Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ditching School

Being that I was rather a goody-goody kid I don’t remember ever ditching school but it was a different story with my children. I’ll never forget the time I entered our grammar school and was met by my daughter’s math teacher.
“What’s the matter with your daughter?” she asked with concern.
“What do you mean? She’s fine,” I answered.
“She wasn’t in class.”

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ending the Nightmares

Was the joy of taking my first child to the wedding canopy going to be marred by a tragedy?

That was my thought as I raced through the house looking for my uncle’s phone number. Outside the sun had not even risen but inside, our house was bright with a number of electrical lights. The phone call from my oldest son, in route from a business trip and waiting in JFK Airport, had plunged me and my husband into a frenzied panic.

“I can’t find Opa*. They’re boarding the flight to Israel. I’ve been to the Arrivals and no one will tell me anything. What should I do?”

Had my father suffered a heart attack? Maybe there’d been an accident on the way to the airport? My father was an organized, prompt, and considerate man. What could possibly make him miss the flight to his first grandson’s wedding? Would my uncle have any answers?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thanks for Caring

Feeling overwhelmed Chava tried to make a decision as to where to do her food shopping tomorrow. The nearby grocery was a two minute drive away but it didn’t have fresh chicken or the American peanut butter they liked. At the large supermarket there was a special deal on tuna, as well as the other items she needed, but it normally took twenty minutes to get there. Now with all the security checks it might take almost an hour. And once there, well, they’d removed knives from the shelves, but who knew what could happen…

Thursday, November 5, 2015

My Father’s Aliyah

“I give your father two to three months to live.”

“You have a small window of opportunity for you father to be able to fly.”

“We can get your father Israeli citizenship within a week. Just Fed-Ex his passport to Chicago.”

Those were samples of the information I received after my father was diagnosed with cancer in November, 2006. In light of his diagnosis, he accepted our offer to come live with us in Shilo, Israel. So my husband and I flew to Wichita, Kansas to pack up his belongings, close down the house, and bring my father to Israel. He’d recovered from his hospital stay enough to make the journey and we’d been given a week to get everything done.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rochel's Tears

My article first appeared in The Jewish Observer in 1997 and since then has been reprinted in a number of publications. In light of the UNESCO resolution that Rochel's Tomb is a Muslim site I am re-posting my article now. Mother Rochel's yahrzeit* was this past Shabbat and Raquela Druk's is this coming week. 

As an 18-year-old college student, I had only begun to wade in the waters of Jewish observance, when I made my first visit to Israel in 1972. Coming with my B’nai B’rith Youth background, I was ready to see a living Israel and gave little thought to the Torah side of the country. Still, once I had visited the Western Wall and did all the hikes and museums that were part of my summer tour, I felt drawn to Rachel's Tomb.
Why Rachel's burial spot and not Leah's, I really couldn't say. Perhaps it was the lithograph of Rachel's Tomb hanging on my grandmother's wall that I had grown up with. Maybe it was the Sunday school notion of poor Rachel, Jacob's beloved, who had her happiness sacrificed by wicked Lavan. Whatever the reason, I decided I would see her Tomb, so one day a friend and I took the bus to Bethlehem.
I don't know what I had expected from the visit, but it certainly wasn't what I found. My grandmother's picture had prepared me for the small, domed building surrounded by trees where Rachel's grave stood. I expected the tall, stone tomb covered with a velvet tapestry inside the building. What I did not expect at all, though, was all the elderly women gathered around the tomb.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In Memory of Richard Matassarin

Atticus reminds me of your father from all the stories you’ve told me,” I told my mother as a teenager. I was referring, of course, to the lawyer in Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.   

“Who told you that?” my mother demanded suspiciously.

“No one.” I was amazed that she thought I couldn’t think for myself. “Why?”

“Your Uncle Richard told me the same thing,” she explained.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Finding Some Hope

When I cried out it was a cry of surprise not pain or fear. Still, my husband wasn’t taking any chances. Without missing a beat he grabbed the man who’d rammed into me by his shirt front and threw him up against the bus stop. We were some twenty meters from Dung Gate, near the entrance to the Kotel.

“I asked you to move,” the stranger complained in a rather defiant tone of voice.
It was then we saw he was wearing the uniform of a security guard. Obviously late for his seven am shift, he’d called out “Excuse me!”.  But I hadn’t realized he was yelling at me and didn’t move out of his way. My husband let him go but didn’t apologize. There had been a stabbing near Tel Aviv the night before and he was suspicious of any strange movements.