Monday, March 31, 2008

It's Finally Published!

My singles story is up! At last!

Your comments are welcome, either here on the blog or -- even better -- to

PS I used to have a link here to the article, but heard from readers that the link led to Very Bad Things - has the WJD site been hacked? Anyhow, go to and click on the cover article. It will stay on the homepage for another couple of weeks.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in with feedback!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Things I'm Not Blogging About

Oh, so many things I could be writing about.

I could blog about why the crane accident in New York is freaking me out.

I could blog about how excited I am that I might, maybe, soon be moving out of my little studio and into a bigger apartment which I'll rent with my friend Lisa.

I could write about what idiots they are, as a group, those Israelis who continue to be vocally left-wing. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I could write about how vocal right-wing Israelis, as a group, are among the most hypocritical people eh-var.

I could write about my brilliant three-state solution to the "Arab-Israeli" conflict, and what Israel and the US should offer Egypt and Jordan to accept it.

I could write about how being sans television reception, and getting ALL my news by reading it, affects the way I process and form opinions about world events.

I could write about the amazing lesson I taught today about Chapter 7 of Amos Oz's memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness.

I could write about how pleased I am that my editors love the singles story, though it is incredibly depressing. And though writing a second draft is a pain, there's not so much to do, considering how long the article is.

I could write about some blogs I've discovered, including a new one by my friend RivkA, who has cancer, and this great one by a nurse whose feet I want to kiss.

I could write about my ongoing sleep problems, as a result of which I'm too tired and disorganized to, say, fight Meuchedet for the hitchayvut I need to be tested at the sleep clinic. :-(

But . . . I'm too tired. So instead, I will just sit here and stare, glassy-eyed, at the computer screen.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Last night at 4:45 am I pressed "send" on that story I've been writing about single Jews in America.

Nothing like falling asleep as the sun is coming out and the birds are singing! I feel like a truck ran over me.

But, it is done. Or the first draft, anyway. Thank God! I'll post the link when it's published online.

Meanwhile, here is a fun little story I just published in the New York Jewish Week's "Catered Events" section. Enjoy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Crazy, Life-Affirming Day

Yesterday was insane. The school in which I teach called me: Another English teacher had resigned without notice, and could I start teaching one of her classes in addition to my own? Like, in a couple of hours?

I'm happy to help, and the kids are great, but . . . this is crazy.

And last night I spent 6 hours at an incredibly fun and very beautiful wedding. It seemed that every single person I know (I mean, every unmarried person I know) from Old Katamon was there, in addition to many couples I like a lot. It was fantastic. I danced up a storm.

Meanwhile I have a 3,000-word article to finish. I'm feeling some anxiety about it, but seeing the editor at the wedding last night - and doing the Twist with her - helped!

But the craziest part happened after my classes, when I went to buy a coffee on the way home and discovered that my wallet was missing. I realized that before class I'd sat on a bench outside the school to eat a sandwich - and had left my wallet there. Trying to stay calm, I retraced my steps and went back to the bench, but the wallet was gone. I took a deep breath and decided to wait a little bit before panicking or canceling my credit cards, because in my experience people who lose their wallets usually get them back intact.

I called the voicemail at my house, and sure enough an elderly-sounding gentleman had left a message saying "My name is _____ Rosenberg. I have what appears to be your wallet with your credit cards and identity papers - call me so you can pick it up." Turned out he lived only a few blocks away, so I walked over there and got my wallet back. Indeed he is an older, refined man who lives in a sunny apartment with his wife and lots of books. I offered him 100 shekels, which he refused. I said "you can put it in a tzedaka box." He said "YOU can put it in a tzedaka box." I thanked him profusely and left.

The wallet had EVERYTHING still inside. I'm planning to make a donation to Tafkid and ask them to send Mr. Rosenberg a card saying that it was made in his honor.

After what happened in Jerusalem last week, it's nice to have a day that is crazy - in a good way.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

No Words

I'm just sick over what happened tonight at Merkaz Harav. Those poor boys.

May the injured be quickly and completely healed, and may the families of the dead students "be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."



The fatalities have been identified as Yochai Lipschitz, 18, of Jerusalem; Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar, 16, of Shiloh; Yonadav Chaim Hirschfeld, 19, of Kochav Hashahar; Neriah Cohen, 15, of Jerusalem; Roey Roth, 18, of Elkana; Segev Pniel Avihayil, 15, of Neveh Daniel; Avraham David Moses, 16, of Efrat; and Maharata Trunoch, 26, of Ashdod.

Three of the wounded in the attack at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood were serious condition, and taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Karem.

The other six were lightly hurt and taken to Sha'arei Tzedek Medical Center.
You can send messages to patients at Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital here.

And I can't be sure, but it looks like if you send messages here, they will get to patients at Hadassah.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Worth it to Wince

Last week I called the family of my third cousin. As my long-term readers may recall, I have very few family members in Israel. The only family I have here within an hours' drive is my third cousin, who is ultra-Orthodox and lives with his wife and 10 (bli ayin hara) children in a 3-bedroom apartment in the Bais Yisroel neighborhood. I once stayed with them for Shabbat, but the noise and activity level in their house was a bit much for me. So what we do now is that I sometimes stay with friends in Ramat Eshkol and walk to Bais Yisroel for Shabbat lunch. Basically, I see these cousins about 2-4 times per year - enough to keep up a family connection, but not enough to really be close.

I don't know how close I want to be. They are very nice to me, but sometimes they or one of the kids will say something that reminds me how different their lives and outlooks are from mine, and it's a little uncomfortable for me. For them, too, probably.

Anyhow, I called last week to see if we could set up a time for me to see them. I usually speak with my cousin's wife, Chevy - because she's the one who is home, and also because, I think, he's not really supposed to be having friendly phone calls with a single woman, not even a third cousin. He learns full-time at the Mir.

Chevy asked if I like the theater. I said "Uh, yeah, of course." Because I do. But since when does this family go to the theater?

"My mother is directing a play at her seminary, and the show is next week. Do you want to go with me and [my oldest daughter]? My mother will make sure we have great seats."

"Um, OK," I answered. Because they are the only family I've got within 50 miles, and what am I supposed to say that doesn't sound rude?

So last night I went to a play performed by the American girls at a new Bais Yaakov seminary program in Jerusalem. It was about a 13-year-old haredi boy whose chassidish father is killed in the Yom Kippur War (he is in the Galil teaching soldiers how to wave the lulav, when a bomb falls on them all). To raise money for his poor mother and two sisters, the boy goes to England to take a job as a mother's-helper in the home of an assimilated British Jewish family.

At this point I knew: The play will end with the whole family becoming frum, because of this boy's influence. I whispered as much to Chevy, who confirmed it, and so the show was over for me.

Meanwhile, a few things were clear:
a) Given that the girls had only 2 weeks to rehearse (due to logistical difficulties), they did a fantastic job.
b) There is only so well they could do, with only 2 weeks to rehearse.
c) One girl, who provided comic relief in the character of the family's cook, was absolutely hysterical. There were a few other girls who also did a really great job.
d) They could have used more time to rehearse the scene changes. As it was, it took a few minutes between scenes, and I fell asleep a few times, waiting.
e) The production was a few steps above the level of my high school plays - these girls actually had song and dance numbers, with full choreography, microphones, professional lights, etc.
f) It was only a few steps above a high school play.

Imagine going to a high school play because the mother of your cousin's wife directed it. Oh, God. Help.

g) A level of complexity was added to the plot: The British mother becomes ill and might die, and we don't know at the end of the play whether she will live or not.

I amused myself during the down times by imagining fantastic endings:
The mother will die, and the father will become frum and marry the hero's mom!
They will all become frum, and the British boy will marry the hero's little sister someday!

h) None of that happened, but indeed the whole family is frum now! Hashem has guided our hero to exactly where he needed to be! All's well that ends well! (Except that the mom might die. But that's OK because she has become frum before it was too late.)

Oh, God.

When the lights went on and my cousin and her mom asked me what I thought, I smiled and told them, sincerely, "the girl who plays the cook is absolutely terrific."

Anyhow, for all that it was a night of internal wincing punctuated, occasionally, with a laugh, I'm glad I went. The proceeds went to charity, and anyhow, that's just what you do -

for family.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Special Kind of Dumb

This morning I had the following conversation with a friend, who is also an American immigrant:

Sarah: I don't understand. Why are all these people voting for Obama?

Friend: Because they hate Hillary.

Sarah: What it is about him? He's got this "Obamarama" thing going on, and people are responding to it. Why? Why?

Friend: The bottom line is that Americans, as a group, are stupid. Don't get me wrong, I now live in a country where there is all manner of 'dumb,' but, boy, Americans . . . there are no words.

Sarah: Well, to be fair to Americans, our friend R. [who is from Toronto] once admitted that Canadians are 'no more and no less stupid than Americans.' Maybe everyone is stupid.

Friend: Yes, but Canadians are stupid in the manner of Europeans. And as we all know, Europeans are stupid in their own special way. But Americans, boy oh boy . . .

Now, I bring this up as a preface to the next story, so as to assure you all that when I bring up the foibles of Israelis, I am not singling them out for special treatment. I am 100 percent an equal opportunity stereotype monger, OK?

Now. Here we have this lovely news item, which goes basically like this:

Knesset Director-General Avi Balashnikov: Hey, ladies, it's International Women's Day!

Female Knesset Employees: Yay! Do we get mints on our desks?

KDGAB: No! You will be required to come to special presentations and take a self-defense workshop!

FKE: Um, why only us? Why not the men who work around here, too?

KDGAB: What? And take them away from their important work? Come on, you need these workshops. You need to hear how men discriminate against you, and learn to defend yourselves.

FKE: Yeah, whatever. Talk to the hand.

KDGAB: What? How dare you skip presentations that celebrate you and your needs! We planned all these activities just for you, and by jove, if you don't come and revel in International Women's Day, we'll . . . we'll . . . I know! We'll deny you promotions and pay raises!

FKE: You are discriminating against us because we failed to comply with a discriminatory policy that we, and only we, must participate in a day meant to decrease discrimination?

KDGAB: That's right, biotches. You snooze, you lose.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Carrie Moment

I had dinner at The Coffee Mill, a wee little coffee shop snuggled between an ice cream store and a soap shop on Emek Refaim. I was meeting a Barnard Junior who is spending the semester at Hebrew University. The place is adorned from floor to ceiling with framed covers of The New Yorker, and has excellent sandwiches, gourmet teas, and of course lattes. And wireless internet. I often go there with my laptop and write articles with one hand while sipping cappucino with the other. It is warm and comfortable.

Samantha Moment

After my Barnard connection left, I took my laptop to Tal Bagels, where I am very much a regular.

When I got there, the guard had just prevented two young men from going in, since he wasn't sure there were any free tables. The hostess came outside, saw me, and said to the guys "Sorry, gentlemen, we only have a table for one." She ushered me in ahead of them and led me to my favorite spot in the back, where an empty table for 4 became all mine.

It may not be a hot bar in Manhattan, but that was so cool.