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May her memory be a blessing

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From the Jerusalem Pride

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This… This happened yesterday in Jerusalem.

An Ultra-Orthodox protester stabbed six people in yesterday’s Jerusalem Pride. The same man attacked participants in 2005.

Some members of our family attended this year, and I am very grateful that I got Kevin’s text that they were okay before I saw the news. I am still very upset about this happening. How can someone claiming to be a man of G-d, and being angry at people breaking of–what he perceives to be–G-d’s commandment that he completely ignores the one about not killing?

Today is Tisha B’Av (postponed), and I’m Fasting

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Jerus-n4iToday is the 10th day of the Hebrew month Av, and it’s, like Yom Kippur, a fast day for Jews. (Tisha B’Av is actually the 9th, but since fasting is prohibited on the Shabbat, with the exception of Yom Kippur, the fast is postponed by a day.) Unlike Yom Kippur, however, Tisha B’Av is rarely observed or recognized by secular Jews. Tisha B’Av marks the destruction of bothe the first and second Temple, and it’s, in a way, a national day of mourning for all of Israel–whether in Eretz Israel or in exile.

Yet some progressive branches of Judaism all together discard this day of mourning as something that has lost its meaning with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and especially since the return of the Old City of Jerusalem to Israel in 1967. Other branches of Judaism continue to observe this day till the Temple is once again rebuilt and the Moshiach comes. They keep fasting every year. Some of my Reform Jewish friends chose to fast this year as conflict regarding the Temple Mount is getting more and more violent. Some Orthodox and Conservative leaders remind us that today’s mourning is just as much for the flaw in today’s Israel that prevents the coming of the messiah and the building of the Third Temple as it is for the loss of the first two.

I chose to fast this year (for the first time on this day) because I have been feeling more disconnected from Judaism these days. I find myself ignoring my usual routine in tradition. I even considered getting a larger, visible tattoo–but I am almost sure I’ll never get one, because it would remove me too far from all that I find valuable in Judaism. So in an attempt to reconnect with my heritage and my long lost faith. Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll succeed. In the mean time, I fast today, I pray today, and hope for a messiah, who will help us to peace–extending that peace to our cousins in the Abrahamic religions as well.

It’s been a while since the last Harel Skaat post

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He has two new songs out! This one was uploaded today:

And then, his most recent music video for a song that’s actually in English:

 

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Oh, by the way Kit Harington (Jon Snow in GoT) looked like RL when he was younger: kit

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Does Courage Have Only One Face?

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My Facebook feed is full of posts depicting an American soldier in one picture saying “This is courage” and then a picture of Caitlyn Jenner, saying “Not this”.

I think the very people posting these and otherwise bashing Ms. Jenner are the very proof that she deserved the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The amount of hate that is spewed by people when Ms. Jenner is mentioned is mindblowing.

I also, personally find the above mentioned meme offensive.  As a soldier I don’t think I’m very courageous. Courage in my own life looks very different. I know that many soldiers have a lot of courage. However, so do children and adults fighting cancer, people living with disabilities fighting their everyday battles, former cult members, first responders, parents, investigative journalists, gay couples willing to live outside the closet, and yes, Caitlyn Jenner.

While we in the LGBT community experience a lot of hatred, the T of the acronym even experiences lack of support or understanding, and sometimes outright hate from within the community. Transgender women are murdered and are driven to suicide in disproportionate numbers within our community. It takes courage to stand up and face the world. It takes a lot of courage to face closed minded people, who can only hate, because their definition of courage is very limited.

Congratulations to Ms. Jenner and all people displaying courage: the single mom handling a job and raising her kids, the agoraphobic lady in the neighbourhood who walked to the mailbox yesterday, the orphan who leaves everything they know behind to start a new life with a family in a foreign country, the student teacher on her first day in the classroom, the autistic child trying a new food, and countless others. By denying Ms. Jenner’s courage to transition to who she is, and publicly standing up for others, the courage of all these people and their everyday victories over circumstances or themselves is being ridiculed.

Let’s just all accept that courage can manifest in many ways, and that is why our world is full of brave people.

The Problem With Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Cover

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The problem with Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Cover is the exact same problem as with most other magazine covers: it is photoshopped to the degree that the person on the photo don’t look like real people. Caitlyn Jenner is just like any other rich, aging cover girls: not like the other people. I personally don’t think Bruce Jenner was handsome, and I don’t think Caitlyn Jenner is particularly beautiful. She is 65, and like other 65-year-old celebrities she appears to have had some work done on her face: a nose job and a facelift are my guesses. The real important thing is that Caitlyn Jenner looks comfortable in her skin.

I have to admit I know next to nothing about the Jenner-Kardashian clan, and most of that is meta-knowledge. I didn’t follow their reality show, and I didn’t even kow who he was till about three years ago. Yet I have an opinion of the whole thing. First of all, I do think that Jenner handled the transition very well and in a tasteful manner. As someone who had the kind of publicity surrounding him that the Kardashian clan had, he couldn’t just drop off the face of the earth forever. He could have disappeared for a while, then re-emerge as Caitlyn, but I think the path Jenner chose was the best way to handle it. By being honest and forthcoming, she managed to dispell some myths associated with the transition of transgender adults.

Of course Caitlyn’s transition is not representative of the experience of transgender people of less privileged situations. The struggle for each person is different, and it is often complicated by financial and employment questions. It takes courage to go through with the change from one life to another, from one (public) identity to another. Going from one very public identity as a man, transitioning into a woman, knowing that it will bring on judgement and ridicule, losing friends, supporters and business partners is very brave. Caitlyn Jenner deserves the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Yes, there are others, who also would deserve it.

When we look at Caitlyn, the wealthy, popular, courageous 65-year-old woman, let us not forget all the other people who have to go through a similar, difficult transition without the outpouring of public support Caitlyn receives. I am wishing all of them, and Caitlyn in particular on the occasion of her public debut, a happy, successful life.

My Two Cents on the Duggar Fiasco

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There is one big difference between Josh Duggar and me: I have never molested anyone. Another big difference is that I didn’t choose to work as an executive director for an organization that spreads unfounded accusations about a certain segment of the population being a danger to children. His choice to spread hateful propoganda for FRC–while knowing all too well that HE, indeed, had been a danger to children–makes what happened inexcusable. Whether he hid this part of his history from his employer or disclosed it is irrelevant. Josh Duggar identified with the message of that organization. Hopefully the FRC’s association with Mr. Duggar discredits them just as much as it should discredit the Duggar parents.

While running for office, Jim Bob Duggar’s website claimed that he considers incest and rape capital offenses. So what does he do when it comes to his knowledge that his son was sexually abusing his sisters? He promptly did nothing. While some people claim it was “only” fondling, and it could have been innocent, mutual exploration, knowing that he did it without consent and knowing the age gap of all parties involved, it was not innocent. Now the Duggar parents apparently don’t consider incestuous abuse a big deal if it happens in their home. I mean Josh “only” molested his younger sisters, no big damage, it wasn’t his brothers… or wasn’t something serious, like stealing a car. Those things might have had consequences in Duggarland. After all, Josh Duggar stopped with this activity because he realized he could ruin his life if he kept abusing girls. His life, not the lives of his victims. But you know, he was blessed with a Y chromosome, so he clearly matters more.

I have been quite surprised by those defenders of the Duggars, who failed to do their basic homework, and are upset about the police records having been released. They claim that releasing juvenile records is illegal. They might be right, though juveniles who become registered sex offenders (as likely Josh would have been seeing he was a repeat offender over an extended time period) usually have some public records. That is besides the point: In December 2006 when the police records were created, Josh Duggar was a legal adult. Shocking, right?

I have to wonder what else is going on in the Duggar household, and if there is anyone who can protect the children? I also have to wonder just how much we can trust certain Christian victim advocates, “coaches”, “counselors”, who go on defending Josh Duggar. Claiming that he repented and went on to live a good, upright life (of spreading hate), that the parents handled it well and we should forgive him because he owned it leaves out two very important details of the equation: What he did was, yes, a sin. But it was also a crime. Churches deal with sin, courts deal with crimes. One of the seven laws, according to the Bible, that god gave to Noah was to establish courts of justice. Those people, who think that it was handled right are willing to ignore their god’s laws (which, actually, do apply to them. The Torah doesn’t, and it never did.) Some of these people,  claim they forgave their own abusers, because “they owned it”, while also saying that they didn’t own other acts. Women say they didn’t report their abusers, because they repented, and they no longer commit the particular sin they did as teenagers.

Let me tell you something from experience: unreported teenage offenders can grow into adult offenders, who are much, much, much better at hiding the abuse they inflict on others. A friend said that she closely watches her abuser, and she sees no sign of him offending again. It makes me literally sick to my stomach. Forgiveness has its place, but not reporting the crimes, especially when one claims they are no longer victims, is enabling the abuser. Knowing from a personal experience, being the victim of someone who started molesting younger cousins at the age of 13, but then repented and was forgiven, the elimination of the law from the dealing with the young sexual predators creates more victims.

Do I think Josh Duggar is a danger to children? Yes, like the whole lifestyle he and his family are trying to sell. Whether he would be a sexual danger to children, I don’t know.  [ETA: In light of this newly released police report where it’s revealed that Josh Duggar molested his 5-year-old sister when he was 15 and that he committed at least 7 acts of abuse, and confessed three different times to his father, I think he is a continued dager.] He definitely is an opportunistic, hateful guy.

 

OneRepublic, RL and The Republic of Ireland

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I haven’t blogged for over two months, and really, I was contemplating letting the blog quietly go. It would have been okay. I have been blogging at various places since 2002. 12 years have passed and I sometimes wonder how much longer this blog will last.

Now, there are fun times I like to share with my friends, and that was boyband week in Israel. Backstreet Boys performed here the week before Shavuot (Pentecost, Whit Sunday/Monday). Unfortunately I could not go with Kevin, as the same day we had tickets I had a small surgery. He went with his brother and one of our older girls, and they had a blast. Then on the 28th OneRepublic performed in Tel Aviv. Their opening act was the fabulous Harel Skaat, so of course I had to go! The fan base of Mr. Skaat and OneRepublic seems to overlap quite a bit. We saw one of my other favourite Israeli singers in the crowd. It was fun. Here is OneRepublic performing “Budapest” in TA. (Yeah, what other song would I have chosen, really???)

Now I really like OneRepublic, and I am building up quite an immunity to One Direction, so I was willing to accompany my girls to Vienna to see them, but alas, the other health issues attached to the previously mentioned small surgery I won’t be able to do it. :( It would have been a very rushed trip anyway, as the concert is on the 10th, and on the 12th it’s Tel Aviv Pride! Fortunately We found a way for the girls to go. They have been told that they are strictly forbidden to get gifts for the family, they can blow all their savings on One Direction merch.

Now mentioning Pride, I am very proud of my homeland, the Republic of Ireland. Ireland is the first country in the world to grant equal (civil) marriage rights to same sex couples. I know the Pope is pissed off that such a Catholic country would actually be able to recognize the difference between civil rights and church business, but all I can say is, thank you for being a great country! Sometime in the future, this Irishman will travel back home and have the wedding he always wanted. :) Congratulations to all those couples who will shortly be able to get married in Ireland. I know a great, gay-friendly baker in Cork. 😀

Here is some more OneRepublic:

On Friday, Vote Yes

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Missing in Action

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So, as a brand new iPhone owner I really should blog more. The last few weeks have been crazy busy! Let me try to remember when I last blogged… Oh yeah, the elections that didn’t end with the results I had hoped for. Let me just stop there. Even though Bibi is, in my opinion, far from the besz thing for this country, he was elected by the people. And that itself is something that needs to be respected.

 

 The week before the elections my oldest daughter got married in Prague,  Czech Republic. It was a sweet and short wedding, with kids taking their job seriously. It was a great trip. We even joined a free walkong tour and the kids did wonderfully on the nearly three hour activity. Judy was carried on Kevin’s shoulders for part of it and walked part of it. The other kids walked the whole time! We stopped at the Bake Shop about halfway through, and I offered the kids some super expensive treats… And they turned me down. That was a first.

Judy turned two, and in the almost two weeks her vocabulary has grown like crazy. So has her curiosity and her independence. The great thing is that there is always someone around to keep an eye on her and only intervene if absolutely necessary. She is starting to play with other kids, and entertains herself surprisingly well for chunks of time. 

Getting back, it has been super busy. Between work, medical appointments, and homeschool I have very little free time. In fact most of our homeschool teaching is done by Kevin’s mom and the Open University. We decided to keep the littles in school for next year, too. They thrive there and are in a mostly Hebrew environment, so there is no reason to change that. 

In my limited free time we caught up on American Idol. I actually enjoy this season, though I wasn’t exactly impressed with most of the 80s week performances. I especially disliked Joey’s awful rendition of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and Jax’s Bon Jovi attempt. Clarke, on the other hand, was great. Nick was the best! I generally thought that the soundtrack of my childhood was trampled on. I know Boy George’s voice is not what it used to be, but he was still the best in the group performance of Karma Chameleon. Which, by the way, is one of my favourite songs from that decade. 

http://youtu.be/xvqlA41mxzY

Another thing I realized is that I must have a Jewdar. I’m not even kidding. We have been binge watching Salem. There are two characters I especially love: Cotton and Isaac. Part of the reason for that is that I find the two actors, Seth Gabel and Iddo Goldberg incredibly hot. After googling them it turns out that the former is a Jew from Florida and the latter is Israeli-British. 

Mentioning Salem, we need to do some Salem Witch Trial and English phonology and phonetics projects with the kids, lest they believe that Cotton Mather was against witch trials snd Increase Mather was sctive in them. Plus back then Brits spoke like Americans. So yes. I have a week of furlough, we can work on those.

Passover is fast approaching. We are mostly done with cleanong and preparing for eight days of unleavened bread. This is usually. Challenging week for me, because I don’t like matzah, but this year Kevin found some great recipes with it.

While cleaning is mostly done I was dreading all the cookibg for the Seder. Some of my friends suggested to just take it easy and serve a simple salad or sandwiches or something equally simple, but that is the equivalent of a simple salad and sandwiches for Christmas dinner. Luckily my awesome stepmom invited us to Seder! It is partly catered, so everyone wins.

We as a family also decided to spend the days of the counting of the Omer–the seven weeks between the Seder and Shavuot–eating vegetarian, at least till Lag B’Omer. No, not eating vegetarians, just following a meatless diet. We are drawing inspiration from Indian cuisine as well as Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty.

I have finally decided to try filet crochet. 

 

The Day After The Elections

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Americans seem to be excited that Bibi, once again, won the Israeli elections. I am way less excited about that. You see, like other Tel Avivians I didn’t vote for him. Tel Aviv voted Zionist Camp. Of course, once again, it shows how Tel Aviv is its own little bubble. As Ynet columnists wrote, we are kinda disconnected from the rest of the country. Apparently the other areas that voted for the left are Gaza brodering communities, who have lost trust in Bibi and his potential coalition partners.

Now not all hope is lost for us, secular, two-state solution supporting, civil marriage wanting Israelis. My vote is one of the more than 200 thousand votes that haven’t been counted.

The Encounter

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There is this man I work with. He is beautiful. He looks awesome in uniform, and he has the most handsome face. His huge brown eyes and long black eyelashes are beautiful. His hair is cut perfectly, and he somehow manages to keep just enough facial hair that our supervisors believe it is a 5 o’clock shadow… at 7 a.m. He has sparkles in his eyes and the cutest dimples. He has a distance runner’s physique. He is absolutely “my type”.

To make things even better, he is gay. He is just as attracted to me as I am to him.

The other day I was restocking paper towels in the shower, and we ran into each other. He was wearing only a towel, and he walked up to me to grab a few paper towels. His skin smelled like spring. I could feel his breath on my neck as he reached over to the supply cart.

What happened next?

Nothing. He grabbed the box of paper towels, put them in their place, and went on to dress up. I finished stocking the bathroom and went back to work.

Contrary to popular belief, gay men don’t engage in sexual acts with every other gay person they find attractive. He and I are both living in committed relationships, and just like most heterosexual couples, we don’t cheat on our partners.

Also contrary to popular belief, men have self control regardless of what someone else wears or doesn’t wear. Because, you know, humans, not animals.

…Because My Kid

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Overheard at my house:

Kevin: What should we make Dad for his birthday dinner?
Ezra: Rainbow trout! Rainbow is dad’s favourite colour! 2014-02-14 16.34.21

The Community and Disability

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It was a hot Friday evening in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area when a very special minyan gathered. A young man called up to read the Torah struggled sounding out syllables, and occasionally looked at his father for help with long words. Lecha Dodi was painfully out of tune. Well, it was mostly in tune, but in several different tunes as participants sang their most familiar versions. The next Torah reading also took a long time as someone read the portion quietly phrase by phrase and the middle aged woman called up to the Torah was repeating after them. Sometimes the chazzan's prayers lacked response from most of the people.

It was a joyful occasion, and a lovely dinner was shared by everyone afterwards, as participants, many of them having various degrees of developmental and other disabilities mingled, and caregivers and friends fellowshipped. My niece was flirting with a young man, like other 18-year-old girls would. Things were so normal.

A few days later I was asked where I had been for kabbalat Shabbat, and after telling my co-worker, a special education teacher by profession, she said, “They are awful, they segregate the disabled!”

For a second I was surprised. Just look at how inclusive congregations are of the disabled. Everything that happened on that Shabbat eve is normally out of reach for most participants. I experience it with my very progressive and flexible congregation, despite their best efforts to include me. I am counted in the minyan–unlike many people with developmental disabilities–, and I am generally involved in some degree in the lay affairs of our synagogue, but it has been over two years since I was last called up to the Torah. During kiddush hardly anyone even tries to talk to me. It's as if I was invisible. No one doubts my membership in my congregation–I am a male over 13, born to a Jewish mother, and I pay my annual membership fees–but the ways I can participate in liturgy and the general activity of the congregation are limited.

Unfortunately this problem is not unique to my shul, or my religion. Growing up I have attended Sunday School and religious ed classes with a boy, who was easily ten years older than the rest of our class. He had a developmental disability, and our parish leaders decided that though he was an older teen/young adult, he would be happy with the first and second graders preparing for first communion. Let me tell you, he wasn't. It was evident even to seven-year-old me.

Years later, in a much more centrally and uniformly governed LDS world our ward had several children with special needs. There was a special needs Primary class, but involving them in other Primary activities seemed to be an afterthought, a last minute invite. Most of the Teachers in that class were about as clueless about the varied and sometimes severe special needs as any random person off the street. Sometimes the mothers of these kids were called to teach that class, which, to be honest, was just as supportive of the families as telling them to stay home from Sunday School/Relief Society would have been.

As a theology student I worked together with some friends, who were majoring in special education, in trying to write a paper about how 14 denominations in Budapest catered to their disabled members. Then we found out that usually those churches that actually had some kind of special needs ministry in their parishes/ congregations mostly had people with no training in special needs or special education work in those ministries. It became even more shocking when we realized some of those churches actually provided professional public services to people with disabilities! Their everyday work in education and social (re)habilitation in usually segregated settings didn't translate to the seemingly integrated religious community setting.

Even people with the best intentions seem to exclude people with disabilities. People, who learnt not to talk to parents and caregivers but to address the person directly, often still infantilize people with disabilities. It shows greatly in some conversations I have overheard in the past. It also shows in activities planned to “include” disabled parishoners or members. Not being viewed as an adult is frustrating for grown ups of any intellectual level. Constantly being treated like a child because other adults are too embarrassed to admit not understanding everything, or simply are lacking the patience or interest to interact is widening the gap between disabled believers and the rest of the church.

And sometimes the hurt caused by that gap can best be reduced in a setting where participants can be themselves. A minyan where everyone gets the chance to do what they can't in their “real” congregation. And sometimes those people who think that those less perfect than them should not be given the same responsibilities and opportunities should visit these occasions, because they will see something new. They will see confident adults, who, given the time, opportunity, and accomodations they need can lead and share. And maybe then they will need these special occasions a little less when as they are seen as who they really are.

 

Go, Make, Teach, Baptize?

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16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:16-20 is also known among Christians as the Great Comission. The resurrected Jesus sends out his apostles to make disciples, baptize them and teach them. In that order. For some reason, however, it seems that somehow that order has been messed up in many of those Christian churches that practice believer’s baptism. From time to time I see friends undergoing lengthy doctrinal trainings before they are allowed to be baptized and become members of their church. Several times I have seen new believers give up on being being baptized, because life interferes with the times their classes are scheduled. And then there are those churches who make someone pass an exam before being allowed to be baptized.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…

I know someone, well, more than one someone, who have children, who have placed their faith and trust in God, and yet, they cannot be baptized and become members of their church. They have intellectual disbilities, and while they are true disciples of Christ, understanding the most important concept of Christianity better than many with degrees in theology, they might never be able to understand the finer points of doctrine.  Their hearts know it, but they are not considered to be ready for baptism.

 …and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

For years I studied theology in college. I had gone to Catholic school, I had served as an LDS missionary. I have read thousands of pages on various doctrines, theologies and apologetics of various Christian denominations. I can answer questions in Sunday School. I can recite prayers, and I’m pretty damn good at proving everything and its opposite using the Bible. I am pretty good at following rules of a religion, and being a contributing member of the religious community. I am the type who is very welcome in formation classes, and I’m praised for my preparedness and knowledge. The thing is, I can’t remember a time when I actually believed any of the things I was taught at any church: I’ll never know with my heart or my (possibly existing) soul what I might know on an intellectual level. I’ll never be a disciple, regardless of what I’ve been taught to observe in the past nearly 33 years.

Baptism is the starting point of a journey, not a destination. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to go, make disciples, let them sit through three months of formation classes, and then baptize them. To be completely honest, nowhere in the Bible does it say that baptism is limited to the able bodied, able minded. That is an Old Testament concept regarding priests performing sacrifices in the Temple.

 So go, make, baptize and teach.

Five for the Weekend – Politics, Blogging, Nimoy

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1. After deciding that I didn’t like the magazine style of my blog, but I liked the style overall, I decided to switch back to the classic blog view. It’s not as if I have ads or something to make everyone click one more time, and it was actually annoying. At least I found it annoying! I’m sorry for any inconvenience caused by the previous layout. I kinda miss the layout I had before this one, but I also like the colours of this one. Oh well.

2. Thursday was my grandson’s birthday. We took some cupcakes and games to gan, and everyone had fun. Birthdaypartygate mom still doesn’t like me, but the drama is over, Baruch Hashem. Of course the kids enjoyed sweets and veggie sticks. They are kids. :)

3. I can’t believe low the United States of America really is sinking these days. I’m really looking forward to law suits of people being mistaken as gay and being discriminated against. I am also looking forward to the people who actually claim religious freedom laws to deny service to assholes. I am seriously shocked. Land of the free, I see. Land of the backward, more like it.

4. Also Netanyahu? I am seriously pissed off at him. I have so far refrained from talking bad about our current (and hopefully soon ex-)PM, but in addition to the mess he is dragging us into with the USA, he now suddenly says that haredi draft dodgers should no longer face criminal sanctions? Why, exactly? Oh, I seem he is shopping for ultraorthodox votes. Of course they should face criminal sanctuions, like every other draft dodger. If I can do it, so can able bodied ultraorthodox men, who receive every accomodation they can think of from the army. I really, really hope that in 16 days we vote Bibi as far away from the government as possible.

5. Leonard Nimoy. So many thoughts, so many memories. I saw him once at a convention, and I have listened to his narration at the San Diego Planetarium again and again as a kid. I loved Spock, and I loved that wonderful friendship Spock and Kirk developed, the humanity he brought aboard the Enterprise with his half alien role… I loved how he embraced Spock and his influence his whole life, and while doing so much more than being Spock, he never denied Spock. I loved his passion for Yiddish, and his work to advance it. He lived long, and we prospered because of him being in our world.

May his memory be a blessing.

Five For The Weekend

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I know, I know. I fail at blogging these days! Well, I have good excuses…

1. We celebrated my grandson’s 4th birthday yesterday, and we had about two dozen little kids run around the house: most of his classmates, cousins, playground friends. Everyone had fun, we destroyed a small country’s yearly pizza production, and I believe Legos are hiding at the most random spots of the house. The torture of walking over them was so worth that stormy afternoon of fun we had!

I put a movie on repeat in one of the downstairs room, and we had various activities elsewhere in the basement, with the assistance of the kids’ imaginations and my older kids. We initially planned it as a drop off party, giving parents the gift of three free hours on a Friday, but because of the weather most of them decided to stay. We had coffee, cookies, a grown up movie, and adult conversation available for them. We ended up going over two hours over the originally planned time. We lit Shabbat candles and had kiddush together, and just generally had a good time.

2. We are wasting a lot of time watching American Idol. I used to watch it way back, then tried again for season 12, but it was a big disappointment. I missed season 13 (which I now regret. Harry!) and started watching season 14 again. As mentioned earlier, I LOOOOOOVE the judges. And this year I really like about 20 of the top 24. I think Mark is my favourite, and Tyanna from the girls. I also like Trevor and Daniel and Quentin and Rayvon and Adam from the guys a lot, and Jax and Joey and Shi from the girls.

3. I just remembered that I bought the album this song is from with my birthday money for my 14th birthday while we were visiting my brother at college in Utah. I can’t beleive it was 19 years ago!

I loved Star Turtle. We have a turtle called Harry, by the way. Most people think it’s after Harry Potter, but really it’s after Mr. Connick. Our turtle is less musical than his namesake, but he enjoys walking around on the piano’s keyboard. Currently this song is playing, and the fire is on…

4. …because it’s actually cold enough for that. The last few days have been stormy, and there is snow in several areas of the country. Kevin went with some of the kids for a snow ball fight near the capital. They enjoyed it. I don’t mind the rain and storms, being Irish and all. We spend today inside, enjoying the cozyness of our home. I am still not very happy with all the tile we have on the main floor (since we turned the other levels into living areas, those have laminated wood floors), but our house really feels like a home. I am sitting on the couch with a kid (or four), watching Ice Age, enjoying the warmth of a blanket my girls and I made from leftover yarn. Yes, home is not perfect. But we have pizza.

5. OK, I can’t resist posting another song. I love the original, I love the cover involving Ran Danker, but I love this the most.

Charity shopping for Kenya

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Those who know me know that I love charity shopping. My favourite place in all of Cork to get mugs, shirts and holiday cards is the Enable Ireland charity shop. If anyone ever stayed at my aunt’s B&B, they will remember the missmatched tea sets at the communal kitchenette that is set out every day at tea time. Those are all from that shop.

Through a community I participate online I found a wonderful online shop that sells creations made by women (and maybe men?) in Kenya and are sold both locally and online. I fell in love with this bag, and I want to order it for my daughter’s birthday. But they are also selling various other ornaments and dolls, too!

This is a Christian charity, working long term in Kenya (which is 83% Christian). In addition to selling crafts made by locals, they offer child sponsorships as well. Please consider checking out Jacaranda Community.

 

 

Five for the Weekend – Week 6

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1. Yes, I missed week 5. I was abroad, and there were too many things to do and too little time. It was also the beginning of birthdaypartygate, and all I could have posted at that time was rants at anti vaxers. And rants about governments. And rants about elections. And generally just rants. I like to save those for Facebook and my poor friends.

2. On Thursday the former Chief Rabbi of Hungary, József Schweitzer passed away. I was not going to go to synagogue yesterday, but I decided to do it, to be among those reciting the kaddish for him. I always enjoyed his lectures and classes that he taught for various schools and organizations, and I really, really looked up to him. He will be missed by many. May his memory be a blessing.

3. My kids discovered Frozen. Their aunt gave them a DVD while I was away, and now… Nothing. Based on everyone’s description of Let It Go taking their lives over, I fully expected my girls going crazy over Frozen. Didn’t happen.Yeah, Shiri likes to watch it once every few days. Watching is an exaggeration: she puts it on in the girls’ bedroom for background noise to do homework, or read, or draw, or something. Oh, and there is a new Elsa sticker on her sticker door. I have to admit, some of those tunes are catchy.

4. You know what other tunes are catchy? Ivri Lider’s new album! I had pre-ordered it, and it finally became available for download this week. Can you guess what I’ve been listening to?

I am so happy for this album. Some songs are already permanently logged in my brain. Now if only Mr. Skaat hurried up with his new album!

5. Guess what I got? I got some awesome patterns from my friend Shellie from PlanetJune! She bought me the complete cat set of patterns. I’m starting to make a rainbow cat. Of course the yarn is not the correct weight, so we shall see what happens. Planet June has awesome patterns! I haven’t crocheted much since a problem with my wrist a few weeks ago, so I will need some time to get back into practice!

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70 Years Since Liberation – International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2015

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When talking with my grandma about what happened 70 years ago today, she usually mentions two things: how lucky she was to be left behind and how young some of the Soviet soldiers were. Nothing else. She tells us about life in the ghetto, life in the camp, but never talks about liberation without prompting, and then only says these two things.

70 years ago today the Auschwitz death camp was liberated, and since 2001 January 27 is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Let us remember the millions, whose only crime was being Jewish, Roma, LGBTQ, disabled, or politically disagreeing with the Nazi regime. Let us remember those, who had no one left to remember them. Let us remember those branches broken off of family trees that would have blossomed. Every holiday dinner we gather around the table we feel the absence of those cousins, who were never born.

Never again.

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