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Sep 11 2014

The Hardest Part About Sending My Daughter to First Grade in Israel

By at 12:02 pm

First-grade

I’m holding a number 2 pencil and there’s a university issue blue book in front of me. A bland-faced test proctor places a sheet of paper, face down, on my desk.

“Don’t turn it over until the bell,” he says.

It’s my final exam, and the questions on it, and how I answer them, will determine my future.  Read the rest of this entry →

May 27 2014

I’ll Need to Learn Some Hebrew Quick To Keep Up With My Daughter

By at 2:24 pm

dictionary2

“MAAAHHHHHMMMY! HOW DO YOU SAY TRAIN IN HEBREW?!”

“Um, I’m not sure. We can ask Daddy when he gets home.”

“WHAT ABOUT SOAP? BUBBLES? PRINCESS? BABY DOLL? BROCCOLI? HOW DO YOU SAY THOSE IN HEBREW!?!” Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 29 2014

Watch the Entire “Frozen” Soundtrack in Hebrew

By at 3:22 pm

frozen1

Because “Let it Go” actually sounds better in Hebrew. But don’t blame us if your kids bombard you with Israeli Queen Elsa serenades.

Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 25 2014

I Find Myself Defending Teachers at the Hair Salon (and Everywhere Else!)

By at 3:58 pm

hair-salon

The next time someone asks me what I do for a living, I plan to say that I’m a dental hygienist. Maybe a carpet salesman. A baker? Hmm… that’s an idea. Who doesn’t love cookies? It’s too bad that I’m a terrible liar.

I was mid-haircut the last time the question was posed to me. “I’m a guidance counselor,” I said, with a smile. I glanced around the salon and waited for the inevitable commentary to come. That train is never late.

“Well, you scored an easy gig!”

“Teachers have such nice hours. It’s like working part-time!”

“You have your own office, right?” Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 10 2013

Surviving Divorce, from Aleph to Tav

By at 4:25 pm

hebrew letters tiles

While browsing through old college journals, I recently caught a glimpse of a younger, happier, more confident woman. The bubbly writing belonged to an idealist who hitchhiked around the Middle East, worked at archaeological sites, and attended graduate school overseas.

Today, our children are my greatest joy, but the past few years of struggling with my husband and the divorce process are taking a heavy toll. I do not want my self-esteem to be contingent on my past accomplishments, nor do I want my happiest memories to be of previous decades.

I am proud of myself for getting out of an unhealthy relationship. Nowadays I am plunging the toilet myself, installing batteries and removing bugs and trash from the house. I am raising three very young children, working a full-time job, and teaching on Saturdays to stay afloat, all while far from extended family. I am persevering and finding inspiration and assistance where I can. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 9 2013

Hebrew School is Awesome, Really

By at 9:42 am

boy waiting outside rabbi's office hebrew schoolSo I totally get that sitting around with friends bashing your collective Hebrew school experience from the 80s is pretty much a national Jewish sport, and that we’re all so “traumatized” and “tortured” by the years spent in the cantor’s office memorizing our haftarah portions while wondering when his shiny black hair piece was finally going to fall off that now we’re all refusing to send our own kids to Hebrew school, complaining that it’s a waste of time and they’re not going to learn anything anyway.

But I’m here to tell you that sending my kids to Sunday morning religious school at our local Los Angeles area synagogue is quite possibly the best thing to happen to me post-childbirth since the prescription for Percoset that I got following my two emergency C-sections. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 8 2013

When You and Your Daughter Don’t Speak the Same Language

By at 11:56 am

coloring outside the linesWhile we were in the art room at school today, my daughter asked me something in Hebrew in words I didn’t understand. “Say yes, mama!” She said. “Please say yes.”

“Baby, I can’t say yes, because I don’t understand what you want. For all I know you just asked me if you can get a tramp stamp, or move to Amsterdam.”

It’s like this, sometimes. She’ll say something that means something to her–I can see it in the way she clenches her jaw, and she flexes her fingers while she waits for her words to sink through the synapses of my American brain. Still, she wants an answer–even if it isn’t the answer she wants to hear–and when I look at her baffled, she sucks in her breath, and says, “You don’t listen to me.”   Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 5 2013

My Son Learned English from Watching TV

By at 11:56 am

boy watching tvIf my relationship with Hebrew had to have a status, I’d pick, “It’s complicated.” But as I’m rapidly closing in on the fourth anniversary of my move to Israel, it really should be better.

For a while–just as Sarah wrote a few weeks ago–I was learning Hebrew from my eldest child, but that stopped. One day, two years ago, at the tender age of 4, he decided he wanted to speak English and that was that. How does a 4-year-old make that choice?  Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 7 2013

Parenting in a Different Language

By at 11:55 am

parenting in Hebrew“We didn’t sign our son up for preschool,” my ex messaged me this morning.

Huh?

Evidently, somewhere in between everything, Expat Barbie over here missed the memo. Literally. A memo in Hebrew that went out to the parents about signing up for gan.

And ooohhhh, this raised issues for me. Nasty, mean issues like crusty alligators that lurk beneath the surface of my (deep) neuroses, emerging periodically to bite and snap in a carnivorous power struggle.

I’m reminded of a girl in my elementary school–Shella had chocolate eyes and hair that shone like the sun at high noon. At first, she wore dresses with too many frills. At first, her mouth shaped her words differently than ours. But that began to change. She cut her long silvery blonde hair by herself with a pair of toy scissors. She started wearing ripped jeans and t-shirts, just like us. American slang scattered from her lips carelessly, tripping her parents as they stumbled to catch up to her. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 28 2013

How to Teach Your Kids Hebrew

By at 5:03 pm

hebrew alphabet blocksI grew up in New York speaking Hebrew with my Israeli mother and at my day school, Spanish with my Argentinean father and grandparents, and English everywhere else. I enjoyed being able to talk to lots of people, but it wasn’t until I became a developmental psychologist that I fully understood what a wonderful gift my parents had given me.

Bilingualism has tremendous benefits, and not just when you are trying to find a bathroom in Tel-Aviv. Bilingual children are better at problem solving, planning, and self-control. A lifetime of bilingualism may even help delay the onset of dementia in old age. Read the rest of this entry →

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