Monday, September 21, 2009

Going Out of Your Way

My spouse of over 34 years, he should live and be well, says to me, sometime over R"H:
I'm going to go to St. Louis to see my brother, probably Sunday night or early Monday morning after selichos.
His brother got a kidney, 'kain yirbu', two days before year's end, the kidney and he should live and be well, they should live happily ever after together, HaShem Yisborach!

You're not driving to St. Louis alone on Sunday night. Are you crazy? Fly there.
I forget all about this conversation. A lot happens inbetween, mainly Rosh HaShana. We go to bed Sunday night after the holiday at 9:30, exhausted from yuntif (and all the food). He generally gets up at midnight to go to selichos.

I wake up at 3 and he's not back from shul; I think he must be asleep on the couch.

4 o'clock, he's not there.

4:30, I get up to make coffee before the fast, sure he's making pancakes. Don't smell anything.

He's gone.

Still at selichos?


He's busy doing mitzvos, 3rd day of the year, already to Springfield. Can I complain?

Obviously not.

Flying Bubbie, saluting Driving Saba


Well, my son and his family moved into a new home, a real home of their own with a back yard, mosquitos, and everything. They're renting, but who cares? It's just wonderful.

And I, of course, had to visit. I couldn't face people on Rosh Hashana who would ask me about it without having had a firsthand look.

Hannah was pleased to see me, really happy, I think, and generally used me for support against her parents. This is how it goes with grandchildren. I played the fence as well as I could, but mostly told her to play along, try not to kick her brother.

She stopped doing that, at least during my visit, after the story about the bigger kid. There's always someone bigger, is the truth. How I wish I could remember that story now. No idea. She might.

Anway, as soon as we got home from the airport the two of us ran circles around the yard, which is huge, so that knocked us out. After that we basically played on the swing set and tossed a beach ball, your usual stuff with 3 year-olds.

At some point we're inside and I set down my glasses, because I'm at the age where you just do this all the time, set down your glasses, because they don't work, so you take them off, set them down. But this time, since I had hit the wall, I whipped them off in Stage One sleep.

I wake up from the power nap of dreams, a very fast cycle, maybe five minutes, a little confused. And when you're confused, you want your glasses. So I look for them to no avail. This makes me nervous, for although they're no good reading. . . for driving and seeing distance, they're life itself.

I give up, put on one contac lens. This works, actually.

The day plods on and every once in awhile we look for the glasses. Nada.

I picture them in a few pieces. They're glass, I think.

Then Hannah, hands behind her back, proclaims,
I found something.
She shows me the glasses.
Where did you find them?! Hugs, kisses, whoops.
Under the ottoman.
She's three and uses words like ottoman. Probably most of them do, right?

My daugher-in-law, who did an unbelievable job making me feel comfortable and putting weight on me, oh, that peach cobbler, called me the next day to ask if I'd seen, by any chance, a magazine with recipes in it. I mentioned I had wanted one of them. Any chance?

I should have said, "Look under the ottoman," of course.

"No idea," I tell her, "but if you find it, shoot me that brisket recipe."

She never gets back to me. But right before the holiday tells me, "Mom. It was under the ottoman. That magazine."

If I didn't know better, I'd say there's a pattern here.

Seeing Bubbie

Monday, July 27, 2009

The T-Bird

My father has a white late-model T-bird with tan leather seats and he's pretty proud of it. He made FD drive him to the hospital in it a few weeks ago. You sit pretty low in this car. He just loves it.

Last week he was admitted to the hospital so the professionals could encourage his kidneys to pump out some of the water he he's gained. Twenty-eight pounds later, they released him. But while he was there, the subject of his pace-maker popped up. It's due for a new battery in a few months, and one of the wires doesn't work.

The young cardiologist says to him, as he sits helplessly connected to various IV's, kindly (he thinks) but with a voice full of authority, "If they told you that you had a body wracked full of cancer, would you bother with a new pace-maker?"

A mean thing to say to an old guy, I thought, when I heard it. Wish I had been there, would he ever have heard it from me in the hallway.

Let's put it another way, give the guy a fighting chance.

"If you had an old car, a really, really old car, one that needed a lot of work, would you bother putting a new engine in it?"

My father would say, in a heartbeat, "If I liked the car."

Flying a Little Angry. Still.


Yesterday FD and I met with my brother and sister-in-law, had dinner at Bagel Country. We rode our bikes up to Skokie and I didn't even care how I looked. It's Bagel Country.

But we stopped off at my parents first.

"What's on your skirt?" first thing my mother says to me. I'm wearing blue culottes and there is some weird white chalky-looking something on my backside, something from the wash. I tell her it's very 9 days.

She's in the basement sweeping the floor and doing laundry, and my father is out buying plants for his award winning, were there an award in Skokie, garden. He has his landscaper put them in. His attention to this, when the doctors wrote him off just last week, is equivalent to mine with the fish tanks, but better.

Mother complains to me that my father has taken the car and gone to get some lunch, but it's been over an hour and she's worried. He didn't take his phone, either. He hasn't told her the truth, that he's buying plants.

We walk upstairs (I've fallen down this narrow stairway and cringe every time I see her do this, G-d should protect her) and I once again offer to install a washer-dryer in the bathroom upstairs. She won't do it, even if we pay. And she WON'T use the cane. This is for old people.

My father walks in the door he looks like he's about to say Shmah, seriously.

"Where've you been shmaying?" I ask. Now I understand the origin of this Yiddish for wandering.

"I can't talk," he says and sits down on the couch in the den. "Tired." He revives with a little with water, like his plants. My mother walks in and screams at him. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? He whispers something about flats of plants in the T-bird. I tell him how nice his garden is looking, and it is.

FD asks why the cell phones are on the floor. My father gives over the obvious answer. They're charging. "But you might trip on the cords. Why don't you. . ."

My father waves it away, whatever he's going to say.

Flying North

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The iPhone and the Nine Days

It really isn't right, not fair, just my luck, that I chose to upgrade to the new iPhone during the Three Weeks, those sad weeks before Tisha B'Av when we don't buy new clothes or listen to music, at least not so everyone knows about it.

But my phone is shot and it won't let me answer sometimes, and why have a phone if you can't answer it? So it was a choice between the iPhone and the Blackberry, because I need a smart phone, and they cost almost the same, so after much eeny meenie minee moe,

I chose i.

But to get it, to pick it up, set it up, sync everything and not listen to music is truly torture. Can you imagine? And all my daughter's songs, her iTunes that we put on my laptop hoping they would play but they wouldn't play because my computer simply didn't have the clout, THEY WORK!

(I know this, but didn't play them, honest).

The good news is that ATT gave me a lousy headset so if I wanted to listen to music I couldn't.

It's back to the store I go.

Flying Almost Musical

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

While You're Up There

I'm at the airport and the stupid Bluetooth is going off in my ear, a Star Wars theme maybe, I don't know, and the Airtran sales rep is barking at me, offering me a free trip if I sign up for a credit card, which is something we all need, another credit card.

I answer the phone and think it's FD, but it's my son. "I have bad news."

It's noisy so I walk into a restroom where there is less noise and he says, "Miriam passed away. Mo's mother."

I walked out of the restroom to cry, emote, feel the shock and outrage, to be among people. NO!

Mo is my son's best friend. Mine continues, "I'm going to come in on Sunday to pay a shiva call. I hope that will be enough. I just can't get there for the funeral."

They're calling me to board. I'm in a trance all the way home. A tzedikat has been taken from us. I can't believe it. The best person in the world, no longer with us. What will we do?

Which is the question on everyone's mind at the levayah, the funeral this morning. Whatever will we do without her? She was the reason the world kept spinning, one of the reasons. As her spouse the rabbi said, she represented the best of all daughters, the best of all mothers, the best of all sisters, the best of all friends. And she loved her own family so much that she treated everyone else as extended family, there was so much love, excess love.

The first speaker, Rabbi Gedalia Schwartz didn't ask why so much as, Why do we pray (for he had just noticed, this past week, during tachanun), why do we pray not to be struck by makas ha maves? The blow of death. Isn't death an inevitable part of life? Why would we pray that He mercifully spare us?

The Rav tells us that when someone passes on before his or her time, someone wonderful, someone that the community needs, that it is a slap to the entire community, a much different slap, much harder, than when an older person passes on. We feel the pain much more, it is community pain. And there was not a dry eye, I am not exaggerating, in the synagogue, everyone at the levayah crying. Everyone her best friend. She was everyone's teacher.

The next speaker, the principal of the school where she had taught for a few dozen years or more, bereft, a mourner himself, spoke of losing a colleague who was better than himself, who had a work ethic that never flagged, no lunch for Miryam, no break. No time to chit chat. Too many children to help. And she saved hundreds, no, thousands, educationally, many of whom may not even remember what she did for them.

Then Miryam's spouse, the rabbi, a beloved friend of all in the community, sobbed as he shared with us his life with her, his stories, gifts. He reminded us how she suffered so many illnesses with a smile, how she never complained, never burdened anyone, as seriously ill as she was, you never knew. He didn't know how she felt half the time; she didn't complain, not even to him.

Just to confirm, reality check, we were not best friends Miryam and I, and I wasn't even a half-way decent friend, although I owed her, because she helped us with our children, as she helped everyone. But we liked each other (she loved everyone, really), and when we talked on social occasions she would vaguely refer to her various physical problems, only when asked, as if they were no big deal.

We were together yapping at a kiddish in shul, seems like yesterday but it has to have been several months ago, maybe even a year, and she asked me, "What do you think? Should I get a PhD?" Me, so out of it, "Why not?!" She smiled as if to say, "So impossible, silly, as if I don't have enough to do already."

She taught us everything, how to be truly serious about life and yet to laugh at it. Once she sat next to me in shul, many, many years ago, looked over my shoulder and laughed at me.

"What's so funny?"

She says, "You're reading the divrei Torah in the Leckutai Peshatim!"

(Leckutai Peshatim is supposed to be a leaflet of thoughts and stories about Torah, learning, but most read it for the community announcements on the back page.

She continues, "You're the only one I've ever seen who reads it from front to back." Then! Now, every time I start from back to front I feel guilty about it.

The rabbi, her husband, tells us that she was more religious than anyone he knew, much more religious than himself. Her dream was to open a hotel with a barn in Yerushalayim.

Why a barn? "The third Bais haMikdosh will be built and there will be a need for korbanot so why not have a barn?"

Then why a hotel? "Everyone will be there. They'll need someplace to stay." She totally believed this.

Her son, Mo, spoke next to last. Mo is a very funny man and as wrecked as he is, he still says a few subdued, but slightly humorous things. It hurts to laugh, and very few in the full house do, and he surely doesn't mean what he says to be funny so much as to represent his mother's sense of humor, always on. She had the face of an angel, by the way, a sweetness and sincerity that you rarely see, and yet a dead-on gift to capture the joke, the uber-meaning in things.

Oh, how does this happen?

Then her brother compared our grieving, our outrage, to Israel's when Miryam died and the well dried up. The well had to dry up for there could be no one to take Miryam's place, no one compared, there is no comparison, is there? No replacement, no one from whom to draw more water. Now shovel, her aggrieved brother, our friend's brother literally cries to us, Take your shovels. And dig for water.

On my way to work, for the living, you know, go on living, I think to myself, "We'll forget, and her family will not, they'll grieve all the time, whereas we'll grieve just here and there, on occasion, when we think of her."

But I don't believe it. We'll think of her often. She'll really be missed.

On my bike I do a little self-chastisement for asking her for a favor during the levayah. You ask forgiveness, sure, at a levayah, but a personal favor for your kid? Even now? Intercession in Shamayim? But why not do both, ask forgiveness and ask for a favor, assuming she isn't too busy up there.

The correctness of this, whether or not it's really out of line to ask a favor of the deceased, I'm telling you, is something I would ask Miryam if she were around. She would know these things.

Flying Sad Like Everyone Else

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mary Poppins

I took the pic on Sunday, FYI.

We're outside by the pool, not swimming, it's Shabbas.
I say to my granddaughter,
What do you want to play?
She quips right back.
"I know. You're Mary Poppins and I'm Jane."


"Now hold your umbrella." (She pantomimes daintily holding up an umbrella.

Okay. (I hold my imaginary umbrella as daintily as possible)

"When the wind blows in, you fly in. And when the wind blows out, you fly out."
The kid's a prophetess, seriously.


You're Outta' Here

I get here before Shabbas and my granddaughter finds out that I'm sleeping in her room.
She looks at me steely-eyed.
ONE peep. Just ONE little noise. And you're OUT. You're out of my room.
I'm pretty quiet, honey.
ONE tiny noise and you're OUT! OUT OF THE HOUSE!
Well, okay.

It's so funny and the story is repeated over and over and I can tell she's embarrassed and I feel bad for telling it again and again, but it is really funny.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Flying Again: Love is. . .

Milk and honey, what else?

A quick Hannah story. We're outside by the pool, alone, it's hot. We have a couple of squirt guns.

We're shooting at random things, bears, tigers, badguys (her idea, not mine).

She sees a heart. "I see a heart! Get it!"

We shoot. "We got it!"

She sees love.

"I see love!" she cries. "Shoot it!"

"Shoot love?"

"Yes, quick! Shoot love!"

"Love?!?!? Kill love?"


"Fine." We shoot love.

"Love is dead," she says.

She's three.

Flying Happy

Monday, June 29, 2009

Simple Happy

Our boy Sim had a flight home on Friday for an NCSY advisers meeting.

I got the dreaded text while seeing patients in the morning.
Flight canceled. Don't know if I'll make it home.
"Emunah, darling," I write back. "It's early and the day is long."

A couple of hours later he texts me that he'll be in around 3:30, only an hour later than we expected him. Big, happy sighs of relief. It's just always a happy thing when the kids come over, no matter from how near or how far.

We hardly saw him on Shabbas because FD and I were comatose by ten o'clock on Friday night and he didn't get back from his oneg until midnight. I sure didn't hear him come in.

And shul was mobbed for a Bar Mitzvah, and always afraid someone will yell FIRE, I skipped out of the kiddish with only a few bites of popcorn. But Dov and Cham were expected for lunch, and I set for Safta, too, although doubted she'd join us.

She's nursing a bus injury, or a dancing injury. Either she jumped off the bus too quickly (I'm so careless!) or Israeli dancing twice in one week did her in. We're calling it a pinched nerve, by the way. She needed something to tell people, some diagnosis that made sense to her.

Anyway, Saturday night we watched Rear Window (because we're real party animals, you know, couldn't even bother to rent something) except I fell asleep for the last fifteen minutes and went to bed at 1:00. Sunday's a work day for crying out loud.

And Sunday was beautiful day. A perfect Chicago day, not hot, not cold, but very windy. We thought we had a wedding at night, but were mistaken, so made a barbecue in Sim's honor instead, and Dov and Cham stopped by. They walked in on the end of My Cousin Vinnie, perhaps one of my favorite movies of all time. Marisa Tomei, unbelievable.

It helped that chuck steaks were on sale at Jewell last week so I had some in the freezer (this happens maybe twice a decade, we grill steaks, we're very low on the food chain people in general, although you would never know it, reading this post.) Anyway we had a lot of potato kugle left, and tons of guac, for some reason. FD and I both bought avocados Friday, he had his shiur coming over and that means snacks and fruit for the month.

Ira (our ben bayit, aka known as boarder) joined us and we made plans for his birthday, determined it would be birthday pie, not cake, that Shabbas, and his girlfriend should set aside that Friday night for the party.

By eleven, after packing up cookies and cold-cuts and hotdogs and meatballs for Sim to take back to Maryland, this Bubbie was totally wiped, and this morning, around four, said good-bye to him, got to working on my screen play, something that I'm literally knocking out in about ten hours, total. Tina Fey, obviously, should get the lead, but we'll accept Marisa Tomei.

Sim's going to buy that George Foreman, in case anyone wants to know.

Flying Good

The Purple Door

There are people who think Chicago's kind of boring, but nothing could be farther than the truth. I road my bike to work yesterday, same route I've taken for years, and noticed that one of the houses has a purple door.

How many people do this? Paint their doors purple. I just love these people, that's all I can say.

Flying Purple

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Alter Bubbie and Zaidie and the Computer

That does mean older, right? Alter?

I'm talking to my mother last night, she's 82. She tells me that my father's upset because he's having trouble with the Internet. He's going on 89.

"I'll come over in the morning," I say. "I was going to come over anyway."

We make a date. Her schedule is worse than mine. She has the beauty parlor at 9, physical therapy at 12:30. Yesterday it was Canasta.

So in the morning I run into Best Buy to get a new router because Mom wants me to set her up with a separate computer. I envision the two of them online together, each with their own terminals, working katy corner. At some point my father says, 'Wouldn't you like some orange juice,' a hint that he wants some orange juice.

It seemed like such a nice thing, such an easy thing to do, and my old laptop isn't that bad. It works-- just a little slow, is all. Like all of us.

I drive up to their house about 10:am and Mom does, too, in her car. She's still driving and uses a hand break.

"Where were you shmaying this early in the day?" I ask. She looks marvelous, white slacks, make-up is perfect.

"I was at the beauty parlor! Can't you TELL?"

"Oh, right! Of course! You look great!"

"Sure," she murmurs, bending down to pick up the newspaper on the driveway. She moves slowly, but she moves.

"I'm thinking," I say, "that I should be taking a lot of video of you and Dad. You both look fabulous, and people in my generation are all kvetching about their aches and pains, and you would be a good example of how people just buck up, you know, still function and don't complain. Still smiling."

She's not sure what to make of this.

I find my father asleep on the sofa, the TV blasting. I nudge him and he opens his eyes, surprised. "Let's fix that computer of yours," I say.

He turns off the tube and we head to the bedroom, my brother's old bedroom, now a museum of old cords and boxes, disks, routers and other equipment. Printers he has in spades.

"I got rid of AOL now," he tells me, "and signed up for EarthLink. And now I got nuttin'"

"Did you install it?"

"Yes. But they want my password and I don't know what it is." He shows me a piece of paper with his hieroglyphics and I see where I got it from.

This is taking a long time. I'm working every algorithm, every combination of cables and routers, plugging and replugging, getting nowhere.

He's dropping off, clearly tired, but patient and hopeful we'll get somewhere. He's upset that he's so tired, however.

"I can't believe I got this way. I never thought I'd be this way, so tired all the time. So tired that it's work just to stand up." He struggles to his feet and shrugs.

I look him in the eye and say, "You had a good run, Dad. You made the most out of every day. You ran, ran, ran until a couple of months ago. Your whole life you ran. It's okay. So you don't have to run so much. You can behave like you're retired, now."

"I played gin the other day with some really good players. These are really sharp men, keen minds. Very smart guys. And I won."

"See? You're not so tired."

"I can't believe it's me," he says, and shuffles off, probably for some orange juice.

I continue to furtutzel around for another half our (didn't charge him) and still, no Internet. I'm getting nervous because I do have to get to work. I finally give in and call the cable company and they tell me, "Someone canceled your Internet, signed up with another provider."


That's what he meant when he chose EarthLink over AOL. Not just an email address. He changed providers.

I reinstall Earthlink, find that slip with the log on/password, and we're rolling. While we wait for EarthLink to configure the EarthLink router (nothing else will do, so Mom won't have a laptop after all), he points to a couple of framed photographs of himself on the wall.

In one of them he's solo, wearing a mustache. In the other he's next to my mother at their wedding, clean-shaven.

"Look at these two pictures," he says. "Am I younger in this one (the one with the mustache) or in this one (the one with my mother)?"

"You look older in this one (the one with the mustache)" I say with confidence.

"Wrong," He tells me. "I had the mustache in high school. I grew it to look older."

He thinks this is hysterical.

"I grew it back after we got married, but shaved it because your mother didn't like it. But then I grew it back. Do you know why?"

I have a memory that this is connected to my brother's death, something about shaving and bad luck.

"No, why?"

"Because I shaved. Then I walked into the kitchen and said to your mother, 'Do you notice anything different about me?' And she said, 'No.' So I grew it back."

He's still got it, of course.

Flying Wired

Sunday, June 21, 2009

No Worries

It was terrifying.

I told you that one of my fish died, and as my son says, "It's always a sad day when a fish dies."

So I did the obligatory day of mourning (hey, it's a fish) and very quickly felt the need to move on. Bought a bigger tank, set it up, let it run a few weeks, tested the water.

And off to PetCo I go.

This time, however, I chose to buy hardy little fish, Maroon Clowns, raised in captivity. Doesn't that sound like a better idea? And yet, it's a big responsibility. They're so young that when I open the lid they rush to the top for me to pet them. It's bizarre.

But the day I introduced them to the office, it stormed. We're talking sheets of rain, an electric- light-blinking storm, lightening and thunder and potential to wipe out the power of selected Chicago neighborhoods. And I'm not coming back to work until Sunday. If the electricity goes off, then the pump goes off. If the pump doesn't work, the fish are likely to go into renal failure.

We take tza'ar ba'al chaim seriously, don't let animals suffer.

Lucky for me, a few light bulbs in the office went out simultaneously that Friday morning, nothing to do with the storm. I moseyed into the building manager's office to ask him if I am responsible for changing them, or him.

He is. So he passed down the job to Mike, our right-hand guy, to change the bulbs, and Mike saw the tank. He stopped to look at it.

"Do you like it?" I asked.

"Oh, it's so nice! You did a great job."

"I'm hoping to keep them alive."

"I had a roommate once who had a huge tank," Mike tells me, "I mean, HUGE. But he just quit school and took off and left us to care for it, but none of us knew how, so we sold the fish and the tank and it was gone before we even had a chance to say goodbye."

"I know what that's like." Then my wheels start to turn. "Hey, Mike. . ."


"If we ever have a power out in the building, and you're here and I'm not, do you think you might come in and start the tank up again when the power comes back on? It's real simple."

He said sure, and I explained how to do that. It was a great moment.

But I still felt pretty scared when I left the office, anyway, and every once in awhile, over Shabbas, I worried about the new fish, so young they haven't had a formal naming ceremony yet.

And yet, here they are today! Swimming away like they're supposed to!

Flying Happy

You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy

It still happens. People still say things to me about how wonderful it is to have their grandchildren

(a) in town
(b) right next door
(c) in the next zip code

and I walk right into it.

Me: (walking to shul, a friend has fallen into step):

Good Shabbas! How are you?! How's your new ainickle* doing?

My Friend:

B"H** I'm SO happy. He's just edible. It's so wonderful, I can't even begin to tell you. And they live around the block for me! Practically next door. I can drop in whenever I want. She drops him off whenever she wants.

And he's so Cute. I could hold him and squeeze him all day. How are yours in uh, where are they, exactly?

Me: (Stepping up the stride) Hey, have a great Shabbas. Enjoy your grandchildren.

My Friend:

Look. I deserve this. For years I lived apart from my own mother, my own family. I had no support. I deserve this.

Me: Oh, for sure. You do. You do. Nobody's arguing. It's all good. Have a great Shabbas.

And we step into shul.

Flying FAST

* ainickle rhymes with gain-pickle, means grandchild

**B"H is an abbreviation for the Hebrew, Baruch HaShem, that translates to, Thanks to The Name, or to G-d. B"H is a gratitude made popular to Jews, who now preface every sentence with this, by the father-in-law of Moses, Yitro, a Midianite priest, proof positive that we learn from all people, or should.

Your Typical Friday Night Dinner with Friends

The truth is, you don't get away with a faux pas anymore.

Not with so many people blogging. So if this applies to you, take your mussar* and think on it. I'm sure it's not for you, but it's certainly for me.

I'm reading Rav Dessler's Strive for Truth with a friend. If you haven't read Strive for Truth, it's a good one to read out loud on these long summer days when you're trying very hard not to spleen about other people or spread vicious gossip. Or even good gossip.

We're having Friday night dinner with some very close friends who also invited a few other guests. It's a small party. FD and I ask a colleague sitting within ear shot, one who we haven't seen in a long time, about his research. In our experience, people like talking about their research, even if they can be coy about it, act like they don't. And we're really interested.

There was occasion to celebrate the project, our hosts told us, it was either acceptance of an article, or actual publication, something that generally makes academics happy. So pushing the discussion didn't feel wrong. But he pushed us off, and then, reluctantly, shared a few crumbs.

But it morphed into a huge polemic about a very controversial topic, and it got ugly.

Probably a sign that when someone gives you vibes that he or she doesn't want to talk about work, that you should let it alone.

Anyway, he essentially called one of us a fool. Technically, he said:
The Rambam (a sage Jewish intellectual and a doctor) would have called you a fool.
And he said it loudly with much emotion. So it came off as, You're a Fool!!!

No matter how much self-esteem you've got, your ego is bruised when you're called a fool, fool or not. In this case, the one of us directly insulted kept a quiet, on-topic, civilized dialogue going, unbelievable, considering the circumstances; and the other, the spouse who suffered the humiliation by proxy, didn't do anything.

Didn't kick the guy.

Didn't say, "I think we've got to go, I think we forgot to leave the key for our border."

Didn't pick up and leave (which would have devastated the hosts).

Didn't assert back, "How do you know that The Rambam called people names?"

Didn't sympathize, "Wow, you must have had a tough week to take out what sounds like months of aggravation on my spouse. You probably should apologize."

Didn't say, "You'd best right this before Yom Kippur**."

Didn't say, "It's so nice that we're so close that you can talk to my spouse like this."

Forks dropped, by the way.

But of course, after dinner, as soon as we hit the sidewalk, we discussed it on the way home and thought of all the should'a saids and possibilities for what had just gone down. It was distasteful and weird, and let me tell you, has never happened, no that's not true, has happened once in our 34 year married life, this kind of direct hit.

That anniversary is Monday, in case you're wondering.

So the mussar of the day is,
You really can't take back what you say, even if you do apologize. Words have a life of their own.
But the psychological truth is that it's healthy to let things go, to assume that no harm or insult is intended, and if someone actually does apologize, to accept it with complete grace. Even if that person isn't sorry, even if you've suffered a narcissistic injury, best to let it go and assume there's some goofball reason for his behavior. And when hurtful words recycle in your psyche, you talk back at them and say,
Sheesh! The guy had a bad day! Let it go already! It's not about you.
Unless it is, which it never is, ALL about you. So it's good these kinds of things happen, just to keep us thinking.

Flying Mussarly

By the way, our excitable friend is still considered our friend, and he is perfectly brilliant and learned, and one day, I am sure, we'll all laugh about what happened. Right?

* mussar is calling someone out on their behavior, their faults, so that they can correct them and become better people

**Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, you have to apologize to people you hurt before G-d will forgive you. All pronunciations are essentially correct.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

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Fortune Cookies

I have a best friend, someone who made aliyah, who came to visit for a Shabbas a few weeks ago. It was great, but we had other visitors, too, and my attention span was stretched to the max.

So my friend R., who came from the Holy Land, first stopped in the other holy land, New Jersey, or maybe it was New York, on her way to my house. There she saw children and grandchildren and purchased a big bag of fortune cookies to take to Chicago.

Before she got to my house, she hit a conference downtown. The cookies, I think she told me, were for the conference.

She intended to pass them out to people who attended her workshop.


So she passed some out at the conference and brought the rest "home" (to my house, another story for another day). She brought them out at the Shabbas table and I remember her telling me the story about them, something like, Turns out they're not in English. The fortunes are in other languages.

This should have made an impact upon me, because it's unusual, but it didn't, not until today, weeks later. Before leaving for work I grabbed a couple of cooks and threw them in my bag. I figured I'd have a break in the day and a good fortune cookie would do me a world of good. That and stretching the back when no one is around.

So here's today's fortune. If you recognize the language, please fill me in. If you can translate it, even better.
Hay den voi chung toi xin vui long phien Ejani ne seancen tone ju lutem. Dodite u nase sjednici molim.
I'm guessing Vietnamese. Seems a little French to me.

Clueless Bubbie

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Always a Bubbie to Me

There. You have the punchline.

The BJ (Billy Joel, right?) lyrics go:
And she'll promise you more
Than the Garden of Eden
Then she'll carelessly cut you
And laugh while you're bleedin'

But she'll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself
Cause she's always a woman to me
(And he starts humming)

But FD has a classical background, so he's not above mixing and matching lyrics and songs. He's making coffee, late, 5:30 a.m., and I meet him down in the kitchen, stumble in to get my tall glass of 2 oz grapefruit juice, ice, 6 oz water. You develop weird tastes when you get old, my father swears by honey and lemon juice in hot water, also a good thing.

I'm wearing my powder blue terry-cloth robe and FD is in his matching maroon. We discuss that the new bag of Papa Nicholas coffee has no Papa Nicholas points for some reason.

He takes his hand and sneaks it under the sleeve of my robe so our two arms are now one arm, handless, just a stream of powder blue and maroon terry-cloth.

I say: You are very silly.

He smiles, can't get over how funny he is.

I say: We're not getting any younger. I, at least am feeling like an older woman.

He jumps right in: Ah, but you break like a little girl.

I smile.

And you're always a bubbie to me.

See how that works?

Flying Bubbish

The Gardening Saba

Here are my first three, camoflaged in the irises 25 years ago.

Saba, otherwise known as FD, is upset when it rains every single day. Or so it seems every spring.

Why? Because he can't mow the lawn. Or his plans to mow the lawn have been interrupted.

On the other hand, he'll say, Water is good for the garden.
So it's always a gam zu.*

He's planted all kinds of things in the backyard this year for the rabbits, skunks, and possums to eat. We'll be lucky if we see a single bean.

Anyway, he tookthe starter plants from my father a few years ago who also gardens, mostly by pointing to the plants and the spots he wants the landscaper to place them.

I think the pink ones in the top picture are peonies. They started out a few years ago as a tiny clump of green, and now look at them. Earwig bait.

But the irises on the left were in front of my house when we moved in 30 years ago (yes, 30 years ago this October). These used to take up that entire patch, a stunning spread of purple and white. But neighbors took my silence as permission to thin them out, take a few for themselves. So the iris patch thinned, and thinned and pretty soon there was nothing left.

But this year, perhaps because the weather has been so incredibly bad (meaning cold and wet) G-d himself determined that the irises should be fruitful and multiply, and they're back, just waiting to grow to the point where little children, literally, can hide in them.

Bubbie Clicking

* A gam zu, rhymes with mom-two, is Hebrew for, This too, but is associated, with
This too, is good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sending Cookies

We SAVE these things, coffee cans. But since coffee beans come in bags, I brought this one home from the office.

It probably isn't fair that I don't send anyone else cookies, but when Sim (not his real name, or is it) left home to work a government research scholarship at U of M, I told him that I would send him cookies by mail. He's sharing an apt with other random kids for the summer and can't use the oven or he would make them himself.

Lucky dude that he is, the stove-top is electric, so he can cook. These are things that really matter to a Jewish mother.

Anyway, when I was a kid and went away to summer camp, my mom, the infamous Boobah, sent me cookies in coffee cans.

I sent Sim the cooks with this tradition in mind, but not in a can because it was a rush job, and he needed some other things that really wouldn't fit in a coffee can.

I just thought I should share this.

We think he really liked them, btw, for as Safta says, You always cook better for people you love. Or is that, it always comes out better when you cook for people you love, or maybe fear. Something like that. Not so much a heebie jeebie thing, as much as that a person puts more attention into the process, mho.
Flying Sweet

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Flying Again

This has to come out.

So when I was in LA visiting the grandchildren, and children, of course, and driving south on Highway 1 (me thinks, we were lost, so maybe it was something else) got a call from another child requesting my presence in his city, 1600 miles away. He would love to see FD, too, he tells me. Nu?

And I'm still working out this trip. I pay, professionally, when I go out of town.

The solution, obviously, is we all move to Israel.

Then at least we don't have to fly so far to see one another.

Flying Better

What to do about Fish

We're not talking gefilte fish here.

maybe I should just leave them where they are, in the sea.

But it is a dilemma, the risk of losing fish, and having lost a really nice one because I put him in too small a tank tells us everything about small spaces. Not good for some living things.

The obvious solution is to buy a bigger tank and set that up. With a bigger tank the nitrogen levels don't rise so fast that salt water fish are vulnerable and die. Not if you take good care of it. So I did that, set up a 20 gallon tank.

But you still wait a month before you buy new fish to make sure the water is just right. Can you imagine if we waited a month to take a bath?

So now I sit across from people and listen to them talk, squeak out a few words here an there, and my eyes wander over to a large tank full of clear running water and a couple of pretty rocks and that alone looks so pretty, and I'm wondering,

Do I really even need the fish? Maybe a couple of fake fish?

Flying Rational

Monday, June 8, 2009

What it Was Like Having Rabbi Michael Kramer and Marcia Stay By Me

That's how we say it, Stay by me. That's the Jewish way.

Anyway, Michael is a first cousin of my mother's, making me a first cousin of his, once removed, and my kids first cousins twice removed. But we're repairing that. We don't feel removed anymore.

Reb Michael is the son of the late Tirtza and Simon Kramer. Reb Simon was President and Rosh Yeshiva of the Skokie Yeshiva from 1965-1970, and has a bio that's three pages long, single spaced. I can about post that another day.

Michael is by far the most liberal, best educated rabbi in the family, and there are quite a few. Retired and writing (meticulously, with pen and paper) it's obvious he's enjoying his Judaism and Torah. He learns them out, as we say, all those kula*'s (ways of looking at law less as punishing, more as life-sustaining). His way doesn't take away, not at all, from the observance of the mitzvot ** rather enhances them.

And yet I couldn't take off a tichel,*** let's talk, in his presence, and preferred the old virtual hug to what would have been nice, a real one. I've become a lot more distant, physically, from men in the family, than I was as a youth, when the rules of touch sometimes seemed overly strict. That attitude started when I first heard, from my daughter's gen, YOU CAN'T EVEN HUG YOUR UNCLE in this religion.

Another time. Anyway, Michael writes a book for each of his grandchildren for their Bar-Bat Mitzahs, takes a couple of years in the process utilizing the following several sources to explain the kid's parsha, (portion of Torah, rhymes with Marcia), including Hertz, Hirsh, Soncino, Anchor, Kaplan, and the Judaica Press. He picks and chooses to make it sweet.

Marcia, his Southern belle, seems captivated as he tells his stories, and yet we know she's heard them all many times over. She never sits down, not unless she's listening him play Blue Moon or Fly Me to the Moon on the piano. He is a little obsessed with songs about the moon, but maybe this is simply all he had to listen to as a kid. He just missed those Beatles, you know.

Marcia never stopped helping me, for you know with Jews food service never ends, and at one point started doing dishes, which made me want to crack one over her head, but this is me getting emotional about how one treats guests, so I stopped, let her do a few glasses, then moved her away from the sink.

The couple literally walked in the door regaling me of stories of my grandchildren, as the surrogate first degree in their new place in the sun, Atlanta. My son and his wife recently moved there. My grandchildren get a serious dose of the other side, their mother's side, but not very much of our side. Not much me or FD. So I'm very grateful for Michael and Marsha, not that I don't love the machs.****

We had family over on Saturday nigh to greet M and M, a real challenge, considering Shabbas is over after nine. But 4 gens showed up.

Okay, that's enough for now. You need some pictures, of course. Coming soon.

Flying Richer

* kula rhymes with hoola, doesn't mean loop hole, exactly, but amounts to as much
**mitzvot **(pronounced mitts-vote, means commandments)
*** tichel rhymes with kichel (sorry), means scarf, a head-covering
****machs, short for machetunim, the parents of your kids' spouse, rhymes with rocks.

Friday, June 5, 2009


He doesn't know it, but that's what I call him sometimes. This arrangement, having another young man in my life, was his idea.

You get used to having men around. We started with one daughter, but since two sons have married, now have three, but none of them live here.

Never would I have gone looking for another person with testosterone running through his veins to live in my house. But he's a bocher, and FD knows him, so how hard could it be?

He happened to be visiting our youngest son. He goes to school with S. That night he might have had the following agenda.

The boys came over around 7:30, and I was about to serve some supper, invited them (there was another) to join us.

""OMG, this food is amazing, he tells S. "Do you realize how great you've got it?"

"Uh, sure. Whatever you say."

"No, I'm SERIOUS. This is so good."

Me: It's just garlic bread, pasta, and salad. You'd get sick of it.

"No, this is great. I'm moving in."

That's pretty much how it went.

Blellow's GONE!!

Baruch Dayan Emet. Blessed is the true Judge.

I found him on the bottom of his tank, a blue-legged crab about to take a nibble. It was upsetting, to say the least.

Texted D & C: Blellow II died!

D said, It's always a sad day when a fish dies.

I sent him on his way to fish heaven, and went about my business. In the end it wasn't such a bad day, although I did feel guilty. D had warned me this might happen, so I bought a bigger tank, but you can't just add fish, the tank wasn't ready in time.

So like all aquarists, I blame myself.


Flying Guilty

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jews and Garlic

Not the best picture, but this bugger just won't hold still for the camera.

This is clearly a Jewish fish, and a camera-shy Jewish fish at that, no interest in film, photography, nothing. But I'm thinking his roots go back to the Old Country.

People from the Old Country are somewhat obsessed with garlic, at least some of the Jews I know.

Those of you who know my father, for example, an immigrant from Poland, know that as a younger man, if he couldn't sleep, he topped a nice piece of rye bread and butter with crushed fresh garlic. This made his night.

That or a chunk of hard salami from Romanian.


My son-in-law, an avid aquarist, couldn't stand that I emotionally coerced FD to dig out a chunk of our home, one that happened to be a supportive beam, to install a 55 gallon tank in my living room. All for my Niger Trigger, the infamous Blue. Blue had the run of the 55 gallon tank, and I felt he needed it. Indeed, he needed more room to swim, hence the need for the tank. Fish gotta' swim, birds gotta' fly. You know the song.

I thought it was okay if he lived alone. He isn't all that friendly a fish, although he's changing. We can talk about that another time.

Anyway, annoyed by this selfish use of the pool, Y surprised me with three new fish for what would ultimately become the aggressive tank.

So the tank housed four fish:
(1) Blue
(2) the dog puffer (ugly)
(3) a porcupine puffer--nice blue eyes, but aside from these, also ugly, and
(4) a pretty little yellow tang who went the way most of most Tangs; he died.

Y armed me with enough vitamins for the fish to cure a sailor's scurvy.

If a person adds these liquid vitamins to fish food, the colors of the fish become more vibrant, he tells me.

How gray can become more vibrant, for the puffers are gray, I'm still not sure. But I said okay.

The most important additive that he got me, a true color enhancer, is surely the garlic. Add liquid garlic (they call it Garlic Extreme) to your fish food, and your fish will be extraordinarily healthy, perhaps never have colon cancer or any other maladies of the sea.

A good soldier, I follow this advice and add garlic to the frozen fish food, and Zoey, too, the prenatal vitamin of the aquarium world. I do this until I run out of the garlic and vitamins, and quite honestly, when I run out, after a while, Blue's color fades.

Having recently set up a little ten gallon tank at the office I decide, Today is the day!
It is time to buy a new fish, and as long as I am at the store, to buy vitamins and, you know, garlic. Everything but the rye.

Wouldn't you know, there at Living Sea, waving at me, is Blellow!

Blellow is a Bi-color Angle, half navy, half yellow. The story on Blellow is that as D and C, my local married son and daughter-i-l, emphasis on the daughter, while waiting for the live rock in their new tank to do whatever it is that live rock does, de-nitrogenate or whatever, brought over the original Blellow to live at our house in our "other" tank. The peaceful fish tank. Blellow would swim with the four Chromies and our tiny Watchman Gobi.

The little yellow Watchman, by the way, is basically all any tank needs to feel protected, even if he is a very shy fish. A half inch long on arrival, he's doubled in size, if not girth, which is about a quarter of an inch, if that.

Anyway, one day the kids retrieved him having determined that their live rock had stopped exuding deathly nitrogen. They collected their belongings from the friendly tank, waved to Blue in the tank full of fish needing anger management, and took Blellow home.

Sure, it hurt to see him go, but what could I do? Grieve it and leave it, is all. On Mother's Day, not a Jewish holiday especially, but one that obviously should be, we could have made it up, come on, on Mother's Day the kids gave me a new fish to take away the sting of losing Blellow. They bought me a Coral Beauty, a fish everyone says will die.

And yet, Cori thrives, poo, poo, poo, kineyenharah*, gets more beautiful every day.

Thus when Blellow the Second shouted out at me from his tank at Living Sea today, there was no question in my mind that this was bashert.** It was meant to be that I should buy him and take him to the office, where my empty tank waited his arrival with baited breath.

I bought some blue-leg crabs, too. The guy at the store, I have to say this, I'm sorry, was kind of rude. I would say, "Can you show me the blue-leg crabs?"

And he would walk away.

I would follow after him, hoping he is leading me to the tank with these shrutzim (insects, no time to rhyme right now). Rushing after him, he points to the tank with these things and turns to diddle with something in another tank.

I'll be honest. I'm not very familiar with crabs. I am buying them because they are fifteen for ten dollars, and fifteen anything for ten dollars says to me, Buy These.

Either he's in a real hurry or has some kind of power trip he's working out, but it grieves him to take me seriously. Here I am, buying a lot of stuff, and he's acting like he's doing me a huge favor. He silently bags the crabs, it feels to me with an attitude, then bags Blellow and points me to the vitamins. I'm supposed to know to follow him to the checkout where he calls for reinforcements and hurries back to his real job, not sure what this is. Before leaving for his real job he bids me a good day, his first friendly sentence.

And it's been good! The guy is a tzaddik,*** surely gave me a blessing. That or it's always good when you have a fish in the room with you.

But Blellow Two wouldn't eat at the office. I set him free in the tank, before seeing patients, added some flake, but he wouldn't eat. He refused the shrimp flakes, took one gulp and spit it out.

Uh, oh. I got worried. Any Jewish mother would.

Then I remembered the garlic. I soaked the other type of flakes, some lame flakes you feed fresh water fish, in garlic and a little zoey (other vitamins), waited a few seconds, and pinched them into the water.

Behold! Blellow loves the flakes soaked in garlic!

Clearly a landsman.

Flying High

*If you say this, poo, poo, poo, kineyenharah, no harm will come to you. If you don't, for sure it will. The last word rhymes with gin-I-in-whore-ahhh. If this is the only Yiddish you know, you'll get by.

**bashert, rhymes with ma-tear-t means "meant to be"

***tzaddik, rhymes with tzaddik, means "holy man."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pajama Chic

My youngest grandson is graduating kindergarten, which means that he will join his big brother and spend a lot more time in school. So I think it's important that the guys have a good time while they can, and it does look like they do.

But they spend a lot of off time in pajamas, and FD mentioned this to me. To me, this is a sign of the times. A lot of people are off of work, have lost jobs, and basically they're wearing pajamas all the time!

My grandsons play better in pajamas, is the truth, when they're wrestling, which is often, or rolling down mattress slides. Their play obviously reflects what is now casual chic.

It made sense to me. I see a lot of people as a therapist, and occasionally someone will walk into my office wearing clothes that look like pajamas. I think they are pajamas.

So I tell FD, it's okay. This is casual chic. Let the kids play. Before you can spit they'll be wearing white short-sleeve shirts with a tie, just like my Zaidie* always wore, just like he's starting to wear, more often than not, these days.

Flying Chic

* Zaidie* is Yiddish for grandfather, rhymes with "lay-dee"

Feeding a Jewish Child

It's nice when a kid has a real taste for fruit, the natural sugar. Sure, chocolate is natural, too, and I'm told has all kinds of good things in it, mainly anti-oxidants. But plums make your skin glow, I'm convinced.

Here's E. picking a plum from his tree in the front yard.

Can you imagine having your own plum tree?

Finally, his mother at age 6, apropos of nothing, just happened to be looking at an old album.

Flying Delicious

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why a Flying Bubbie

On the previous post astute readers get a flash of a couple of my ainikul.* I haven't done this before, posted pictures of my grandchildren. But I got tired of blogging and not sharing like everybody else. On my other blog all you get is a back of a head. And a few marine fish.

All this has changed because my daughter kept making annoying comments like, Why blog if you can't even put up a picture? When I told her about some of the lovely people who have threatened me on that other blog (did you know that this is a crime, threatening bodily harm on the Internet?) she backed off.

But it got to me. And I have a lot to say about being a bubbie**, a grandmother, one who has to get on an airplane to see her kids (some of them) and their kids. Why should I be kept in a box? And I figure they'll grow up, they'll look different.

Okay, enough of this. I have to go. Getting older and older by the second, eating soup sounds like the proper Jewish thing to do right now.

Flying Tired

*ainikul is Yiddish for grandchild, rhymes with "may-nickle"
**bubbie is Yiddish for an old lady with pins in her hair, rhymes with "tubby"

Oh, oh

After learning all night long for the yuntif, our newest member of the family apparently can talk. He says this over and over:

"Oh, Oh, Oh!"

What's he think is going on? Why the drama?

You know, they say babies at 8 weeks can't reach for things. But this guy went right for the plastic bag.

And here's his brother showing him how, if you move the furniture just a little, you can make a really good slide.

This is a new blog for me, and I know it's an abrupt introduction, no fanfare, no glory, but since I'm a kind of emotional bubbie, I think I'll sign off as the hairpins are making me feel.

Flying Above Average

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Part 2 of the Post Below

Anyway, we were eating with some friends on a Friday night. The food was good, the conversation intellectual and funny. Seven adults, one kid. This happens, sometimes. And when it does, the kids hear what we have to say.

Only this time, the conversation was decidedly AGAINST hypocrisy.

An American who made aliyah tells the story of a practicing Catholic female colleague who came to visit Jerusalem.

He took her on a tour. They stopped at a winery. We have wonderful wineries in Israel. Anyway, when a man travels with a woman in Israel it is assumed she is his wife. And if that man is wearing a kipah, it’s assumed that he is Jewish. People assume she is, too.

The tour guide, seeing that this is a married Jewish couple said, “We’re going to taste the wine later, but don’t worry! No goy has ever touched one of our bottles in the vintaging of our wine!”

Flying Cheers

Thursday, May 7, 2009


THEM always means “goyim,” right?

Goyim means “other people”, as in not Jewish.

And even though the word goy means “people” as in nationality, it’s somehow not a compliment. Similar to the way being “frum” IS a complement. We’re a People, the Jewish People, they’re goyim.

This way of speaking, thank G-d, is disappearing from the lips of many G-d loving Jewish person.

After all, the angels were severely chastised for singing as the Egyptians drowned chasing the Jews into the sea. And He objected:

Those are MY creatures! He said. How could you sing?

Flying Equal

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


So I heard that in Flatbush, when frum (Orthodox) people buy television sets they have the sales people box their new TVs in air conditioner boxes.

That way no one knows they have bought a television. We're not supposed to watch television. Certainly not Desperate Housewives.

So if people bring home teevs in air-conditioning boxes, then if they by an air-conditioner, it stands to reason that this will come home in a television box because maybe the store is out of AC boxes. And all the frummers on the block see the cardboard TV box and say, Don’t tell anyone, but the Schwartz’ just bought a new air conditioner. The proof’s in the alley! They’re not fooling anyone!

Crazy, right

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Between Breakfast and Lunch

On Rosh HaShana there's an introduction to the Artscroll Siddur that impresses upon us that we're supposed to be better than we are, and all of us are supposed to be chastising ourselves (to a degree) for not being better than we are, on a regular basis.

Chazal, early behaviorists, suggested that we be in a constant state of improving, look back between meals and regret how we’ve messed up the past couple of hours. We’re supposed to do tshuvah , repent and change, between breakfast and lunch, before we eat dinner, and then again at bedtime. By the time we get to Yom Kippor we’ve done tshuvah for the year, need only think about the day.

Great Jews do this.

Flying Hungry

Friday, May 1, 2009

ba’al tshuvah: new to Orthodoxy

This phrase, ba’al tshuvah, literally means a person who has repented, changed his ways, returned to the fold. Frequently it is associated with people who never were religious, rather they turned inward at some point in their lives, sought out spirituality and meaning, and found it in Yehadus, Judaism.

When the find is Orthodox, then the Orthodox call them ba’alai tshuvah, persons who have returned. Of course this bothers me. They didn’t know anything much about the religion before. What’s this return, thing?

And it’s another way of stating that those who have been raised Orthodox are superior, which may be true in some ways. I'm in awe of some of the people I know, to to you the truth, those raised religiously, meaning to always look for opportunities to be helpful, who never miss an opportunity to do the right thing. This is how we see service to the Creator.

So they are superior, for sure.

But they're modest and wouldn't own any of that, pretty much beat their chests, beat themselves up all the time for not doing more.

Not every Orthodox person does, but many do, whereas the non-observant who do that are thought to have low self-esteem.

Flying Humble

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Continued from the post below, One People

Anyway, this being about One People, Shema is a declaration of G-d’s Oneness.

My mother also said that we, the Jewish People are one people.

My cousins, who are Orthodox, never gave me any reason to suspect that this wasn’t true. Even though we weren’t as observant as they were, we were all Jews, all One People. There wasn't any judging. They kept more of the rules, but we all still watched the Wizard of Oz together, and we still had Thanksgiving together and the same Zaidie, our grandfather, gave us all real silver dollars for finding the afikomen (the matzah dessert) on Passover.

I had no no idea at that time, that there were people who would disagree so vehemently over the “truth” of Jewish denominations, that they wouldn’t share the same pulpit, the same stage, the same forum with one another. They disagreed and feared one another so much that they wouldn’t even bother talking about differences with one another.

Everyone agrees that everyone who is Jewish has the pintela yid . It’s there, behind the costumes. What’s the pintela yid? A very modest, but dominant force field that emanates from a Jewish person’s soul. I think it’s probably located in the heart. It says, I’m a Jew.

What my cousins understood, and communicated to me, is that it isn't how observant a person is that matters, it is how that person really behaves. Derech eretz, doing the right thing, being a mentch, is what makes the Jew.

Flying Serious

Monday, April 27, 2009

One People

I once had a blog called One People, and I wrote under the name Zachdus, because Achdus, or achdut, is the Hebrew word for unity, and my Hebrew name starts with a Z, so it made sense for that blog to be authored by someone named Zachdus.

But it was too hard, keeping up two blogs. And yet I hate to lose some of the things I wrote over there, so I'm going to rewrite them here, maybe improve them a lot, or maybe not at all.

As The Flying Bubbie, thinking about how my Bubbie behaved and how my mother, who is also a bubbie interacts, and I’m trying to be true to their truths. My mother's teachings are clearly her mother's teachings, and for sure, Torat Emecha (emaich) is the Torah of Your Mother. Your Auntie Sarah, or however she's related to you, taught me to say Shema before I went to sleep and I'd be less afraid because He protected me. Anything, if you're me, to lower the anxiety that a bad person really will climb through the window.

Flying United