Monday, November 13, 2017

One More Family Picture on the Front Porch

In the beginning the family stood in the yard, not on the porch, for the photos. That beginning was in December 1938. My grandparents and youngest uncle left Germany shortly after the Kristallnacht* and bought a small farmhouse on an acreage of land outside Stillwater, Oklahoma. For me, that house represented unconditional love since inside it lived three people who loved me dearly; my grandmother, my grandfather, and my bachelor Uncle Max and they never disciplined me.

In the early pictures my relatives stood ramrod straight with serious expressions and small smiles. It was around the time I was a toddler, the mid-fifties, when the setting began changing to the porch. As time went on it became a tradition to have a group picture there whenever we had family gatherings. Over the years the family became more and more relaxed when being photographed. Instead of standing like soldiers we sat or slouched and threw our arms around each other. With each year the crowd on the porch looked more and more America.

Monday, October 30, 2017

What Happened to our Prayers?

On Thursday night, the 7th of Cheshvan, those of us living in Israel began adding two extra words to our daily prayers. Those words were a plea for rain. And just a little over twenty-four hours later we received rain.  Somehow or other I’d slept through the thunder and lightning but once awake Shabbat morning my heart beat with excitement seeing the gentle downpour on the windows. Hashem had answered our prayers!

Sunday morning I was still full of gratitude when praying at the Kotel. As I looked at the cloudless, blue sky above the ancient wall, though, I knew that we still had a long winter ahead of us.
Many more prayers were needed for us to have enough rain to fill the Kinneret Sea, our main water source. Would HaShem continue to answer our prayers?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


While hanging the laundry this morning I knew it would be dry before supper and I should have been thankful I wouldn’t need to waste energy on the dryer. Celebrating my grandson’s birthday party outdoors in the park this week we had beautiful weather and I ought to have been grateful that the children could frolic barefoot in the grass. I was appreciative but it‘s an appreciation with unease. That’s because I live in Israel and I know we need rain.
courtesy of

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Another Story from the 1973 Yom Kippur War

Yom Kippur ended and Sukkot came and went. Still the war continued. At that time, my neighbor, Ofra, was already after her military service and in her second year of medical school at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. She found herself inducted into the civilian guard unit of the army. Discounting her medical training her commanding officer kept her at Rambam, which had become a military hospital, but only as a sentinel.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Why I Deleted a Comment

One of the nice things about having a blog is that I can read the reactions of its readers when they leave a comment. Most of the remarks are supportive and make me smile. Some, though, are offensive.  Recently, Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. Anonymous posted one of the latter. He/She didn’t refrain from signing his/her name because of shyness or fear of being overly exposed in cyberspace. No, the comment was unsigned because the writer is a coward. The statement was a tirade of anti-Semitic poison blaming the Jews for all the world’s evils and claiming we would be totally destroyed in the near future.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Yom Kippur 1973

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Although I’d already been fasting for several years that Yom Kippur was my first Yom Kippur in an Orthodox synagogue. I really don’t remember if I found the Hebrew-only difficult or missed the shorter services I was used to. What I do remember, and will probably never forget, was the announcement the rabbi made right before Yizkor, the memorial service recited for deceased parents and other close relatives. Apparently the shul’s non-Jewish janitor had been listening to the radio and he’d informed the rabbi that the Arab states had made a surprise attack on Israel. Across the ocean the tiny Jewish homeland was at war on the holiest day of the year.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Losing Weight

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“Do you want to play cards with me?”

That was the question my child asked one of our Shabbat guests many years ago. She, I’ll call her Bracha, considered his suggestion and shook her head. As she did so I seethed with annoyance. Bracha hadn’t gone to Friday night services and she wasn’t looking over the Torah portion. She didn’t want to nap nor did she ask me if I needed help getting the meal ready. Would it have been so difficult to take ten minutes or so to entertain one of my children?