Sunday, October 30, 2016

Lessons Learned at the Lone Tree

My two oldest boys go to school 45 minutes south of our house in a program that I’ve written about a few times called Sussya. It’s a magical place that places a great deal of emphasis on molding the boys into upstanding, thoughtful, generous people. At the same time, they teach the kids all about Jewish history and modern Zionism by exploring the Land.

This Friday, Yehuda’s weekly trip took them to Gush Etzion. So the evening before, each kid called his parents to tell them that the kids would be available to say hi for 15-20 minutes…and could we please bring some goodies. We’ve been doing this for two years already with Matan, so we know how to grab the moments when we get them and how to bring treats for the kids. But with Matan’s class, we have a Whatsapp group (of course) so that the parents who live in the Gush can coordinate what to bring and when.

We don’t have such a group with the new ninth graders, so I was in the dark about how much to buy…and of what. I bought enough treats for each kid to have one pastry and a cup of juice, and I certainly hoped that other parents would be bringing more treats. 

When we arrived, we were the first parents on the scene, and the kids quickly starting to gobble the goodies that we had brought. We were standing a bit away from the kids, talking to Yehuda’s teacher and I started to get nervous.

“Oy,” I said to Rav R. “I didn’t bring enough. And now the kids are going to be hungry.”

And in perfect fashion, he said, “No! It’s great that there isn’t enough."

I looked at him like he was crazy.

"Listen, Romi! This is how the kids learn to share. They look at the bourekas, and they realize there isn’t quite enough and they think about how to divide it up, and what to do. It’s perfect.”

As I stood there, obviously doubting what he was saying, Rav R. continued, “No really,” he said with a huge grin. “I love when there is only one candy left in the house and I give it to one of the kids. She has to look at it and figure out how to divide it with her sister. This is what life is all about.”

And then a few more parents showed up with goodies and he said, “See! They came just as the kids finished your treats. And now the new treats will taste even better to them since they had just a taste of yours. The timing is perfect.”

It’s incredibly humbling to be among people who have such good hearts and such positive attitudes. I notice a similar thought-process among many of the teachers in their school.

I have so many lessons to learn from an attitude like this one. And I can only marvel that these are the types of giants among whom, and from whom, I have my boys learning.

Lessons learned at the Lone Tree boureka stop.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Romi's Reading Round-Up: October 2016

It’s been a few months since I’ve shared my recent reads, and I love talking about books. Here are my recent discoveries and opinions. I’m always on the look-out for the next great books, which I find to be few and far between.

So here we go:

Books I Loved
The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley: What a gem. Very thought provoking and nicely written.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. One of the best books I’ve read in years was The Unlikely Adventure of Harold Frye and I’m always looking for another book of this sort. The Story of Ove was almost as touching. So this has a similar theme and it was lovely. Not quite to the level of Frye, but a gentle look at the journey an older man takes.

All three books by Noah Hawley. My dad (my reading buddy) and I recently discovered this extremely talented writer. Wow he’s amazing. I’d say the best book is Before the Fall, and then Other People's Weddings and then The Good Father. He’s a Hollywood writer and he’s just incredible.

Eternal on the Water: Joseph Monninger: Very sad love story.

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven: Chris Cleave: Here was my review on Goodreads “Holy cow. I feel like I need to go to sleep for like a year to recover from this book. First of all the language was out-of-this-world gorgeous. And the topic was sweet at first, and then turned incredibly heavy. One of the best looks at the blitz and some of the trials that both soldiers and Londoners endured that I've read. Just remarkable.”

The Life We Bury: Allen Askens: Interesting look at a young boy who does a report on a convicted murderer and what he uncovers about the murder.

Books I Enjoyed
Odd One Out by Monica McInerney: Light and sweet. Short read. Nice two hour read on Shabbat but nothing special.

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson: This is by the author who wrote The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window. So, if you’ve read that then you know how quirky this is going to be. I actually bought it in a grocery store in Cyprus which I thought was funny. This book is the definition of quirky and you have to be ready to suspend all disbelief and be along for the ride.  You may hear yourself yelling out "WHAT???" quite frequently as you read.

The In-Between Hour: Barbara Claypole White: The premise here was quite intriguing. Father loses his son but has to keep pretending with his own father that the boy is alive. It was good but not great. Dragged at times.

Echoes of Family: Barbara Claypole White: Intense look at what someone with bipolar deals with. Quite heavy and also dragged in places.

Leaving Blythe River: Catherine Ryan Hyde: I love this author and almost anything she writes. This book was slower paced and more introspective than most of her other works. What do you do when the father you really hate is missing and you might be able to save him? It was a poignant read, if a bit slow paced.

Whippoorwill: Joseph Moninger: I bought this because of another book of his that I read (see above). This is a great book for pre-teen and teenage kids. It was a sweet look at a girl trying to help a dog in distress.

The Imposter Bride: Nancy Richler: Woman steals another woman’s identity to escape the Holocaust and marries into the family that the other woman was supposed to marry into. Interesting look at what happens.

Books I wanted to throw across the room
It appears that I don’t record the books that I don’t finish or absolutely hate. I’ll have to start recording these since it’s important to know what NOT to read too!

What I’m Reading Now 
Britt-Marie Was Here: Fredrik Backman: This is the author of A Man Called Ove. It’s written in a similar style but is a bit slow so far. We’ll see how it goes.

And what are you reading? What do you most recommend? I’d LOVE to get suggestions for books that keep you up late at night and keep you thinking about them long after you’ve finished.

Happy reading!