Gotaway.

We did the impossible. Or at least, the impossible when you’re immigrants here alone, without close family, and then your mother-in-law comes to stay and offers to watch the kids while you go away overnight.

And that’s what we did.

We kept it simple: a night in a hotel in Jerusalem, a trip to town, with a good meal at a fancy restaurant, where I don’t have to mop up spilled water or provide crayons to my dinner mates.

Imagine: I ate dinner and came back with no stains on my shirts… No surprise rice in clothing creases… I tasted my (expensive) food…

Anyway. A few shots from the night below. Now I’m just salivating for the time when our kids are older and we can go away for a week and pretend we’re fancy but in reality we’re in our 30s and we’re tired and the alcohol in the drinks has nothing on the sleep depravity.

Speed of night...

Two mothers.

My mother is a split personality. As long as I’ve known her, this has been the case.

She can speak two languages fluently: her mother tongue, English, a language that rolls off her tongue like rain dripping down a car window in the summer; and Hebrew, a language she has been tripping over since they started offering it as a plaything in kindergarten.

When I watch her speaking to her friends, I’m completely engulfed in the security and warmth of my mother, who can wrap words around concepts and make sentences into stories. When I read the notes she leaves me under my pillow, or in my notebooks, I read the words of my mother, the writer, the poet, the thinker.

When I watch her speak to my teachers, or my friends, or my friends’ mothers, I watch a different woman. This one is timid; she doesn’t have much to say. She’s an immigrant, an outsider. She has five or six phrases she pulls out for whatever the occasion. Head-nodding replaces the verbal building-blocks I’ve seen in English. Body language suffices for the story-telling sentences.

I think to her, ‘But you know a good story that could add to this conversation. You have advice you could offer. Surely you’re just lazy to string the words together, to make an effort. Yes, you’re a latecomer. Yes, there’s more to you than grammatical error. You know it, but no one else does. You don’t let them. You’re too proud to make mistakes.’

But make mistakes, momma. Make mistakes for me.


On kids, memorials, and what brings them together.

So it’s come to this: I go to Holocaust memorial services in Israel and all I can think about is how my kids may turn out in this culture.

Well, in the first place, I have yet to be impressed by an Israeli-made Holocaust memorial service. They’ve lacked intensity, empathy and authenticity so far. It seems to feel like an obligation; the yoke of some old Ashkenazi grandparents. I know this because the Yom HaZikaron ceremonies are a lot different. Which is natural and fair: they hit closer to home. Maybe the Holocaust hits closer to home in the diaspora Jewish communities, then.

Anyway, back to the kids: Yeah, I don’t know what to think. Kids here are probably much like kids anywhere, as a general age demographic. You have your snotty ones, your indifferent ones. The ones filled with kindness and friendship. Looking around I see kids in tight jeans standing silently with respect. Then others who shouldn’t be brought to stale Holocaust ceremonies because they can’t handle it; no patience, no context.

Come to think of it, it was much like that back in New York, too. So what is it about kids, then? Are they scary because I no longer am one?

Or is it, like anywhere else, that it comes down to the parents

…And it’s the parents here who scare me more than anything.