Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shana Tova 5772 - A Happy Healthy New Year

On Rosh Hashana, we eat all kinds of traditional foods whose words mean something in Hebrew that gives us a clue about how we'd like our future to be.
The easiest way to explain this would be: we serve raisins and celery so that in the coming year, we should have a raise in our salaries.
You get the idea.
Well, there's a traditional Rosh Hashana seder that is filled with all kinds of signs and deeper meanings.
But then again, there's us guys who after our traditional seder, like to just have a little fun. :)
So, here's my menu for this Rosh Hashana. If it helps you get ideas about what to cook this year or next... hooray.
Wishing all a happy healthy new year.
May you be inscribed in the book of life for a happy healthy prosperous PEACEFUL new year.

Shana tova!! 5772!!

Wednesday Night –
Dinner by Ricky – Siman: May you always be blessed with good friends.

Thursday Day –
Steak salad – Siman: May our enemies be shredded.
Burgal or Quinoa – Siman: May Hashem save us from burglers.

Thursday Night –
Chinese Food – Siman: May we multiply like the Chinese. May we be as rich as China. May we take over the world, just like the Chinese.

Friday Day –
Fish & String Beans – Siman: That we should always try to eat healthy and live long lives. And one day, we’ll be as skinny as string beans.
Sweet potatoes – Siman: May our lives be sweet and yummy.

Friday Night –
Roast beef – Siman: May our enemies be roasted. (Hm, this is a very violent menu.)
Chicken – Siman: May we always have emunah and never be chicken.
Zucchini kugel – Siman: May our lives always feel magical like the Amazing Zucchini! Abra kadabra!
Butternut squash – Siman: May things go smooth for us like butter, even when we feel a little nutty.

Shabbat Lunch
Shnitzel - Siman: That we should be able to learn to speak Yiddish.

Seuda Shlishit –
Fish leftovers and salad – Siman: May we never waste food. J

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What are We Doing?

I mentioned in my previous blog - - that my town is packed this week with reporters from all over the world, asking, "What are you doing about the UN vote on Palestinian admission to the UN?" "What will you do if the UN declares a Palestinian State?" "How are you reacting to the current political crisis in the Middle East?"
Well, this morning, I spoke to a few friends that said, "Things are very weird here. Everything is normal."
All the world is debating whether there should be a Palestinian State and things here are normal. Mothers are taking their children to school. Children are going to their extra-curricular activities in the afternoon. Youth groups are having get-togethers about the upcoming holidays. Folks are going to work, and to the mall, and out to dinner.
No, they're not burying their heads in the sand. But we live in a place of crisis. Every day there's another emergency, more hysteria, threats, pronouncements.
Should we stop our lives or go out and demonstrate every time the PA's leader Mahmoud Abbas says that our latest statement is a declaration of war? Should we pull out the children from school and hide at home whenever there's a threat of Arab rioting? We'll never leave the house.
We the Jewish People are people of faith. We realize the danger around us, we take proper precautions but we put out faith in Hashem, the G-d who gave us this blessed land, and we continue on with our regular lives.
As believing Jews we know that nations come and go, in fact, nations rise up again the Jewish nation in every generation. And every nation disappears just like a puff of smoke, but the Jewish people continue on, B"H. The immortal American author Mark Twain put it very well, "The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then . . . passed away. The Greek and the Roman followed. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts. … All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains."
Don't worry. We see the news (as annoying as it is) and we are cautious, but instead of panicking yet again, we prefer to raise our children, tend to our families, put in a serious day's work, and cement our friendships with coffee and charity projects we can do together. We're not "in the game" for the moment, but for eternity.
So, what are we doing? We are doing what we have done for thousands of years. We are living our lives, loving our friends and family, and trying to make a positive contribution to our community and our nation, while waiting for the Messiah to bring true peace to the world and we're praying that day come soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It Depends on WHO You Talk To

In the past two days film crews have been all over my hometown asking trying to dig up a story connected to the United Nations vote on Friday to include a "State of Palestine" among its member nations.
Yesterday a very well mannered and curious Japanese reporter asked my feelings about living in my hometown of Efrat, why I left America to live in Israel, what my connection is to my home here, and how I feel about the vote on Friday.
I enjoyed our talk. We were back and forth for over an hour about the history of the Jewish people, especially in my area where our Patriarchs walked, where our Matriarch Rachel is buried, where King David shepherded his sheep, where Ruth gleaned in the fields of Boaz, and the Maccabees fought their battles. I told him that I felt a part of eternity living in this historic region.
We talked about Jews coming from America, South Africa, France, England, India and more to join their Israeli brethren here in the hills of Gush Etzion.
The reporter asked if I thought the vote on Friday would bring co-existence. And I told him that we had co-existence long ago - when we shared the same services as the Arab population here, when we shopped in the same supermarket and visited the same hospitals and enjoyed the same zoo, museum, and mall. We knew co-existence long ago when Arabs built our homes, worked in our gardens, used our emergency medical services and traded grapes for clothing.
But then I spoke to a Reuters film crew today, "What do you, as a settler, think of Mahmoud Abbas' call for a Palestinian State?" The reporter was curt and not too pleasant. He probably just wanted to get back to the studio and edit his film. Atypical for me, I also answered in a curt, not too pleasant manner.
His question intimated that the Arabs all wanted a Palestinian State and since I'm a settler, I must be anti. Well, maybe there are Arabs who are anti.
It depends on who you talk to.
I visited a family member in the hospital in Jerusalem and the man in the bed next to my relative was an Arab from Ramallah. He requested to be sent to the hospital in Jerusalem instead of being treated in the very competent hospital in Ramallah.
The supermarkets in Jerusalem and even Gush Etzion are filled with Arabs shopping along side Jewish shoppers. They surely have their own markets in their neighborhoods, but prefer outside shopping.
The Jerusalem Post,, reported, "In the case of a final peace agreement that established a Palestinian state, more Arab residents of east Jerusalem would prefer to be Israeli than Palestinian, according to a study released Wednesday by Pechter Middle East Polls."
Newspapers throughout the United States criticized the PA's leader for an untimely move that would actually hurt his people. Israel National News reported on those articles: .
So, yes, the news is filled with Arabs who are screaming and marching and calling for a Palestinian State, but there are also those who want to remain part of Israel. Like the Arabs who protested in Iran, calling for a better life, their voices may never be heard.
What do I think of Mahmoud Abbas' call for a Palestinian State? Really, what do Arabs think about it? It depends who you talk to.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What a Good-Bye to America!

Where is the good in goodbye? ~Meredith Willson, The Music Man
I cried my eyes out as I said good-bye to my dearest mother (may she live and be well until 120) and took a last look at my old home in America.
While sitting at the airport before our departure, I had the interesting opportunity to watch the news. You know, Israelis believe that Israel is the only thing discussed in the world news. Well, surprise, it was almost not discussed at all.
Here are my notes from my hours of airport waiting. It was an interesting farewell for this trip.

Now I have to begin by saying that I truly believe that after Israel, America is the most moral nation in the world. After the Jewish people, Americans have the highest standards of love of family, community, country. That's why it usually feels so comfortable in America.
Still where Torah values are lacking, society collapses.
So these are the four news items reported one after the other as we were sitting in the airport.
** Step mom admits to murdering her 10 year old step daughter.
** Remains found of mother of two - presumably the husband killed her. He told everyone that he saw her walk away from their campsite on a family trip, and she simply vanished. Now dogs have found her bones right near that same campsite.
** Grandparents of Caylee Anthony sadly believe their own daughter, Caylee's mother, killed her - but each think it happened in a different way. The grandfather thinks the mother drugged the little girl so that she'd fall into a deep sleep in order to allow the mother to go out and party, and he thinks she overdosed the child.
** A husband called police to report that his reality TV star wife was kidnapped. Well, police found her. She was at a bar with a former lover. She said, "I didn't tell my husband where I was because I didn't want him to know." D-uh.
I had two thoughts after these four news items were replayed for the tenth time.
# 1 - How lucky for Americans that they have nothing more important to worry about.
# 2 - How tragic for Americans that they can create amazing projects, imagine great ideas, produce unforgettable spectacles, build mammoth businesses, make dreams reality, and this is what they're spending their time on.
Well, thank you America for that fond farewell. B'H, you sent me off in the perfect way to my blessed land, my dear home, and hopefully a more moral loving and family-based society.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Once More Around the Park

I'm packing my bags to leave my childhood home and return to my adult home.

Getting ready once again to leave the home of my youth never gets easier, especially as our beloved parents get older. It's really true that every pillow in their home, every painting on the wall and every familiar stack of papers, exactly where you stacked papers 30 years ago is precious. Really.
But the thing that started my tears flowing this morning was my park.
I woke up this morning figuring Once More Around the Park. But the second I saw the seal and its familiar spray of water, I started my own water fountain. Here in this park I played tennis as a kid, I hung out as a teenager while the boys played basketball, and I brought my own children to the playground to run the maze, climb the fortress and swing endlessly.
I can't count how many little league games I watched here and how many days I just sat by the bay and watched the planes fly by.
I'll miss this park. Not because of the great expanses of emerald green grass or the cute golf carts or water park recreation area. But I'll miss it for all it represents - the smiles and tears of my childhood, the endless energy and constant state of teenage exhilaration, and the memories of my own children - so magnificent, so happy, so sweet, so colorful, so innocent - climbing trees and jungle gyms and running after the Canadian geese. I miss my young husband and his camera- climbing high to get the right shot. I miss my little nephews who were always there with a baseball glove and ball. I miss my babies and my youth. I miss my friends and their laughter and hugs. But most of all as I look at this park with decades of eyes, I miss my mother, may she Live and be well until 120. My mother who never missed a family moment in the park, at the pond with the ducks or any moment. My mother who sat on the bench with eight jackets piled in her arms just in case someone might get cold. I miss my mother - young and beautiful and always there.
Well she's still beautiful and still ready to go go go, B'H, but she (and my dear siblings and I) has earned her wrinkles, and I'm getting a little (very) emotional.
May Hashem put His shield of Abraham around my mother and my loved ones always.
I'd better finish my walk or they'll send the posse our after me.
So they say you can't go home again. You can, but make sure you bring a lot of tissues.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You Can't Go Home Again?

Hi, friends. I hope you are all well. I've been on vacation with my family for the past two weeks, and there hasn't been a moment to write. Well, I'm trying to steal a moment right now.
They say, "You can't go home again." Why do they say that? They probably mean, "When you go back, things are not the same. So you can't return to the home you remember."
But, you know what? Here I am in th

e home in which I was raised, and everything is more or less the same. Some neighbors that I remember are still here, and then there are some new ones.
The house is exactly as it was, but our wooden rocking bench on the front porch is missing. Where's my rocker? We used to sit out on that rocker on Shabbat afternoon - talking and laughing. But wooden rockers don't last decades, so I guess it's time came and went.
The interior of my childhood home is more or less the same as well - packed with new stuff and old stuff - stuffed with stuff.
But mostly it has that aura of "everything is going to be okay" about it. That was very
comforting to a nine year old and it's very comforting to a ***cough cough *** year old as well.
The apartment house that was my first home was in a really bad neighborhood. We pulled up to the front of the building and I opened the window to take photos. A woman on the porch called out to me, "Whatchu doin'?" I said, "I lived here ***cough cough*** years ago. She was flabbergasted, and she told the old woman that I lived there many decades ago. They were very impressed. My very brave sister jumped out of the car and said, "May we look at the lobby." The woman proceeded to unlock the fortress that was once my early childhood play space.Back to the Older and Oldest Homes
Yesterday we conquered Manhattan on foot - walking on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Avenues (including Broadway). I visited my old offices and showed my daughter the excitement and energy of New York City. My terrific tour guide was my brother-in-law.
Today, my brother-in-law had another idea - leave Manhattan and travel back to Brooklyn, the old neighborhood - to show my daughter where I was born and the homes I lived in from ages 0-3, 4-8.
I was about to snap a photo when a resident said, "I don't get no photos shot of me." Ooops, sorry.
We went inside and photographed our once beautiful lobby (now furnitureless, but still clean). We snapped the elevators and the super's apartment and the porch. As we left the women sitting outside, one of the women said, "I bet you live in a house now." I replied, "I don't even live in this country." They all said, "ooooooooh."
We waved good-bye and speeded away to Home #2. When we moved, as I turned eight, our neighborhood was turning very bad. Today it has been regentrified and is just lovely.
We pulled up to the brownstone that was my home so long ago, and I was overcome with excitement. I knew the house, and I recognized my neighbor's homes too. There was my alleyway where we played ring-a-leave-i-o until late at night.
My sister again led the way right up the steps. She rang the bell and then explained to the lady-of-the-house who we were. Incredulously she opened the door and we just barged in saying, "This was the living room. We had guppies here in the corner." "There was a TV here in the dining room." "My brother left the water on and flooded this room."
My home was straight out of Leave It to Beaver. This home was straight from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens. The family had pulled up the carpeting and retreated the magnificent parquet floors. Gorgeous photos hung on every wall.
The kitchen was renovated and our mud room was gone.
My sister and I were transformed into girls again, running from room to room, remembering the days when my mother made french fries and dabbed the oil off with a paper bag, and when my father, o'h, would put a flashlight in the middle of the living room, make paper hats for us and sing Indian songs.
Who says, "You can't go home again?" I did, and it was better than I ever would have dreamed!!