Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pilot Trip

This has been an amazing trip. I came to Israel with the intention of combining a Pesach visit with a Pilot trip in preparation for making aliyah. I have now been here a little over a month and will be returning to the States in four days.

Prior to coming on this trip I had determined that I would make aliyah to the northern part of Israel, in consideration of the fact that my daughter and her husband are in Haifa now -- he is a student at the Technion, and in consideration of the fact that Nefesh B'Nefesh offers substantial additional benefits to Olim making aliyah to the north -- participating in the NBN Go North program. I and Chloe and Jonathan also determined that we would attempt living together for a while, merging our resources, thus enabling a more comfortable living situation for us all.

However, upon actually visiting several of the eligible communities and considering the relative inaccessibility of most of them, we (I and my daughter and her husband) decided in favor of my making aliyah to a more central location. We determined that we should be in a community that is either directly on or extremely close to the direct train route to Haifa to ease Jonathan's travel. While his actual travel time is increased due to the increased geographic distance, it will be "dedicated" travel time. Travel from the more remote areas we originally looked at would entail several changes of venue with shorter travel times on each venue. The actual time it would take for him to get from door to door could be as much as an hour and a half. Travel on a train directly to Haifa would allow him to sit and study or read or do HW or even nap if he so pleases.

Modi'in is on the direct train route and was reputed to be a place with many nice residential areas, diverse and religious neighborhoods, and many resources available that would be helpful to us all. We began to look there. However, upon actually seeing what was available we were a bit disappointed with the ratio of space to rent. The spaces were smaller, the rents were higher. Chashmonaim is very close to Modi'in and I had found a number of listings that appeared to be good ones on Yad2. We decided to look there. We did see places with the space we coveted, but not the neighborhood.

On a whim, I decided to stop and visit friends of mine who live in Chashmonaim and yes, they were home and in we went and schmoozed for a while. It so happens that my friend is Robin Schreiber and she is a coordinator for Olim in Chashmonaim. What a great connection to have! That same day she received a tip that a particular house would be coming on the market as the current tenants would be vacating soon. She immediately notified me and I, in turn, contact the current tenants. We went forthwith to view the house. It was perfect ... well, almost perfect. The bedrooms are smaller than we would have liked and the yard is a mess. But the rest of the house is perfect. Now, the bigger test would be -- what will the rent be? The current tenants could only tell me what they were paying not what the landlord would charge. So, a call went out to the landlord. With bated breath, I awaited the verdict. When the number came through I let out my breath: YES! It was within our budget.

We will be meeting again with the landlord tomorrow. In the meantime we were busy. While I was here I managed to do the following: see several communities in the North. Go with Chloe when she took Gavriel to the doctor. Visit Beit HaTfutsot in Tel Aviv. Send out my CV to about 50 or so amutot -- of which about a dozen responded and half those expressed interest! I stayed with my sister, Phyllis in Mercaz Shapira for the Pesach seder, stayed with my mechutanet, Yael, in Nof Ayalon for Shabbat Chol HaMoed, and sof Chag. I spent a lot of time looking at houses in Modi'in and Chashmonaim. I spent a couple of days shpatziring in J'lem. I spent a Shabbat in Modi'in. I visited with an old friend from my sojourn in Israel thirty years ago.

Thirty years ago I was in Israel and I lived on Kibbutz Shluchot in Emek Bet Shean. During that time I became friends with a young soldier there, Efraim Yaffe. We remained friends when I was learning at Machon Gold in J'lem the following year. We even exchanged a few letters (via snail mail -- the internet did not exist then) during the following year when I moved back to the States. But that petered out pretty quickly. And then, we lost contact with one another. In 1996 when I first got online, I quickly realized the power of the internet to reach people I would otherwise not be able to find. Efraim was one of the people I attempted to find. I found many other old and otherwise lost friends via the internet but I could not find Efraim. It was after my husband died, that I found him and in the most extraordinary way.

After Barry died, I went online and logged onto all his accounts: hotmail, gmail, linkedin and facebook. It was upon logging into his linkedin account that I found Efraim. You see, Barry worked for IBM and had connections to people who worked for IBM in Israel. Efraim was also working for IBM -- and he was a suggested connection for Barry. I saw the name, "Efraim Yaffe" and suddenly was still. I stared at the name -- all the years I had searched for him I was searching on "Ephraim Yaffe" and not on "Efraim Yaffe".

I found myself floundering for a few minutes trying to decide if I should contact him and find out if he is the same Efraim Yaffe I knew thirty years prior. I decided in favor. I quickly typed out a brief email, with references to that time of our lives, asking if he was indeed who I was searching for. Within a few hours I received an email. It was him!!

We quickly exchanged a flurry of emails in attempt to catch up on each others lives. He married one of the other participants in the Ulpan I was in at Kibbutz Shluchot. He has a dog. (The dog died recently). I was married. I have one daughter. She is married. I have a grandson. And so on and so forth...

Yesterday, we finally met once again. We met at Cafe Cafe on Rechov Ben Gurion in Ramat Gan. It was great to see him. He looks terrific. Chloe and Gavriel were with me and so he met them too, and they, he. We both still are amazed that we were able to find one another after all these years and see one another. We talked about the possibility of setting up some kind of reunion for those of us who were at the kibbutz during those years. We shall see if that actually happens.
It has been quite an eventful visit for me. And, not quite over yet...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sickness, Setbacks, and Slayings = ALIYAH

I have been home sick for a week now. It started with a cough, well, actually with a post nasal drip and that caused the cough. I figured I had a little sinus infection, but figured also, incorrectly, that it would go away after a few days. I went to work Monday morning, but after a few hours of constant hacking, I realized this was worse than I thought. I needed to see a doctor and get some antibiotic. Pleading illness, I made my excuses at work and prepared to leave for the day.

I went to see my doctor, to get an antibiotic and something for the cough, to give me some relief. She prescribed a Z-pac for me (zythromycin) which is a five day regimen of antibiotic pills that is supposed to be very intense and effective. I have taken this before and with the exception of one really bad time, it has always worked wonders for me. Twenty- four hours after taking the first dose (2 pills) I feel brand new. But not THIS time. This time, it did not seem to do anything for me.

She also prescribed a “new” drug for me called “benzonotate”. She promised me it would stop my cough. Well. It did NOT stop my cough. If anything, it felt like it made it worse. It probably did not make it worse but the fact that I had NOTHING to take to give me relief from the coughing probably made me feel that way.

The cough got so bad that I was brought to the point of dry heaves. It was AWFUL. Everything hurt me: my back, my neck, my shoulders, my stomach, my head. Every cough was so very painful. My head felt like, each time I coughed, my brain was rattling around inside banging against the shell of my skull. It WAS. I also had a sinus infection which added to the misery of my head. The dry heaves gave my torso a major work out.

I drank hot tea, hot broth, and hot chicken soup. I slurped on icy, fruity popsicles, the sugar free kind. I drank tons of lemonade, water, and some grape juice. I tried to eat some solids, but I had no appetite.

I had chills, the kind where my body is shaking and my teeth chattering and I felt like a cartoon character. Clack clack clack went my teeth. I took Tylenol every 5 hours. I woke up drenched. I took hot steamy showers, trying to breathe in the steam.

I called my doctor four times in as many hours, crying, asking PLEASE give me Tylenol with codeine, pills not liquid. The liquid upsets my stomach. Finally, the prescription was called in and I went out so fast. I looked miserable, I felt miserable. But I knew I was finally going to feel better. I got the pills, went home and downed two of them immediately. Within 15 minutes I felt SO MUCH BETTER. And then I slept. I slept and slept. Then I woke up, showered, cleared my sinuses, and took two more pills. And slept. This pattern repeated itself over the next three days. I never had taken that much T3 in so short a time. But I needed it – I had not slept prior to it in three days. So, I needed to SLEEP.

Then, on Shabbat I finally started to feel human again. I even got dressed, and straighten up a bit around the house. I had some visitors. You have no idea how AMAZING that was. When I was in Teaneck, and I was home sick, I NEVER had visitors. Here, I had SEVERAL visitors. It was SO NICE. I was feeling great. And then, Shabbat was over and I got online….

DEVASTATION. The Fogel Family Massacre. Two parents, three children slain, butchered, throats slit while they slept. I was so upset. I was angry. I was VERY VERY VERY angry. How could this be? Where is justice? Where is G-d? I was crying and sobbing and ranting and raving and raging. I do not even know this family. But how? Why? A three month old infant, her throat slit while she slept in her Abba’s arms. This was just an unspeakable horror. I finally made myself go to bed. Of course, I took two pills. I would never have slept otherwise. (I could not even imagine the horror for sweet Tamar Fogel, the 12 year old girl who found her family butchered!).

Sunday. It was a terrible day for me. I was very depressed. ALL DAY. I could not get this out of my head. I spent a whole day, mourning, trying to make some sense out of all this. But my anger was really getting the better of me. And then, I started to see some beautiful posts. Exhortations to be positive, to do mitzvot, to perform acts of chesed, to daven with kavana, to understand that this IS part of G-d’s plan and we need to both accept it and believe. Believe that He is doing what is best for us, even if we do not understand it. Slowly, slowly, I began to lose my anger. Slowly, slowly I began to gain clarity and regain my normal sense of positivity.

And then I experienced it, like a flash. The answer. Aliyah. The answer is aliyah. It is the ONLY valid response to this, to the current state of affairs for the Jews and for Israel. Never, in MY lifetime, has there been so much unabashed anti-Semitism in the world. Never, in MY lifetime, have the Jews been in more danger than they are now. We are seeing a world that rivals the world of Germany and Europe in WWII, a world that rivals the Nazi extremism and pursuit of the decimation of the Jews. Only now, it is called Islamism, not Nazism. But it is the SAME THING. The same methodology is being used, and the world is responding the same way—by turning the other way, pretending not to see what is happening. When it comes to Jewish blood, the world does not care. The Jews have been and will always be the convenient scapegoats for all the ills in the world.

The Nazi’s were wholly dedicated to the extermination of the Jews. In fact, even when they knew they were losing the war, going to lose the war, they sunk inordinate amount of resources in to killing as many Jews as possible. The Islamic movement is wholly dedicated to the extermination of the Jews. Even if Israel did NOT exist, and even if there were NO Jews in all of the Middle East – they would still be dedicated to the extermination of the Jews. They want a world with NO JEWS at all, anywhere.

Well, they are going to be sorely disappointed. The Jews are here to stay. It is G-d’s promise that we are here for the long haul. The Jews have always survived. Most of our oppressors have come and gone. The Philistines, Romans, Babylonians, and others, have all come and are gone, forever. But we are here, and here we will stay.

But Israel is our home, will always be our home and is our only home. Aliyah is the answer.

Aliyah Now!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Itamar. Never Again...

When I was growing up I thought the world was becoming a better place. I grew up in the 60’s, came of age in 70’s, experienced the decadence of the 80’s, and began the downward spiral toward cynicism in the 90’s when I realized that the better world promised to me and my children by the brave who demonstrated, marched, picketed, and put themselves in harm’s way in the violent riots of the 60’s that rocked life in the US, was not and would not become, a reality. I resigned myself to it. I did so without any real conscious thought or reason that I was doing so. I simply settled into the world, accepted that this is the way things are, the way they have been, and the way they always will be.

Perhaps this was wrong of me. I abandoned the task of “tikkun olam” – fixing the world – a task that
G-d gave us. I became complacent. But I wasn’t the only one. The vast majority of the people I grew up with, my peers, and the people in my immediate world, those I worked with, those I socialized with, those I associated with through the commonality of a shared belief -- had all settled down to the business of living our lives in the world in which we found ourselves. We did little real work of fixing the world. Some of use donated money to worthwhile causes, some of us volunteered our time, some of us even went to work in careers supposedly dedicated to the causes of tikkun olam. But the majority of us, our focus was on careers, family, and the immediate communities in which we lived. We focused on acquiring the accoutrements of a life supposedly well lived – large homes with multi-car garages to house the multiple cars we owned, many and beautiful clothes to wear, with new purchases for each and every new social and religious occasion that came our way, sending our children to Yeshivot , not an unworthy mission, yet with tuitions that skyrocketed out of control while the actual teachings fell short, way short, on issues like menschlikeit and Israel and tikkun olam.

The world has not become a better place. Far from it. In a world where terrorists can, in the name of supposed freedom can enter a private home, and kill, with knives a young defenseless mother, a father in his sleep, a toddler and an infant – they slit the throat of an infant! – no we cannot claim the world is a better place.

I can’t help feeling that we missed the boat somewhere, somehow. I don’t know when, where, or how. But we need to find our way back – back to the idealism and anger and righteous indignation that spurs our hearts to action and let our bodies, brains, and mouths follow suit. We need take back the world and make it ours again. We can no longer be complacent.

I remember as a child, a young child, going to the local Jewish Community Center in the town in which I grew up. I remember seeing posters all around with the slogan “Never Again”. Those posters, that slogan referred to the Holocaust, it would never happen again, because we would never allow it to happen again. It referred to the creation of the State of Israel, which at that point had only occurred about 20+ years prior. Those posters are long gone. In fact, sad to say, the Jewish Community Center is long gone – because the Jewish Community of that town did not see fit to maintain such an edifice. They saw no need to maintain a “Jewish Community” when they could assimilate and become part of the larger “secular” community.

But we need, here in the US, a galvanizing campaign, once again, like the “Never Again” campaign. We need to be a force to be reckoned with. We need to be far reaching and extremely visible. And once again, we need to say “Never Again”. We will never allow such terrorist acts to occur to our people in Israel – for they ARE our people. Just as they were OUR people who were slaughtered with unconscionable blood thirst and violence in Germany and Europe.

Where is our voice? Where is our UNITY? We must UNITE and say TOGETHER “NEVER AGAIN”.

Bibi Netanyahu is called for the world to condemn this most recent, vicious bloodletting of our innocents – I want ALL JEWS to condemn this act. I do not care about the rest of the world. We are Jews, we are meant to be a “Light unto all nations”. If we act – then the world will follow. That is the order of things.

Condemnation is not enough. Retaliation, punishment, revenge – those are the words most appropriate in response to this recent act of terror. And not just words will do – we must follow those words with the actions they convey.

This Shabbat I stayed home recuperating from a sinus infection that took me down hard this past week. I was alone and enjoyed the solitude while I had it. I took out some Hebrew shiron’s that I had collected. My late husband and I used to love to sing many of the old Israel folk songs. I was singing “HaKotel”. I am never able to sing that song without breaking down – and I do not simply cry, I sob, I wail, I lift my face to the sky and I ask Hashem how much longer must we wait? How much longer before He will life His sword and smite our enemies? I ask how many more deaths of our innocent children of HIS innocent children must we withstand? How many more must we bury before He will send us Moshiach?

It is said the Hashem helps those who help themselves. So, we must fight. And pray. And Hashem will lend His mighty hand to our own…

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bureaucracy in the US, not Israel

One of the first steps in my aliyah journey has been the filling out of inumerable forms -- the NBN application form, the Go North addendum, the heath affidavit, the financial affidavit, the exit/entry form -- and the production of various legal documents -- birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce certificates, death certificates -- any and all of these that apply to one's particular situation. BUT ---

One cannot simply produce/provide ORIGINALS of these items. Each of these items must be accompanied by an "apostille". So, in my case I needed an apostille for EACH one of the above mentioned items. I was born, thus a birth certificate. I was married and divorced, hence the need to provide the divorce certificate, only the divorce certificate in this case since the divorce certificate voids the need for the marriage certificate. But, I remarried, so I needed one for that marriage certificate. My husband had died so I needed his death certificate as well. No problem, I thought. A cinch. Hah!

For my birth certificate and the divorce certificate I had to apply first to the office of vital records in the county in which they occurred (Ulster County, New York) for "certified" copies of each. Then, once I had the certified copies in hand, I had to mail them back to a different office, also in Ulster County, to be "notarized" and then an apostille could be affixed to each item. Besides spending money on the postage for all this (and I did not use regular postage, I used certified postage so I could have the ability to track the items and insure them) it cost me for the certified copies, for the notarization and for the apostille. But this was not so bad. I did this inside of a month.

For the death certificate I happened to have a certified copy already in my hands. So, I sent it to the appropriate offices in NJ, along with prepaid return envelopes for expedited processing. So, what did they do? They sent it back to me, telling me they needed to know for which country I needed the apostille before they could process it! I had given them my phone number, in the accompanying correspondence. You mean they could not CALL ME UP and struggle through a phone call with me to get this information??? They wasted the prepaid return envelope! So, I had to do it over again with the word ISRAEL in BOLD RED across the damn sheet of paper. That worked. And yes, there were fees on top of shipping costs to do this.

All that was left now was my marriage certificate. As it happened Barry and I got married before a justice of the peace in New York City for our "civil" marriage ceremony. Thus that item was stored within the vast acres of files of the offices of records for New York City. I did not have a certified copy and I need that first. So, I called their office and after an interminable wait, finally spoke with a real live human being. and was told that I could not order this over the phone but must MAIL in an order. I was given all the information I needed -- how much to send, where to send it, etc. Then, I asked what the turnaround time was to get the certified copy of the marriage certificate. The clerk told me, "Ten weeks". "TEN WEEKS?? You mean ten DAYS, right?", I stammered. "No ma'am, I mean ten weeks!". I was dumbfounded. I realized that I could wait ten weeks for the certified certificate, then send it to be notarized by a NYC clerk, get it back , and then send it to receive an apostille, and who knew how long THAT would take. So, I had no choice -- I would have to drive in to NYC to do it in person and thus get it in one day.

Driving up from Baltimore is probably not a terrible drive, and while I LIKE driving, I am not overly fond of LONG trips. With gasoline at nearly $4 a gallon, tolls ONE way costing about $25, this is not a cheap trip. This would cost me $100 just for the trip alone -- not counting the fees I paid to each office I stopped at along the way to getting an apostille for the marriage certificate. But now I have them. They are nifty, neat, and beautiful. They are now residing in a glassine page protector in my aliyah album. And now, I am ready for my aliyah interview with the Jewish Agency for Israel Shlicha...

Aliyah Journey

Several years ago my daughter Chloe returned to the States from Israel. She had just spent a year in Israel, learning at Michlelet Orot. When she went, my husband Barry and I had encouraged her to consider going, and staying. I never really believed she would. Our idea was that she would go, stay, and then we would follow. But it was really just a germ of an idea, a dream. We did not know if it would really take root.


She returned and said she was going back, she was making aliyah. She applied to Nefesh B'Nefesh and she made aliyah. I was so very proud of her. I was in awe of her too. Here was MY daughter, all of 18 years old, making a life altering decision, going off to a country far away from the only home she has ever known, to live for the rest of her life. She went with three suitcases, a carry on, the clothes on her back, and the promise of money from Nefesh B'Nefesh and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

It was not always easy for her. Thank G-d, she had some good friends and thus a decent support network. She went to school and made a life for herself. In so doing, she met a wonderful young man, Jonathan. They announced an engagement pretty quickly and I found myself in the midst of planning a wedding for my daughter in Israel. On January 20, 2008 they were married. It was a beautiful wedding. Chloe got pregnant pretty quickly. The baby was due in early February. Barry and I were planning our trip to Israel once again, this time for the birth of the baby. But Hashem had other plans. On January 20, 2009 we buried my beloved Barry. Two weeks later, Gavriel was born.

The past two plus years have been not such good years for me. But I knew almost immediately that making aliyah would be the only thing for me to do. And so now, I am finally planning it.

I contacted Nefesh B'Nefesh and applied. I applied for the Go North aliyah program. After all, my daughter lives in Haifa, which is the North and they live there because Jonathan is learning at Technion. We have decided to move in together, to make life a bit easier and more comfortable for ourselves. We get along and in a way this makes up to me for the past couple of years in which I rarely got to see them or my grandson.

I created a book, binder of all the things I need for my aliyah. All my important documents, all the information I need, etc. I am itching under the skin to do this, to make my aliyah. I have been waiting now for over two years to do this. Nothing is going to stop me now.

But I am terrified. Some of what I am scared about is the practical stuff: will I be able to live in Israel? How much of a drop in my standard of living will I experience? How low will I have to go? How low can I tolerate going? I have always prided myself on being flexible, on being optimistic, upbeat, on being tolerant and accepting, and being able to just let things roll off my back. I pride myself on being a nice person, a good person, one who does the right thing. How will I fare in Israel? Will I be able to retain all this? Or will Israel make me cynical and negative? Will I become a majorly stressed out person?

I am also scared a bit of never meeting someone with whom to spend the rest of my life. On the one hand there are more eligible men here in the States than there are in Israel. On the other hand they are HERE and not THERE. If I meed a man there, then I do not need to be concerned with whether or not he is willing or able to make aliyah. Oh, such things to be concerned with!

I read all the blogs and email listservs that have to do with aliyah, the NBN yahoo groups lists, the Tachlis list, various blogs, I read everything. And I worry. Most of the people that I know who have made, or are making aliyah, are in much better shape than I am financially. It makes me crazy to hear THEM whining about things. They BUY homes in Israel (I can only rent), and they have AMERICAN kitchens with all the AMERICAN sized appliances (fridges, ovens, ranges, washer/dryers, dishwashers, etc). I am NOT going to have ANY of that.

I do not consider myself to be much of a "chalutznik" -- technically, a "pioneer" -- or one willing/able to live under tough conditions in Israel. I AM pretty used to the conveniences and comforts of living in America, and I do like them. I know I will be giving much of that up. I only hope I CAN, without it being too difficult for me.

I pray to Hashem to give me the strength to do this...

Monday, January 24, 2011


I have been doing quite a bit of thinking lately, about my life, what I am doing now, and what/where I want to be in the future. I have been saying for a very long time that I want to make aliyah.

My late husband, Barry and I had planned to make aliyah. We thought we might be able to do so after his youngest finished her Shana B'Aretz. But, unfortunately, that was not to be. My beloved Barry was taken from me before we could realize that dream.

But while that was a dream that we both shared, it was not a dream I lost -- in fact, after his death, the dream became more intensely desired. In fact, I had opened a file with Nefesh B'Nefesh in late 2009, thinking I might be able to make aliyah in August of 2010. But that was not to be. Upon being viciously sued by his ex wife and his four daughters, I had to put my plans on hold. They attempted to ruin me, to take away from me any and all chance of my ability to make aliyah, to live a comfortable life.

That litigation is finally coming to a close. Thank G-d, they did not succeed. Much happened in the intervening year, most of it really amazing, and wonderful. I know that Hashem's hashgacha pratis was the source of all my blessings this past year. My moving to Baltimore, being closer to my brother and his family, making all these amazing new friends, finding a nice apartment, and work that I enjoy, and belonging to a wonderful shul -- all these are the results of His Divine Providence.

About a month ago, I re-opened my file with Nefesh B'Nefesh. I am once again attempting to make aliyah. It is going to be quite an adventure, I can see that already. I am working to reawaken my ability to speak and understand Hebrew. I am teaching myself new words, working to increase my vocabulary. I am reading and perusing sites in Hebrew to acclimate myself to READING Hebrew.

I am also considering another change in my life. It is one that is not going to come easy to me, but one which I think I have to make.

Since mid summer 2010 I have been going contra dancing, several times a week. I love the dancing. But after about five months of dancing this much, I began to experience pain in my right hip/leg. I have a congenital "deformity" in my right side: the leg rotates outward more than it should, and does not have enough interior rotation. But despite this I walk normally -- because I trained myself to walk with my foot straight forward. The problem is that this means that under normal circumstances my leg muscles are working overtime to keep my leg straight. But when I dance, I am adding to that, to the already overstressed muscles, and they tire out quickly and become painful for me to move on. I saw an orthopedist about this issue and she told me that this can be fixed. She said it can be fixed either through physical therapy, or through surgery. She suggested we try PT first. So, I began PT several weeks ago. I have seen little to no improvement. Quite honestly, even though I believe that my physical therapist, Bill Amos is fantastic, I am skeptical that several weeks of PT can fix what is a congenital deformity. I expressed this to him and he understood that.

Now, if PT does not work, then that means I would need surgery to fix this. But, do I really want to do this? What I have been considering is this: to simply stop dancing, either altogether or just not so often. I know that if I stop dancing I will not have this pain. And then I would not need surgery. It will also be easier on my pocketbook. Dancing costs money: gasoline for my car, the wear and tear on my car (it is an hour each way for the Sunday night dances), and the fee to participate in the dance. Plus, even though I have health insurance, it is not going to cover 100% of the cost of the PT I am undergoing, nor will it cover the entire cost of the surgery. I do not really have the funds to deal with this. Plus, undergoing surgery in the coming year could impact my plans for making aliyah, negatively.

The downside to not dancing for me, is it takes me out of the social realm that I so enjoy, it also eliminates a strong source of physical exercise for me. Dancing, for me, in the past year has been a form of therapy for me. It has given me joy, and feelings of happiness and self esteem. All that is important to me.

Now there is yet another consideration. It is one which, I believe, many of my friends, family, and acquaintances might negate. It is this: the dancing I do is social dancing, mixed dancing -- men and women. In the frum community (religious, Jewish, orthodox) "mixed dancing" is generally frowned upon. We are told it is "assur" - forbidden. I do it anyway, with my own reasoning, and justification for why it is okay. Yet, I wonder - is Hashem telling me something when I feel pain after dancing? Perhaps all my justifications for this are for naught. One of my strongest justifications is that I need the exercise (I do) and I am not particularly good at doing exercise that I do not enjoy. But I LOVE dancing, ipso facto, I will DO IT!

So, it looks like I have some decisions to make. I would LOVE for any of my friends reading this to weigh in with their thoughts and suggestions. One thing: please do not suggest ZUMBA. I hate that.

Monday, January 10, 2011


This post is really a response to, or completion of the last post. I wrote about my life as it has been and what I have gone through. Really, that post is but the tip of the iceberg. But I will pour forth the details. The details are my wrath, my anger, my fully justified anger at how I have been treated by my late husband's daughters and ex wife and family. But for now, I will focus on here and now, and where I am now.

I am living in Baltimore, MD. I have a nice place to live, I belong to a wonderful shul, have a fabulous Rabbi. I have made a large number of extraordinary friends. I am growing a little closer to my brother and his family. Being closer to him I get to shep nachas and kvell in my baby brother's achievements.

I have job that I enjoy. I find myself better able to socialize -- and that is due to my late husband Barry -- he taught me. I learned from him.

I am slowly becoming more involved in the community. And now, I want to leave, to make aliyah. What am I? Nuts?

I am moving forward with an attempt to understand if aliyah is right for me. But I have some concerns. I also love it here so much. I do not know if I can bring Baltimore to Israel with me...enough.

So, that is where I am at. Details. For a later post...

My life is filled with chapters

I wrote this in June 2010:

My life is filled with chapters. I could write a book of my life – each chapter of the book corresponding to another chapter of my life. I have just begun a new chapter in my life, yet another new chapter. Truth be told, I would rather not have all these chapters. I would prefer my life to be steady, constant, unchanging, and to be content with what I have. But, I think perhaps the inconstancy of my life is a punishment of sorts – for the discontent I have in the past expressed about my life. Especially given that my life was really good. I had a wonderful husband. I lived in a wonderful community. I had many good friends (still do), and we lived a good life. But I always wanted more. More money, more clothes, jewelry, a bigger house, to be able to make aliyah easily, to have the respect of my peers, to be acknowledged with great honor, - the list goes on. To be “samecha bechelki”, “happy with my lot in life”, I should have been, but was not. And so, all that I took for granted was ripped away from me, my life torn asunder.

This in no way absolves my stepdaughters and my late husband’s ex wife and his parents of the roles they played in the tearing apart of my life – for they did play a great role in that. We all have free choice, and sometimes we make the wrong choices. I made some erroneous choices in my life – but marrying Barry was NOT one of them. Barry was the best thing that ever happened to me. He taught me that I have real value. He taught me how to get along with other people. He taught me how to be a friend, a lover, a spouse. He loved me; he was so good to me.

Hashem saw fit, for some reason, to take him from us. Perhaps his usefulness had come to an end. Perhaps he was a gem, a treasure and the angels wanted him for themselves, or perhaps we simply did not deserve him. We will never know, but he is gone and so we go on, without him.

I read the first few chapters of a book recently, in which the author describes her life after her husband died suddenly and tragically, unexpectedly. She describes how she goes through the motions of her life, and how she thinks, “he will see that I am taking care of things”. That is exactly how I feel. With everything I do, I think, “Barry will see that I am taking care of things. I am ok. I can do this.”

And so my thoughts go, as I enter this new phase of my life. I have moved out of the house I called my home for the past ten years, a house in which I spent time, energy, and money making into a place we could all feel comfortable in, a place to have our friends and family join us, a place where we could retreat and just be ourselves, alone, silly or serious. I have moved away from a community in which I had become entrenched, through various activities, mostly involvement in my shul. This was a community in which I first was nervous of, and worried that I would not be able to fit in, but in which I ultimately became an integral part of, and it became an integral part of my life. I have, in the past year, lost my husband, lost my job, and due to contested probating of my late husbands’ estate, I lost his family (his children, his parents).

But now to look forward.

I have moved to a new community, one with a reputation for being a ‘nice’ community, filled with friendly, warm, welcoming people. Thus far (one week) this reputation has been borne out as true. I have moved into a new place, an apartment rather than a house, but one that is quite large and feels like a house. I am in the process, once again, of converting a space into a home where I can feel comfortable, invite friends and family over, enjoy meals and other gatherings, and a place where I can retreat and be alone with myself. The trick is for me not to feel lonely.

But, lonely I am. I miss my husband. I miss the family. I want it all back. I cannot have it back. I do hope, however, over time, to come to terms, and to hopefully meet another wonderful man with whom I can be happy. I hope too, that I have learned my lesson and will be better able to be ‘samecha b’chelki”.

We shall see, we shall see.