You love us, so listen: Here’s why we need a parade.

I’ll answer the question again and again.

It’s exhausting, and I don’t even have to answer it that often.

But I’m going to answer it again.

Even – especially – the most well-meaning people, including loved ones, ‘allies’ and beyond, ask it around once a year.

For the moms and dads, siblings, relatives, friends – who want us all to be happy but don’t want to understand or accept what that entails.

Or don’t want to ‘see it displayed in public.’

The question –

We love you. We accept you. But why do you need a parade?

Because all lives don’t matter yet. Because it’s natural for us to pay attention to lives similar to ours and disregard the others.

Because sometimes, a lot of times, to teach our children the values we keep close, we have to do something. To take action. To speak louder than words.

Because it’s not just about extremists; it’s not just about hate. It’s about turning a blind eye or not trying hard enough to grasp the idea of acceptance and tolerance.

Because it’s about the mainstream happy citizen who may just not understand yet. May not have met someone different yet. May not have a loved one who has come out yet.

Because this is for people with flexible minds. The kind of person who might be open to trying a new food they always thought they hated, but is capable of even higher levels of understanding and deserves to have that chance. It’s for people ready to have a discussion even if they prefer to have their heads in the sand.

Because the parade is an invitation for people with similar values who just may not see the light yet to come and meet other people living other lives.

Meet them in person. Meet them as people.

Because there are people in our schools, offices, supermarkets, post offices who are not that different to us.

In our families. Maybe in your living room, right now.

Because ‘live and let live’ is important in modern democratic societies.

Because society doesn’t work if we’re not reaching out to others instead of creating Others.

Because discomfort doesn’t equal right to prevent.

Because free speech is critical to progressive society – the same one in which we can shop, travel, learn, love freely.

Because your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, office mates, congregants need you to understand. To support. To love unconditionally.

Because we are only as good as we treat other people. Even if they don’t look or act like us.

Because there’s a difference between different and evil.

Because we don’t live in a theocracy.

Because we don’t get punished in society for not keeping kosher or not keeping shabbat or not tithing.

The parade is to help explain that. The parade is to help introduce you to the faces behind your fears and disgust, and to help you let down your guard a little if you dare to be open to it. It’s to show off what you claim are shared values. It’s to prove we all exist, differently, together, with the right to be heard and, if we’re good at what we do, to be better understood.

It’s the right not to remain silent. It’s the right to speak up in a society where a teenage girl is stabbed for existing. Where men and women are gunned down for existing as they are, where they are, where you have the right to choose not to be.

Now let’s go back to this for a second – those of you who ask – We love you. We accept you. But why do you need a parade? 

Can you glimpse the reason, just a little?

Can you understand why it hurts to hear the question, over and over?

What about this one: But why do you need to get married?

Maybe, just maybe, go to a parade – a parade in the spirit of the Jerusalem Parade for Pride and Tolerance – a parade featuring women, men, children and families who just want to live freely.

Women and men who want you to see that they have professions and hobbies and values and beliefs that you may share. Accountants. Tour guides. Programmers.

Children who don’t want to experience bullying for who their parents are. They want friends to come over. They want to stay innocent. They want to feel safe coming to you to talk when the time comes.

Moms and dads who want to believe their kids will have it easier some day.

People who just want a moment of peace, a moment not to hide.

Meet them. Remember their faces.

Then see if you can answer that question yourself.

pride rainbow sticker

All the books we must read

I’m about to say the most suburban, stereotypical, adult thing I have ever said, but… well… here goes: In my book club this month,

Ok, that wasn’t so bad.

In my book club this month, we read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I had never heard of it before, being as out of it as I am, but it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015. So it’s kind of a big deal. I didn’t even realize that before opening the book, even though it’s right there on the front cover.

I started reading it and within pages, could not stop. This is the type of book you start reading because you saw it on the table, knew book club meeting is in a few days, need to procrastinate everything else, and forget you had a miles-long to-do list before you reach page 265 and realize you’ve forgotten you have a life outside of an orphanage in World World II Germany.

Anyway.

This book couldn’t have come at a weirder or more appropriate time. Donald Trump has made an entire first world country crazy. Brexit was literally happening while I read about the demise of Europe. Things in Israel are heating up again. Elie Weisel passed away at 87.

I absolutely adore this book – Doerr treats language like fine cooking… just enough this, not too much that. The language was beautiful – in the way I actually stopped in my tracks every 50 pages or so when I came across a line so perfect I had to stop and read it again and again. The characters are well-developed, imperfect, unexpected and I can’t help caring about each one.

And the plot lent itself to a healthy dose of good, classic storytelling.

There are so many themes and metaphors and philosophical musings displayed throughout the novel. Light. Technology. Awareness. Belonging. Mental health. Here are some of the book’s themes that have been stuck in my mind since:

Parenting during war:

“Isn’t life a kind of corruption? A child is born, and the world sets in upon it. Taking things from it, stuffing things into it.”

“There is a humility of being a father to someone so powerful, as if he were only a narrow conduit for another, greater thing. That’s how it feels right now, he thinks, kneeling beside her, rinsing her hair: as though his love for his daughter will outstrip the limits of his body. The walls could fall away, even the whole city, and the brightness of that feeling would not wane.”

“This, she realizes, is the basis of all fear. That a light you are powerless to stop will turn on you and usher a bullet to its mark.”

Communication:

“Radio: it ties a million ears to a single mouth. Out of loudspeakers all around Zollverein, the staccato voice of the Reich grows like some imperturbable tree; its subjects lean toward its branches as if towards the lips of God. And when God stops whispering, they become desperate for someone who can put things right.”

“To shut your eyes is to guess nothing of blindness. Beneath your world of skies and faces and buildings exists a rawer and older world, a place where surface planes disintegrate and sounds ribbon in shoals through the air.”

Standing up:

“How do you ever know for certain that you are doing the right thing?”

“All your life you wait, and then it finally comes, and are you ready?”

“Seventy-six years old, and I can still feel like this? Like a little girl with stars in my eyes?”

Fear-stoking, other-blaming:

“You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self-interest. Of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out where your interests are.”

“Is it right to do something only because everyone else is doing it?”

“Sometimes the eye of a hurricane is the safest place to be.”

“What the war did to dreamers.”

With Elie Wiesel’s death occurring just days after I finished… with all the talk of war and horror and hate in the world today… this line perhaps is what we’re left with if we plan to take heed:

“Every hour, she thinks, someone for whom the war was memory falls out of the world.”

The impossible quest.

It was exactly two years ago that I started my current job, director of marketing at a fast-paced startup in a relatively new yet traditional industry. It was also exactly two years ago that I was finished with the mandatory paid maternity leave with my third child. I was coming off a full time marketing consultant position, something I had been doing for almost three years from home.

Newly minted director, newly commuting to an office, newly minted mom of three. It was also a war, it was also the heat of the summer, it was also a major reckoning which basically came down to: what the fuck am I doing?

It was the start of an impossible quest. For the first nine months, I resolved to uncover someone exactly in my position, but 5-10 years later – someone working a full time manager job at an intense company, whose partner also worked full time, who had no time for late night TV show binge watching or running or taking the kids out after tzaharon to anywhere further than a nearby park. Someone with a super intense job, thrown into a managerial position with no training. Someone who was a mother of a three, living in an apartment, no hired help, no parents in the country, no family support nearby. Not native Hebrew speakers, new to every step along the way. Someone who was hacking it to the finish line.

Me. But in 5-10 years, having lived to tell the tale.

I’d ask the female partners at my company. But they’d be disqualified, lacking these criteria or those criteria. I’d scope out women at conferences – my seeming peers. But, no – not full time, or full time less kids, or Israeli partner with parents in town, or some other thing. I’d look around on career oriented Facebook groups. I’d ask people outright.

I’d get a lot of ‘Ooooh I also need that! When you figure it out let me know!’

I honestly thought I could find that person. Surely she exists. Surely someone’s done this. Lived this life. Surely she’d mentor me. Tell me it’ll be ok. Laugh with me and cry with me.

That person does not exist. Not two years ago, not now.

But she will in 5-10 years.

As I look around, having added more to that plate – four kids seven and under, four different drop offs and pick ups next year, two doses of private daycare tuition, same full-time demanding jobs for both parents, still no parents within 30 minutes, etc etc – I know and accept there is no such mentor. No one has my life. No one has your life.

Unique special snowflake shit.

So I’m left to figure it out. I have no idea what the next 1-2 years will look like. I know that I am not limitless so we’ll figure out where that line gets drawn pretty soon.

I will say this: holding a two-month old in one arm and cutting cherry tomatoes with the other is possible. So at least there’s that.

The Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree“She’s like the Giving Tree!”

That’s what Koala said when I learned that my grandmother was at the end of her life, after I explained that his great grandmother was so tired.

“She is like the Giving Tree! She lived a long time and she’s like at the end when the tree is old and wrinkly and a stump.”

She is like the Giving Tree.

She’d give us a dollar to buy ice cream at her Brooklyn pool club. She’d relish in watching us enjoy it, smiling with her friends around her.

She is like the Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree | Apples

She wanted us all to be happy. “Better you spend it than I save it,” she’d tell us. Our happiness was her happiness.

She is like the Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree | Branches

Grandma, I’d think, is the quiet one.

“Everything is fine. No complaints here.”

She went through a lot as a widow and single mother for nearly 5 decades. For someone who went through all that, how had she never complained?

She is like the Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree | Trunk

Something I always thought when we’d see her – her hands, as she’d take mine in hers – her hands were so soft, her skin delicate and smooth like tissue paper.

She’d hold mine while wishing me everything good in life. Whatever I wanted. A good family. Great kids. Wonderful husband.

If she could have just given us all those things, she would have.

What she could give was her love, support, and the time necessary to figure yourself out. The patience to let you make mistakes. The acceptance needed for everyone to move forward.

“That was your great grandmother,” I’ll explain to Koala one day.

And she was happy.

The Giving Tree | Happy

 

For only ₪10.90: Sexism + newborn onesies!

What do you get when you combine a ₪10.90 clothing bin with a reliable dose of modern society?

Classic sexism, in newborn flavor! Here are just a few of the options I noticed at a clothing shop yesterday:

1. Money money money. And Daddy.

Nothing is more classic and sexist and just plain gross than “Daddy, buy me more!” with a picture of a pink credit card being swiped.

Or maybe she means, ‘buy me more college credit! I want to triple major!!’

2. Crushing on your doctor

I was pleased to see this one come in both blue and pink… so the baby boys can also have the hots for their (male, duh) doctors!

3. Promise we’ll keep this one going well into the 23rd century.

In my future book titled, Seriously? WHY Are We Still Perpetuating This? I will explore the reasons why we are making our baby boys into a. sex obsessed b. pedophiles c. who are oddly ahead of their age when it comes to interests.

Sex up those baby boys, parents!

Alternatively – inspired future gynecologist?

4. Ok nothing to do with gender, just weird.

A little boy who is so excited for shabbat to go out. A  universal sentiment. I actually almost bought that one.

5. Don’t get me wrong, I love puns…

Puns are always funny. 

But still, cats + flirting can only mean this girl has one sure thing in her future.  Unless I’m wrong and she will actually turn out a writer, maybe a B+ Huffington Post columnist.

And then I looked up from that onesie bin and realized there were SHELVES of this stuff…

And held my child a little closer before giving up on life.

P.S. Lest you worry your baby will grow out of her newborn onesie too soon, behold in the girls’ section:

Which, admittedly, all I could think when reading that was, then you have really wonky boobs.

New parenting level unlocked: Israeli school children on Yom HaZicaron

Here’s the scene. A mother is playing out her son’s childhood through a laundry metaphor. First the onesie. Then the tzitzit. School uniform shirt. Pants. Teenager jeans. Button down shirt. Army tzitzit.

When she gets to the army uniform, there’s a ‘knock at the door.’ She sees the soldier. She crumples. He salutes. She cries into her son’s uniform.

This is the opening performance at my first grader’s school’s memorial ceremony for Yom HaZikaron.

New level of Israeli parenting unlocked.

I had arrived just a little early, to find my boy, and offer him a hat. I had forgotten to give him one and we’re out in the sun. I wave at him and gesture with the hat. He smiles and shakes his head. None of his buddies are wearing hats. Of course.

I’m watching this scene, this bat sherut (an 18-20 year old doing her national service) play out this ‘knock at the door’ scene – the same kind of scene Prime Minister Bibi described himself going through today. She’s playing this scene that her friends’ parents may or may not experience in the coming months. There’s been the stink of warmongering in the air. The soldier who knocks at the door is a boy I’ve known since he was a toddler. He’s in fifth grade.

I look at my son; I can only see the back of him. He’s whispering with his friend. The back of his neck is turning red from the sun. He’s so light-skinned.

When he’s in the army, will he remember sunscreen? Will he just burn all the time?

I’m watching the older grade school kids sing and speak of the dead. I’m watching the other grade school kids watch this, sitting cross-legged on the basketball court. The kids all look so serious. The older kids carry out their roles with a deep sense of urgency.

I’m looking around. There are kids here I’ve known since they were babies. Ten months. Two years. They are tall, skinny things now. Messy hair. Toothy smiles. Quick glances at their moms in the back row.

There are places my kids will go where there won’t be any sunscreen. Decisions they’ll have to make where there won’t be a right one. I won’t be there in that moment. That’s the reality, I suppose, of making the decision to create children. You just understand it way too late. When it hits, you’re too deep in love. You’ll never not feel this twisted pain again. Ever.

After the knock at the door, I look around at the other parents and notice we are all crying. A few of us are immigrants. Many lived through this as students, siblings, and soldiers too.

My son’s still whispering with his best friend. Two seven-year-old boys in knit kippot, scruffy hair, white school t-shirts.

Seven years in, here we are.

We’ve only just begun.

Questions I answer for my kids on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Winner of this year’s national Poster Competition for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.

I’m not against the early, introductory Holocaust education of nursery and kindergarten aged kids. I think it’s a reality and if done right and age appropriately, it can enrich as opposed to stir excessive fear. It’s a hot debate in Anglo-immigrant circles; many people are taken aback by the openness. But I didn’t move here to hide from reality. I would have stayed in America for that.

During dinner tonight, after my kids sang a song that involved a certain debatable chocolate cake, we got to talking about race – you know, the כושי conversation – and navigated toward American slavery – and swerved through what it means to have different skin colors – and landed on Holocaust. What can I say, my older kids had talks, lessons, ceremonies about it today.

“Those bad guys… ummm… what are they called again?”

“Nazis.”

“Yeah, Nazis – so did the Jews say nu nu nu to them?”

“Ummmm no…”

“But you said when someone is bad to us we should yell at them.”

“Yeah… but Nazis had a lot of power. The Jews had none. You know, a lot of people died.”

“Six million!”

“…oh. That’s precise. Did anyone say that had savtot rabot or sabim rabim that were there?”

“Yeah!”

“You know, ours weren’t. They were in other places. Like America.”

“And did they help?”

“Umm…”

“But America helped them?”

“…did they?”

“And England.”

“Yes… they eventually helped. England helped.”

“And Hashem!”

“Uh huh.”

“But if our savta raba is now 101 she was 30 when it happened?”

“I guess about that…”

“Because it was 71 years ago…”

“That’s also precise…”

“I did subtraction!”

“You sure do learn a lot in school.”

 

 

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day to me.

Here’s how I found out today is International Women’s Day: My classy huz.

International Women's Day

And I suppose I was in a celebratory mood since all I ate before noon was a yogurt mixed with Fiber 1, which the marketing world tells me is the most feminine thing I can do. Girls be regular, amirite?

For some reason I agreed to a conference call for the same time I promised my kids the park, so if you’ve ever been there, you know this episode of Working Mom Sitcom fairly well:

  • I’m straining to hear about a new website feature in one ear.
  • I’m negotiating animal cracker terms between two hungry girls.
  • I’m handing a near-empty water bottle to a kid that’s not mine because ‘only keeping track of your own brood’ is for weaklings.
  • I’m thinking ‘soon there will be an action item for me and I’d love to agree to it knowing what it is.’
  • I’m being summoned post-scooter accident… my eldest is bawling like he’s birthed three humans and knows that level of pain.
  • I agree to an action item AND know what it is! Ten points!
  • I’ve run out of time with the animal cracker negotiation because toddler is now inconsolable doing The Clock on the park floor. (I totally get you, Serial Season 2 Episode 9.)

Half an hour later, rounded up kids, car, dinner, emails and – yadda yadda yadda – I’m covered in human shit.

Is that a nice way to describe my nearly two-year-old’s leaky poop?

So there’s all that hardcore scrubbing, me and her, some more kids, laundry. And – ‘Honey, I’m home!’

(When’s International Men’s Day?)

Oh, P.S. – I broke a nail.

Actually, make that two.