Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
[photo: a glass paperweight of a dove, and a collage of same piece. Photo is mine; do not copy!]
Well, it’s early January, and the traditional attitude is “A new year! A NEW chance! How exciting!”
But honestly, that ”new year excitement” just didn’t register at all with me this year. And judging from what I have been reading online, I am not the only one.
Oh last year I WAS excited! After some nine months of virtual house arrest, the vaccines were coming out soon. I had hopes that soon I would be getting the jab that equaled a “get out of jail free” card. Hopefully this nightmare of COVID would soon be behind us and we would be (pretty much) back to “normal”.
But of course it didn’t happen like that, and we are facing a brand new 2022 with COVID rates soaring, threats of hospitals collapsing, and again needing to stay away from (or be extremely cautious around) the people we love. Our anticipated dreams of a peaceful 2022 were shattered as if it were made of glass. And after last year’s big letdown, it is jolly hard to get very enthusiastic about seems a pipe dream of normalcy.
People are tired of all the restrictions. And all the fighting over politics, COVID, etc has wrecked havoc in many families and friendships, let alone the devastation from lives lost. So how can we get some of that excitement over life and the opportunities ahead? How can we tap into the shrivelled-up optimist lost somewhere deep inside us?
The answer is to look on the good side. Yes, the last two years have been tough. First let us acknowledge that. But good things have happened too! Can we wash off the black mud of disappointments, stress, death, and loneliness that has dirtied the diamonds of the last year? Can we also note the good things, and be grateful for them?
If we make an effort, I am sure that we can. And we will be better people for it. And happier ones as well.
Monday, April 26, 2021
Well, if you read magazines, talk to your doctor, or talk with friends, you will probably get a lot of suggestions. Or may you are even telling yourself: “I SHOULD do this and that, I SHOULD do such and such….”
Frankly, the lists of things I SHOULD be doing hounds me.
And the reality that in NO way can I fit into the day all the things I SHOULD do – at least not without giving up a lot of other stuff. (And then some of THAT stuff will comprise my NEW “I should do” list LOL.)
So let go of the long “should list”. Instead make an “I can” list. A list of POSITIVE actions. And tailor that list to the goals you want to achieve, and the time and resources at your disposal. What CAN you reasonably do?
Make a “I can” list, and THEN you will transform it into a “I WILL” list. Because “can” is not enough.
Thursday, April 30, 2020
But we need to grab the opportunity underlying this situation. Let me explain.
One of my many (grown) sons has ONE (15year-old) son whom he has been having trouble to get to conform to "social distancing" rules. [No surprise here. This grandson is the one who somehow ALWAYS misses the first bus home that the remainder of his family goes on.] I tried to call all of my grand-kids just before or in the middle of Passover; he was consistently "not at home". Finally a week after Passover, I managed to catch him (by phone).
We talked for about an hour. Without attacking him directly for his irresponsible behavior (his father said "been there, done that") I just slowly, on the side fed him pertinent info. I did this all with "My friend who has Corona"... "Did you hear that..." etc Info such as:
-the virus can be in the air if someone coughed there 4 minutes ago, and you don't know it
-a full third of little kids with COVID 19 are asymptomatic
-even a "mild" case feels like being run over by a tractor, can cause lung damage, and even they suspect liver damage (ie, You do NOT want to get this!!)
- that this will not be finished in another week, but that people like me may need to stay indoors until there is a vaccine, and if the rate doesn't go down (due to lack of social distancing), MANY in the community (like a best friend's Dad- I did NOT say HIS dad) will have no income.
-Even though a very small % of younger and middle aged people die from this, it can happen. I had a 3% chance or less of having a child with Down syndrome, but when I had her, she had 100% Down syndrome.
He really paused when he realized that I had NOT allowed my son who lives nearby to come for Passover, and that our foreign worker is scared to leave the house.
At the end, I told him about someone who had "lost" a year of his life due to cancer- he was too ill too weak, to do ANYTHING. This person's response now was "I am not going to waste a year on Corona", and he is sticking to a daily schedule, albeit at home.: I continued:
"You know, as I see it, we all have three choices. ONE: We can waste this time just staying at home, being bored, overeating. TWO: We can say "To hell with this, I will do what I want and go where I want" (But then, if we DO get sick , and infect someone, and THEY die, will we EVER be able to live with ourselves....?) OR THREE: We can make a vision of where we want to be in 6 months, a year from now. And work on that. I want to exercise daily, study photography every week, spend time studying Bible. You might want to make up a study time with your dad, do a kindness daily ---like read a story daily to your siblings and give your mom a break ...." (I admit he snorted at that! LOL), "spend some time learning English, etc. THEN WHEN THIS IS OVER WE WILL BE ABLE TO CONGRATULATE OURSELVES ON A JOB WELL DONE AND FEEL A SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT."
So I throw the question out to you: Besides just being alive, WHERE do you want to be when this is over? It won't happen by itself. What do you need to get there? Are we going to act like a stubborn (STUPID) 15 year old or do we want to say a year from now- "I survived; I accomplished".
So let us all think of goals for the next few months: personal, ATTAINABLE long term personal goals- and make a concrete plan to reach them!!
(photo is mine, do not copy)
Monday, September 2, 2019
Monday, October 23, 2017
I am writing this from the viewpoint of an Orthodox woman (although not chasidic), who is the mother of four children who have "left the 'derech' (path)" of Orthodoxy. I will add that I have an excellent connection with these children, as good as I have with my religious ones. This doesn't mean that I always agree with them, but occasionally I disagree with all of my children.
First I must mention that I have absolutely no knowledge of the families/cases/ incidences portrayed in the movie, or any deep knowledge of the community involved. I HAVE seen how the community here has reacted to children "leaving the fold", reactions which can be quite diverse.
[Photo: two of my children, quite diverse, but who love each other despite it all....]
I was happy to see that the director did allow some coverage of community members who apparently were open-hearted enough to befriend the subjects, realizing the underlying pain there. On the other side, we do see incidences of apparent violence directed against a woman who had claimed abuse from her husband.
Unfortunately, in every religious group there are people who are not living up to the ideals of the community. Every community has its rapists, child-molestors, and peodopiles. Yet this is NO reason to condone it. However, Orthodox Judaism and chassidut is a FAR cry from cult-like groups such as that run by Warren Jeffs and his ilk. (Even if the dress of the women may at first appear similar. )
Unfortunately, there ARE those who take advantage of the groups reluctance to involve the police, the tendency of people to blame the victims, etc. And rarely there ARE women who may falsely accuse men of certain acts, if it seems expediant to do so- for reasons of financial gain, political expediency, custody battles, or perhaps revenge.... Yes, there are two sides to every coin, and unless there is some type of coaberating evidence, it may often boil down to his word against hers.
And as much as outsiders often cannot fathom the mindset of arranged marriages, the system does work in general... and I suspect that the rate of satisfaction and happiness in such marriages is no less then those in the general population. Yes, there ARE cases where young women were coerced into marriages by parents who did not have their daughter's best interests at heart- but these are few and far between. Most parents are committed to finding a spouse who is not only fitting religiously for their child, but fitting their personality, and dreams as well.
All that being said, there are problems of abuse in the community that need addressing. Part of the Orthodox world have started addressing these problems, although these efforts are not nearly enough (something shared, incidentally, by the secular world). How much of these efforts have filtered into the more closed community of Satmar, I do not know. What I would have liked to see in the movie "One of Us" would be some exploration of these topics.
Another thing that needs noting is the high rate of drug abuse and poor job opportunities for those dropping out of the community, and indeed in some cases, for those in the community. These problems are also being dealt with to some degree in parts of the orthodox world, although probably less so in the more closed community of Satmar.
Much of this all boils down to a cultural battle between those realizing that the world has changed, and we must adapt carefully to those changes, in order to preserve our underlying values, and those who believe that the only way to deal with society's headlong pursuit of hedonism (like lemmings running into the sea) is to detach themselves from it as much as possible.
Quite frankly, there is what to say for both sides of the argument. For example, I use the internet, knowing that I have no desire to use it for sexual purposes- I use it, theoretically at least, solely for staying in contact with my non-religious children, to stay informed about various things (wikipedia, "how-to" articles,and the like), and for weight-loss support. However, I have gradually seen a slipping lately into using it as a source of entertainment, and I am as likely to watch a movie today as to pick up a book. And this I am realizing needs to change... too much time online is definitely anti-family, and the often warped values of secular society impregnate every inch of the entertainment industry. Yet I find tearing myself away from the screen extremely difficult. It is indeed a mud puddle with quicksand propensities.
Where do we draw the lines between educating our children enough so that they can work as something more than a clerk at Target... and embracing the vulgarities of secular culture? How much do we need to protect ourselves as a community vrs being confident enough that if a potential Torah scholar is exposed to the opportunity to use his intellect in other ways, he will still chose to remain a Torah scholar because of the beauty of Torah? How do we promote acceptance of individuals who are NOT cut out to stay in Kollel for life, and retain them as valued members of the community, while not making children of Torah scholars feel left behind compared to their richer classmates whose fathers are professionals? These are all areas that need discussion, and sadly the Orthodox community will probably often have divisions within due to discussions and conflicts along these lines.
Re the movie "One of Us" , I found it rather disjointed, with no clear explorations of any of the above topics. The movie was sorely about the pain felt by those who left the community, but even that exploration was rather haphazard.
My personal advice to parents in the Orthodox community:
1) (And this is by FAR the most important!!) :
Spend time with your children, let them know that you love them. Always. (You can disapprove of actions but not stop being a parent.)
And doing stuff for them is not enough. They need hugs and good words. Value their individual skills and talents. Be willing to leave the house a wreck at times in order to get out and do stuff with them. Discipline without anger.
2) If your children do not get any English/ science/ geography education, supply it at home. Do science experiments for fun. Teach them about the wonders of the human body. (Just this last shabbat, by granddaughters had a blast listening to their own heart beats with a stethoscope.) Have frum books about science, history, etc. around. And talk with them about them! Buy and play games which teach basic cognitive skills.
3) From even a young age, teach children (gradually) about their body, modesty (in talk and action), and appropriate social boundaries. Be sure they have enough vocabulary to report abuse/ crossing of bouldries/ "bad secrets"
[My previos posts on this topic gives some ideas/info:
and here ]
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Sunday, November 1, 2015
[image: wildflowers, with saying: "Your best moments are those you live in, not those you rush through."]
Monday, October 19, 2015
And here comes the rub: quick reaction to terror is needed to prevent further casualties. Yet caution is needed to avoid mistakes.
HOWEVER, the foreign worker who died yesterday was killed not just because of being shot, but due to the subsequent lynching. ONCE A TERRORIST has been unarmed, there can be no excuse for a lynching. We are allowed to defend ourselves, but we should never descend to the level of our enemies.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
I saw the video, and yes it appears at first glance to be shocking. HOWEVER let us look at the simple truth:
Every culture has people who get excited and curse during conflict.Yes, there is someone cursing him. That someone is being kept away from the youth by the police.
But the way our societies view these hotheads is VERY different:
And yes, the ambulance passed the Arab in the video. Does he really deserve to be treated BEFORE his victims?!???!???! Eventually he was taken to the hospital, where he receives the same care as any Jewish patient. (Although he IS handcuffed, so that he can not carry out any further attempts to hurt others.) [And he is in better condition than his victim..........]
Monday, October 12, 2015
NBC: "So far, 23 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed. Around 20 Israelis and more than 500 Palestinians have been injured."
NO mention that the Israelis killed and injured were all hurt /killed as victims of terror attacks. Many were innocent civilians just minding their own business, NO mentiion that almost all the Arabs killed and injured were hurt/killed while they were either committing a terror attack or engaged in VIOLENT demonstrations, doing acts which can be lethal to others..
NBC: "On Thursday night a right-wing mob marched toward the Old City in East Jerusalem, many of them chanting "Death to Arabs" and with the stated intention of looking for Arabs to attack.
Note: since I wrote this, the article has been changed a bit.and is a bit more balanced. RE the stabbing attack in Pisgat Zeevthe 13 year old victim is barely hanging on to life. He was BIKING home, and on the way stabbed 25 times!
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Friday, October 2, 2015
Note and Update:
I rechecked the NBC news page Saturday night (Israeli time). The video about the Palestinian flag at the UN is still up. The Henkins still don't matter it seems. And the murder today of two Israelis (and the critical wounding of another, and the attack on a baby) are apparently not news either. Now I know some will say "Not every murder gets told on NBC." But as I said before, you can be SURE that if Israelis were randomly killing Arabs, it would definitely "make the grade".....
Further update: Is now on NBC site, and the headline is actually OK