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Aug 16 2013

Where Are Today’s Heroes?

By at 9:49 am

mickey mantleToday, there are no heroes.

We had Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, and Willis Reed. My grandchildren have A-Rod, Ryan Braun, and Lance Armstrong.

We had Martin Luther King, Jr. and JFK. Today, we have David Petraeus and Jesse Jackson, Jr. Not to mention Anthony Wiener and Elliot Spitzer.

We had Golda Meir, Gloria Steinem, and Bella Abzug. Today’s young women have Sarah Palin and Sheryl Sandberg.

No more heroes, no more larger-than-life figures. Now everyone’s clay feet (or entire clay bodies) are revealed. (Unlike the miscreants during my youth, who didn’t necessarily keep it in their pants, but were protected by a less intrusive fourth estate. Come to think of it, I’m grateful for that.)

We (figuratively and literally) looked up to the brave astronauts hurtling into space. Now, we don’t even know the names of who is going where, when, or for how long. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 27 2012

Why I Won’t Use My Kids as Political Symbols

By at 2:29 pm

Me protesting at 12 years old.

December 6, 2012 marked the 25th anniversary of the Free Soviet Jewry movement’s historic march on Washington in anticipation of Mikhail Gorbochev’s visit to the U.S. 250,000 people showed up to express their solidarity and to pressure the government of the USSR to “Let My People Go.”

I wasn’t at that rally. But by 1987, I had already lived in the US for 10 years and was a veteran of numerous local, similar events. I’d carried signs outside the Soviet consulate in San Francisco and on the sidewalk in front of theaters where Soviet actors or singers were performing. I’d almost gotten trampled by angry Asians at an event to condemn the USSR shooting down of a Korean jet-liner in 1983 and, because I was an adorably pig-tailed little immigrant girl who spoke good English (loudly) and didn’t appear to possess a shyness gene, I was paraded out to speak at rallies and fundraising events. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 7 2012

Being a Good Sport–Election 2012 Edition

By at 4:15 pm

romney and obama 2012 debateI discovered my 2nd grader, Jonah, has been watching the news. When I leave the room he is watching Ninjago, and when I come back he is watching the news. “If we’re watching anything during dinner, it’s going to be the news,” used to be my husband’s threat to the children when they asked for television during meals. Neither of us expected our boys to run excitedly to the table and ask to watch the election. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 6 2012

Don’t Let Politics Ruin Your Relationships

By at 11:25 am
family voting election 2012

Carla voting with her family this morning.

Today is election day. And I am worried about tomorrow.

Yes, I am worried about what might happen if my candidates don’t win. (I’m not going to get into my personal politics here, but I’m a Reconstructionist Jewish social worker living in Massachusetts. I bet you can figure it out.)

But I’m even more worried about the relationships in our country, and what will come of them. I started getting concerned when I noticed friends announcing that they will “unfriend” people on Facebook who are voting for the other guy. I saw the same trend on Twitter, and on the news. Then I heard this week’s episode of This American Life, which profiled friends and family members who are no longer talking as a result of this election. And I realized that relationships are falling apart all over the country, not just in my community. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 5 2012

Take Your Child To Vote Day

By at 5:02 pm
voting with a baby

Voting with my son in 2008.

My son was born four years ago, a month before the presidential election. With him in an Ergo, I took the sleeping baby with me to vote.

A few times since, I have taken him with me to vote in more local elections, though it’s less exciting with the new technology in my district: no fun knobs to turn. My husband and I are interested in politics but rarely, if ever, discuss it in front of our children. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 20 2012

Let’s Talk About Sex and Politics

By at 8:10 pm

We would probably be remiss if we didn’t post something about the absolutely horrific stupidity of Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, the Republican candidate for the Missouri Senate race. As you all probably know by now, Akin told a news station on Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 29 2012

The Affordable Care Act Made Me Cry

By at 10:24 am

health care reform protest outside white houseI cried yesterday morning.

It’s not that rare, to be honest. I cry relatively easily. But I cried yesterday morning for good reason, as I sat there–with 800,000 others–watching SCOTUSBLOG refresh in one window, and Twitter in the other, listening to NPR–when it became clear that the United States Supreme Court had upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I cried for all those women who have written to me in the last three years, since I told my own story of battling for health insurance. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 17 2011

Breastfeeding: French for Slavery

By at 12:24 pm

sarkozy and bruni with babyThe lovely First Lady of France, Carla Bruni, has recently given birth to a baby girl, Giulia. Her husband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, has recently given birth to a virtual shitstorm by describing breastfeeding as “slavery.”

Quoi, Monsieur President?  Well, when chatting with some young mothers at a family benefits agency in France, Sarkozy made the following remarks, saying that his wife is breastfeeding:

“Carla is feeding the baby. I think it’s much better for protecting against allergies and illnesses. But the woman, it’s both a joy and a kind of slavery. However it does free men of blame because we don’t have the problem of bottle-feeding. You don’t have to get up at night, although out of solidarity, I do open one eye… But you know, she is worried about not having enough milk.”

This is only the most recent of the French President’s diplomatic gaffes, as Sarkozy seems to have lost any filter between what he thinks and what he says. We’re talking about the same guy who recently complained about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to President Obama – calling him a “liar” and saying he “can’t stand him” — over a didn’t-know-it-was-on microphone. Nice.

Oddly, his recent parenting faux pas may get him in more trouble than slandering a fellow world leader – but his faux pas is, if nothing else, honest. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 18 2011

Gilad Shalit is Home

By at 3:18 pm
gilad shalit with noam shalit and netanyahu

Gilad with his father, Noam, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Photo: PMO/AFP/Getty Images

The deal that brought Gilad Shalit home to Israel after being held captive for five years by Hamas is well-known – more than 1,000 terrorists were released from Israeli prisons in exchange for Shalit’s freedom. By any calculation, common wisdom has it, it is a terrible price to pay for a nation which has no doubt that at least some of those released will attempt to kill again. It is a horrific price for the survivors of those who were killed by these people’s hands.

So why did Israel agree to this deal?

I know nothing of the inner diplomatic machinations that brought this deal about. But I believe that what was deemed to have mattered most was something far more basic: the love of parents for their son.

Noam and Aviva Shalit worked tirelessly for their son’s release from captivity, even while they were obviously tortured by his absence. But in thinking about the dilemma posed to them and the state of Israel by the conditions for Shalit’s release, I had to reflect on two things: our recent prayers on Yom Kippur, and the laws of our hearts as parents.

At the end of Yom Kippur, we chant the Avinu Malkeinu: “Our Father, Our King,” and implore God to have mercy on us. The title of the prayer reveals much about the Jewish people. In saying Avinu Malkeinu, we’re not just composing a fancy salutation to ingratiate ourselves.  God is our King, but in the very first word out of our mouths, we appeal to him not as our ruler, but first, as our father. A parent, the prayer suggests, would and should have more compassion on someone than would an emotionally-removed king. A king’s loyalty is to rules and hierarchy; a parent’s hierarchy, however, is one of the heart.

As a parent, we can never be completely emotionally detached when it comes to our children. We know that we can’t, and we don’t want to be – the depth of our love is testament to our depth as people.  Our love makes us human. As parents, we would do anything to get our children back if they were forcibly taken from us. Anything – however odious or illogical. Love triumphs over reason, and mercy over justice.

The state of Israel became that parent to Gilad Shalit. Israel has a long-standing policy of never leaving one of its own behind, to the point of even negotiating to retrieve corpses of its soldiers from behind enemy lines. Shalit’s own parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit, insured that Israel would become a third parent to their child. They sat outside in a tent, not allowing them or their son to be forgotten. They showed Gilad as they knew him – not only as a person and soldier, but as a brother and son. Shalit is a man – but to parents, he was their son and child. To them, he was priceless.

And at the end, the state of Israel became a parent rather than a king. Israel opted for mercy rather than justice. Most would acknowledge, whether in public or private, that justice was remarkably ill-served in this bargain. Hamas was allowed to bargain with the life of an Israeli, and to bargain successfully, with no punishment or sanction for having kidnapped a man for five years. People who were found to have helped murder civilians were released from prison to victory parades in Palestinian streets. It was not fair.

But today’s truth lies in the embrace of parents getting their child back from the jaws of an unimaginable fate.

Gilad Shalit is home.

Sep 23 2011

UN Day 4: Every Woman Here Has Seen My Nipples By Now

By at 1:36 pm

mahmoud ahmadinejad UN 2011I’m beginning to think that being a mother is the best possible preparation you can have for any job. After all, when you’re a mom, you are accustomed to unreasonable demands that will require you to bend time and space. Pick up two kids at two different activities that end at the same time, but are fifteen minutes away from each other? No sweat. That’s what we do.

I didn’t submit my dispatch on Day 4 until now, the morning of Day 5, because there is only so much a human being can do. Thursday was the UN’s Durban commemoration or Durban III. This is the tenth anniversary of an anti-racism conference held in Durban, South Africa which went from being against racism to being a platform for anti-Israel sentiment. The UN’s decision to hold an official commemoration of the event this year – an event that many nations feel is a stain on the UN rather than something to celebrate – was greeted with much uproar. Especially by Israel, a veritable punching bag at the UN generally.

So many nations opted to boycott the Durban commemoration, and many protests and conferences in opposition to the UN goings-on are transpiring. Which brings me to a bizarre dilemma: how does one cover Durban and anti-Durban simultaneously? Because, of course, they are happening at the same time. Did I mention that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also speaking at the UN, as is UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan – all of which are extremely relevant to Israel, and hence to me?

Throw in the pumping, and it doesn’t give much time for phone calls home to check on the baby, the other kids, or Wonder Husband. You know it’s bad news when the babysitter calls you to make sure you’re doing okay.

So the way you do this is by having help (a recurring theme in my life, to be sure).  Another Jerusalem Post reporter will cover the Durban commemoration – everything is webcast, leaving me free to race around by the UN. Like all reporters who have covered the UN General Assembly before, I only wear flats. Read the rest of this entry →

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