Thursday, December 14, 2017

Place of Birth

Twenty-eight years ago our first sabra, native–born Israeli, was born. His brit took place on Chanukah and after the holiday my husband made his way to the American Consulate to register our little boy’s birth. Once there he had an unpleasant surprise. The clerk informed him that he had to scratch out the word Israel on the application form. It was written right after Jerusalem and a comma in the space designated for place of birth.

Monday, December 4, 2017


It was Shabbat night, a little before nine in the evening when the sirens sounded. First they came from the village two kilometers to the east of us. Seconds later the Shilo sirens joined the wailing.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Choosing a Grandmother Tongue

My oldest grandchild was just a little more than a toddler when she gave me a puzzled look and announced in Hebrew that I didn’t speak her language very well. I had to agree but didn’t hesitate to remind her that my English was very good. She nodded at that.

“And I’m a good seamstress,” I added.

Her response was an enthusiastic nod. “The dress you made for me was wonderful.”

“What else do I do well?” Speaking in Hebrew I wanted help building my self-confidence.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sleeping With a Knife Under My Pillow

It happened several weeks ago when I was in America with my son and his five children. Apparently adjoining rooms in new hotels are now obsolete and we were forced to take two separate rooms. It wasn’t just that they weren’t connected, there was another room between us. So I did my fair share of running back and forth in the hall as we got the children settled for the night. Two would be in my room; three with my son. At one point, needing something from my suitcase, my son accompanied me back to what we thought was my empty room. Only it wasn’t. Standing there, right in in the middle, was a man we’d never seen before.

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