Oct 7 2013
Israel does a lot of things exceptionally well: Jewish life in general, giving people reasons to weep from spiritual depth, falafel, breeding good-looking Jews. But you know what Israelis aren’t doing so well? Feeding children. And while some mothers may fantasize about expensive vacations or ivy league acceptance for their kids, I find myself lost in a flurry of daydreams involving my toddler eating unsweetened peanut butter on whole wheat bread or some yogurt without added sugar.
Am I crazy? Maybe. But Israeli preschools leave me no choice. On English language forums for mothers in Israel, almost daily, a frazzled mother tells a tale about how their kids get a snack, supposedly to “keep them going” in the afternoon, of white bread with chocolate spread, cookies, or the infamous Bamba (think peanut butter flavored cheese doodles). But don’t worry, they don’t really give 2 and 3-year-olds candy and cake anymore. Having realized that it’s not so nutritious, they only give it on special occasions, including but not limited to a class birthday, an upcoming holiday, Rosh Chodesh, and Shabbat (you know, that weekly occurrence). Really very infrequently, they say. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 1 2013
Did anyone else notice that the time frame Secretary Kerry has set for this current round of Mideast peace negotiations is the same amount of time it takes to bring a child into this world? Maybe it’s because I’m currently in my eighth month of pregnancy that I couldn’t help but notice that the target isn’t one year, nor is it six or 10 months–no, it’s nine months.
After eight months of pregnancy, I’m not that comfortable. My ankles are swollen. My lower back hurts. I don’t sleep that well, leaving me tired during the day and restless at night. Read the rest of this entry →
May 29 2013
I bought a dress last week.
It’s a dress straight out of the summer of ’53–pale mauve with a sweetheart neckline, spaghetti straps, and a skirt that twirls. It’s the kind of dress you lose your virginity in in the backseat of a Chevy Bel Air after the Hop.
It’s also the also the kind of dress you wear when you get tired of keeping it real in blue jeans and a tank top, when you want to rub coconut vanilla lotion on your legs and feel like you’re stepping into another era, another life.
It’s the kind of dress you wear when you want to feel pretty, oh so pretty. (Tralalalalalalalalala.) Read the rest of this entry →
May 22 2013
I’ve been an uncle officially for 17 years, since my sister had her first son. Since then, three more nieces and nephews have popped out, giving me at least four reasons to bring gifts from Israel.
As more and more of my friends have had kids over the years (and there have been at least a few of those years, with my somewhat impending arrival to the age which rhymes with “sporty”), an increasing number of children have called me “Uncle Benji” despite a lack of blood relation. I have perfected animal impressions (which includes my personal and undisputed favorite, “the chicken”), I have become quite good at “online babysitting” (entertaining little kids with an Ernie puppet), and I am not ashamed to admit that I have developed such entertaining material that I have been caught recycling it across families in both English and (albeit, broken) Hebrew.
But I have never actually been a father. Until last week. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 23 2013
My kids need little organized effort to enjoy our company. In our house, especially in spring, that often means tossing balls with Abba. My two youngest will ask Dov if he has time to play catch with them, and if his schedule isn’t on overload, he will say yes. Nothing could please them more.
There will be a rush to gather mitts, ball, and caps. You can hear the buzz in their voices, and the rushed breathing of boys as they put on their sneakers. I glance outside the window from my workstation, and watch them wait at the curb for their Abba to pick them up, looking down at the ground, shuffling their feet, kicking stones with their toes, with only an occasional hopeful glance upward, just being boys. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 18 2013
If you’ve ever visited Israel, you may have noticed that one thing the small country definitely does not lack is cats. And while this may pose a problem if you, like me, are allergic to anything with fur (or pollen or hay or grass or dust or melon; yes, I’m a mess), cat lovers will find themselves right at home.
Little cat lovers will love The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street, a picture book that gives kids a taste of Jerusalem through the story of its cats. Featuring Mr. Modiano, the curmudgeonly owner of a fish shop who hates cats, and Mrs. Spiegel, his customer and owner of a little gray cat, Ketzie, the book tells the story of an unlikely friendship, of both the human and feline variety.
The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street is just one of the great Jewish kids books sent out by PJ Library this month. If you’d like to get free books delivered right to your home every month, be sure to sign up for PJ Library today. If you live in the New York metro area, you can sign up directly through Kveller here. If you live elsewhere, check out this map to find a PJ community near you.
Sign up for free books from PJ Library today.
Apr 17 2013
So, this is 40.
This morning, I woke up too early, in a dark and peaceful house. Once the haze of sleep began to lift, it dawned on me: Today is my 40th birthday.
More precisely, it’s my Hebrew birthday. My secular birthday doesn’t come until a week into May, and in our house, our kids like to celebrate both. Since this year my Hebrew birthday falls a few weeks before my secular one, I realize it’s like I have a birthday “zone,” an especially welcome transition period for easing into this new decade, one that seems to strike terror in on-the-cusp-of-middle-aged hearts around the world. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 16 2013
In honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, we’re sharing this story of how one American mother is raising her kids to be independent in Israel.
Let me tell you something: When you move across the world with a 9-month-old who spends more time with your boobs than your high school boyfriend did back in 10th grade, and a 2 1/2-year-old who has mastered the word NO (in Hebrew and in English), and you have no friends, and you don’t speak the language, and your whole entire family is in another timezone, and your marriage is as flaky as filo crust, it’s a freaking mess.
And during the clusterfuck that was the first year in Israel, when no one was sleeping when they should, and when we were bouncing back and forth between the hospital and Misrad Hapnim (Ministry of the Interior), and when there was no one to talk to about how much it sucked, there was one reason and one reason alone that I didn’t haul ass back to Ben Gurion airport.
It wasn’t because I felt like I was fulfilling my Jewish destiny. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 15 2013
Tomorrow is Yom Ha’atzmaut, aka Israel Independence Day. It celebrates the anniversary of the creation of Israel on May 14, 1948 (or, according to the Jewish calendar, the 5th of Iyyar in 5708).
In Israel, it’s celebrated with fireworks, barbecues, and public concerts. In America, it’s celebrated with a manicure (or at least it can be…)
Yael Buechler, the fabulous rabbi behind Midrash Manicures, in which she creates nail art for each weekly Torah portion and holidays, has offered up this great tutorial for how to do your own Israeli flag nail art in celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut. It’s pretty simple and will look super cute on adult and kiddie nails alike. Here’s how it’s done. You can use a toothpick to do the finer details.
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Apr 8 2013
While 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 →