Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rain and Fog

It's hard to write about what's going on over here and I almost can't, but it's important for all to know the feelings and emotions that go on here in Israel after a terror attack, the likes of which have not been seen since 2008, until recently.

It's not been a great few weeks for us over here. It's usually evident when I wake up in the morning, and with great trepidation check the news, all the while wondering what exactly I might find today.

We haven't quite recovered from the shock of the Itamar attacks, and now along comes something else, an attack less personal in nature perhaps (or maybe not at all), but hitting much closer to home. The "kiosk" (small vending booth) where the bomb was placed is right at the bus stop that we take in and out of Jerusalem, to and from Beit Shemesh. The fog (familiar in nature from the days after the Itamar attack) that fills my head and makes it unable to concentrate on the mundane is back. The kids have questions, I don't really have answers. Or if I have answers, I only hope and pray that they are good enough. It's eerie that the past few days the weather outside has been just that; foggy and rainy.

Earlier in the day, my youngest brother S called me from Be'er Sheva, saying that school was closing due to all of the incoming missiles and mortars from Gaza, and that he was on his way to stay with us for a few days. He first takes a bus to Jerusalem to the Central Bus Station and then crosses the street to catch the 417 to RBS. While he was on the bus from Be'er Sheva entering the city, the bomb went off across the street, partially blowing up the 74 bus. I can't even think about if he had caught the previous bus from Be'er Sheva, and had been standing in that exact spot a mere ten minutes later. I can't think about it, and I won't, because, thank G-d, he wasn't.

Or my sister D, who was on her way to our house for her birthday dinner with us, who would have been on that very 74 bus to meet S at the 417 stop had she not had to make a stop first. Had she been on schedule, she would've been on that bus. I can't think about it, and I won't, because thank G-d, she wasn't.

Exactly 24 hours earlier I stood in that spot, (N actually playing with the telephone that you see blown to pieces in the news) with my six kids on our way back to RBS waiting for the 417, my kids counting how many 74s had passed us.  What if we had been one day earlier, on our way home, in that exact spot? I can't think about it, and I won't, because thank G-d, we weren't.

But it's these thoughts that plague me now constantly, even though I promise myself I won't think about them. The "What ifs?", the "What about next times?". I guess this is the exact goal of and definition of Terrorism. Making us doubt and fear our every move.

I am so incredibly thankful for all of my family being safe and sound, but I almost feel guilty expressing such thoughts. One of my kids, B, said to me, "But how can we thank Hashem for keeping us safe and not having the bomb go off when we were there, when other people were there when it did go off? How can we say thank you when other people got hurt and killed? It doesn't seem nice. "

No, it doesn't seem "nice" at all, does it?

So, we wake up (or just get out of bed for those of us that aren't really sleeping) and send our kids off to school, away from us, out of our protective arms. We sigh as they close the door behind them and hope, and PRAY that they will be safe and sound. We pick up the pieces, we try to clear our heads of the fog, and we continue living. We keep moving.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I've been silent for a few days, waiting for the shock of the vicious attack in Itamar to wear off so I can begin to function again. I'm realizing now that it will be more than a few days until we are able to "get it together" again, but we are trying. Especially in Adar, we are praying that this time of mourning be changed into a time of happiness.

It's pointless to try and describe the fog I've been in for the past few days, especially because I'm sure most of you are in the same state. Trying to focus on the day to day, finding yourself distracted and unable to remember what you were trying to do in the first place. Thoughts returning to the surviving children and the life that lies ahead of them. Crying. A lot of crying.

I was in the shopping center yesterday, and the sadness and shock is palpable even among complete strangers. Women were wandering around half heartedly picking out Shalach Manot containers, seuda paper goods. There is a feeling of sadness, confusion, of helplessness, but most of all, of anger. A choking anger.

Anger that once again, our fellow Jews were brutally massacred in their own homes, and Anger that the terrorists have yet to be caught. Anger that CNN has the audacity to put Terror Attack in quotation marks, implying, "Well, they SAY it was a "terror attack", but we don't really know that, do we?" CNN, did you miss the part where there was dancing and singing in the streets of the Arab villages? That they were giving out candy to children in the street to celebrate this "victory"? 

There is Anger that we have to explain very difficult things to our children when they come home from school with a myriad of questions about things they should not have to know about. Anger that once again the world falls silent after these parents and children had their throats slashed in their homes, while other children slept or hid. Anger that an infant was murdered in cold blood in her father's arms.

Where is the outrage? Where is the battle cry? Where is the revenge? But no, we won't take revenge, because we know and have to believe that there is only one true Avenger, and only He will avenge their blood. We won't take revenge, because if we did, it would put us on the level of the savages, the animals who committed this heinous crime. We as Jews don't stoop, no matter how much Anger there may be.

There is Anger when I worry that once the murderers are caught, again, the Jewish Israeli heart will be misguided in it's kindness. A friend put it perfectly, "They'll catch whoever did this. But when they do, he'll sit in prison for a few years, and eventually we'll trade him back for a dead soldier." Anger. 

So, where do we go from here? As the days go by, it gets easier. Things start to return to normal for us. But for this family, even the entire community of Itamar, things will never go back to normal. My SIL said she once heard a Rav talk about working on being able to put these things in our back pocket, and move on. But what about the Fogel family? What about the survivors? They don't have the gift that is time, which put us further and further away from this. 

So for now, it's been suggested that we have gratitude. Gratitude for everything that we have, for being able to wake up another day with our families intact. And of course, prayer. Davening that these children should recover as much as possible, and go on to live full and productive lives, and that true peace should come to our land soon with the coming of Moshiach. But don't forget action. More building across the nation has been approved over the past few days to show that yes, we are angry, but we are not going to just lie down and take it. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Let's get crazy

Purim is fast approaching. This year, I vowed that in the spirit of "v'nahapochu" (switching things up) I would...wait for it...make hamentaschen with the children.

Huh? you say. Let's explain. I am crazy. Every bit of OCD, perfection and sheer insanity that I possess rear their ugly heads when I start baking. And Hamentaschen especially. Face it: the perfectly triangular cookies, the neatly pressed edges, just enough filling to taste good, but not overflow into a messy gob, if done right, Hamentaschen are every control freak's dream. (Note: the ones in the picture have waaaay too much filling showing. I mean, come on people!)

And they were that dream for me, for many, many years. My mother's recipe is the best one out there with a sweet cookie base, and we always used to fill them with apricot jelly and prune filling. As the kids got older, and prune was out, ("EW! Prunes? Are you crazy?? Why would I eat spoiled plums??") I made a kid friendly change and switched to chocolate chip. See, I can too be flexible!

So there I was for about 6 or 7 years, blissfully, peacefully, perfectly making my flawless Hamentaschen long after the over eager kinder were asleep, promising them Hamentaschen in the morning if they went "right to bed". Life was good; they were happy as I plied them with the imperfect ones at dawn's first light, and I was ecstatic, hoarding only the most perfect Hamentaschen for shaloch manos and shabbos guests. 

And then, out of the blue, it happened. Someone innocently asked if they could help me make them. I smiled, danced around the cookies, I mean, questions, and maneuvered through yet another year of My Perfect Hamentaschen. This avoidance has been going on for quite some time now, and I could avoid it no longer. This year they begged and begged and begged. So, like any guilt ridden good mother, I finally gave in, albeit on my terms, and my terms only: I would make the dough while they were at school, and we'd make them together after dinner. The roar from the crowd brought a smile even to the lips of one Nazi Perfect Hamentaschen Maker. 

I even followed through; I made a double batch (10 cups of flour!) while they were at school, and it was ready for them when they got home. I made it nervously through dinner, and afterwards everyone eagerly helped me clear off the table so we could get started. 

Have you ever baked hametaschen with 6 kids all at once? Have you ever tried to to anything, anything at all with 6 kids all at once? After 45 seconds, TPH "gently" removed N from the scene before he could color his hair an even more shocking shade of orange. Or red or brown. 

The truth is that once I managed to unclench my jaw, it was actually a lot of fun. I ignored (barely) the uneven edges, and the (gasp!) overflowing jelly. I even managed to stay calm when someone mixed cherry jelly with chocolate chip. The horror!

The mess, the cleanup and the lapse in perfection was all worth it. The smiles, the singing and dancing and yes, the extra headlocks on the floor were all proof that a little lack of perfection can sometimes go a long way. So, while I might still sneak in a batch or two on my own under the cover of night (because, yes, darn it, they do taste better when they look good!), this was some good quality family time. The stuff that memories are made of. 

Bubby Roth's Hamentaschen
1 c. margarine
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
4 - 5 c. flour ( I just use 4)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Mix all ingredients. Can use dough right away or freeze or refrigerate up to one week. Bake 15  minutes at 350.