Monday, December 20, 2010

Aliya Beyond The Green Line

Check out this article from the Jerusalem Post.

I was interviewed for a half hour by the reporter. She just used one line but I like her compliments. :)


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This is My Israel

To my loyal blog readers (whoever you are), I know that I am still in the middle of 2 ongoing stories. "My" Birth Story - the story of my first doula experience. And The Story of My Aliyah.

But I'm interrupting to write a brief blog. This is just a 1 Part-er. I think......

It all started on was a dark and rainy night.....whoops - wrong story. We're still waiting on those nights here in Israel. :( Come on Winter!!! Bring it on!!

Ok, Sukkot. We were up north camping along various beaches and getting sand all over everything that we own. We spent one day at the Family Fun Festival at Kfar Hassidim. There were a bunch of NBN attendees (we even wore special NBN stickers) and they gave each of us a sign that said "This is My Israel". They told us to take a pic with the sign and send it in to them and maybe we will win the contest. We said, "Ok, when does the contest end?" They said, "Um...not sure." We said, "Ok, what do we win?" They said, "Um.....1st place in the photo contest?" It didn't exactly make me jump to enter but I thought it would be a cute opportunity for some photo ops. I put the sign in our car thinking maybe we would take some pics during our trip. Then I forgot.....
Our trip ended and we headed back to Ariel and I figured that was better anyway because my life is mostly in Ariel and this is truly "My Israel". But I thought I would have to get creative because I wouldn't be able to take a shot on the beach or in the mountains or next to some animals. I'd have to find something in Ariel.....
My first thought was The Frog Pond. I am not sure why. It is a really freaky looking statue of a frog with a huge tongue out which also is a little fountain and it is a small "natural habitat" pond. There are some turtles in it and some fish. The kids happen to LOVE it and could spend hours just watching and looking for the turtle. But it's in the merkaz and we don't make it there much. So I thought I would make it an outing. Days passed and we just never had a chance to run on a photo trip around Ariel. But I kept the sign in my car and every time I saw it was reminded.
Then we found out (through our friends who also entered the contest) that there not only was a deadline for the contest but there was also an actual prize!! The deadline was about 2 weeks away (now 1 week) and the prize is a Flip video camera. I have no idea what a Flip video camera is but we definitely can use a video camera. Over the past few weeks we have been dealing with a million short clips that we put on my computer from our regular camera. They take up all the space and are making me crazy. We really would LOVE and make good use of a video camera!! But it's not the type of thing we would ever have excess cash for. So, I was inspired.
The next day Jonah finished school early, Sammy was at a friend's house, and Kayla was at the babysitter. So I figured we would take an hour and go to all the cool places in Ariel to try and get a nice shot. It was beautiful weather and I even brought along his soccer ball as a prop!! On one hand, I wanted to take a picture with all 3 of my kids. On the other hand, and anyone who has 3+ little kids can verify, it is almost impossible to get them all looking, smiling, and posing at the same time!

We decided to start at the top of Ariel and wind our way down. I explained the contest to Jonah and asked what pictures he thought we should take. He wanted to take a picture at the top of the mountain, he wanted to take a picture near our very 1st apartment (absorption apartment), and a picture where we took a picture of him on the first day of Gan. He always talks about that picture and how the buildings were IN the clouds!!!

So we went to the tippy top of Ariel and I think it was actually the spot that Avi Zimmerman took us to when giving us the view of Ariel. You can see the whole city and Jonah was fascinated by the construction that was going on. We took a bunch of pics there but none of them came out so great because Jonah was always squinting because of the sun. The background was kind of cool because it showed the whole city and this really is Our Israel. But I was also a little hesitant about the shot because our friends had taken a similar shot of their daughter with the mountains of the Shomron behind her. I didn't want to "copy".
We continued and went to a park, soccer field, fountains, etc until we ran out of time. Towards the end, I asked Jonah once more if he had any ideas and if there was somewhere in Ariel that he REALLY loved. He said Rchov HaGalil which is our new street!! I was so happy to hear that and we took a picture on our street and in front of our house too. I got some great pics! It also made me want to study photography and become a photographer!!! :)

That evening we went to pizza with friends (after our sons all had soccer together). I snapped a few more shots with Sammy and Kayla on the pizza place rides. As we were leaving a couple girl soldiers came into the pizza shot. And I thought to myself - that would be a great shot if I can get the soldiers with my kids! Or maybe one of Kayla with the soldiers. I went over and explained about the contest and asked to take a picture. They were happy to do it and I turned around to get the kids together and Sammy was in tears!! For all of his love of solders, he did not appear to want to be in a picture with them. But they were waiting and I felt bad so I took a picture of Jonah with them (soccer shirt and all). We were going to leave but Jonah said he wanted to take a picture of me. So I said ok, why not. I grabbed Kayla and we took the picture with them. Meanwhile one of them got a phone call (she was trying to hang up) and Sammy was standing there crying. It was a crazy shot (and one of the soldiers heads was cut off) and I didn't think anything of it.

I posted all the pics and got a few people's opinions on which to enter. I had such a hard time deciding. I was debating between a few shots. I really liked and initially picked the one of Jonah on the soccer field. It was a beautiful shot of Jonah and he had the soccer ball and for Jonah, that's a huge part of Israel for him. He wouldn't have played soccer in America! :) I also really liked the picture of Jonah on our street. But mostly I liked the idea behind it. I didn't know if people would "get it" by just looking at the picture. Shauli liked the one of Jonah overlooking Ariel. I liked the idea but didn't like the actual pictures (and didn't want to take away from our friends pic). Shauli also liked the soldier one. I thought about it (probably put way too much thought into choosing anyway) and decided to go with the soldier picture with me and Kayla. I was trying to get to the concept and the idea behind the contest. I gave it a caption "Only 16 years until my baby is serving the Israeli army".

I felt that this really expressed the Reality of living in Israel. By moving here, even though I did not serve in the army, I know that my children will be serving in the army (ok, maybe Kayla will do sheirut leumi - national service). The thought of that is both terrifying and makes me so proud. As a mom, I dread the day my children enter the army. As a citizen, I think it is amazing that every person has to serve in the army. It's a reality for my children. Sammy and Jonah often talk about what unit they will be in and where they will serve. It gives us such a connection to the land. I don't know which comes first. Do you feel a strong connection to the land, this is OUR land, and then you serve in the army? Or do you serve in the army and become connected to the land.

No other land in the world is like this for the Jewish people. This is our homeland and always has been. The sky is the limit for my kids here. Meaning, I hope, that they will be able to do and be whatever they want, while still maintaining their religious identity. Shabbat and Kashrut are not foreign concepts here. Not working on the Jewish holidays is a given here. This country is not perfect but by moving here, I feel that I have opened up my children's lives. And at the same time, given them a country where they can truly be free. Free to be who they are and do what they want without religious persecution. We aren't strangers anymore.

So, I got a little off topic and on a rant about my mad love for Israel. But bottom line, I feel my picture expresses a huge aspect of what Israel is - and will be - to us and to many other Olim.

We are currently in 2nd place and REALLY want to win!! Voting ends November 3rd (I think at noon Israel time). PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take a minute and vote for us on the the Nefesh B'Nefesh facebook page. And get your family (spouse, sibling, parents - whoever has facebook) to help us out also! We aren't even asking for money....

Just follow these simple instructions.....

1. Go to

2. At the top of the page, click Like.

3. Go to our picture at

4. At the bottom of the picture, click Like.

(If you don't want to vote because you don't want to join this random group,
you can Unlike the group after you Like our picture and your vote will still count!)

A lot of people skip the first step and go right to trying to Like our picture. But unless you LIKE the fan page (first link) first, you will not have the option to Like our picture.

Let me know if you have any problems. Thank you SO much for your support!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Aliyah Story - Part 3

And back to Israel I went.....

2001. It was a rough year for Israel. Lots of terrorist attacks.....

I wanted to do something more than just go to Israel. I wanted to help. I wanted to make a difference. So I looked into it and found out about a program called Sar-El. It's a program where people from all over the world can volunteer for the Israeli army. No, you won't be jumping out of airplanes or even get a gun. But you take basically take the place of a reserve soldier and do some grunt work for a couple of weeks so that the Israeli soldiers can do more important stuff. Hey, someone has to paint the barracks.....

I worked it out so I could leave for Israel a few weeks early, volunteer with Sar-El, and then start Ben Gurion University. It was great!! I had a good group of volunteers of all different ages, we had a good soldier in charge of us and we had a LOT of fun. We were up north at a base near Haifa. I am still in touch with a few of my fellow volunteers.

Ben Gurion university was interesting. I lucked out because some friends of family of friends who lived in Beer Sheva were going to America for the year and needed someone to house-sit. I found out about it and gained a house for myself. It was really nice especially for Shabbat. And a place where friends could come and hang out. And watch TV! The cable company was supposed to cancel it but never did. Good times.

December rolled around and time for Winter Break - which was like 2 months long - due to the Israeli exams (you have 2 tries). A bunch of students on the program went home. Some for the break, some were only there for the semester anyway. But I didn't have the money or the desire for a trip back to the States. Again, the year was so difficult with all the bombings, it got to the point where you woke up in the morning and turned on the radio to hear where was the latest terrorist attack - not IF there was one.... I felt like I had gotten so comfortable in BGU. Just livin life, salsa dancing on Tuesday nights in the bomb shelter/disco, homework, friends, etc. But I wanted to do more!! I felt so helpless when there was an attack. I considered doing Sar-El again and actually got some friends interested in it. But then I discovered the Magen David Adom Foreign Volunteers Program. Now THAT sounded fascinating!!! I take a short, intense course and become certified as a First Responder. Then I am sent to a MDA base somewhere in Israel where I volunteer on ambulances for a month or 2. Perfect!!

Turns out, that was another puzzle piece into my life. I was in Israel, I was searching for the love of my life. But had no idea what I actually wanted to do in life. And stumbled upon the world of Emergency Medicine!! Volunteering for MDA was one of the greatest things I have done in my life. I really felt like I was finally giving back to a country that had given me so much. I was making a difference. I was saving lives......

And I discovered what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to go further and become an EMT, and maybe then a paramedic. I wanted to work for MDA. It was a new passion in my life. So I finished out the year at BGU. During which, I arranged a MDA course for other students on the BGU program.
And sadly, I also learned the pain of losing someone in a terrorist attack. My MDA instructor and friend, a person who I had just been on the phone with a few days prior, the guy who was going to come and teach the course that I set up in Beer Sheva....Yochai Porat. Again ,that is another story for another time. But suffice it to say, this man influenced me and turned my life in a new direction. I finally had a direction!

After BGU, I ended up going back to the States. I decided I wanted to go back and become trained as an EMT. Work in the States, gain some experience, save a little money, and then make Aliyah. For once and for all.

Once again.....I had to leave Israel. But this time, I was certain I would be back. With a career and a plan.

My Aliyah Story - Part 2

Sorry, my computer turned itself off last night just as I finished part 1. Tonight I give my talk so I really have to get down to writing and processing.....

I came back to the States at the end of the summer and went back to Pittsburgh. I was so depressed. I had no desire whatsoever to be there. I just wanted to be in Israel. I remember the family I lived with made a great BBQ birthday party for me and I remember sitting now, not wanting to be there. Just wanting to be back in Israel. It was so hard. But I knew that I would return. I planned on going back for seminary after 12th grade so I had the year to work on making that happen. I was financially independent at that point and receiving a little social security. I returned to my job at the local Judaica store doing some computer stuff. So I carried on. Just trying to survive day to day. School meant nothing to me anymore. I was so confused. I was so lost. Not only that but we received another blow. Our dear friend/mentor passed away that September from cystic fibrosis. It shook us up so badly. How do you watch that happen to someone in his early twenties? I was still reeling from the death of my dad - Rafi was helping me deal with it. And then he is taken from us? It was a horrible year. But somehow I made it through. Again, pulled together a lot of scholarships and somehow managed to make it to Israel for the school year 98/99.

Living in Israel as a seminary student is not really living in Israel. At least not where I was. I was in a bubble. I was at school with English speakers, being taught in English, going to "town" to meet up with all my other English speaking friends. I met a few Israelis, but they spoke English. I lived in Jerusalem so that meant I did not have to learn any Hebrew either. It was still a hard year, I was still so lost in life. But I loved being back in Israel. I was happy in Israel. The highs are that much higher and the lows are that much lower. Everything is more meaningful and more real here. I had no plan in life but I knew that I still wanted to be in Israel.
My year came to a close and I wanted to come back. But not for another year of seminary. I wanted to work, I wanted to learn the language. I managed to find a program in the Old City to come back to. Half day of learning and tiyulim, plus the opportunity to work. The scholarships only lasted so long, I needed to start paying my own way. So I spent the summer at home, living with my Grandma, and got my first job at Kohl's. End of the summer, I said goodbye to my Kohl's crew and got back on the plane. If I thought I was lost before this, I think I was even more lost this year. I had no borders/no boundries/no one watching out for me or setting limits. I just did my own thing. Maybe I needed it. I needed the freedom to figure myself out. Maybe. It is what it is.

Two weeks before I came to Israel, the program called me up and told me they didn't have enough people signed up and they were canceling it. I told them I was still coming and they said I could come and do some of their classes while I look for something else. So I did. I had an apartment in the Old City, I took some of their classes, got a short-lived job in the Arab shuk and then moved on to babysitting. The school I went to turned out to be somewhat cultish and almost turned me completly off Judaism. Luckily, there was one level-headed Rabbi there who kept me on the path. I made a lot of Israeli friends that year and learned a LOT of Hebrew. I did a lot of stupid things too and thatnk G-d, I didn't get killed. Yes, that was the year I went to Bethlehem with my Arab friend. My Arab friend who a year later was put in jail for murder. Oh goodness.
While I loved hanging out in the Rova and town and just chillin, it wasn't getting me anywhere in life. The school was doing more harm then good and in January, I made a "Grown-up" decision. I decided I had to go back to the States. I had to get out of that environment. One day I will post some of the stories of things that happened while in Machon Roni. Such as the "Malka Hamishicha Zahava" AKA the crazy homeless woman who turned up in my apartment and screamed bloody murder when I came home one Friday night. Woah. The police knew her well. She roamed the streets of the Old City asking them to take her back to her rightful home on the Temple Mount. She is, after all, The Queen Moshiach, Zahava......

Back to the States I went. Everytime I had to leave Israel, it was agonizing, heart wrenching. I felt almost complete in Israel. Just missing my better half. But in America I was missing my better half and my homeland. So back to my job at Kohl's to figure out my grand plan. After about 6 months there, I decided to move to New York. I had a lot of friends there and it seemed a happening place. Lots of my friends were heading there, doing the smart thing and going to college. But I went there to get a job. Found an apartment in Brooklyn, and got a job at a company in the Empire State Building. I was just a secretary but oh how I loved working on the 75th floor!! I'd take the subway to Manhattan every morning, work, and sometimes spend a few hours wandering NYC afterwards. It's fascinating there!
I had a good year - I suppose. Made some friends for life. Had my ups and downs. A few broken hearts. Ya know, doin my thing. But I just couldn't stay away. I needed to come back to Israel.

Since I couldn't just come back to hang out, I needed something good to do. A good reason to come back. I started looking into different programs and decided to go to Ben Gurion University's Overseas Student Program in Beer Sheva. I wanted to get out of Jerusalem and this way, I could get some college credits. Somehow managed to scrape the money together (including a loan from my boss). And said cest la vie to NYC.
(That actually does not make sense in translation but I like the sound of it.....)

To be continued.........

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Aliyah Story - Part 1

I was asked today by one of the Bnot Sheirut to speak to a group of Bnei Akiva kids (8th-12th grade) tomorrow night and tell them my Aliyah Story.
Of course it has to be in Hebrew so that's somewhat intimidating. But I'm sort of excited about it.
So, where do I begin? I have up to a half hour - which is a REALLY long time. But that can include questions, etc.
I figured I would jot down some thoughts here on my blog and if it's at all interesting, I'll post them..... and maybe I will think of some things to tell the kids too.
As a side note, every year they have a theme for the month. This is the month that Bnei Akiva was founded and they spend the whole month painting and making signs and all kinds of preparation for a big end of the month celebration with songs and fire and what not.

My first connection with Bnei Akiva and maybe Zionism in general was the summer after 3rd grade, when I was 9 years old and headed off to Camp Moshava, Wild Rose Wisconsin.
The bunks were divided into Shvatim, we had mifkad in the morning and in the evening. We had to stand at attention "Amod Dom" and at ease "Amod Noach". To this day, it cracks me up to hear soldiers being told that! It's like they are playing camp (or we were playing soldier...). Camp Moshava was the first place where we used Hebrew words in normal conversation. "Time to go to the Cheder Ochel". "I hope our bunk has the best Nikayon!" "We got SO rained out on the Machane Chutz!!!"
Looking at it now, Moshava is so obviously Zionistic but at the time, it just became part of our daily routine.
I went to Camp Moshava for 3 years ('89, '90, and '92). During those years, there were a few kids who came to camp from Israel. It was such an interesting/exotic concept. These kids actually lived in the place that we only talked about. A place that was so abstract, that we learned about in Chumash. It was so strange.

As I got older, my connection with Israel was through my school. Wearing blue and white on Yom Haatzmaut and hearing my best friend talk about her trips to Israel. I have an aunt and some cousins in Israel but we rarely saw them. I spent one summer in Kansas with my cousin from Israel (who is my brother's age) and it was still so hard to imagine that she lived in this place called "Israel". It still seemed SO far away. Unreachable....

During high school, I did not really go to Zionistic schools. I spent 10th grade in public school where I was barely holding on to my Judaism.....I was very active in NCSY which was no Bnei Akiva but had their summer programs to Israel. Not that I ever dreamed of going on them. There was no way we could afford those!! My Dad and I would sometimes toss around the idea of going to Israel. To me, it was still this crazy far away land that I learned about in Chumash and on Yom Haatzmaut. A land that was OURS, a Jewish country. A place where they eat falafel on a normal basis and can pronounce the letter "chet" correctly. A land with kosher Pizza Hut and McDonalds! Where people know what kosher and Shabbat are and I'm not the crazy Jew. It was so weird to imagine..... but I didn't think about it that much.

Along came 11th grade. And my life completely changed. I had no idea what kind of storm was coming.
I uprooted myself and went to school in Pittsburgh. Still trying to hold onto my Judaism. And I liked a boy. However I got there, I was living in Squirrel Hill with the Seidman family, working in Pinskers, and chilling with a whole new group of crazy friends. I was just settling in when WHAM. My dad was diagnosed with cancer. My life was turned upside down.
That, of course, is a completely different story by itself. During my dad's sickness, we talked about "our trip to Israel when he got better." When it became clear that he was not going to get better, I showed him a brochure of ISS, Israel Summer Seminar, NCSY's 5 week touring and learning program in Israel. I told him I was going to make it there. For him. For me.
I owe a HUGE shout-out to my Midwest NCSY friends who were the ones who first brought up me going on ISS. They were going and I don't know what they said, but soon I was planning on going too.

Then I lost my dad. My life was hell and I could hardly tell which way was up. But I told my dad I was going on ISS and darn it, I was going on ISS. There were scholarships upon scholarships and somehow I pulled it off. I had my plane ticket. I had no idea what to expect but it was going to be an experience of a lifetime. It was kind of a crazy idea. To be heading off on this fantastic program which to normal teenagers would be FUN, while still being in mourning for my dad. Crazy thing was, there turned out to be 2 other girls on the trip who had ALSO lost their dads within the past few months. We got special permission to say Kaddish during davening and that was good.

Off we went on ElAl. I was sitting next to Scott who turned out to be a source of LOTS of laughter during that trip. To this day, I crack up when I find the little notebook of pictures we drew. CHASHEE CHASHEE. My crazy Kansas/Omaha crew was so tolerant of me and all my crap. They made me smile through the pain. I don't think they have any idea what they meant to me that summer.

We landed in Israel and everyone sang and cheered. The typical thing you hear about. And back in '97, when you got off the plane, you headed right down the stairs to the tarmac. I hope I will never forget the feeling of stepping out the door, at the top of the stairs, and feeling that BLAST of HOT air hit my face. That's Middle East weather. I looked out at the palm trees waving in the distance and the Israeli flags.
And I knew I was home. I don't know how I knew. But I was home. I climbed down the stairs and fell on the ground kissing it. Tears were streaming down my face. I'm home, I'm home, I'm home.

It was an up and down 5 weeks. So emotionally and physically challenging. But I fell in love. I fell in love with this country called Israel. Nothing else was constant or stable in my life. But I finally knew one thing. This is where I belonged. I felt like I didn't belong anywhere in the States. In Israel, I belonged.....

V'Shavu Banim Ligvulam....

Friday, October 08, 2010

Making a Difference

So, I somehow managed to join the first grade Vaad Horim (Parent's Committee) with 3-4 other Israeli moms. We had one meeting so far and I understood the main points just not a lot of the bantering that goes on. It was a little hard because socially, I wasn't able to just relax and chat. But it worked out. And I think I laughed at all the appropriate parts I was supposed to and said oh no, when I was supposed to. :)

While I am not entirely sure what the official job of the Vaad Horim is and what our responsibilities, I know that we can turn it into whatever we want as long as we have a cooperative teacher (we'll find that out once we have a meeting with her....)
So we discussed making the classroom a little more cozy and bringing in some games for the kids to do at recess, we talked about the overload of homework on our first graders, and the policy of being "approved" to make a birthday cake for class as opposed to having a strict policy of bringing store bought cakes. Then I brought up an idea and the other moms loved it! (Yes, I am proud of myself and was happy to be a contributing part of this committee).

I want to bring more chesed into my child's life, into his class, and perhaps into the school and community in general. One step at a time though. One of the moms had previously suggested bringing in treats for Rosh Chodesh. And while anyone who knows me knows that I am not the healthiest person - I feel that kids are bombarded with treats and junk food!!! Enough with the treats!! Stop looking for excuses to bring more junk into our kids lives!!!
So I said maybe once a month (around Rosh Chodesh for example), we can do a Chesed event. I suggested maybe one time helping pack the boxes that go out to the needy families here in Ariel. One time sending cards/pictures to children in hospitals or to soldiers. Maybe one time doing something with or for the old folks home here. Etc, etc.

So basically the point of this long post is to ask for YOUR ideas for Chesed projects that first graders can do in their classroom/school. To take them out of school is apparently way more complicated. I'd love to hear from you!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What a Story.....

Dvir Aminolav was the first Israeli soldier killed in the 2008 Gaza War. His mother Dalya missed Dvir, terribly. One night before she went to bed, she said in a loud voice: "G-d, give me a sign, give me a hug from Dvir so that I will know that his death had some meaning."

That week her daughter asked her to accompany her to a musical performance at The International Crafts Festival in Jerusalem. Dalya, feeling quite depressed, did not want to go to the concert, but she didn't want to disappoint her daughter either, and agreed to go halfheartedly. The concert was a bit delayed. A two-year-old boy began wandering through the stands. He walked up to Dalya's seat and touched her on the shoulder. A preschool teacher, Dalya turned around, saw the boy and smiled warmly.

"What's your name?" Dalya asked.

"Eshel," the boy replied.

"That's a nice name. Do you want to be my friend, Eshel?" The boy nodded in reply and sat down next to Dalya.

Eshel's parents were sitting two rows above. Concerned their little boy was bothering Dalya, they asked him to come back up. But Dalya insisted that everything was fine.

"I have a brother named Dvir," two-year-old Eshel chimed in, as only little children can. Dalya was shocked to hear the unusual name of her beloved son, and walked up the two rows to where Eshel's parents were sitting. She saw a baby in his carriage, and apologizing, she asked, "If you don't mind me asking, how old is your baby and when was he born?"

The baby's mother replied, "He was born right after the war in Gaza."

Dalya swallowed hard. "Please tell me, why did you choose to name him Dvir?"

Baby Dvir's mother began to explain. "When I was at the end of my pregnancy, the doctors suspected the foetus may have a very serious birth defect. Since it was the end of the pregnancy, there was little the doctors could do and I just had to wait and see how things would turn out.

When I went home that night, the news reported that the first casualty in the war was a soldier named Dvir. I was so saddened by this news that I decided to make a deal with G-d. 'If you give me a healthy son,' I said in my prayer, 'I promise to name him Dvir, in memory of the soldier that was killed.'"

Dalya, the mother of Dvir, stood with her mouth open. She tried to speak but she couldn't. After a long silence, she said quietly, "I am Dvir's mother."

The young parents didn't believe her. She repeated, "Yes, it's true. I am Dvir's mother. My name is Dalya Aminalov, from Pisgat Zeev."

With a sudden inspiration, Baby Dvir's mother handed Dalya the baby and said, "Dvir wants to give you a hug."

Dalya held the little baby boy in her arms and looked into his angelic face. The emotion she felt at that moment was overwhelming. She had asked for a hug from Dvir - and she could truly feel his warm and loving embrace from the World of Truth.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Half Birthday to you!!!

We interrupt this program to wish a VERY Happy 18 month birthday to my dear daughter, Kayla Rivkah!!!
Love you so much baby girl, Kaylush, Kaylie, Lulie, Lulu........

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Birth Story - From the Other Side - Part 3

This part of the story will probably go a lot faster (because it all kinda blends together in my head) but in reality, it took FOREVER!!!!

They finally brought us to a room. What we thought was going to be labor and delivery. But sadly, it was just part of the Machleket Nashim - Women's Ward. We were brought to a little curtained area, 1 of 6 in a room. All kinds of women. Next to us was an old lady and I think the other was empty in the beginning. At some point, they told us we had to stay in this area until Ariella was 3cm dilated. I don't remember if they told us that right away or only after being there for HOURS.

We got there and waited. They were supposed to be bringing Ariella antibiotics. So we waited...and waited. I think at that point Ariella went to take a shower. She felt so gross from the whole experience so far and just wanted to shower and get into the many sizes too large gown. :) Her shower was less than ideal. Apparently she had to hold the shower head. I'm sure THAT was comfortable being 9 months pregnant and in labor!!!! But she came out clean and put on the huge hospital gown. And then they served lunch. We went over to check it out and it actually looked quite appetizing. Chicken and rice and mashed potatoes. I was HUNGRY! But I made the mistake of asking if it was only for the patient and they said yes. I said not even for the husbands? They said no. Daaaaaarn. So went into the dining room area (of this particular ward) and sat down. Ariella got some food and I took a drink. Mm....watered down petel (syrup).......
Ariella said the food was actually quite good - although the mashed potatoes were gross. That was sad. I love mashed potatoes. She was kind enough to sneak me some of her yummy rice :) so I wouldn't starve. Worse came to worse they would tell her not to share. And there was a LOT of rice. Yisrael was sitting with us but feeling VERY uncomfortable. He felt like all the women kept looking at him, maybe even giving him dirty looks. It was kinda weird but it's a pretty religious hospital so who knows. Eventually he left. Ariella finished up and as we were leaving, I noticed a sign saying no men are allowed in the dining room during meal times!!! OOPS! Oh well, I was already there with my short sleeves - I assume they figured we didn't know better. :)
We went back to the room and waited some more and I felt like it was time for some of my doula-ing. Time to take charge. So I went to the nurse's station and waited very politely for them to acknowledge my existence. Once they did, I reminded them about the antibiotics. The first nurse was a REALLY young looking, sweet little girl. :) She was helpful and friendly but maybe slightly overworked. I felt like I had to keep reminding her. Helloooo - you have a patient named Ariella.....we are waiting.
So they gave Ariella the antibiotics. Finally!!! Now to be honest, I cannot remember if they they gave her the pill to induce her or if we waited awhile before that. I know she got the pill at about 2pm so it must have been a bit after. If they checked her prior to getting the pill, she was still at 1.5cm. Grrrrr......
They gave her what looked like half a pill and said ok, we'll be back in 3 hours. WHAAAATTTTT???? They said that's generally how long it takes for the pill to work so at 5pm they will monitor her and see what's going on. Ugh. So we had 3 hours to sit around. Ariella was having some contractions and the main thing we did when she had one was rub her lower back. That is where she said she had the most pain. We asked the nurses if there was anything we could to help her along. Like bouncing on a birthing ball, walking the halls, ANYTHING?? They said nope, nothing. Well that wasn't helpful at all. There was a shift came and enter Mean Religious Nurse. dada, dada, dada......
Why mean people are ever put with laboring women or postpartum women is absolutely beyond me!!! Mean people shouldn't be nurses anyway but there are some wards where they just don't belong. This woman seemed very harsh, uncaring, and acted like she had no patience for us. She was a stickler for the rules and did not seem to have Ariella's best interest in mind.
More waiting and waiting and waiting. 5pm seemed SO far away!!! Yisrael went to check out the cafeteria. He had a toast and came back. Then I went and was hoping for perhaps the same food as Ariella had. But there wasn't even a real cafeteria. It was a little stand that made toasts and sold things like chips and gum and what not. I had a toast in the morning but didn't have many other options and didn't want to leave the hospital grounds so another toast it was! This may have been the only point when I wished we were at Beilinson. The thought of the mall being right across the street with that delicious food court was SOOOO tempting!! Again, it was so funny being on the other side. Being the "waiter" instead of the "birther". I could have used an Aviva right then to bring me a nice hamburger!!! :)
It's all good.
Back to the Machleket Nashim. There were 2 other women that had arrived at the same time as us, more or less, and they were also in the ward. So I kept Ariella updated that they also hadn't had their babies........
The contractions started getting more intense and we had to help Ariella through them more often now. We kept watching that clock tick by, waiting for 5 pm. When it finally arrived, and the pill started doing it's trick, I tracked down the nurse and asked for the monitor. I can't remember if dinner came before or after the monitor.

Dinner was the turning point!!!! We went to go check out dinner and first of all, it looked inedible. It was some kind of fried potato blintz and a side. What kind of food is that??? Ariella had NO appetite for it and as she turned to leave the room, she got hit with a whopper of a contraction. She had to stop moving, grab ahold of the counter, and really concentrate and breathe through the contraction. Ahhh.....FINALLY!!!! Now let's see some action. From then on the contractions were real intense. We went back to the room and Yisrael and I got a lot more involved in helping her through the contractions. She was very impressive though. We rarely needed to remind her to breathe and though the contractions were extremely painful, she would get through them and then really relax. Close her eyes, go limp. She said the contractions were SO totally exhausting!!! We tried different positions for her to labor in and finally brought out the birthing ball. That was a comfortable positing for her. That and being on all fours on the bed. The room was really not cool though. So NOT the place to labor. She felt uncomfortable making noise, there were people walking back and forth all the time. Lots of talking, ringing cell phones, etc. It just was not a place that you could focus on laboring well.

Well, now that things have started picking up (or so we thought), it's time for another break. It's 11:30 at night and I am exhausted!!!

Stay tuned.............................

Monday, July 12, 2010

Birth Story - From the Other Side - Part 2

Monday night, June 21st

Earlier that day I had a terrible headache. So bad that I actually slept on the couch for awhile that evening. It was during a heatwave and I think the heat was making me sick. I woke up at about 10pm and got a phone call from Yisrael. He told me Ariella had been having regular contractions every 10 minutes. They were going to go to sleep and if they got worse over night, they would call me and we'd go to the hospital. In any case, they were supposed to go to the hospital in the morning for monitoring.
I figured that would work out nicely. My headache was better and I would be well rested for a middle of the night phone call. I guess I went to bed about an hour or so later - after making sure my bag was all packed and ready to go.

Went to bed and woke up about every hour or 2 to check my phone!! No missed calls....

Tuesday, June 22 (My Anniversary)
At about 5 something in the morning Yisrael called. Ariella was still having pretty regular contractions, somewhat closer together, and they think her water might have broken the night before. Not a huge gush but a little bit here and there. They knew they had to go in for monitoring anyway so they told me that I should get ready, shower, eat breakfast, and call them when I was ready to go. I did that and called about 45 minutes later. They came by and picked me up. I went downstairs and was SO excited to see them!! Ariella looked great (probably not a good sign for someone in labor......)
It was already fun to be someone on the other side. I was SOOOO totally excited and feeling good after a decent amount of sleep. And ready to get this "party" started. I wasn't even nervous anymore. I was confident the 3 of us would make a good birthing team. Not to mention, June 22nd would be a great day to have their baby. It was Shauli and my anniversary (sorry for deserting you that day, honey. I'll buy you a car to make up for it :) ). The crazy thing about that was that our daughter, Kayla, was born on Ariella and Yisrael's wedding day!!!! We thought it would be pretty cool. And seeing as it was only 8am, we were certain it would happen.......

And the "real" story begins...............

We arrived at the hospital (after getting stuck in baaaad traffic) at 8am and were sent to the Labor and Delivery Admittance. It was REALLY quiet and we felt that was a good time. Not a busy day.

They got Ariella hooked onto a monitor and we sat around a bit. It was fun watching the contractions on the machine and hoping each one would get stronger and closer together than the one before. They were still about 5 minutes apart and she had some stronger ones but they weren't changing a whole lot. Apparently the nurses weren't satisfied because they came in and gave Ariella something sweet to drink to get the baby moving around more. They made her lay on her side with her hand up over her head. It was a really awkward and uncomfortable position. People would come in and out but no one really told us what was going on....

The doctor finally came and I guess was satisfied enough with the monitor that he was ready to check her. He also wanted to check and make sure her water had, in fact, broken. We went to another room where he looked at the baby on the ultrasound - aww......we'll meet you soon baby!!! Then he checked Ariella and she was about 1 cm dilated, same as what she was at the doctor the day before. Oh well.....
He didn't think she was leaking amniotic fluid but when he did the test, the stick turned orange (blue?) and he said yep, that's amniotic fluid all right! And you are NOT leaving here without a baby.....
HOORAY! They weren't going to send us home only to come back hours later. Those were good words to hear.
He asked a bunch of questions and based on the fact that her water broke the night before, he was either going to do some tests and based on those results put her on antibiotics or he was just going to go ahead and put her on antibiotics. Then based on how things were going, he may induce her using a pill (a little more natural than Pitocin). There was some confusion based on the translation but we all felt we more or less knew what was going on......

Ariella was going to get some blood drawn for the tests and Yisrael and I were starving!! We decided to go grab something to eat. We left the hospital and went to an Angel's bakery branch. We got toasts and a few rugelach. Brought some back for Ariella too. We came back to the hospital but they are REALLY strict about food and didn't want to let us back in.
At that point, Yisrael decided to go to work for half an hour. He knew he needed to go at some point that day and we figured it was only going to get busier. So now was the best time. He went to get his car and I snuck my food into the hospital. Of course I didn't eat it for another half hour or so because I was inside. But when they were doing something else to Ariella, I went out to grab a bite. After a little bit, she joined me outside.
They wanted to give her a dose of antibiotics but they had to wait until a room in the maternity ward opened up. As soon as that happened, they would call us and we could get settled. We hung out outside for a bit. Then back inside to the women's waiting area. We waited and waited and waited. The A/C was not working and we were shmoiling!!!

Ariella mentioned that this was completely not how she pictured the day going!! In her mind, Delivery Day involved a frantic phone call to me in the middle of the night, a rush to the hospital, and lots of stuff and pain going on once we got here. In reality, we were sitting around.....waiting........facing random contractions......talking......hanging out...... eating.......
This was strangely reminiscent to my labor with Jonah. Except we were hanging out in a nice birthing room and eating bagels that my friend Jocey brought!!

We went back into the admitting room and asked if we could wait there, due to the fact that the A/C was broken. They said no so we said we were going to sit in a nearby hallway. They didn't have any news on a room for Ariella so they told us to come back in 15 minutes.

We sat in the slightly more air conditioned hallway and debated what to do. Should Ariella walk around to try to get things moving? At that point, it seemed like the contractions were really tapering off. She was definitely stressed and there is no way that was good for labor. She wanted to be settled in a room and here we were, totally in limbo and not knowing when and where we were headed. It was really frustrating.

Yisrael came back and we went to check in about the room. This time they said 5 more minutes and we should wait outside. So we sat in the separate waiting areas (and took a picture) and after about 5-10 minute, they came to get us. YAY! We figured we were finally making it to Labor and Delivery so we could get things started......

And break time................ come back soon for Part 3!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Birth Story.....From the Other Side

Two weeks ago, I witnessed the most amazing, phenomenal, fantastic, beautiful, wonderful, incredible, breathtaking event. I watched a miracle happen right before my eyes! On one hand, I am speechless. I feel there is no way I can put into words what I saw. On the other hand, every time I try to repeat the story, people tell me "Ooh, that's gotta go in your blog!"
So, here I am. Blogging it. But there is no way I can give justice to it.

First, the history.
My first "meeting" with Ariella was online. She posted a funny little comment on the Ariel Aliyah Facebook group. Something about how her name is Ariella and she is moving to Ariel and isn't that funny? And she is getting married to Yisrael (who lives in Yisrael....) And she is available to babysit.
We tease her about that post to this day. Of course, we repeat it in a very blond, goofy voice. So, hello? My name is Ariella, and I am moving to Ariel, and isn't that soooo crazy? Heehee.....

Then we met Ariella and Yisrael when we were all registering for Ulpan and got to know them a little bit through Ulpan and at our various small Ariel Aliyah events.

Our next big interaction with Ariella was when I had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night while I as pregnant. We didn't know what to do with our 2 sleeping children. So, we called Ariella. We knew she wasn't working yet and hoped maybe there was a chance she was even still awake, watching a movie with Yisrael. At 3 am.....when Yisrael had to work the next day..... Well, she wasn't awake but she came over anyway, stayed with our kids, and took them to Gan and daycare the next day. And didn't even charge us for her babysitting services!!! It was REALLY helpful and gave a glimpse of what a good friend she would become.

Over the next few months/year, we became closer. While they lived near us, we had them over for many Shabbatot in a row. Seudah Shlishi became a regular happening. It was nice. Then they moved. That was sad. But we give them enough grief about it so I'll move along.

Ariella knew that I have dreams of becoming a doula. However, I have never experienced a natural birth - natural meaning the way the baby is meant to come out as opposed to a c-section. Granted, I am a mom 3 times over but all my children have been surgically removed. :) While that in itself is a miracle, it's not the way I grew up thinking I would deliver my babies. As much as my husband loves the "ease" and "convenience" of c-section births, I feel robbed of something. And I will never know if I would have been able to actually push a child out of my body....

But I digress....So, about 9 months ago, Ariella got pregnant. I was one of the first people she told - so you can see how close we had gotten at this point. Some time after that, I think I may have offered to be her "doula". It was my dream to be there when someone gives birth. I used to hope for it when I was an EMT, always hoped to be there for any of my friends, and was just waiting for the opportunity to present itself. She agreed and I think we both thought we were getting a great deal! She was thrilled to be getting a free doula. The fact that we are close friends and she trusts me and felt I could help her through labor was more important than the fact that I didn't have any training. And on my end, I was so excited that I might actually witness a birth!!!
We talked about it through her whole pregnancy and she did a lot of reading and I did some reading and we talked about how it would play out and how to make sure we incorporate Yisrael so he doesn't feel left out.
The last 3 weeks before she finally went into labor, I slept with the phone next to my bed. I must have woken up as many times as she did every night. I would grab my phone, to make sure I hadn't missed a call!!! Shabbas was really difficult and although they had gotten permission to call me (without me answering) to give me the signal they were on their way, I was sure I would miss a call.

I finally did get the call. Although not quite in the manner I was expecting.......

TO BE CONTINUED...................

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Goodbye Grandma

Marguerite Grossmann Malka bas Vilhem Died: May 15, 2010/ 2 Sivan 5770 Funeral: May 17, 2010/ 4 Sivan 5770 Bnai Amoona Cemetery (Buchholz Mortuary)

Beloved mother of Brenda DeLano and the late Rick Martinez
Dear sister of Frances Hyman and Art Grossmann and the late Joseph Grossmann
Dear grandmother of 6, great-grand mother of 11
Aunt, great-aunt and dear friend.

Dear family and friends,

We're here on this saddest of occasions as we say tzayschem b'shalom -- our final goodbyes to Margo Grossmann-- Malka bas Vilhem. Our presence today is a kavod and honor to the memory and the life of this wonderful woman.

I must point out that we find ourselves in the period of time known as Shloshet Y'may Hackable; the three festive days before the the major Jewish holiday and Yom Tov of Shoves. As such, a number of prayers that ordinarily would be said are omitted in deference to the sanctity and holiness of the holiday. Additionally, hespedim/eulogies are not recited at a funeral during this period of time for the same reason. However, given the unique personality of Margo and her life, I'd like to share some words of reflection about who she was and what she accomplished. And if through those words we find ourselves inspired to become like Margo even to a small degree, that would be the greatest kavod, the greatest honor we could give to her.

John Ruskin, a 19th century author and art critic, observed that you can tell the genius of a painting only at the end of the day. It's when the little details are blurred in the dusk that you can see the grand design of the painter. I think this is a metaphor for being human; the meaning of a who a person was is best visible at life's end -- particularly for one who has lived an exceptionally long life. The details of life fade in the dusk; what remains at the end is the impression of a whole person, and what they truly achieved and accomplished. In her 96 years Margo Grossmann achieved and accomplished many marvelous things -- not the least of which was the remarkable family which she left behind.

Jewish tradition teaches that one of the ways that a person's character is best judged is by the way they interact with close family members. We're well familiar with the person who is admired and highly thought of by strangers, acquaintances and even friends -- but those who know the person best -- the immediate family -- may have a less-than-flattering impression of who they really are. With Margo, the opposite is true. And while even a short visit with Margo would leave a person deeply impressed -- as I was in my one 45 minute visit with her the day before she passed away -- I've seen that you, Margo's immediately family love her, respect her, admire her as a wonderful mother and grandmother of exceptional character, and who was the Matriarch of your family. I could tell from my discussions with you, Brenda, and your family at your mother's home this past Friday and last night that you and your family adore your mother, place your mother on a pedestal, and consider your mother to be a great and important woman. What does that mean?

Our rabbis teach in Pirkei Avos/Ethics of the Fathers (3:13) "If the spirit of others finds favor with a person, that's a sign that the Almighty, as well, finds favor with that person." You who knew Margo best, have the highest opinion of her. According to Jewish tradition, the same, then, can be said about G-d. He has a very high opinion of her.

Margo had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. And it wasn't simply that she had a quest to understand obscure facts and information -- such as details about the life of the crocodile (learned from a park ranger in Florida), or hours spent carefully examining a Salvadore Dali art exhibit. Margo wanted to understand people and what made them tick -- like in the story you shared of her visit to the dentist, who she somehow peppered with questions while her mouth was filled with instruments as she was having dental work done. Margo wanted to understand the world, because it was her world. She was an explorer!

She explored the big things. When she was quite a bit on in life she traveled to England, stayed in a hostel and got a job there -- no doubt in large part to have an opportunity to get to know and explore life in England. Margo wasn't afraid to travel even very late in life -- traveling on her own to Israel, incredibly, just last year. What an independent, responsible woman.

And Margo explored the little things. Seeking mastery of the English language by conquering New York Times crossword puzzles. Seeking to master and conquer the games of bridge and poker. Using her great artistic eye and fine attunement to sensitivity to notice the tiniest details around her, and to create a beautiful, finely designed home.

In her 96 years Margo, in many ways, mastered the power of her own mind by forcing it to serve her, rather than being subject to it's own whims and desires. The glass, to Margo, wasn't simply half-full, but overflowing. An incredibly positive person, she understood, apparently at an early age, that the secret to happiness isn't wanting more, but appreciating and taking pleasure in what you already have. Margo exemplified the traditional Jewish approach of 'samech b'chelko' ; she was spiritually wealthy because she was able to count her blessings, and ignore unpleasant things and get on with life.

The 96 year journey of Margo Grossmann was a joyous one, filled with with laughter, dancing, and delight taken in that which meant most to her: her family. She was the big sister who fought the battles of her younger siblings, and later became an inseparable best friend of her sister Frances. She never gave up on being a Mom, and was always trying to guide and teach Rick and Brenda. The point of money, to Margo, was that it was a vehicle with which to help others through tzedaka and charity. The point of time, to Margo, was that it was a resource to be used to help others. Giving to others was her focus, and Margo took great joy in giving.

Although Margo wasn't raised in a traditional or Orthodox home, she clearly had a deep sense of the importance of Judaism, and obviously was successful in transmitting it to her offspring. I had the pleasure of knowing Rick when I first came to St. Louis in the late 1980's; he was a fine man, a wonderful man who was sincere and passionate about the Torah and a life of Jewish observance. Brenda -- the many years of your having lived in Israel is strong evidence of your mother's influence and evidence of both her own pride and your own pride in being Jewish and a commitment to our people and the land of Israel. And Margo's six grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren are, as far I can see, deeply and sincerely committed to the G-d of Israel and His Torah. Happy is the woman who leaves behind such a legacy.

On a final note, I must tell you that don't think I'll ever forget my brief and only meeting with Margo. She was 96 years old, the second-to-last day of her life, suffering with an end-stage illness. And while she seemed somewhat uncomfortable, she was completely lucid, sharp, pleasant -- even laughing, at times, curious, open and honest. And she exuded a grace and glow that I can only describe as being both regal, and spiritual. I'm so pleased, Brenda, that you gave me the opportunity to meet her. And I'm so honored, you that you have honored me to officiate at this very special woman's funeral.

As John Ruskin said, life, like a painting, is best visible at the end of the day. Marguerite Grossmann leaves behind the legacy of almost a century of years that were well lived. She was irrepressibly curious, independent, adventurous, intelligent, kind, giving, spiritual, and proud to be Jewish. Her greatest legacy is the ripple effects she has left behind in her many offspring, and the unforgettable memories those who had the privilege of meeting her will always carry with them.

May her soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life, and may her memory be a blessing for us all.

Rabbi Ze'ev Smason
Nusach Hari Bnai Zion Congregation
St. Louis Missouri

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Letter to Yochai

March 7, 2002

Dear Yochai (z”l)

Hi. It’s me, your beloved troublemaker, Natalie.

It’s hard for me to believe that you are gone, that you have gone on to bigger and better things, higher and more important places. Hard to believe that in this lifetime, I will never again see your smile or hear you laugh. I won’t be told by you to “show up in full MDA uniform” and be scolded to close that silly top button. And I won’t be able to tell you, face to face, what I should have said last week.

So I write this letter to you. And I hope somehow you will receive this message.

First and foremost, I want to apologize. I want to tell you I am sorry for getting angry about things that seem so unimportant now. You mentioned once that we are very alike and that’s why we kept going “head to head”. I told you that you were wrong. But now I want to say that to be like you would be a great honor. To accomplish even half of what you have done and to begin to touch lives as you have is a goal I strive for.

The line between teacher to student and friend to friend was very thin. To let you down as a teacher was hard. But to disappoint you as a friend hurt me deep inside. I was looking forward to working with you next week in arranging a MDA course for students on my Overseas Program at Ben-Gurion University. I was sure it would make you happy. Yochai, I wanted to make you so proud.

As it says on our Magen David Adom certificates, “To save one life is like saving an entire world.” I can only begin to imagine how many lives you have saved and how many worlds you have created. So too, everyone in the courses you taught have gone on to save lives around the world and educate people about Eretz Yisroel and Magen David Adom.

The lessons you taught me on the course and the things I have learned about you since then have changed my life forever. You gave me a chance to give back to the country that has given me so much, an opportunity I have been longing for since the moment I stepped foot in Israel. You also reminded me that life is short and I must live every moment to the very fullest. And that when I find something I love, I should put my complete heart and soul into it. Not only that, but I should share it and spread the love to others. In the short time I knew you, I learned this is exactly how you lived. Yochai, you made a difference in my life and taught me that I, one person, can too change the world.

Thank you Yochai Porat (z”l).

May you rest in peace.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

I love Israel because.....

Here are some recent reasons why I love living in Israel.

On our drive up to Maalot, we stopped at a gas station. I was looking at some candy bars to see if I could figure out which were Kosher for Pesach. Some guy next to me (may have been a manager) said "Oh, are you looking to see if they are Kosher for Pesach?". I said "Yes" and he pointed out which one was. Then he went to look in another section to see if there were any more there but there weren't. I realized we had meat for lunch so instead I just bought our Kosher for Pesach Cokes and Grape Juices. I loved that the gas station manager knew exactly what I was looking for and could help me.

But even better.....we stopped at another gas station later on. Way out in almost nowhere. I went in to use the bathroom and noticed plastic sheets covering a lot of things on the shelf. I thought wow, it looks like a grocery store kashering for Pesach. When I came out, I peeked and saw it looked like it was covering Chametz. When Shauli went in, he noticed a sign on the door that said "On Pesach, we won't sell Chametz". How cool is that in a gas station!!!!!!

We went on a nice hike yesterday and at the end, everybody stopped to eat. Most people buying from the snack cart but some people bringing their own food. I LOVED looking around and seeing everyone with their matzot or whatever creative food they could think of to bring for a hike. We're all in the same boat!!! (Well except for those of us who don't eat Kitniyot - it's a bit harder for us).

And another fun thing, Shauli and I went to a concert last night at the Agam (lake). They have a festival during Chol Hamoed Pesach and at night have free concerts. The singer was Lior Narkis whose song called "Lkol Echad" was a huge hit 10 years ago. I LOVED it then and still love the song now. We went to the concert basically so I could hear that song. He doesn't appear to be religious and the vast majority of fans of his at the concert did not appear to be religious either. Of course, we are all Jewish so he wished everyone a Happy Pesach too. But in the middle of the concert, he starts singing a song about believing in G-d. "Anachnu Maaminim maaminim" which is a popular song here at any religious events. Everyone cheered when he started singing that song and we all sang along. What an awesome feeling!! All of us standing there singing a great song abut believing in Hashem!!! It was pretty cool.....

So that's my wrap up for now on why I love Pesach in this country. :)

Next year may we all celebrate together in Jerusalem with Moshiach!!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Car Advice of these days I am going to get back to blogging. I have noticed my recent posts have been mostly questions and looking for advice. But before I get back to blogging, I need some advice again.

I know nothing about cars but we are getting to a point in Israel where we really need to buy once. Since we are quite poor, we are looking for something very inexpensive. The main things we will be using it for is driving around in Ariel, errands, etc and maybe heading to Petach Tikvah for some bigger shopping trips. We will also need it for occasional trips to Jerusalem, Modiin, Maalot, etc but those are more like monthly.

There is a company/guy who helps Anglos buy and sell cars and he sent me a list of what seem to be very affordable cars. First of all, has anyone heard of Zvika Cars? What are your thoughts?

Second of all, does anyone know anything about the following cars:

2000 Daihu Lanis
1997 Mazda Lantis
1996 Mazda 323
2002 Opel Corsa

Let me know your thoughts....................

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Shabbaton In Ariel

Looking for that perfect place? Trying to find the best fit for you and your family?

Young, central, and affordable, these have made Ariel a very attractive city for those in search of a place they can call home.

Ariel is a city with stunning views and a great climate located in the center of Israel- half an hour from Tel Aviv and 20 minutes from a large Hi Tech area. With a population of 20,000 and a large university with over 11,000 students, Ariel is a microcosm of Israel with religious and secular, young and old, Israelis and immigrants. It is a model of Israeli society all embedded in a warm and welcoming English speaking and Israeli community.

If you are looking for the right place for your family- Ariel is the city to consider!

In a good location and with a wonderful community it can become your home in Israel.

To fully experience Ariel come join us for Shabbat on April 23 and 24th.


For more information and to RSVP:

(Please help spread the word and let folks know about this in your own blog... thanks!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

To My Cooking/Baking Friends

Couple questions....

I need a simple pasta salad recipe. Something yummy for Seudah Shlishi.

Since graham cracker crusts are hard to come by in Israel, I need an easy recipe for an equivalent crust. This is for a chocolate mousse type pie.

I have lots of leftover pieces of puff pastry dough (that we use for deli roll). What can I do with them? Preferably something desserty. Like cinnamon rolls or involving chocolate?

Last one, I need a good zucchini kugel/quiche/pashtida recipe. I was never into zucchini but I've tasted some REALLY good ones since we moved here!

Thanks to all my excellent cooking and baking friends!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Does anyone know when figure skating is supposed to be on? (In Israel) And what channel (on HOT)?
Or is there somewhere I can watch it online? I LOVE figure skating!!!

Also, any other suggestions on what to watch. There's no gymnastics.....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Need Stroller Advice

I'm posting this blog for my friend who is going to have a baby in a few months, IYH, Bshaa Tova. She has asked me to be her "doula" for the birth, which as many of you know is my dream!!!

Anyway, she is a new mom-to-be and on the hunt for the Perfect Stroller. Remember that?

Her parents will be bringing it from the States - along with a car seat. So now I need your suggestions, recommendations, good points, bad points, all the stuff you can share about your stroller(s) experiences!

Here are the things that she is looking for.....

- Folds up nicely to fit in their teeny trunk.

- Basket on bottom

- Car seat can snap on stroller

- Lightweight

- Affordable (?) Give your suggestions either way on this one.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Potty Training - Day #2

WARNING: This blog may contain some details that may be shocking in nature. If you have never potty trained a child, you may not want to continue reading. :)

We sent Sammy off to daycare today equipped with about 6 pairs of pants and 6 pairs of underwear.
On the way there (we drop off Jonah first at Gan and then go to Sammy's daycare), Sammy had an accident. So we changed him at Jonah's Gan.

We got to daycare and dropped him off with explanations to Sammy about how to tell them he has to go in Hebrew and with wishes of good luck and success to his teachers.

When I went to go pick him up, Shauli and I took bets on how many changes of clothes he had gone through. Gosh, aren't we supportive parents? I was dreading them handing me a bag full of dirty clothes reeking of pee and poop.

But when I got there, his teacher looked up and said oh, he was great. I said, what do you mean? Sammy ran over to me and he was wearing the same clothes I sent him in!! His teacher said he did not have a single accident but he also did not pee at the potty when they sent him. Basically, he held it in until naptime. When they took off his diaper after naptime, it was FULL of pee and some poop.
Later that afternoon, his teacher walked into the bathroom and saw Sammy sitting on the potty. He had gone in there all by himself, taken off his pants and underwear, sat down, and pooped. LOL!!!
So she cleaned him up, brought him out, and all the kids clapped and said "Kol HaKavod or Congratulations!!!"
No accidents the rest of the afternoon. When I asked Sammy why he didn't pee on the potty, he said there are no dogs on it. We have a potty seat at home with pictures of dogs. Ok......

So that was exciting and I thought to myself on the way home, wow that was easy.
I should have known better.

We got home and asked Sammy if he wanted to sit on the potty, he respectfully declined.
10 minutes later, asI was doing laundry and Shauli was about to leave, Shauli said, "It smells in here, I think one of the kids pooped." I said "Please don't let it be Sammy."
It was Sammy.
Thank G-d for my fantastic husband who stuck around and changed him (as opposed to running out the door, pretending like he didn't smell anything). Don't worry, I didn't make him do it all. I was lucky enough to wash off the poopy underwear while gagging. Ew.

And now he is back in underwear. At least until the next accident.....

Is it wrong to want to send him to daycare in underwear and put him in a diaper when he gets home?
Let me rephrase that. I know it is not wrong to want it but is it wrong to actually do it......?

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I'd like to take a moment to be thankful for the good things in my life. Big and Small. Many of which I take for granted, or I don't see them for the blessings that they are.

One of my Facebook statuses last week was something about how I feel that all I do is work, take care of my children, and do laundry. After seeing some other friend's statuses or hearing some not such great news about others, I should have said - Thank G-d, I work, take care of my children, and do laundry.

One friend was just able to take her little daughter out of the hospital. She has health problems and was hospitalized for what they thought was a virus but it was an infection - scary stuff. I don't know many details because my updates were really through Facebook but when it involves little children and hospitals, it's scary.

I just got an e-mail that a girl I grew up with (who is a little younger than me) was recently diagnosed with cancer. I don't know any details - just that people were asked to say Tehillim for her. She is married and has a young daughter.

Another close friend of mine had a baby (as you probably saw on my Facebook) while she was visiting the States and only 27 weeks along in her pregnancy! She and her husband are now in Florida for the next few months dealing with all the issues that come along with having a preemie baby. They spend their days back and forth to the hospital and are overjoyed every chance they have to hold their baby.

I could go on and on. I am sure we all know people, or maybe are those people, going through those tough times in life. Or maybe we have had them in the past. Please G-d, let's hope not to face them in the future.

But this week I hope to have a new outlook. When I start to get stressed about no money in the bank (and why are we not allowed a "minus" like all the other Israelis), I have to remind myself - thank G-d, we can put food on our table. We somehow managed to buy the groceries this week- and even had Shabbas guests! When I am stressed about not paying the bills on time - well, according to a friend - many people are a month late, don't worry about it!! Not that I plan to always live like this. But we take it day by day. Step by step. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table. Those are the essentials.

Thank G-d Almighty, my kids are just battling colds here and there. Kayla may be small but she is VERY healthy and active as anything! Thank G-d for our health.

As I trip over the kid's toys or put in load after load of laundry, I need to say Thank G-d. There are people out there who would do anything to have kid's toys to trip over. And I am lucky enough to have 3 wonderful, healthy, awesome children.
Sammy started potty training this afternoon - and it was actually kind of amusing. He had 2 accidents but then he made it to the potty twice. And not only that, but Jonah and Kayla all trooped in with him when he sat on the potty. After he peed, we all did the potty dance (yes, we had Shabbat guests at the table but this was a big deal). And Sammy kept singing the potty song afterwards. I was SOOOO proud of him. His brother was so proud of him. Kayla was just happy that her brothers were happy. And Sammy was proud of himself! If the worst thing I have to wash this week are some peed on pants and underwear (I'm really hoping for no #2 accidents), life ain't too bad.

I had some friends over tonight and we watched the movie "Motherhood". We are all either mothers or soon-to-be mothers. There were many times in that movie where we all nodded our heads or laughed in agreement. Been there!!! We ate snacks, ordered pizza, and just hung out.
A few of the girls stayed afterwards while we relived and laughed about our HORRIBLE birth experiences! Obviously, the mom-to-be's were gone by then. But if you had told me while I was going through some of the most emotional, painful, amazing experiences of my life, that I would be sitting around, laughing about it with friends - I probably would have slapped you. But that's what we did.
And I am thankful to have had tonight. I'm thankful that I have good friends here that are "on the same page" as me. I'm thankful to be living in Israel - even if it finally did get cold - at the beginning of February. I'm thankful for my awesome husband, who did the HUGE pile of dishes tonight, and hid away in the other room while I had my "playdate" with my friends.

I know I may lose my temper this week, and I know I will be stressed about money this week (week before payday - yikes!) and I know I may not enjoy cleaning up "accidents". But I hope I can remember tonight and the fact that when I really take a look at my life, I have it pretty good. I've got a great hubby, some awesome kids, a steady job, and I'm living in Israel!!!

May everyone who reads this be able to appreciate the good that they have in their lives. And may the ones going through hard times come through them quickly, and stronger than they were before. Refuah Shelaima to all those out there who need it!!

Please contact me for Tehillim names.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Birthday Pics

I think I remember once reading in a magazine about how a mom used to take yearly pics of her daughter. But the special thing about these pictures is that she would put her daughter in her wedding dress. And every year - she would take a picture of her daughter as she grew. Obviously, she was swimming in it for the first number of years, then it looked more like a dress-up thing and then it got closer and closer to fitting her. In the end, she took a picture on her wedding day - wearing her mom's dress!!!
That idea stuck with me and now that I have a baby girl, I'm debating whether or not to start this little yearly "ritual".

What do you think? Is it cute - or weird and creepy? :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lift Space Question

For those of you who have sent a lift to Israel or have sent stuff on a lift to Israel - how much did you charge or were you charged per cubic foot?

Just trying to get an idea of the average cost. We were quoted something and it seemed really high.

We want to send a couple boxes on someone's lift......we just need to find that someone!! So I guess that is my other question. Do you know anyone sending a lift? It can basically be almost anywhere in the States. Although I am specifically looking for someone in Detroit, Cleveland, or Chicago for some of the heavier boxes.
Please spread the word.

Thanks for your help!