About Liz

A lot has changed since I started this project in 2004. I moved to Israel, got a job, started school, got married, moved to the ‘burbs, got pregnant, had a baby boy, got pregnant, had a baby girl… That’s what it’s all about, right? So whereas this started about aliyah, it’s become more and more just where I take notes. About life in Israel in general. I like to think that was the goal all along. Need something? Email or tweet.

Why do you get out of bed and go to your workplace every morning?

Is it a sense of personal responsibility to your commitments? Is it driven by the requirement to be paid in order to live your life?

Is it because you believe in what you do? Or what your organization is aiming to do? Are you looking forward to some major event, and each day is a step in that direction? Or are you chiseling away at a glacial pace, knowing someone long after you will be the one at the finish line, but you got in early on the relay?

Is it because you’re building your own professional self? Or you are part of a team, and without you, the gears can’t run?

Is it because you need meaning in life to get you going in the morning?

Is it because you need money to make your life run?

Is it because if you don’t, people will judge you?

Is it because you owe it to the cause?

Do you often consider why it is you get out of bed and go to your workplace every morning?

Does your answer ever change?

‘Where are they now?’ edition

Is it a getting older thing? A life experience thing?

Years pass, before you know it, decades pass.

Then you start to enjoy the thought of meeting up with old friends. Old bosses. Old acquaintances. Old teachers. People who taught you. Who, today, still wouldn’t laugh at you for when they knew you as a puppy, still growing and learning. For slipping or saying or believing ridiculous things.

Met with someone today from a previous life. From… well… over a decade ago. We caught up on 13 years. I was going to be a journalist and ended up in startup marketing. He told me he remembered the first year he joined the staff of our newborn campus Hillel, and we went down to the Israeli Consulate for some activism thing. And we stopped at some gas station and I came out with a freshly purchased Sunday Times. Who would do that anymore? he seemed to imply. Or, maybe, what student would do that back then?

Something I didn’t remember but was interesting to hear. The details get fuzzy and motivations blurry. Maybe it’s life place now, maybe because I don’t get enough sleep or have enough time to spend on memory. Maybe that’s why we like to get together after all these years. A quick hour to remember what was. Remember what’s real.

Soft hair.

“Ima, feel how soft my hair is.”

How many times have we said/heard our girl friends say this?

“Ima my hair is so smooth today, I used extra conditioner.”

She has thick hair and it gets knotty; I tell her to use double.

“Ima, <boy friend> is going to love it…”

Huh?

“He tells me he likes it when my hair is smooth.”

They’re just innocent six-year-olds. Everyone loves smooth hair.

“He is definitely going to want to be my friend today.”

I stop her dead in her little girl tracks. I call for her to come back. Her brother is standing next to me, wondering what is about to happen. She skips back towards me. I bend down, so we’re eye level, and I take her face close to mine.

“Listen to me: no one is your real friend because your hair is smooth or because they like your clothes or because of how you look. Your real friends love you because of the kind of friend you are. <Boy friend> loves you because you are a good friend. Otherwise, you are not real friends.”

She smiles and nods and I tell her to go have fun, and she bounds onward toward the path to her kindergarten.

Her brother looks back at me. I look at him.

“That was important,” I tell him.

I should have said, “for you too.”

Zoey update: fourteen months

Sisters.

You have a couple.

And one sings you sweet songs and strokes your chubba arms and gives you kisses.

And the other kinda tortures you.

…and then she sings you sweet songs and strokes your chubba arms and gives you kisses.

And while you’re not being entertained by your siblings’ madness, you’re learning to entertain yourself. Singing. Talking. Waving. Clapping. Climbing. Slapping.

P.S. Can you maybe not slap me so hard in bed in the mornings?

Oh, Jerusalem: High impact presentation of a high impact city

Every day I wake up, get myself and what feels like 3853075 other people ready for our routines, drag my ass to my car and eventually end up on the road into work.

The thing about that road is, it’s the road to Jerusalem.

And not just the road to Jerusalem, but the road to some of the holiest places, to billions of people.

And, begrudgingly, exhausted, sitting in my car, podcast-listening, sun-glare in my eyes, cursing at tunnel drivers, I forget this. Every, single, day.

But yesterday, I remembered. It’s been years since I looked around a room and thought, Oh, Jerusalem.

A co-worker signed us up for a 2-day intensive Dale Carnegie workshop on giving high impact presentations. I went in with no expectations; to be honest I’m too busy to have expectations these days. So I thought I’d get some public speaking tips and move on.

The course itself was incredible – an absolute mindfuck, actually – and maybe I will write about that another time. It doesn’t take a tenured psychologist to understand that my self talk when I present does not match the incredible feedback I got from peers (aka, in my mind, I have no right making  fun of Donald Trump for the insane shouting and hand gestures; I’m an ex-New Yorker too – but no one else seemed to see that or care).

By the end of the first day, after the 13 of us had each given several presentations, vulnerably, hilariously, warmly, I caught myself looking around and seeing the people in the room in a Jerusalem light. What a cliche, I thought. The Evangelical Christian, the Muslim Arab, the Hassidic Jew, the national religious Jew, the modern observant Jew, the traditional Jew, the secular Jew. Educators, non-profit do-gooders, community organizers, procurers of Zionist fervor, ambassadors of Startup Nation. European accent. Russian accent. Various Anglo accents. Arab accent.

So Jerusalem.

Then today, we came back. Presenting our passions – social causes, educating teens on dealing with academic stress, getting Christians and Jews to repair centuries of damage, making the Jewish Quarter of the Old City a more pleasant place. Creating opportunity for anyone to invest in innovation. Bringing young Jews to Israel to fall in love and move here. Empowering Jewish women to take back their power.

How very… all over the place.

Our trainer from the States had to say it. I had wondered yesterday if he had thought it, and then here he was at the end of day two, and he had to say it. This place… it’s moving, it makes you think, it’s powerful. Look at all of you here, together. It gives you hope. 

You know, I should hear it more often. I’m in Jerusalem every day. Getting my things together, scrambling to the car. Foot alternating between gas and brake pedals, weaving past signature white stone. Driving on an ancient road that eventually gets you to one of the holiest places for billions of people. Just ten minutes from where I spend the majority of my day time figuring out new ways to invite people to invest in this place. Ten minutes from where billions of people throughout history have invested so much energy and time and emotion.

I should hear it more often – it gives you hope.

Oh, Jerusalem.

Zooey update: thirteen months

Let’s hear it for the world-traveling babies!

The babies who try new things!

The babies who aren’t afraid to fly! (Literally!)

The worldly babies who won’t wait around, will grab your plate, will have what they’re having.

The babies who climb up the stone stairs when you’re not paying attention, when your back is turned and you hear a happy grunting, a pit-pat of palms coming up behind you; you, slowly turning around, quietly inching towards the staircase, like a cartoon cat realizing the mouse is creeping up behind you, but if you startle it, it will tumble back down the stairs. The babies who, once they reach the top, see you, their faces breaking out in an enormous smile of familiarity and appreciation and accomplishment, whether they realize your heart was racing because you weren’t sure until that moment if they’d see you too soon, get cartoonishly excited, and fall backwards.

The babies who will cock their chubba round heads, look you in the eye through their squinty eyes, stare you down for a few slow seconds, and then slowly – but slowly – break into a smile of like, ‘yeah. You’re ok.’

The babies who are curious and maybe kinda skeptical. But take a bite anyway.

Koala update: eight years

Recently we were laying in my bed, reading together. Well, you, the Jedi Academy books; me, A Man Called Ove. At some point I looked up from my pages and thought – huh. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

An eight-year-old boy who is journeying through his own diverse world as it comes… making assumptions, listening to alternatives, asking questions, filling in the blanks.

An eight-year-old boy who can appreciate a Donald Trump joke.

An eight-year-old boy who begs for tablet time but also knows how to navigate outside. Throw something; see how it lands. Climb something; see further away. Explore a construction site. Imagine what will fill the space.

An eight-year-old boy with an appreciation for what came before him, and wonders what will be. Why is there only one wall left? Will the people who died ever come back?

It’s going to be a memorable year; we have some plans for you. We’re thankful you have awesome friends, a fine schooling experience, good relationships with your sisters. Whatever comes up, you have or are developing the tools to handle it.

And no, no matter what you’re wishing for over those candles… it’s not an iPhone.

Answer any question, honestly.

If we’re being cynical, the propaganda machine is running in full force at my house. If we’re being honest, I’m just trying to protect my offspring. If we’re being optimistic, the hope is knowledge will lead to creative, original and practical solutions.

This Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, hit me hard. Harder than in years I can count on both hands. I think there are a few reasons for this:

  • Syria.
  • I have a lot more responsibility, suddenly. I’m waking up from a very intense few years of having kids.
  • My boy is a bigger thinking, processing human and asks bigger questions.

Who were the good guys? Who were the bad? Why is there a shirt hanging on the stage? Why did they have to wear those clothes? If you’re grandma is that old why wasn’t she in the shoah? Oh did she fight in the war then? The Russians were good and then they were bad?

What side was Israel on?

Wait, what?