Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Someone Else's Shoes

Too many years ago to count, I was a young working mother. I had the sweetest infant son at home, while I was racing around the entertainment industry, working as Eastern Editor of the Hollywood Reporter at 1501 Broadway in New York City. Whenever I came home at a normal time, I'd speak to my friends and compare notes.
"What did you do today?" I asked.
"Abby and I walked the babies in their strollers up the avenue. Then we went for pizza."
I was so jealous. My two best friends had spent the whole afternoon together with their babies.
"Oooh. I wish I could have been there."
"What did you do?"
"Typical day. I had lunch with one of my columnists, and we shmoozed for a while in Sardi's with Mary Tyler Moore."
"Oooh. I wish I could have been there."
I have spent a good part of my working mother life, doing incredibly exciting things, meeting fascinating or important people, and traveling to fascinating places. I have loved every minute of it. But I also missed being a traditional mother. I don't even think I'd know how to do that.
When I want to impress my granddaughters with my domesticity, I open a cookie mix, and let them put chocolate chips on top of the dough. We watch the cookies rise in the oven, and they think I'm a genius. (Well, that was the point, wasn't it?)
If they get time to spend with their other grandmother, they probably know that I am a bit different. But meanwhile they've never complained. 
Thank G-d, my kids and now my grandchildren have never said, "Why can't you be like David's mother?" They have never flinched when I answered a "Mother, can you do this for me today?" question with, "Sorry, dear, but I'm filming a movie."
But I do feel sad that I can't be more like Donna Reed or Mrs. Cleaver or even Mrs. Doubtfire, or whoever the 2014 equivalent is.
So, when a new blog came out, by Magi Sumers, called "Grandma's Girls",, I both hated and loved Magi.She's the perfect grandmotherly grandmother that I have always wanted to be. She makes pom poms with her kids on a snowy day. I went out and filmed a music video.
But you know what? She's a fabulous girl!!! She's an arts and crafts queen. She's a domestic imaginator. She has given me dozens of ideas to do with my children and grandchildren. 
I don't have to come up with ideas that will make my grandchildren think I'm a genius grandmother. I can copy Magi, and that's okay. Because if she didn't want us to copy her ideas, I do not think she would have started a blog about them.
So, I'm excited to keep making my movies, performing on stage, interviewing famous folks, and traveling on new adventures, IY"H. And I'm super excited that I can also do terrific grandmotherly things with my family, thanks to Magi Summers. Magi, whenever I can, I'm going to step into your shoes. I wear a size 8. How 'bout you?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

As Long as It Slides

Everyone knows Israel’s in the midst of a SnowZilla right now. There have been enough posts and photos to flood the internet, greater than the flood that will result, G-d forbid, when the massive white mounds melt.
There’s been a lot of bad in the snowblitz – the worst being 30,000 freezing families. (May that never happen again.) There’s also been a lot of good – kind deeds and brotherly cooperation (that’s for another blog).
Besides the life lessons and the logistic lessons of the largest snowfall in 120 years, thank goodness, we've broken through the shock of the storm with some fun, F-U-N. I bet you didn't know Israelis could get their  minds off the Iranian Crisis, the Palestinian Crisis, the Bedouin Crisis, the Economic Crisis, the Boycott-Israel Crisis and who knows whatever crisis to actually have fun for a change. Well, many of our kids may never have seen so much snow, but they were fast learners in the snow-fun department - traditional snowman building, snowball fights, and a chavaya (incomparable experience) of enjoying the immense white wonderland.
Down We Go
Across the street from my house is a fantastic hill – a perfect 45 degree angled rise – begging for skiers and sledders to take advantage of its slope. Yesterday I noticed two boys riding (or really, sliding) bikes down the hill. That was a first for me.
In my mind, that rates just about as high as watching folks "shovel" away three feet of snow with kitchen brooms. (I even offered a kid a real shovel, and he said, "No, thank you." Swish swish swish.)
I watched outside a little longer, waiting for the sledders, but not one traditional sled made its mark on the hill.
What has happened to the little wooden sled? Not necessarily Citizen Kane’s “Rosebud”, just a real sled. We had one in America. If we’d have brought it here, it would have sat for 21 years waiting for this moment. Maybe that would have been a waste. But I guess no one else brought their sled either.
Rachel Meir's rare real sled.

Except for one family that was using its uncle's childhood sled from England, the little wooden sled was mainly missing, but the sledding went on.

Esther Margolis vintage photo
Sleds from high chairs.

Ari Fuld does an "Obama selfie" while on his saucer.
Sleds from saucers.

Sleds from oven pans.
April Selditch, "Yonatan Abrams swapped his luxuriously comfortable beach-boogie-board-garbage-bag sled for his friends roasting pan which does 360's at light speed."

April Selditch, "Maayan Abrams  (5yrs) of Efrat in Park Asor sledding on her boogie board/garbage bag combo."

Sleds from boogie boards and garbage bags.
Tamar Rund and her kids hit the slopes with agricultural plastic in Pnei Kedem.
Sleds from agricultural plastic!

Judy Rosenstark's kids on today's version of a sled.

Sledlike knock-offs.

Rachel Meir snaps a sledless sledder.

Sledless sleds.

(Plastic sheet sledding in Pnei Kedem, courtesy of Tamar Rund)

Menachem Begin might have wanted to “conquer the mountain or die”. Not today, baby! Folks all over Israel’s snowy hilltops are conquering the mountain and living it up on whatever slides. SHWOOSH! And that’s okay too.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The ONENESS of Israel

Israel is a place of ONE. 
We've got One G-d. One Torah. One Land. One People.
One, that's how we like it.
So, we're thrilled on those years that we get ONE day of snow.
It's enough for us. We go outside and make our snowfolks. We have a snowball fight. We take enough photos to fill facebook and overload all our email carriers.
One day of snow.

The kids are so happy, they talk about it for a whole year until we're possibly lucky enough to get another day a year later - even a few flurries are appreciated.

But this year, Mother Nature over did it. Mothers usually know what their children want and need. And Mom, we didn't need this:

"From Wednesday night through Saturday afternoon, approximately 80 centimeters of snow fell in Efrat, 50 centimeters in Safed and 60 centimeters in Har Bracha, near Nablus in the Samarian mountains, an Israel Meteorological Service weather forecaster told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night.
Areas in Jerusalem ended up receiving between 40 and 50 centimeters of snow, despite predictions that the capital would get up to 1 meter." (Jerusalem Post)

Okay, we had a lot of snow on Thursday. Fun, fun, fun. See our snowmen. See our snowball fight.
But then when it snowed again on Friday and Shabbat, that was too much!!

Besides the fact that there was no transportation, and folks were stuck wherever they are, the electricity went out in 35,000 homes (1.4% of the country). Three of those homes belonged to my own children, who were freezing INSIDE their homes with their babies bundled up as much as possible.

I don't blame Israel Electric Corporation, and I know they were working around the clock to restore power. I don't even mind (now) the two six hour black-outs we had, but I can't stop thinking about all the children and senior citizens and ill and well, everyone, freezing in their homes, apartments or caravans.

Mother Nature, we thank you for wanting to give our children a little bit of excitement. I thank you for the beauty of the wadis and hills blanketed in white. I thank you for the opportunity to see the smiles on my granchildren as they made snow angels. I thank you for the walk I took with my friends in the stillness of the white night.

But for future reference, here in Israel, let's keep with the theme - ONE. Only ONE day of snow per year fits in just fine. That's the way we like it.
(My thanks to all the emergency workers and government/ electricity/ hospital/ security folks who tried to keep us all safe over these days. May you be blessed.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Efrat and Chanukah

My hometown of Efrat is especially connected to Chanukah. We’re like this! (Okay, I know you can’t see my fingers, but they’re as close together as they can be!)
Yes, I know all of Israel loves Chanukah. I know we are all proud of the bravery and faith of the Chashmonaim. We all tell their stories to our children, and marvel at their victories. Everyone in the world knows the miracle of the little jar of oil.
But Efrat puts its “money where its mouth is” where Chanukah and the Holy Temple are concerned.
Our Zayit hill is packed with references to both Chanukah and the Temple. I know that many folks head to Modiin to uncover our connection to the Chanukah story, but I invite you to join me in a walk around Efrat.
In Efrat, Rechov Matityahu HaCohen honors the father and founder of the revolt against the Syrian-Greeks.
Rechov Yehuda HaMaccabee and Rechov Yonatan HaChashmonai recall two of Matityahu’s five sons who led the Jewish people in overthrowing the occupying forces of the Syrian-Greeks. (Who were the other three? Yochanan, Shimon and Elazar.) The Chashmonaim dynasty ultimately lasted for 100 years. (It ended when the megalomaniac king Herod “killed every member of the house of the Chashmonaim in order to claim the throne of Judea for himself.”)
Rechov Menorah commemorates the menorah that stood in the Holy Temple – first the golden menorah, then the simple menorah of the Chashmonaim, and one day, IY”H, the magnificent menorah of the Third Temple.
Rechov Zeit Shemen reminds us of the oil that was used daily in the Menorah. (And also the little jar of pure oil that Yehuda HaMaccabbee found in the Temple.)
And Rechov Nataf and Rechov Tziporen stand for two of the spices used in the Temple’s holy of holies. In Efrat today, as in Jewish history, Nataf and Tziporen are attached Rechov Ketoret, the incense offered twice a day on the Temple’s Golden Altar. The incense with its eleven very-varied spice ingredients parallels the unity of the Jewish people in serving G-d. We hope Efrat is a place that promotes that unity.

From different points on Efrat’s Zayit hill, we can see the site of the Holy Temple. One day soon, IY"H, we pray we will be able to stand on our hilltops and see the Temple itself and the light emanating from its golden Menorah. Until then, our longing for it continues to grow as we drive upon our streets, and raise our children in the legacy of Yehuda HaMaccabee, Matitiyahu HaCohen and our Holy Temple.