Monday, 19 September 2016

Further notes on grandparenting...



Well it's been a big year for this family BH.  Pesach 2015 when we got together from all over the world, my husband raised his glass and blessed everyone and said, 6 new grandchildren in 2016!
He wasn't to know that his father would pass away at the end of 2015, and that there would be 3 new grandsons born who would carry his name. And then 2 new granddaughters; and we await no 6 now with the usual mix of excitement and anxiety. 
So it's been a big year. Rozhinklech und mandelen as we say, raisins and almonds, the sweet and the bitter. 
I won't dwell on the number of grandchildren we have, ptu ptu ptu (my mother in law always answers the question of 'how many grandchildren/great grandchildren do you have' with the answer: 'Not enough!'). But I will say that it's a bunch, and the age spread is 11 to newborn, and the geographical spread  involves Israel, New York and Melbourne Australia. This means that I have travelled a few times this year and when you add it all up, by the end of 2016 I will have been away from home for about 3 months. 
I go overseas to help the new mums with the recovery and the breastfeeding. New motherhood can be a lonely isolating thing if you have no family nearby. 
If I get to be at the birth, that's a plus. Major bonus if I actually get to assist at the birth. My daughters are all ok with that, my daughters-in-law maybe less so, which I get, I'm not pushy (I hope). 
I've written before about growing up without grandparents, since my father's family perished in the Holocaust and my mother's family just did not live very long. And neither did my own mother. 
Most of my peers were children of Holocaust survivors and thus grandparents were a rare thing. I would gaze upon the occasional Bubby and Zaidy whom I encountered  with curiosity and awe. My parents were the oldest people I knew, apart from a few old people we visited at the Montefiore Homes for the aged, with whom we had some non-blood relationship as a rule. But I had to call everyone Aunty and Uncle out of respect so I never knew who was related or who came across on the same ship (shifsbrider or shifsshvester, literally Ship Brother or sister) or who was the aged mother of the ex-wife of my mother's brother (I'm not making that last one up either.) 
And not everyone had the full complement of marbles either so some of these old folk were a bit scary. 
And some spoke only Yiddish which I was not really au fait with, or else a Yiddish different from the Heimishe Yiddish of my father who was from Dzialoszyn. 
So the ideal of the gentle Zayda stroking his beard while poring over the Talmud or the Bubby with the floury apron and the huggable bosom was just that: an idealized fantasy, and rare as a unicorn. 
And consider the unsupported parents; in the main, Holocaust survivors who came to a new country with nothing more than what the Joint had provided them, sponsored out by families, real or fictitious, whom they barely knew. They built new lives, new businesses, new families, with hard work, having to learn a new language while they did this. And who had time for counselling even if there was such a thing, even if they could afford it if it existed? 
These were our parents. 
I was a latchkey child from about 8 years of age. Not only no grandparents but parents who did their best to put food on the table for us, and in doing so, left us kids largely to our own devices. 
And there was also the expectation that we would make something of ourselves. We had opportunities! Opportunities that were denied our parents. I used to hear about this so much that I thought 'opportunities' was a Yiddish word. To waste these opportunities would be an unpardonable sin. 
Fast forward a few years. 
A brother who made Aliyah in 1968, found his niche and then was killed in the YomKippur war in 1973. I've written about this too, and the effects that grief can have on a family. 
A medical degree- talk about opportunities!
A marriage to the son of a Holocaust survivor father and a Soviet refugee mother whose parents survived Stalin and Hitler and who were sent by the previous Lubavitcher  Rebbe to start a Jewish school in Melbourne. 
It so happened that I knew my future husband's grandparents long before I knew him, because Reb Zalman, as we all called him, befriended my father and encouraged my parents to send my brothers and I to the new Jewish school. Reb Zalman was the real deal, the Zeidy, the Chossid, the embodiment of Chabad Chassidus, and I won't go on about him because he needs a book to be written about him. Mainly he was the glimpse of the mythical grandfather. Anyway. 
So I got married. 
And then I had 7 kids in 10.5 years, 3 born after my mother passed away, and then, moving right along, a bunch of grandchildren. And no idea how to be a grandmother. Mind you, I had little idea on how to be a mother either, being that my eldest were only little when Mum died, so she also never really got to experience much of being a grandmother; nor did her own mother who died young. Generations of no role models of grandparenting and barely any for parenting! There are times I feel that I raised myself. 
So here I am, inundated with blessings and feeling like everyone wants a piece of me. Like I need to protect myself. 
I recently wrote a piece which earned me much opprobrium, about dealing with these challenges. I got all these comments from other grandmothers about how MUCH they LOVE their precious grandchildren, and how they CAN'T do ENOUGH for them or spend enough TIME with them, and how they LOOK FORWARD to every second, every playtime, every babysitting, and what an ungrateful ungracious wretch I must be, withholding my time from them, and how dare I express relief when they leave my house, and how dare I place boundaries on what I would choose to do for my kids to help them with their kids. 
It was a bit nasty, I thought. 
And then it turns out that most of these commenters had one or maybe 2 grandchildren (and maybe 2-3 kids) who were aged 4 and 18 months on average. And I'm like, well you haven't really got a clue about heavy duty grandparenting, have you. 
I always say that I will do anything in an emergency. I will take kids to the ER if parents can't. I will cook meals and drop them off or I will have them all over to eat (and do this regularly once or twice a week) and I will do school drop offs and pick ups and babysit if I have to BUT I'm not the nanny and I won't /can't do this on a set basis. 
I'm the on call doctor for sorting out health issues - Doctor Booba! I look at throats and ears amd rashes and listen to chests and feel tummies and I wrote referrals to paediatricians etc and I call in favours from Doctor friends. 
I'm the booba who reads and draws but I'm not the booba who goes to the park and climbs equipment and jumps on the trampoline. 
I have had kids move in while parents go on babymoons or overseas visiting family etc, I have paid for extra help to mums who need it, I have stepped into the breach many times. But I'm not the paid help and I won't raise my grandchildren. I love them and I feel blessed 
and I am amazed that they are flesh of my flesh, but I've been through it and I've done my bit, and considering that nobody helped me, I think I'm paying it forward better than expected. 
Here I am again, sounding like it's a burden and I'm resentful but this is not the case; still, I'm only human and I do my best. I hope everyone appreciates this. 
I am a springboard to help my kids into parenthood; I am a sounding board for discussion and solution of problems; but I am not a doormat. 
That's all. 
Now for the comments. 

PS The picture is neither me nor my grandchildren. Mine are cuter. 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Too quick to fast?

(No, you can't have this on Tisha B'Av, unless Moshiach comes!)

Every year before the big fasts - Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur - I get the phone calls from women in the community. 'I'm breastfeeding - should I fast?'  So I give them an answer and advise them to take it to their Rabbi. And maybe they listen and maybe they don't. 
The ones that don't call me, I don't hear from most of them, obviously. But I hear from some of them, a day or two later. With mastitis. With supply crash. In one case, with grossly abnormal liver function, and liver pain, as a result of vomiting and dehydration. 
Now I will just come out and say that I think that breastfeeding women should not fast. Not at any stage. I will also say that I don't think that pregnant women should fast either. I don't know how much science is in this, but it seems that fasting can bring on premature labour. The maternity hospitals in Israel have a rush of patients after YK every year, so maybe there is a study out there. 
I know that 9Av and YK are different but fasting is fasting and dehydration is dehydration. You can also talk about how it's different if the mother is Yoledes (recently gave birth), or if the baby is under 6 months or if he is fully dependent on breast milk yada yada. But the fallout is the same. Dehydration is a real risk for mastitis AT ANY STAGE of lactation. And mastitis is serious. It can land a mother in hospital needing IV fluids, but even if it is not severe enough to require hospitalization, it can make her pretty sick and incapacitate her. 
Then we have the situation where I say my part and the mother takes it to the Rabbi and he gives her a Heter (permission) to drink and eat, yet she still decides to fast, out of what, guilt? Piety? Ladies, this is not Halacha. This is AGAINST Halacha.
Another recent case I was involved in was that of an older gentleman who had multiple health issues including diabetes, who was on antibiotics recovering from a chest infection and dehydration and actually argued with me when I forbade him from fasting (and this was for 17 Tammuz). I thought that was pretty extreme and certainly there is no question that he had a Heter to drink and eat freely. And yet he argued. I can only hope that he actually listened to me. Ignoring doctors' orders is not Halacha! 
So on YK if you have a Heter to not fast, then you don't fast, and you REST and you STAY HOME. You do NOT go to Shul. Always remember that, in active childrearing, pregnancy and breastfeeding, that you are doing Hashem's work and that is the greatest mitzvah of all. It is not a mitzvah to be sick and incapacitated and unable to care for yourself or your children. 
I'll say something else here: I recently saw a FB post where a mother was praising her 8 year old daughter who fasted on 9av and also looked after her because she was unwell due to the fast. 
Now I am sure that this child is a wonderful person and a credit to her parents and Klal Yisrael, but she is too young to fast. There is no Halacha that demands this of such a young child. I also hear of this thing of doing the last 3 fasts before turning Bar/bas mitzvah and I would like someone to enlighten me as to where this is written. So if any Rabbis out there could discuss this with me, please do. 
Oh, it's about chinuch (Jewish education), is it? I'm not saying that the kid should do nothing at all; they can 'fast till breakfast', or not eat treats. Older kids can fast till noon if they want to; some kids really get a feeling of achievement. But a young child should be actively discouraged from trying to do a full fast, especially where these days fall in the summer where the day is hot and long. Kids are vulnerable to dehydration and it's just not necessary. 
And, final word, watch out for the little perfect pious girl who just loves to fast, because it can be a mask for an eating disorder, just as excessive religiosity can mask OCD and other psychological issues. Just saying. 
Religious fasts have their importance, but please, approach with common sense in these cases. 





Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Putting A (Well Behaved) 2-Year-Old To Bed


In my Visiting Bubbeh persona, I found myself babysitting two of my granddaughters the other night. Their eldest sister Y was out at a barmitzvah with her parents. They live in New York. 
R is 2 and FB is 6. 



R is in her preferred state of nudity+nappy. And purple socks. We are in the front room, where there are many books. 
-Ok, here's the plan. I'm going to read you these 3 books and then we'll go upstairs and we'll put pyjamas on you and then I'll read you 2 stories and then you'll go to bed. Ok?
-Ok. 
(Read 3 books. Go upstairs)
-Look at these pyjamas, aren't they cute! I got them for you. I am a major supporter of Peter Alexander. See, Eiffel Tower on the front! Pink! Ok on goes the top. And now the shorts! 
-NOOO!
-Oh you want them on back to front? Ok, why not. Happy?
Nods. 
-Which books do you want me to read? Oh this one? Longish? With 4 stories in it? Umm. Ok. 
(Start reading while FB hops and jumps and climbs and forages while R giggles)
-Um FB I think you should go to your room and wait till I'm done here, you're distracting R, ok?
FB-Sure. (Bunny hops out.)
R-Another book!
-Ok, that's what Bubbehs are for. Which one?
-Wild tings!
-Oh, I know that one! Where the Wild Things are. And here's the book! 
Wait, it's in Spanish. 


FB, is there an English version somewhere?
(FB pops head into room.)
-Sure. 
-Can you get it?
-Don't know where it is. 
-Oh ok then. I guess I'll manage. 
(FB pops head out of room.)
-Here goes: 'La noche que Max se puso un traje de lobo y comenzó a hacer una traversura tras otra, Su mamá le dijo: "¡ERES UN MONSTRUO!" y Max le contestó:"¡TE VOY A COMER!" y lo mandaron a la cama sin cenar-
-Need pishy. 
-Umm, ok, even though you are wearing a nappy, sure. 
(Off with the back to front shorts and the nappy.
FB, ever helpful, readies the step set for the toilet.)
R sits. Smiles. 
-Do you really need pishy?
(Dreamily)- Kaki. 
-Oh really? And yet there you sit, and nothing happening. 
You know, I think you are totally stooging me and you don't really need, right?
-Pishy kaki. 
-And yet you are doing nothing. 
(Shrug)
-Ok, that's enough. 
(Back on with the nappy and the back to front PJ shorts.) 
Let's go to bed. 
(R runs into sisters' room and snuggles into a bed, plays possum)
FB -She can stay there! I don't mind!
-Uh yeah, as if the two of you won't be running around as soon as I turn my back. 
Come on, into your cot!
-NOOO!
(I pick her up, and deposit her in her cot. She sits up.)
-Water. 
-Ohhkay. 
(I go to bathroom again and fill cup. She drinks.)
-Tenk you. 
-Ok, now lie down. 
-F'ozen!
-What?
-F'ozen! 
(Points to slim reader emblazoned with the ubiquitous princess sisters and Olaf the snowman)
-Oh ok. One more then. 
(Fortunately book has about 4 words per page. )
-Blanky. 
-Blanky?
-Blanky. 
-I didn't know you had a special blanky...FB, where is R's blanky?
(FB pops head back into room)
-Don't know, Y had it before and she put it somewhere. 
-Great. 
-You can just take one out of that cupboard. 
(Pops out)
-Ok (reach in, take random flannelette blanky)
-NOOO!!
-Hey, ok ok, what about this one?
(I take out almost identical one.)
-Yes. 
-So lie down, I'll cover you. 
(Lies down, snuggles under blanky.)
Shema
Kiss
Shlof gezunt. 
(Close door. Blessed silence.
That only took an hour and a half.)
FB -Can you read Willy Wonka to me?
-Of course. The night is young. 


*The photos used are not my grandchildren. Mine are much cuter. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Tween girl

I've been wanting to write about this fascinating stage of childhood which we have come to call 'tweenage', 8-13 or 14, and when I started it came out like a poem. So I went with it. 


Tween girls
On the brink of they don't know what
Not little kids anymore, they think
Posing in front of mirrors (or any reflective surfaces)
Examining faces, imaginary blemishes
Hand on hip, pelvis tilted, looking back over shoulder at reflections
Shy smile, bold smile, batting lashes
Minx coquette and yet
Innocent. 
They can't know what lies ahead. 
And then giggles and tickles and being mean to little sisters
then being helpful 
To mum and then hating her and then wanting her stuff and her approval;
And then
Attitude. 
Clear skinned and coltish and pouty and laughing and cartwheeling and twirling
unselfconscious and self-conscious in turns
Sitting hugging knees, or with legs flung out, unashamed and then embarrassed
Flick hair up flick hair down 
Side pony tail then not, then braids then not, hair never long enough
Bikes and skates and scooters and longing for makeup
Hate boys like boys hate boys 
Dirty boys stupid boys 
Boys
Too old for play dates, too young to hang out at the mall Hanging on to older girls, sitting at their feet, worshipping and listening and learning
They don't know what
They are
Between
Tween




Thursday, 9 June 2016

Yizkor





I first encountered death of a family member when I was 18. My brother Yehuda had been killed in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. After that, my parents were subsumed with grief and went AWOL as it were, mentally and physically. They went to Israel to visit Yehuda's kibbutz several times after that, and would stay away for around 6 weeks at a time. 
It was during one of these absences that I first found myself without my family over a Yom Tov. 
I was spending Yom tovim and Shabbosim in the home of Rabbi ID Groner during the times that my parents were away, so over the years I would have spent every Yom tov there. I was a part of the 'family'. And although I'm not really a shul-goer, I did go to shul, and Yeshivah was my shul. 
So came the inevitable time of Yizkor. All I knew of yizkor was the Gabai's THUMP on the Bima, and the announcement 'Kinder arroys!' And of course when I was a Kindt, untouched by bereavement, that's what I did. I went out with all the other kids. Who knew what went on in the shul for those 15 or so minutes that we kids all milled around and chit-chatted outside? Old ladies stayed in and we went out. 
But at 18 at that time in the davenning, suddenly I didn't know what to do. Do I stay? Do I go? Is it only about parents or also siblings? For whom does one 'stay in' for yizkor? Never thought about it. The Tehillas Hashem siddur says only parents. But everyone else says siblings too. What is it about, if not remembrance, obviously, and why would one not memorialize a brother? So I stayed. I didn't say anything but I stayed. 
I saw old ladies (of course I am now older than many of those old ladies) weeping quietly and swaying with their faces hidden in their machzors. I heard murmuring of silent prayer. I heard the Kel Melai Rachamim, maybe for the first time, and then it was over. 
Afterwards, at lunch, R Groner told me that I shouldn't stay in because my parents were alive. Oh. Whoops. But I don't remember if I gave it much thought because when you are 18, even a traumatized 18, life beckons; well, it did me anyway. 
My mother was also not a big shul-goer, and had been raised in a traditional but pretty secular family. But she always made a point of going to Yizkor (Yisskeh, my Aussie mum pronounced it, as she mispronounced so many Jewish terms - 'Mejeshem' instead of 'Im Yirtzeh Hashem', Moydi Ani, Kenorah, a sort of pastiche of Tzvosser Yiddish and Australian vowels). She had bad knees and hips and walked with a cane from her mid 50's but she would go for Yizkor come rain or shine, to Yeshivah until she could no longer make the distance, and then to Adass which was much closer to home. She had lost her parents while in her 20's. 
She passed away when I was in my 20s and her 31st yohrzeit falls on 10 Sivan. Her last Shavuos was terrible, awful, and has cast a cloud over Shavuos for me ever since (and then my other brother died 2 Sivan, so.) which I try to dispel by making a Kiddush in her name. 
And I always go to Yizkor. Rain or shine. Just as she did. 
It's not as if I don't think about my parents every day. Your loved ones are never forgotten. 
It's not as if I don't dedicate Tzedaka to their names anyway, or at least I think I would, even without the prompt that the Yizkor prayer gives me. 
Those few minutes of time with others who have lost parents- and sooner or later, in the natural order of things, that means everyone- give me a few minutes to remember and to really focus on them, and also to realize how we are all temporal and temporary beings, yet we are also part of an endless chain. 
I still don't know what to do during Yizkor. The prayer that my parents - and, less officially, my brothers- are in Gan Eden and the pledge to give Tzedoka in their names take only a few minutes. Then the Av HaRachamim and then the chazan's Kel Melei Rachamim- it all takes about 3 minutes. What am I supposed to do the rest of the time?
Remember. 
That's all, I guess. 
Remember. 
Sometimes with my face shielded by my machzor as I weep silently. Like the other old ladies. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Yom HaZikaron 2016

Today, Yom HaZikaron, I addressed the high school students of Yeshivah College in Melbourne. I don't know if many knew about Yom HaZikaron, but I think they do now. Here is the text of my speech.



Thank you for inviting me to speak.

My brother, Yehuda Pakula, was 17 when he left Australia in 1968.
He left for several reasons.
He wished to explore his roots in Israel, as our mother’s family came to Australia from Tzefat, pre WW1.
He wanted to visit ancient places about which he had learned in the TaNaCh while at school in Yeshivah College, where he had just completed year 12.
He was inspired by the recent miracle of the 6-Day-War, and wanted to be part of the thrilling story of Modern Israel.
AND
He had been the target of one too many anti-Semitic attacks, where he had been pushed off his bike, beaten and called a ‘bloody Jew’.

He bought a one-way ticket to Israel and swore that he would not return to Australia.
We must be careful what we wish for. He never did return.

After meeting family and doing some touring, he did Ulpan on Kibbutz Sde Eliahu and integrated very quickly into the kibbutz community, eventually becoming a Chaver Kibbutz and then a member of the ‘Yachdav’ Garin. He was expert in driving heavy tractors to till the fields for planting. He had found his niche.
He enlisted in the IDF January 1971, underwent basic military training and joined the Armed Corps as a tank driver.

He was on Miluim, reserve duty, when he was stationed at the Mezach, on the Suez, and was one of the first casualties of the Yom Kippur War, falling on the 6th of October, killed by a sniper’s bullet fired across the Suez. He had been due to be married in November of that year. He was 22.


His platoon were forced to surrender after a week of fierce fighting, under constant artillery attack by the Egyptians. They were out of food and ammunition, and the IDF had not been able to rescue them. The commander of the unit, Shlomo Erdinast, aged 21, insisted that the Red Cross be present for the surrender, which took place on the 8th day of the war, a Shabbos. The men had washed themselves and their uniforms as best they could so as to not go down in history humiliated and in tatters, rather as proud representatives of Israel.

Erdinast had also insisted that the Red Cross supervise the return of the 5 fallen to Israel for burial. But this did not happen; Yehuda and his fallen fellow soldiers were left where they fell. The bodies were not returned for burial until after the 1978 Camp David Accords.  They were left for 5 years in the desert. After the Accords, IDF soldiers with specially trained dogs were brought to find the remains which were identified with their tags and with dental records. Yehudah was brought to Kever Yisrael in Har Herzl military cemetery.

Yehuda’s death was a terrible tragedy in a terrible war, and it took a terrible toll on my parents.
 My father was a Holocaust survivor who had lost most of his family, including his first wife and 2 sons, murdered by the Nazis.

My mother never recovered emotionally and died 11 years later of cancer, but grief definitely played a part.

I was 18 and my parents were devastated. There was no such thing as grief counseling then, and we survived in our own ways.



My parents and I were flown over to Israel by the Israeli Government in December, shortly after Yehudah’s death was confirmed as his platoon which had been taken prisoner by the Egyptians was released after 5 weeks, in prisoner exchanges. We stayed on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu where we all were assigned jobs; for my parents, my father especially, work was therapy as he was skilled with a sewing machine and mended all the kibbutzniks’ clothes.

It was a strange, difficult time in Israel after the war. People were mourning; every family had lost someone or had a wounded son.
To give you some perspective, the population of Israel at the time was under 3.5 million; 2,688 soldiers had been killed and about 9,000 physically wounded. These numbers do not take into account psychological injuries. There was a sort of numbness in the people, which ran parallel with frenetic activity and partying of the youth. The economy was pretty poor then and people were struggling. I was only 18 and spent a lot of the time on kibbutz. It took me years to even realize that I was also psychologically affected, not least because my parents, my mother especially, were prisoners of their grief and were functioning at a very low level, getting the bare minimum done in order to live; it was a very quiet house.



Fortunately I was able to focus on my medical studies and with the seeming carelessness of youth, I had a busy social life and was active on campus, editing the student newspaper, getting involved in student politics, campaigning for the release of Soviet Jewry etc. Around 1970 Ali Kazak had come as a PLO lobbyist and started whipping up pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel sentiment on campuses. There were rallies and there was violence but I feel it is far worse today.


Unfortunately, Israel has had to make too many sacrifices in fighting for her freedom and very right to exist.

But, until Moshiach comes, we must be prepared for this terrible ongoing loss of life in defence of our land; we must be strong and of good spirit, Chazak veAmatz, because Eretz Yisrael is all we have.
It was true for Yehuda and it remains true today.

Far all those, nearly 28,000, who have fallen in defence of Israel, and as victims of terror:
YEHI ZICHRAM BARUCH.

Am Yisrael Chai.




Sunday, 8 May 2016

One Damn Thing After Another

Suddenly the house is so quiet. Suddenly I have time to organise my thoughts and put them down in writing. And of course, I go blank.
After the torrent of events and celebrations and some glitches - good old raisins and almonds, sweet and bitter- suddenly I am drained. Depleted of adrenaline. Just plain old tired, with my 60 year old body creaking and groaning and whingeing about everything. Shut up, already! Here, take a Celebrex and leave me be!

The last of the Pesach visitors left this morning and after weeks of Party Central, endless noise, people wandering about looking for things to eat, Olympic-level grocery shopping, sampling every kosher eatery in Melbourne after Pesach at the behest of My Daughter The Chef, after the Seudahs and Yom Tovs, including all the celebrations for 2 new grandsons and a Sefer Torah, after all the 2, 3 and 4-year-old grandchildren battling for control of the toy stroller/easel/scooter/teddy- quiet.
Even my work phone has gone quiet- not complaining! Need a break!

And the weather has gone all wet and mopey, after 2 weeks of almost perfect days, children playing in the garden, meals fressed al fresco. Today- grey and windy. (Sort of how I feel.)

And Mother's Day yesterday. Bless. Mother's Day is not for mothers of young children, and if I ever hear another idiot say 'But EVERY day is Mother's Day', I will afflict them physically. All I ever wanted for MD was to be left alone for the morning and not to have to do laundry or cook or work or anything. I never wanted poxy breakfast in bed - yuk- but I was polite enough to fake it until the kids actually understood that I didn't want it. When the kids were grown and had kids of their own, we started doing brunches at home, because people who take small children out to brunch on MD are delusional. Adults can take out their mothers, do whatever they want, why not? But it is only torture to take out a bunch of young kids,  and I can assure you that the mothers of said kids are not having a good time.  I speak as a grandmother of 13, KA'H, B'H, ptu-ptu-ptu, but even one small child will make eating out unbearable as a rule. So please, be sensible, save all that for when your kids are grown up enough to actually pay the bill.

And the 'Yoms'. Yom HaShoa last week, Yom HaZikaron this week. As a member of a family of 2nd generation Holocaust survivors who also lost a brother in the Yom Kippur War, I feel bookended by misery. I still don't know how they switch from sorrow to elation the way they do in Israel, from Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut; flick. From wailing sirens to dancing in the street.

So I guess this is what passes for a breather in my life! I sound like I am complaining, but I'm not. My life is privileged and amazing even if I don't go around hash tagging how blessed I am. It's just life: 'One damn thing after another', as Mark Twain put it.

But I don't know what to do with myself. So I thought I'd write about it.

(Huh, looks like the sun's out again.)