Monday, May 22, 2017

Stepping out of the Misgeret

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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:

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And so is this:

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And so is this:

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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

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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…

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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.