Holocaust Memorial Day – 2017

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yezkor-1Last night my wife and I watched “The Pianist” (if you haven’t seen it, I can highly recommend it).

There’s a scene just before the transport where the pianist’s family is sitting in a sort of holding area – an overcrowded and suffocating square. There’s a woman constantly moaning and crying in the background, saying over and over again – “Why did I do it?”

One of the family members, Halina, says that the moaning is getting on her nerves, and asks what the woman did?

A man next to her leans across and says “She smothered her baby”… as she looks back at him in disbelief, he adds “They’d prepared a hiding place and so, of course, they went there. But the baby cried just as the police came. She smothered the cries with her hands. The baby died. A policeman heard the death rattle. He found where they were hiding.” …

 

After I finished watching I went upstairs and my 10 month old baby was crying … I picked her up, cuddled her, and calmed her down as she smiled back at me.

 

We mustn’t forget!

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I have a lot to learn from my Dad

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It’s the anniversary of my dad’s passing away. Always a sentimental day, and coupled with my birthday 2 days later, it makes for a real emotional roller coaster.

As part of my memories I was reminded of 2 things that were impressed upon me in his behavior towards us, his kids:

  • My dad used to lain. For those unfamiliar with this vernacular –  read the Torah, kri-at ha-torah. He was very particular about reading correctly – both the pronunciation and the notes (ta-amey ha-mikra). I decided to follow in his footsteps and since my bar mitzvah I’ve been laining on a pretty regular basis too.
    I remember him listen to me practice, and correct me when I made a mistake.
    But I also remember it went both ways. He asked me to listen to him read, and correct him, so he could be sure he was reading correctly in shul.
    This respect for us, his children, is something I find amazing. He had no problem relying on us to make sure there we no errors.
  • My dad loved to play games. Ball games, card games, board games, everything. He always found time to play and enjoy the bonding around it. The interesting thing is that these games weren’t just his weekly bridge tournaments, and certainly not a poker game with friends. Most of these games were played with us, his kids. Hours of Estimation Whist, Snooker, Cricket, Mahjong, Monopoly, and more.
    It may be after a long hard week at work, but still he’d play with us on Shabbat afternoon. As a parent I know how tough that is.

I have a lot to learn from my father, and I have a lot to learn from him about being a father.

Luckily I have 4 wonderful kids (soon 5) that are really good teachers.

I’m sure he can see them, and is very proud of them. I’m sure the only thing he would have preferred is to be able to teach them about reading the Torah, and to play with them for a few more years then he was able to.

It Would Have Been Sufficient

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PurimWe all know the song Dayenu (דיינו) from the Haggadah for Pesach.

It’s a long list of things we’re thankful for – starting with our redemption from Egypt, and ending with the building of the temple.

The word Dayenu means it would have been sufficient, as we try and show how grateful we are for every small kindness Hashem bestows on us.

I believe Purim warrants it’s own version, as there are so many things that really and truly would have been sufficient …

I’m going to write this one in Hebrew, and if someone needs a translation … send me a comment or email … that will be sufficient.

 

אילו היינו מחפשים את הילדים, בלי הצורך להיות מקוריים, דיינו.

אילו היינו מקוריים, אבל לא היינו גם צריכים להכין להם משלוחי מנות, דיינו.

אילו היינו צריכים להכין להם משלוחי מנות, אבל היה להם בית ספר בתענית אסתר, דיינו.

אילו לא היה להם בית ספר בתענית אסתר, אבל לא היינו צריכים לחפש אותם שוב למגילה בלילה, דיינו.

אילו היינו צריכים לחפש אותם למגילה בלילה, ולא היו קפצונים מתפוצצים לנו באוזן, דיינו.

אילו היו קפצונים מתפוצצים לנו באוזן, אבל לפחות לא היה ילד עם צופר אוויר, דיינו.

אילו היה ילד עם צופר אוויר, ולא היינו עובדים כל הלילה להכין משלוחי מנות, דיינו.

 אילו היינו עובדים כל הלילה להכין משלוחי מנות, ולא מקבלים תמונות של משלוחים סופר מקוריים בווטסאפ, דיינו.

אילו היינו מקבלים תמונות של משלוחים סופר מקוריים בווטסאפ, ולא צריכים לשמוע מגילה שוב בבוקר, דיינו.

אילו היינו צריכים לשמוע שוב מגילה בבוקר, ושנחזור הביתה יחכה לנו משלוח סופר מקורי של לחמניות וממרחים, דיינו.

אילו היה מחכה לנו בבית משלוח מקורי של לחמניות וממרחים, ולא היינו צריכים לרוץ לחלק משלוחים, דיינו.

אילו היינו צריכים לרוץ לחלק משלוחים, אבל לפחות לא משלוחים של כל הילדים, דיינו.

אילו היינו מחלקים משלוחים של כל הילדים, ולפחות הילדים היו זוכרים איפה החברים גרים, דיינו.

אילו הילדים לא היו זוכרים איפה החברים שלהם גרים, אבל לפחות אילו שזכרו היו בבית, דיינו.

אילו החברים של הילדים היו בבית, ואחר כך לא היינו צריכים לחלק משלוחים לקרובים הרחוקים, דיינו.

אילו היינו צריכים לחלק משלוחים לקרובים הרחוקים, אבל אחר היה נגמר פסטיבל המשלוחים, דיינו.

אילו לא היה נגמר פסטיבל המשלוחים, אבל לפחות מה שקבלנו היה כולו שוקולד משובח ועוגות קונדיטוריה, דיינו.

אילו מה שקבלנו לא היה כולו שוקולד משובח ועוגות קונדיטוריה, אבל לא היינו מקבלים תפזורת במבה וחטיפי בד”ץ, דיינו.

אילו היינו מקבלים תפזורת במבה וחטיפי בד”ץ, אבל הילדים היו נותנים לזרוק דברים בלתי מזוהים, דיינו.

אילו הילדים לא היו נותנים לזרוק דברים בלתי מזוהים, אבל משהו היה מכריח אותנו לזרוק אותם בכל אופן, דיינו.

And then comes Pesach !!!

Happy cleaning everyone !!!

You Never Know

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Just the other week my wife was sick, and I stayed home to help around the house and take care of the kids.

My wife had a doctor’s appointment around the time my 7 year old daughter finishes school.

As the doctor’s clinic is pretty close to the school, she told my daughter that she’d meet her at the end of the day.

As she also knew that doctor appointments rarely start, or end, at the scheduled time she took some precautions.

She told my 7 year old that she should come and meet her at the clinic, if she was not at the school gate when classes finished.

Now some kids would not be too happy about the idea, but my 7 year old is extremely independent, and loves doing things on her own. She had no problem with this proposal.

As school wound to a close my wife realized that I was home, and that there was no need for all this elaborate plan.

She asked me if I could just go and fetch my daughter.

I was really happy to do this. My daughter is extremely happy and outgoing, and upon my arrival at the school gate I’m usually welcomed with a huge beaming smile, and a yell of “Daaaaaady” which no one in the neighborhood can fail to hear.

So off I went to school, looking forward to an exuberant greeting.

However when I arrived I could not see my daughter.

I looked around for a few minutes.

I finally found her sitting on the floor by the gate, facing a wall, and with tears streaming down her face.

This was very far from what I expected.

I knelt by her, and asked what had happened.

It was difficult to understand her words through her muffled sobs, but I worked it out in the end.

She was upset because she wanted to meet my wife at the doctor.

She didn’t want anyone to fetch her. She was looking forward to exercising her independence – walking to the clinic, going up the elevator, and looking for my wife.

I’d just ruined the end of school for her.

I explained that my goal was to make her happy by coming to fetch her (which I rarely do as I’m generally at work at mid-day). I told her that I understand she was upset, and that I didn’t know she actually wanted to find my wife on her own.

We quickly found a simple solution to the problem. I gave her kiss as she went on her way to find my wife on her own.

It just showed me that the famous saying is true – when you “Assume”, you make an “Ass” of “U” and “Me”.

My dad died

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strawberry-ice-cream1My dad died around 6 months ago.

It was sudden, unexpected and totally devastating.

I know for a fact I’m not really dealing with it, and I’m expecting the realization to blind-side me at some point when I least expect it.

I know I’m not dealing with it because I try not to look at photos of my dad, and knowingly avoid thinking too much about him and the hole he’s left in his passing, as that will make me breakdown and cry.

Even while writing this post I’m trying to be as detached as possible, as I’m not good at blind typing which will be necessary if tears cloud my vision.

My wife went through something similar about 9 years ago, so she’s ready in my corner for the unavoidable emotional knockout.

However, I do have fond memories, especially of his smile and his warmth. These loving memories come up all over the place.

That’s what happened this morning.

My wife just finished making a strawberry whip for desert. As the kids are in school on Friday, and I’m not, she asked if I want to lick the whip off the beater.

Now I don’t know about anyone else reading this, but licking sweet gooey stuff off cooking utensils is not something I’ve done in years.

This messy pleasure is usually enjoyed by my children as they lick chocolate cream and other yummy substances from spoons, spatulas and mixing bowls. The latter usually results in a type of mud mask that extends from the face all the way to the chest, as they immerse themselves into the bowl trying to reach every chocolaty remnant with their little tongues.

The sounds accompanying this activity are usually smacking lips and giggles from the kids, and distraught sighs from the parents as they think of the laundry ahead.

Anyway, today the pleasure was mine. As I licked and sucked up the delicious pink whip (my wife’s a great cook) I couldn’t help think of my dad.

He was always a kid. He always enjoyed things that some of us feel should be limited to children.

That’s probably why children in general, and his grandchildren in particular, were so attached to him.

They knew he was actually one of them.

My oldest son’s first word was “Grandpa”, and I think that says it all.

I miss my dad, a lot. I think that says it all too.

The Old and the Beautiful

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It’s cold in Israel.

Now obviously cold is relative.

It’s not Toronto Canada cold, where minus 5 degrees centigrade is considered a mild December (go figure).

Cold in Israel means it snows in the north, and might snow in Jerusalem.

It means we may have some frost on our car windows in the morning.

It also means we try and heat our homes using our air conditioning, which most of us bought to deal with the summer heat and humidity in Israel.

Side note – Heat and humidity in Israel is not relative. It’s hot and humid by any standard. Except perhaps by jungle / monsoon standard.

Anyway I digress.

When it’s cold in Israel everyone takes out their fleece jackets, because no one really buys down coats or the like for the few cold days we have.

And even those who do, wouldn’t be caught dead walking out in the open in them because it’s unfashionable. It’s unfashionable not because down coats look less chic or stylish than fleece jackets. It’s because no self respecting Israeli would publicly admit he’s so cold that he needs to wear a down coat.

So everyone walks around in their fleece jackets with nothing but their ego to warm them up.

The exception is probably people living in Jerusalem, who have no sense of fashion anyway, and even if by chance they do, no one expects it, so they can pretty much do whatever they feel like.

Now I don’t live in Jerusalem, so I have some standards to live up to (some are self imposed and some are spouse enforced).

Therefore I can’t go outside wearing whatever like, even if it’s cold.

But in the confines of my home, I’m cut a little slack.

In the confines of my home, I walk around in my ultimate cold-night attire.

It’s a jumper my mother knitted for me over twenty years ago, and it’s the best.

It may be old but there’s nothing like it. It’s warm, cozy and beautiful.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and on nights such as these there’s nothing more beautiful (apart from my wife of course).

So thank you Mummy.

I wish me and my jumper many happy winter nights together.

For those of you wondering – The picture is for illustration purposes only. My Mum did a much better job, and she didn’t put a smiley on it because I used to wear it to Shul on Shabbat.

You are what you eat?!

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I hope I’m not what I eat, because then I’ve no idea who I am.

I mean seriously, have any of you looked at the ingrediants of some of the food we ingest?

What are sodium alginate, citric acid, calcium phosphate, dextrose, maltodextrin?

And don’t get me started on the food coloring which are just a bunch of letters and numbers.

Now I know some of you are rushing off to Google and saying, of course I know what sodium alginate is. Sodium alginate is the sodium salt of alginic acid and it’s formula is (C6H7NaO6)n.

Well good for you! You’re probably best friends of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory (great show by the way).

I can also look the stuff up on the internet, but that’s not the point.

I think R.J. said it best in the movie “Over The Hedge”:

That, my friend, is a magical combination of corn flour, dehydrated cheese solids, BHA, BHT, and good old MSG; a.k.a., the chip, nacho cheese flavor.

Do we really know what these chemicals are and what they do? I doubt it.

Do food manufacturers want us to know? Well let’s guess …

Does this mean we should stop eating all these fun, chemical infested, non-natural concoctions? I don’t think so.

But it’s probably a good idea to pay a little more attention once in a while.

In any case it’s probably a good idea not to go overboard with eating in general, and quoting R.J. from the same “Over The Hedge movie” again:

http://www.traileraddict.com/emd/2309

They always got food with them. We eat to live – these guys live to eat! Let me show you what I’m talking about! [as he speaks he shows the other animals what humans do] The human mouth is called a ‘piehole’, the human being is called a ‘couch potato’. [signifies telephone] That is a device to summon food. [signifies doorbell] That is one of the many voices of food. [signifies front door]That is the portal for the passing of food. [signifies many delivery trucks] That is one of the many food transportation vehicles. Humans bring the food, take the food, ship the food, they drive food, they wear the food! [signifies grill] That gets the food hot! [signifies cooler] That keeps the food cold! [signifies turtle pinata] That…I’m not sure what that is. [kids break the turtle piñata and Verne yells] Well, what do you know? FOOD! [signifies table where family prays before dinner] That is the altar where they WORSHIP food! [signifies advert for Seltzer] That’s what they eat when they’ve eaten TOO MUCH food! [signifies treadmill] That gets rid of the guilt so they can eat MORE FOOD! FOOD! FOOD! FOOD! FOOD! FOOOOOD! So, you think they have enough? [everybody nods]Well, they don’t. For humans, enough is never enough! And what do they do with the stuff they don’t eat? They put it in gleaming silver cans, just for us! [opens the trash cans and knocks them over] Dig in!

We can do better by eating less in general and eating less junk in particular.

And that’s it for now.

This is my first post in a while, but I hope I’ll manage to keep it up.

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