Sunday, May 30, 2010

Soldiers or Deer....You Decide

My kids seem to be misinterpreting a lot of things lately and their mistakes are hysterical. Today, Eliav, our 3 year old, is going on a big field trip. There is a deer park nearby that has a few dozen deer and other animals that the kids can look at and interact with in nature. It's a lovely place and it's called "Eretz Ayalim."

So, we were sitting with Eliav last night and getting him excited for his trip. He explained that he certainly knew where he was going, and that he would be going to "Eretz Chayalim" to see soldiers. (Chayalim are soldiers in Hebrew.) No matter how much we tried to explain that he was going to see deer and not soldiers, it fell on deaf ears.

So, this morning as I took him to school, I said, "Have a great time today Lavi! Enjoy the deer!"

And he said, "Yep, we are going to Eretz Chayalim to see soldiers."

All I could do was shake my head and laugh. He's in for a big surprise today - unless, of course, there happen to be some soldiers in the deer park : ) .

Monday, May 24, 2010

Faith and Courage

I experienced two amazing, and yet very different, events this week that have given me pause. On Thursday night, I went to a beautiful wedding that took place under the stars in Gush Etzion at the Yeshiva in Alon Shvut. The bride literally danced her way to the chuppah (and pretty much continued dancing through the entire ceremony). The groom's father was murdered by a terrorist when the groom was a small boy. His mom went on to raise her four children, to remarry, and to have another four children. And she stood under the chuppah on that night, marrying off the first of her many children.

Standing under the chuppah, the bride and groom shared a few words with the hundreds of guests in attendance. They explained that a wedding is truly an act of faith - to declare your love for another of Gd's creations and to have the faith in your union and your future together. Coming from a boy whose entire life was ripped apart at a young age, these words were particularly poignant and dramatic. While he spoke of his deep sadness of not having his father by his side, he also explained how incredibly thrilled he was to reach this point in his life and how honored he was to have so many loved ones with whom to share his declaration of faith.

In sharp contrast, I attended a very different type of event last night. Our dear friends here lost their two year old daughter in a tragic and horrific accident 10 years ago. This month would have been her bat mitzvah, and they asked a group of their old friends, all of whom knew them from the States (except us), to come to their home last night. The gathering was as beautiful and festive as it was heart wrenching. The mom spoke, saying that she didn't want to dwell on the "what ifs" and the "if onlies" of her life, but rather that she wanted to talk about what she's learned from this experience. Listening to her was amazing.

As she explained, they were completely torn apart by this tragedy that happened one Sunny June day. She woke up that morning, appreciating how much she had in her life, and went to sleep waiting for her husband to return from Israel where they were burying her 2 year old child's body.

She spoke of resilience and faith; of incredible friendships and of perseverance. And while she was talking about how they managed to muddle their way through this tragedy, I marveled at the two of them. Their act of faith is evident in the family that they have since built. Since their daughter's death, they have gone on to have four more children. As she said, all that she wanted after the death was to find a way back to being a "normal" mom, wife and person. And with time, as she found herself focusing on regular little details in her life again, and complaining about the inconsequential events of ordinary living, she realized that she had, indeed, started to recover. Her life would never be what it was before; but, as a trusted psychologist explained to her, there would be life "before" and life "after" and she could learn to rebuild her life after the tragedy.

Most of us don't have a difficult time exhibiting faith and courage in easy times. The boy who builds a life for himself in the face of the atrocities of terrorism; the mother and father who show the faith to give birth to additional children, and to move through each day with gratitude and optimism...these are the heroes who live in my midst and from whom I learn so much each day.

Lost in Translation

This morning, Eliav discovered the ice cream cones that I bought last night. He tried to insist that he had to have ice cream for breakfast. Negotiating with him, I explained that he could certainly have an ice cream cone the second that he got home from school today. He thought about it for a second and (shockingly) agreed.

So, then, I said "Ok buddy. Let's shake on it."

I put out my hand, getting ready to shake, only to find him vigorously shaking his whole body around and smiling at me as if our agreement had, thus, been sealed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Yom Yerushalayim

Today is Yom Yerushalayim, another one of those holidays that I knew nothing about while living in the States, but that has so much meaning for us now that we are part of life here. On this day, in 1967, Motti Gur's Paratroop forces managed to break through into the Old City and to recapture this incredible location. Can you imagine what those soldiers were feeling, re-entering the Old City and allowing the Jewish people to finally answer the 2,000-year-old prayer of "Next Year in Jerusalem?"

My kids all went to school in blue and white today, and we headed out to work wearing the same. Three of my children have "Jerusalem" written on their American passports for place of birth - but nothing in the space where it says country. Can you think of anywhere else in the world where your child's place of birth isn't acknowledged as being part of the country in which you live?

Today, we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem - the capital of Israel.

This is the radio broadcast of the recapture of the old city. Yossi Ronen was the news broadcaster reporting the event. Rav Shlomo Goren, who was the Chief Rabbi of the IDF at the time (and also held the rank of General, having served as a soldier in the Haganah - Israel's pre-state army), joined the Paratroopers at the Kotel HaMa'aravi (Western Wall) and led them in prayer. Colonel Motti Gur was the Military commander of the forces that recaptured the old city.

And here is an amazing video highlighting pictures from the past and present of the Old City. Enjoy - and may we always be privileged to enjoy, build in, and love our eternal, re-unified city of Jerusalem.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Buuuutiful Nails

My house cracks me up. I am living on such a boy-planet.

I had my toenails done on Friday, a treat that I LOVE having done about once a year. The second that Eliav, 3, got home he noticed my toes. He came right over to me, started petting my toes and said, "Mommy, your toes are buuuuutiful."

Then, my toes became the center of attention in the house for the whole weekend. Everyone took part in it, admiring my toes, asking how exactly the paint got onto them, inquiring who it was who had done this for me, and on and on. I felt like a blond woman who suddenly found herself admired by the natives in the middle of a village in Africa.

And so, this morning, I wasn't surprised, but I was certainly amused, when Eliav asked me to take my shoes off so that he could admire my toes, yet again. "Wow Mommy. Your toes are just so buuuuutiful."

Another day in a house of hysterical boys.