Monthly Archives: November 2014

No computer = more productivity for me!

A few weeks ago, one of my children knocked my laptop off the table.  After I picked it up, the screen was making a rattling sound but it seemed to be working fine despite the sound.

Last night, my screen suddenly stopped working.  I assume that whatever got loose at that time finally disconnected.  And despite the inconvenience of not having a working computer, I wasn’t too sorry about that since I appreciate not having the mental push/pull of thinking of things online that I need to do.

I had a nice productive day today, from morning to night.  Sunday is always a busier day since there’s extra cleanup from Shabbos; in addition to the kitchen cleanup I took in four loads of dry clothes from the drying rack and put them away, washed and hung two more loads, cleaned the boys’ room together with them, ate breakfast, told the kids the parsha for the week at breakfast, davened with them, spent time with visiting family members from the US, went to the park with the kids and even had time for a long nap and a long session practicing my flute in addition to other things.

It was nice to feel productive and relaxed because last week I felt incredibly unproductive.  I started my week with a trip to Jerusalem, which was an entire day trip.  Then I spent the next day recuperating from the exhaustion of my trip. Then Tuesday, I spent another entire day in Jerusalem (left at 6 am, back at 9:40 pm), then Weds. recuperating (I get super nauseous and headachy from traveling, that’s why I need a day to get back to myself), then Thursday busy with shopping and Shabbos preparations.  We enjoyed having three visiting family members in addition to three of our older kids home for Shabbos.

And now I’m preparing to be in the Jerusalem area again, this time for the next two days.  This trip is for the wedding of a close friend’s daughter.  Since there aren’t buses running after the wedding back to Karmiel, I’ll be staying overnight in Jerusalem, then hopefully having time to visit with my friend before heading back home.  I’ll leave midday Monday and will be back Tuesday afternoon.

I don’t enjoy the traveling or leaving the kids for so long, but I’m glad tomorrow’s trip is for a happy occasion.  And I’m also really glad to have gotten things in order today, spent time with everyone and just generally feel settled – it makes it easier to leave when I feel like I’ve been on top of things.


Accompanying dd18 to orthopedist and police station

I spent a long day in Jerusalem yesterday, beginning with the bus ride there at 6 am.  I really could have taken a bus an hour later and gotten there with plenty of time to spare but dd19 was going on the earliest bus so I took the chance for some extra time with her and the only cost was waking up an hour earlier!

The purpose of my visit was to accompany dd18 to the orthopedist to check on how her bone is healing.  When I told dd I was planning to come with her to the appointment, she told me it was ridiculous for me to come all the way to Jerusalem for a five minute doctor’s appointment.  (She knows what’s involved time and energy-wise for me to make the trip to Jerusalem – it’s a full day of traveling.)  I told her that I wasn’t asking her opinion about if it was a wise thing to do, just letting her know I’d be there!

When we got to the orthopedist’s office, he spent less than a minute looking at her arm before telling us the bone was healing straight.  Then he spent the next few minutes of our visit on the phone, during which I joked with dd that she was very generous when she had estimated she’d have a five minute visit!

We stayed in the clinic for quite a bit longer since I wanted to get dd’s cast replaced since it had been put on quite loosely, they had then sawed it open at the top along the length (maybe they had a concern about her arm swelling?) and it was beginning to break after just a week.  The orthopedist said it wasn’t necessary, it just needed to be repaired and referred us to the nurse to have it taken care of.  When we got there, the nurse took a look and when I told him it was supposed to be repaired, asked which doctor we spoke to and went to go speak to him.  The nurse came back and said the doctor said to replace it.

Hmm.  Well, it’s what I wanted so no complaints there.  Then he told us we had two choices for a new cast – the traditional cast, or one that would be lighter, thinner (to more easily fit under clothing) and waterproof.  I asked him what the downside of the second cast would be since it seemed like an obvious choice, and he told me we’d have to pay extra for that cast.  Naturally.

It was worth it to me to spend the money if it meant dd would be a bit more comfortable and so he gave her the new cast, which is made of a material that became available just a year ago.

Then we headed to the police station to file the paperwork from the hospital.  I anticipated this would be a very quick errand but was totally wrong – we were there for over two hours.  Some of that was waiting for an investigator to be available and most of it was going over the accident in detail, repeatedly being asked the same questions again and again.  (And after all of that, tonight dd18 called to say that the investigator who came to the scene of the accident right after it happened – someone different than she spoke to at the station- said he has a couple more questions and he wants her to go back in to the station to answer them.)   After this she was giving an authorization form to give the hospital so that we aren’t financially responsible for the ambulance and hospital costs incurred as a result of the accident – the insurance of the car that hit her will cover it.

As a result of the long time we spent at the police station, I ended up taking a bus home three hours later than I originally planned, and got home at 7:45 pm but it was worth it to be there with dd18.  Yes, she could have done everything herself and she would have.  But she went through much too much having to take care of herself after being hit by a car.  I had some peace of mind at the time that she was being taken by ambulance and assumed that meant she would be looked after.  I was wrong about that.

She was taken to the emergency room and left in the waiting room until they opened at 8 am (there’s the second emergency room that’s open 24/7 where they took the other man in the ambulance who was hit by the same car and injured more seriously), then sent back and forth between different departments to get xrays, then a cast, then back to the original department again. No one accompanied her, pushed her in a wheelchair, nothing.  I was aghast and so upset when she told me about this two days later.  I’m very grateful to the young lady who got to the hospital to be with her as fast as she could, but she got there just a short time before dd was released so dd was on her own almost the entire time.

Dd18 commented when we were at the clinic where the orthopedist was, “It’s very hard to get anyone’s attention in places like these.”  She’s right, it is.  That’s why you need someone to be there to advocate for you, because when you’re in pain and especially when in a state of emotional trauma and can hardly process what people are saying, you shouldn’t have to do these things for yourself.

It was a full day and I always find a visit to Jerusalem exhausting, so today was a slower than usual day.  Tomorrow I’ll be going to Jerusalem again for something I had planned before dd had this appointment – actually, my end destination is Ramat Beit Shemesh, so I’ll be taking a bus from Jerusalem to there.  II’m looking forward to joining some homeschoolers at their weekly meetup there!


Update on dd18, finding perspective amidst terror

First, to update you on dd18’s condition.  Thank G-d she is doing well; yesterday for the first time we didn’t hear the sound of shock and trauma in her voice when she spoke.  She has a cast on her right arm which makes doing the things we do in daily life difficult and draining, but she’s in a dorm where she has friends who have been wonderful.  She’s still in pain all over her body but she’s taking painkillers and with time this should pass.  Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.

I haven’t been writing much in the last couple of weeks because the situation in Israel has been very hard.  It seems inappropriate to write about day to day things when the lives of so many have been turned upside down and destroyed, and I don’t have the words to write about the events that are happening here.  Last week I wanted to write about 26 year old Dalya Lemkos, purposely run over with a car and then stabbed to death by a terrorist; as soon as I saw her photo I knew she was a giving person with a heart of gold.  This week the horrors continued with the synagogue massacre in Jerusalem the day after dd18 was hit by a car.  Jews wrapped in prayer shawls were attacked in the midst of prayer with meat cleavers, an axe and guns.

There are so many more events than this taking place every single day; only the worst of the attacks are reported.  Even here in Karmiel there was an attempt by an Arab to run down a soldier last week (we have a lot of Arabs in our area and have peaceful relations with them; they are doctors, store owners, security guards; they live in our neighborhoods and shop in our stores).  I have written and rewritten and rewritten again thoughts on what is happening, and posted none of it.

Rebbetzin Tzipora Heller is a world-renowned Torah educator who lives in Har Nof, the Jerusalem neighborhood where the massacre took place.  Her son-in-law and twelve year old grandson were present when the attack took place; her grandson escaped to safety but his father was critically injured when attacked with an axe.  He miraculously regained consciousness yesterday.  I am grappling with trying to keep a G-d oriented focus on the tragedies the Jewish people are suffering now, and Rebbetzin Heller shared the following today, which was helpful to me and I believe will be helpful to all of you.   (My added clarifications are  in parentheses.)


>>Dear friends,

So many of you have showed concern and written, and even more of you have davened. I have no words to tell you how much this means not only to me, but to every one of us. Thank G-d, Shmuli (her son in law)  is much better. He is aware, able to communicate and reminded a friend that he is only giving him his seat on the morning bus to Mir (his yeshiva) temporarily. That doesn’t mean that the story is over. If we closed the book here it would be a cruel denial of our having lived through a pogrom that left Har Nof with four new widows, and 24 new orphans.

The four men who were killed were buried, and their death caused many of us to rethink our ideas about what death is really about. Is dying a brutal death at the hands of people you never met and certainly don’t threaten in any way a senseless desecration of life? Is dying for no reason other than the fact that you are a Jew a meaningless tragedy? Death is never sweet for those who are left behind, but there is some comfort in knowing that the death of these four men was a reflection of the way that they chose to live.

Their deaths had meaning.

The men who died in Kehillas Benei Torah died as they lived; they were dedicated to living with emunah and beginning their days with dedication. They were killed for not being Muslim.  When Miri (her daughter) received the call from the hospital social worker telling her to get to Hadassah (hospital) as soon as possible and not to come alone was one of the worst moments that anyone could have.  All four people in the car spent the twenty minute ride saying all of the variations of  “I can’t believe that this can be happening. It sounds terrible” than you can possibly imagine.

When we were allowed into the recovery room to see Shmuli after his initial surgery there were no tears, we were too shell-shocked.  It takes only seconds to assume a new sort of normal.  When I asked the nurse what the trickle of blood that I saw flowing out of Shmuli’s ear, she told me that they were able to control the majority of the flow, and that this isn’t really significant.  When they do the second surgery they’ll take care of it. The answer sounded reasonable and left me feeling relieved. I had accepted that blood coming out of a man’s head was normal, and that a second surgery was something to look forward to.  I don’t know what Miri was thinking, but the one thing that I know never crossed her mind or mine was regret.


Neither of us wished that he would have stayed home from the synagogue Tuesday any more than Sunday or Monday.  Neither of us wished that Mordechai would be the kind of kid who doesn’t like to go to shul with his dad.  We both know that the villain of the story isn’t the co-incidences of time and place that led them to be in Kehillas Bnei Torah Tuesday morning.  The villain is the man with the cleaver and the man with the gun. They are the stars of the tragedy but you can’t let yourself be blind to the fact that they are supported by a cast of thousands.  The countless kids who are taught hatred from their earliest youth for anyone who isn’t them. The kadi in the mosque who spews out Itbach al Yahud (kill the Jews) in his Friday sermon after duly praising Al-lah the Compassionate. There are bit players in the ongoing drama.

They have made the media the message, and the subtle and not so subtle anti-Semitism disguised pathological hatred for Israel all deserve billing.  Neither Miri nor I thought about them at the moment.  We were both aware of something much bigger, more real than the ongoing soap opera called Them against Us.  It’s called faith in G-d, who can turn things around in a moment, and whose will isn’t known to us, but His chessed (loving kindness) is.  It was the only thing that mattered in the recovery room.

Emunah (Faith)

Emunah means knowing that everything has one source, knowing that there is purpose and meaning.  It means that you will one day account for your life to the One who gave it to you.  It means that you are living on one page of an endless book, and the only thing that really matters is what kind of person you choose to become.

Choose Light

You can choose light.  You can choose learning.  You can choose acts of kindness.  You can choose closeness to the wounded by continuing to daven for Shmuel Yerucham ben Baila, Chaim Yechiel ben Malka and Eitan ben Sara.  The rabbanim have strongly recommended lighting Shabbos candles earlier.  Maharal (Torah sage who lived hundreds of years ago) tells us that the light of these candles is the same light that Torah sheds.  You can transcend your limitations and your attachment to materialism by giving charity.

A fund has been started for the widows and orphans left behind.  Donations can be sent to Kupat Ha’Ir, Victims of Har Nof Massacre Fund №: 20159, which is earmarked for the victims of Har Nof’s tragedy.  Various funds have been started, but the Rabbanim of the neighborhood have recommended this one because they are able to provide you with an American tax-deductible receipt to those who wish them. Choose to be part of their lives at this time. After all, you are part of the family.  (Edited to add – here is an online link where you can donate –

Post this to your friends who want to look beyond the surface.

Love always,



Please click here to see the message from the four widows from the Har Nof attack of what they request our response be. 

With that I wish you all a peaceful Shabbos, as well a wish for perspective, hope and growth from all that the Jewish people are suffering not only in Israel but worldwide at this time.


DD18 hit by car, prayers appreciated

I got an early morning call from dd18 this morning, and in response to my cheery, “Good morning, M!” which she seemed not to hear, she said, “Um, don’t be worried (I started to feel cold inside as soon as she said that knowing something bad was coming) but I just got hit by a car.”

She was calling as they were getting her ready to transport to the hospital.  She was waiting in Jerusalem for her bus when a car spun out of control, leaped the curb and hit her and another man at the bus stop.  The man was standing three feet from her; he was hit first and more seriously injured.

Thankfully, the bench where she usually sits was wet so she chose to stand to the side instead, saving her from a very serious injury – the bench was directly hit by the car and demolished.

Dd says she was only lightly injured and I hope this is true.  She says she’s mostly okay but right after an accident, a person often doesn’t feel their injuries and I’m waiting to hear after she’s checked out at the hospital how she’s really doing.

I called dd19 who is in an outlying area of Jerusalem to let her know what happened, and ask her to go to the hospital to meet dd18 so she won’t be alone.  She doesn’t have a direct bus so it will take her some time to get there.  So then I called the dorm counselor where dd18 studies and asked her to arrange someone to be with dd18 in the hospital.  I wish I could be with her but she needs someone now and I’m a few hours away.

It’s now 8:30 am and I’ll update as the day goes along.  I would appreciate prayers for Michal bas Avivah Michaelah.  If I’m able to get the name of the man who was hurt, I’ll share that as well.

Edited to add: dd’s dorm counselor met dd at the hospital as soon as she could get there. Dd’s wrist was broken and after giving her a cast was released.  She’ll need to follow up with an orthopedist to check that the bone is setting straight.  Dd19 spent most of the day with her.

A friend from Karmiel happened to be leaving to Jerusalem this morning and I gave her homeopathic and flower essence remedies for dd to help with the shock and emotional trauma, which dd began taking as soon as it got there.  She’s spent hours sleeping but is still unusually tired.  Her head and arm are hurting – I know it must be a lot because she mentioned it and since she doesn’t complain, for her to mention something means it’s significant.

 I’m going to make an appointment with our osteopath as soon as I can get her an appointment; when I was hit by a car the osteopath told me to wait for two weeks before getting a treatment so it won’t be any sooner than that, and is likely to be Chanuka time since she has a long waiting list.  

Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes – this was very unsettling and worrisome for us all but I’m so grateful it wasn’t more serious.


Trust the timing of your life

Trust-the-timeing[1]When I was burned in the spring, I told myself I was going to make nurturing myself my top priority and that a weekly massage would be part of that.  Well, I’m not so good at self-nurturing even when I’m trying and it took me seven months until I had my first massage last week!

After last week’s session my naturopath strongly recommended that I come back soon for another session since she noticed that I seemed restless even after the massage.

I scheduled the second session for today as a birthday gift to myself.  Massage is such an amazing way to release tensions stored up in the body.   I initiated these appointments because I’ve been feeling kind of flat lately.  It’s like each trauma that I went through in the last three years took a piece out of me and now parts of me that made me who I am aren’t active in me anymore.  I’ve been feeling like I should be actively and consciously moving towards a goal that I don’t have, and even if I did, I don’t have the energy or desire to take action on it.

The massage was once again wonderful but what was equally helpful was the conversation that preceded it.  My naturopath listened to me describing how unsettled I’ve been feeling and then said, what strikes her is that I need a lot of quiet at this time in my life.  I told her my life is very quiet now, only six kids are at home, everyone is healthy and doing well, my husband is working.  She said I don’t seem to realize that my quiet life would be very busy to most people!

She said, “Think of yourself as having been on a three year journey. What does a person look and feel like at the end of a journey?  They’re exhausted, their body aches all over and they need to rest.  You don’t recover from a three year journey in two days.  Well, you’ve just gone through three years of serious challenges and you have to give yourself time to regroup.”

Her encouragement was to make self-care my top priority and let go of the feeling that there are other things I should be doing now other than taking care of myself and my family.  It was incredibly validating, because my feeling has been that I just can’t take on anything else right now even though I think I should.  It was so validating to hear someone tell me that it’s appropriate and healthy to slow down at this point.  This is what I needed – not encouragement to believe in myself, to go for my dreams, to make something happen – but permission to take life slow, for someone to tell me that I’m not being lazy or unmotivated but that this is what I should be doing right now.

She reassured me that when the time is right, I’ll once again have the focus and direction to do the things I want to do, I’ll know what they are and move directly towards them but now isn’t the time for it.

You know, I tell others things like this regularly but somehow it’s hard to tell yourself these things even when you know they’re true.  It was much more powerful and helpful coming from her, trusting not only her life experience but someone outside of you can often see things about you much more clearly than you can.

Sometimes I look around and it seems so many people are accomplishing wonderful things – it looks like I’m staying in place while they’re moving forward.  Today I was reminded to trust life’s timing; when something is meant to happen, it will happen without having to be forced.  The perfect birthday message!


Kindergarten until 4 pm – right for my child or not?

A mother asks about how to make the decision about keeping her child in full-day kindergarten:

>>I have four boys. While I’m a homeschooler at heart, I learned that it wasn’t for me. My oldest was home until he was five, my next, until four, and my three year old just started this year. I’m at home with the baby.

My current concern is for the middle two. The six year old is in kindergarten and there is a new law that kindergarten children must stay until four. I bent over backwards to get an authorization to get him early. So I pull him out at 1:30, and he is the _only one_ leaving early. The only one.  I mean, it just felt strange, and he was having fun, and I felt bad.

My three year old is in the preschool directly next door, and I get him at 2, so we wait at the park until that time. And I found out that he is also the only one leaving early!!

…I was really looking forward to spending the rest of the day with them – I really don’t think that a five year old doesn’t have to be gone from 8 – 4. It’s just too much …

So my options are – keep going the way it is, pulling him out early, hoping it gets less awkward along the way.

– keep them both in gan til four. (!) this is expensive and we can’t really afford it, even if I wanted to.

– stop fighting with the municipality and keep the older one there until four, and schlep back and forth with the baby thee times, in the heat and in the winter. 

For (a number of ) reasons, I feel like I have just been fighting an uphill battle for so long. I wish I could change my brain and “be like everyone else!”  My husband and I were talking about keeping them both out until four. I said, if I do that, I’ll just send out the baby and get a job. Which seems crazy to me but if I’m going to do it, I may as well really do it, no?<<

I’ll sum up one aspect of this question: how do you make a decision when your values and the logistics in your life are competing?  No one can answer this but you.  But when I’m faced with situation like this (and believe me, I have been), I go back to the beginning.  That means I ask myself, what are my beliefs?  Then I ask myself, what are my goals?

This is of course a really personal process and there’s no right answer for everyone.  The right answer for you is the one that resonates with your beliefs and goals.  Take some time to think about what you want your family to look like, what kind of mother you want to be, how you can be that kind of parent, and begin to develop your long term and short term vision for your family.

Over Sukkos when I sat around the table with my husband and all of our children, I reflected that all those years when I thought I was putting so much into my kids, I had no idea that the dividends would make my efforts look miniscule.  Now I have the gift of hindsight and can unhesitatingly say:  whether you work or stay at home, homeschool or send your kids out to school, spending time with your children is a great investment!

What to do when you know what you want but you’re tired of fighting to get it?  When your vision is slipping away and you tell yourself it wasn’t that important because the effort involved in pushing against societal pressure is wearing you down?  When it seems easier to let go of what you want rather than to reclaim your vision and stay true to it?

I can’t tell you whether leaving your kids in playgroup/kindergarten for a longer day is the right thing for you or not.  But I can say that if you don’t live in accordance with your conscience, it’s very painful in the long run.  This question is about living in alignment with what you care about, and this is why getting clear on what is really most important to you is critical.

It hasn’t always been smooth or easy doing something different than most people around me.  And it hasn’t always been easy for my kids. There’s always a price you pay, whether you live according to your values or not.  The discomfort of feeling different is often part of the price for your vision.

A guest once asked me, “How did you have the courage to go against the stream?”  She understood the societal pressure we faced in the Orthodox Jewish world as homeschoolers.  For me, the hardest part was making the decision in the beginning.  Once I did, staying connected to my vision (and as time went on, seeing the benefits to our family) is what gave me the strength to continue.

Once you get past the initial difficulty of committing yourself to a given course of action, it gets easier.  But you have to know what you believe, know what you want and trust in yourself.  It’s easy to get discouraged when you feel like what you’re doing isn’t really making a difference; in the close up view, it’s really hard to see what difference it makes if you take one path or another.  Clarifying your vision is like having a telescopic lens.

Here are some things to think about:

– What is your paradigm of parenting and why?

– What are the benefits and cost of having your children gone longer? At the top of a piece of paper, on one side write ‘pros’ and on the other side write ‘cons’. Seeing it in black and white can be really helpful.

When it comes to longer school days for children, keep in mind that the longer kids are away, the more restless they are when they get home.  There’s generally a lot of stress for a young child in being in the preschool environment.  This will directly affect the day to day demands of you as a parent.  It’s easy to get caught up in managing behaviors instead of proactively connecting.

As additional food for thought, I’m including a short clip with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, in which he answers the question regarding what age should a child ideally start school.