Endless Winter 2013-14

No way I want to keep that much #snowSnowed in again #Westchester
   Early childhood center new post sign

Winter 2013-14, a set on Flickr.

When enough is enough already.

I have then to remember how beautiful Mother Nature can be thanks to some chosen still.

But for an every day look at the temperatures and the landscapes, I have had enough of it.

This winter is brutal and endless. Bring the next season on please!

The Ripple Effect

Samuel Asher Sommer z

Sorrow – by Rebbeca Schorr

When sorrow strikes, it knows how to hurt.
It can also bring words to spring you into doing something to make the hurt be useful.

As I am carefully choosing some words to share publicly here, a family is getting ready to bury their son, their brother, their grandson, their cousin, their nephew, their friend, and to face the awful reality to go on living without him forever.

I have known the mother who is going to have to do this today for many years online, as she was one of the first rabbis I encountered when I started blogging and when I was later trying to get our own rabbi to give it a try. She is known as @imabima on Twitter and Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. When she received the devastating news that her second child, in June 2012, had leukemia, she started chronicling the difficult journey until the unfathomable moment “Superman Sam” died on Saturday morning.

There is so little I can do when I am “just” an online friend, when the country is wide and the distances long, to accompany the family in this most painful day. So I choose to let my own followers know about the story, if they have never heard about it yet, and if they have already I remind them how I care about it, and how it hurts to have yet another tragedy to share.

If you do not know the Sommer family, you can get to read what has been shared and how Sam made an amazing impact of thousands and thousands now of readers. And if he has been able to do so via the power of social media, you can only imagine how much more impact his life of eight years must have had on those who held him in their embrace. This is a terrible loss, but his legacy and his memory will be for a blessing always if we continue doing something in remembering him.

His mother will shave her head on March 31, 2014 as part of a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for pediatric cancer research, launched by #36rabbis and now followed by others. If you are compelled by the story and do not know what to say, just donate something to any of these brave and positive people who want to raise awareness as well as incredibly needed funds for research. So that we don’t have to keep telling you about those wonderful children who touched our lives and left us crying their loss.

I donated to the #RabbisInTheBackRow, because this is where I would sit if I was present in the room, and also because those with less hair should also see big dollars on their donation pledge. I can’t shave, and I am not a rabbi, but I can write and call you to action, a small one can have such a ripple effect indeed.

Thank you.

 

John Fitzgerald Kennedy – Archives vidéo et radio Ina.fr

See on Scoop.itUS Presidential Politics – Foreign and Interior – Since Obama Re-Election 2012

Au coude à coude avec le républicain Richard Nixon, John Fitzgerald Kennedy est élu président des Etats-Unis le 8 novembre 1960. Il prendra ses fonctions le 20 janvier 1961.

Otir‘s insight:

50 years after his assassination, tribute and retrospective as viewed by France at the time. 

See on www.ina.fr

The Truth 365: A National Priority

See on Scoop.itUS Presidential Politics – Foreign and Interior – Since Obama Re-Election 2012

During the recent government shutdown, vulnerable childhood became a hot topic of discussion. Elected leaders from both political parties held press conferen…

Otir‘s insight:

Cancer is so emotional an issue but it doesn’t mean we’re approaching it the best way we can through policy. These kids wereliving proof of that. 

I find it utterly shocking that it is always a matter of profit, that funding research is being part of a business-like mentality and not a building-life or repairing the world attempt so that we can restore our hope and our faith in having done something to re-tip the broken balance. 

See on www.youtube.com

Back home

to_do_list_returning-home

Give him space: check – Empty backpack and suitcase: check – Laundries (3 or 4): check – Store addresses: check I guess… A long day, that started at 4:00 am to get to JFK and pick-up the returning traveler.

Five weeks: they went so fast. Truth to the matter I certainly never had time to miss him. I told him so, because it does not mean I don’t love him, and that his presence in the family dynamics is not necessary, and that I don’t need to have him around, and that when he is away I miss having the moments we share, and that are priceless.

It just went crazy fast because I am busy with my own life, and because I was especially confident that he was having the adventure of a lifetime. And also, and above all because the organization is so flawless, that every plan was stored, that I could “follow” where he must have been, because the information-control-freak in me had everything in check from tracking the air travels to measuring the time of the day or the night with the time differences, to checking the weather. Not mentioning the scrutinizing each posted picture to decipher whether the proper shoes were on, that there was no sign of a broken limb or dehydrated body in the heat of the desert…

chameau

Reading the multiple blogposts published on NFTY Israel’s blog was also a treat. From what others -adults and teenagers alike- were writing, gave me the proper perspective I needed to follow, to imagine places I have never been to, and to make me dream or think of what it could be like for a sixteen year-old young man to be going through, coming from the relative comfort of a very privileged life in twenty-first century United States, when hitting that stage in life when you really need to confront your idealism to real life far, far away from the parental hovering and sheltering.

It also gave me so many opportunities to remember that I have been sixteen, some decades ago (centuries? oy veyz mir!) and what happened when I left, when I went on other sides of the world, and discovered my self without being a child anymore, how I came back transformed for ever and what a transition it had been, with so many points of no return…

Not anything to calm down any parental anxiety, that is for sure, but just because I could remember, I was so determined to let it happen, for the better and with joyful anticipation: my son is not me, and my experiences are not his, can’t be, but they can still educate me in listening, understanding, and being there for him when he needs it: and I am well aware that the cultural shock of coming back to the sameness that is left in the comfort of his home needs time and patience to set in.

Son back home after 11 hour flight

Back home from NFTY Israel 2013

From Generation to Generation

Auschwitz_2013I knew that sending my son away for a defining journey accross the world was going to be emotional: I was prepared. I was very proud that he had chosen to undertake the pilgrimage to his roots, and to travel through Central Europe prior to his first visit to the Land of Israel. This program, called “NFTY-Israel L’Dor V’Dor”, from generation to generation, is designed to introduce the teens to their heritage, most of them being descendants of Jews coming from this area, Czekoslovakia, Ukraina, Lithuania, Poland… Many of them, too, having heard of the many family members who perished in the Nazi atrocities that took place on the very land they were going to visit seventy years later.

They are discovering how rich the Jewish life was prior to be decimated. The remnants are powerful, and no one can measure on paper how much emotion they carry. Because human life is stronger than just a story, it has a soul and a way to attach itself into symbols, and into the passing of these symbols into the very same rituals that we observe today: you go far away from home, and some of the things you see, names, places, signs, are strangely familiar and known.

Retzei

Passage from the prayer R’tzei – mural from the preserved hidden synagogue in Terezin

The teens went to visit the camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau. They grew. They understood something that has no words to describe the experience. Each of them is going to process differently and make what they felt their own in their own way. Some took pictures, some wrote poems and shared, some kept silent and will talk about it later, some will never say anything about it, but still, they are transformed by the experience anyways and they are grown from it, like having received sprinkles of a spiritual shower that has been particularly attached to that place, so that the seeds of life that were planted there for the wrong reasons – hatred, fear, prejudice – grew into love, support, understanding: life.

DSCF0951-L

This generation of teens is the very last one who will be able to hear the stories from those who were their age at the time: what they lived, what they did, and how they remember it and what happened to them since. Next generations will only hear from those who were told the stories, and decided to pass them on.

But, we Jews, have done that for centuries. We know how to pass stories that stay alive. I am thankful for my community, for my Jewish family to allow this adventure to go on for the better, for life. Whenever something difficult is ahead, we know we can face it and transform it into hope and growth.

To quote one of the groups’chaperones, Rosanne Selfon, “Forever changed, but forever Jewish”.

Those Teens were traveling with NFTY in Israel - an organization providing Summer Israel experiences for teens.

SAM_forever-be

Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning for humanity

The Original 1982: a book review and some personal musings

The Original 1982The Original 1982 by Lori Carson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

I wrote a short book review to jot down my first reaction after I just finished reading this book. It was a very pleasant read. I have not been reading a lot recently, because I keep falling asleep every time I am reading a book I hold in my hands. That is a sad state of affair, but it is true. I love books, but I have not been able to manage time to keep them in my life. I certainly feel bad about that. I regularly promise myself that I will read more, I sign up for book club’s meeting and attend some of them even, but nevertheless, I have not yet caught up with the Everest-like pile of “to read” books that I am building up.

So this one felt really good, because of my personal challenges.

I could certainly relate easily with Lisa Nelson, the narrator in the novel, because we are the same generation. What happened to her did not happen to me, so I was very interested in feeling what she was going through, so that I could understand her pain and sadness. She made it possible to like her despite how foreign her life could have been to me. It turns out that it was not that foreign at all: she fell in love with a musician, like I did at the same age she did.

Like she did in the original 1982 (in my case I would date it back to the original 1984, if I was writing a book about it, which I am not, obviously), I had made some choices that at the time did not appear like choices. It rather felt like I was forced by the others to do what I ended up doing.

Lori Carson’s story reminds me that this is not the case: we are never forced by anyone, their will can be strong and our fears can be leading us onto the wrong path, the one that we will end up regretting bitterly when we are middle aged woman left with sorrow and endless wonderings about the what-ifs.

And then, all of a sudden, we can choose again to make it happen, we can write a different story and make the storyline take a different course, giving birth to a soul that was there all the way with us, but that we did not take the time and effort to acknowledge or feel or get to know better.

I am looking forward to meeting the author very soon. I hope I can share about her book and what it allowed me to realize, even if I probably knew it all the way before. The power of writing lays there, and I am pretty thankful for this first novel to have spelled it out so well.

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