Good News and Bad News and A Request for Help

First, the good news. Baruch Hashem, my son got married this past Sunday, Lag B’Omer. The wedding was wonderful and we are all very happy for the young couple and looking forward to Shabbat Sheva Brachot with the bride’s family in Zfat.

Now, the bad news. Because of a long and complicated story with the Israeli army (which I may post about at some point but I cannot do it now) my son was arrested by the military police the Thursday before his wedding and taken to spend the night in prison. After a long and tense wait on Friday he was given a hearing and granted three days off in order to get married. He appeared before a judge again on Tuesday and was given another few days off. He was required to appear again before a judge yesterday, where he was told that he could finish his Sheva Brachot week but needs to go back to military prison next Monday morning. He will have a hearing again this coming Tuesday to decide how much time he will need to spend in prison before being released to start his army service.

As I have mentioned before in my blog my son decided to become a Chabadnik during his high school years. The Chabad community is doing its part to help him, as is the Dati Leumi community in my yishuv. People with connections are helping behind the scenes.

Now I would like to call upon the most important community I know of – the righteous women of Israel. I would appreciate prayers for my son to receive the shortest possible stay in prison so that he can join his young wife. I am sure every woman can imagine how difficult it would be to start married life with a long separation from your husband, especially one so completely unexpected.

Thank you and G-d willing we will hear only good news!

Post script: Just to be clear, my son has been spending his time since high school either learning in yeshiva (both in Israel and in Brooklyn (770) or doing what is called  “shlichut” (community service). He has spent time in India organizing meals and religious services for Rosh Hashana, which also included walking in the pouring rain for half an hour in order to blow the shofar for a pregnant woman who could not make it to the Chabad house. He has traveled to other interesting (and dangerous) places in order to be the shaliach tzibur (conduct the prayers) for Yom Kippur where there was noone else to do so.  Back in Israel he spent a year working as a volunteer in a religious high school for boys with special needs.

His uniform is black (hat and suit) versus green, but he has been spending his time contributing to Klal Yisrael just the same.

Dedicated with Love to All Mothers of Boys

I absolutely loved this video. It sums up what it is like raising boys – just multiply by the number of young men under your care and enjoy!

Raising Jewish Boys? Need Some Help?

I received the following email from a fellow blogger about an interesting and informative webinar that will be held the next few Sunday evenings. (I am not sure if the time is Israel or American time) If you are raising teenage boys it may be of interest:

Rabbi Doctor Abraham Twerski, Dr. David Pelcovitz and Rabbi Dr. Benzion Sorotozkin will be featured in an educational webinar series starting this Sunday at 8pm and continuing for 3 consecutive Sundays. Parents and educators can gain keen insights from some of the leading experts in the religious Jewish community.

You can register and watch the webinar series at (kesher Israel dot com)  http://www.kesherisrael.com/webinar. The webinar focuses particular attention on factors that may influence the decision to choose a post high school Yeshiva in Israel.

The first webinar on June 9 examines issues related to teenage boys who are off the derech as well as the far more common situation of being apathetic to Judaism. The second seminar on June 16th deals with behavioral issues and the concluding seminar on June 23rd tackles issues of substance abuse. See the poster at http://kesherisrael.com/email/webinar/index.html

Questions and comments can be emailed to webinar@kehserisrael.com. Kesher promises that someone from its professional staff will respond within 2 working days.

For more information and to sign up visit  http://kesherisrael.com/email/webinar/index.html

Yoni Mozeson

Marketing to the Jewish Community

yoni@adrabbi.com

Another Parent’s Nightmare

For those of us living in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria)  tremping (hitchhiking) is a fact of life. We live in areas that are rural and the bus service is usually not adequate. Therfore adults and teenagers take rides with strangers.

For a long time we did not have a car and I took rides home to my yishuv after work (going to work was somewhat easier as I took rides with people I knew). As my sons grew older they also started to take tremps. I tell them that they need to travel with at least one other person, have their cell phone on at all times, and look carefully at the driver before getting into the car. With all of these precauations, I still get nervous when they do this.

Now the IDF has put out a video trying to discourage teens, especially those who live where we do, to avoid hitchhiking, because there are many terrorists who want to kidnap Israelis, like they did with Gilad Shalit. I wish I hadn’t watched the video, because it will give me nightmares.

I don’t think the video will affect the number of teens traveling like this though. During the spring months, when high school kids have a lot of bagriot (matriculation exams) the usual school schedule is practically suspended. A kid will have a day off to study before an exam, and then have to get to the school at 1:00 pm for the exam itself – and there is no school bus for them to take. Most parents are not available to drive kids to school in the middle of the day, and the busses are practically non-existent during the slow hours.

Both of my boys are learning to drive now, and will hopefully get their licenses soon. As much as I fear them driving I think this video will put that fear into persective.

Sisterhood Support

Now that Purim is behind us, Jewish women all over the world start what for some is a very stressful month – the time before Pesach (Passover). Some have known for a while where they will be for seder and some are just deciding now. Some have started to clean already and others are refusing to even think about it.

What we all have in common though, is the almost Pavlovian reaction to seeing another Jewish woman during this month – the inevitable question “what have you done so far for Pesach?”.

I’ve thought a lot about this situation, and I have come to the conclusion that what we are looking for when asking this question is not information (who really cares how your neighbor or friend does the cleaning?) but emotional support. What we really want to hear is that someone else is farther behind than where we think we ought to be at the given moment – so that we can feel less guilty about procrastinating, and less stressed out about the whole thing. After all, if Mrs. X has so much more to do than I do then surely I will be able to manage in the end. In addition, we also want to show off a bit, giving ourselves a pat on the back for whatever work we have done so far, and giving us further incentive to do more so we can brag again.

The main problem with the above scenario is that we don’t always hear what we want to hear. If your neighbor has done way more than you have then instead of the emotional support you are looking for you get a tremendous source of stress.

In addition, the conversation can take an insidious turn if we start to talk about what the other members of our family are doing to help. We all know women who are married to angels from heaven who not only know how to clean like professionals, but are willing to do this cleaning after long days of work, and do the cleaning EXACTLY as we would. Others have daughters – and sometimes sons, who are tremendously helpful and just live to ask “what more can I do to help, mom?” Most of us, of course, are married to wonderful but regular men who don’t exactly fit into this category, and have children who don’t think cleaning for Pesach is a top priority. Comparing our families is not only deadly for shalom bayit (peace in the home) but it almost always just adds to our anxiety and stress and feelings of jealousy.

What we should really be doing during this month is giving each other support. Asking “how are you doing” and responding that “yeah, this time of year is tough” and reminding each other that we somehow all get through it is what we really should be doing. I for one am going to give it a try this year. Who is with me?

What Do YOU Wish for Your Children – Compare and Contrast

I came across this article quoting the wife of a Hamas operative saying that the Palestinian mother  “instills in her children the love of Jihad and martyrdom for the sake of Allah,” – and “I am constantly praying: ‘Allah, make the end of our days be in martyrdom.”

In other words, she prays that her her husband and children will kill themselves in order to kill others (Jews, in her case). This is her greatest goal.

I don’t know about you, but I pray for other things for my husband and children. I pray for them every day using my own words, and on Friday afternoon right after lighting the Sabbath candles I use the text in my siddur (Jewish prayerbook).

Here is this prayer in part:

“May it be your will Hashem, my G-d and G-d of my forefathers, that You show favor to me [my husband, my sons....] and all my relatives; and that You grant us and all Israel a good and long life:….Privilege me to raise children and grandchildren, who are wise and understanding, who love Hashem and fear G-d, people of truth, holy offspring, attached to Hashem, who illuminate the world with Torah and good deeds and with every labor in the service of the Creator…..” (taken from the Complet Artscroll Siddur)

I thank G-d every day that he made me a Jew, and I am profoundly grateful that the spiritual goals that we strive for are achieved by living a good life – illuminating the world with Torah and good deeds….

A Tribute to Our Soldiers

I would like to share this beautiful tribute to the IDF soldiers that I found on the IDF Facebook page. My two younger sons are now in the process of going through the various tests to figure out where they want to serve, so this is becoming more and more relevant to our family.  Enjoy!

Joining the Ranks

Today I officially joined the ranks of the unemployed. The horrible economy in America has finally affected the small business I worked for to the point that they needed to cut back staff, and I was laid off.

After working for six years at the same place I am frankly looking forward to some downtime to catch up with friends. I also want to get some of those perpetually postponed errands done.

I also hope to do some more blogging, and since I am a political “junkie” I will go from my obsessive following of the American elections to the obsessive following of the Israeli elections. I will try to write a few posts explaining how our system in Israel works (or doesn’t work, as the case may be). Stay tuned….

Some important dates: November 6th – not only is this election day in America, but it is primary day for the small religious party in Israel called Bayit Yehudi. Many in the national religious community will not only vote but will be curious to see whether the winner of the primary (between Zevulun Orlev and Naftali Bennet) will then forge a union with the other national religious party called Ichud HaLeumi.

November 25th – primary day for the Likud party. The ground rules for this primary have not been set up yet. The main question is regarding the “saved places” on the party list, as the Likud has now approved of its proposal to run with the Israel Beitenu list.

One thing is happening already – the pollsters are having a field day. Every day there are more polls trying to predict how many Knesset seats each party, or groups of parties, will garner.

Instincts Kick In

There is a response team in our community that is in charge of handling trauma. This means that if G-d forbid someone is hurt or killed in an accident or by a terrorist attack, this team,( consisting of the Rabbi, social worker, security chief and other personnel) springs into action to take care of the family involved. Unfortunately this has happened a number of times where I live.

You can imagine, then, what I felt when seeing a group of cars including the security truck and the social worker’s car parked in front of my house, as I was coming back from the grocery store.

Instinct kicked in and I sent up a fervent prayer that nothing had happened to my family. 100% selfish – please G-d, take care of me and mine.

It turns out that a little boy had run into the street in front of our house and had fallen. The social worker happened to be driving in the street at the time, so she parked in our driveway and went to help him. She of course called the Magen David Adom ambulance and that brought the security truck. (Thank G-d the boy is ok).

I know I should feel guilty at my relief that it wasn’t about my husband and kids – but I don’t. During my morning prayers, in the place where you can put in your own personal requests, the first thing on my list is “please keep my family healthy and safe”. I have a nice laundry list after that, including prayers for others, including children for couples who have not been blessed yet. But the main blessing that I seek is the basic one, and this desire is hard-wired into my female soul.

Old Skills Become New Ones

My youngest son went on an unusual class trip a few weeks ago.  Their tenth grade class had a choice of a number of options, and they decided on what is called a “tiyul shetach” – “survival trip”.

As soon as they got off the bus at their destination, the counselors asked them to turn in their watches and cell phones. This wasn’t a problem for my son (I have written before about how my kids are not addicted to the things) but it was a bit rough for a few of his friends.

For the next few days they could only wash in water that they brought themselves in a bucket, they only ate vegetarian food, they slept in sleeping bags under the stars, they had to take turns keeping watch at night so to keep the animals away,  and they learned some very interesting skills. These skills used to be basic for survival, but we have bypassed them in our modern life.

One of the things they learned to do was to chip flint rocks, and weave rope out of plant materials. They then made primitive knives. The next skill was to make a fire – sticks, friction, and dry leaves and twigs.

They learned about camoflauge. The kids was divided into two, and one group needed to do whatever they could to blend in with the scenery, and the next group needed to find them.

Another skill they learned was what they called “walking like a fox”. They were blindfolded, and needed to place their feet very carefully before taking a step. Each one held onto a rope and was told to proceed all the way until they felt a piece of cloth which told them that they had reached the end. My son said that afterwards they were told to take off the blindfold and see the obstacles that they had walked through. He said that he would never have done it if he didn’t have he blindfold on!

Of course this type of thing is a lot of fun for a sixteen year old boy, but the three days taught the kids other things besides raw skills. When they were taught to build a fire, they were broken up into groups of two. My son said that one by one the other groups were successful in starting a fire, but he and his partner were having a bit of trouble. His partner started to get worried about their lack of progress, and kept looking at everyone else. My son told him, “don’t worry, we’ll do it. It doesn’t matter if other people do it faster, we’ll be ok”.  In the end of course they were successful, and they both really enjoyed the sense of accomplishment.

They came back dirty and tired but very happy, and they all agreed that this class trip was a huge success.

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