Monthly Archives: September 2009

Yesterday – my troubles didn’t seem so far away!

I spent the weekend in Monsey with my KoD. We had an awesome Shabbat and a very meaningful Yom Kippur together, our first. For the first time since I can remember I made it to shul for shacharit and stayed till 2.15pm! I didn’t have the caffeine headache which was awesome.

Yesterday, I planned to leave first thing. Man tracht und Gott lacht. (Man plans and God laughs). Yep, you guessed it, car wouldn’t start. Again. Nightmare. I needed to get back to my boys AND we had our immigration medicals today and I didn’t want to push them off.

We had a couple of local boys over to build the sukkah so together with the KoD they tinkered and pushed and rolled and tinkered with the car some more. I was fast running out of time – I needed to be in Montreal (I had typed “home” but that would be Monsey). The engine just wouldn’t turn over. The battery was fine. The engine just wouldn’t catch. So frustrating.

So of course you all remember the story with my new Town and Country not being allowed into Canada? Yeah. So I have this amazingly awesome car that I could be driving instead of a 16 year old pain in the neck – but I can’t bring it in to Canada. Time is tick tocking away.

After much discussion we decide that I will see if I can drive my Town and Country to Plattsburgh, leave it there, and have a friend pick me up and drive me the rest of the way, over the border. I sent out a mass email to all my Montreal people and within minutes my phone was ringing with people offering to help in different capacities. It was truly humbling to feel the outpouring of support from my friends. This is what Community is about.

I loaded up the van and off I went. Thankfully I had an uneventful drive. It was great listening to Sirius comedy radio all the way up. I arrived in Plattsburgh and went to the Days Inn, where previously they had allowed us to park overnight in their parking lot when we had the initial issues with the van. Pffffft. The manager was not rude, just ungracious. Pay for a room and you can leave the van here. Go park at the Price Chopper.

I texted the KoD – he told me to try a different hotel / motel. I drove to the Best Western. Parked the car, went in. Two ladies were behind the desk. I turned on the tears as best I could, explained the situation to them, there were some other Canadians there who commiserated with me about the Canadian border laws – and the Best Western said “sure, no problem”.

I sat in the car and waited for my ride to arrive. Within hours I was safe and sound getting squishes from my boychikles. I put them to bed. And started to work on getting us back to Plattsburgh, so we can be in Monsey for Sukkot.

I fell asleep with a major headache and woke up with it still. I hate not knowing what the plan is. One passenger with one suitcase is so much easier to pick up, than five, with suitcases and sleeping bags and stuff. It’s now 7.44 am and I am hoping the be on our way to NY within the next 24 hours. Bus and train is out as there is no way I can manage all of us and our stuff. I tried renting a car – either they don’t do one way rental, OR their drop off point is 20 miles away from where I need to be and they don’t have pick up service. OR they have no cars available.

Right now it is too early to call private car services – I really don’t want to have to pay a lot of money, but it looks like that is our only option at this point in time. I just want to get to our car safe and sound, and get the boys to Monsey in one piece. And perhaps not go broke (or insane) in the process.

And last night, as I am sitting in the car in Plattsburgh the KoD called me. He figured he would try the van one more time. (We were waiting for mechanic to call back). Yep, darn thing started. I should have been happy to hear this news but it just made me cry that much harder. Why could it not have started in time for me not to have to go crazy in order to get back?? I know God has His master plan, but please…..clue me in sometime?

Anyhow, laundry awaits, we have to prepare for our medicals and pack up. We will get to NY, its just a question of how. I have faith.

Silver lining, silver lining, silver lining, silver lining……

ETA (10 am) I have managed to sort out a ride for us. Mr CarMan once again steps up to the plate and he doesn’t even want me to cover his gas money. The world has some special people in it!!

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wednesdays wacky signs


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It has been an eventful day – and I have a lot to blog about. I am exhausted beyond belief and have stuff to plan. Will blog soon….I hope.

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Go Bibi Go!!

I tend to stay away from politics here on the blog, for the most part. BUT Bibi spoke so well today at the UN that I had to share his speech with you. Copied in totality from here.

Address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United Nations General Assembly General Debate – 64th Session
United Nations, New York
24 September 2009

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.

I stand here today as the Prime Minister of Israel, the Jewish state, and I speak to you on behalf of my country and my people.

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events.

Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth. Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Last month, I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee. There, on January 20, 1942, after a hearty meal, senior Nazi officials met and decided how to exterminate the Jewish people. The detailed minutes of that meeting have been preserved by successive German governments. Here is a copy of those minutes, in which the Nazis issued precise instructions on how to carry out the extermination of the Jews.  Is this a lie?

A day before I was in Wannsee, I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Those plans are signed by Hitler’s deputy, Heinrich Himmler himself. Here is a copy of the plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews were murdered. Is this too a lie?

This June, President Obama visited the Buchenwald concentration camp. Did President Obama pay tribute to a lie?

And what of the Auschwitz survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis? Are those tattoos a lie?  One-third of all Jews perished in the conflagration. Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own. My wife’s grandparents, her father’s two sisters and three brothers, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were all murdered by the Nazis. Is that also a lie?

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame?  Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state.

What a disgrace!  What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations!  Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You’re wrong.

History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries. In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times.

Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization.

It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.

The primitivism of the 9th century ought to be no match for the progress of the 21st century. The allure of freedom, the power of technology, the reach of communications should surely win the day.   Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And the future offers all nations magnificent bounties of hope.  The pace of progress is growing exponentially.

It took us centuries to get from the printing press to the telephone, decades to get from the telephone to the personal computer, and only a few years to get from the personal computer to the internet.

What seemed impossible a few years ago is already outdated, and we can scarcely fathom the changes that are yet to come. We will crack the genetic code. We will cure the incurable. We will lengthen our lives. We will find a cheap alternative to fossil fuels and clean up the planet.

I am proud that my country Israel is at the forefront of these advances – by leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment. These innovations the world over offer humanity a sunlit future of unimagined promise.

But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after an horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind. That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction.

The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?

Will it take action against the dictators who stole an election in broad daylight and gunned down Iranian protesters who died in the streets choking in their own blood? Will the international community thwart the world’s most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism?

Above all, will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?

The people of Iran are courageously standing up to this regime. People of goodwill around the world stand with them, as do the thousands who have been protesting outside this hall. Will the United Nations stand by their side?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The jury is still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging. Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims. That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted.

For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities. Year after year, as these missiles were deliberately hurled at our civilians, not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks. We heard nothing – absolutely nothing – from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one.

In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza. It dismantled 21 settlements and uprooted over 8,000 Israelis. We didn’t get peace. Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv.  Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare. You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent.

Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond. But how should we have responded? Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country’s civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II. During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties.  Israel chose to respond differently. Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians – Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.

That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances. Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas.

We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave. Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy’s civilian population from harm’s way.

Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel. A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.

By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals. What a perversion of truth. What a perversion of justice.

Delegates of the United Nations,

Will you accept this farce?

Because if you do, the United Nations would revert to its darkest days, when the worst violators of human rights sat in judgment against the law-abiding democracies, when Zionism was equated with racism and when an automatic majority could declare that the earth is flat.

If this body does not reject this report, it would send a message to terrorists everywhere: Terror pays; if you launch your attacks from densely populated areas, you will win immunity. And in condemning Israel, this body would also deal a mortal blow to peace. Here’s why.

When Israel left Gaza, many hoped that the missile attacks would stop. Others believed that at the very least, Israel would have international legitimacy to exercise its right of self-defense. What legitimacy?  What self-defense?

The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us –my people, my country – of war crimes?  And for what?  For acting responsibly in self-defense. What a travesty!

Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?

We must know the answer to that question now. Now and not later. Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All of Israel wants peace.

Any time an Arab leader genuinely wanted peace with us, we made peace. We made peace with Egypt led by Anwar Sadat. We made peace with Jordan led by King Hussein. And if the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my government, and the people of Israel, will make peace. But we want a genuine peace, a defensible peace, a permanent peace. In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples – a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted that resolution. The Arabs rejected it.

We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people. The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers.

Inscribed on the walls outside this building is the great Biblical vision of peace: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. They shall learn war no more.” These words were spoken by the Jewish prophet Isaiah 2,800 years ago as he walked in my country, in my city, in the hills of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem.

We are not strangers to this land. It is our homeland. As deeply connected as we are to this land, we recognize that the Palestinians also live there and want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples living in peace, prosperity and dignity.

But we must have security. The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel.

That is why a Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized.  We don’t want another Gaza, another Iranian backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv.

We want peace.

I believe such a peace can be achieved. But only if we roll back the forces of terror, led by Iran, that seek to destroy peace, eliminate Israel and overthrow the world order. The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront those forces or accommodate them.

Over seventy years ago, Winston Churchill lamented what he called the “confirmed unteachability of mankind,” the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them.

Churchill bemoaned what he called the “want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong.”

I speak here today in the hope that Churchill’s assessment of the “unteachibility of mankind” is for once proven wrong.

I speak here today in the hope that we can learn from history — that we can prevent danger in time.

In the spirit of the timeless words spoken to Joshua over 3,000 years ago, let us be strong and of good courage. Let us confront this peril, secure our future and, God willing, forge an enduring peace for generations to come.

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Help Jax raise money to fight breast cancer

My friend Jax is raising money for Breast Cancer research, and will be doing the 3 day Washington Walk for the Cure for the Susan G Komen foundation. Please click here and give a donation so that we, our mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters and cousins don’t have to suffer through this disease.

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Tribute to Patrick Swayze

Last night on Dancing with the Stars (I watch it and not ashamed to admit it) they had this awesome tribute to the late Patrick Swayze. Tears rolled down my face. So beautifully done.

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Oh the travails of mommyhood / wifehood….

How many of you take butter out of the fridge to soften before you make a sandwich or toast? Do you find that it gets put back in the fridge every time you leave the kitchen by some well meaning member of your family?

Do you find that when you ask the kids if they want something to eat and they say no, that when you cook/prepare something for yourself of course they want it?

That the kids can leave you alone to fold laundry, cook, clean, do stuff for hours, but the minute you are on the phone they need you desperately?

Do you find that you ask them if there is anything special they need from the grocery or Walmart and there never is until you have come back and they say “I just remembered I need x,y and z”?

When you ask them if there is something that needs to be washed or drycleaned there never is, until the second before they want to wear it again?

Do you have others?

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Some thoughts on Yom Kippur

The Kosher Academic reposted her post on Yom Kippur, and I commented there but I wanted to expand on her thoughts and mine.

I do not fast well at all. There have been fasts that by 3 in the afternoon I am vomiting and dry heaving. My head is pounding from lack of fluids, I am weak and dizzy. One year I even had a dream (hallucination?) that I was wrestling with the devil, but won in the end. That was one of the most vivid dreams I have ever had, and it remains with me to this day. I do not fast the smaller fasts, reserving my energy and strength for Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur.

KA questions the idea that “it’s better to fast and spend all day in bed than to not fast and be able to concentrate and pray and really repent.” I have the same question. During my previous marriage my husband was told by the rabbi that it was more important that he stayed home and looked after the kids, than was in shul davenning, if I was unable to adequately care for them (the kids) and had to stay in bed. My fast, his fast and the rabbi’s fast were just as important even though we spent them differently. The emphasis seems to be on the fasting aspect being much more important than the atonement and repentance aspect. Can someone explain that to me? How can we introspect when we cannot focus?

On Yom Kippur there are 5 major prohibitions, and the idea is that doing without these 5 things makes us more able to be spiritual. No leather shoes, no food or drink, no sex, no ablutions and no applying of lotions. We are supposed to suspend our need for anything physical so we can attain a high level of spirituality and oneness with our God. When I am busy dry heaving I do address God – but I am not sure this is what He meant when He told us in the Torah to fast. We are supposed to be like angels on this day – which is why we suspend those 5 actions – that’s not what I feel like.

As I mentioned the other day, there are people who are well able to transcend the physical, the chazzan who can still be standing by Neilah and puts his heart and soul into his service, those who fast well. Honestly, unless you are a good faster, I do not understand how putting your body through suffering brings closeness to God. There have been some years when I have barely opened a machzor during the day of Yom Kippur. The holiest day of the year and I barely prayed. I laid in bed in abject misery calling to God to just end my suffering in one way or another. I feel much closer to God on Rosh Hashannah in shul than on Yom Kippur. Is it just me, or do others feel this way too?

KA posits that

“[the reason] I think [is that] it’s a communal activity on Y”K. That we are fasting and praying as a community. The Teshuva – repentance – is done on a communal level. That doesn’t mean that there is no point to individual teshuva or fasting, but that the few people who need to stay in bed and aren’t really able to participate in prayers – or all those parents who spend the day exhaustingly taking care of the kids, entertaining them, feeding them, etc., but are still fasting, are still participating in the communal act of teshuva. This idea, in my mind, would be that G-d knows that their intent is to participate as fully as they are able, but their ability is limited by their individual circumstance.”

Is she right? Totally sounds as if she is to me. As we know, there is strength in numbers. A person can daven on his own, but gets more schar for davenning in a minyan. If all the Jewish people are fasting, then as a nation as a whole we are spiritually uplifted. Most Jews will fast on this day. From the ultra religious to the most secular. This is a day that is observed as a fast by the majority of Jews. And many of them won’t be in a shul praying for most of the fast.

I know I am kind of rambling here – I really want to understand the deeper meaning to “and you shall afflict yourselves” and I want to have a more meaningful fast. One of the traditional greetings before Yom Kippur is “have an easy fast” – shouldn’t we be wishing people a “meaningful fast”?

Let me know how you see Yom Kippur and if you have any insights that can help us poor fasters understand better why we need to do this.

(For tips on how to have an easier fast click here)

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You may say I’m a dreamer…

I actually did sleep a bit last night. Had an epic dream full of doors. I had to check behind each and every darn door. And it seemed there was a full length movie playing in each room, with me as the star. My brain, now that I am fully awake, is still being bombarded with images from that one dream. It seemed like it took forever to get through – but was probably only a matter of minutes. The scene that woke me up into a cold sweat though – Every time I crossed the border I had to submit myself to a medical exam. Except there was no doctor at the border, just security guards on a power trip with a check list, and I was their toy for the day….

I feel shaken this morning.

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Immigration Update

Now, now,  don’t get all excited. I have no date. I did however get a letter in the mail this morning from the US Consulate which I had hoped contained an interview date. It didn’t. However, it shows my application is at the right place. (She grits her teeth and repeats her mantra “silver lining, silver lining, silver lining”)

Now, in order to get an appointment I have more forms to fill in (oh joy), send back, and THEN they will send me an appointment date. According to the website that the awesome KoD found, the processing times from when they have received all this new information until Visas are issued is 42 days. Which means at least two months until we can move. (She grits her teeth and repeats her mantra “silver lining, silver lining, silver lining”)

Now, I wish they had told me what stuff I would need earlier so I could have gotten hold of it and had it all ready to send back straightaway. I ran around today getting a police certificate / criminal background check done. They asked for long birth certificates for the kids – did that round the corner from criminal check place. I had to use a service in the UK for a police certificate for when I lived there up until the age of 21. Hopefully all of this stuff will arrive within the next two weeks. They make you sign a checklist that you have all of these things. I will have to do more passport photos for the kids, I moved up the medicals to next week so they can not only bleed me dry financially but physically too, I have to prove that I have somewhere to live in the USA – not hard, I have to prove the kids have somewhere to go to school – I have acceptance letters,  KoD has to provide his financials, I have to provide marriage and divorce certificates, passports, birth certificates, proof I have custody of the kids and am able legally to move them. PLUS the five forms they ask to fill out online and print out the confirmations and send them in. Piece of cake.

I am exhausted and half broke…all these certificates cost money and the service for the UK was extortionate. What choice do I have? It’s an investment in our future. All donations welcome 😀 (She grits her teeth and repeats her mantra “silver lining, silver lining, silver lining”)

I am hoping to be able to send off the package as soon as possible. I just want to be with the KoD already.

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