Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A legacy

I wasn't expecting the arab vegetable vendor to start chatting with me about Rav Ovadia Yosef. We've never talked about anything more personal than the price of sweet potatoes. But there we were, in the rare early-morning quiet of the shuk. We stood and talked about the Torah giant whose Jerusalem funeral yesterday drew over half a million mourners.

Monday, July 8, 2013

They hate us

They hate us.

We know they hate us. You can tell they hate us by the things they say and do, by the way they write about us. They hate us because we threaten their way of life. And their way of life is wrong, misguided, a corruption of Jewish values. And they see us, the way we live life differently, the way Jewish people are meant to live. They see us and they know there is a better way to live. But instead of examining themselves, they attack us. It's because of people like them that the Beit Hamikdash hasn't been rebuilt. Their hate holds back the Geulah.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


She wakes in the night again, and she is screaming. The last time she woke up to eat, I was dreaming that everything I owned was filled with tiny worms. I was happy to be excused from that scenario. Now, my dream finds me on a leisurely shopping trip in an enormous store filled with beautiful and unusual house goods. I am less pleased to be shuffling over to her bed, bringing her into mine.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Last winter, my lovely chevruta L.L. and I sat in my living room, studying a parenting book together. Afterwards, she headed out into the wet day, wearing her baby in an Ergo carrier. I own a rain cover for the Ergo, so I suggested she borrow it. She was hesitant; perhaps I would need it again soon?

"So bless me that I will have a baby by the next rainy season," I said.

It seemed very remote to me, even funny. My baby B.A. was two and a half, too heavy to ride on my back. I wanted another child, but I'd passed through 21 months of disappointment by then. I just knew I wouldn't be wearing a baby again so soon.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

For posterity

I didn't leave the house for three days last week. It started raining on Wednesday, and then Shabbat afternoon found me increasingly irritated with my children. I kept stalking away from the Shabbat table, wineglass in hand, to go hide out in my bedroom with the napping baby. And really, my kids weren't doing much except being 5 and 3. Normal kid stuff.

"I need to get out of the house," I told my husband. I strapped T.S. into her carrier and headed out.

I was so done with my kids. I wouldn't even make eye contact with them as I was getting ready to go out. And at the same time, I was aware that I was being sulky and sullen, and that they were watching me.

Oh no, I thought with dawning dread. I am their mother! I am the mother of four people. This petulant grouch is their mother.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Inner peace at the Ministry of the Interior

Hello! I gave birth to a baby girl three weeks ago. And today, my husband and I took the baby, T.S., to the Ministry of the Interior to register her and make her all official with the government. All three of us needed to be present for this process, so it took some maneuvering to arrange that.

We asked the woman at the information desk how to register a baby born at home (a separate procedure from registering a hospital-born baby). She gave us a numbered ticket, and we went to sit in the vast and crowded waiting hall until our number would be called. We waited and waited and my husband started to get antsy because he needed to go guide a tour group, and there were still many people waiting ahead us.

Then T.S. made a mess of her diaper and two layers of clothing. I left the waiting hall to change her in a less-crowded place. I found a nearly-empty waiting room and got to work changing the baby. The only other person there was a young woman with an infant a bit older than mine. She immediately engaged me in cheerful banter, commenting on everything T.S. and I were doing.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fumbling along in Hebrew

Something unremarkable and awesome happened today. Arriving early to gather the girls from gymnastics class, I found another mother waiting, and I sat down and chatted with her for twenty minutes or so. That’s not the remarkable part—although I am shy and wary of people I don’t know well. What made it unusual for me was that we conversed in Hebrew. We talked about our kids and their schools, and about how difficult it is for a parent to have enough alone time and still do important things like sleep. I asked her twice to explain words I didn't know. She gently corrected my grammar a couple of times. She didn't once offer to switch to English, although I think she speaks it as well as most Jerusalemites.

This kind of exchange almost never happens to me. I have lived in Israel for two years. I spent ten months in ulpan, studying Hebrew intensively three mornings a week. I finished at the highest level. I can read the newspaper with ease, seek help in a medical crisis from the on-call nurses’ line, understand most of what people say to me. I refuse to speak English with shopkeepers or anyone else I encounter in commercial dealings. But all of the conversations that really matter to me, conversations about ideas and feelings, those are always in English.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Yesterday, my daughters asked to watch videos of themselves as babies. I’m so grateful to a past version of myself for making these videos; I love watching them as much as the kids do.

In one of the videos, I filmed a long sequence of the girls at play. In the clip, a two-year-old Y.B. stands at her play kitchen “feeding” a doll in a high chair. She works with great solemnity and contemplation, crooning to the babydoll, offering it various treats from an array of pots and pans.

All the while, the onscreen A.N. is a blur of activity. She pushes a chair around the kitchen, crowing. She swings her stuffed lamb in my hanging silverware caddy. She pulls her potty down the stairs and tries to interest Y.B. in “taking a bath” in it.

Watching this video rips me up a bit. These little people are familiar to me: Baby Y.B. with her seriousness and nurturing, Tiny A.N. plotting zaniness. But these two-year-olds are also gone forever—Y.B.’s round, soft cheeks; A.N.’s staggering walk. I will probably never have two-year-old twins again. And these particular girls will definitely never be two again.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On grief

I lost a friend last month. His name was Moshe and he was 38 years old when he died suddenly. I thought of him like a brother.

I hadn’t seen him in a while, and then I ran into him in the shuk a couple of weeks before his death. I had finished my shopping and I lingered for a minute by the displays outside a jewelry shop. He spotted me and came over to say hello. I was happy to see him, happy for the accident of timing that let our paths cross.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Having written

A week ago, I was planning a blog post in my head as I moved through the afternoon routine with the kids. And then I left B.A. alone in the living room with a full pitcher of milk and my laptop.

So thank you to the wonderful L.L. who has loaned me her laptop for a bit. It's a rare friend indeed who will commiserate over a carelessly destroyed computer and then say, "Hey, would you like to borrow mine?"


The biggest surprise of my computer-less week was not how slowly Facebook loads on my smartphone. It was how much I ached to write, how much the daily events of my life seemed to be demanding to be typed up and mulled over.