Woman of Valor, Who Can Find One?


Image

We all know that this day came too soon. I thought I had so much time before I had to sit here writing this eulogy. I thought I’d get home from Israel and she’d be sitting up in bed, making a joke about how she had to pull this elaborate stunt just to get us back to the states.

Because my mom mom loved us so, so much. She would do anything for us, her children, her diamonds. Her love was more than emotional, it was tangible. You could feel it in every cup of tea, every bowl of addicting-as-crack-cocaine macaroni salad; every word of advice, and every hug and kiss she gave. We wear her love like a warm sweater on a cold day, surround ourselves with it to shield us from any storm.

As the family peacemaker, mom mom was the glue that held everything together, from Passover Seders, which she started planning on Rosh Hashana, to remembering to give birthday presents way before your birthday month was even due. Mom mom never put up with any arguing, especially between Becca and me, and somehow managed to diffuse any situation without getting agitated herself.

Mom mom was the kind of person that could be happy anywhere, from watching the horses cross the field at Golden Acres to sipping tea on her porch across from Whole Foods, if mom mom wanted something, she went for it on her own. And she always succeeded, most times beating the odds. She encouraged and pushed in the kindest and gentlest way, and she never ceased to tell us how proud she was of all of us just for being exactly who we are.

It was no secret that mom mom was smart, but she never flaunted her accomplishments – she left that up to pop pop, who would call her Dr. Janet just because she earned it. I even think that every once in a while she would play the role of the ditzy blonde so as not to let on just exactly how smart she really was. But once you figured it out, you had access to a wealth of knowledge, advice, and experience that would get you through any challenge you faced. And she shared it, willingly and readily.

Mom mom taught me a lot of different lessons, but the most important one I learned by example, and I hope that one day I can emulate her in it. That’s the lesson of unconditional love. That when you think that you’ve given everything you have, there’s always a little more. That love doesn’t have limits – hers most certainly did not.

I thought that we had so much more time. There are so many things I’d love to say to mom mom, so many things that I’ll never get the chance to tell her. But the one that I know that she knew; I know that she knows that I love her so, so much. We all do. And that we will always carry her love in our hearts, everywhere we go, for the rest of our lives. Thank you for the gift of your love.

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

E.E. Cummings

 

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

                                                      i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 

 

Gearing up for the Big Move


Sorry for the blogging hiatus — things have been fairly quiet here so I haven’t had anything exciting to update you all about, but next week we are finally moving into our wonderfully humongous, beautiful, large apartment! I am so excited to have a kitchen with a real stove and oven, a washing machine inside the house instead of outside of it, and best of all, to finally unpack all of our suitcases!

Because we’re in such a small apartment now and we haven’t really unpacked any of our stuff from when we first moved here, we’re not in such a hurry to pack, but it will all get done next week.

In other news, Jonathan got a job working for a catering company for Pesach, which he’s starting on Sunday. That means I’m going to be pretty much on my own for the move, but we have lots of friends and students that are going to help us out along the way. We need to get some furnishings, which we’re working on (I think we found a sofa but I haven’t heard back yet), and I’m hoping we’ll be able to make an extra-large and in charge dining room table to host 20+ people. That would be a dream come true!

Anyway, that’s pretty much all that’s new over here. I’ll keep you updated as we move and send pictures of the new apartment as we make it feel like home :-).

Siege by Snow


We thought we were leaving this kind of weather behind when we left America for the Middle East, but we couldn’t have been more wrong. Then again, the last time a blizzard this size fell down on Jerusalem, it was the roaring ’20′s. Either way, this is my account of what it was like to be under siege by snow.

A little background: The entire upper administration of the school where I work was away in America for recruitment and interviewing applicants for next year, meaning I inherited the entire school (and all of the responsibility that goes along with it) for two weeks. To ease the amount of work and time I needed to put in, we told all of the girls that they had to find housing and meals for themselves outside of our neighborhood for Shabbos, to give both me and the madrichot Shabbos off. That all changed when we saw the weather report.

You have to understand, when the weather report predicts snow in Israel, the average person doesn’t believe it for a second, until they get to the supermarket and it looks like the apocalypse is about to hit. Picture it – nothing on the shelves, a line out the door, not a single empty shopping cart to be found…

“SNOW?” they’ll say incredulously; “Last year it snowed and by the time it hit the ground it started melting!”

So when the forecast was calling for snow from Thursday to Sunday, I knew we had to come up with a backup plan. The only automobiles that have snow tires in Israel are ambulances and firetrucks; buses and especially the average car certainly don’t qualify, which meant getting out of the neighborhood was most likely going to be out of the question, even if the forecast was wrong. Thank goodness I had the foresight (siyatta d’shamaya) to send the handyman to the supermarket on Tuesday for enough food for 50 people for three meals — which we ended up having to prepare ourselves. I even thought ahead to ask the cook to prepare enough kugels on Wednesday, with the plan to freeze them if we didn’t end up needing them.

Waking up on Thursday morning was like a dream. I woke up at around 6:30 and let Lucy outside, already appreciating the gorgeous undisturbed ground the snow was falling on. At 10 till 7, the first period teacher called me to say that he would be able to come in to teach if we were still having school. After getting a hold of the other first period teacher who also said she’d be able to come in, I decided we would open school so that the girls could eat breakfast and maybe have some class. The girls meandered in, excited about the snow, while I made hot chocolate. After first period, the rest of the classes were cancelled, and the girls busied themselves with snowball fights and snowman making contests.

IMG_0404

#whiteout

IMG_0405

and it was just the beginning…

We ran home to get Lucy and Simba, who really enjoyed playing in the snow! At first, Lucy was a little afraid, but warmed up to it a lot once she realized how much fun it was to dig and play.

IMG_0438

YAY! Snow!

IMG_0433

Lucy found a flower in the snow.

At this point, we knew that if the snow kept up (and even if it didn’t) it would be very unlikely that the girls would be able to go anywhere for Shabbos, so we told them to call their hosts and cancel their plans. We went home to rest for a few hours and then went back to school to start cooking.

IMG_0443

passed out after playing in the snow.

As the snow continued to fall, another staff member volunteered to make challah with the girls while Jonathan and I got started cooking. Thinking (in our naive American mentality) that people like the cleaner and the fix-it man would be able to get into school to straighten up, we didn’t think much about logistics as we went along with our business, making tray after tray of chicken, pots of rice, and green beans. We were making three meals for 50 girls at each meal, so we had our work cut out for us. We decided to make two giant pots of chicken soup (one for night and one for day), cholent, and lots of yummy sides. Satisfied with all we’d accomplished, we decided to call it a night and went home to rest for a day of work to follow. Meanwhile, the snow kept on falling.

Friday morning, I woke up to a phone call and a text message that the store wasn’t receiving any challah deliveries, and the challahs that the girls made the night before were sent home with them to the dorms for them to eat. This resulted in a lot of tears from me, frustration that we had no challah, flour, or eggs to make our own. I sent a text to all of our students and told them we needed them to save Shabbos, and a madricha pounded on the doors to get everyone out on a trip to the makolet, where they would pick up pitas, loaves of bread, and grape juice by the case to carry back (in a blizzard) so that we would have enough bread and grape juice. In a minute, went from crying tears of frustration and feeling like I would never be able to pull it together to crying tears of joy from how impressed I was from all of these girls. Within 20 minutes, the school was sparkly clean, the tables were set, and the food was put up on the hot plates. We went home in the falling snow to get ready for Shabbos, and the girls did the same.

IMG_0418

the calm before the blackout.

We got home just in time for our power to go out, along with all of the power along our street. We live on the same street as Baer Miriam, but miraculously, the school still had power that held over Shabbos, but we had no hot water, no heat, and no lights. We piled on the blankets and invited the dogs into bed with us, and somehow stayed warm at home, but definitely took refuge at school, where the heat was pumping and it was very comfortably warm.

Shabbos afternoon, the power came back and stayed back, unlike for many other people in Jerusalem. After Shabbos, we found venturing outside was dangerous and made us feel like we were in a third-world country – cars were abandoned in the middle of the road, the streets went unplowed, trees fell in the middle of the roads, and nothing was done about it for days. Our neighborhood is on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and doesn’t lead to any major highways or hospitals, making it the last on the list to get plowed (by the three snow plows owned by the country). That, and very few people own snow shovels, making clearing your car out (not that we have a car, but wishful thinking) or clearing the sidewalks next to impossible. The city brought in army tanks and policemen to clear the roads, plow the streets, and direct traffic.

IMG_0420

Even now, the majority of the trees on our street are still on the sidewalks, making walking very cumbersome, even a month after the storm.

Israelis are notoriously bad drivers, and that makes driving in the snow here a dangerous activity as well. Jonathan and I needed to go out a few days after the storm (cabin fever had started to set in), so we walked to the commercial neighborhood next to ours, where we set up a cell-phone plan for Yael, Jonathan’s sister. We hitched a ride on the way back with someone from our neighborhood, and spun out into the snowbank as we slid over black ice. Car rides that would have taken 5 minutes took close to 2 hours or more as more people began to venture outside, and the owner of the supermarket in our neighborhood took it upon himself to sleep in his store rather than have to commute from his home. The roads got so bad (and Israelis drive so recklessly) that the city had to close the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway after 8PM for a few evenings to prevent people from driving on the ice.

IMG_0445

The snowfall started on the 9th of Tevet and fell through the 10th of Tevet, which is a minor fast day for the Jewish nation. The 10th of Tevet was when the walls of Jerusalem were breached, and the siege of the city was complete. No longer could anything be imported or exported from within its walls. We fast on the 10th of Tevet to remember that it was the beginning of our exile. This year, on the 10th of Tevet, we were also under siege. Nothing could come into Jerusalem, and nothing could leave. Nothing could even come to the makolets, and we didn’t even have heat or light in our homes, except for our Shabbos candles. It would take days for things to return to normal — cell phone towers were running interference for days, buses were suspended for almost a week, school was cancelled for 5 days, and we were confined to our little homes and neighborhoods within walking distance. For just a minute, we got an understanding of what it felt like to be under siege.

Where in snowfalls past, the snow would melt within a day or two of the storm, this snow held on for weeks, even as the sun beat down on it. Life slowly but surely started to get back to normal, the roads thawed during the day and re-iced over at night, and after a while, the normal routines resumed. But people (including the New York Times) continue to speak about the snowstorm of a century.

We’ll definitely remember it forever.

*(I just have to take this moment to give a shout-out to my amazing Husband and other half, Jonathan, who helped me hold it together during this very stressful and high-pressure time. I never would have been able to pull off the snow Shabbos, or the week of running a seminary, without his help, expertise, and everlasting love and support.)

 

Hello, 2014! You’re Looking Mighty Fine.

Hello, 2014! You’re Looking Mighty Fine.


Friends, Family, and Loved ones,

I am sorry for being so out of the loop — we’ve been going through a time of transition, and can’t wait to tell you all about it! Since I don’t know exactly where to start, I think I’ll start from the beginning…

All of you know that Jonathan and I spent the year in Israel last year, and at some point throughout that adventure, we decided we wanted to spend more time here. Like, move here. So we did. After months of bureaucracy, waiting for the Israeli Consulate to end their four-month long strike, and a photo finish to the plane (literally a photo finish: my visa came in on the Thursday before the flight left…on Monday), we made it to Israel.

IMG_0064

Fresh off the plane and only a little worse for wear. Our row had two toddlers in it for half the flight and then the row behind us inherited them..I’m not sure which was worse.

Somehow, we’ve been here for three months. I’m going to do my best to fill you in on what they’ve had in store for us. (Hint: it includes a puppy!)

For the past three months, we’ve been renting a small apartment in Har Nof, the same neighborhood we lived in last year – actually, right across the street from our old apartment. It’s quaint with “American” fixtures, meaning nicer ceramic tiles and crown molding, which aren’t considered standard by any means for rentals here in Israel. It’s not where we’re going to be long term, but it’s cute, comfortable, and we’ve made a semblance of a home here for the short while we’re here. We (finally!) found a long term apartment, across the next street, complete with a large porch and extra bedrooms we’re planning to move into in the middle of February. Until then, we’re using this apartment half as storage and half as living space — and missing a proper kitchen.

IMG_0478

This is it – in all it’s glory. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with?

We’d only been here about a month when someone mentioned to me that they saw a puppy on facebook that was found abandoned on the street. Since they weren’t allowed animals in their apartment, I went home and discussed (re: begged) with Jonathan about getting a dog, something we’d been wanting to do for a long time, but never felt settled down enough. He told me, “Go get him (at the time we thought she was a him) before I change my mind,” so off I went to Hebrew University, where I met the dog who would later be called Lucy, once we unwrapped the towel she was swaddled in and saw she was in fact…a she.

IMG_0167

She was as shocked as we were!

IMG_0119

Loving on some yogurt as big as her head…

Lucy was tiny, only 4 weeks old, malnourished, and covered in fleas. I ran to the store and bought some goat’s milk and a baby bottle, which I fed her by hand, and tried to feed her some scrambled eggs, which she didn’t have much interest in. She slept the entire night (I woke up a thousand times to check on her), and in the morning discovered yogurt, her all-time favorite food. After trips to the vet, vaccinations, and two months of TLC, she’s a little demon, alternating between snuggling and chewing on my shirt-sleeve to get my attention as I’m typing this right now. Oh wait, now she’s asleep.

case in point.

case in point.

We love having Lucy, but we definitely underestimated the amount of responsibility involved in adopting a 4 week old puppy. Let me spell it out for you: basically, puppies can hold their bladders for 1 hour for every month they are alive, plus one hour. That meant that little Lucy could go a whopping 2 hours between being taken outside to go to the bathroom, or she would pee wherever she was. So for about one month, we’d set alarms for every 2 hours to take her out in the middle of the night, and make sure we never left her alone for longer than that. Then, the 2 hour rule got expanded to 3 hours when Lucy got another month older, except for one week that she was sick and had no control over her muscles at all. Thank goodness we tricked her into thinking her antibiotics were treats. Now, Lucy is an energetic, healthy, three and a half month puppy who keeps our hands and hearts full, and guards our home with her surprisingly loud bark.

IMG_0232

guarding our home from invited and uninvited guests.

Other than Lucy and our house-guest as pictured above (Simba, courtesy of our friends S&B), we had another amazing surprise so far in Israel – SNOW! I’m going to save the details for another post about what it’s like to experience a blizzard in a country with no snow plows, but I couldn’t resist adding a sneak preview of what’s to come…

IMG_0405

and that was the first day…

So, now that I’ve told you about our living arrangement and our new addition, what else occupies our time? Work. Which we do a lot of.

I LOVE my job. I work at a seminary called Baer Miriam, where I serve as the eim bayit, or house mother. This role entails everything from kissing boo-boos to studying with the girls, leading seminars, and even teaching a class for college credit, which I will be doing next semester. The best part of it all: inheriting 40 or so 18 & 19-year old pseudo-daughters for the school year. The girls keep my life fun and busy, with plenty of drama to boot. As someone who was a bit of a drama queen in high school, I think it’s a perfect fit.

I also work for another company called Pearl & Clasp, a luxury jewelry company that specializes in custom pieces, necklace clasps, and pearl restringing, where I am the Social Media Manager; meaning, I do freelance writing for fashion blogs and business websites that make mention of the business, and manage the facebook, google+, and twitter accounts for the company. This job helps me itch my writing bug, which also makes me feel guilty for not writing here, something I hope to change.

As for Jonathan, he’s putting his degree to good use by cooking for a girls’ school in our neighborhood and is trying to start his own personal catering company, Jerusalem Catering. He’s also studying a half day and helps me with pretty much everything (my girls call him Mr. Carly), so we’re definitely keeping busy. We’re also writing a cookbook with 52 cholent (overnight Shabbos Day) recipes. I’ll keep you posted as we’re looking for people to test out recipes in kitchens other than our own.

I think that pretty much sums up the past three months in 1000 words. I’m going to try to update more regularly (I’m starting to sound like a broken record) to keep everyone included in our life overseas.

Happy New Year, everyone! Especially Mom, Dad, Mom Mom, and Becca, who I miss very, very much and hope to see soon, even though you’re turning my bedroom into a gym. And Chelsea – can’t forget her.

 

Yom HaZikaron – A Day to Remember


Today was a very bittersweet day. Living in Israel is a paradox. It’s a country where there is a huge sense of faith in Hashem, in G-d, but also many people that run away from their Jewish identities. It’s a country where every young boy goes to the army as soon as he is old enough, and fights to protect our country from the enemies that surround it. Today was Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance.

In America, Memorial Day means a lot to a select few. In Israel, today means a lot to everyone. There is no one who doesn’t know someone who fell, or at the very least, someone who knows someone who fell. Today, I heard a very moving story that I am going to try to remember here.

A Rosh Yeshiva survivor of World War II had a teacher at his school who had a son serving in the army that fell during the first Lebanon War. After the Levaya, the Rosh Yeshiva turned to the bochurim (yeshiva students) in the van taking him back to school and said, “He was Kadosh.” He was holy. One of the other students in the van turned to him and questioned, “Rebbi, even the non-religious soldiers?” Without hesitation he responded, “They were ALL kadosh.” Then, without explaining himself he asked the driver of the cab to take him directly to the house where his colleague was sitting shiva, mourning for his son.

His colleague was shocked at the arrival of the Rosh Yeshiva, who was never known for spending any extra time out of his Torah learning, and said to him, “Thank you for coming, but it is time for you to return to Yeshiva.”

His superior turned to him and relayed the following story:
“You don’t know this about me, but I had a son who was taken out of my arms and executed. He was five years old, and I was not able to do anything to save him. Later, I traded my five-year old son’s shoes for food, but I could never eat it. I gave it away to someone else. When my son was taken, I knew he was a tzadik (righteous) but he went singularly; he didn’t save anyone else in the process. Your son was also taken from you, but he did so saving the lives of all of the Jewish people that live in the Land of Israel, making him a tzadik in his own right. I know that in shamayim (heaven) right now, my son is welcoming your Shlomo to a heavenly minyan, where your son is the Shaliach Tzibur (the leader of the group) in heavenly prayer. I never got to sit shiva properly for my own son, so please let me sit here with you for a little while longer.”

The Rebbe (teacher) replied, “Rebbi (my teacher), I didn’t think it was possible to be comforted, but you just comforted me.”

Two sirens sound on Yom Hazikaron, one in the evening and one in the morning. The sirens evoke emotions that are larger than life, bringing in images of soldiers knocking loudly on doors to deliver news that no one wants to receive; wails of mothers burying their sons, and an intense silence falls over the country: the silence of laughter that will never be heard again; the silence of a wedding that will never occur and children and grandchildren that will never be born.

The director of my school said that while the national response to these sirens is to stand in a moment of silence, she doesn’t think that it’s a very Jewish response. She said that a much more Jewish response would be to stand up and to pray to G-d on behalf of the fallen soldiers, to say tehillim for their souls to help them elevate higher and higher; that our prayer should enable them to daven in their own heavenly minyan.

People often criticize the religious population in Israel for being unwilling and ungrateful to the soldiers of the land of Israel, but this powerful story shows that the opposite is true – we ALL owe our lives to them. We owe our safety to them. Our ability to daven at the Kotel to them. But we also owe it to Hashem, our Father in Heaven, who made it possible for them to strengthen this country to be able to defend itself from it’s foes. Without this understanding; without soldiers in the army and soldiers learning Torah, the Jewish state loses all of it’s Judaism – it becomes a secular state with a mainly Jewish population, the antithesis of anything Jewish. that is the essence of Yom Hazikaron, which always falls during a time of mourning for the Jewish people. It’s not a coincidence that the date is during sefira, the counting of the Omer, when we are challenged with working on our character traits specifically concerning “ben adam l’chavero,” between a man and his friend. During this time it is essential that we recognize the kedusha, the holiness, of each and every one of the soldiers defending Am Yisrael (the Jewish people), and also that we realize that ultimately, everything is in Hashem’s hands.

A Little Wisdom


Not many of you know, but I’ve been working on a memoir (novel style) for the past year, and since I’ve unfortunately taken a bit of a hiatus from working on it (no one to blame but myself) I seem to have forgotten what I saved it as on my computer. While searching for it using every keyword I can think of, I came across this gem, and thought about not sharing it because when I wrote it seven years ago, I think I meant it to be private, but decided that it’s worth sharing.

My 12th grade English teacher gave our class a pretty cliche assignment – write a letter to yourself. As you’ll see, I wasn’t too excited about the assignment, because I saved it for the last moment. But what I wrote was relevant then and is still relevant now, and it was exactly what I needed to read today.

May 16, 2007

Dear Carly,

That was weird.  I mean, its weird writing to myself, and starting a letter to myself is a strange thing to do at eight o’clock when I know that I should be working on my term paper before it ends up being fifteen pages.  Even though it will be fifteen pages, whether I do it tonight or not.  Okay, now I need to stop rambling.

I’m going to try.  I don’t know why I waited until the last minute to start this letter.  Whenever I get an assignment like this, I always wait until the very last minute because I guess I’m afraid of the future.  I’m afraid of what is going to happen four years from now and I’m afraid that I wont remember any of the people that I’m going to mention or I will remember then but I wont talk to them anymore.  I really try hard not to be afraid of change but it’s so hard because everything happens so fast and most of the time there’s nothing I can do about it.

Like this year.  It has been such an up and down year and I have felt so many things and I have been so afraid of not being able to make it and then finally I have been so happy to be alive.  Before this year I cannot ever remember crying tears of joy but I did it, and I looked like an idiot, crying tears of joy in my car.

I hope that four years from now I still read as much as I do now.  I hope that I never lose the wonder of diving into a book and not coming out for days and days.  But mostly, I hope that I still write.  Right now, I find such wonder in words and letters and sentences so much that the feeling of a pen or a pencil in my hand is like home.  I don’t know what I would do with my life if I didn’t have my poetry.  College will give me many opportunities to make my performance skills better too, and I hope that I still talk to Mr. Simmons enough to invite him to my performances and have him feel less awkward about coming.

I have to keep in touch with Mr. Simmons.  Not just because he is the poetry club person, but because he gave me the motivation to keep my pen in my hand even when I thought that I couldn’t do it anymore.  And sometimes, it made me really really really mad.  But I did it anyway because writing is like a drug and without it you can seriously injure yourself.  But with it you can save yourself from more things than just yourself.

I really hope that in four years I still know who my friends are: I mean like my real friends, not just the ones that I ask for help on homework or gossip with.

I must mention Jonathan.  Its kind of funny, because at this time last year Jonathan and I had just been together for a month, and now looking back so much seems to have changed, when really, nothing did at all.  Jonathan and I went from never talking to each other outside of school to being practically attached at the hip, and now I feel stronger for him than I ever thought I’d be able to feel about a person.  The bond that we have is a special one, and I cannot imagine a day without telling him everything that happened or sharing a laugh.  He talks about forever, about spending one hundred years together, and as much as I’d like to believe him, I hope that I don’t let him get in the way of my dreams.  I want to experience everything, I want to see the world, and I want to share it with him.  And then, when I’m ready to settle down, if it’s with him, then that will be good.  But if its not, well, that will be good too.  I’ve never been the kind of person to plan my life around a guy, and I don’t plan to be that person anytime soon.  But I know that I love Jonathan more than I knew a person was capable to love.  And I am lucky to have experienced that love.  To be experiencing that love.  And as much as I would like to be sitting next to him reading him this letter in four years, I will not say that it is definite.  I might be, but like I said, if its not, that will be okay also.

I’m not going to lie and pretend that I am thrilled to be leaving high school.  I mean, I’m proud that I did it, and I’m relieved that I don’t have any more work to do, but I’m going to miss the structure and seeing everyone every day.  Mostly, I’m going to miss lunches with Mr. Simmons and Mrs. Corlies’ seamless transitions from one point to another (hopefully I will learn that skill myself!) and sitting in the grass and reading poetry with Mac and just sharing moments that seemed so meaningless but were so full of sustenance with so many people that I care about more than I will ever admit.

I’ve never been very good at the whole run-on sentence thing.  I mean, I write them like its my job.  It’s the one thing that anyone would find in reading any of my papers from however old we were when we started writing to now.  Run-on sentences are my thing.  It’s because I just write the way that my brain tells me to and sometimes that results in a run-on sentence.  or a fragment.  But I’m rambling again.

I could try to search my mind for a last word of wisdom, but the only thing that I would find is a pun or a joke that no one but me will think is funny.  That tends to happen a lot.  Not that I mind or anything.  I love every second of it.

The point of the matter is that the most important thing that I learned this year is that it’s okay to make mistakes and admit it.  It’s okay to write the occasional run-on sentence and it’s okay to realize that I’m alive after sleepwalking for so long.  Have fun with life.  It’s a good thing.

Good luck,

Carly

A Little Peace and Thanksgiving


Baruch Hashem, it’s been quiet here for the past week. We all had a few mixed feelings when the cease fire was announced last week, because we partially wanted Israel to just go in and finish the job they started, but thankful that we wouldn’t hear the wail of the siren in the coming days.

We were unhappy for several reasons. First of all, Hamas learned some lessons during this war that are not beneficial to Israel. Primarily, they learned that they can fire over 1500 rockets into Israel in an 8 day period and not get so much as a potch (smack) on the wrist. They also learned that Egypt (see below: the real winner of the “war”) and the United States will push for a cease fire and try to get Israel to not ‘invade’ by foot. (I put the word invade in parenthesis because can a country ‘invade’ a part of their own borders? Would the U.S. be ‘invading’ Puerto Rico? Arizona? Just something to think about.)

Egypt really won this war because the world recognized their leader (an open member of the Muslim Brotherhood) as a vital contribution to the “peace” process between Israelis and Palestinians. No surprise that less than a week later, he declared himself a dictator by saying that none of the courts can contradict any decision that he makes as leader.

As for the amount of quiet we’ve had, there’s still some unrest along the Gaza/Sinai border, and not all of the soldiers that were called up from the army have gone home. Most recently, there was some distress on the Gaza/Israel border (see above comment for why I sigh/roll my eyes while I write this) and Israeli soldiers were needed to calm down the situation. We haven’t had a siren in Jerusalem, and I don’t think there have been sirens in the south since the day after the cease fire either.

Even throughout the whole ordeal, we weren’t fearful. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t afraid, but we weren’t full of fear. A friend of mine, who I’ll tell you about in a second, almost found herself outside during the second siren, because she had to go to the butcher. Once the siren was over, she ran out, and while she was waiting for the butcher to ring up her food, she let out a sigh, almost as if she’d been holding her breath the whole way there, afraid there would be another siren. The butcher (a Chassidic man), told her it’s okay to be scared. He said, “You can be scared because it’s scary. But to be paralyzed in fear is not good. To not do things because of the fear is bad.” In other words, being paralyzed because of fear makes you think that you are in control. To be aware but unparalyzed is to see that you are most certainly not.

We’re coming to visit America next week for two weeks, and my mom asked me if we’d had a conversation about not going back because of the war. I told her no. She asked if we would be having that conversation — and I told her it wasn’t in our radar. That it was a conversation that would not happen.

There is a clarity that comes from being in a time of crisis. Over the past week, we were scared, but we still felt safe. We’d have to be idiots to not feel safe after seeing all of the miracles that happened all over Israel. To say that over 1500 rockets fell in and around highly populated cities all over a country that’s the size of New Jersey and only six people died is miraculous. A bus blew up in Tel Aviv and only injured some of the people on board. That rockets aimed at the holy city of Jerusalem landed in Arab territory; there’s no other way to understand it. The army might say it’s because of the Iron Dome, that they are strong, and able, but we know that it’s because there’s a greater “Iron Dome” out there, looking out for all of us. We have to hold on to this clarity.

These are all things to be thankful for. Since Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Israel (not even in Har Nof, which is made up of A LOT of Americans!), our group of friends from Philadelphia decided to get together for a Shabbaton and eat Thanksgiving-themed food. Everyone made a dish or two, and it was a lot of fun. Jonathan and I made the turkey and gravy, and others contributed stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and onions, butternut squash soup, and salad. For dessert, we had our choice of either lemon meringue pie, pecan pie, pumpkin bread pudding with a dulce de leche sauce, or chocolate chip cookies. To say that we were full at the end of Shabbos would be the biggest understatement of the year, probably.

Throughout the whole experience, all I could think about is how grateful I am that all of our best friends got the opportunity to come to Israel at the same time, and that we’re all quite literally in this together. Just to give you a little bit of background: In college, I met two girls who very quickly became my best friends. They are now here, in Israel, with us. One of those girls, Hannah, is married to a guy that I grew up with, from kindergarten through college. Obviously, he’s here too and he is one of Jonathan’s best friends. Another one of our very good friends from college is here also, along with one more couple. And we all went to college together. Now, we’re all in seminary together. Quite literally, Hashem gave us this incredible support system in college as we were becoming more observant together, and continued to give us this support system through getting married (for some of us, and for others, soon!), and now, going to Israel.

So when we want to go to the supermarket and have to take those four buses to do so (and to share a cab home!), there’s someone to do it with. When we want to go shopping for a skirt, or for gifts for family and friends, there’s someone there. Need to vent? Not a problem. Missed a class? Here’s the notes. And all coming together for a meal that we all had a part in was a beautiful materialization of that reality. And it was a lot of fun.

We missed our family and friends in America, but we’re lucky to have a kind of Philadelphia, mismatched, quirky, and fun family here. And a lot of things to be thankful to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for.