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.

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?

Zooey update: twelve months

Don’t we know it, Zooey. It’s not easy snagging attention around here. I guess you have a hometown advantage of being the easiest to carry on my back. Just a bunch of koalas after all.

It’s not hard to believe a year has gone by – it’s been such a packed year, what with me stretching maternity leave with you as long as I could… you got a better deal than your siblings that way, too. I did the best I could and went back to work and now I’m trying to snag what I can get. It goes both ways.

Also – you have a thing for balloons. Can you guess why? Here’s a hint: Boobs.

So yeah, it’s been a wild year. We were attached for a lot of that. Even if the balancing act got so much more challenging with an extra kiddie in the house. It’s like you were in the womb, feeling the stress and thinking – when I get out of here, this won’t end. And you figured it out strategically – no pacifiers. No substitutes. Your refusal to ever take a bottle, sip from any variety of sippie cups, or drink from, you know what, any kind of cup at all – well, yeah. We have been attached for a lot of it.

I guess you’re getting away with a lot more than even Nettles did… younger siblings rights… But a whole bag of Bamba is a new low for me.

You’re taking what you can get. It’s a dog eat dog world, Zooey. Pat on the back for you.

 

 

 

Bebe update: six years

This is the year, Bebe. The year I start to feel the weight of what it is to raise a daughter.

There’s something about this year – kindergarten, the oldest of the gan years, first grade prep, heightened self awareness, heightened emotional intelligence, deeper self expression.

Taking more responsibility. Finding love in different places.

Volunteering to try new things. Speaking up.

Finding a sense of style. Preferences for patterns of your own design.

Giving of yourself. Thinking of others.

This is the year Bebe. You’re getting to be a bigger, bolder kid. You’re thinking things through. For better or worse, you’re aware of what’s going on around you – the good, the bad, the scary. The uncomfortable. You’ve figured out privacy. You’ve figured out whats makes a kid ‘in’ or ‘out’. You want to fit in. You want to be appreciated.

Just keep nurturing your ability to speak up. To speak against injustice. Learn when to step in. Learn when to step up. I will help you. It’s hard for me too. But this is the year, Bebe. So much learning and growing. You teach me every day, too.

We have a problem.

“Ima, why do adults always look at their phones?”

“Oh, I… um… it’s…”

Because if you think kids have no self control, you’re kidding yourself. Because adults have no self control. Because it gets lost over time. Because we’re so misguided. Because we’re just awful.

Because we adults get addicted to things. Because we are needy and insecure. Because we cannot control our basic instincts to become completely absorbed and obsessed and self centered. Because instant gratification is a too sweet. Because too much of a goof thing may make you sick but sometimes you just keep doing it because you’ve lost the ability to feel good or bad. Because we make a lot of rules but don’t follow them. Because we learn but we don’t internalize. 

“And then I see them looking at their phones and then I look too and then after a few minutes my eyes hurt and it doesn’t feel good… so why do adults always do it?”

Because your eyes are young and hopeful and capable of seeing the brightest of bright colors, colors we cannot even see anymore after years of sitting at a desk or reading books or watching TV or becoming cyborgs, staring at phones. Your eyes are young and your brain is youthful and you have everything ahead of you except eventually it will be staring at phones. Or whatever that comes to mean. But it won’t be color. Not these colors, organic wholesome natural colors. LED colors. Artificial coloring. 

Because I used to be able to sit in a car or a bus for hours and think and day dream and plan and focus and wonder. And now I can’t even go a minute or two without feeling for the phone. 

Because deep, personal, intimate creativity has been cut off for so many of us by broad, global innovation. 

Because adults have no self control. Because adults feel they must be in constant control.

Because we’re screwing it up everywhere we turn. Because a generation ruins it all for the next one. Because we are a species that denies nature and facts. Because we don’t deserve nice things and we’ve evolved to sabotage ourselves. 

Because even though your question is a punch in the gut, I don’t know how we will stop. 

 

 

Nettles update: three years

There are three things I know to be true:

  1. There are types of self confidence that cannot be bought or therapy’d into you.
  2. A kid who is comfortable being choosy about cake is going places.
  3. This is going to be one hell of a year.

So here we go.

The hills are alive… with the giggles of Nettles…

And where dresses are worn, all the time – to gan, to bed. The dress phase. I know you.

We’ve really gotten to know Nettles, the younger sister. The younger sister who looks up to her older sister as her dear leader, her mentor, her worldview.

We’ve also come to know Nettles, the older sister. The mistress of torture, the distributor of aggressive hugs, the doting cartoon character who squeezes her beloved puppy too hard.

And for a while we’ve been very familiar with Nettles, the tag-along. The one who wants her fair share but then destroys it because really, none of this matters anyway, amirite guys? Guys??

The Nettles who gets ‘er done. The Nettles who doesn’t cry over spilled milk. Nettles doesn’t even see the spilled milk. Nettles pushes forth and gets what she wants. Which is disgustingly limp cornflakes.

Oh hey, Ima, look – milk!

One hell of a year, Nettles. Keep on moving.