7 Quick Takes — 33 — Adoption, TBBT, Food


— 1 —

In my post about Autism and I, I mentioned that I was a difficult person. Jon commented that he didn’t think I was difficult, and that reminded me of something that happened before the madness in Israel began.

Kevin and I were trying to catch up on The Big Bang Theory. I hate to admit, but I’m a season and half behind. 🙁 We were a few episodes into our marathon, when I remarked how much I loved Leonard, who is my favourite TBBT character. Kevin replied, “I’m glad, because I am Leonard to your Sheldon.” It made me laugh, because it’s very true. While I’d like to think I’m not as difficult as Sheldon, it is true that I can be difficult to live with.

— 2 —

8d132aab-154d-4016-b183-1a7b9d4c373c_profileYou know adoption is close to my heart. I follow the adventures of other adoptive families, and the Rieben family is currently in the process of bringing three older boys (ages 5, 12 and 12) home from Bulgaria. Adopting not one, but three kids at the same time is costly, and they have started a new fundraiser to help with those costs. The dad is currently in country for the first trip, which means their boys would likely be home in 4 to 6 months!

I already participated in their fun fundraiser, and so have my two internationall adopted 5-year-olds. Join us to help the boys get home! It’s easy, and while the Riebens have an FSP, there is a way to contribute without the involvement of any grant organizations. Click here to find out more!

— 3 —

That, in turn, reminds me of another recent conversation, this time with Jill. I’m sure every adoptive parent has seen at least one post online what not to ask/tell adoptive parents. On top of the list is never to ask them how much their kids cost. While it’s not the most appropriate question, it usually doesn’t upset me. I either give a detailed list of costs from adoption fees to tuition, lunch money, swimming lessons etc, or let my internationally adopted daughter answer. Her standard answer? “I was free, but the process cost $37 000.”

— 4 —

For some odd reason this week I have been talking about how to prepare food more than I normally would. From chicken steak to challah pudding to tahini based desserts I have been discussing recipes and how to’s. I even joked about writing a cookbook, with vague measurements. But then I already have writing projects that are taking forever to finish, plus most of my food doesn’t photograph well (though tastes really good).

So what are your favourite dishes to fix? I am actually looking for a favourite spice mix for roast beef that you put together, and doesn’t involve canned or powdered soups. I am willing to share how I make steaks/chicken steak that is better than what I get at some of the nice restaurants here. I’m not even kidding. Also, yam/sweet potato recipes are welcome. I hate the stuff most of the time, but I’m willing to give it a try, because my family like it. Are they the same thing, anyway?

— 5 —

We had a 72 hour ceasefire that Hamas broke after 70 hours. They broke another one before that. Currently we should have one, but there have been rockets.

Seriously, when will this finally end?

Click to view it full size.

— 6 —

I liked his dramatic roles better than most of his comedic ones. Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, and Good Morning Vietnam are three of the limited number of movies I actually own on DVD. One of the three Disney movies we have is Aladdin. And before Harel Skaat, Robin Williams was, and forever is, Peter Pan.

Since his passing I’ve heard and read several stories from friends meeting him. In all of these stories the common thread was his kindness and humanity.

Now I wonder, as tragic as his death is, will it further his legacy? I feel like many people who don’t understand depression suddenly realize that if the funniest man on earth could be depressed, maybe it’s more than just attitude, more than just trusting G-d.

And now, the Westboro Baptist Church sealed it: Robin Williams was a great man, a man worthy to be seen as the enemy of those whose whole world, belief and life is built on hate.

Rest in peace, Mr. Robin Williams.

— 7 —

Shabbat Shalom! This is my last Shabbat before my kids and Kevin come home! I really miss them all. Life can be too quiet even if it means lack of sleep for the rest of the year! In September I’ll have another long weekend, and we are planning a quick trip to the Dead Sea during those three days. I can’t wait to be all muddy!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

31 Days in the Jewish Quarter Day 16 – Healing the World



Tikkun Olam is the concept of making healing the world. Over the centuries this concept meant various things and I guess it still does to different people. My religious brother believes that his strict observance contributes to the welfare of the whole world. One thing he and I definitely agree on is the importance of Tzedakah, meaning justice, but often translated as charity or philantropy. In fact, it’s not charity as we understand today, because it is an obligation for all Jews. A poor Jew is obliged to perform Tzedakah just like a rich one.

Maimonides, one of the great Talmud and Torah scholars, wrote quite a bit on Tzedakah, thinking that anonymous giving and enabling a person to be self supporting and independent were the greatest forms of Tzedakah. I think I have to agree with him!

One of the important things about Tikkun Olam for me is social action. I do believe that this is the time to improve the lives of those suffering, and we should not make it dependent on whether those suffering are willing to subscribe to our particular belief system. This is the only life we have, and I do not believe in an after life where earthly sufferings will be rewarded. This is the time to feed the hungry, to care for the fatherless, to uplift the widow. And it is our responsibility to do these ethically as to not further the sufferings of those people we aim to help by fostering corruption, misleading the world and gaining the praise of man… And hero of the year awards.

Being a conscious consumer, environmentally aware and supporter of local businesses and products are part of Tikkun Olam for me. While I’m a lover of grocery stores, quite a bit of my own food comes from sustainable farming, both done by my family and by local farmers selling their products at the market. As part of healing the world we are responsible to hand the earth to the next generation in a livable shape.

Unlike some scholars and leaders I don’t think Tikkun Olam is only possible with one or another type of political ideas. While I’m left leaning (and I consider tge US Democrats right wing or center-right), I think conservatives and liberals and libertarians and socialists are all capable of bettering our world through various means, because there is just so much to be done!

To read further on the topic, I highly recommend the book The Jewish Approach to Repairing the World (Tikkun Olam): A Brief Introduction for Christians or, for a more in depth, scholarly approach,Tikkun Olam: Social Responsibility in Jewish Thought and Law (The Orthodox Forum Series).

For other 31 Days posts, click here. For a collection of Hebrew and Yiddish words used in these posts, click here.


7 Quick Takes


1. There is a fundraiser for an adoption that I’d like to recommend. This family is travelling in 5 weeks to Serbia to adopt their third son from there, making him their fourth child with Down Syndrome. They have an awesome piece of art and some other goodies, and the fundraiser is taking part through Project Hopeful.

You can win this beautiful, created just for this fundraiser picture:

Family Drawing Post 3

It’s the ASL sign for family. What better art to display in your family home?

ETA:  A new Kindle is added as part of a separate fundraiser.

2. I might have to stop being a Harel Skaat fanboy. He no longer needs glasses. I mean… He looks so cute with glasses!

You see? He is very cute with glasses! However, I understand that he went the surgery route: I’d give anything not to have to find my glasses and the speech processor each morning before i can see and hear.

The English translation of this classic song, “How Shall I Bless Him?” can be found here.

3.  I can’t believe that I haven’t watched any of the Kdam shows live this year yet! I will make sure to watch the final! I did record them and watched the quarter finals, and I have some preferences about who we should send to Eurovision this year. I hope we can pick someone who can make it to the final this year! The Hungarian selections are going well, too. In addition to it being entertaining, I love the ESC because it gives a glimpse of other countries’ music scene. Now most of the national shows are available live online, or on YouTube afterwards, and then the contest itself showcases 40+ countries, It’s quite awesome to listen to music from Ukraine to Macedonia to Ireland!

4. Before the Eurovision Song Contest there will be another big international popularity contest, aka the conclave. Today is the first day in 700ish years that the world has a retired pope. I find it funny that bets can be made for the next pope the same way as for Championship League winners and Oscar recipients.

At the same time, it seems that not only are we without a pope now, there is one less active clergy in the family as well. Oh well. It’s only temporary. My cousin ended up having to raise his nieces and nephews, who are many, and decided to request a leave of absence from the parish to sort some things out in the next few months, as he couldn’t carry out all his duties at once. I am not sure how that works, but he is now back in our hometown with the kids.

5. I finished watching Camelot.  I so wish there had been a season two. I love the whole Arthurian legend, I love Joseph Fiennes, and I love a Merlin, who is not Arthur’s buddy. Not that I don’t like Merlin, it’s just a nice break to get the manipulative, adult Merlin. I also started to re-watch Stargate: Universe. I wish we had a proper closure for that show.

6. Kevin is starting his new job, out of town, today. Actually, he is starting with his day off. 🙂 This should make things more interesting as he is still the only driver in our home now. My wrist is still not healed, and it will be weeks or months before I can drive again.

7. Shabbat Shalom.




Life is not fair. That was a lesson I learnt early on in my life.

Today a friend is mourning the sudden loss of a great-niece. Another friend is trying to come to accept an adoption falling through–by the choice of the child they were to adopt. A family still struggling with the sexuality of their first born. Another friend buries her husband today.

Life is not fair.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

Photolistings And Why They Are Bothering My Adopted Son


It has been established over and over again that Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Hungary etc forbid photolistings of their orphans on any website with the exception of the state maintained ones. Serbia and Hungary don’t even have those. Bulgaria is in this club as well, as well as most other countries that still allow Americans to adopt. Some American agencies and “ministries” purposefully break the laws of their target countries, and then ask parents to keep hush about where they got their kids’ info.

Some of these sites, one using a name that originally made me think it was an LGBT charity, include various medical infos of the children. Some are plain guesses and misleading, some are rather detailed. This greatly violates the children privacy laws of all countries, even those that allow limited photolistings!

Oh, but who would know those children? What privacy risk is this?

Well, I tell you what happens when a child is adopted. Their info stays up, with their new family name. Everyone who knows that family will know what diagnosis the child has–or at least what diagnosis whoever wrote that description thought the child had. Those children are no longer living in a nameless country far away, but a simple googling of the family name will bring it all up. It impacts the child and the family who adopt, both.

Now, I have written here that one of my adopted children is HIV+. Due to an unfortunate event, his HIV status was disclosed to many people who had no business of knowing it. HIV is still a strongly stigmatizing thing, and not only in “backward” Israel, but above-the-Russian-law United States of America as well. Just knowing that a few families on our street knew it made me worry for him. We were lucky, and our neighbours treated this information confidentially and understood that Yonah meant no risk for them. Yonah since then has gained confidence in being public about his status and participates in peer education programs. But just imagine, if I had adopted him through one of these sites, every potential employer would only need to google his name and get that info… whether he wanted it or not.

One of my sons came to us through disruption. His info was–at that point, legally–plastered all over the Internet, including his persumed ethnicity (incorrect information), (mis)diagnosed disorders, and his whole history. While the “ministries” that tried to help to rehome him have since long deleted his page, that information is STILL out there: accessible through cached pages and the Wayback machine.  Once again, stigmatizing information on him for everyone to see.

 Just think for a second: would you like to have this happen to you?

I thought not.

So why do so many people keep supporting organizations, who do this to innocent children and naive families?

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