The first victim on 9/11.

Ok, I think this will be the last time I cry over 9/11 this year. No promises, though.

A hero’s tale: Daniel Levin was murdered by the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11 just moments before they crashed it into the World Trade Center. A decade later, his family speaks for the very first time. 

The first victim on 9/11 most likely fought back as the terrorists worked their way into the cockpit. It’s no shock then that he was an Israeli-American who served in combat during his IDF years.

Watch the video and learn more about Daniel Levin.

Kindergarten report.

Ultimately, I blame myself for my nearly two-year-old turning more and more Israeli every day. Isn’t that what I always wanted, immigrant-self?

Doesn’t mean it isn’t absolutely terrifying. On a daily basis.

Here’s the latest report from gan:

1. Speaking Hebrew: His chatter is getting better and better every day there. He’s counting to ten (!). The ganenet shows obvious pride when he calls me Ima at the end of the day (“but he understands English right? Ok, that’s good…”).

2. Fighting back: Yesterday the ganenet says to me, “Great news! We are so proud of him… He finally started fighting back when the bigger kids pick on him! He gets so into it… pulling hair, yelling back… Really standing up for himself.” Pride! Only in an Israeli gan… Can’t have a friar son, right?

3. American fashion: Ok, not so Israeli. More like immigrant-chic. But he gets cheers from the teachers for always coming to gan taking fashion seriously. Dressed to impress while the other kids wear pajamas.

“He always looks good…”

“Yeah, we get sent clothes by our parents from chul.”

“Very American. But good for him!”

We’ll see how that changes in a couple years; then #2 will come in handy, won’t it?

As a side note, I’m extremely pleased we put him in a ‘proper’ gan as opposed to a mishpachton. It was the right decision for our kid. He’s the youngest (and smallest) but he’s benefited so much from the year so far. Following the other kids, learning how to talk, getting better at playing with others and independently.

But more than the kid skills, it’s the picking up Hebrew and just local behavior (for better or worse). There’s going to be a lot I can’t teach him, so socializing on a daily basis is giving him the goods. With no siblings (yet) we felt it would be really important for our son-of-immigrants first-born.


For a few years I kept seeing the word ‘zumba’ in my Facebook feed…

Ahhh! Zumba!

Just came back from zuuumbaaa!!!

I <3 Zumba 4everz!!11!!1

And I’ve had no freakin clue what everyone has been saying.

Last week, I got an email advertising Zumba on Sunday nights right here in cozy little Tzur Hadassah. So I had to break the curiosity and go.

Ok, here’s the thing: Lately, I’ve been feeling really… old. Sure, I’m chillin’ in my late 20s, but it’s a state of mind. I don’t exercise, gravity is pointing it’s forefinger at me and I find myself saying things like, “Wait till your father gets home…”

So if you’re feeling old, what better way to youthen up than to dance-aerobics to spicy Latin hip hop?

In an open school yard?

While 11-year-old boys watch you?

Israeli Zumba: It’s you, gloriously uncoordinated you, and a bunch of 40/50 year olds, sweating your hearts out at the local school, loud Spanish speakers blasting while a Russian hottie makes you move your hips in naughty ways, an audience of a dozen grade school boys on the verge of puberty watching (possibly filming, who can be sure?) – and a few actually join in behind you.

Zumba!!1!1!! I’m going back next week.

The Russian haircut problem.

Question: Why is it that whenever an Israeli cuts my hair I end up with a Russian haircut?

Note, I don’t mean the crazy short, hot-red kind. I mean the long layer in the back, thick shorter layer in the front.

Also note, it seems to be a universal phenomenon, no matter if the hair cutter is a 30-something hot guy or a middle-aged fraicha mother.

Just curious.

Writing, Etgar Keret, and where the &%*# is Peter Pan?

Every year or two I get an itch to complete something on my bucket list. Last year, it was performing in the Vagina Monologues. For the past six months, it’s been getting back into my writing habit.

I’ve been on a quest to discover the right outlet for skill-sharpening. It’s no shock that Israel would lack easily-accessible writing courses for English speakers. There are a few here and there, amateur and professional,  and I’ve been dipping my fingers into different pots trying to find the right one.

I recently completed a memoir-writing course with Madelyn Kent, a former NYU-Tisch writing instructor turned olah chadasha. She led me to Evan Fallenberg, a seasoned oleh (1985), who writes, translates and teaches, operating from The Studio, a workshop for writers in his home. On his website I found out he was bringing Etgar Keret to speak there the next week.

So last night I drove the hour and 45 minutes in evening traffic, up past Netanya, to hear Etgar Keret talk. His writing and his speaking go hand-in-hand, which was fun to discover.

It was also funny to hear him say that he can’t write from truth; he needs to make up his stories and keep the true experiences unwritten. He has trouble taking the experience and turning it into a written story. Opposite problem from me, you see.

The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God was the first present my then-boyfriend/now-husband ever gave me, and I became completely enamored and inspired with Keret, seeking more. But since then (2005) I have not been able to tap the inspiration the way I’ve wanted.

The last time I wrote something I was really, utterly, completely proud of was in 2003. It was a series of short-short stories about some of the very first ways I experienced Israel. The truth of it and passion behind it lent me a hand I never realized I had before.

And slowly I began to come to the conclusion: it’s much easier for adult-me to write based on experience than actual story-telling. Kid-me could tell you tales of worlds and planets and creatures; at sleepovers with my best friend, from my sleeping bag on the floor I would sprinkle her and her younger sister with colorful characters that just flowed from my mind to my mouth. I would dream of places I knew by heart, and before I went to bed, I’d think up new chapters for my reappearing players. I didn’t just have imaginary friends – I had fine-tuned characters.

But somewhere along the way, Peter Pan grew up and I can’t find that place anymore. And now that I have a kid, I really, really want to. Maybe it’s what will help me reunite with my story-telling. That, and working on this item from my bucket list.

Once in a lifetime.

It’s not every day – nay, every month – wait, every year?  – that you see something like this on an Israeli construction site:

Amazing, isn’t it? סיימנו. It’s just a word, but it’s a whole lot more, too. ‘We completed it.’ What a feeling! What a way to be!

On top of that, the road really experienced a major improvement, so kol hakavod, road-work authority.

By the way, notice the woman construction worker in the right hand corner of the sign. You like how her eyes and lips are blacked out? Not sure if it was the local Charedis or Muslims, but I’m putting my money on the former.