Monday, October 31, 2011

More Missiles from Gaza

It's been one of those days where we've been perched on the edge of our chairs, obsessively checking iPhones and laptops to get a glimpse of the latest news: 

Since Saturday, over 35 missiles have been fired from Gaza into Southern Israel killing one and injuring 16 others. Dozens of others have been admitted to hospital for treatment of stress and anxiety. I believe it. 

I just got a text from my 16 year old brother who is in a dorm yeshiva in Be'er Sheva that the siren went off and they made it to the shelter before they heard the "booms" of the missiles landing. It's not a text that you wish for and it kind of makes your anxiety level move from a 2 to a 348. He seems ok, in his words "I'm ok, a little freaked out, but I'm fine."

BBILW (Big Brother In Law W) was ready to jump in the car and go pick him up, but S insists that if he comes out here he'll come tomorrow. I even called my mother who doesn't want either I or BAW driving out there now to go get him, as she's nervous of the risks of traveling there at night. 

So what do you do? You sit tight, and you remind yourself to stop clenching your teeth when you realize your jaws are sore. You try (unsuccessfully) not to let your own kids see how distracted and nervous you are. You don't sleep well (last night was terrible) and you try and keep your head up and your mind clear and focused. And you daven. 

Oh boy do you pray.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Gilad is Home, But It's Not Over

With Succos followed swiftly on the heels by my knee issue, I never really got a chance to blog about the release of Gilad Shalit in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. The truth is that I never really have to blog at all because A Soldier's Mother pretty much says what I'm thinking and feeling down to the last comma and period, and after I read her posts I often feel that nothing else needs to be said. This post of her's of the day of Gilad's release was particularly on the mark for me.

Gilad is home. He's sleeping between his own sheets in his own bed, and waking up to the sounds of his loving family surrounding him, and I'm sure lots and lots of home cooking. But it's not over. Not for Gilad and not for us. He has shown tremendous strength and resilience, but I can't imagine the long term effects of such a horrible ordeal, and I'm sure that for Gilad the nightmare is not yet over. 

My 2nd grader and I were talking recently. He was very "into" the part in his davening where they were praying for "Gilad Ben Aviva Shalit", and when he got back to school he told me that the Morah had a long talk with them about how Gilad is home, BH! and how we don't have to daven  for him anymore. I'm not so sure. I'm sure that Gilad can use all the prayers we still have to offer.

And so could we. It's far from over for us. You've seen the videos and the news clips about the first wave of prisoners (would they please stop calling them that when they are actually criminals, terrorists and murderers?) being returned to their homes and families. You've seen the way they celebrated by throwing rocks at the IDF soldiers and civilians alike, by parading their children around with machine guns in the streets. And I'm sure you've seen those stupid, asinine, self satisfied smirks and grins that accompany the promises of more killings, more terrorism, more of our children kidnapped.

So no, it's not over. Not for Gilad and not for us by a long shot. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saga of a Knee

Two and a half weeks of succos vacation passed by in the blink of an eye for us over here, and just like that my favorite holiday is gone. It's taken a while for me to reflect on the holiday and all the good because I've been very preoccupied with the not-so-good. After a beautiful first day and Chol Hamoed trips to Ammunition Hill in J-lem, the Safari in Tel Aviv, a BBQ in on Tel-Tzora and the Beit Shemesh concert, I woke up with a very, very painful knee on Hoshana Rabba morning. I couldn't move it and was literally writhing in pain on my bed. 

Me and this knee have a history. Avery long and annoying history. When I was 7 I was tobogganing down Cobb's Hill at night and our toboggan hit a tree. Somehow my leg wound around a tree (to this day we still wave at this tree whenever we pass by) and my femur broke in half instantly. I barely remember being put on the toboggan stretcher-style and being rushed to the hospital. The next couple of hours I endured a long surgery and was put into traction: essentially a very large screw was put through my knee to literally hang my knee from a sling above my bed to reset my bone. I was in the hospital in this position for almost 2 months and after that I was sent home with a double cast from waist to ankle. It was not pretty. I missed the second half of 2nd grade. After months of being in bed I had to relearn how to walk, first with crutches then with much physical therapy on my own. 

Once I was completely healed (or so I thought) things went back to normal and I didn't think about that leg again. Until one day in 11th grade. I was sitting in English class and my knee had the weirdest sensation; I felt something slip into place and the pain was excruciating. Worse than that I was stuck in my desk unable to move until they called an ambulance and I was brought to the hospital. I'll never forget that day. We had one more period until the end of the day, and our Student Council had planned a roller skating/blading party with music and pizza. It was a big deal and I loved rollerblading. Long story short there was no rollerblading for me that day or any day after that one for a very long time. My knee needed surgery; x-rays showed that my traction 10 years before had torn cartilage in my knee that had never healed. Now it had somehow locked around itself, and needed to be cut out. Another surgery, another significant amount time of school missed. 

Months later I was back in school with a very large and obnoxious apparatus, complete with a wheelchair and crutches. As only my 11th grade self could, I would complete my outfit every day with neon colored tights. Well, one tight... 

Thank goodness it healed completely and I haven't heard from it since then until now. We spent Hoshana Rabba in Terem, the emergency clinic, first here in town and then in Jerusalem. The original concern was that it was a blood clot, but bh that was ruled out. The only thing I have to go on now is the preliminary x-ray that shows that there are bone lesions on my tibia. Related to my old injury? They won't say. Related to my new jogging regime? Dunno. I'm getting worried, it's been over a week and the improvement is minimal. I have an appointment with the orthopedist next week, and until then....

Here I sit on the couch where I've been parked for the better part of a week. Trying not to feel sorry for myself. Wondering how much damage I've done to my kids by being incapacitated for so long. Thanking my lucky stars for good friends and sister in laws. Marveling at what a wonderful husband I have. 

What's ironic is that every time this knee acts up and I have time to sit and actually think, I go over and over in my head, "I will never take walking for granted again. I will never take walking for granted again." So maybe it's just a reminder that I need every couple of years; to slow down and be grateful for the small things. 

Things could be worse. Grateful for what I have. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dare We Hope?

If you're on FaceBook, or even if you're not, the word is spreading like wildfire: the Palestinians have supposedly agreed to consider a prisoner exchange deal that would secure the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas in 2005 and held prisoner for almost 6 long years. 

This announcement comes on the heels of an international rally in which 100 communities prayed for the safe return of Gilad. It's a point that needs to be made, that needs to be heard. Prayers are answered.

"Don't get your hopes up." TPH gently reminds me. The Arabs do this. They've done it in the past, and we can't put it past them to do it again. They get our hopes up only to dash them in horrible ways. They've reneged on their deals, they've pulled out last minute. They've even returned dead bodies. They're requesting that close to some 1,000 terrorists be released not only into Gaza, but that they be allowed to return to their homes and families. The complete and utter chutzpa makes my blood boil.

But how can we NOT get our hopes up after davening, praying for this single soldier for so long? How can we, parents of those children who daily have added Gilad to their prayers (some for as long as they have been praying at all) not get our hopes up? How can we as Gilad's fellow brothers and sisters not get our hopes up? As parents? As Jews? As human beings? 

So, I'm trying. I'm trying to stay calm and not get my hopes up. I'm trying to move past being on the verge of (dare I say?) happy tears. I feel tremendously on edge because for once there might be good news. For once there might be something globally Jewish that we can announce with excitement, happiness, and real joy. 

Here's to hoping and praying that this time the news will be ours, and that this time of זמן שמחתנו-- time of happiness and rejoicing be just that. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's not just Israel, it's the Israelis that I love too

The other night, TPH and I got out for a few hours thanks to Uncle S.

We went to a mall nearby and just walking around and basically enjoyed escaping the new terror that N has become. I stopped in at FOX (the local GAP-wannabe) for tshirts for J. As always, TPH lurks outside any stores I enter, except of course the bookstore. He's always had a fear of stores for as long as I can remember. Maybe this is why...

Me: (yelling like a lunatic out into the mall) "Can you please come in here! I need money!"
Him: "Every time I reach into my pocket to pull out my wallet it hurts."
Me: "Ok, ok! That's very dramatic, I'm not spending that much! J needs shirts for school! And a shabbos dress! And you always make this so difficult and--"
Him: "--No, really. My hand hurts. I have a cut."

Yes, I really am this much fun to hang out with.

So, anywhoo...there we were having a non-existent argument in the store when TPH starts gesturing for me to turn around. When I do I am less than two feet behind a guy who has his shirt off. And it's not so pretty, trust me. But the real piece of cake was when the girlfriend starts yelling at the sales girl (when she nicely asked him to please use the dressing room), "What? He works hard for this at the gym. He should be allowed to show it off."

By now TPH and I were looking every where but at the scene of the crime trying to get out of there before one of us burst out laughing.I glance over as the guy finally tries on his shirt, and then I really stare: Mr. Big Tough Guy With a Large Gold Necklace, who apparently has been working hard on this flabby bod has on a...wait for it...smurf shirt.

Hee, hee. Some Israelis are cute.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Very, Very, VERY Terrible Twos

Wow. I'm slowly losing it over here. 

N has literally yelled and screamed and thrown a fit for the ENTIRE day, giving me a short break only when he took a nice long nap. Any kids yelling and screaming are annoying...but imagine the entire day...for almost a full week. 

He's been sick on and off for six weeks, and to me that just seems too long. There's been nothing concrete to actually be able to treat with antibiotics, and if I hear the word "virus" again, I might possibly lose it. I even took him for a blood and urine test and am awaiting the results, but the doctors keep telling me not to worry, it's just taking him an extra long time to adjust to being in school with all the new germs...but it's easy for them to say. They don't have to deal with him being off the handle in crazy mode all day long. 

Rosh Hashana was a disaster. Everytime BAW left the house he'd cry inconsolably for 2-3 hours straight. Yes, seriously. No joke.I tried everything. The only time that he's mildly happy is when we're outside, and even then lately he's been kvetchy or fighting with other kids. One afternoon he screamed and screamed until I brought him outside, only to sit curled up on my lap for an hour. Any time I made any motion to come inside he started up again. 

The other kids are constantly on edge. I have zero patience for any of the rest of them, and by the evenings when I'm needed most for dinner, homework and bedtime I'm a basket case. BAW who is the most patient person on the planet, no, the universe is slowly becoming unraveled. 

Any ideas? Suggestions? The only thing that keeps coming back to haunt me is that my in-laws have always had this "funny" story about TPH and how he screamed the entire year from age 2 to age 3. I never paid much attention to that story thinking that it must be an exaggeration, because how is that even possible? But guess what? I'm starting to think it might be very possible indeed...

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I think I'm starting to get it. We've been here in the Holy Land 15 months now and I'm finally starting to catch on. Gone are the clueless looks and confused faces we had when we first arrived. We have gladly shed those and passed them down to the newest crop of Olim. 
I'm getting the hang of it here. 

For instance, English cake tins are actually a very good size. Not as big as a 9x13 which nobody ever finishes anyway, but not too small. Or, for example, no matter how little food you have in the house on Sunday morning, you DO NOT go shopping until Sunday afternoon, as it takes a bunch of hours to get food into the stores on Sunday. Or that yes, the banks are really closed on Sunday, and if you can remember that you'll save yourself a lot of trouble.

Or perhaps that maybe some essential stores (think pharmacy) closing in the middle of the day isn't so crazy…because neither is jumping in bed for a quick middle of the day nap. Or that if you wish to hold on to whatever shred of sanity you have left, Shabbos shopping never gets done on Thursday or Friday-- Wednesday only.

Don't get me wrong; I still oft dream of a master bedroom in which I don't have to side step (do-si-do) to get into my closet. Or even one where I can take more than three giant steps, Mother May I. Wegman's may be a thing of the past, but on those long Sunday mornings as I wait for the supermarkets to restock milk, bread and fruits and veg, I can wistfully sigh and reminisce about a 24/7 store that really does carry parsnip and celery and turnip…well, 24/7.

And although I'll most probably never hear a shofar blowing (until Moshiach comes) like SR's in R, I am still yotzei with the one that I barely made it to in shul.

 And most importantly, this small town hick is starting to get things like what being part of the עם  means. It means that when I'm standing there barely able to listen to the shofar with one little guy in my arms with a fever who is yelling over the mechitza, "Hey! There's Uncle S! Hi S! HI!!" and another who just got run over by a scooter whimpering on my leg, it's ok. It's ok because there I stand with over a hundred other mothers and children who are listening with me. Because just by being here, in the Holy Land with my holy brothers and sisters,  I'm "עם", (with) the עם -- and the עם has got my back.

So, although it wasn't my most spiritual RH ever, I am starting to get it and that makes my comfort level which essentially equals my happiness level that much better.

So here's to "getting it", and to the start of a great year filled with only good things for us all.