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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 →

Jan 22 2013

Free Stuff Alert: Gus on the Go Hebrew App

By at 3:04 pm

gus on the go hebrew app israel

Working on raising brilliant bilingual kids? Luckily, the power to learn new languages these days is right at your fingertips. Gus on the Go is a language learning app for kids that features a cute little owl and a whole lot of fun adventures and games.

Gus on the Go features a special Hebrew edition that introduces basic Hebrew nouns to young children through fun pictures, interactive games, and audio from native Hebrew speakers. Gus on the Go: Hebrew is currently available for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, and we’ve got five free promo codes to give away to five lucky readers. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 19 2012

Free Stuff Alert: AlephBet Hebrew App Giveaway

By at 9:33 am

aleph bet appRemember all those times we’ve talked about how great it is to raise bilingual children but how actually teaching them another language is, well, kind of hard? Well, we’re happy to report that if you’ve been wanting to teach your young ones some Hebrew basics, there’s an app for that.

The AlephBet App provides young children and their parents the ability to learn the Aleph Bet in an interactive and engaging way. Designed for young children, The AlephBet App is the first app to be recommended by the Jewish Montessori Society and offers parents and kids the opportunity for on demand learning. Featuring nearly 50 custom hand drawn illustrations, and the original song “Rakevet Alef Bet” by Dafna, The AlephBet App offers a sensory rich multimedia experience guaranteed to tempt even the most reluctant readers.

The app usually goes for $1.99 in the Apple Store, but for today only, it will be completely FREE for Kveller readers.

To get the app for your iPhone, click here. And to get it for your iPad, click here.

It’s as simple as that! Remember, this offer is valid for TODAY ONLY (Dec. 19, 2012). For more information, visit the AlephBet website here. Happy learning!

Nov 15 2012

My Son is (Finally) Learning Hebrew

By at 5:03 pm

I have to admit to feeling a rush of pride and satisfaction each time I hear my son call me Ima. And, for a gal who grew up begrudgingly bilingual, that’s a pretty big deal.

My first languages as a young child were English and Hebrew. With an Israeli father (and grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousins… you get the picture) and a mother who spent a chunk of her young adulthood in Israel, it should come as no big surprise that we were a bilingual house. My first words were “mom” and “aba.” I listened equally to Rafi and Tzippi Shavit, and my eyes were glued to both Sesame Street and Rehov Sumsum (and yes, I even had my own pair of brown, checkered slippers like Kippi).

But for some reason, instead of embracing this language gift I had been given, at some point in my childhood, I started to actively be embarrassed by it. Read the rest of this entry →

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