I kept waiting for you to mention me and my itty-bitty blog, but there's always your second interview. The guy did say he had a feeling he'd be seeing you again. You didn't look nervous at all. Were you? Nice plug for your blog and the convention. That thing is going to be bigger than the upcoming Olympics.

Where was I?

Can't remember. I'm going to sleep.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Critters

My friends Leora and Ilana-Davita are avid photographers and often contribute to photo blogs. I'd like to get into this area of blogging, but have to set some limits. Still, I couldn't resist posting the picture of this critter, captured by Mazi on our recent trip up North:

Nasty looking, I know, but it still is one of G-d's creatures. Mazi captured the little guy (gal?) scurrying along on the tayelet (boardwalk) of the city of Nahariya. In Israel, these critters are called "Jukim". Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City, we'd see 'em every now and then, and they absolutely terrified me. We called them "Water Bugs", but to me they are Giant Cockroaches. Blech. So check out the weekly posting of this and more cuddly creatures at Camera-Critters.

And while we're at it, Haveil Havalim is up at Little Frumhouse on the Prairie. Go check it out...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Teenage Invasion

This Shabbat was a particularly entertaining one for me. Liat had some friends over from the old country who are here on a six-week summer camp program (Sdei Chemed). Their parents are friends of ours. In addition, we had some other family friend's sons here who are on Mach Hach Ba'aretz . Seven teenagers filled my apartment. Good kids, all of them. It was fun for me to watch the two groups, initially awkward with each other, slowly relax and start to get along. They spent Shabbat playing games and talking in my living room.

Growing up in Williamsburg and going to a Bais Yaakov-type school I didn't have much opportunity to interact with the opposite sex. It was of course, frowned upon--to put it mildly--both in my neighborhood and in my school. It was not until my year in Israel, and after that, my involvement in Bnei Akiva that I started to have friends who were male. And that was fun. But "dating" was difficult for me. Many of my friends at that time coupled off and eventually got engaged and married. That did not happen to me and I had to start "dating", which I wasn't very good at. I didn't know how to be myself on a date and could never relax. I never really did learn the skill. When I met Isaac, he was relaxed enough for both of us and that took care of that. (I think I would be so much better at dating now, at my advanced age; but Isaac isn't into that sort of thing.)

Anyhow, it seems today, at least in America, that kids even in the relatively "modern orthodox" schools are discouraged from interacting with the opposite sex. They are expected to do a year or two of Israel after high school, come back, start "shidduch" dating, and get married.

To each his own.

I don't believe there is anything wrong with teenagers hanging out together. I like having a bunch of kids sitting in my living room, watching a movie (as they are doing right as I write.). I think it is actually healthy for them to learn how to interact with each other. Here in Israel, Bnei Akiva is a huge, religious youth movement, where teen-agers meet each other in a wholesome environment. I'm a little sorry that we came to late for Liat to feel comfortable joining this group.

I'm not naive about teenagers and their hormones. I know that there will always be kids who fool around and experiment. But I don't think others should be naive and think just because they keep the kids separate that this won't happen. As I said, I went to a Bais Yaakov High School. I knew nothing until one Shabbat a friend invited a bunch of us over and we were regaled with another classmate's "experiences". It was a very educational weekend for me. I never quite looked at a cucumber the same way.

I talk to my kids openly about the things they may encounter. They have my trust and I always tell them, I trust you until you give me a reason not to. I pray every day that they make the right choices because you could be the best parent in the world and still have a kid who does something really stupid. But I don't feel that separating them is what will protect them from themselves.

In the meantime, the kids are watching that movie. I sit here typing, but I keep stealing glances at them. They are beautiful in their intensity, in their joy at being together. I wonder at them, at their pimply faces, their braces, their self-consciousness.

Thank-G-d I'm not a teenager.