For Vicki & Diane

Subtlety was never my strong suit.

Today my husband and I and our older daughter and her youngest daughter got up early in the morning (especially early for our daughter who only last night returned from BlogHer in Chicago) and drove to Ben Gurion Airport. A phenomenal thing happened there.

We were waiting for a planeload (yes, a whole plane full!) of new American immigrants to Israel. The old terminal at the airport was filled with friends, relatives, dignitaries, and anyone who wanted to greet our new family members who were finally coming home.

While we waited, a bus came toward us and on it were a group of Ethiopians who were also coming home. We sang to them “Heiveinu Shalom Aleichem” and with tears in our eyes waved our blue and white flags. And then the buses of American “Olim” started to arrive. We couldn’t suppress our tears of joy. We stood there holding aloft a banner with the names of the people we were waiting for on it. All around us there was music and singing and dancing and people of every age, size, shape, attire, and color were enjoying this moment together.

When finally we made contact with our new olim, it was really a feeling of family being reunited even though they were not members of our family. But at ceremonies like this, sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh, we come together and for a short time are everything we are supposed to be- warm, welcoming, and happy to see our family come home.

All you want, whenever you want it

I’ve been thinking about the fact that the internet has really changed our lives, mostly for the better. Now when my husband I I remember something differently, we don’t have to hash over who remembers better, we just look it up on the web. When we need a piece of information, we can look it up instantaneously. When our daughter was leaving for Blogher, we were able to see what the hotel she is staying at looks like. We can connect with our kids when we or they are far away and stay in touch with old friends, complete with pictures.

But let it go down for even a half hour and suddenly we are cut off from the world. Suddenly it is as if we are now living on a desert island. When we get to a remote location and the wireless is unreliable, we are disappointed. Between the internet and our cellphones not only may we be connected all the time, but we want to be connected all the time!

And the connections now are not only with our family and friends- they are with our news sources and information sources and that new category of friends, our blog friends. Suddenly we not only know a whole lot about lots of people who live really far away from us, but we go through their happy times and sad times, their anger and frustrations, their failures and their triumphs with them. Not only that, we can see and be part of a community of support. Suddenly we are seeing the same people again and again giving support to others, writing kind messages, sharing difficult times. And we are not limited by time or space.

A long time ago, when I was a little girl, I tried to understand how it could possibly be that G-d could hear everyone’s prayers. I knew there were a lot of people in the world and when I listen, I usually can hear, or at least pay attention to only one person at a time. Now I am beginning to understand that a type of communication is possible that knows no bounds– not time, not space. And it is possible to feel the love that has traveled through cyberspace and arrived just as powerful as it was when it was sent.

And maybe in this way, we act as messengers, increasing the good in the universe by giving unconditional support and love to people we have met only through their words.

In the past year or two I have become acquainted with a number of women who write very well. They are clever, humorous, poetic, and deep. It is a privilege to be part of their community.

(Oh, and we still have some spaces left on the August 20th trip to Beijing.)

It could save your life

I have been asked to post this. It’s something every woman should know. Take care of yourself. Your life belongs not just to you, but to every person who loves you.

Sisters

When my sister and I were young, there was a song that Rosemary and Betty Clooney used to sing called “Sisters.” We learned it in honor of our grandparents’ 35th wedding anniversary where we sang it wearing lavender organdy dresses that were custom made for us. I was 10, she was 5. I am pretty sure that we were adorable. I know for a fact that people really enjoyed our little act because for years afterwards we were asked to perform it and by the time I got to about 13 it was downright embarrassing.

But the truth is that there is a very special link between sisters that is almost indescribable. Which is why my sister, though far away, is always with me and why she, on her first web site did a sister page with pictures of sisters in our family. The very nice thing is that with the exception of our youngest granddaughter, all of our granddaughters have sisters. And this newest little girl has two little girl cousins living half a block away who she likely will see very often.

What is it about sisters that is so special? Well, we grow up together. We learn to have the same frame of reference. We often have the same sense of humor, but we certainly have lots of associations in common. We are reminded of the same experiences. The cast of characters in our lives is the same. We remember how Aunt Gladys* took a drawer pull from the spare bedroom in our parents’ house and Uncle Tom liked to eat his soup after the meal. We remember Aunt Lucy who didn’t want to kiss her husband at their wedding because it wasn’t hygienic and Cousin Myron who went off to become a cult leader. And we giggle and we smile. We enjoy sitting in cafes and playing “fashion cop” and after a few years with people dressing well here, I am happy to report that we are back in business as exposed navels and tattoos have begun to proliferate. But we also like to share thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams.

Which is not to say that brothers don’t have a similar experience. However, the male need for close intimate bonds is different no matter what the books may say.

And so now, when my sister is visiting, I have the pleasure not only of sharing time with her, but of enjoying my two daughters’ relationship with each other and the growing bonds of the daughters of all of my children.

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty

Comments & Life in Israel

First of all, I have once again changed the settings on my blog so that real people can write their comments on my postings. For several months it seems the only comments getting through had to do with medications. The spammers know all of the tricks! Anyway, if you would like to comment from now on, it is possible. Comments on past postings are also welcome and I will respond, if it seems appropriate.

And now to life in Israel.

Today I saw some friends and one told me about this incident that he witnessed…

He was in an area of Jerusalem that has recently become home to a large number of ultra-Orthodox people. He was standing near a bus stop where there was a young woman “more unclad than clad” waiting for a bus. As the ultra-Orthodox men walked by, they averted their eyes and said nothing. One of the ultra-Orthodox men walked by and looked in her direction and kept walking. A few minutes later, he returned with an apple and offered it to her. She was perplexed. She said, “For me?” He said, “Yes.” She still looked puzzled. He said, “Eve also didn’t know she was naked until she ate the apple.”

8 things about me

I was tagged by triLcat but the problem is that I am only a lurker on others’ blogs. So, if any people actually read this blog, you can consider yourself tagged and leave me a comment and I will point people to you in my next posting.

“Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.”

1. I, like my daughters, love art supplies- pens with different points and colors of ink, really fine papers, paints and pastels. I like knitting, crocheting, making afghans, and embroidering and although I have no real talent, I do have patience and perseverance.
2. I love music. Even more than I wish I had artistic talent, I wish I had musical talent. Instead, I enjoy it by listening.
3. I have become totally intoxicated with China. I love the people, the art, the music, the architecture. I love visiting there and I am as excited about going on my next trip as I have been about all of the previous ones. Okay, more excited.
4. I need quiet time every day and if I don’t get it, I stay up in the night when everyone else is sleeping.
5. I never expected getting older (NOT growing old!!!) would have so many benefits and feel so good.
6. I never expected life to have so many wonderful surprises. When I married and my husband said he wanted to retire to Israel, I didn’t ever dream that we would have a home with a lemon tree and a pomegranate tree and an olive tree and a Clementine tree and grapevine. I never believed I would be living in paradise!
7. When I was raising my children, it never entered my mind that they would grow up, marry, and have children of their own. They and their spouses and children are the best people I know. When they visit, they fill our house with happiness.
8. I am living my mother’s dream. She seemed to want her daughters to grow up, marry nice men who would be friendly and kind to her, and she wanted us to live within walking distance so that we would be able to have lunch together or visit back and forth at will. I never even allowed myself that fantasy and yet that is exactly what happened!

1000 words

Xmas in July

We get US TV programs late in Israel. Not all of them. However, when it is a series that is broadcast here in the daytime, chances are that people in the US saw it quite a while ago. And that is why today while I was sweating on the stationery bike at the local health club, I saw Dr. Phil’s Xmas show (part 2 of 3) from 2005. Yes, you got that right. We had Xmas on the 8th of July in Modi’in.

Everything from here on in, as you may have guessed, is old news. For you. For me, it was quite a revelation.

On this show, they were distributing toys and other play equipment to children who had been involved in Hurricane Katrina. Since I arrived in the middle of the show, I saw only the following: Dr. Phil and Robin distributing to the children ALL of the toys on the gift list that each child drew up for him/herself; an announcement that all of the children would be going to Disneyland; and their opening a gate behind which were a myriad of additional toys (including a laptop computer, electric cars, bicycles, etc.) that every child would get.

I saw the children grow more and more excited. I saw the parents with tears in their eyes. I stared incredulously.

I think I am no longer part of American culture. I found the over-the-top commercialism of it all sickening. I saw people in ecstacy over material goods. I saw people blessing Dr. Phil for being a true humanitarian. I couldn’t believe it.

What were they doing for these children? Were they replacing a loved toy lost in the flooding? a favorite book? or were they drowning out the child’s feelings of loss and sadness by overlaying a material goods ecstasy? Were they saying to these children, “here, now you can’t feel loss and pain any more because you now can fill yourself with all of these things.” Is the way to happiness and fulfillment through thousands of dollars of gadgets and toys? What about Dr. Phil’s advice to parents of children in crisis situations he gave on the very same show, “Keep a child’s world consistent; have consistent rules, expectations, bedtimes…” Is that what this was? Was there any sense of proportion to all of it?

And what did this show teach America?

It’s interesting to me. Israel has become more and more westernized during the time I have been here. To some extent its values have changed, but here, when faced with very similar circumstances (last summer’s Lebanon war when citizens of the north had to flee their homes for safety) the benefactor who took on the job of caring for the families provided air conditioned tents and showers, wholesome food, laundry services, entertainment and movies, classes and activities for adults and children. In addition, the refugees also received health services and psychological counseling.

And that seemed right.

It makes me wonder. Did people in the US seeing that show have the same reaction that I did? Or am I living in a culture that is really very different?

All the best

Yesterday, my younger daughter told me that it was a bit disappointing that she was the last of my children to give birth– that her baby wasn’t the one to make me a grandmother. I heard the words, but I am so removed from those feelings that I found them surprising.

I had just been privileged to be with her and her husband at the most miraculous event. I had watched their little miracle come into the world. How could I feel anything but incredibly blessed!

I remember thinking that if someone ever asked me which of my children I loved the most, I would have to answer, “I love them all the most.” And it is true. We are created with hearts that when open, can continue being filled with love and awe and admiration and joy without any bounds. Just when we think we cannot be any happier or more blessed, we find out that we are able to experience yet a greater level of joy.

But together with the joy comes a sense of gratitude to the Creator for bestowing such blessings and a hope to be worthy of them.

And here is our latest blessing: