Being a parent - a never-ending job

Does your responsibility as a parent ever end? I have two daughters, both happily married and mothers of 4 - and they are wonderful mothers and wives. However, they remain my daughters, and that will never change. I love them, I trust them... and I worry - as all parents do. I am very lucky in that my daughters are truly wonderful and comprehend that I need to worry sometimes, and comment sometimes  - and understand that it does not indicate that I don't love or trust them, but rather only indicates how much I care.


Israel the miraculous

Israel is am amazing country. Israelis work, go out in their free time, and spend time with their families - all the usual. And this is done while surrounded by  - and harboring in their midst - enemies who would like to wipe us out, as I see daily in my work at PMW, where we monitor the hatred and incitement to hatred and terror as reflected in the Palestinian media, which clearly expresses it's hatred for Israelis and desire to completely take over ALL of Israel and turn it into Palestine,  a state which would of course tolerate no Jewish presence - unlike Israel that is a democratic state with equal opportunity for all citizens. For examples of this one has only to look at the composition of its parliament, which includes Druze and Arab members, and the student bodies of its various universities, and to look at the streets and see the variety of people, all of whom seem comfortable and secure walking Israeli streets.

How? I am here and doing it too for more than 30 years, and it still seems illogical when I think about it. A large part of this is of course faith in G-d.  But bad things can happen, even to the faithful; and many Israelis do not consider themselves religious. And yet we continue and thrive. One could say we do so in the face of adversity, choosing to soldier on. But it does not feel that way. Life feels pretty normal. We do of course work hard to protect ourselves, most people serving in the army or doing some form of community service for a few years after high school. And yet there is not a sense of being constantly under siege or in danger - which seems absurd when our existence and continued survival seems like a miracle if you stop to think about it. I think the feeling of family, not only among actual family, but among Israelis in general plays a large part in this. Everyone is there for you and cares about you (and therefore feels free to comment and give advice); we feel very much like one large extended family. And beyond that, Israel is truly a miracle and a miraculous place -as seen by the very fact of its existence today and the return to it of people scattered throughout the world, people who come despite the difficulties, despite the tenuous situation, coming because it is home,  regardless of whether they have ever personally stepped foot on its soil, our only real home.


Can one sleep blog?

Just a couple nights ago a friend and I were discussing how there are a variety of things people do in their sleep - parasomnias - such as sleep walking, talking, eating, and driving, to name a few.

And now I came to my blog page to try and come up with a new post - and lo and behold I discovered a new post that I don't remember writing - not long, but coherently written and succinct: a title, subtitle, and one line, posted last night shortly before I went to sleep around midnight. In my defense I was indeed exhausted...


Life can really suck

What is the toelet (benefit/purpose) of suffering?

Life really sucks sometimes and good people are made to suffer. Why? 


To have or not to have hopes and expectations

Written with love, sorrow, and hope...

People need hope in order to live, or at least to lead fairly happy lives, otherwise life can seem futile. However expectations are different - crossing the line from wishing for something to happen to believing it should and/or will happen. And that can be dangerous  - when expectations are not met it can lead to strong feelings of frustration, and sometimes to feelings of devastation or despair.

But there is often a fine line between the two, such as when it appears something you have long hoped for is going to actually occur. As it seems to draw closer to reality, one begins to believe it will actually become reality, one begins to expect it will happen. Can one and should one try to prevent those expectations from developing? Is that even humanly possible beyond a certain point? Yet that is when expectations are most dangerous - as one draws nearer to an event they hope for and which it begins to seem realistically might happen, if something happens and it does not actualize, the pain and devastation are so much the greater for having allowed oneself to begin to have expectations. By doing so one has opened oneself to the risk of great pain. And yet can or should that be avoided? Is it even possible to achieve great gain without opening oneself to great risk? Hope and even expectations seem necessary - but they are not for the cowardly.

If and when one's expectations regarding something important in which they are emotionally invested are dashed, how does one who has suffered such devastation overcome it and move on? How can they allow themselves to have hope and try again, to open themselves to risk again? How can they not? Great courage is required to move on in whatever direction they choose.


Do you like to be in the spotlight?

Do you like to be in the spotlight? There are people that seem to enjoy it and others - like me - who it makes very uncomfortable. I still vividly remember the Bat Mitzva of one of my daughters that we celebrated in the US. She and I both gave speeches at the celebration. My daughter, who does not particularly like English and does not feel comfortable speaking it, spoke beautifully - slowly and clearly. And then I, a native English speaker, spoke. And I raced through my speech, which as a result was probably largely unintelligible. I couldn't help myself - I felt very uncomfortable and nervous being in the spotlight and in front of a group.
I thought of this today when we had visitors to Palestinian Media Watch, including the father of Taylor Force, an American victim of Palestinian terror in whose name a law was recently passed in the US to greatly reduce any aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as they continue to pay for terror. (And on July 2, 2018, the Israeli Parliament passed a law to deduct the amount of money paid to terrorists and their families from the tax money that Israel collects for the PA and transfers to them - the reason for their present visit to Israel.) Before the visit, the director of PMW went around the office asking people to talk about different items from the PA media that we had translated, specifying the items we should mention. And he asked me to speak about a specific item. So I was actually reviewing in my head what I would say in the hopes of feeling more comfortable. In the end he skipped over me - apparently feeling the guests had heard enough. And funnily enough, I was slightly disappointed (Hopefully that indicates some improvement, a reduction of my nervousness!) - but only slightly.


Bar Mitzva gift

Seforim (books) or something less "spiritual?" Many people give Bar Mitzva gifts that are spiritual in nature such as religious books. But in line with the concept of becoming a man, I think there are other things that are also appropriate - such as a good multi tool, which is practical and helps its owner take care of things around the house, while hiking or camping, etc. - in short a practical gift that can help a young man successfully deal with his surroundings and whatever may come up (and which is fun). In Judaism, the Torah is a comprehensive system, dealing with both spiritual matters and everyday life. And I think that therefore when a boy reaches the age of Bar Mitzva, he needs to be given tools to deal with both the spiritual world and everyday life, including exploring our land and dealing with whatever may arise in his home and around him.

Shabbat alone

Living alone can make Shabbat a challenge. A Shabbat seudah just doesn't feel the same when alone - I consider good company and conversation to be an integral of the experience. I often join friends for a meal and sometimes I invite one of my daughters and their family for Shabbat - or spend it with them, but it's a little challenging, requiring coordination as none of us have more than two bedrooms in our homes and they both have large families already. Or I invite friends over for a meal. But there are weeks when I am exhausted and feel like committing to specific times and getting fully dressed would just be too much. And it is relaxing to just chill. But it is somewhat lacking in Shabbat atmosphere, to put it mildly.