Thursday, September 30, 2010

And this is the blessing

I was struck today by several thoughts as I listened to the last Torah portion of the year. וזאת הברכה (V'zot Habracha)--"And this is the blessing". Moses, before he takes leave of his people, the Jewish nation, blesses each of the 12 tribes according to its national responsibilities and individual greatness.*

I was struck by the women in this tefillah (prayer) group. These are women who want to express their devotion to G-d and take the initiative to do something about it in a halachically respectful way.

I was struck by the last, and then the first portion of the Torah. After we got to the end, two women rolled the entire scroll back to the first portion (Bereishit-Genesis), which was also partially read. This is the symbolism of our cyclical lives, how the Torah never ends, it just goes on year to year, generation to generation. Long after we are all gone, this tradition will continue; there is comfort in that thought.

And finally, I was struck by Moses himself. At the very end of the portion, G-d takes Moses to Mount Nebo and shows him all of Israel.

ויאמר ה' אליו זאת הארץ אשר נשבעתי לאברהם ליצחק וליעקב לאמר לזרעך אתננה הראיתיך בעיניך ושמה לא תעבר

And G-d said to him, This is the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, saying, I will give it to your offspring. I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross over to there.

All Moses wants is to make Aliya, to get to the promised land. He was the greatest prophet to ever live and for one seemingly small transgression he is given this huge punishment. I know there are many reasons, explanations, midrashim etc. of why Moses was not allowed into Eretz Yisrael. Whatever the explanation, it's one of those things I just can't make sense of--the punishment is just so much greater than the crime. And so every year when I hear this, I shed a tear for Moses for not being allowed to fulfill the one thing he always dreamed of; and am reminded of how priviledged I am because I was.

*(source: Artscroll Tanach, Stone edition)

Saturday, September 11, 2010


It's hard to believe that 9 years have passed since that black, horrible day. If I close my eyes I can transport myself back to that time, to the fear and the silence and the tears.

It ushered in an era that I don't think is over yet. And though the horrific events of the day briefly united us as a nation, ultimately it has torn us apart. How does America deal with terrorism? Do we react with force or do we try to engage our enemies? These political differences have created an ever-widening rift in the country of my birth. Indeed, these differences divide the people of Israel as well.

There are no easy answers to these questions. But just for today, I am taking the time to remember and to honor the victims, those who died trying to save them and all of the rest of the amazing people who came out to rebuild my broken city, as well as those who died at the pentagon and on Flight 93.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A new table, a new year and new gas masks

I vaguely remember getting up this morning, getting myself and everyone ready for school and work. Then work, where I thought I worked hard, but turned out to be the easiest part of the day. After that I went to visit a friend who was just released from the hospital following some surgery. Two more stops at two different supermarkets to find fish heads (I like the real thing on my Rosh Hashana table. It totally grosses the kids out).

Then Isaac calls me. "The table's going to be delivered between 2 and 4 PM". We had ordered a dining room set eons ago and Isaac's been calling the store daily to nag them to get it to us before the upcoming holiday (we were told it was coming three weeks ago). Great, I said. I'll head home (it was already after 2).

But first I squeezed in a visit to pick up gas masks for the entire family. That was fun. I also made a trip to the money changer, who for no apparent reason was closed. I got home at 3 PM to find no new table anywhere.

I baked a Better-than-Drakes Coffee cake, prepped my meat dish, marinated a whole chicken, made Mimi's stuffed turkey breast. Carol dropped by and chatted while I contined cooking. I went to get my haircut, where I bumped into my friend Lisa. She must live at Dani Mor, she's always there when I get my haircut and I only go twice a year. Come to think of it her hair always looks great.

I returned home to find no new table. It was now 6 PM.

I cooked the Carrots for Mimi's Morrocan Carrot Salad (not as successful as the turkey), made the sauce for the Morrocan fish we're having on Thursday, and set up the pumpkin soup.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law arrived and I chit-chatted a bit with them, but then went back to work in the kitchen.

I called some family and friends in the states to wish them the best for the new year.

Still no table.

I blended the pumpkin soup with my handy-dandy immersion blender, got pumpkin soup all over my shirt, an opportune time for three men to show up with my table.

I really like the table. Of course I can't be 100 percent sure that it's the one I ordered because it's been so long I really don't remember any more.


Here's hoping that you and yours have many happy gatherings around your tables this year. That all gas masks gather dust, or dare I say it--are returned because peace reigns in the world (hey, a girl can dream).

And, always in my heart and prayers: Gilad. I hope this is the year you come home.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Three years and counting

I couldn't let the day go by without acknowledging it. Today we celebrated our third anniversary here.

I guess it says something that I thought about letting the day going by without a post. We're old hat here. "Vatikim", they call us--old timers. And when I look at my friends who just arrived last month and other friends who arrived less than two weeks ago I feel a little bit of that. I can answer their questions. Understand thier experiences. I know the joy and pride they are feeling now and can almost predict some of the other, more complicated emotions they are going to feel as they continue their journey.

And I hope they arrive at the moment I am enjoying now. The moment when it seems so natural to be here that they almost--but not quite--forget that the date is the anniversary of one of the extraordinary events of their lives.

As a family, we've gone through much. I still feel that my kids are my heroes. Liat, finding her place here and proving that teens can make Aliya (move to Israel)and maintain their academic excellence. Tali, who has thrived and matured and has an amazing circle of friends. And Orli, who you'd think was Israeli if you saw her hanging out.

I'm glad I didn't just let the day go by. I'm proud of what we've all accomplished here.

And I'm looking forward to more.