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 →
Mar 5 2013
If 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 21 2013
“Abba, what are those doors up there?”
“I’m not sure, I think it is some kind of a fence.”
“Can we go visit them?”
“No not tonight, sweetie, we are going home now.”
We are driving back from Tzur Hadassah, a suburb of Jerusalem within the Green Line (which separates Israel and the Palestinian territories). The quickest route back into Jerusalem (and into the beds of our two sleepy children) is past Betar Illit and kvish haminharot, the “tunnel road” which connects Jerusalem to the Gush Etzion bloc in the West Bank. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 20 2013
The other day my 8-year-old son burst into tears when I told him he had to wear his old pair of pajamas because the new ones, which he has been wearing every single night since his grandma brought them to Israel in December, were unfortunately still in the washing machine. I hadn’t had time to put them in the dryer. Mea culpa.
He told me he refused to wear his old pajamas because they are a size seven and he is a size eight. Because he is 8. I apologized for my oversight. No good. I told him I would make it up to him and read an extra chapter of Charlotte’s Web. He wasn’t going for that. He wanted to stay up until his pajamas were dry. I said fine and as expected, he said FINE and went to put on his old pair. I know this kid. Then he lay down next to me in bed sulking while I read. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 15 2013
The Western Wall or Kotel, archaeologically impressive though it may be, is not holy to me in a conventional sense–and recent events have made it less holy in my eyes, though not in the ways you might think.
Many, many Jews consider the Western Wall to be holy because it is the oldest remaining structure from the time of the Temple. It’s not, mind you, even a wall of the Temple itself–it’s just a retaining wall around the Temple Mount. To me, this makes the wall interesting, poignant, historically critical, and relevant–but not inherently holy. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 7 2013
“We didn’t sign our son up for preschool,” my ex messaged me this morning.
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 29 2013
Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to parenting.
My most recent journey into impatience came last night as my 2-year-old daughter twirled and sang her way into the wee hours of the night.
I had been trying to put her to sleep for three hours, and it just wasn’t working. Given the fact that she had experienced a transatlantic flight, and we arrived in Israel a few hours before (and that she was excited about being in a new place, and sharing a room with her older brother and being out of a crib, and and…) I had to cut her a little slack. But my ability to empathize and (what seemed like) the Herculean task of mustering the patience I needed had grown thin. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 22 2013
For me and my children, one of the highest things on our to do list when traveling to Israel was to visit the Kotel, the Western Wall.
Before our trip, I had quickly read about, but not dwelled on, the arrest of Anat Hoffman, the leader of Women of the Wall, in October, allegedly for singing the Shema out loud at the wall and for wearing a tallit (prayer shawl). For a woman to wear a tallit while praying at the wall is against current law: in 2003, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin (phylacteries) or tallitim at the Wall, or reading from the Torah at the Wall. I was shocked to read of Hoffman’s arrest, but her act of wearing a tallit didn’t resonate with me, as I have never worn one, despite attending Conservative shuls my entire life and being bat mitzvahed. Read the rest of this entry →