Thursday, July 26, 2007

Please Daven...

Our friend Norby was tragically injured yesterday when he fell off a forklift.
Not Norby.
Not Possible.
Not Processing.
Norby is young. Norby is healthy. Norby is vibrant. Norby does mitzvos nobody even knows about.
Please read my post about Norby.

Update on Norby: Michael went to visit him this week (end of August) and he's gone :)! Gone to rehab!! How wonderful is that? Keep davening everybody... it's working.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The British are Coming, The British Are Coming!!!

... and the Israelis and the Swiss and the Dutch and the..... :) :) :)
This is AS exciting to me as the wedding itself I must say!!!
Family and friends will be arriving shortly (the wedding is now a mere 2 1/2 weeks away). It was an exciting thought earlier this week when I looked down at my milk's expiration date at breakfast and realized that it was the date my nephew will be arriving in NYC. Milk doesn't keep at all so I know it won't be long now.
I haven't seen my sister in over a year and I'm sooooo excited. (I do worry though what will happen when we run out of simchas to run for....) I hope there are enough hours in the day to handle this wedding AS WELL as spend quality time with my family. For me, family is what it's all about!

Counting Down to Laundry, Shopping and Music...

I'm sure glad the fast is over. The Kinos, the fasting (I was surprised at how ill I felt, especially considering the great weather we had), the entire aura of the weeks preceeding were both physically as well as emotionally draining. {Of course there was that brief moment of lightness when we heard a bench in the Men's shul collapse with a loud thud during Aicho and I just knew it was the bench my guys were sitting on.... too well fed before the taanis I say! Of course, both Michael and Aviv agree that they heard it coming, even before the collapse. If that's so why didn't they just get up???!?}
The rest of the day was much more somber and as I alluded to earlier in this entry, I got quite ill (dizzy & nauseous) during the last few hours. But "show must go on" and we were 11 for the meal and the "Craig Sauce" needed to be made for the pasta. So I stood there sauteeing garlic and swaying woozily as Jennifer slept on the sofa and I worried about passing out and burning the house down. The Excedrin was passed around the during the meal and we all recovered in relatively short time.
Now I'm just counting the hours until I can do mounds and mounds of laundry, actually order all the things Erica needs for the wedding that we've been holding off on, and playing some much missed music.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Harry Potter Weekend

Yes folks, the day has finally come and gone.
Joseph anxiously awaited delivery of the final chapters of the saga that began when he was eight years old. He spent the better part of Shabbos afternoon fondling the unopened box, that is, with exception of that moment during lunch when he discovered that Michael had hidden it {grin} and took a break from his adoration to cut off his older brother's airway {big grin}. All in good fun, all in good fun.
After an UNhurried havdalah (I am quite proud to say...) he retired to the living room to savor this long in coming finale. Avram passed him in the same spot at 5 am as he was finishing the saga, having not slept a wink. So I guess we have Harry to thank for the fact that for the first time in weeks, Joseph made a Shacharis Minyan on a Sunday morning without oversleeping... apparently you can't OVERsleep when you don't sleep.
Aviv has recommended a book entitled "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War", in his opinion the "best book ever". Hmmm, don't know if it's up my alley, but if I run out of Jodi Picoult books (my new fave) I just might try it.
We had a rousing game of scrabble today (minus Michael who was next in line for the Harry Potter marathon) and Jen and I (who were playing as a team) CLEARED OUR RACK for a bonus 50 points... woo hoo!!!!
We went more "gown gemach-ing" this weekend too. Some people go "antiquing", with the wedding a mere three weeks away, we go gown gemaching. But in all seriousness, I've met a lot of amazing women doing a lot of amazing things with the resources that Hashem has bestowed upon them and they are quite inspiring.

Michael Totally Rocked the Torah Im Derech Eretz Speech!

OK, so permit me to be the "braggy" mother for a minute...

Michael's speech on Shabbos at the Kehilla Shalosh Seudos was ***Awesome***!!!

I walked into the room, took my seat at the table and a kindly (albeit ditsy) woman of a "certain age" in the community leans over to me and asks me, "So where is your son now?", which of course, we all know is a euphemism for "Where is your son learning now?".... {Hey, that's an idea! I should have said, "oh, he might be in the bathroom, but he'll be out shortly...." ...but I didn't} What I said to her was, "He's in NYU Medical Center's Human Resources Division". Hmmmmm.... that ended that conversation. Fast forward to the end of Michael's speech: Same sweet old lady.... "Wow your son's speech was WONDERFUL!! He speaks like he LEARNS!!" to which I proudly responded, "That's because he does".

I like it when people are afforded the opportunity to see that working and learning are not mutually exclusive - That one can truly uphold the Hirschian Legacy. I hope Michael's actions inspire others to try the same most difficult balancing act.

For those who may be interested, Michael gave me a glimpse into his three necessary criteria for giving a good speech. I'm not saying they'll work for everybody, but they sure work for him:
  • Be animated. (Michael is a pleasure to watch and listen to)
  • Use ONE metaphor that will stick in the listeners head (In Michael's case this weekend, it was comparing Har Chermon - the landmark for outsiders looking towards Eretz Yisroel, to the Statue of Liberty's significance to outsiders arriving at New York City).
  • Use one reference/tie in to a specific part of tefillah, so that each day when the listener davens, he/she will be reminded of the speech and the message therein.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Story Of The Man With The Pig, The Goat & All The Animals....

Remember the story of the guy who goes to the Rebbe (or whoever) and says his home (or tepee, or hut or whatever) is too small? The Rebbe tells him to take his goat into the house. He is perplexed, but listens. He comes back a week later and tells the Rebbe his house is STILL too small. The Rebbe instructs him to take his pig into the house (ok, ok, I know I'm telling it wrong, so skip to the next paragraph if you know it better.....). He does as the Rebbe bids him but returns days later complaining that his house is more crowded than ever. This goes on for days and days, each time the Rebbe telling him to take more and more into his house, until one day, when the man can stand it no more, the Rebbe tells him to remove all the animals from his home. He returns to the Rebbe the next day and thanks him - - - his house is SOOOO spacious!
Well, I'm that guy today. Last night we took most of Erica's wedding gifts to date over to my mother's house for storage. They had been stacked just about everywhere. In case you don't know Bed Bath and Beyond has a "thing" for oversized boxes and lots and lots of bubble wrap (oooh, did somebody say bubble wrap?). We also took my gown for the wedding, which has been hanging since Monday from the chin-up bar on the kitchen door. So basically our house has been looking like a cross between backstage at a Broadway Show and BB&B's basement. Well, this morning, I've got my big lovely apartment back (save the box of Erica's good china which is too fragile to shlep back and forth). Time to fill it up with FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!! (Woo Hoo - my family is coming and Erica's friends are coming for the wedding. Oh, and Lester is coming!! It just wouldn't be a wedding without Lester!!)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Return of Aviv here I am with Shabbos fast approaching and feeling woefully behind. Not behind really, but let's just say I'm not 100% comfortable with how laid back I've become of late. It's not such a problem now, but when Shabbos comes at 4:15 in the winter, it might be a problem.
Aviv will be returning this Shabbos. He must be a glutton for punishment! I mean, our dining room light blew 5 minutes before Shabbos last week so we had to quickly haul the halogen light from the living room and we had "mood lighting" for dinner. This was nothing compared to the fact that Michael forgot to set the air conditioner in the boys' room to go on over Shabbos! When I heard this (at midnight Friday night) I was horrified (some Hachnosas Orchim!) and told Aviv that if he couldn't bear it, our sofa pulls out. Well, Avram didn't hear this conversation because he had already retired for the night. When Avram woke on Shabbos morning, he saw what he thought was JOSEPH sleeping on the living room couch and *blew a gut* yelling at "Joseph" why he had the nerve to pull out the couch when his own laziness made his room hot - - - ONLY IT WASN'T JOSEPH. Poor Aviv was shocked out of his less than comfortable night's sleep, lol. And yet - - - he's COMING BACK this week. I guess our home must have some redeeming qualities.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lester's English Has Just Improved

After months and months of me reprimanding Lester for using the non-existent word GINORMOUS, it appears that the folks at Merriam-Webster have caved.
According to this Associate Press Story, since it appeared in numerous publications and magazine articles, they decided that warranted officially sanctioning it as a word and putting it in the dictionary.
So let me get this straight... If enough people corrupt the English language, then it's no longer considered a corruption?!?! What kind of logic is that? If enough people break the law, does the LAW change???

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tonight is the 6th Yahrzeit for my beloved father Hachover Raphael Naftali ben Hachover Yosef Aaron HaLevi.
He was a very special man, and I don't just say that because he was my father. He lived through a time that none of us should never have to know from again .... separated from his parents in childhood, travelling to strange countries with only his brother along, and all the while retaining his yashrus, his middos and his emunah. He was a smart man, knowing at least a little bit about just about everything. He was a kind man, always seeking shalom. He was a creative man, using his talents to create many innovative and useful items for our Beis Haknessess. He was a talented Baal Tokeah who will not soon be forgotten by those who had the fortune of hearing him. I wish I could do him more proud.....

I went to visit him today. I always feel better when I do. I hope he knows how proud I am to be his daughter.
I hope to be able to feel the presence of his spirit, along with the spirits of other loved ones at Erica's wedding in a few weeks. I hope they are all together, blessing the union from above.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Is It Me???

I don't know.... maybe I'm just old fashioned.... it's bad enough that I don't seem to think making a wedding into a facebook event is a particularly classy thing to do, but OK - I'll grant you that perhaps that is a generational thing.
But when people think that it is appropriate to send back "maybe" response cards, THERE I'm not going to back down! I thought that the whole point of response cards was for us to know who will be needing a seat at the dinner and who won't. If you don't know whether or not you can make the wedding, doesn't it seem more *logical* just to wait until you do know before sending your response in??!?!?
What am I supposed to do with all your "I'm not sure yet...." cards, hmmm?

Trivia For You - When Is A Valid Passport, NOT?

....apparently, when you are trying to fly to Israel for the summer with your family, with a stopover in Italy, on a passport coming due in September! Go figure. One would think that a passports expiration date is just that, but Aviv found out that things are not always as they appear. So guess who's stranded here without his family until he can obtain a new passport? We were most happy to host Aviv this Shabbos and I was really impressed at what a gentleman he is. He was putting drinks on the Friday night table before Michael and Joseph even had their jackets off (might have something to do with the fact that he wasn't wearing one himself {grin}). He was clearing plates between courses and even at Oma's house while my guys were keeping busy spouting movie lines. Oh, and I MUST mention the most amazing berry chocolate mousse cake he brought from Corner Cafe... I don't think I've *ever* tasted fresh gooseberries before....
It seems we weren't able to scare him off in one weekend - he'll be joining us again next Shabbos. Some people are just gluttons for punishment.
Erica spent Shabbos with Moshe so we were two short, but Oma was able to join us on Friday night.
Norby has taken a summer vacation from window decorations, though he told us for Shabbos Sheva brochos, he can be bribed (think iPhone....) and his parsha panoramas were sorely missed.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

July 8th

Last night we pulled out old home movies to show Moshe. Long after Moshe got tired of them, I was HOOKED. Today is my 23rd wedding anniversary and watching the children grow, and hearing the voices of those I can no longer touch, reminded me of the true value of this wonderful journey. We watched these videos until past 2 am and continued to watch them this morning. How the children have changed, yet keeping their essential personalities intact and true. How happy we were. How happy we ARE. How LUCKY we were AND are.
Binyomin came by today. He brought us this:

It is a copy of the Purim Grammen he wrote and sang for us this past year, while living in our house. He painstakingly added our photos, along with a "thank you" photo of himself. It means so much to me. It will have a place of honor in our living room. Thank you Binyomin!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

This Was Forwarded To Me By Shellie

I'm not usually accustomed to posting forwards, but I found this one particularly interesting. In section 3, I highly recommend reading the linked Chananya Weisman article as well....

Societal Suggestions to Alleviate the Shidduch Crisis
by Hillel Fendel

It has become commonplace to discuss the marriage crisis that exists in Jewish-religious society, wherein too many men and women who wish to be married are not. Various causes have been cited, largely having to do with Western values, over-choosiness, mis-matched potential partner pools, modern society, poor dating skills, and many more. While a proliferation of books, articles, seminars and more are offered to help singles improve their spouse-finding skills, the following article lists four methods that have been suggested as societal solutions. Far from exhaustive, the list is meant to foster discussion and action.

1. Community shabbatonim (Based on an article written by Jewish communal volunteer activist Michael Feldstein): Hold singles Shabbatonim not as a weekend hotel event with dozens and dozens of singles - but rather in a Jewish community with an active synagogue, and with activities and meals integrated with the community. Singles are divided up into groups of six - three males and three females - for Shabbat meals, which are held at host families' homes. This makes for a much more natural and less pressurized environment for singles to meet and mingle. The singles also participate in Sabbath prayers with the community, and participate in the rabbi's class and the Third Meal. In addition to cost benefits and other advantages, singles increase their networking opportunities by interacting with members of the community.

2. Chananya Weismann, founder of, quoting his friend Zevi Adler, suggests that when "proposing a match between two singles, the shadchan (matchmaker) says, 'I am so confident that this is someone you should meet that I am giving you $20 to help pay for the date. If you decide to see this person again, give me back the $20. If you ultimately marry this person, then pay me $2,000.'” Advantages: a. The relationship between the single and the shadchan becomes a partnership infused with professionalism and mutual respect, instead of shadchan-single condescension. b. Once the shadchan has proven that s/he has carefully researched his/her suggestion, and is willing to put money on it, it will be reasonable to expect singles to invest their own time, money, and energy on the suggestion. c. It is a wise investment for the shadchan, who will save time and effort in having to persuade singles to go out on the date. After all, the single will say to himself, “If the shadchan is willing to take a chance, then I’ll take a chance on it, too.” More dates will result, the shadchan's success rate will increase, and the investment will pay for itself many times over. d. Shadchanim who are truly serious about their work will have no qualms about investing in their ideas, just as businessmen do on a regular basis. Those who are even marginally successful will not lose - they will get their money back - and are likely to be amply rewarded; those whose suggestions are rarely accepted for even a second date will go out of business, to everyone's advantage.

3. Mixed seating at weddings - as advocated in this article by Chananya Weismann. Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat writes that though separate-sex seating at a wedding ceremony is halakhically indicated, it can be inferred from Maimonides' ruling that mixed seating at a wedding feast is permitted. "There is another positive aspect to mixed seating at weddings," Rabbi Riskin concludes. "There are often many young single men and women, friends of the bride and groom, who, by sitting together, may meet and which could lead to more weddings, with G-d's help... It goes without saying that there must be a complete separation between men and women during the dancing." Rabbi Aaron Rakefet of Jerusalem has similarly been quoted as saying that those who eat Sabbath meals in mixed company should celebrate their weddings the same way. He cites the "revered Rabbi Yosef Breuer" as saying that "young people should sit together at weddings [because] mitzvah goreret mitzvah [the fulfillment of one commandment leads to the fulfillment of another]. We want people to make shiduchim [matches]. We want boys and girls to meet. We want dates to come out of this [wedding]."

4. Some leading Religious-Zionist Torah scholars in Israel have called for the lowering of the age of marriage. Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira, head of the increasingly popular Yeshivat Ramat Gan, recommends that boys marry before the age of 22, while Rabbi Eliezer Melamed - Yeshiva dean, community rabbi, Halakhic [Jewish legal] decisor, and facilitator of singles events - has recommended that young girls pass up the accepted year or two of post-high school national service in order to be able to marry earlier.

Trying to Be "Dan L'Kaf Zechus"

Maybe it wasn't her who pressed the buttons.............

Monday, July 2, 2007

People Who Need Professional Help Amuse Me

D is a girl who lives in my building. D is supposedly an adult. D doesn't seem to like me, although for the life of me I don't know why. I'm a friendly sort of person....
D never greets me in the elevator in the morning. Moreover, as D pushes passed me to exit the elevator in the morning, she drops the elevator door on me. She then follows up by dropping the main building door on me as well, as we exit the building simultaneously. I've always chalked this up to the fact that perhaps nobody ever taught her manners when she grew up. Perhaps she never had a positive parental role model.....
Today though, D's dysfunction reached an all time high, and although I'm sure she did this to annoy me, she made my day!!!! I overslept this morning and was running late. Jen was in a rush to get to the camp bus stop and refused to leave without me. So Jen went to ring for the elevator as I was collecting my things. The elevator arrived before I did and, just my luck, D was inside. Jen immediately let the door go so that D wouldn't have to wait for my arrival and as the elevator descended, she rang for the elevator again. Wouldn't you know it? D did something I haven't seen since my sons were about 5 years old or so, and trying to annoy each other. D pressed every button in the elevator so that as the elevator returned to the 6th floor to Jen and I, it would first have to stop on each and every floor, thus slowing it's progress. Now, I know that D was trying to annoy me, but I must say that I had an all out belly laugh over it. These are the proud citizens of tomorrow???? These are the "educated singles" in our neighborhood. OK, now granted, most of our singles here wouldn't want to be categorized with D for a host of other reasons, but she really gives young adults a poor name.
But in any case, D, if you're out there THANK YOU!!! You made my day!!!! (... though in all seriousness, I think perhaps you should seek some professional help....)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I've Been "Blogrolled"!

I was surprised to find out that I've been added to the blogroll of somebody whose blog I've never seen, read or heard of. That's not to say I'm not grateful - I AM. It's just that I've always thought that one "asked" to be added, a prospect I was not ever comfortable with. I mean, one should add you because they ENJOY you, not because they'd like reciprocity. I'm not even sure how she found me. But nevertheless, there I am, plain as day, in alphabetical order on the Awesomely Long List of Ortho Blogs. Thanks to the blogger whomever you are. I'd be interested to know how you found me. If any other blogger out there reads and/or enjoys my blog, you may feel free to do likewise, but this time, kindly give me a heads up so that I can thank you :)

The Buzz

You might have noticed that I've been writing a bit less than usual of late. That is because my days/nights/everything in between has been taken up by wedding plans and I have made a conscious effort NOT to expound on the minutiae of these activities.
The main reason for this is Erica and Moshe's privacy. A secondary reason is to avoid sounding like one big colossal kvetch especially since this is a very big brocho and I'm always trying to be conscious about "feeling the moments". And there have been many.... carrying Erica's wedding gown down to the bridal boutique on the A Train, and remembering all the trips on I've taken with my little girl on that very same train, watching Moshe try on his "chosson tallis", choosing wedding invitations, stuffing wedding invitations......
In addition to all the moments that have decorated our days since the engagement, I must also take note of all the colorful people that we've had the fortune/misfortune/amusement to encounter along the way. Like the Printer Lady ("Yogurt R."'s wife) who told us that her husband was so in love w/ Moshe's father that he was coming to the wedding with or without an invitation, the florist who was more interested in Eric's shidduch resume than our order (a short resume though... in her Yiddish accent looking at his loooong resume, "I dunt vant det KREP!"), and the guy from The Buzz today, whose Brooklyn accent was so strong and SO infectious that it took me almost an hour to lose the affectation that wormed its way around to me. Oh, but he was a character, reminding me that to speed things up we should tip the guy who was toveling our purchases BEFORE we stepped out, b/c there wasn't much point in tipping AFTER (more of a bribe than a tip if you ask me....).
My husband often quotes an apropos German phrase: "Die Liebe Gott hatt eine grosse tiergarten" (sp?) {grin}.

Which is Better?

Here's an eternal question for the ages.
Which is better? A great movie with a lousy ending or a lousy movie with an awesome ending. I've spent more time pondering this than I can afford, but I have come to the conclusion that I'll take a lousy movie with an amazing ending any day over the alternative.
Your opinions are welcome and yes, yes, I know.... we ALL prefer a good movie with a good ending.