Poetry, Politics, Relationships

The Immigrant Mother Goes to the Movies

There are days

(like today)

when emails from teachers

with names beginning with

Aleph or Ayin or Chet

or long-winded reminders

via Google group

from neighbors whose

fresh-baked challah

I truly do enjoy

or the main menu

of the University’s

Babylonian student information station

all make me want to

gouge out my eyes

with aluminum skewers

left over from

last weekend’s “al Ha’Esh

or eat Whoppers in front

of the movie Clue —

either of the three versions

released in December 1985.


I need my information

spoonfed, please, from

the Confection Stand.

I want each request and update

to melt in my mouth like

candy did once

like Tim Curry

in 1985 before

Rocky Horror Picture Show

before heads went missing

before someone said to me,

No one moved to Israel

because it’s easy.

There are days

(not today) when

I am proud that science

has proven that my brain

works better now that it

needs to decipher whether

my daughter requested

dag or dog for dinner.

But today

I just want to suck it all

through a straw.






Poetry, Terrorism, War

When there is beauty inside bad news


“Parking lots have sprouted
outside each kibbutz;
as reservists mass
for entry into
Gaza, their hatchbacks
with toddler seats
the dust of days.”

— Jodi Rudoren in
The New York Times
Tunnels Lead Right to Heart of Israeli Fear
July 28, 2014

Dreams, Letting Go, Poetry

The Situation

I don’t write about it because

writing about it

would be like the abortive attempt I made

in my spiral bound notebook —

the one with the mandala —

to describe the scene

with the wedding gown,

in the ground floor shop

of my dream last night.

The one with Winona Ryder who

donned a 1920s inspired

off-white sleeveless gown

(really, they were cap sleeves).

I opened the curtain of

the dressing room to find her

half-naked due to the

deep and dramatic V

reaching down her abdomen

revealing the

underscoop of her breasts

and half of one nipple.

“It’s beautiful,” I told her.

“But you’ll need to have it altered.

I’m worried they won’t be able

to maintain the look

once it’s fitted to your frame.”

She didn’t listen.

She told the seamstress to

press on and then, of course,

the dream shifted to the scene

in the ice cream shop

where the chiropractor I used

to know was offering me pills —

rat poison packaged as RU486 flavored

jelly beans.

They were red, with the taste of cherry,

and they made me gag as I chewed them.

So you see why

I can’t write about it.

There is beauty

and there is darkness

and they blend together at times

in a way that’s describable

but only to the point of

surreal not to the point

of understanding.

Not to the point

at which you know

you have  navigated

directly into my thoughts.


Love, Philosophy, Poetry, War

Color of

“War is what happens when language fails.” — Margaret Atwood

* * * * *

This is the color of my voice these days … Almost Silent.

Imagine it there

in a box of 64 crayons.

In my mind’s eye, Almost Silent is wrapped in Ecru

Courtesy http://www.art-paints.com/Paints/Body/Ben-Nye/Color-Cake/Ecru/Ecru-xlg.jpg

But its waxy innards are sea green.

Almost Silent, when taken to paper,

magically scribbles in a shade of blue

known only to the indigenous people

of an island yet to be discovered.

But I recognize it instantly when

I see the child’s drawing of a

heart within a heart within a heart within a heart.

Once, I remember, I fingered gel

that shade on my way out of the womb.



Living in Community, Making Friends, Parenting

Child’s Play

When speaking with any Israeli in advance of our move here, a common thread wove itself into the conversation. “If nothing else, Israel is a great place to raise children,” each would say.

I know this must be surprising for Americans to hear — How can a country whose land has been ravaged by war, terrorism, and political strife be a great place to raise a family? However, as most foreign visitors of Israel will tell you, Israel on the ground is a much different place from Israel in the news.

In the five times I visited Israel before I made Aliyah, I never once saw a scared Israeli. Only one time, when I was a participant on a teen tour and staying for the weekend on an army base, did I ever witness any evidence in person of the unrest here. (Something had tripped a security wire on the perimeter of the base and the soliders had to get into formation… it turned out to be an animal.)

That said, there still seems to be an underlying, and perhaps in-born attitude in Israel that life is short…so you must enjoy it while you can. This manifests as heavy partying among Israel’s young adults; as a national smoking habit; and as freedom, in every way and form, for Israel’s children. The freedom to play outside at all hours of the day and night; the freedom to walk into town or to each other’s houses alone; the freedom to eat whatever and whenever they want; or the freedom to watch TV shows that are a bit too mature for them (like the currently popular telenovellas from Mexico).

Children rule in Israel…or so it seems to this new immigrant mother. It wouldn’t be fair for me to judge just yet. Although it’s hard not to judge because I feel myself being judged…and so I also feel defensive.

In a group of mothers at an impromptu playdate recently, I was the only American…and the only mom saying no. No, that my children had already eaten enough chocolate chips from the bag. No, don’t hug the baby that hard. No, you’re a big girl, you can do it by yourself. You don’t need my help.

By Israeli standards, I’m a tough mom.

I’m the only mother on the street who suggests that my child might wear a helmet while trying out the scooter. The suggestion that this activity might present a danger to my eight-year-old is the butt of a joke. As is the idea that 7:00 pm is a reasonable bedtime for my two-year-old.

In the States, I was probably a more anxious mother than some of my friends, but I was never a complete anomaly. In the States, you have the type of mother that is constantly worried that something bad will happen to her child. And then you have the type of mother who is never worried…until something bad happens to her child. It’s with a very deep sense of worry or calm that American mothers go about parenting their children, all dependant on the psychological make up of the mom.

What motivates the casual nature you see in mothers in Israel? Does the “innocence” of childhood carry more weight here because of the conflict? Is childhood treasured more? Preserved at all costs?  

Are Israeli mothers less fearful of common dangers we American moms incessantly worry about — choking, getting run over by a car, child molesters — because Israelis understand the very real danger of being completely wiped out in a matter of seconds by a very real enemy?

I don’t know. But I lend myself to an experiment — that of being an anxious American mother among much more seemingly easy-going, and sometimes indulgent, moms. How will I fare? How will my children?

Already my son had one accident that may have been prevented had I let my anxiety rule and not my desire to fit in. But, he’s okay. No broken bones. No worse the wear for having fallen face down into the street off the scooter.

And, perhaps I too will be okay in the face of allowing my children to be children. To trip. To fall. To succeed. To fail. To choose. To indulge.

To be children.