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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 →

Sep 19 2011

UN Day 1: Bathroom Pumping & Tony Blair

By at 2:42 pm

This week, Jordana will be covering the UN General Assembly for The Jerusalem Post. Here’s her dispatch from yesterday, Day 1.

For many reporters, the drama of this week at the UN is simply a front-page story. For those of us who are more directly involved – such as me, by virtue of being Jewish and writing for an Israeli paper –  it’s unbelievably tense. This week will see an important moment in the Middle East and the world with the possibility of the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in the United Nations. While the US has said it will exercise its veto on such a move in the Security Council, the Palestinians may approach the General Assembly for approval instead. The gesture is largely symbolic but is a big one for Palestinians and Israelis alike. It is a region of the world where symbols hold tremendous import, where diplomacy is exceptionally difficult and where mistrust is high. And my job puts me on the front lines, my pen poised to transcribe history.

It’s Sunday and the meeting of the Palestinian Donor Conference at the United Nations is this evening. It’s closed to the media, but there will be a “stake out,” a terrific phrase meaning a press conference with question-and-answer opportunities, so I need to be there.  I preemptively sign permission slips, make tomorrow’s lunches for the kids and make sure that their backpacks are ready to go to school in the morning, knowing that by the time I get home, I will barely have the wherewithal to pour a glass of wine.

Having finished breastfeeding baby G, I get ready to saddle up and ride, driving into the city to the UN from our New Jersey home. I’m leaving Wonder Husband at home with a baby who is much crankier than usual, i.e. screaming her head off. My husband seems unfazed and wishes me good night and good luck. I, on the other hand, get in the car wondering if the little girl, who has a cold, has an ear infection, too.

Immediately, the first contingency surfaces. Foolishly, I was so engrossed in finding out the schedule of speakers for the UN that I neglected to check the schedule of the Jets, who play in the Meadowlands: their thousands of fans use the same road I’m using. I drum my fingers on the steering wheel and decide to call my boys at their dad’s house. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 11 2011

Holding Two Jewish American Women in our Thoughts and Prayers

By at 4:17 pm

The American Jewish community has suffered two great tragedies over the past week – the death of singer/songwriter Debbie Friedman and the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).  (At the time of this writing, the Congresswoman is in critical condition.)

To be honest, I don’t know much more about either of these women than one can read online.  However, I have been reading about both of them frequently over the past few days.  I am struck not only by what a tremendous impact they have each made on our country and our community, but that they have done so as Jewish women.

If someone had taken aside my grandmother and told her that it would be a Jewish woman who would revolutionize Jewish music, she would have never believed it.  Yet over the course of her career, Debbie Friedman created an entire genre of beautiful, accessible songs that have been embraced by Jews across the country.  Chances are that if you have been in a synagogue lately, you’ve heard one of her melodies or sang her lyrics.  As Amy noted in her recent post, one of Debbie’s most famous songs is her version of the Mi Shebeirach, or prayer for healing.

Although the first Jewish woman was elected to the House of Representatives in 1925 (Florence Kahn of California), my grandmother would have been even more shocked to learn that a Jewish woman can also be, according to the New York Times, “an avid equestrian and motorcycle enthusiast, repository of arcane health care data, successful Democrat elected three times in a Republican Congressional district, French horn player and wife of an astronaut”.  Yet Congresswoman Giffords is all that.  She is widely respected for her political smarts, outgoing nature, and willingness to cast difficult votes on issues she believes in.

As I think about the loss of Debbie Friedman at such a relatively young age (Ms. Friedman was in her late 50’s), and the callous violence that has so gravely injured the Congresswoman, I can’t help but think of my own daughters, two Jewish women in the making.  Who will they grow up to be?  What will they accomplish?  And how can I protect them from illness and violence?

I know.  I know.  I can’t really protect them.  But I can teach them that in this time, in our country, Jewish women really can live the life of their dreams.  And I can also teach them that yes, terrible, painful things happen, but we Jews are no strangers to tragedy.  That in these times of loss and pain, we rely on each other, on our faith, and our history to remember that life goes on, and that we must take advantage of every opportunity and feel grateful for each gift we have been given.  I can teach them about the amazing Jewish women who have gone before them, and who continue, each day, to lead tremendous lives that would have been unimaginable to their great-grandmother.

So, today I would like to say thank you to Debbie Friedman, z”l, for sharing your song with us.  Perhaps we can all remember you as we sing the Mi Shebeirach for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who has truly found the courage to make her life a blessing.  We pray for her full recovery.


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