Sunday, September 26, 2004

My Yom Kippur

Before I try sleep, I wanted to write a couple lines about my Yom Kippur.

Thankfully my fast went well. It always amazes me that I can resist food when I have to!

My daavening (praying time) was meaningful - all but one chazzan (cantor) I could stay in the room for. Luckily there was another service downstairs.

I was very slow though. I finished my silent prayer way after the chazzan. I tried to say every word. I have a linear siddur (prayer book), so I tried to read the English as I went along.

I prayed for clarity. And signs. Can we do that? Can I ask G-d for a sign? I've heard of other people getting signs. I need a sign!

I prayed for strength. And the ability to fight temptations.

I prayed for safety. And health.

And then as the final prayers of Neilah rolled around, I found myself in tears! Could not control them! The Shema and the final shofar blow.

It always feels so final. So scary and unknown.

Whatever will be, will be!

Hope all our prayers come true!

Good Night...

The Blessings of a Teenager

As I write this, my 15-year-old teenage son is BLARING the music from his radio in his room. His windows are closed, and the whole house is sleeping, so I don't think he's bothering anyone. Can't really make out what it is, though. I think it's Israeli radio. He likes the loud stuff, but thankfully not the depressing head-banging stuff! Whenever a Hebrew song comes on the radio when we're in the car, he sings the words. And thankfully he likes the funky stuff I like, too.

Today was the first full day we have spent together in a long time. I took him with me
(to be my shleper and spend some quality time together) to Jerusalem to Mechane Yehuda to do my pre-Sukkot shopping. He was a great help - not one complaint! And boy, is he strong! A real mensch too! When he saw that I was having a hard time carrying the bags, he offered to take them from me. He didn't want to go out to eat after shopping because, "We already spent alot of money."
He shlepped all the bags into the house from the car and put many of the things away.

He's a great kid, my boy! I only just wish he would talk to me. I know it's a teenage boy thing, but he used to be so open with me. Now, it's worse than pulling teeth. At least when you pull a tooth, you eventually get the tooth out. With him I could try to word my question a million different ways and he still "doesn't know!"

I used to be an expert on getting other people's teenagers to talk!

But then again when he left the house tonight (at 9:45PM) to meet some Bnei Akiva friends for a BBQ, he came into the kitchen to give me a kiss. Of course he didn't leave the first time he said he was going to - highly distractable child! - and then came to give me another kiss. When I say to him, "You already gave me a kiss and said you were leaving." He responded with, "I wanted to give you another kiss!"

And when I asked him what time he was going to be home, he said, "12."
I said, "11:30."
He said "OK,"
And that was it!

I am so blessed!

He appreciates the small stuff. He's great with his sisters. He's respectful (most of the time!!) And he loves to be with his family!
How could I complain???

Thank you Hashem for your blessings! I do not take them for granted!

Now let's see how tomorrow goes...

P.S. I just went into his room to check on him. He is fast asleep - snoring loudly - fully dressed, lights on, with the remote control to his boom box in his hand! Gotta love it!
And I do!

Friday, September 24, 2004

I live in Israel!

I just had to say that!

Many times during my day, as I'm walking down the street, driving on the roads or like just a moment ago, while I was outside watering my flowers, it just comes to me, "I live in Israel."

Just like that.

It's still such a weird reality sometimes. I don't live in America. I live in Israel.


I live in Israel, and the Neviot mineral water delivery man - a completely secular Israeli - wished me a "Gmar V'Katima Tova" today.

I am a Jew living in a Jewish country! That's why I live here.

Back into the kitchen I go...Yom Tov is coming!

Thursday, September 23, 2004


I've been up all night thinking about the two posts I wrote last night (or very early this morning). After rereading them now, I decided rule #1 for me and blogging: NEVER write and then post something written very late at night and at a weak moment! Save it for a handwritten personal journal. For anyone who already read them, just chalk it up to a deep dark Sarahb moment. I apologize if it was too much...

This morning I have already made 3 three bagels and cream cheese
- 2 with red onion so my hands stink, put Ely's hair into an adorabe pony tail, washed the dishes, made my bed and written a mitzvah note - IN HEBREW - for Ely. Spoke to DB late last night who told me (in his crackily, changing voice) that his learning was going great!

It's gonna be a better day!
I'll be back later...
Happy Day!

Monday, September 20, 2004

I've come a long way, baby!

The amount of time spent in synagogue on Rosh Hashana is about as much as we spend eating! All that time spent in quiet prayer, may afford one the opportunity for mind-wandering deep thoughts.

So this is what I thought about as I listened to one of the many (thankfully inspiring) chazzons (cantors) in synagogue this year:

Who woulda thunk? How'd I get here? It's all so very surreal.

My memories of R"H (my abbreviation for Rosh Hashana) as a kid include hours spent hanging-out outside the synagogue with Jamie, Steve and Evan at the Maryland School for the Deaf auditorium, where our high holiday services were held in Frederick. I remember the dread of having to sit through services every year and sneaking outside as much as I could. Somehow, though, I was always drawn back in. The tunes I hear in daavening (prayer) today are very similar to the ones I remember Rabbi Kosman using. They stir in me the warm and comforting memories of years long ago. When I really knew nothing about religion, G-d, or myself.
I remember the long walks with Rabbi and Mrs. Kosman, to and from the School for the Deaf from their home on East 2nd Street, once Jamie and I began to keep the commandments of the holiday. And then I remember my "graduation" to the high holidays spent in Baltimore at the Ner Israel yeshiva.

This year, as I sat in synagogue, I thought about the fact that I DID NOT feel the need to go out. I was content to stay in and listen. I read the English, I worked on my Hebrew reading, and I thought about my relationship with G-d. I felt at peace with myself and my prayers. I knew to Whom I was praying.
Who woulda thunk?

... And I thought about the fact that this summer I missed my 20th high school reunion in Frederick. I wanted to go. I felt very torn! Those were my "wild and crazy" public high school days. I remember the feeling from my 15th reunion of not having much - except great memories! - in common with these great people. And yet, I wanted to go. But didn't.

My high school friends supported me as I went through my religious identity crisis. I was the only Jew in my class over over 300, yet, my friends never gave me a hard time about my Sabbath and holiday observance. Instead, they accommodated - parties on Saturday nights instead of Friday night, changing prom to Saturday night after a long school history of Friday night proms, and changing graduation to the night after Shavuot, a spring holiday celebrating the giving of the 10 commandments. I was very lucky. Maybe it's in their merit that I am where I am today. I had good, honorable, decent non-Jews supporting me in my religious journey.

And here I am, sitting in a synagogue in the middle of Israel, reading in Hebrew, praying in Hebrew, sitting amongst religious Jews, thinking about from where I come and appreciating where I am now.

being on them isn't always so glorious.
But life is a journey. We need to experience it.
It's in our attitude.
Being able to look back and be thankful for what we have learned.
Appreciate those that have helped us get here.
And keep journeying...

That's what I thought about this year.

Gotta keep journeying...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

I deserve this!

I have decided that I deserve to take a break from doing anything productive today!

Like most Jewish women over the last three days (and possibly days before that!), I have spent my time preparing menus, shopping, cooking, baking, serving and catering to the needs of our family and guests for the Rosh Hashana holiday.

This year was a small crowd. The first night of Rosh Hashana, our friends the Lloyds joined us for the festive meal.
This was our largest meal. We needed to take out two tables! Rhonda helped by bringing more than half the food! They had along with them 2 seminary girls who had been placed at their home by a hospitality commitee on the yishuv. As well, we had 4 seminary girls - 3 New England girls and one "tagalong". After that it was only 10 or 11 for each meal. I believe everyone had enough to eat and the singing and discussion for all the meals was more than wonderful!

I am very proud of my challahs, which if you don't know already, I made for the first time since DB was a baby (about 14 years ago). They came out so yummy! I think I have found a new weekly Wednesday night project. I did ok with food - not too much, not too little. Just the right amount of dairy vs. meat meals.

The best part of having girls over is that they help clean up! My dishes were washed and put away every night. Food put away, as I supervised from the couch - unable to move any longer! The worst part is that my husband and children feel as if they don't have to help. I'm still "on" and they run and hide, conplaining, "there's not enough room in the kitchen!"

Then there's the constant pick up of toys from the floor from Ely and the constant pushing aside of unworn but not put away shoes from my guests and children. Combine that with the daily prep for the next meal, and....

I deserve a day of rest!!

Do my nails, read, write...

Onto the next holiday - for Sukkot, we are having a NER girls shabbaton. The count as of now is 12!
I need to conserve my energy!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Kids ask the darndest things

You would think that by my fourth kid I would have figured out the best way to answer the question, "Mommy, how does a baby get in your tummy?!"
But when it comes unexpectedly from the sweet high-pitched voice of your gigantic brown-eyed four-year-old, any meaningful answers just evade you. Or at least me!!
These last couple weeks without having any male presence in the house has been an experience for me! I never realized how the dynamics of our family totally depended on the presence of my son and husband! To say that I miss DB around here is an understatement. I miss his predictable responsibility and sense of maturity. I miss his sense of humor and ability to make any tense situation silly. On the other hand, it has brought me closer to my girls. I have made sure to take the time to sit with each of them on the couch, when they get home from school, and check in.
Listen. Hug. Be.
So when Ely came home from gan yesterday, we had a sweet reunion on the couch. She gave me the "big hug" I had asked for and then sat back to look at me more closely.
The unfortunate reality of my protruding belly (NOT PREGNANT!!! JUST FAT!
I PROMISE! and cause for a whole different blog!) caught her fascination. She began to play drums, and surprised me with, "Hi baby."
The progression went something like this:

"Mommy, I want you to have a baby. I want you to have one right now! I want a brother. No, a sister. I'm going to take it to gan with me and take care of it." More patting. " I want you to get one in your tummy right now." pause. "How does a baby get in your tummy?"

Quick. Think. What do all the parenting books say? How should I answer her? What is she really asking?!

Wanna know what I answered?
In this order:
"It's magic."
"Hashem makes magic."
"Hashem makes you get a baby in your tummy."

OK. That was it. Off my lap and back to her dolls. Was it the right answer? Could I have done better? Maybe... but it was good enough for her!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Thinking too much

Shavuah Tov!
I just arrived home from being with my brother and sister-in-law in their new apartment in Neve Yaakov (a suburb of Jerusalem). When Ari is away I don't like to hang around here for Shabbat. It takes my mind off of him not being here, and I get to see my bro and his family more. Dovie had to stay in yeshiva for Shabbat, and my big girls decided they wanted to stay on the yishuv with friends. So it was just Ely and me - I was lonely for my family.

And had way too much time to think.

For financial reasons my bro has had to down grade in size from a very large 5 bedroom house/apt. to a much smaller 3 bedroom apartment. Their new eastward view of the Dead Sea is spectacular and frankly I'm a little jealous.
One of the reasons I made aliyah was because I wanted to simplify my life. I wanted to live with less and be satisfied with that. I wanted to make work whatever had to work in a small amount of space, i.e. having guests over. Being in my brother's apt this Shabbat got me thinking about how we have NOT done that, nor have we put ourselves in a community that has that philosophy! And that got me thinking, yet another reason I don't think this is the community for me.

Then, I made the huge mistake of starting to read over Shabbat, Sherri Mandell's book about the death of her son, Koby. A 13 year-old-boy who skipped school to go hiking with a friend and were brutally stoned to death in a cave not far from their homes in the Judean desert. An otherwise deeply meaningful book, but totally inappropriate to read on Shabbat - a day of rest and joy. I was bawling and realized I better put the book away until later.

But, of course, the book had already gotten me thinking. Thinking about what is important in life. Why we cry over death? What is loss? How life works? How can I appreciate my family more? How do I accept responsibility for what I have? What am I supposed to be doing in life? What does G-d expect from me? And so on...

All that thinking put me in a sad mood. On the verge of tears. Crying.

And then I reprimand myself, "What do I have to be sad about?!" Today is September 11th, I have a husband who loves me, 4 beautiful, healthy children (BIH), friends who, I think, appreciate my friendship, a roof over my head, food to eat...What the hell's my problem?!

How do I appreciate life and yet not sweat the small stuff?

Feelin' the weight of the world on my shoulders and a huge lump in my throat. Think I'm gonna sleep tonight? I'm sure not gonna read that book to try to fall asleep!

My middle name!

Maybe it's the time of year.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Stuck - but only on the couch!

The reason I did not post anything yesterday was not because I had a stuck day.
That’s right – no stuck day!! Yay me!

I couldn’t get stuck. Nechama mistakenly missed her hasaa (paid transport to school) and I had to drive her into Jerusalem. It was quite innocent actually - after going out to see if anyone else was waiting, she came back in the house to get something to eat for breakfast. The van came and went and there was no way to catch it. It definitely could have been prevented with a little bit more proactive planning. We now have phone numbers of other girls on the van and we will get up a little earlier so we can eat something. No matter, I dropped her off and walked the Jerusalem Malcha Mall. A little lonely, I must admit. Tried on a great skirt and then looked at the price tag. Handmade! I put it back on the rack…
I’ve been looking for a comfortable pair of black shoes that I can wear without stockings on Shabbat. I found a new pair of NAOT sandals/shoes – I am a NAOT shoe junky!
By the time I picked up Ely from gan and did my homework and went to ulpan, I came home and crashed on the couch. I absolutely could not move off it! I remember Malka trying to pull me off to get me into my bed, but I couldn’t do it. I awoke at 2:30 am, and tried to fall back to sleep in my own bed.
While Ari is away, Ely usually sleeps in my bed with me. Makes us both feel better! Except she snores! Very heavy breather! The combination of Ely and our neighbors mutt of a dog who seemed to be barking at the air, I couldn’t fall back to sleep. It’s the worst feeling! You’re exhausted, really want to sleep, but can’t! Ugh. I think I finally nodded off at 4:30ish, only to have the alarm go off at 6:30!! I pushed the snooze button and barely remember my two big girls kissing me on the cheek before they left the house. I hope they packed a decent lunch! I hope they had everything they needed for school. I hope they don’t think I’m a bad Mommy for not seeing them to the door like I do almost every other day of the week!
… sigh ….
I got out of bed in time to get Ely to gan and myself to water aerobics. As I was doing my 100th jumping jack in the water, I realized it was Sept 9th and I was still swimming in an outdoor pool! I love it!! I have been like a fish this summer! In the water more than I can ever remember as an adult!
I decided today was the day to finally wash my children’s clothes. Wouldn’t you know it? My gas tank ran out. In Israel one has gas delivered to ones home in tanks. They’re actually called “balloonim” here. I realized the clothes weren’t drying, so now I’ve got two loads of wet clothes and no dryer – I guess I’m gonna have to call the company – if I can remember which one it is, and figure out how to say it in hebrew – and then hang out the clothes to dry the old fashioned way. No more time to write, oh well – duty calls!
I have two writing pieces I’ve been thinking about in my head. I gotta get them down on paper/computer, before I loose room for them in my brain.

I could just go on and on and on…filling up my brain!

Happy Day!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

My stuck day

Ever have a stuck day?

I used to only have them when we had a television in the house. I would get stuck in front of the tube with the clicker in my hand and not move for hours. We didn't bring a television with us to Israel, so although the computer takes over that role sometimes, I don't have as many stuck days.

Today started out great. The big girls left on time, I took Ely to gan only a little late, I went to my water aerobics class and then had full intentions on driving into Jerusalem to do some shopping.

I never left the house. I didn't do much here either...couldn't. I was stuck. Don't really know what got me stuck. Maybe I need a job to give me something to really do everyday - But that's a whole other story! I tried to make my menus and shopping list for Rosh Hashana, but got stuck half way through. I tried writing a blog several times, but couldn't write anything that made sense. Kept getting stuck.
I spoke to a friend on the phone, that was good.
I did my nails...that made me feel better.
But I never really got dressed. It's been so long since I did that. The problem though is that I didn't enjoy it. It wasn't like I took a day off and just kicked back, recharged. I COULDN'T GET MYSELF GOING!
And then my wonderful cousin from Cleveland calls me and asks, "Are you happy?" I don't lie, but I also don't allow myself to feel when I've got a 4 year old in the tub and two teenage girls needing my help with other stuff. I hold it all together. I love him for checkin in! But I didn't know how to answer him at that minute! I was stuck.
Am I happy? What does that mean? I'm deeply thankful for my family and friends, health, love. What more do I need?

I had a stuck day.
Hopefully tomorrow won't be the same!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

No time like the present

I used to write in my journal every night... Since I married 16 years ago - and 4 kids later - I lost the umpf. I've recently started reading peoples' blogs, and thought, I can do this!
So here I go. Since making aliyah to Israel a year ago, I have been in charge of writing and sending out the family email updates. People enjoy reading about our family life here in the Holy Land. But the email list is exclusive, and a lot of work to get out. Hopefully this will be easier for me to keep up.
Who knows where this will go?
Let's start with a simple writing exercise. It's called stream of consciousness. READY?
Elysheva is playing nicely with her friend, I hope it will last awhile. I want some writing time. NED doesn't get home for another hour and a half from school. Malka isn't coming 'til late. I think she's going to visit her madricha at her dorm school. DB is in Yeshiva. I miss him. I hope he's OK. I can't figure out whether he really enjoys the learning or not. I have this deep horrible feeling that someday he is going to hate me for making him do something he really didn't want to do but didn't want to disappoint us. He has a hard time expressing himself, but I would hope he would tell us if he had to.
It's hot up here, I need to put a fan on! Can't wait for the weather to cool down. The heat is exhausting day after day. Ari called. He arrived in NY, but his luggage was delayed coming out. Makes him late for his meetings. I'm feeling more and more jealous of him every time he goes to the states. He gets mad and says I think he's taking a vacation. He said he hates going away. I believe he hates being away - but I would welcome the get a way. I'm gonna have to get away...Being interrupted for a drink from the little ones...I'm back. They wanted little chocolate milk bags. The kids love those here, and it's basically healthy.
OK, that's enough for now. I want to try to organize a shelf or two. Not my forte, organizing. Did I ever tell you I hired a professional organizer to help me learn how to get organized? I'll have to tell you about that sometime.
Happy day...
and Smile!