The threes

The other night when I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep, I began to think about how old I am and how impossible it was for me to believe that I am not still in my thirties. And then I did a little exercise with myself that I found interesting. I imagined myself and my situation at every age that ended in 3.

3– At three years old I lived in Philadelphia with my parents. We lived in an apartment over a store space where my father fashioned items out of plastic. He made plexiglass forms that he painted and mounted on wooden platforms and wired as lamps. In a little over a year, he would be convinced that there was no future in plastics and to join my mother’s family in the floor covering business.

13– This was the year of my bat mitzvah. How happy I was! I had waited a long time and finally it was here. My parents and grandparents were excited too. I remember standing on the pulpit wearing a white robe over the totally inappropraite dress my mother had gotten me and little satin kippah with a tassel that my grandfather had made for me and taking part in the service. I remember when everyone turned around with the last verse of L’cha Dodi, my parents who were sitting in the front row and hadn’t been to shul much, didn’t know to turn around. I never mentioned it to them.

23– By now I was married and had a sweet little boy. In the just over two years my husband and I were married at that point, we had moved three times. I was now living in Somerset New Jersey on Sweetbriar Lane. The address itself seemed idyllic. The congregation he served there was not. Just before Rosh HaShana, I found out that I was pregnant and we called our parents to wish them a happy new year and to tell them that we had a wonderful surprise in store.

33 — We were now living in Germany and there were five children, the youngest born there, now 5 months old and just getting over her colic. We had done some traveling in the country, some volksmarches, and generally enjoyed living there. We had just returned from a month-long visit to Israel!

43– After living in Georgia, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma, we finally moved about an hour and a half from Philadelphia. By then, my father had already passed away and he was not able to enjoy our proximity. Our oldest son was in the Israel Army and our older daughter was also in Israel. A son who was studying in the US was away at Yeshiva in Israel for the year, another son was studying in New York and we had only our youngest at home with us. I was studying at the University of Pennsylvania for a doctorate in social work even though I had been trained, licensed, credentialed, and working as a marriage and family therapist. It felt like I was squandering the family fortune on tuition. Well, actually, I was.

53– I had moved to Israel 3 years earlier and I had moved into our current home, the 18th since we got married, about three months earlier. What a joy it was to be in Israel, close to all of my children and grandchildren (there were 9 by then) and waiting with great anticipation for the day when my husband would join me.

63 — Now there are 29 grandchildren, my home is just about the way I want it to be (OK, we could use cleaning help), and I get a special thrill out of tour guiding to China and Vietnam/Cambodia! Who knew how many turns my life would take, how much would happen over the years. Stay tuned for more updates!

This week

It’s been a busy, but good week this week. On Sunday, the people who had been renting our second apartment moved out and I went upstairs to find it almost perfectly clean! So, instead of the hours of cleaning I anticipated, I did some laundry and washed the bathrooms and counters, and the apartment was ready for its new inhabitants.

My sister arrived early Monday morning. It was really good to see her and so far, it’s been a very nice visit.

Our new olim arrrived yesterday- mother, father, and 5 children. Wow! It’s got to be really hard to make aliya with 5 kids of school age. The whole family seems very excited and happy and we, of course, wish them an easy klita (adjustment to Israel).

At lunch yesterday, I had the wonderful experience of being slimed by my youngest grandson (heretofore to be known as “Cookie”). He had spouted onto my left shoulder earlier in the meal, but when I switched him to my right shoulder, he became a veritable fountain soaking my shoulder, arm, skirt, and the floor. It’s the first time I’ve had a real milk bath. However, Cookie is as lovable as they get and all of us just laughed and laughed and he smiled as we continued giving him smiles and kisses.

Today my sister and I took my husband’s computer monitor (Dell, purchased in November from Notebook Club in Kiryat Matalon, Petach Tikva, who refused to assist us in having it fixed/replaced despite our having taken it into Tel Aviv and having it “fixed” — only to conk out again a week later) back to Tel Aviv for repair/replacement. We were told they would replace it with a new one. We just want one that WORKS!!!

We then walked through Shenkin Street, through the Carmel Market, through Neve Tzedek, over to the walk by the sea, and then headed back to Azrieli Center, finally hailing a taxi at the corner of Melech George and Dizengoff. It was a long long walk. I think she had fun. I know I did.

Notes I could have written today

1. Dear Hadassah,
You certainly have a lovely hospital out there on Mount Scopus, but would it hurt you to make it accessible to people with disabilities and mothers with strollers? It seems a bit unfair that the only way to avoid flights of stairs from the parking lot to the hospital is to use the very narrow sidewalk that contains one of those revolving gates into which one has to put a stroller between an adult who can push it through the bars and an adult who can pull it through on the other end.

2. And while I’m writing to you, Hadassah, may I add that the program devised for helping little children overcome fears about surgery is wonderful. It was delightful to hear the story of how an operation is carried out and to see the masks and monitoring equipment and to see the children play with modeling clay and eat breakfast together and to have a clown visit, but I am guessing that the 5.5 hours we spent there were pretty much lost on Ephraim who is 5 months old and is made to feel safe and content by drinking milk.

3. Dear Notebook Club,
Remember that computer we bought from you in November with the 22 inch monitor? Remember we were supposed to get in-home service for 3 years on the computer? Remember how suddenly when our monitor stopped working you told us you had nothing to do with it and to take it to the Dell place located in the bowels of Tel Aviv? I’ll bet you want to know what came next. Well, a week later, we picked up what they told us was a new monitor. However, it was unwrapped and had a sign on it that said, “Ready.” We brought it home. It worked for almost a week. I hope you have a creative solution for us that involves delivering a new monitor to our door or we will be looking for every opportunity to tell the world about your great service.

4. Dear President Obama,
I sure feel a lot safer today now that those outposts that were preventing peace have been dismantled. It’s amazing what destroying just a few homes can do. Wow. Peace is on its way.

5. Dear G-d,
It’s been kind of a rough time around here what with health issues and other complications. Could you not have picked a better time for the reappearance of my husband’s gout?

6. Dear World,

Would you please remember to pray for the safe recovery of my grandson, Ephraim Yehoshua ben Leah Gavriella?

Mazal tov, Matan!

It’s hard to believe, but we are in the full swing of Bar/Bat Mitzvah season… I expect it to last for many years even as wedding season will begin to overlap.

By now there are 3 Bat Mitzvah girls and 2 Bar Mitzvah boys and today, the third put on his tfillin for the first time. All of us went out to celebrate together. OK, not ALL of us, but all of my children and some of the grandchildren.

It says so much about the future- not just the future of our family, but the future of the Jewish people, as I see these young people take their place as contributing members of the community with dedication. Their bright beautiful faces give me hope.

Read what my daughter Rachel said about this special day in her son’s life. here

Okey Dokey

I had the good fortune to have known all of my grandparents. Each one of them occupies a special place in my heart. Just thinking of each of them opens a medley of images. I remember things they used to say to me. Those phrases told me what they thought of the world, how they saw life, what their aspirations were.

Being a grandmother myself, sometimes I wonder what it is that my grandchildren will remember of me. Because of my intense curiosity about my grandparents, I have been writing an autobiography for those of my grandchildren, if any, who might want to know something about my life. However, I am fairly certain that most of them will never look at it and so they will be left only with the memories we make together.

A while back we were with one of our granddaughters and she started laughing after I said something. I asked her what she was laughing about and she said, “You always say ‘okey dokey.’” Within the next week or two I heard a grandson from another family saying, “Like you say, Savta—okey dokey.” For a few months after that we heard echoes of “Savta says ‘okey dokey.’”

Well, it’s true. I do say “okey dokey.” To me, it means that things are not just OK, but really OK—fine, fun, happy. If that’s what they remember about me, well, that’s okey dokey!


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I will be writing on a variety of topics that are related to family life, child rearing, interpersonal relationships, and spirituality. I will be sharing experiences I have had that influence my feelings on these subjects and will be sharing the expertise I have acquired through my education and training.