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.