Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nu, Just Do It!

   Generally I go swimming every Monday and Wednesday evening, my intent being to swim at least 1 kilometer each time (40 pool lengths).The swimming not only gives me aerobic exercise (as well as the 25-minute walk each way to and from the pool), but gives my arm a workout, which I need as my major exercise is walking. And, in addition, I enjoy the time there… usually at least.  This year the facility has even been heated a bit better than it had been in previous years, so the cold weather is no excuse not to go. (I'm not saying that it is WARM, but once you get swimming, it's OK….)
   However last week, even though I had the doctor's OK to swim (in spite of a torn tendon in my arm), my swimming pace was a bit slow---- and that, along with the wind squeaking through the cracks, made me COLD. The result? I wasn't sure this evening (Monday PM) whether to go to the pool.  But in the end, realizing that I had NO WHERE near my "mandatory" 10,000 steps, I shrugged and told myself "Nu, Just DO it!"
And I did.
And I felt great, swam fast, and wasn't cold at all. I even squeezed 50 pool-lengths in.  Even walking home I felt energized.

    You know, sometimes we have a task to do, a chore, or something that just doesn't appeal to us right at that moment. And sometimes we just have to shrug and "get on with it". And so often, we end up enjoying the task, or at least finding it easier than we thought we would. So often the REAL problem is not the task, but in our own minds. When we circumvent those inner doubts, fears, and disbeliefs, we liberate ourselves to succeed, to accomplish….and to change for the better.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Bit of Independence

    Now what I am going to write here is probably VERY passé for the younger crowd. But in my day, women often left "man's jobs" to… men.
   Now what is defined as a "man's job" varies from culture to culture, and often from household to household. But often in the hustle and bustle of daily life it becomes very easy to ignore the burnt out bulb, the plumbing job, or the "hang it up there" until the male spouse arrives.
   But there are several drawbacks to all this. First, when tired husband arrives, the long-awaited job may still wait… and wait…. and wait. In addition, we women must be aware that there is a good chance that the male half of the couple may someday be ill. Or that we may someday find ourselves living on our own, for whatever reason.
   So change that new type of fluorescent bulb, or whatever, if you have the chance. Do it when you are young, so that when you are older (and not as stable as you once were) it will already be easy to do; you will have the task down pat already.

   [Written by the proud changer of the new-fangled type of fluorescent bulb. But the 2nd bulb, that STILL won't light  (due to damage, it seems, to the housing), is awaiting my SIL the electrician.]

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Toy Store

[picture: Ricki assembling a map of the world puzzle]     
   My good friend and I were walking, as we often do…. "C" is a wonderful walking partner (and a lovely all-around person, as well). However, among other things, she wanted to stop in the nearby mall to pick up a gift for some relatives. In addition, I promised to show her which store in the mall sells the cheapest jewelry. Both were fine by me.
  What took me by surprise was when she decided to pop into a toy store near the entrance, dragging me along with her. I don't think that I have been in a toy store since Ricki's passing (except for a store that sells crafts materials as well).
   [ I used to enter nearly every toy store I passed, looking for new educational materials for Ricki. Any new approach to a skill she was studying was likely to be purchased. Studying was to never be done with  "that same old boring toy" for her, oh no!]

   What surprised me was my reaction. I almost felt like I couldn't breathe. I even considered leaving, but decided the price of my friend feeling bad for taking me there was way too high a price to pay for my comfort. I just decided that to feel the loss is normal, permissible, and maybe even good. So I took a few deep breaths, and managed ok for the few minutes we were there. But I was surprised. But I'm OK with that, too.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Few Small Points

    Last week I fell while walking home from swimming, on some uneven pavement, and hit my left arm. (And of COURSE there were witnesses!!) The arm hurt, but not too badly. And since there also was no swelling or visible bruising, so I figured that it wasn't broken. Yes it hurt, but I figured that it would get better in a week, at the most. I questioned if I would be able to swim on Monday, as LIFTING straight up hurt, but I WAS  able to, as long as I swung my left arm out a bit sideways on the upswing. I even managed my full regular forty pool-lengths.
    By Wednesday, my arm was much better. The day had had some light rain on and off, but a full-blown storm of several days' worth was blowing our way, so I decided to make the most of my ability to walk and swim while I could. [There are occasionally days when it is nigh-impossible to walk, as actually occurred today. On a Saturday (Shabbat) that it really rains hard with no breaks in the clouds, going out walking means getting drenched, as I do not use an umbrella on the sabbath. But that rarely happens; there are usually breaks when I can scramble out for at least a quick walk. (In such cases I try to walk near the house, so I can get back if I overestimate the time available before the next deluge.)] But when I know that heavy rains are expected, I will try extra hard to see if I can get in my walking when and if the opportunity arises. So Wednesday evening I went to the pool, did my 40 laps, and even a few more. I noted that I was able to swim normally, and was grateful that after a full week, the pain was subsiding. I did stretches after the swim to be sure to treat my muscles well, and headed for home. By the time I arrived home, my muscles were protesting vigorously. And I had extreme trouble falling asleep due to the pain in my left arm.
   Thursday evening I went to sleep relatively early. Friday was a fast day, from dawn to dusk. I wanted to get up VERY early, so that I could drink my minimum therapeutic dosage of coffee-caffeine before the fast started, before embarking on a day of cooking for the upcoming Sabbath. Unfortunately, the pain in my arm did not allow me to fall asleep very quickly, and I only got about 5 hours of sleep.
   So in the morning, I was faced with the choice after drinking my coffee: go back to sleep… or cook for the Sabbath bright and early. I chose the second, wanting to enjoy the coffee-effect while it lasted, and besides, it was one of the shortest pre-sabbath Fridays of the year. (The Sabbath arrives before sundown, anytime from 4:14 in the winter to after 7PM in the summer.) Since the predicted stormy weather had arrived at our doorstep overnight, I hoped to catch a break in the weather to walk a bit on Friday. I KNEW very well that after eating the post-fast-evening-sabbath –meal there was NO way I would go walking…. EVEN if there was no rain (which looked unlikely anyway). Remember, I could walk on Friday with an umbrella in hand, but not on Friday evening.
    But by mid-morning I was literally falling asleep whenever I sat for a moment. Immediately I wondered "How in heaven did I use to function day after day on 5 hours of sleep?" And of course the answer was: by drinking coffee after coffee, by eating cookies to keep that sugar level up.
   So I went to take a short nap. I awoke with a lot more energy, and even found the time for a quick 33 minute walk around the neighborhood between rainstorms.

So what are my points?
1) If you can get your exercise in, do. It should be relatively high on your priority list. Because it is a BIG factor in good health.
2)  Look ahead. If you are realistic enough to know that you are NOT going walking (for example, after a fast) see if you can get it in (IF you feel good enough) earlier
3) Listen to your body. Get that sleep. (Yes, I know I'm not perfect in this yet, but I am improving a LOT.)
4) And during a shabbas deluge, don't go walking. Getting drenched is NOT great for your health. Some days, RARELY, when you are sick, very overloaded, or all H*ll broke loose… sometimes you just CAN'T get that exercise in. This means knowing when to back down gracefully……
* * * *

    Meanwhile our plumbing is getting fixed, and in addition the air-conditioner heat is not working. It is cold.  I keep drinking tea to stay warm. And the orthopedist can't see me until Wednesday  .** GREAT**   But tomorrow I expect the storm to be less, and I am eager to get out walking after a day just longing around.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Small Supermarket Story

      I really didn't HAVE to go to the supermarket. I had gone to my "regular" supermarket last week, stocking up on things for a month, at fairly reasonable prices. However, I had forgotten a few items, and was aware of a few good sale items at a competing store. And since I wanted to get a few more aerobic steps in today (ie, walking to the store and back), I went to the supermarket.
   Once there, I found everything I wanted, except for one not-so-common-item, and headed to the checkout lines. However, there I was very unpleasantly surprised by the winding, snakelike size of the line. And since I had exactly 11 items, I was not even eligible for the "quicker" "10 items or less" checkout. But I didn't really mind, because THAT line was very long, and it was questionable if I would reach the checkout counter any earlier there.
   Suddenly I noticed a line that seemed slightly shorter, zipped over there road-runner style, and got in line. Shortly afterwards another woman, with two young children  in tow, placed herself after me. Just as it was about my turn, a teenage girl approached me. "I have only two items. Can I go ahead of you?" After a moment's hesitation, I replied "Sure, as far as I'm concerned. But you have to get permission of the lady behind me as well." (Since she is also, in effect, cutting in front of her, she needs her agreement in addition to mine.)
    As the girl gratefully stepped ahead of me, I noticed a second teen with a small bag of fish. She didn't ask me to let her go before me… but I knew that if I was her, I would understand that it would be ridiculous to stand a half hour in a checkout line for one item. So with the woman behind me agreeing, we also let the second teen cut in front of us.
   As I was bagging my stuff, I asked the children of the women if they enjoyed "helping" mom. Their mother, smiling, rolled her eyes. We both knew that the kids were not exactly making everything easy. I quickly gathered my stuff, and rushed out. I just needed to put the store cart away, in PLACE (to retrieve the coin one puts as collateral in the handle). But outside the store, unlike where I usually shop, the cart storage area was a huge mess. Trying to commander the cart to the right angle to be able to place the anti-theft locking mechanism into the handle (and receive my dollar and a half back) took several minutes.
    Then, JUST as I was finishing, the woman who had been behind me in the store came up. "Oh! You are still here! You know, you left an item on the bagging desk." Glancing at my full hands, she added "I'll bring it to you." Moments later she was back with a bag of eight "0% fat" yogurts I had left behind.

       If replacing the cart had not taken me so long, I would have left, forgetting the yogurts until arriving at home.

   If I had not spoken to the woman behind me, to check if she also agreed to letting the girls go first, she may well not have remembered who I was.

   If I had not let the teens go before me, the woman behind me  may have let them go before HER, and I would have been gone when she exited the store.

    Now I do not very often let people cut ahead of me in line. But today I did, and it seems that, as is often true…. You generally don't lose from being nice to others.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Real "Shechiyanu" ("First")

(image: light brown knee high boots ) :

   I have huge feet. Being blessed with  feet-large-for-height genes from both parents, I am a size twelve.(43-44 Israeli size. )   Most stores here carry to size 40, many to 41. …and a few to size 42. Until lately, I have bought nearly all my shoes in a special store in Jaffa, or in America. Or I buy a feminine-styled man's sport shoe.
    Once I saw that a store in the Petach Tikva mall had a few size 12 shoes, but nothing that I liked. Today I popped in there again, as I was passing by, and I found KNEE HIGH BOOTS.

   I have always dreamt of wearing knee high boots.
   But my feet were too big, or my legs too fat.
   But these fit. I GRABBED them!

   I commented to the casheir: "How lovely that you have knee-high boots in size 12. That is so rare."
   And in his reply he mentioned that these boots are also WIDER than usual.
   My bubble of finally having thin-enough-for –knee-high-boots  legs burst.
   But the boots aren't a snug bare–fit, either, so I will enjoy them anyway.

DRAT! Why did he have to mention that!??!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sad Day

   It's a sad day when a nurse, working in the hospital, gets stabbed to death protecting her patients.(This happened in Texas.)
   As a fellow nurse, I salute her.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Saleslady's Estimate

   Once upon a time, shopping for clothes would never give me a grin.  The outlandish price of the big-sizes store's merchandise, the embarrassment of trying something on and it not fitting… or even worse, the saleslady commenting that "We don't carry your size"…. All made clothes shopping a tense time to say the least.
     Now I have not lost a lot of weight since last winter, and my old clothing still fits me. But I decided that "maintaining" also deserves recognition, so I went to buy a few new items for myself today.
   And I discovered that I am a full size smaller than I was half a year ago.  And at one point a sales lady asked me if I needed help. I told her" I like this jacket, but I am not sure that this size 44 will fit me."

   "For sure not," she commented, "this item runs a bit small… I'll get a 46 for you." Well, in the end the size 44 had plenty of space…. . How great to be SMALLER than what the saleslady estimated!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Smiles Beneath the Umbrellas

[image: man and child laughing in the rain]
    Now to those of you in other parts of the world, where it has been cold for a while, the idea that our fall rains are finally starting now may sound lovely. But here, where drought and lack of rainfall hang over our heads like a sword of Damocles, we await rainfall with bated breath.
    Then, today, at noon I was outside when it started sprinkling. Immediately every single child in the area spread open their umbrellas. The universal expression of the children was unabated glee. They were grinning "ear-to-ear". The attitude of the children seemed infectious to me. I loved to see them enjoying the rain in such a care-free and simple manner.
   However, the adults puzzled me. I was just about the only grown-up sporting a grin. 95% of the adults passing me were sporting rather serious expressions, and seemed oh so intent on accomplishing whatever they had set outside to do.
   Now responsibility is a great thing. And adults definitely may have more on their minds than their children do.  But what was going on here?
   I suspect that it had a bit to do with the rain being a bit unexpected (that is, to anyone who had not read the weather forecast).  Moments before it had been balmy and sunny.

     I suspect that children are in general more open to changing situations.  And I believe that we adults are really missing out on a lot of the small joys of life, simply because we are just too intent on the list of things to get done. But if we are out in the rain anyway, by golly, let's enjoy it!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

An Imperfect Me

    Weight loss has impacted my life considerably. I mean, I weigh HALF of what I used to. I used to weigh 150 kilo!  But sometimes I feel that people only relate to the fact that I have lost weight, and miss the point. The real victory was not the shedding of the pounds, as much as the internal changes I have undergone.
     I have learned to listen to my body. To trust it more. Tonight when I was SUPER hungry (and I wasn't under stress), I finally, after an hour and a half, let myself have a bit extra. I know from experience that sometimes I have to ease a bit, and that it works out in the end. I will push myself to exercise. But if 40 minutes into my walk I STILL feel like I just can't do it today, I often allow myself to do less. Because I know with confidence that I am not giving in too easily. I know with confidence that my body is not lying to me. If my body tells me mid-morning that it needs some sleep, I will try to give it that sleep.
   I have learned that the direction is the most important thing. I can live with myself as an imperfect being. [In fact, I did not lose weight until I was able to internalize the feeling that "I am OK." Not, "I am OK despite the fact that I need to lose weight", but "I am OK, PERIOD."] If I am headed in the correct direction, I am doing fine. [But I need to be honest in what direction I am going. If I am slipping, I need to know that, and not gloss over it with past successes.]
    I have internalized that I am an individual. I do not need to be exactly like my neighbors. (Of course, being in a community requires one to respect that community's standards.) I can even dress "younger" than I did 20 years ago. I only need to answer to myself and G-d. [Caveat: If I chose to have a family, I obviously need to be responsible to those who are dependent on me.]

   So all in all, I feel that weight loss has freed me in SO many ways, but mostly from the idea that I must be perfect to have value.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Can Have it All......

The "I-can-have-my-cake-and-it-it- too-night!" The one night of the year I can stay on the computer till 1:45 and still be in bed (as regards time till tomorrow AM)by 1 PM. GRIN.(We are switching back to winter time.)  Good-night, all!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Walk From the German Colony

   Today (theoretically yesterday, it is after midnight), I went walking with my best friend, this time in Jerusalem. We took a bus to the German colony area. There we walked around, enjoying the old buildings. There are a lot of very interesting buildings there. Some have been refurbished, many with exquisite gardens as well.
[photo: a water pump in the German colony area,]

   From there we walked back to the Mishkenot Sha'ananim area, where Montefiore's windmill stands.

[photo: old lepers hospital, located between the German colony and Mishkenot Sha'ananim]

[photo: the windmill ]

[photo: view from Jerusalem towards the desert ]

[photo: the old city walls from Mishkenot Sha'ananim]

   Then we walked all the way to the central bus station, all together getting in about 17,000 steps. As we walked back, we passed through the Mamilla Mall, and along the tourist shops on Jaffa road.  Suffice it to say that there are a lot of LOVELY things to be bought for a LOT of money!

Monday, October 21, 2013


Often we try to do "well" or be "outstanding" at something online, whether it be our blog, an online group, or a hobby we talk about. It takes a mature person to weigh the pros and cons, and to remember that being PRESENT for the real people in our lives is more important than impressing online friends. That does NOT mean that we cannot try our best for online things--- I mean, in some cases we get we get real support from online acquaintances, and the price of that support is to be an active member of the group. But we still need to be aware of how our evil inclinations (and pride) can sometimes knock us way out into left field if we are not careful.
   As an example, there is a new geo-cache in our area where they want you sign a special 'honor roll' if you find a cache that has not been found in a year. So I looked and saw that there is such a cache not too far from here. "Gee, I can find that and be on the 'honor roll'!" Then sensibility set in: "Yeah?!?? Did you take a LOOK at that cache page? You'll have to do X,Y, and Z to find that cache. It is NOT a 'park and grab' cache! It will take you several hours to do this! And for WHAT? No extra exercise here, No special scenery. Just an on-line 'honor roll'. And if you waste a morning on this, what will be with the REAL LIFE things that you have to do??"
   I have often said that the hardest choice in life is deciding what you will do today, what tomorrow--- and what, in reality, you will never get to. I mean, when I get to heaven, will anyone care there about how many geocaches I found? Or rather, if I had time for others.
[PS This does NOT mean that geocaching is a total loss of time, or should never be done. Geocaching is a great activity to do with kids. And it can help you find interesting places to do your next exercise walk at. And it can make that walk a bit more challenging and fun. I am speaking above about when we let any extra activity- or online computer groups take over our lives too much.]

Friday, October 4, 2013

19 and a Walk in Jaffa

    Today is the day that would have been Ricki's 19th (Hebrew date) birthday. Originally I was considering going to her grave today, but since it is a Friday, yesterday I decided to go on Thursday, and then on the way home go for a walk on the  Jaffa-Tel Aviv beach promenade. 

[Image: a mosaic "19" surrounded with a heart]

(I often do this; the beach walk is a calming, thoughtful finish to visiting Ricki's grave. There is easy access to the promenade along the bus line from the graveyard.)
[Image: View from Jaffa towards Tel Aviv]

[Image: View of Jaffa from the promenade.]

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ruchie's Call

   Ruchie was a former classmate of Ricki, although since she is older that Ricki was, she finished school shortly before Ricki's death. To the best of my knowledge, her Mom never told her about Ricki's death, and she asked me not to mention it, as Ruchie would be upset, and she (the Mom) did not want to deal with that.
   During the recent holiday of Sukkot, Ruchie, apparently on vacation from work, decided to call Ricki.

   "Can I talk to Ricki?"
   "She's not here."
   "Where is she?"
  [Now here I didn't know what to say; I'm not going to lie.]
   "Ricki's in heaven."
  "That's nice. Ok, Bye"

   I guess that her "That's nice." is a standard answer she gives to answers she doesn't quite understand. Anyway, she didn't seem upset, so no damage was done. And I had a good smile.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pumpkin Pie, Cheese Cake, and Walks

    One of the dishes I traditionally make for the Sukkot holiday is pumpkin pie. Maybe it's because my mom often made pumpkin pie this time of the year… I'm not sure. But one year I made it, and ever since, it has been almost a tradition. This year I also made one, but with a smaller number of guests around, the leftovers also stick around longer to tempt me. So late this afternoon a tempting idea hit me: "Go take an hour or hour-and-a-half walk, and you'll be able to have some pie now, and still have your regular once-a-week snack of cheesecake late tonight." Simply put, I could walk off the calories of a small piece of pie. 
    But early today I had already taken a good walk, and I really wanted to rest and read. But on the other hand, I was afraid that if I DIDN'T take a walk, I would have the cake anyway. Not only has it been holiday season here (and I am a bit lenient with myself as regards food during the holidays), but the pumpkin pie will not stay good indefinitely, and I wouldn't want it to spoil. [Note: Halachaikly (by Jewish law), I should definitely put my health before the mitzvah  (commandment) not to waste food, but who's being rational here??] I mean, a lot of work went into making that pie.
   But then, my common sense finally kicked in: "When you are 80 are you also going to be able to take TWO walks a day? --  Do you REALLY want to give in to indulging yourself? The holiday officially ended Thursday. - -  Do you want to get yourself re-used to eating several pieces of cake, like you USED to? You KNOW what the results will be."

   So I stayed home and read. And had pumpkin pie tonight instead of cheesecake (the cheesecake is frozen, and will keep very well until next week).

   Oh, and I pulled it off by getting BUSY tonight (taking down the decorations from the sukkah-booth. Nothing like activity to help beat cravings……..

PS. Here is the recipe:

- for a Pyrex rectangle tray, about 25X 39 cm. size
half this amount is good for a regular pie tin

5 cups sifted flour
2t. salt
2t. sugar
300 grams  (cup and a half) margarine (my Mom uses shortening, if you can get it kosher)
10-13 Tabl. COLD water

Combine dry ingredients, then add the margarine. In end add the water gradually until you have pliable, but non-sticky dough. Use a little water as needed..
If possible, refrigerate for a while before using.

Cook in mildly salted water about 3 kilos of pumpkin. (Minus seeds of course)
Strain WELL (save water for soup!). Mash pumpkin well, and separate about 7 cups of cooked pumpkin. Add to this:
6 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
Cinnamon (teaspoon?)
Pinch or 2 of ginger, cloves.
Add to this if you want a bit of evaporated milk or Rich creamer. (about 1/2 cup)

Roll out the crust (keep it thin-- you can patch it up if it tears.)and place in greased pie pan (rectangle) (If you are using the rectangle, you will have dough leftover). 
Pierce a few places all around with a fork.
Pour filling on top

 Bake 10 minutes at 200 degrees, then at 150 (centigrade, obviously) until filling is well set and has a slight baked tinge, and crust is lightly browned.(Total baking time about 50-60 minutes usually.) (Can stick a knife into the center, and it should come out clean)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Barriers (Both and Neither)

    Dave Hingsburger, a noted speaker on disabilities, talks in his blog about  barriers which people with physical disabilities erect in their mind after repeated disappointments. [The blog is HERE, go ahead and read it. My blog will wait a moment.]

    However, it is not only those with disabilities that do this. We all do it.

----The inner voice that says "Why diet, I'll never stick with it, I have no willpower."

----The feeling of hopelessness before Yom Kippur: "Why repent for yelling at my kids… I'll never change…."

----Or a feeling that try as you will, you can never make peace with your mother-in-law, your Aunt Celia, you cousin …..

    But on the other side, don't we also see a lot of people who claim that they CAN make a change… when the day comes that they decide to do so? (The alcoholic who claims that he could quit drinking when he wants to, and the like.)

So who is right?
Both… and neither.

   The person who believes he can change is correct… our sages tell us that as long as a person lives, he can change. HOWEVER, just deciding to change is very rarely ever enough.  To truly change, he will need to work out a livable, usable strategy. He will need to tackle whatever issues are holding him back.

  And the person who feels that he can not change realizes, correctly, that he must make a major internal overhaul in order to change. But what he does not realize is once he will start, like an exercised muscle which gains strength, the going will become much more manageable.

  Making a lasting change includes delving to the roots and reasons of our behavior, and correcting them, not just the behavior itself.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Quick Update

I had a LOVELY first three days of the holiday, and am in a good, upbeat mood. DESPITE all that I overate.
 Yes I overate. I did. I'll live with that. It is a holiday.

But enough is enough.
Back to watchfulness.

Yes. Now. Right away.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Simchat Torah… Nachas VS. True Celebration

[ BTW, a former post with pictures about the upcoming Succah (Sukkot) holiday which starts this Wednesday evening, and runs through the middle of next week, is HERE. Simchat Torah follows the day after the end of the Sukkot holiday.]
     Simchat Torah used to be one of my favorite holidays.

   For those not familiar with the holiday, I quote selected sections of Wikipedia:
   "Simchat Torah is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle....The main celebration of Simchat Torah takes place in the synagogue during evening and morning services. …..In the morning, the last parashah[Torah reading] of Deuteronomy and the first parashah of Genesis are read in the synagogue. On each occasion, when the ark is opened, all the worshippers leave their seats to dance and sing with all the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that often lasts for several hours and more. ….In Orthodox synagogues, the dancing is mainly carried out by men and boys; very young girls may also be sent in to dance on their fathers' shoulders. Women and older girls…. look on from the other side of a mechitza (partition) in accordance with the rules of tzniut (modesty).
The morning service is also uniquely characterized by the calling up of each male member of the congregation for an aliyah, as well as a special aliyah for all the children in attendance."

    It used to be that for me, Simchat Torah meant hours in the synagogue, lovingly watching my children , and in later years, grandchildren, dance below. I enjoyed walking to synagogue with little children in tow, as they carried their special "degelim" (paper flags), or a fake stuffed "Torah scroll" of their own to prance around with.  When Ricki was a teen, I would often watch her watching the dancing below, gratefully noticing the teenage girls in the synagogue making space for her at the VERY overcrowded mechitza (separation window between the men and women's sections of the synagogue).

    But I wrote above: " Simchat Torah used to be one of my favorite holidays. "
    What happened????

Ricki died.
My husband is too ill to go to synagogue. And if he did, he certainly would not be dancing.
My youngest son, who is not religious, will NOT go to synagogue.
My married children prefer to stay in their own communities for the holiday, as is very common.

   So I have no one to watch in synagogue, and my husband and son will not want the meal hours and hours late just so that I can sit in the women's section of the synagogue. (They WOULD understand the delay for the sake of one of their older siblings with their children.)

   So suddenly Simchat Torah has become a holiday that "means" little more than a festive meal, robbed of its original connection to our Torah.
  I admit that originally I was rather upset with my children, who have not managed to set up a "rotation" system, where each year a different one would forgo being in their own community for the holiday. That would be easy, no?

   Well, maybe not. Do I REALLY know why no one is coming? There may be reasons that they do not share with me. Maybe their spouses parents would be alone if they did not go to THEM. Maybe there are other reasons that they need to be at home. And besides, would I REALLY want a son and daughter-in-law to come begrudgingly?????
   And why in G-d's name am I feeling sorry for myself? Are there not people in the hospital for the holiday? Women with NO kids to EVER watch dancing beneath the women's balcony?  Women with NO husband at all to say a Torah thought?
   And I myself not demeaning the holiday with MY attitude? Is Simchat Torah really about getting nachas (pleasure) from my kids and grandchildren, or is it about really celebrating the receiving of the Torah? Can I relish the gift of G-d's holy scrolls despite whatever tribulations G-d has thrown my way?
     I simply have to find a way to make the holiday meaningful to me, in another way.   

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Cream-Bo Saga

[image: vanilla and mocha-flavored creambos.]

   I was doing some grocery shopping for the upcoming holidays when I noticed the typical cardboard cartons that herald the coming of fall in Israel: carton of Cream-Bo treats.[I havewritten a post about these confections before, including a definition.] 

  I personally thought, considering the heat outside, that it is a bit early in the year for cream-bos, however, I was sure that my grandchildren would have no scruples about eating some during the upcoming sukkah holiday, and I bought a box. But I was sure to purchase the mocha flavor, it being a bit less sweet than the more prevent white vanilla ones.
   Later that evening when the delivery from the supermarket arrived, soldier-son "Y" happened to be home, and was opening the boxes for me. When he opened the delivery box containing the carton of cream-bos his eyes lit up…. And he quickly stuffed the entire box in the freezer--- we believing, in our family, that cream-bos are tastier frozen. (As he was doing this I thought to myself "So much for having any left in two weeks for the holidays….." ) Friday both he and my husband sampled one each, but I decided that  since they are a really empty 115 calories, I would wait until Saturday night, after the Yom-Kippur fast, when I would have plenty of calories to "spare".

     So a few hours after the fast (having first ingested much healthier things like vegetable soup), I decided that a cream-bo treat was in order. After two bites I told my son—"I'm sorry, but I just can't finish it. I don't like it. It is TOO sweet." No more cream-bos for me. That easy. That simple. My tastes have changed. I have gone from liking cream-bos, to preferring salads (see  above referral to previous post), to not being able to finish one. Even after a fast day.