Monday, May 22, 2017

Stepping out of the Misgeret

image

For Israeli parents, one word seems like the absolute number-one most important to remember – yes, even before Bamba and Shoko beSakit (chocolate milk in a bag, a staple of childhood here):  Misgeret.

Misgeret (מִסְגֶּרֶת) literally means “frame.”  This is a misgeret:

image

And so is this:

image

And so is this:

image

Because the other meaning of the word “Misgeret” is “where you put your kids.”  In English, you might say something like “structure” or “system” or “framework.”  But I don’t know if you’d panic about it in quite the way parents here do.

Sure, like working parents everywhere, Israeli parents want to make sure they can work without disruption by kids’ days off, summer vacation, etc.  So structure is important for that.  But it’s more than that.  I think parenting here used to be more laid-back, until maybe a decade ago when people started panicking about math and science scores and keeping up with the rest of the world, and now the biggest reason for the Misgeret seems to be Enrichment.

It’s not enough just to be a kid… you have to be fed enrichment, constantly, no matter where you are and what you’re doing.

I think some of this is influenced by Israel’s strongly socialist past,

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Jewish Princess Story – for Shavuos

image

Jewish princesses may be the stuff of legend, but it’s not always the GOOD kind of legend.

If you’re a Jewish parent, especially if you have girls, you know about the constant search for great stories of role models from the Torah and Tanach.  And since girls love princesses, it would be a wonderful bonus if there were any really awesome Jewish princesses.

And there ARE – that’s the amazing part.  Like Ruth / Rus / Rut – whatever you call her.

I’ve wanted to write a Jewish fairy tale for years and years.  A friend mentioned it a long time ago – so long ago that I’ve forgotten who, or else I would definitely give them credit.  And the character of Ruth is just such a tremendous role model in so many ways (all the incredibly scandalous backstory aside – though it’s fascinating stuff if you want to study this megillah on a more adult level).

I created a couple of different iterations of the story over the years, but I was never completely satisfied with it.  Finally,

Monday, May 08, 2017

There’s no place like…

image

As I sit here, late at night, the Ministry of Education is debating when Lag Baomer will be.  Bet you thought they’d figured that out years ago, but nope.  First, they pushed it off to the following day (“Lad” Baomer?), but now critics are saying that was illegal and they should put it back.

Lag Baomer is less than a week away as they sit and debate.

Which is great.  I can sit here and chuckle at how nuts this place is, that they can’t even figure out when to do their government holidays.  Maybe in another 69 years, they’ll have it all hammered out.  In the meantime – we don’t know which day the kids will have off school.

For me, this isn’t a problem.  That’s how come I can sit here chuckling.  But for hundreds of thousands of parents all over the country, it’s no chuckling matter.

It’s not a problem for me because I’m home anyway.

In this country, built on socialism, pioneering work ethic, high taxes and low incomes, I’m a rare bird: a mom who is home most of the time. 

I’m lucky.  I work at home, my kids are old enough to let me work while they run around doing their own thing.  Soon they’ll both be at the age where they’d rather not have me interfering in their stuff anyway.

Most parents here are out of the house a lot of the time, which is why at this time of year the other parents in our kids’ classes WhatsApp groups start panicking about “framework.”  Where North American parents use the word “structure,” Israeli parents (and teachers) babble on about how kids need a “framework” or else – or else what?  They go mad, perhaps, or spend the summer hanging out at the mall.

The truth is, I don’t think the kids need the framework as much as the parents do.  Not so they can go do lunch or whatever… just so they can keep their jobs.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Teach kids Hebrew with the hottest viral song from Israel (Don’t worry, it’s totally appropriate!)

image

The biggest musical sensation here in Israel this winter / spring is a small and strange song called “Geshem, Geshem,” written by Jihan Jaber, an Israeli Arab Hebrew teacher who wanted to give her students an easy, fun way to learn Hebrew.

And if she can use it to teach kids Hebrew… why can’t you?

GZ is totally into the darbuka, a simple little drum that apparently he’s been learning in music class at school.  This is the original and easiest accompaniment for this song (see video below), but really, whatever percussion instrument you have will do.

image

I’ve created a cute little mini-book that you can print, staple, and read / sing with kids.

image

There’s also a completely blank version so kids can add their own illustrations before cutting out the individual pages.  I’ve moved the text a little here so there’s as much room for creativity as possible on each page:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dr. David Dao and United Airlines: what the REAL story is actually about

image

Dr. David Dao and United Airlines: Why is nobody talking about what the story is REALLY about?

Yes, that David Dao.

Maybe by the time this posts, the hysteria will be over.  But I am hoping there’s still time to talk about the real issue here:  law enforcement and mental illness.

A lot of people are saying that a) there is confusion about whether the "bad doctor," de-licensed in Georgia due to a sex and drug scandal - is the same person pulled off the United plane last week, and b) even if he is, it doesn't matter because it is "totally irrelevant" to how the airline and law enforcement officials treated him.

On the first question, whether or not it was the same guy, I'm going to with the latest (as of this writing) from the LA Times and with Snopes, who say it totally was the right guy, and explain the reason for the confusion (there IS another Dr. David Dao, but he's not related to either the sex/drugs scandal or the airline scandal - who are both one and the same).

On the second, however, I believe his past is actually VERY, very relevant.  Why? 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Filling her shoes: Standing strong when we’re not free

image

Today, the last day of Pesach, we read about kriyas yam suf, which mostly comes from Parshas Beshalach. In this parsha, bnei Yisrael are running away from the Mitzrim. (Hashem could have brought them the easy way, straight into eretz Yisrael, but he doesn’t, for a few reasons that are discussed in midrashim, like one which says that if they knew it was that easy to get TO eretz Yisrael, they might be tempted to go BACK to Mitzrayim.)

And when bnei Yisrael get to the other side, we’ve read many times about how the people sing Shira and dance, with tambourines, and great celebration.

It says: וַתִּקַּח֩ מִרְיָ֨ם הַנְּבִיאָ֜ה אֲח֧וֹת אַֽהֲרֹ֛ן אֶת־הַתֹּ֖ף בְּיָדָ֑הּ וַתֵּצֶ֤אןָ כָל־הַנָּשִׁים֙ אַֽחֲרֶ֔יהָ בְּתֻפִּ֖ים וּבִמְחֹלֹֽת:

"Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women came out after her with timbrels and with dances.” (Shemos 15:20)

Rashi has a problem here. What’s the question, according to Rashi? This is the first time Miriam has been called a nevi’ah, a prophetess. So the obvious question if you’re calling someone a prophet is – what have they prophesied?

So what has Miriam prophesied?

Here’s the biggest thing: the gemara says, “Miriam was a prophetess who prophesied: ‘My mother will have a son who will redeem Israel." (Talmud – Megillah 14a)

Looking back, this seems pretty straightforward. She foresaw that it would happen, and then it did happen. But if you look at the story, it was not at all a foregone conclusion while it was unfolding that that is what would happen at all. At various times during the story of Moshe’s life, it looks like things are about to go horribly wrong, in which case Miriam’s so-called prophesy would be worthless.

Yet her greatness is that she knew her vision – her nevuah – was from Hashem. She knew with absolute certainty all along that it would come to pass as she’d seen it. Where do we see this?