Friday, October 10, 2008

Losing weight

Ok, so I haven't posted in a while. So shoot me. I'm a busy woman, what can I say?

Last week I got a call from my sister in law who told me she "found" my blog! I immediately began thinking in my head, "OMG, did I write about her? What did I say?" and of course, I hadn't. I wouldn't. But still. She told me she found it "interesting". Ok, that's good, I guess.

So now, the latest in my quest for a CI: I was evaluated and this is what happened:

First I was tested unaided (without my hearing aids) at 100 db. Then I was tested aided (with my hearing aids) at 40 db. I did better unaided at 100 db than I did aided at 40 db. So she REtested me aided at 40 db -- with the same results. Then she tested me again, also aided at 40 db but this time with sentences as well as sounds and words. My score went up dramatically.

She then told me the following: she did NOT recommend CI for me as she feels it would not give me much more benefit than what I get using HA's. She felt that a CI involves much more time, expense, and is invasive and not worth it for me. I was kind of disappointed. I was in a rather cranky mood that day after that.

Then, few weeks ago, I met a woman who was wearing one HA and had a CI in the other ear. I eagerly approached her to ask her about her experience. I learned that she can hear her kids in the other room and that she can have a conversation with her friend across the street. I cannot do either of those things!!! So, now I am considering getting a second opinion. At this point though, it will have to wait until after the Chagim.

I have however embarked an a different project: losing weight. I am DETERMINED to do it this time. So now I have been stocking up on tons of low carb foods and revising my recipes to accomodate my diet. This is NOT Atkins, nor is it South Beach. It is simply eliminating the truly carb heavy foods and adding portion control to the mix. I eventually am going to add exercise to this too, but again, after the Chagim. There just is not enough time in my day to do so much.

The foods I have basically eliminated are potatoes, pasta, rice, cereal, and bread. The first four I have COMPLETELY eliminated. The last one, on Shabbat and Chag I eat a very small portion, as I am required to do so at the meals. And yes, since it is Chag time, we shmear a bit of honey on our bread and I am doing that. And, I am still eating fruit -- not a lot of it, but I am eating it just the same.

So far, I can only claim success: I started at 169 lbs and am now at 152 lbs. So I have lost 17 lbs since September 26! Not a bad start.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur. I had so much to daven for. I davened for my children, grandchildren, my husband, our parents, family who are ill, friends who are ill, for Israel. For myself I davened to rid myself of jealousy, grudges, and to be matzliach in finding a better paying job where I will be respected.

The economy is tanking and I am very worried. We were not in such great shape before and now it will be worse. It sucks. Especially when I read that after the govt give 87 BILLION to save Wall St. the CFO of AIG goes and spends 450k on a business meeting and 50k on manicures and pedicures. NUTS!!

Oh well, thats all for now...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Finally, productiveness

So, last Sunday was definitely a PRODUCTIVE day. We got up nice and early and went to work. We emptied out our basement, our attic, the garage. We cleaned it out and it feels so good. The scariest part of all this was that when we were done, we had FILLED a 20 ft long x 8 ft wide x 3 ft deep dumpster!!! And that was only after 8 years of accumulating stuff!!

But, I figure that we will not accumulate so much as we go forward -- after all we are a middle aged couple with only 1/2 child left at home.

Anyway, I had planned on writing more but I just noticed the time and I need to fly.

Next time...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Too much to do, too little time and I am wasting it posting to my blog...

I just feel guilty that I have not posted. It is pretty stupid because no one reads my blog anyway. But I like the thought that maybe someone will find what I have to write interesting and that they might learn a few things from me.

Since my last post, Pesach came and went, the cast came off my hand, my cat (Barnum) broke his paw, and was in a cast, the cast has been removed, the shul dinner occurred, the Shalva dinner happened, my husband Barry fell down the stairs and landed on top of the office chair he was carrying and got a large puncture wound in his shin, which required stitches, the stitches have since been removed, I have been working on several website directives for work (mostly having to do with online donations, but with the quirky I will give to Shalva $ only if YOU give the same amount concept, the boss wants this to go viral, (hah!), been working on the shul website ( --check it out), became the Chairperson of the Sisterhood Tea planning committee, and working on a freelance database project....(breather...)
It is actually, TOO MUCH. And, Barry and I have been trying to reorganize and fix up our house a bit. In fact, this weekend the deck was our project. But I have done very little. I helped Barry a little bit yesterday and again today. But then I came in, I really wanted to work on the DB. And I DID. But this is a breather...
After I finish this DB project I am NOT taking on any other freelance projects. Even though the extra money is nice, I really need to dedicate my time to our house. Next week we are renting a dumpster and are cleaning out the basement and the attic. I am actually looking forward to that -- I WANT to get rid of stuff. After we get rid of the junk and reorganize what we are keeping the next step will be to hire someone to remove the old oil tank in the basement. Then, we are going to paint the entire basement 00 high gloss cement grey. Even though that is not "finishing" the basement at least it will be easier to keep it clean until such time as...

and with that I am ending this post.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Long time no write...

Well...after my last post, I did get dressed and go to work -- only, I never actually made it to work! Instead, on my way to the bus I tripped on an uneven sidewalk and fell and broke my left hand in two places and dislocated a finger. Since I am a lefty, this was truly disabling.

When I fell, I had put my hand out to break my fall, but the awkwardness of falling while carrying my shoulderbag, and a bag with my lunch in it, wearing a long winter coat - I tumbled so that instead of the hand breaking my fall, my body broke my hand! I felt it break, I felt the crack of the bone and I screamed.

A friend happened to be waiting at the bus stop and witnessed my fall and he came to my aid -- using his cell to call 911. The bus driver also stopped the bus, and got out to help me. But no one could help. I lay on the pavement, curled up in the fetal position, cradling my hand and whimpering. After a while I braved sitting up. Thank G-d I had been wearing gloves because otherwise I would have also had to suffer scrapes and pieces of pavement stuck into my skin. As it was both my gloves were shredded in the fall! And they were leather gloves.

Finally, the ambulance came and the two EMT's, who were really YOUNG, helped me into the amblance for a ride to the ER. Before we could pull away, a police officer came and took my info down for a report.

At the hospital I was put into what was called the Cast Room. (For the cast of the TV series ER?) -- and then, it seemed, forgotten about. Finally, after just sitting there by myself, in pain, for a while, I got up and went out to the doctor's/nurse's station and asked for some pain killers. At first they offered me Motrin but I turned that down and asked for 2 Tylenol w/Codeine #3 tablets. They brought me one. I asked for a second one and they gave it to me.

Now, I was thinking about how to get in touch with my husband. He was in shul but would be home soon. He works from home and when he is working he does not answer the home phone. I could not remember his cell phone number. The only way I could think ot get him would be to send him an email.

Again, I went out to the doctor's/nurse's station (now remember, I still have not been seen, and am still cradling my left hand in my right) and asked if someone could please send an email to my husband. At first they said no (why???), but I was persistent so finally they asked an orderly to help me. He opened up gmail and I gave him my log in info. Then I dictated an email to be sent to my husband -- the whole message in the subject line:

"I am at ---- Hospital emergency room, hurt my hand, please come."

In less than 15 minutes my husband was there!

(Time for me to break and go to bed, will continue this next post...)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

More on Chloe's wedding

I know I have barely posted anything about this. And, one would think thatI would have much to say about a trip to Israel in which I married off my daughter.

First off, let me say this: it was an AMAZING wedding. Yes, the hall was beautiful (I do recommend Shaar Yerushalayim as a really nice place to make a simcha -- but I did not particularly care for Zusha - he is the person who coordinates all the events at the hotel.)

The flowers were beautiful -- the arrangements on the tables were simple: long and tall and narrow clear glass vases with long long stemmed white lilies, about 4 per vase. The arrangements for the chuppah, the bedecken, etc, were more ornate, large, using mostly the white lilies, and roses, greenery and more. I am sure we will have pics of them soon.

There were about 250 people in attendance, and enough of my own friends and family to make me feel comfortable (THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO CAME!!!). The music was great, it was an Israeli-Irish music band (hows that for amazing combination?). They even had a harpist, who happened to be a friend of theirs and so that part of the music was a gift.

There was an amazing cake, that had 4 tiers of two layers each, with completely realistic look flowers and greens on it -- that were made of sugar! The top most tier had flowers "painted" on the top. When I saw the cake the first thing that came to mind was, "I do not remember ordering this", and the second thing was, "This is going to be very expensive!". Then, I was introduced to the cake maker (baker?), and was told that the cake was a gift (and of course, great promotion for him!). We were unable to cut and eat the cake in the hall due to hechsherim (kashrut) issues. (Yes, the cake was kosher, but not "hechshered" -- or at least not according to the one that the Hotel accepts). However, we did get to eat the cake AFTER the wedding, and were eating it all week long, until after the final Sheva Brachot in Nof Ayalon! And, not only did this cake LOOK good, but it TASTED great! (I will post his info here later).

The physical chuppah leaned a little like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and I asked that it be straightened but Zusha insisted that it could not be done. I was not happy with his response.

The Chuppah, the ceremony, was beautiful. The seder of the Chuppah was like nothing I had ever experienced but it was PERFECT. The breaking of the glass occurred in the middle, before the Brachot, and was a somber moment -- NOT accompanied by cheers of Mazal Tov -- which actually makes more sense given that the breaking of the glass is supposed to represent the destruction of the Temple!

Jonathan attends a Yeshiva in Petach Tikva and so all (at least it SEEMED like all) the Yeshiva boys were in attendance, and between each ritual of the Chuppah they sang. It was so beautiful that it had my mother and me and my brother in tears -- and after the Chuppah, both my brother and I fell into each others arms, sobbing. It was really beautiful.

The Mesader Kedushin, however, never said ONE word to me and I was annoyed about that. Not even a simple Mazal Tov. I was never introduced to him nor he to me. I think that was disrespectful to both of us. He did not stay after the Chuppah. But that is normal.

There is more for me to post but I will complete this later. Now I must go and get dressed for work.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chloe is Married!

So, little by little, people have been uploading pictures of the wedding and the Sheva Brachot, in various places (Facebook, York Photos, Kodak Galleries, etc). I have been trying to accumulate all the pictures and put them in one place – Only Simchas.
You can go to to view the pictures. There are, to date, three galleries there. I invite you all to view the pictures, and, if you have any pictures, to send me them for inclusion in the Only Simchas Galleries.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Open Letter to The Rabbinate of Israel

I had the opportunity this week to accompany my daughter when she went to the Rabbinate in Jerusalem to file the final papers for her "tik". A "tik" is a file -- in this case a file for license to wed. Getting married in Israel is not as simple as it is in the US. In Israel, proof must be presented that one is truly a Jew. In the case of gerim (converts) or those who may have a non Jewish father, or whose parents (either one or both) are gerim, the Rabbinate puts additional pressure and requests for proof on them.

My daughters' father is not Jewish, but I am. Thus the Rabbinate asked for a copy of my Ketubah. I scanned and emailed said Ketubah to Chloe. She presented this to them and they then asked for the ORIGINAL. Now for those of you who know the Halacha (Jewish Law) you know that there is NO WAY I am going let my Ketubah go out of my possession, especially via a carrier service overseas!! So, it was at that point that we requested intervention by Rabbi Shaul Farber and Rabbi Yosef Adler and Rabbi Berel Wein. Rabbi Wein wrote a letter of verification of whom my daughter is and that he knows the family, etc. They finally, in the end, accepted the letter.

So, this past week was just going to be a matter of filing the final paperwork. First, she had to speak to some Haredi Rebbetzin who was wearing the stiffest and ugliest wig I have ever seen. The Rebbitzin did not talk very nicely to my daughter, barely nodded to me -- and asked questions that I thought were none of her business -- all having to do with niddah, and bedikah, etc. My daughter's answers did not please her since she obviously adheres to a much more machmir (strict) observance of the halacha - and she rebuked my daughter very strongly. When she finally terminated her cross examination of my daughter she gave her a form and sent her to 'the man at the end'. So, we trudged over to 'the man at the end'. We waited on line, and waited, and waited, only to learn that it was the wrong line. We were sent to another place 'in the middle'. Again, we waited on line, and waited, and ...again the same response. We were sent back to the 'man at the end' -- only this time we perceived another door and found another person there. This apparently was who we needed to speak with. This man was downright rude. He asked for the tik number and she could not remember it but gave him her name and that of her chosson. He would not do anything without the number. (BTW, none of this was computerized -- EVERYTHING was on paper. It was a small office, and there were not THAT many files around. Finally, we called her Chosson and he gave us the number and thus were we able to do what we needed to do. But this man continued to be arrogant and rude to my daughter.

We left the office and my daughter turned to me and told me that EVERY time she has visited the Rabbinate, they have managed to make her feel worthless and stupid. She then burst into tears, sobbing. Needless to say, I was quite upset.

This is a girl whom they should be THRILLED to help. When she was born, her mother was not religious, her father was not Jewish. She went to public school until she was 9. The chances that she was going to become religious, a Zionist, make aliyah, get married to a nice Jewish boy -- at that time were slim to none!! Instead, they do their best to revile her, to make it difficult for her, to make her feel badly. What a turn off. Instead of ensuring teshuvah and thus continuity, the Rabbinate is going to be responsible for the wholesale leaving of frumkeit by young modern Jews.

Haredi Judaism, with its blinders to the outside world, with its chumras and unscalable concrete walls with barbed wire around it's version of the Torah (not a fence!), is doing much to undermine the work of modern Orthodox Judaism, which seeks to embrace all the good that the secular world has to offer, while yet adhering to the Halacha -- and remaining accessible to modern young Jews, who may yet be disenfranchised. What a shame, what a shanda!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

In Israel for Chloe's Wedding

I have now been in Israel since this past Wednesday. Here are some notes:

  1. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER fly Israir. I had actually flown Israir in the past. It was not good then. But I got suckered into a "cheap" fare. Their planes are the MOST uncomfortable planes ever. They pack us in like sardines in a can. It is HORRIBLE. And worst of all, we have to fly Israir back home -- I am SO not looking forward to that trip.
  2. The apartment we rented is beautiful, and quite large. But it has some very serious design flaws. Let's take the master BR with bath ensuite. The wall between the bathroom and the bedroom is glass. Most of the glass is frosted so it is not completely see through, but the bottom and top of the glass is not frosted. So here are the problems with that:

    • When my husband goes to the bathroom, and I am sitting on the bed reading. I happen to look up and what do I see? My husbands pants down around his ankles! Now, he and I may be married, but what we do in the bathroom is PRIVATE -- and that was actually embarrassing to me! (and him, when I told him).

    • At night one of us may get up to use the bathroom. We turn on the bathroom light and ---- the entire BR get's lit up, thereby waking the other...NOT GOOD!

    • On Shabbat we usually leave a light on in our bathroom. If we did that we would never sleep since the light in the bathroom lights up the bedroom too!

  3. The bathtub in the master bathroom needs a non skid surface or a rubber mat.
  4. The "dood", or water heater is pitiful. You have to turn it on and wait a half an hour for hot water. So, I do that and take a shower. Now, mind you, I am not a long shower taker. But I could not have hot water long enough for my showers. Ugh.
  5. The oven in this kitchen is absurd. It is TINY! can only be on for 90 minutes at a time. It only works when the timer is set. If you do not set the timer, it does not come on. So forget about leaving it on over Shabbat to keep food warm.
  6. The electric circuitry cannot handle too much.
  7. There is an outlet behind the stovetop that is to be used for plugging in the plata. But it is 4 feet away from the front of the counter and up under the cabinet. One must climb onto a chair and perform a contortionist routine in order to reach the outlet and have enough leverage to insert the plug into the outlet!!
  8. We lost power twice: the first time was just as I was about light candles for Shabbat and it was already late! The second time occured in the middle of Shabbat thereby necessitating a change of venue for the Seudat Shlishit/Havdalah. We split into 2 groups: the kids went to Tzippy and Gedaliah's place and the grownups went to the Cottrells rented apartment.

Anyway, I am tired and there IS more to tell but that will have to wait.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What I am wearing for the wedding, redux

Ok, so my friends are asking what am I wearing for my daughters wedding. And since there is nothing better than pictures, this is my answer. First, I am wearing this gown:
Over this gown I am wearing this sweater:
I am wearing the following shoes with this:

and I will be wearing my long, curly fall, curled really kinkily, with this headband, in dark brown:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Below is an article reporting on the refusal of Ms. Magazine to publish an ad submitted by the AJC. The ad highlights 3 very powerful women in Israeli politcal society, and states simply, "This is Israel". In the article, surprise is expressed at this (knowing Ms. magazine I am NOT surprised, but yet, disappointed). It is truly amazing in light of the fact that Ms. magazine has no qualms accepting ads or publishing articles that are pro-Arab, pro-Palestinian. And this, even though women are so horribly mistreated in the majority of Arab controlled Middle East countries, but in Israel, they are not only better treated, but enjoy rights to education, to employment, to political involvement -- something one would thing Ms. magazine would applaud.

According to The Prism Group, "The lack of female participation is noticeable throughout Arab/Islamic states in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The difference is most marked when contrasted with Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East - that also has a sizeable Arab minority with democratic rights. In the last few years Israel has seen record numbers of women move into decision-making positions. Sixteen out of 120 members of the Knesset are women, including three ministers and two deputy ministers. Three women now serve as justices on the Supreme Court and 36 are district court judges. The State Attorney is also a woman. Golda Meir was Israel’s fourth prime minister – and only the second female prime minister in the world. (The Advancement of the Status of Women, R. Werczberger, Research and Information Center, The Knesset, Israel, 2001)"

Read article below for more info about the Ms. magazine abhorrent action, and further below for info on how to contact Ms. and express your dismay and disappointment in their publication.
Ms. Magazine Blocks Ad Because It Is Pro-Israel January 10, 2008

Ms. Magazine has long been in the forefront of the fight for equal rights and equal opportunities for women. Apparently that is not the case if the women happen to be Israeli. The magazine has turned down an AJCongress advertisement that did nothing more controversial than call attention to the fact that women currently occupy three of the most significant positions of power in Israeli public life.
Click here to see the ad.

The proposed ad included a text that merely said, “This is Israel,” under photographs of President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinish, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. “What other conclusion can we reach,” asked Richard Gordon, President of AJCongress, “except that the publishers − and if the publishers are right, a significant number of Ms. Magazine readers − are so hostile to Israel that they do not even want to see an ad that says something positive about Israel?”

When Director of AJCongress’ Commission for Women’s Empowerment Harriet Kurlander tried to place the ad, she was told that publishing the ad “will set off a firestorm” and that “there are very strong opinions” on the subject − the subject presumably being whether or not one can say anythingpositive about Israel. Ms. Magazine publisher Eleanor Smeal failed to respond to a signed-for certified letter with a copy of the ad as well as numerous calls by Mr. Gordon over a period of weeks.

A Ms. Magazine representative, Susie Gilligan, whom the Ms. Magazine masthead lists under the publisher’s office, told Ms. Kurlander that the magazine “would love to have an ad from you on women’s empowerment, or reproductive freedom, but not on this.” Ms. Gilligan failed to elaborate what “this”is.

“The only conclusion that one can reach from this behavior is that Ms. Magazine feels that an ad highlighting the accomplishments of three incredibly talented and dedicated women would offend their readership. Since there is nothing about the ad itself that is offensive, it is obviously the nationality of the women pictured that the management of Ms. fears their readership would find objectionable. For a publication that holds itself out to be in the forefront of the Women’s Movement, this is nothing short of disgusting and despicable,” stated Mr. Gordon.

Ms. Magazine has a long record of publishing advertisements rallying readers to support reproductive choice; opposing the Religious Right; highlighting the fragility of the pro-Roe v. Wade majority on the Supreme Court; charging that “Pat Robertson and his Religious Right cohorts don’t like individual freedom;” announcing support for the “struggle for freedom and human rights;” opposing the Bush administration’s campaign to fill federal courts with judges who “will reverse decades of progress on reproductive rights and privacy, civil rights, religious liberty, environmental protection and so much more;” as well as accusing the Bush administration of being “bent on rewarding big corporations and the rich, turning back the clock on women’s rights and civil rights, and promoting a U.S. empire abroad.”

“This flagship publication of the American women’s empowerment movement publishes ads that are controversial in the general culture but not so among its readership,” Ms. Kurlander said. “Obviously, Ms. believes our ad would enflame a significant portion of their readers.”Mr. Gordon added, “What really amazes me is that just recently, in their Winter 2007 issue, Ms. ran a cover story with a picture of Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi with the heading in big letters: “This is What a Speaker Looks Like.” While Ms. has every reason to be proud of Speaker Pelosi and her accomplishments, as are we, the only discernable difference between Speaker Pelosi and Speaker Itzik apparently is that Speaker Pelosi is not Israeli.”

Mr. Gordon noted that while Israel was apparently too hot to handle, Ms. Magazine did not extend that taboo to Arab and Moslem women. “What is even more amazing is that, while refusing to publish a simple ad praising three very notable women, women who embody the ideal that Ms. Magazine seemingly espouses, Ms. has run a cover article in the Fall 2003 issue on Queen Noor of Jordan, has featured a number of articles on Muslim women, and even ran an article in the Winter 2004 issue entitled, ‘Images of Palestine,’ which discussed the Ramallah Film Festival and gave sympathetic reviews to films concerning ‘the liberation of South Lebanon’ from Israel as well as numerous films which portrayed terrorism as legitimate ‘revolutionary’ activity against Israel and miscast Israel’s activities to counter terrorism as ‘oppressive.’”

“Clearly Ms. has changed a great deal from the days when AJCongress members and leaders of the AJCongress’ Commission for Women’s Equality −including Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug and Ms. co-founder Letty Pogrebin − were at the forefront of the Women’s Movement that led to the creation of Ms. Magazine.”AJCongress President Gordon concluded, “Ms. has the right to turn down our ad. But in exercising that right, it has spoken loudly about itself and its readership, and their lingering hostility to Israel.”

The American Jewish Congress is a membership association of Jewish Americans, organized to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad, through public policy advocacy, in the courts, Congress, the executive branch and state and local governments. It also works overseas with others who are similarly engaged. Click here to see their PR response to this outrageous action by Ms. magazine.

Here is the contact information if you agree that this latest move by MS Magazine is an outrage:

Senior Editor Michele Kort
Advertising: Ms. magazine
Attention: Michel Cicero, Managing Editor
433 South Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
For questions regarding material: (310) 556-2515

An Open Letter to My Daughter (and her soon to be husband, Jonathan)

Dear Chloe (and Jonathan):

There are things that are taught to the children, in Israel, that they should not have to learn. No child should have to learn to look for suspicious people who they think might blow up the bus that they are on. No child should have to learn how to put on a gas mask. And no child should have to learn that a siren means run for your life, because you have only seconds before there will be an explosion.

I remember, years ago, during the Gulf war, my sister who lives in Israel and had just had a baby. They needed to convert a room in their home into a "safe room" -- a room that is sealed, so no airborne poisons can enter, a room that is stocked -- with the needs of life in order to be able to live there for a while. They also needed to install a device that would seal the baby's crib, since the baby could not wear a gas mask. The other children all had gas masks and she had to teach them how to wear them.

I remember her telling us about all this. I remember how my mother cried to learn of it and how I shuddered. Chloe, you were a little girl back then. Wetold you, too, what your cousins were going through. I do not remember your reaction.

But we Jews are a hardy people (some say "stiff necked") -- we go back, we stay, we make our homes there. And we know the dangers. You, Chloe, as a little girl, and then again as a young teenager, went to visit your cousins in Israel with you grandparents, and you fell in love with Israel. You decided on your second visit that you wanted to go back to Israel to live.

When you completed Yeshiva HS here, you went to Israel for a year of learning at Michlelet Orot. Then, shortly after that you made aliyah. You stayed true to her decision to live in Israel. (Many years ago, I made that same decision. But for lack of familial support IN Israel, I did not stick to it -- and after 2 years in Israel I returned to the States.)

Now you have been in Israel for about 3 1/2 years. About a year ago or so, you fell in love again. This time with a boy -- a very nice boy. You surprised us with an engagement this past summer and we began planning a wedding. That wedding, IY"H, we take place one week from today -- in Eretz HaKodesh, in Ir HaKodesh.

Twenty one years ago, when you were born, if someone had told me that my daughter would make aliyah and make her life in Israel, I would have laughed at them. After all, I was not religious, your father was not Jewish. So, life is funny, life is unpredictable -- and there are both good and bad things that can happen.

This is one of the BEST things.

Chloe and Jonathan -- I love you and hope you both have lives full of love, happiness, health, and mazel.



Monday, January 7, 2008

Can We Trust the US to reALLY be Israel's ALLY?

Soon President Bush will visit Jerusalem. (And I will be in Israel hot on his heels -- we leave for Israel the same day he leaves Israel -- albeit for different reasons!!)

Below is an article that points out some of the tensions surrounding his upcoming visit:
The Bush Visit and Tensions in the U.S.-Israel Relationship
- Gerald M. Steinberg (Institute for Contemporary
Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • The December "surprise" resulting from the publication of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate disrupted fifteen years of Israeli policy based on working with the international coalition to pressure Iran to drop its nuclear weapons program through sanctions and the threat of military action, and has reminded Israelis of the limits of American security guarantees and strategic cooperation.
  • Within two weeks following publication of the NIE report, China signed a major contract on energy development and supply with Iran, and Russia quickly dispatched two shipments of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr nuclear reactor. Egypt moved to improve relations with Iran, and Saudi Arabia welcomed Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Mecca for the Haj.
  • Prime Minister Olmert had explained the logic of the "Annapolis process" in terms of the coalition to stop Iran, but two weeks after Annapolis, with the release of the NIE report, this rationale has lost much of its relevance.
  • Another source of stress comes from differences over renewed U.S. efforts to forge a quick agreement with the Palestinian Authority at a time of continued terrorism, the violent conflict between Fatah and Hamas, the failure to develop functioning Palestinian institutions, and the PA's ongoing incitement and rejection of the legitimacy of a Jewish state.
  • In addition, the overall decline of U.S. influence, as reflected in Iraq, the return of Russia as a world power, the chaos in Pakistan, and other developments, has highlighted the limits of Israeli reliance on American assistance, and the need for Israel to maintain an independent capability to act when necessary.

The writer is head of the Political Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and Executive Director of NGO Monitor.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Shul Website

I am the webmaster (mistress?) of my shul's website ( For the most part I simply place content given to me on the site. But, sometimes, I create some of the content, mostly out of frustration waiting to get content from various members, that is never forthcoming.

I designed the entire website, and it is my "baby". It is at this moment, sadly out of date -- due to the lack of content given me. Actually, truth be told, I had the content but it was handed to me in hard copy and I simply did not have the time to spend manually typing it all out. However, that is changing -- we now have a new person who is working with our communication committee and he is very gung ho and hopeful. I have already been given much content in electronic format, thus making my job much easier. However, I cannot upload said content until we get approval from the required parties. I anticipate that the site will be updated by mid-week next week. So watch..

In the meantime I have been having an ongoing "discussion" (for lack of a better word) with another member who is practically anti-website. This person finds reasons at every turn not to publish anything on the site. I find it to be maddening.

I created a rebuttal, below to this persons constant harping against the site.


We should not assume that we should be like that cozy little coffee shop with books and comfortable seating which one randomly encounters and then patronizes regularly, gets to know the regulars, and keeps the knowledge of our shul a secret because that would ruin the experience.

Our shul should be making an effort to stand out where it can be seen. Some of the people who might come to our shul will initially look online. That is the best reason to have a website, right there. (And to the person who says, “Oh, no one around here would do that,” the correct response is “By not making shul available and accessible online, you’ve actually guaranteed that no one will.” Online access has increased at a rate that indicates that the people we want to reach are very likely looking for our shul online.)

Not only that, but these are visitors who have already set out to find our shul in one way or another. They’re not just randomly surfing the ‘net, but they are looking for our shul. Many people who set about looking for a shul online come from a sector of people who are interested in joining a shul of young, upwardly mobile religious Jews in the Teaneck area.

So our taking the simple step of putting a web page in the World Wide Web, with directions, davening times, and a user-friendly design, our shul will significantly increase the likelihood of being available to a would-be visitor (who could be a potential future member) when that visitor comes looking.

Part of the value of a web page is that it is a public self-definition of our kehilla: “This is who we are, and what we stand for.” That definition serves not only to invite (or fend off) visitors and potential future members, but it also serves to help our own kehilla recognize its own reflection in the mirror of the culture.

The attention that an effective web site requires grows from, develops, nourishes, articulates, and extends the very energies that contribute to our vital community life. A web site should be all about communication, quite public communication. A good site helps a kehilla with an overview of what’s going on. It provides visitors with a sense of what kinds of people and interests they’re likely to meet. Through the website we can signal much that our visitor(s) may care about by how we characterize our shul culture and events.

An easily-constructed, frequently-updated web site expresses, generates, reflects, and encourages a conversational sense of what the kehilla is about. A living kehilla partakes of many of the characteristics of a good, long, satisfying conversation; why not permit those positive characteristics to show online?

Now, having said all that, I must add a warning: having a website designed chiefly to attract newcomers to our brick-and-mortar site is worse than having no Internet presence at all. Let me explain.

A website intended to serve two audiences should have features for members (newsletters, events calendar, event updates, committee updates, and contact information) and features for visitors (area map and directions, photo of the shul, "frequently asked questions" and youth committee contacts). Increasingly, our web page may be the only glimpse people ever have of our kehilla. We should at least spend as much time and energy on our website as we would on our shul building’s design

An online community cannot replace the power and richness of "real world" community interactions. However, using the Internet can promote the benefits of technologies—such as Instant Messaging, Skype, VOIP Phone calls, email, forums—between parties living vast distances from one another, providing opportunities for contact not otherwise practical or even possible. Furthermore, when operating within a moral framework, OUR moral framework, our online community can become a valuable and constructive tool, especially as a supplement to, or extension of our real world community.

Music to his ears

ST LUCIA'S Bill Raymond is the first cochlear implant recipient to become an audiologist in Australia.Having graduated from the University of Queensland, the 24-year-old said it was an ``incredible achievement''. Born with a severe hearing disability, Mr Raymond received the implant when he was 13, after his hearing deteriorated and hearing aids could no longer be of assistance. ``I was extremely unhappy. I felt very isolated.``I had been doing quite well at school, but the teachers didn't bother talking to me,'' Mr Raymond said.``I just read a book in the corner and my friends got sick of repeating the punchline to their jokes. ``I stopped going to their houses and was painfully shy.'' A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted device which transforms sound into electrical impulses.These are then transmitted to the brain for decoding.In 1996, after a two-hour operation, he received the implant through keyhole surgery.``The first time the implant was turned on, mum spoke to me.``Her voice should have been the most natural sound in the world, but it sounded like breaking glass and I cried,'' he said. Now an audiologist at Auchenflower's Hear and Say Centre, Mr Raymond said the progress of technology had helped him further his dream.``I am able to identify with patients who have hearing loss,'' Mr Raymond said.``I never had a hearing impaired audiologist. Now I can look the kids in the eye and say my hearing is as bad or worse than theirs.''He said while at school, he went from being the kid who talked to no-one, to school captain of his primary school. ``I won English subject prizes and competitions, and received a Young Citizen of the Year Award for the Pittsworth Shire,'' Mr Raymond said.``I'm really grateful to the people who have helped along the way especially my parents and various professionals."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

More on The Saturday Wife

Orthomom published her review of Naomi Ragen's "The Saturday Wife". For those of you who read my blog, you know that I reviewed it as well (See The Saturday Wife). I fear that Orthomom did not see the book for what it is: a satire...

Jewish Deaf Motorcyclist Dad

Ok, here is a rather interesting blog. The four words: Jewish Deaf Motorcyclist Dad are what defines this blogger. That is not too much different from what defines me. I think of myself as a Woman, Modern Orthodox, Hearing Impaired, Mother, Wife, Zionist, ....I could actually go on. But those first words are the most defining ones for my life.

Anyway, I thought my readers might be interested in this particular entry of his -- he discusses a rather interesting conundrum for himself. Click on the title to this entry to view...