This is a time of transition in the westbank household.

After years of infertility problems, I honestly feel that having three healthy children is an embarrassment of riches. On the other hand, given the setup in Israel, having three boys means that they leave the nest pretty early, and I find myself putting the prefix “only” before this number.

My oldest is 20 now. Three years ago he decided to become a Chabadnik. I’ve never really written too much about it on the blog, since for most of the past three years we have slowly come to terms with it. (If three years ago we were completely freaked out, now we are only partially freaked out!). Part of the Chabad “maslul” (loosely translated as schedule) is to learn for at least a year in 770 Eastern Parkway  – the Lubavitch headquarters in New York. The boys all do this at the age of 20. So my son will be leaving for New York in a few days. Since they usually travel to another country to do shlichut after this year, it means that I may not see him for at least a year and a half, and probably more.

For him it means going to a good place to learn, and being “with” the Rebbe (yes, he is one of those). For me he is trading the beauty of Eretz Yisrael for a slum in Brooklyn. But, as many of the more veteran parents out there know, your children grow up faster than you expect, and become adults that make their own decisions.

My second son is now 14, and a week ago we took him to his new yeshiva. He is very happy there (so far!), and we are happy with the place (so far!). He will be coming home once in a while on Tuesday afternoons, and every other Shabbat and all of the holidays, so I will see him frequently. But he doesn’t sleep under my roof any more, and I feel his absence.

My third son is now 13, and has already expressed his wish to go to dormitory yeshiva next year (even though we think the local school is very appropriate for him). So I am already anticipating a very quiet house next year.

All of this makes me want to throw a tantrum. I want to sit in the middle of the floor and cry. But mature women of (almost) 48 don’t do those things.

On the other hand, even when I feel sad and uncomfortable with all of these changes, out of the corner of my eye I am looking at some new possibilites. From a mundane point of view, I am actually looking forward to being able to keep my house clean (or at least cleaner than it has been for the past 20 years!). I never had a cleaning lady, and with “only” boys in the house, the place looked it! (And yes, my boys do help by washing dishes and the floor, but they never take any responsibility. If I don’t specifically ask for something to be done, it isn’t done. In contrast I know of women whose daughters clean and cook without being told to).

I am also thinking that I will have more time to write (no more excuses, huh?). I have notebooks with scribbled notes on all kinds of things that I could theoretically turn into something.

Being a woman, especially a religious one, means taking what G-d gives you with gratitude. It also sometimes means accepting changes with good grace. I am hoping I can do this, because it doesn’t come naturally.


Havel-Havalim Number 232- The Back to School Edition

Welcome to Havel-Havalim, the “Back to School” edition. In Israel there are some schools which follow the Hebrew calendar and start school on Rosh Chodesh Elul (the first day of the month of Elul) which was last Friday,and those who follow the secular calendar and start on September 1st, which is in two days. Since I have children who start on both days, the past week has been “back to school”.

“Public Service Announcements”:

Batya sums it up for many of us when she nominates Soccerdad as deserving a trip to Israel for the JBlogger convention. If you would like to nominate another blogger (or if you want to vote for Soccerdad) click here and sign them up!

Rutimizrachi nominates her own special friend for this great opportunity.

Tzedek-tzedek posts about some important meetings about preventing child abuse.

Torah and Kiruv (bringing Jews closer to tradition):

A Simple Jew shares a mashal, just right for Elul.  Therapydoc shares a good story – also.

Roving Rabbis visit Jews in some remote places.

The parshablog discusses this week’s parsha Ki Tetze, and analyzes a commentary by the Rambam.

Velveteen Rabbi shares her poems that she wrote for the month of Elul. The one for 2005 really resonated with me – why is it that we find ourselves regretting the same mistakes every year?

Judeopundit posts about a Google translation of a Yiddish poem.

The Israeli Scene:

Rutimizrachi shares an incredibly moving poem which describes what it means to be a Jewish woman in Israel.

Jameel posts about the newest IDF medical innovations here and here. Incredible stuff – but be warned, part two is not for the faint of heart!

Baila shares her experiences volunteering in a soup kitchen, and comments about the contrasts found in Jerusalem.

Tzedek-tzedek is nervous about the crime rate in Israel.

Yisrael speaks on Al-Jazeera, and shares with us the clip (in English, of course!). Shvach shares his opinion about the Americans criticizing settlement building here in Israel, and here is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek news bulletin about the same topic. Penina wonders “whose Temple is it anyway?”

 Rafi shares an unusual “only in Israel” story. It may not be big brother, but someone is watching you!

A Mother in Israel posts about the “walking schoolbus“. Our Shiputzim shares a way to identify the real “ulpanistiot”.

Timesofthesigns shares an interesting candy package (I wonder if this is related to the infamous gum that we are supposed to be distributing….)

On a more serious note, here is an update on religion and the state of Israel, brought to you by Joel.

For those of you going back to America and want to remember Israel, read this post and realize that you can take it with you!

Batya at Shilomusings shares her opinion about wasted votes.

Yisrael shares a discovery of an “apartheid road” in Israel – and guess who is being excluded?

Risa writes about the “tweet for Shalit” campaign.

Benji thinks we are cynical here in Israel, especially about politics..(you don’t say!)

The American Jewish Community:

The tuition crisis and the overally economic situation in the Orthodox world is the topic of one of my favorite blogs, Orthonomics. Here Sepharadi lady writes about an unusual school option, and wonders if it would work for the Jewish community.

Achas L’Maala writes in favor of the “dependency class” , and brings up the example of the tribe of Levi as a proof. I think he shoots himself in the foot with this “proof” – as the tribe of Levi was just one out of 12 tribes, and the other 11 worked to support them! NOT exactly the statistics we have today in the Charedi world….

Dr. Savta posts about the dropping rate of Israelis who think Obama supports Israel. Yisrael has an interesting post about what Obama is reading, and how it may be affecting his attitude to Israel.

Good Music,  Good Food, and Good Entertainment:

Jacob shares some Youtube videos of Adon Olam. Chana hosts the Kosher Cooking Carnival.

Robert Avrech shares some interesting tidbits about a British movie star.

Jewish History:

IlanaDavita reports on a new book about French Jewish resistance during World War II.  Forgotten heroes is the topic of this photo essay posted on Israelity. Yaacov writes about the history of Metulla.

Here is an interesting post at the History News Network about Chinese Jews.


Hadassah at Inthepink writes movingly about her mixed emotions at her son’s Bar Mitzvah.

Shtetlfabulous has a new job, and  a different set of expectations. Harry posts about learning from failure.

Jessica shares her family’s aliyah story at Israelity. Rutimizrachi posts a video for those sports fans out there! It may be just the start of Elul (and the end of summer) but Homeshuling is already looking forward to Sukkot.

Ladylight posts about a problem with Bloggersbase.

Batya posts about the end-of-summer cookout in her neighborhood. Ricki gives her mother a big scare, as she tells us here at Beneaththewings.

Mottel shares some things he learned about marriage (2.5 months of experience – he seems to have learned a lot!)

Jack writes about a father’s responsibility, and reminds the women that men also have to juggle….

The Rebbetzin’s husband shares some anxiety, and how an old document helped him over it.

TikkunOlam writes about blogging, even when you don’t want to….

That’s it folks – I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition! Next week Joshuapundit hosts.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of haveil havalim using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

KCC is Up at Chana’s

The Kosher Cooking Carnival is up at Chana’s. Everything sounds great!

I’m Voting For Soccerdad

I am voting for Soccerdad to be the blogger flown to Israel for the second JBloggers convention. Not only is he a tireless advocate for Israel (where does he get the time to blog so consistently?) but he was the founder of Havel-Havalim, the Jewish blog carnival. (I am hosting this week – if you haven’t sent in your submissions please do it now…..)

I Am Addicted to This Song

I never tire of the landscape in Israel, even in the dry summer months. I enjoy looking out of the car window when driving to work or on the way to Jerusalem for Shabbat.

I especially enjoy it when listening to CDs, and I am positively addicted to the following song, from Udi Davidi’s newest album. (We have them all. I actually enjoy the same music as my teenagers!)

Hacked by Hizbullah

I had a strange experience at work today. It seems that the website for the business I work for has been hacked by Hizbullah.

It was a bit creepy putting in our address, seeing our site come up for two seconds and then turn into a jumble of Arabic. The computer person in charge has been working on “freeing” it, but he says, and I quote “Restoring it is very complex. The reshaim are working harder and harder!” To which I replied, “So your zechut (“heavenly” credit) for fixing it will be that much greater!”

He appreciated my approach. I am not sure if this is an “only in Israel” story – does Hizbullah hack Jewish sites everywhere, or just those in Eretz Yisrael?

Havel-Havalim is Hosted by Esseragaroth

This week’s edition of Havel-Havalim is up at Esseragaroth.

I am hosting next week – don’t forget to send in your submissions!

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