Archive for November, 2008

When there was no Israel, wasn’t every Jew a Zionist dreamer?  Every prayer service includes prayers for the return to Zion and the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  Did they ever wonder what they would actually do if there was an Israel to go live in?  Was there any point?

Jews are all commanded to keep the Sabbath and observe the laws of kashrut.  Those are subject to so much interpretation that some people have chosen to pile stringencies on top of stringencies while others claim that the text justifies their ignoring all statutes except not cooking a kid in its mother’s milk.  But the commandment to settle the land—is that open to the same amount of interpretation?  It’s d’oraita (from the written Torah) and pretty clear on the page (Num. 33:53).  And yet how many Jews observe it?  

Conversely, Jews may live in Israel and still commit sins.  (We do, after all, have prisons here too.)  So is the commandment to live in Israel just another commandment?  It would certainly appear so, at least in most people’s minds.

Whereas keeping most of the commandments is possible anywhere in the world, this one is place-bound.  If you want to start keeping kosher, your shopping patterns and how you do things in the kitchen probably need to change, but you can still remain in your home and shop at the same supermarket (depending on how well-stocked it is with kosher food).  To observe the commandment of yishuv Yisrael (settling the land of Israel), you have to get up and move, meaning in some (but not all) cases changing your job, leaving relatives and friends, and making a new home for yourself.  Kashrut asks much of a person; aliyah asks much more for this one mitzvah.  

And yet.  I wonder if living in Israel does more than fulfill the commandment to settle the land.  What does having a Jewish State mean in the world?  It provides a refuge for Jews from anywhere who are oppressed or seek a place where they are freer to live as Jews.  Ensuring that a Jewish State exists for them surely fulfills the commandment "lo ta’amod al dam re’echa" (don’t stand by while your neighbor’s blood is spilt; Lev. 19:16).  It does the same for other countries who suffer natural disasters when Israel’s medical teams turn up immediately afterward to set up field hospitals and distribute humanitarian aid, and for as many as it can of the Sudanese refugees who have dodged bullets passing on foot through Egypt seeking humanitarian asylum.  One mission with which the Torah charges the Jewish people is to be an "ohr le’goyim" (a light unto the nations; Isa. 60:2-3).  While Israel falls short in this function in many areas, the list of medical and technological advances achieved by Israelis is extensive.  It is also an island of justice and freedom of the press in a sea of oppressive dictatorships.  More than once in the past year, when reports of the ongoing investigations of Prime Minister Olmert have appeared in the press, Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu-Toameh has reported that rather than thumbing its nose at Israel’s governmental follies, the surrounding Arab world looks with awe and even admiration at the transparency that exists in Israeli society, and wishes it had the same opportunities to bring its own corrupt leadership to justice.  And while Jews in the Diaspora can have as little or as much to do with one another as they wish, to belong to a community or not, to have good relations with other Jewish groups or not, in Israel Jews are forced to come together and work as one to steer the (sometimes tottering) Jewish State—a prime example if there is one of the mitzvah "v’ahavta et re’echa c’mocha" (to love one’s neighbor as oneself; Lev. 19:18) or, to paraphrase, to get along with one’s neighbor whether one wants to or not.  

Without its own country, the Jewish people has no official representation in the world.  If they are powerless, then they are at the mercy of their fellow citizens.  And if they are fortunate enough to rise to positions where they have some influence over the government, they are accused of exerting a foreign agenda.  To live in Israel is to be enfranchised as a Jew like nowhere else.  While making the commitment that aliyah requires is not to everyone’s taste or in everyone’s personal or financial interest, it does serve to fulfill a number of important mitzvot in ways unavailable outside Israel.  

So must everyone be a Zionist to be a good Jew?  Maybe not.  But it sure helps.

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A yawner goes to prison

Last Friday, the Jerusalem Post ran a story about a soldier who has been given 21 days in the stockade for yawning (without covering his mouth) during a speech given by his base commander in memory of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

This story seemed an odd choice for page 2 of the week’s largest edition (and ironic considering it flanked a notice for a memorial service for the 18th yahrzeit of Rav Meir Kahane).  But after reading it and having a few hours to digest it, two things leapt out at me about this article.

The first was the fact that half of the article consisted of quotations derived from an interview with the soldier’s mother.  Yes, given that the soldier was probably not allowed to speak to the press, it’s understandable that the Post would have telephoned a close relative for a reaction.  But the mother’s reaction really shocked me.  Check this out:

Those who get to know my son can see after five minutes that this is an ethical boy who respects those around him…  I tried to explain [to his commanders] that my son would not dare do such a thing…

This Yiddishe Mama called her son’s commanders to protest?  Is there any other society in the world where an adult male (this soldier is at least 18) has his mother calling his bosses to complain about what happens at his job?  What really has me wondering is how this soldier must feel about what his mother did.  Was it normal and expected that she would call his commanders and try to get him off?  Or is he sitting in jail, mortified that his mother’s phone call made the international press?

With these two things–the frivolous nature of the event and the absurdity of the mother’s behavior–it occurred to me that the job of the press is not what I’ve always thought.  When I was young, I thought the goal of the press was to inform the public.  Then my attention was called to the fact that the press chooses material to print or air based on its ability to attract readers and viewers, thus selling advertising.  Then someone tweaked the perspective of the advertising sales to emphasize that it’s not advertising but the readers and viewers themselves who are being sold.  But this article seemed to me to tread a different kind of ground.  This article sounded like a protest piece.  Not only does the punishment seem rather harsh for the crime (any number of people might have found a lengthy speech on the very controversial Rabin tedious and forgotten to cover their mouths), but the mother’s reaction, while completely out of line given that her son is an adult, is still understandable.  The mother’s comment that closes the article reads, "…[Y]ou don’t send someone to prison for yawning…  You can punish him for it, but not make an example of him."

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Peach’s latest zinger

Our 5-year-old daughter, Peach, was getting ready for bed last night. As I was finishing reading her story, I noticed her filthy fingernails. I took her into the bathroom and ordered her to wash her hands while I took out the nail clippers and seated myself on the closed toilet lid. As she turned around and was drying her hands, she looked at me and said, "You look like the wolf."
"The wolf?" I asked.
"The wolf from ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’" she answered.
"Oh? And was the wolf ever pictured in a sweater and skirt, sitting on a toilet lid with nail clippers in his paw?" I asked.
"No," she said, pointing at the bowling ball-sized bulge under my sweater, "but you look like you swallowed the grandma."

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Confessions of an at-home mom

I recently received a mass email from the women’s college I attended in the late 1980s. The alumnae magazine is apparently preparing a feature on stay-at-home moms and was asking for stories from women who have taken on full-time motherhood.

This amused me. When I was a student at this college, it would have shocked and horrified me to imagine staying home with children. (Well, having children would have been shock enough at the time; I couldn’t stand the beasts, and even nicknamed our head-of-house’s mischievous two-year-old "Dinner.") The image I constructed for myself at the time was that IF I ever married and IF I ever had children, the rugrats would be consigned to daycare in their early years, school in their later years, and then they’d be on their own. The day-to-day grind of pregnancy, nursing, diapers, meal preparation, transportation, manners indoctrination… None of that gained entry to my thoughts at the time.

Fast forward to my early 30s. Finally married, having had years of travel, jobs, graduate school, and a tiny taste of a teaching career, I was ready to start a family. The year I was pregnant with our eldest, I was teaching in a school where at least five other faculty members were expecting babies. What were those women going to do? I asked around. All were going to be putting their children into day care to continue their teaching careers. This made sense, since teachers are usually paid according to years of teaching experience, and leaving teaching to rear children can put one’s career in the deep freeze, especially if one changes jobs or schools when re-entering the teaching world.

I had always thought I would put my baby in day care with no qualms. And yet. Looking back at my mother who had stayed home with us, I had to pause. I had loved having her home. I was a socially insecure child, and having a mother rather than outside caregivers comforted me. When I was sick, she took care of me. When I was sad, she helped me to feel better. When she made pies, I always got a piece of dough to play with. I was able to be home with all of my things, in my own house and yard, and loved the quiet routines of the household around me. I might have adjusted fine to having someone else care for me, but when my parents made their financial reckoning, it made more sense for her to stay home than to continue her nursing career.

And so it did for my family. My salary as a teacher would probably have been just sufficient to cover the cost of farming my child out to someone else during the day. And like my parents, my husband and I were lucky enough to be able to live on his salary without having to cinch our belts too much.

So the money made sense. But how would I feel? Denied a place in the workforce, attached at the hip (or the breast, as the case may be) to an infant, bereft of intelligent conversation… And yet. A fellow teacher from my shul and I were talking one Shabbat morning at kiddush during my final months. She asked what my plans were for taking care of the baby. I told her I was uncertain, but that I thought it might make sense for me to stay home. She nodded and leaned toward my ear. "Why," she asked confidentially, as high-powered career women with nannies milled around us, "would you spend your days teaching other people’s children when you could be home teaching your own?"

The final decision was reached when I asked one of my co-workers, a math teacher with three children and another due in a month, what the experience of having children in day care was like. She smiled ruefully and said that it was less than ideal. The family’s routine was to wake up early in the morning and get everyone out of the house. The kids spent their days in school and then day care, the parents went to work, and at the end of the day, they would all reconvene at home for dinner, bath time, and bed. There was true regret in this woman’s eyes when she told me that all her children’s best hours of the day were spent with other people. They were sleepy when they got up in the morning, and tired, hungry, and irritable when they got home at night. But her husband had to work full time and she desperately wanted to continue teaching, so they settled on this plan for their family.

I felt a chill. I had no idea what kind of parent I would make, or how difficult or joyous having children would be. I knew nothing about what I was getting myself into. And yet. What was the point of having my own children if I was going to have to give them to someone else all day long? What if my child were to have a temperament similar to mine, and feel sad and depressed at being away from her mother all day? How would I feel about starting every workday with the sound of crying at drop-off ringing in my ears?

And so feminism met reality. I gave my life a hard, cold, scrutinizing look. What exactly was my career? Imparting the intricacies of English literature and the mind-numbing details of American history to a small set of teenage girls. I enjoyed it, yes, but did they? Was what I was doing really so important in the long run? Was it any different—in a spiritual sense—from the other jobs I’d held (McDonald’s, cleaning toilets at a National Guard base, child care at a residential treatment center)? In the end, I concluded that it was a job I loved, but that could wait. There is an expression that says that women can have it all nowadays, but not all at once. For the first time, I appreciated the relevance of that phrase.

So I made my choices and thus far have survived the experience. Ironically, the hardest part is not taking care of the kids; it’s telling other adults what I do for a living. The worst was when a man from shul asked what I did all day. "Do you go to Mommy-and-me classes?" He clearly thought that "mother" was another word for "woman of leisure." But I’ve solved the problem now once and for all. I recently updated my alumna profile for the prep school I attended. Despite the fact that it was a girls’ school and there are at least a handful of graduates who are at-home moms, the program does not allow the alum to save her data and exit until she’s filled in her employment information. What employment information? I hissed at the computer. And then I got a gleam in my eye and put my fingers to the keyboard. Employer? "The Crunch family." Address? "My house."

Job title? "I work for food."

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The making of a settler

It’s very funny how my feelings about settlements have changed over the last 12 years. When I first came to Israel, I thought they were inexcusably bad things, and that settlers themselves were just out to make trouble. Like most people, I saw them as an obstruction to peace.

Then I actually met a few settlers. They were aware of how many people feel about them, and would sometimes sound a little defensive when discussing where they lived. But aside from these touchy issues, they were remarkably normal people. They were all religious, and clearly felt very emotionally attached to where they were living.

Then Cap’n Crunch and I drove through the West Bank en route from Jerusalem to Arad. It was about this time of year 10 years ago, and I was completely taken with the beauty of the place: the rocky soil, the vineyards on every hillside with the leaves turning red and gold, the houses nestled in clusters in the settlements. The barbed wire and fences were the only things I saw to regret, and a little thought suggested to me that these are not because of the Jews, but because of the Arabs.

Over the succeeding years, I have given extensive thought to the concept of settlements. Despite what many liberal Westerners like to say, settling territory conquered in a defensive war against our neighbors (Jordan, Egypt, and Syria) is not a violation of any international statute. And despite what many liberal Westerners would have felt about it, Israel would have been perfectly within her rights to expel every Arab from that land (as they could have done to the Israeli Arabs who remained after the war of independence). Israel rarely gets any credit for allowing the majority of Arabs to remain in their homes after wars in which most of those Arabs either fought against Israel or sided with the enemy.   Who else has done all that for a sworn enemy?

Clearly, if the Arabs who remained were to demonstrate a commitment to a peaceful, two-state solution, there would be no justification for Jews to build in conquered territories. However, the Arabs in this part of the world have never shown the slightest interest in having a Jewish state in their midst. Their feelings about Jews were made quite clear when they refused to accept the Partition Plan and attempted to conquer the Jewish portion of the partition. Their refusal to leave Israel in peace until 1967 (when there were no settlements, and Arabs were in control of the Temple Mount and the entire Old City), and their attempt again in 1973 to destroy the country make very clear that a two-state solution is unacceptable to them. Nothing they have done as a group since then suggests that they have changed their minds. I don’t have any close Arab acquaintances, but I know some Jews who do. From them I learn that there are at least some ordinary Arabs who dislike the P.A.’s policies, who only ask to be able to work for a living and feed their families. But even this does not necessarily mean that they want a Jewish state in their midst; they might well prefer a Palestinian state that is committed to statecraft and serving its people.

And if the problem were just political, I could understand that too, to some extent. But during the last decade or so I (and whoever in the rest of the world is paying attention) have seen Arabs destroy the synagogue in Jericho, Joseph’s Tomb in Ramallah, and archeological treasures underneath the Temple Mount. There is not simply a desire among them to have a state of their own; like the Taliban destroying the giant Buddhas in Afghanistan, there is a desire to erase anything that is not Muslim from their midst. That smacks of holy war, not politics.

I can’t say I blame the Arabs for feeling this way. If I were raised on a diet of Koran and was taught that Jews were descendants of pigs and monkeys, I would probably feel the same. It makes their intractability the more understandable, and their violence against Jews less surprising. There are two attitudes one can adopt towards this type of situation: give up and leave (not an option) or stand our ground. By standing our ground I mean that we do not give in to terrorism, and that we do whatever is necessary to ensure our own safety. One way this is achieved is by controlling the roads in the territories, and one way to ensure that the government and IDF control the roads is to make it necessary by having Jews live out here. It may seem very back door-y to do that, but since there is nothing illegal and much to be gained by it, why not? Given all the other reasons to live out here (air, weather, proximity to holy sites, cost of housing in the rest of Israel, community), that is simply another.

Despite that, Israel still does not show a full commitment to standing her ground. There was a really good editorial not long ago (Caroline Glick, "The Disappearance of Law", Jerusalem Post, October 17, 2008) which described how the rule of law is not enforced with any degree of conviction over Israel’s Arab citizens and residents. This sends a message that they are not expected to obey the laws here, and that implies that they have their own state already, if not on paper then informally at least. This is one source of the security problems here. The flare-up between Yitzhar and the neighboring Arab village demonstrates the disgust which many Israelis feel with the government’s lack of law enforcement commitment. After the infiltration and stabbing of a 9-year-old child, the residents of Yitzhar were faced with having to endure further infiltrations and stabbings (and very likely killings) or taking the law into their own hands. Arabs are not Westerners, and have a very different perspective on rivalries. For them, non-reaction invites further aggression, and the residents of Yitzhar know this. To entrust their safety to the government, for whom non-reaction is a typical response to Arab aggression (whether it’s the stabbing of a child in a settlement or firing of rockets into Israeli cities), would be to invite further–and possibly more severe–attacks. I don’t know if I would have done what the people in Yitzhar did, but I can certainly see why they did it.

Like the rest of Israel, the issue of the settlements is complicated. When one lives in Israel proper, one knows that the Arabs and most of the West have feelings ranging from discomfort to hatred toward Israel. When one lives over the Green Line, one has all that to deal with, plus the hatred, resentment, and demonization of much of the Israeli population, plus the much closer proximity to the Arabs, whatever their individual feelings toward us. When we made aliyah, we knew we were going into battle (and taking our children with us). And by moving out to the Gush, we’ve taken that battle up to the front lines. I had to cope with a lot of fear before I felt ready to do this. If the other people out here were only here for the quality of life and the perfect weather, I would probably not have been willing to live here. Unlike Beit Shemesh, it’s not just another place to live in Israel. But after spending a Shabbat out here, we saw that the people out here value the quality of life but also recognize that we are involved in a struggle for the Jewish state’s right to exist and that we have an essential role to play. Knowing that we are all here for the same reason, and that all of us have the right to be here and are willing to exercise that right, whatever the risk, makes it possible.

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While Americans are well on the way to getting over their election hangovers, we in Israel are only halfway through election madness.  Today were nationwide municipal and mayoral elections, to be followed in February with national elections.  And today, Cap’n Crunch and I exercised for the first time our privilege as Israeli citizens and voted for a new mayor and slate of municipal officers for Efrat.  Normally, I don’t feel the need to read the Jerusalem Post during the week, preferring the meatier Friday edition, but after today, the outcome of three mayoral elections have us on tenterhooks. 

The first seat, Efrat’s, has been held by a competent person for some years, though there is a belief among some here that he and his predecessor were caretakers more than initiative-takers.  Issues facing Efrat include growth (within whatever limits the national government places on the issuing of new building permits), expansion of sports and cultural facilities, turnover of the oldest neighborhoods (which also have the oldest residents and not many new young families), affordable housing, and security supervision of Arab workers in the settlement.  Cap’n Crunch thinks that many people will have voted today based on their age group, with older voters voting for the widow of a former mayor (who appears to be in her 60s) and younger voters voting for a new guy with an ambitious agenda who appears to be in his 40s.

The second election whose outcome we’ll be very interested to see is Beit Shemesh’s.  The candidates there represented three of the main religious/ethnic populations in the city.  The incumbent, a Moroccan from one of Beit Shemesh’s oldest families, possesses no formal education beyond high school and apparently lied to the public about having received a university degree online.  He also has ties to the Mafia and is known for wishy-washiness and making promises he doesn’t keep.  If he has an agenda for this rapidly growing city, he has not confided it in his constituency.  He’s wildly popular with the secular and traditional Israeli communities in the older sections of Beit Shemesh.  His deputy, a religious Zionist and immigrant from America, is popular with the English-speaking technocrats in some of the newer sections of Beit Shemesh, as well as with the Harda"l (haredi religious Zionist) population in Ramat Beit Shemesh-Alef.  He is a clear communicator and has many criticisms of the way the city has been run in the past.  He promises cleaner government and will likely address some of the growing pains the city is having, as well as the social tensions that exist, particularly between the haredi population and the modern Orthodox.  And the third candidate, a haredi man, promises more housing for families without undue regard for green space or overcrowding issues.  He’s popular in the haredi neighborhoods of Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh-Bet.  Some of our grievances while living in Beit Shemesh were the city’s unfettered growth, the fragmentation of interests of the population, the litter, vandalism, and neglect that marked every quarter of the city.  It would be really nice to see someone assume the mayor’s duties who was able to identify these areas and come up with plans to improve them.  We’ll see tomorrow what Beit Shemesh decides.  I’m not optimistic, though, since it is the voters’ tendency in that city to vote for whichever candidate physically resembles them.

And finally, the third city that we feel an interest in is Jerusalem.  There the issues are manifold.  As anyone knows who has followed the news in the past eight months, Jerusalem too needs better oversight of its Arab construction workers.  It has also undertaken a massive light rail project that has closed streets, created nearly impassible traffic congestion, shut down important bus lines, and caused small businesses to close along major stretches of heavily trafficked roads.  It has also gone way over budget with this project and made what was to be a small overpass bridge for the trains a gigantic "aesthetic" eyesore (a la Lenny Zakim Bridge between Boston and Charlestown, only completely out of architectural context).  Cultural events are poorly funded, housing prices have gone through the roof, and all new housing is either cramped apartments for haredi families or luxury housing for wealthy absentee Jews from outside of Israel.  The city’s haredi population continues to soar while secular Jews are fleeing the city.  Young couples who have grown up in the city are forced to leave it for lack of affordable housing.  Parking is a hassle in most neighborhoods, and the number of cars on the road has increased dramatically since we lived there 11 years ago.  In other words, Jerusalem needs some competent leadership ASAP.  The candidates include a Russian immigrant millionaire (a Ross Perot-type) who has used his money very generously and hopes to appeal to the poorer sector of the city; a successful secular businessman who would like to increase accessibility of culture in the city and plans to re-evaluate the light rail project, leaving open the option of canceling it altogether; and a haredi Knesset member whose photo on his election posters was so scary all the later ads for his campaign on billboards and buses have a cartoon representation of him (a Santa Claus in black).  I look on the brave soul who gets elected to the Jerusalem mayoralty with equal parts awe and pity.  The Holy City these days is not an easy place to govern and I hope and pray that the Almighty gives the winner the wisdom and sense to tidy it up.

I remember a couple of years ago a heated discussion in our ulpan class over politics that resulted in our teacher making the observation that perhaps immigrants should be barred from voting in Israeli elections for the first three years of their residency.  We were astounded at the comment, and I continue to bristle at that idea (probably shared by many secular Israelis who don’t like religious Zionist immigrants influencing Israeli politics).  For what do we come here to live and become citizens if not to help steer the country we care so much about?  Most of us were keen followers of Israeli politics for years before making aliyah, and one could probably count on one hand the number of immigrants who, after three years of Israeli residency, would vote any differently than they would have voted while still living in Brookline, Monsey, or Boca Raton.  And besides, looking at the level of quality of the average Israeli politician, I think the sooner immigrants are allowed to vote, the better. 

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The list of things I love about living in Israel is long. However, near the top of the list is the inspiration I feel when my kids come home for school and gan. They speak fluent Hebrew, learn songs for every holiday and many of the parshiot (weekly Torah readings), and most of all, get to experience Jewish life in a way I couldn’t have dreamt of as a secular kid in America. Here are some of the conversations we have that I find particularly heart-warming:

Last night we talked at the dinner table for half an hour about blessings over food. The kids say blessings before and after food in school all the time, but don’t necessarily have the time to get full explanations of the hierarchy of brachot. (Most of the time they wash and say hamotzi—the blessing over bread—for everyone, even the kids who brought pretzels for their snack.) Last night we talked about bread (hamotzi), pasta (mezonot), things that grow on trees (borei pri ha’etz), things that grow in the ground (borei pri ha’adamah), and other foods such as meat or fish (she’hakol). Peach, our 5 year old, examined everything on her plate to make sure she’d said all of the correct brachot. Banana, our 3 year old, spent 10 minutes brainstorming as many foods as she could think of that grow in the ground (carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, beans, carrots… and she doesn’t even eat carrots!). And Beans, the 7 year old, has her brachot down pretty well and just sat quietly eating her dinner. (For the record, I didn’t learn the hand-washing and hamotzi brachot until I was 28, and got my first thorough explanation of the hierarchy of foods from Cap’n Crunch’s roommate in Jerusalem a year later.)

The kids often come home with stories and songs, particularly Peach, who has begun an evening ritual with her Abba where, during toothbrushing time, each takes a turn humming a tune and the other has to guess what it is. She’s learning some tunes this way that American kids normally grow up with, and her old man is learning tunes that are part of an Israeli kid’s repertoire. The kids usually hear stories about the parashah during the week and sometimes share them with us. Before Yom Kippur, Banana related to us the story of Jonah, beginning in English, then switching to Hebrew as her description of the stormy sea got more florid. (For those in the know, the waves hishtolelu.)

I read an editorial around the time of Israel’s 60th anniversary celebration that celebrated the revival of Hebrew as the greatest achievement of the new Jewish State. That, too, has been one of the most amazing things to see in the kids. Again, I was 28 when I first learned that alef-bet, and my five-year-old Peach is already reading Hebrew. They all switch back and forth between English and Hebrew when they play, and last Shabbat, when we hosted a family for lunch whose children prefer Hebrew to English, we heard Banana’s fluent Hebrew for the first time. Peach enjoys when I drop her off at gan and stay to play a game with her before I leave. She sits patiently as the other girls gather around to join us and listens to my heavily flawed Hebrew, only occasionally correcting me sotto voce. The one I rely on the most for practical Hebrew is Beans, our eldest, who has been in an all-Hebrew environment the longest. When the other girls ask me a word in Hebrew, if I don’t know it I just refer them to Beans. When I want to know how to say something practical, like "to put something away" or "to blow one’s nose" she’s the one I go to.

And the baby who—please God—will be born in January will be a sabra. It will never have lived outside Israel, and will consider this its home even more than my young daughters, who already feel they belong here. It’s odd to imagine being an American rearing an Israeli who will share none of my childhood experiences. And yet for baby to grow up in a society that operates on the Jewish calendar, where the holidays taught in school are our holidays, and speaking Hebrew—I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And the fact that this baby’s mother might as well have been born on another planet? That’s baby’s problem, not mine.

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