Sep 11 2012
Via Flickr/Sander Lamme
“The flag is at half-mast today,” I tell my boys, pointing to the flagpole in front of the school this morning. “Do you know what that means?”
“That someone died?” my second grader asks, hoping he’s correct.
I explain that it was far more than one someone–that today is September 11th, the 11th anniversary of thousands of people being murdered by terrorists. I am trying to walk the fine line between scaring the crap out of the kids and letting them know that today is a day whose horror resonates and rings like a bell in a clear blue sky. They are just little children, after all. They weren’t even an idea when this all happened. To them, September 11th feels like history. To me, it feels like yesterday.
The flag is at half-mast. It isn’t enough. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 20 2012
It happened again.
A suicide bomber blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria on Wednesday, killing six people and injuring over 30.
These people were on vacation. They went to a resort city to relax and to get away for a bit, as we all do every now and again. They chose a destination that was different and interesting from their normal environs, yet noted for a comparative absence of anti-Semitism.
And yet, Jewish blood was deliberately shed. Again.
Note I said Jewish blood, not Israeli blood. The person or people who committed this unspeakable act murdered my people. I may be American and not Israeli, but it doesn’t matter: these people were murdered because they were Jewish. Just like the rabbi and children in Toulouse, France earlier this year. Just like the bombing at the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina 18 years ago. Just like the brutal murders at the Munich Olympics 40 years ago–murders which the world still refuses to honor with even one minute of silence. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 20 2011
Last week, we lit a yahrzeit candle in memory of my father-in-law who passed away two years ago. Benjamin, my 7 year old, blew it out.
I knew I couldn’t blame him. Benjamin can’t help but think “birthday” when he sees any kind of candle—even the deathday kind. That’s just how his hyper-literal, behaviorally-trained autistic brain works. But at that moment, staring at the bleak, extinguished wick, I couldn’t help but feel annoyed.
I am never thrilled by the destruction that often occurs when Benjamin is left unsupervised for even just a couple of minutes. It’s one thing, though, for him to dump an entire bottle of expensive conditioner into the bath, or scale the kitchen counters in search of the candy he thinks is hidden in the highest cabinets. But putting out the flame that is supposed to bring his Saba’s spirit into our living room for 24 hours? Now that was just taking it to a whole other level.
And of all people to dishonor. Nobody doted on Benjamin like my father-in-law did. The guy was so obsessed with his grandson he basically forced us into letting him be our nanny when I went back to work. While that was definitely not a perfect situation (our new babysitter was convinced car seats were a marketing scam, and we lost a significant amount of closet space whenever ketchup or scratchy, one-ply toilet paper went on-sale at Pathmark), it was sweet to see the special bond that formed between the two of them.
I considered calling Benjamin over and reviewing the difference between the candles on a cake and those on our credenza, or maybe even attempting to explain that he’d done something that made me feel sad. But it just didn’t seem worth it, especially since I’m sure my father-in-law would have found the whole thing funny anyway. Instead I sat there thinking about the the Hebrew songs he used to sing to Benjamin as an infant, the homemade baby food he made for him, and most of all, how over the moon he’d be if he knew his formerly non-verbal grandson could finally say “Saba.” And that he actually says it now whenever we show him his Saba’s picture.
Then the phone rang. It was my mother-in-law, calling to remind us of the yahrzeit. Which would take place the next day.
The following evening we lit the candle again. This time Benjamin didn’t blow it out.