Happy 65th Birthday Israel!

Tonight begins the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut – the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Similar to the 4th of July  Independence Day in the US, but different in that Israel observes Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron – Remembrance Day) the day before Independence Day to remind us of the fact that it was through the bravery, dedication and sacrifices of many that we are able to enjoy independence.

For my family, it’s also a celebration of our liberation from exile. I’m sharing this video for those who haven’t been blessed with the ability to come home.  Intended to be “a feel-good movie to brighten your day” ISRAEL21c produced Israel Shining Bright for 65 years to share with you the people and places that make Israel so special.

Want more? Continue reading Happy 65th Birthday Israel!


12 Year Old Entreprenuer’s Revolution in Jewish Entertainment

aviva-krainessDuring the frenzy of preparing for Pesach, I received an email asking me to share this story on my blog.  I politely told the sender – the father of this amazing 12-year-old – that I was busy cleaning, shopping and cooking (and suspected that most of you were too)  and that I’d get to this after the holidays.

I’ve been extremely busy, but was slowed down this morning by a priority shift – my Mom is in ICU again.  So when the reminder of this message popped up again I decided not to put it off any longer and as I read it, it hit me! I know this child!  Aviva Krainess was in my son’s kindergarten and possibly first grade class back in Cleveland and made Aliyah around the same time we did.  And I remember her name being on my (and Young Israel’s) Tehillim list for a very long time.  Aviva’s story of battle and triumph is inspiring. Amazing!

Please watch the video, read the story and share Aviva’s exciting project with everyone you know who could benefit from a bit of inspiration and love. Continue reading 12 Year Old Entreprenuer’s Revolution in Jewish Entertainment


Remembering the Holocaust in Meaningful Ways

There is no doubt that Yom HaShoah holds significant meaning to individuals whose families were directly affected by the Holocaust and for anyone who has a close bond to the Jewish people.  I don’t know about other Jews by Choice, but for a long time I had difficulty making a connection to this “holiday”.

Growing up in the American public school system in the 60s & 70s,  I can’t recall ever learning about the atrocities of that time period.  I admit that history wasn’t one of my favorite subjects, but I did dutifully memorize the facts I was tasked with for final exams. However, since when presented with history regarding injustice (e.g., slavery, civil rights, etc.) the activist within me stirred and I not only remembered the stories but also wrote reports and articles expressing my disgust and commitment to creating a better world,  why did I have such little knowledge of the Holocaust? This certainly leads me to wonder about the history curriculum in my NY public school, and with the watering down and rewriting of history in the interest of political correctness I can only imagine what else isn’t taught today.

It wasn’t until I was studying Jewish history in preparation for my conversion that I learned the details through many books I checked out from the JCC library (a wise rabbi advised me to learn everything I could about the Holocaust so I would be better prepared to make an educated decision regarding aligning myself with a nation that continues to be persecuted). Eventually I decided that despite the past – or maybe because of it – I would join the Jewish nation.

For the next 3 or 4 years I was obsessed with the subject, watching the new book releases for more first-hand stories like these: Continue reading Remembering the Holocaust in Meaningful Ways


Counting our Many Blessings

soldier-shipFrom the awesome view of Jerusalem and our ability to easily travel there whenever we want, to the variety of kosher l’Pesach foods, the feeling of connectedness with everyone we meet, perfect holiday weather, and the smiles on the faces of the kaleidoscope of nationalities blending into Am Israel, we feel so extremely blessed to be living in this Holy Land! And that’s just the simple things… then there are the incredibly humble yet learned Rabbis who provide us with their sweet guidance and the men and women of the IDF who joyfully serve our nation. [continue to video…] Continue reading Counting our Many Blessings


2 – 2 + 1 = Mashiach

Shabat shalom Yesterday I woke up pondering this question and it’s still on my mind so I’m sharing some brain food for Shabbat this week…

If we didn’t have 2 Chief Rabbis of Israel, but instead only 1, we’d have the Kohen Gadol and Mashiach – correct?

In other words, if we focused on what unites us and dispose of what divides us…

Shabbat Shalom!


Tu B’Shvat 5773

This has been quite an upside-down, inside-out sort of month!  Every single plan I had was interrupted by something that caused plans to change or be abandoned.  This week began with a stomach bug (for me) and my mom being rushed to the ER and now still in ICU. Clients I had planned to do work for weren’t ready with materials I needed, while old clients who had been dormant suddenly had emergencies that needed my attention. As I was getting on the bus this morning heading to Jerusalem to help train a new employee (which I was supposed to have done on Monday), I received a call indicating that the new guy couldn’t make it and the boss was working from home!  Somehow the events of this week transformed me and as I disconnected from the call I said a silent “ayn baya” and continued on to Jerusalem. Continue reading Tu B’Shvat 5773


Pray for our Soldiers

As the IDF launches “Amud Anan” (Pillar of Defense), please pray for our soldiers.

Praying and learning Torah in the merit of a soldier’s service for Am Israel was instituted by King David.  For anyone not sure what prayers to recite, Tehillim (Psalm) 23 has been suggested.  A list of soldier’s names Continue reading Pray for our Soldiers


Customs vs. the Freelancer

Last week I received a page-long notice from the Israel Postal Service indicating that a shipment had arrived for me and I needed to travel all the way to Givat Shaul to pick it up!  There were lots of Hebrew words and I didn’t have the time or patience to two-finger type them all into Google Translate to figure out what on earth they wanted from me! So I scanned the document and sent it off to my good friend and lawyer Tzvi Szajnbrum for advice while I was doing some maintenance on his Voleh site.

Tzvi advised me to take the notice to the Post/Customs office in Givat Shaul and that I’d probably have to fill out a form to retrieve my merchandise.  So this morning I took the trip (with my headache and sore throat) and acquired a number upon arrival – #173, they were serving #161, it could be worse… I sat down and waited.

When #171 was called, I left my seat and started working my way to the front of the place to avoid losing my spot to an impatient Israeli, and that’s when an alert worker just coming off break noticed the paper in my hand and kindly told me I was in the wrong place!  I needed to go to the Meches (customs) office around the corner, down the hall and through the door. Continue reading Customs vs. the Freelancer


Letter to an American Friend

I received an email from an old friend last week updating me on the growth of her family and ending with a statement that could be taken as sincere concern – or cutting (because it’s sometimes difficult to detect someone’s  intent in an email). After mentioning that her husband isn’t happy at work but stays for the insurance she said:

“Jobs are not easy to come by these days. I hope I did not hit a sour note with that comment. I hope both of you are employed.”

I took it with a grain of salt (because we did struggle with employment in the beginning) and I’m gong to share my response to her here because this is what I’d like to say to all U.S. Galut Jews: Continue reading Letter to an American Friend


21st Century Mommy Time Bandits

While hiking to the mall this morning (uphill both ways, really!) to do my weekly shopping, I was disturbed by the fact that it is already Thursday!  I wondered, does time fly faster in the Holy land? Or do 21st Century working mothers have more to juggle than our ancestors?  Where did the time go this week?

Rewinding the week I remembered that in addition to my daily walk to the mail station and corner market, the usual food prep, laundry, banking, bill paying and planning the Shabbat menu I: Continue reading 21st Century Mommy Time Bandits