Oct 10 2012
It all started with a note taped to a refrigerator. Not just any fridge; this was the staff refrigerator in a hospital maternity ward in Jerusalem. The nurse, who discovered the note, was placing her pumped breast milk therein when she noticed it. “To Whom It May Concern,” read the politely worded note with a less than polite message, “Please do not store breast milk in this refrigerator. The Staff.”
Back just a few days from her maternity leave, as the only nursing mother on staff, the letter may as well have been addressed to her. Shocked, she complained up the chain of command all the way to upper management. She was told that each ward is its own democracy and can decide independently if it wants to allow breast milk to be placed in its own staff refrigerators. Unable to be a part of a “democracy” that could make such decisions, the nurse resigned. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 5 2012
Sarah's kids hanging out in the neighbor's sukkah.
“Mama, where are we going?” my daughter asks after I pick her up from gan on the kibbutz.
A sudden gust of wind, and her hair dances. “Wind!” my son shrieks from his perch on my shoulders.
It’s cold for October. And it gets dark early now — a few weeks of passive-aggressive autumn and then winter will be riding us hard in full force, slamming my LA ass against the ground in torrents of wind or rain while I look for a cozy room with a radiator. #FirstWorldProblems.
Except, then she asks again:
“Mama, where are we going to sleep tonight?”
This should be the biggest no-brainer question in the whole entire universe. Because let’s be real: there is only one right answer, and I should be able to look into my daughter’s upturned face and say “we’re going home, sweet girl.”
But… It turns out there is something worse than feeling homesick in the Homeland.
Anyone want to wager any guesses?
Try Homeless in the Homeland. And on the nights when I am with my kids, I do not have anywhere to take them. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 6 2012
From left to right: Emily Muskovitz Sweet, ED Chicago; Sara Rose Gorfinkel, ED TOWF; Joy Sisisky, ED JWF NY
For the first time, Jewish women’s foundations–14 in the United States and three in Israel–are pooling resources to effect social change for women and girls in Israel. The Jewish Women’s Collaborative International Fund has awarded a two-year, $150,000 grant to Itach-Maaki, the lead organization of Bringing Women to the Fore: A Feminist Partnership. We talked with some of the leaders from these foundations to find out more about the discirmination of women in Israel, and what we can do to help.
What recent events was the Jewish Women’s Collaborative International Fund responding to with this project?
An 8-year old girl walking to school in Beit Shemesh was spit upon by a group of ultra-Orthodox men who also called her a prostitute for her “immodest” dress. Around the same time, a group of Orthodox IDF male soldiers walked out of a ceremony where women were singing. An Israeli woman who refused to move to the back of a public bus was accosted by a hostile crowd, women’s faces were blurred in billboard advertisements in certain Jerusalem neighborhoods, and a national conference on women’s fertility banned women experts and speakers. This sad confluence of events prompted the Jewish Women’s Collaborative International Fund to look at the exclusion of women from the public sphere in Israel. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 7 2012
Let’s see… how do I say this without sounding like a total ass? Ok. Fine: I don’t hate the kibbutz.
In fact, I kind of like it.
Ever since I left late last year, I’ve come to realize that this place really isn’t so awful. And the people here are like people all over–good and bad and mostly just in between and trying to get by. Like me.
If I’m going to get all introspective and whatnot, I think the problem wasn’t the place–it was my place. See, I looked to this small community to fill the cracks in my life, and like any relationship that’s based on a dysfunctional need, I was disappointed. And because things at home were so tenuous–the kids were sick all the freaking time, and the surly silence between our walls would shatter in the clatter of yet another misinterpretation–I expected this kibbutz to fill my need for companionship and friendship and belonging. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 26 2012
When I was young, Yom Ha’atzmaut meant one thing: the Israeli Day Parade in New York City (and hot pretzels. So two things.) Even though the parade was always held weeks after Israel’s actual birthday, that delayed celebration was nothing short of ecstatic. From the time I was a wee Jew I’d dress in blue and white and proudly march down Fifth Avenue, singing along to old folk songs from the 70s and waving an Israeli flag. At some point, the synagogue or school group I was marching with would break out into circles and we’d do a quick dance to Od Lo Ahavti Di. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 23 2012
It’s no coincidence that Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, occurs just shortly after Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. After all, we Jews are a people who deeply understand that the cycle of life brings both sadness and happiness. Naomi Shemer, an Israeli poet and composer, wrote a song called Al Kol Eileh about how we learn to taste both the bitter and the sweet.
And so it’s time to move from sadness to happiness. What better way to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut than with a whole bunch of your closest friends at a huge party? Israelis in Brooklyn is putting together a celebration on Thursday, April 26 at 6:00 pm at Congregation Beth Elohim. There will be music, singing, delicious food from the Hummus Place (if you live in NYC and have never been there, drop everything and GO NOW, it’s that good), and a DJ at the end of the night for a serious Israeli-style dance party.
And after all of the interesting press that Brooklyn has gotten recently (did you see The Daily Show?), the idea of coming together as a community to celebrate seems even more wonderful. RSVP to email@example.com, and there’s more info here.
Did I mention that it’s free? See you there!
If you can’t make it to Brooklyn, bring a little bit of Israel to your home with our favorite Israeli recipes…yum!
Apr 17 2012
I’ve been in Israel for the past week with my husband and 2.5-year-old. We’re here for a number of reasons, one of them to see family–my husband’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.–in all I think the immediate family here totals around 31.
So it’s fitting that this article I just wrote about why my daughter speaks more Spanish than Hebrew came out this week. Curious to hear from the rest of you who are also struggling to raise bilingual kids–how exactly do you do it? I need advice, please!
Here’s a bit from the Forward article:
The other night, I handed my daughter, Mika, a plate of chicken and carrots for dinner. She glanced at it momentarily before professing snidely, “Mama, this is not delicioso!” The declaration was remarkable for two reasons: The first was that I had made dinner, the second that my 2.5-year-old cracked a joke. Her hero, Dora the Explorer, calls everything she eats “delicioso” and everything she does “excelente”; the piece of schnitzel I made was clearly neither. Another amazing thing about this was that my daughter used a word in Spanish — correctly. Granted, we’re not raising her to speak Spanish. We are hoping for Hebrew.
Read the rest here.
Apr 16 2012
For those of you who haven’t been following along: I married an Israeli, had two amazing kids, and then followed my husband to live next door to his mother on a kibbutz not far from Tel Aviv. It hasn’t exactly gone as planned. We’re no longer living together.
1. How are you doing?
Some days I’m fine. Some days, I wake up, and brush my teeth and wiggle the mascara wand through my lashes and flat iron my hair, and walk to work, and only realize how fucking ridiculous the situation is when I have to check my ex’s Twitter status to find out how my kids are doing. (#UsuallyJustFine.)
And yes, some days, the hours slip by while work engulfs me and I’m buzzing with caffeine and creativity. I ping B. on Google Chat and ask how the night went. He answers. And usually it’s fine.
Some days are like this. I watch time pass through the window. I measure out my life in status updates and the occasional tweet. I watch their day-to-day routine on YouTube. B. uploads cute movies, and I see how they’re really fine. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 3 2012
Another spring blooms in Israel. And everyone is getting ready for Pesach. Everyone except me.
I’m in a holding zone–waiting for my ex to decide what he’s doing with the kids and whether or not I can come. (If I hold my breath, I might pass out.)
Last year, I swore “next year in LA.” But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.
This isn’t the first time I broke a promise about coming home for Pesach. And being here–ten time zones away from my family, I remember the first Pesach I stayed away. Only then, it was by choice.
In a painfully obvious way of asserting my independence, I had accidentally-on-purpose missed my flight home eleven years ago, and stayed in the dorms over Spring Break my freshman year of college.
My mom had cried. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 2 2012
The beginnings of what will eventually be our apples.
Years ago my husband and I volunteered on Kibbutz Sde Eliahu in Israel, working in an organic vineyard and vegetable garden. On Tu Bishvat, kibbutzniks we had never seen in the fields came to help in the garden for a few hours. When we left the kibbutz, the leader of the vineyard gave us a little farewell blessing. We didn’t understand it all but he definitely said to “have children” and “plant trees with real roots, not just tomatoes.”
So, we returned home and pretty much got to work following his instructions. Read the rest of this entry →