Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Slice of Life in Israel

This was posted today on the Israel Forever Foundation website. Enjoy!

If you want to feel a slice of Israeli society, then go and have a mammogram done. (Sorry, guys. I guess you can go for a colonoscopy.) Recently, I took the day off of work in order to have a mammogram. While we are focused on terror and external threats, we also have to do the internal housekeeping that keeps us safe, and healthy.

Hala, located in Givat Shaul in Jerusalem, is one of the most elegant medical facilities. It’s run with patience, respect and privacy and is housed in a beautifully decorated and comfortable large space.

While I waited for my mammogram and then for the meeting with the doctor, I had to laugh. I rarely leave my own little bubble, working and living in Gush Etzion. But when I do, I love to be reminded how different things are here and how much Israelis regard each other as family.

One would assume, sitting in a waiting room to get the results of your mammogram, that people would be private, nervous, quiet.

Not here.

As I checked in, the woman working there said, “Oh. Neve Daniel. Do you know….” and then rattled off a list of friends. We chatted for a few minutes about our mutual acquaintances.

A few minutes after I sat down in the spacious waiting room, a 75 year old woman started waving her phone around and saying, “Does anyone know how I move this picture on my phone to send it to my daughter?”

“I don’t know honey,” replied her seat mate.

“Oh, no problem,” said the young woman on the other side of the room. “Come here mamale and we’ll do it together.”

And so they sat together, saving pictures of grandkids and then sending them to the daughter.

Next, there was the Russian woman in the corner watching a video on her phone – with full volume. We were all privy to the exciting adventure, and she even showed it around a few times (even though I don’t think anyone else in the room knew Russian!).

Finally, there was the policy that they’ve recently implemented at Hala to give you a number. Rather than using your name, they explained to me, they give out numbers and they call your number when they need to.

“Number 376,” they called a few times. Ok, I thought to myself. That’s a fine system.

Or, it was, until they started interchanging my number and my name whenever they felt like it. “376?” they called one minute. “Romi?” they called the next.

Well, there went that formality and secrecy.

And as I checked out, the woman working there said, “Oh Neve Daniel. Are you on the really windy side or the slightly less windy side?” Laughing, I replied, “The slightly less windy side. “Oh,” she said. “The vatikem (old timers). Good for you. That’ll help you integrate better.”

And with that, and my clean bill of health in my hand, I walked out of the office as I heard, “Number 381?” “Linda?” behind me.

We are, after all, family in this crazy place we call Israel.               

And that we call home.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Worlds That Were Murdered Today With Shlomit

I published this piece today on The Times of Israel. I'm placing it here for those who might not otherwise see it. May we please hear better news soon.

23 year old Shlomit Krigman was buried in Jerusalem today.

Yesterday, two Arab terrorists entered her community while she was grocery shopping and stabbed her in the head.

And today, she died.

But it wasn’t only 23 year old Shlomit who was murdered.

Her 83 year old self, contentedly sitting in a rocking chair by the fire and reflecting on a life well lived – she was murdered.

And the dreams of the man she would one day marry – the man who is waiting out there somewhere – they were murdered.

And the sound of laughter with the delivery of her first child was murdered.

The sound of exhaustion with the delivery of her second, and the sound of exhilaration with the delivery of her third. They were all murdered.

The accomplishments her future children would have had were all murdered as well. Every single one, every accomplishment, every achievement, every future invention was buried with her today.

The glimmer in her eye when her first child became a bar mitzvah; when her daughter spoke of love in the kitchen with her at two in the morning; the smile of knowing appreciation when the little one graduated from high school and got into the army unit of his choice. Murdered.

Murdered, too, were her future grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren and so on. Peace makers, trailblazers, settlers of the land; people of great spirit and fortitude and truth and determination; people who might have changed the world, who might have invented, created, transformed our lives. People who would have surely loved, hated, screamed, danced, admired, rejected, dreamed and designed.


All of them murdered.

So today, as we buried a beautiful, vibrant, giving young woman, all that I could think about were the hundreds, if not thousands, of future generations peering down from the clouds and watching the burial. The hundreds, if not thousands, of people who will not come to pass with her murder; who will not have the opportunity to BE, to DO and to CREATE because of the slash of one terrorists’ knife, because of the hatred of one teenager and those who are indoctrinating him. A kid.

And when they say that one person can save the world, they can also say that one murder can destroy the world. Because today, it destroyed the world of Shlomit Krigman and of all future, vast worlds that she was entitled to create, and to have and to hold in what should have been a long, peaceful and joyous life and legacy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Craving the Chaos of Everyday Life

(I published this piece today at The Times of Israel. I'm placing it here for those who wouldn't see it there.)

I want to curl up into a ball at the moment and disappear. I’ve been wanting to do so all day, and have obviously been fighting the burning urge. 

Because you see, I have as many things as you do to get done today. I’ve got work to take care of and kids to get off to school and laundry to do.         

But if you live here, in the heart of Israel, as I do, then you know that I’ve also got tears streaming down my face. I’ve got uncontrollable, gut-wrenching tears because a mother of six, a mother who looks like she would be a friend of mine, was butchered in her own home in front of her children last night.

So as I got my kids off to school today and I went through my list of things to accomplish, it included a few more things than just doing the grocery shopping and getting homework done.

And this, really, is why I want to crawl into bed. Because life is full enough without these insanely difficult and debilitating extras. 

Your life in Maryland, New Jersey, Arizona or Maine is busy. It’s crowded and full and sometimes it’s hard to breath if you’re a busy mom because you’re just so….busy.

But when I sat down at work today and started to put the pieces together, I simply wanted my bed. Because I realized that the husband of the beautiful woman murdered in front of her children yesterday works at my son’s yeshiva. And that means that my son’s degrees of separation from this attack vanished before my eyes. But what I hadn’t counted on, was that my degrees of separation disappeared as well.

Because Natan, the husband and father, wasn’t just Natan. He was Natan with whom I’ve been working virtually on a project for the last few months. He was Natan, the incredibly soft spoken and lovely man who exudes warmth and comfort.

It was Natan that I watched all day as he went from Otniel, where they had a service for his wife and where he leaned on and held up his six children, to the cemetery where he eulogized his bride.
As I sat there at work, trying to stay focused on the tasks at hand, with my mind swimming, there was another attack.

This time, we had to get our co-worker out of his meeting. Because you see, the attack was against a pregnant woman in Tekoa. And our co-worker lives in Tekoa, with his pregnant wife.

And there are days like this when it is simply…too…much.

But lately, almost every day seems to have this edge of being too much, of barely hanging on.

And we’re hanging on while we are showing up for those dentist appointments that we’ve scheduled for the kids, and juggling trying to write a Dvar Torah for the second grade child that won’t completely embarrass him while we wait for the 8th grader to get home from school to do the typing; and we’re hanging in there through the SMS messages that remind us to keep our doors locked and to look over our shoulders – even in our precious yishuv, in our home that is supposed to be our reprieve.

And we’re hanging in there, even as the 8th grader searches for schools and tries to find the right match for himself and the fourth grader asks to make cookies in our house in the afternoon with a friend. And there is a problem with my gums, but who has time for problem gums? And my 2nd grader comes home crying from the bus because the kids refused to sit with him because he’s wearing red basketball shoes today. And as my 4th grader explains, “Oh yeah, Mommy. That’s a thing. Because you know – Hapoel.” As if that’s supposed to mean something to me.

And the combination of the little, everyday things that need to be done, accomplished, soothed, completed, and the major, paralyzing and seemingly insurmountable things that need to be lived through – is simply too much.

And I recognize that there will be better days. That I won’t feel this way forever of wanting to get into bed and remain there for the future.

And I know it’s a victory that I made it through the day without completely falling apart. And that I haven’t climbed into bed and pulled the covers over my head. And that I have tried to show up for my kids, and smile, and be there.

But right now, my thoughts are only of Dafna Meir, Natan Meir, their children and our country that so very badly needs a reprieve and a chance to go back to the chaos of everyday life in its regular form.

Because today, it really is too much.