Sunday, May 22, 2016

Spirituality = Mental Health (we're getting there...)

I started therapy last month as a result of my husband requesting and pushing me to do so. I got lucky; the nearby university had an opening and I grabbed it (they have Master's and PhD students conduct therapy sessions at a reduced cost as part of their requirements for graduation).

I won't get into all the details about why I'm going to therapy but I'll say this.. I've heard that the three biggest stressors in life are (not necessarily in this order): losing a job, moving, and someone close to you dying. In the past couple years, I've hit all three. I have never really had the time or opportunity to deal with all of this when it happened, so now I'm doing so - for my health and for my family's health.

My therapist is a great guy, an Israeli with fantastic English (I'm really impressed). He was assigned to me after I described the issues I'd like to resolve and I truly enjoy our conversations each week. Sometimes there's a concept or word that we have trouble expressing but we get through it. At the end of each session, he almost always has a unique perspective on what I've shared the past hour.

I guess that's the point... sometimes we get so deeply mired in our own lives and minds that we can't dig ourselves out, we can't get an outside perspective on what we've experienced or how someone's decision 35 years ago benefits us now. Let me share...

When I was little (or just before I was born, I don't know), my mom and dad were driving in a car, chatting about how they wanted to raise their children. At that point, they already had two (maybe three) kids, and wanted to make sure that we grew up enjoying Judaism, married Jewish, and remained (at least somewhat) religious. They realized that in order to do so, they needed to act the same way and so they made a conscious decision to become more observant of the laws of Judaism.

Fast forward several decades.

I've made quite a journey through Judaism. I pulled away when I was a teenager (due to my dating a secular Jew), then stopped being religious altogether for about eight months. I hated it. All my weeks starting running together. Nothing seemed special; I felt ordinary. So I went back to keeping the Sabbath and kosher and I've loved it (mostly) ever since. The Sabbath is my weekly vacation and mikveh (the ritual bath - but that's another whole story) allows me to give my kids' souls a fresh, clean start in life (and hopefully won't screw them up too much along the way). I don't always cover my hair, but when I do, I make sure to match my scarves to my outfit in an artistic way.

With my belief in G-d and feelings of spirituality, I have faith that things happen for a reason. I don't know what those reasons are, but I don't need to.

Years ago, when a close family friend passed away suddenly from cancer in his early 40s, I was shaken. The deceased man's brother was a rabbi and he shared a story at the funeral. He explained that our lives are represented by the back of a tapestry. It is made up of knots, this yarn leading to that yarn, colors leading into other colors - none of it makes sense. But... if you were able to look at the FRONT of the tapestry, it would be a gorgeous picture.

The problem is, we don't get to see the front of the picture while we're in this world.

I am not telling you what to feel or to religiously observant, but I had to have some sort of belief that there is a bigger picture. I am simple human being with a good, but limited, brain. I'm simply not capable of seeing why bad things happen, but I know, I believe, that things happen for a reason. Maybe I'm wrong and there are times when it's just sh*tty luck, but I don't think so.

After I relayed all this to my therapist, he asked me if I believed that my mom passed away for a reason. The truth is, when people pass away, when things just suck, people want to understand why it happened. When my mom passed away, I think I also wanted to understand why (I don't remember), but I know that right now, the 'why' doesn't matter as much because it happened. Period. It is what it is.

After talking this through with my therapist, he helped me realize (just by him listening, of course) that if I weren't religious and observant, more so if I weren't spiritual, I would be a lot worse off when dealing with the loss of my mom (and everyone else I've lost). Trust me, that ain't a pretty picture.

What else did he tell me? That 35-37 years ago, when my mom and dad made that decision to raise us as Jewish kids, to give us that support, they also, unknowingly, gave me the spiritual tools to deal with their passing away.

Mind blown.

That's quite a long yarn woven over the course of decades. I am forever grateful to my parents for that tapestry - in my mind's eye, it is gorgeous.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Feminism and the Sexodus

I've had the feminist conversation with many people over a course of years, and most people, if not all, assume that I am a feminist... perhaps it's because, from the outside, I seem to be the epitome of that ideal: strong, independent, career-driven, with my law degree and my own firm only two years after graduating from Wayne State Law School. I am now 36 years old, married the love of my life two years ago, and have a gorgeous little boy who celebrates his first birthday next month. I have the best of both worlds, just as feminists claim we can all have.

But that almost didn't happen and it doesn't happen for many of us.

Avi Woolf is correct in his article, The Jewish Sexodus, when he says that "the war on masculinity as such throughout popular culture and society ... has reached the point that many men have decided love and marriage just ain't worth it."

For years now, it is expected of women that, after college, we should put our energy into our careers. Men are of little importance and low priority since we assume that they will wait for us. But why should they when all we do is bash them (take a close look at the commercials on television or read any anti-male jokes) or worse yet, communicate in subtle or not-so-subtle ways that we do not need them. We have sperm banks, nannies, and can be single Super-moms. It's little wonder men resort to porn, video games, and/or concentrate on their own careers.

Men and women are leading parallel lives, sadly separate from each other. By the time women realize that we are in our thirties, instead of having a loving husband and rambunctious kids (those who want them), we are alone with our other amazing, lonely girlfriends in our great jobs.

Since the rise of feminism decades ago, the insistence that women deserve "equality," and that men are pathetic, emotionless, grunting creatures who we only need for their sperm, the age at which women are getting married has risen and we have even now reached the point where our gene pool and future are losing out on some of these great women (and the men who would have married them) altogether.

Each week I worry about my girlfriends who are my age (and sometimes older) who are as-of-yet unmarried. They are truly remarkable women. Smart, extremely talented, outgoing, hardworking, friendly, funny, and pretty. They are catches - all of them. But where are the men? Where are their matches? They are dating and marrying younger women, who want stability and a husband. And how can you argue with the men's choices of a younger wife? It gives the men more time with their wife, more time to have children, and they don't have to fight so hard with an already established, unforgiving, possibly sour or disappointed thirty-something who expects more than reality can provide.

"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." This quote by Irina Dunn is commonly used and garners laughs among women. Generally, women do feel as though we are superior to men (due to emotional strength, empathic abilities, the seemingly innate ability to multitask, and the fact that we can give birth), but we forget that most men are generally physically stronger, more logical, and better at problem solving.

Dunn's quote fixates on our feelings of confidence and inflates our ego such that, despite the quote being untrue, our feelings are manipulated so that the delicate balance between men and women is undermined. Feminism (and the related bashing of men) ends up the tool that creates an over-inflated sense of self-worth in women and pushes away men.

Don't misunderstand me. I am a feminist (by the old standard). I know what and where I am today is a result of other women's diligence in fighting for rights and equality (one of whom was a great-great aunt, the first female law student at an ivy league school).

Hear this. Women are equal to men in importance. We are entitled to our careers, to equal pay for equal work. We are deserving of respect for our ideas, hard work, and diligence. If we choose to stay at home and raise our children and keep house, we should receive huge respect for that as well. If we choose to marry, or not, have kids or not, that is OUR CHOICE. But one cannot argue or ignore the lost idea before feminism ruined all of this -

Men and women are not equal; we are DIFFERENT.

Were we to accept our differences, glory in them, appreciate and embrace our yin and yang, and, more importantly, internalize that women NEED men, then perhaps women wouldn't focus 110% of our time and energy into our careers. Women want so badly to be equal to men, but men are able to handle a job and dating/marriage. Why can't we? What is so wrong with wanting to find your partner in your twenties instead of being selfish and self-absorbed for that decade and more?

Nothing.... but that was the truth that feminism beat out of us.

The essence and original ideas of feminism, that of equal pay, respect, and honoring a woman's choice, were commendable. The problem is that those ideals didn't remain true. They expanded into the belief that women are better (by stepping on the backs of men) and even mocked the very definition of itself when women who chose to stay at home to raise their children were berated as being an anathema to the "cause."

Fortunately, my story has a happy ending (thus far). I got lucky in finding my husband, even if I had to import him from another country. But getting married at the ripe old age of 34 also gives me little time to have the number of children that I would like. As such, I will have to (briefly) set aside the career I worked on so diligently just to focus on family. I would have been better off getting married younger so that I could dedicate my time more efficiently. Had I done that, I also would have had a partner to help me meet my goals, and perhaps I would have achieved even more. We will never know. But we can accomplish this for the next generation of women and men....

The first step is getting rid of this bastardization of feminism, the holier-than-thou attitude for women, and the war against men.



For more interesting reads on feminism, alpha females, and the war on men (I'll add them as I find them):
Should Non-Feminist Men Just Drop Dead?
The Alpha Female
Marriage Gap

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Future Belongs to Those Who Show Up (A Guide to a First Date)

If you don't do, you won't get. 
If you want her/him, make her/him feel wanted.
If you're on a first date (finding a date is the subject of another blog), here are some rules you'll want to consider if you want it to continue to a second date. Keep in mind that you're interviewing someone with whom you might spend the rest of your life. Be honest, but be polite. It may work out (or it may not, but she/he knows someone for you).

MEN:

  1. Dress nicely (as is appropriate for the event). You can never go wrong with a blazer; it can go well with jeans or slacks. Bonus: it covers up sweat stains (if you're nervous) and allows you to offer it to your date (see Rule #15).
  2. Smell nicely! Smell is a very powerful sense. Showering before the date is not enough. Spray on a little cologne (NOT too much) - your scent shouldn't enter the room first and knock her back on her feet.
  3. Be trimmed and combed (hair, beard, and nails). If she wanted to date a Neanderthal who could climb walls with his fingernails, she'd build a time machine.
  4. Do not suggest a place where you might run into your ex, your crush, your parents, etc.
  5. Do not talk about any previously dated women, even in an attempt to give her a compliment. All comments should be directed toward your date.
  6. Do not talk about past relationships and do NOT look at other women. The date is about spending time with her.
  7. Do not talk excessively about your work. Women want to know you're successful, hard-working, and have goals. We do not want to think you are a stressed out, unappreciated, underpaid, angry workaholic.
  8. Do not talk excessively about yourself. Women like to know that you're actually interested in her.
  9. The Art of the Compliment... one of the toughest of the rules. Try to find the adjective that the woman would think applies to her. Do not excessively compliment her (if you are really blown away by this person, try to make some of the compliments more subtle or hidden); you don't want to scare her away or make her think you'll morph into a stalker.
  10. Do not ask the woman if she would split the bill or tip. It shows you're cheap (not frugal).
  11. If she does offer to pay half the dinner bill and you enjoyed her company, don't let her pay. If you hated every moment, let her pay her half and thank her politely.
  12. Don't be rude. If you aren't having a good time, either politely end the date early (though not in the middle of dinner or a movie) or suffer through it and be polite at the end. And just because you were miserable doesn't give you the right to ask for her half of the dinner bill. Don't ask for the cost of her movie ticket either (suck it up; it's not that expensive).
  13. Open the door for the woman and pull her chair out for her. It has nothing to do with whether she's a lady or a whore; it shows more for you, the perpetual gentlemen.
  14. Don't talk about anything negative (that means you don't bring up your bad business luck or the fight you just had with your mother). If you have to explain your bad mood, be vague but positive, and DO NOT allow the bad mood to accompany you throughout your date.
  15. Ask the woman if she's cold (don't wait for her to volunteer that information). If she is, give her your jacket.
  16. Put your cell phone away (unless you're an ER doctor or on-call, in which case you should let her know ahead of time [and then she'll feel great she's on a date with a doctor]). If you must, play the cell phone/bill game (and then refuse to let her pay).
  17. Don't give her false hope. If it didn't work for you, simply tell the girl that it isn't going to work out and never, ever tell the girl why (even if she asks). Don't not call her and assume she'll take the hint.
  18. If you do like her, either ask her for a second date at the end of the first date (if you feel extremely confident) or ask/tell her you'll call her the next day (and do so). Do what you say you're going to do.
  19. NO TEXTING until the third date or so (unless it's a quick thank you for the date). There are nuances that are missed and it becomes impersonal too quickly.


WOMEN:

  1. Dress nicely (as is appropriate for the event).
  2. Smell nicely! Smell is a very powerful sense. Showering is insufficient... Spray on a little perfume. Make him want to get closer to smell it (in other words, don't spray it on like a whore).
  3. Wear a little makeup (depending on your personality). Don't layer it on with a spatula (he'll wonder what you are hiding underneath); moderate or light makeup (evening out skin tone and hiding blemishes) shows you care about your looks, even if you don't.
  4. Do not suggest a place where you might run into your ex, your crush, your parents, etc.
  5. Do not talk about any previously dated men. All comments should be directed toward your date.
  6. Do not talk about past relationships or look at other men. The date is all about him.
  7. Do not give excessive details about work stuff. Men want to know you care about your job; they don't need to know about interpersonal office drama.
  8. Don't be self-centered and talk excessively about yourself. People want to know you're interested in them too.
  9. Don't talk about marriage, how many children you want to bear, or girly subjects unless you want to scare the guy away. Don't be that girl.
  10. Split the bill or at least offer to split it (or pay tip). Guys go on many dates and it is unfair to expect a guy (who likely makes as much as you) to constantly pay for twice as many meals as any normal human being can eat. You're not a precious flower waiting to be plucked.
  11. If you are hinting something to the guy and he doesn't seem to notice, open your mouth and be vocal. Some guys are better than others about reading body language - do not make him read your mind.
  12. Don't be rude. If you aren't having a good time, either politely end the date early (not in the middle of dinner or a movie) or suffer through it and be polite at the end. And just because you were miserable doesn't mean you shouldn't offer to pay for half of dinner.
  13. Don't order the most expensive thing on the menu but don't be a supermodel and order an appetizer for dinner. Men want to know their women are normal.
  14. Have fun and SHOW that you're having fun. Men are visual creatures who have ears. They are NOT psychic. Use happy words and SMILE. Say you are having a good time.
  15. Don't give him false hope. If it just didn't work for you, be clear in telling the guy that it isn't going to work BEFORE he thinks to ask you out again. And never, ever tell the guy why (even if he asks).
  16. If you do like him, let him know with words and actions. Be open and provide him with your phone number.
  17. NO TEXTING until the third date or so (unless it's a quick thank you for the date). There are nuances that are missed and it becomes impersonal too quickly.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, a first date doesn't go well. I'm a huge proponent of people going on second dates. The first impression shouldn't always be the last, and you never know what the circumstances were that caused the awful first date (who knows, they might have been sick or they might have been extremely nervous because they like you so much)....

Good luck!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Harriet Carole Gaba Drissman, a"h

My Mom's Roots
On August 25, 1940, 74 years ago today, Harriet Carole Gaba was born to two proud parents: Tillie and Dr. Howard Gaba. She was a breech baby and needed surgery to fix a condition when she was younger, but she was a feisty little thing even back then and thrived. Her parents were a hard-working couple and Tillie helped Howard run his physician practice, which took place in Hazel Park, Michigan (one of the only locations left that needed physicians - he had missed the pick of the locations because he fought in WWII in the Philippines, but worked his tail off regardless).

Harriet was their first and she was adorable. Dark curly hair and dark eyes. Because they didn't have a lot of money, the Gabas lived with Tillie's sister, Rose, and her husband Harry Saltzman. Those two couldn't have kids so they helped Tillie and Howard raise theirs. Harriet and Lawrence were born before Howard fought in the War, and Arthur and Joanne were born after he came back. Howard was never the same and had a temper at times, but he did the best he could, raising the four kids with his wife and playing chess. He eventually became a Master and ran his own chess tournament in the Detroit area.

Harriet was a good kid, and would sit quietly for hours as her aunt would curl her hair in the mornings before school. Each summer, they would meet their cousins from Chicago in South Haven and spend the entire summer in the water. She loved South Haven and had great memories from there.

Young Harriet
Harriet loved art, folk dancing, and traveling. She lived in California in the 1960s and even painted a mural on a cafe wall in Los Angeles. She made good friends wherever she went and people would always remember her. One of her close friends, Murray, even asked her if she'd design he and his wife's wedding bands. She did and they still wear them.


Mom dancing with Murray at his wedding
She was extremely politically motivated and was close friends with R' Meir Kahane. She arranged his speaking engagements and he would stay at our house when in town.

In the early 1970s, she moved to, and lived in, Israel, with the intention of making Aliyah. She started by drawing caricatures on the street, then worked in a PR and advertising firm. She was close to Avi Shochat and we all remained close with him and his family for years.

Mom dancing with "Big Avi"
She knew Michael Drissman for years from Detroit and they kept in touch. He would occasionally visit Israel and they'd hang out together. She even tried setting him up with one of her friends when he arrived, but (fortunately) it didn't work out.

Harriet and Michael
Eventually they got closer and, in 1973, he visited Israel again. While there, he spent a lot of time with her, and while she was sitting in her chair in the PR firm in Tel Aviv, he asked if she'd like to get married. She said yes, then asked if he was serious. He was. She got excited and called her mother. He didn't. She asked Michael if he was going to; he said, I'll send her a letter. And so he did... It was their first argument and they kept each other on their toes for the next 40 years.

For him, Harriet moved back to the United States, and on November 18, 1973, Harriet Gaba became Harriet Drissman.

They had five kids, and Harriet was a part-time teacher and a stay-at-home mom. She took us to camps in the summer, taught us to paint and would have us draw/paint canvases. Those would be hung on her walls in her house. She'd make us lunches for school every day and write our names and grades on the front of the paper bags. Her father, Howard, taught us chess, and we'd practice with our Abba (Michael).

She argued with my school when they wanted to hold me back a year simply because I was young. She won that argument. She arranged for my brother Avi to get advanced math studies in middle school because he surpassed all the 8th graders' capabilities and she made sure we attended all of his award ceremonies (even if we were late - it was tough getting all five kids to move on time). Mom tried making all of us readers by finding out what each of us was into. She took us to the Brandeis Book Fair and we could buy WHATEVER books we wanted. She would push the cart for us and we'd run out and back with more and more choices.

She taught us to swim at the Jewish Community Center pool because she was terrified that we'd drown. My dad had never learned to swim so she took us religiously and taught us different strokes. We had to complete ten full lengths each summer night during our visits to the pool in addition to our playtime.

My mom took care of my dad when he had a major heart attack in 1984; she held strong in taking care of her mother when she was sick with cancer in the mid-80s, and when both her parents died in 1987. She remained the family rock when her Aunt Rose and Uncle Harry died and when my dad's Aunt Selma and Uncle Ruby died - also in the late 80s. She kept going when my father had a major stroke in 1989 and was off work for 12 years. She made our finances work somehow; 5 kids in a private day school and a recovering husband. It was a rough decade for all of us, but especially for her.

She decided that life was too short to wait for recoveries and so we started our family vacations. We drove all over, seven of us in a minivan. New York, Toronto, San Antonio, Washington, D.C., Palo Alto, Orlando. We Drissmans saw the country. She gave us games to play while we were driving and had patience even while we *really* had to pee between highway exits.

In 1991 we went to Israel because my dad's Russian cousins escaped Russia. She helped arrange the trip and made sure everything ran pretty smoothly. In 1992, she helped bring my two cousins back to the US for a summer trip. She argued with Washington because they didn't want to allow two Russian brothers to come here at the same time; they figured they wouldn't want to leave. My mom won that argument and we spent a great summer together (we are still close).

She wanted us to love being Jewish so she made each holiday special. We dressed up every Purim (she'd go costume hunting after Halloween) and she made the story of Passover come alive with frogs and ping pong balls and wild animals on our table.

She would take us into the voting booth with her, had us join her when she would "plaster" cars with flyers and defend her role as a mother when others would question her actions. She was fierce.

The Curiosities of My Mom
My mom loved Michigan. She loved the land and the people here. She liked Kid Rock and Eminem. She thought they were talented and it made her happy that they were proud to be Michiganders. I even played her Kid Rock's song about Northern Michigan. She wouldn't necessarily listen to it, but she loved it.

My mom loved the Summertime bc she got to spend time with us. The back-to-school commercials upset her because she felt that parents should want to spend time with their kids. She didn't make us go back to school before her birthday because it was still summer. She preferred to buy Michigan-made items first, then American-made items, but Israeli-made items trumped them all.

My Mom, Complicated and Layered
My mom wasn't perfect. She had a temper just like her dad, which she hated. She told me that each generation should be better than the last so she was glad that, even with her temper, it was still less than his. She felt bad every time she lost her temper. She knew she wasn't perfect, but she tried every week to find the positive. She even made us, every Friday night, come up with the Grateful Policy. We had to list three things we were grateful for; they had to have happened in the last week and they couldn't be sports.

She didn't understand all of us. She insisted that we all get along. It broke her heart to see us fighting. But she and my dad created five very different people, and it was bound to happen that she didn't "get" all of us. She tried her very best, but even at the end, she worried that she didn't do enough for us.

To others, my mom was always smiling, always pleasant. She wasn't always like that.. she was under a lot of pressure and stress. She tried to keep a positive face but it just wasn't always possible. Not many people knew but that was because it wasn't anyone else's business...

She taught us to keep judgments to ourself. If we wondered about other people's finances, she'd say, oh, you know what's in their bank account? In that way, she constantly reminded us to not judge others and to give them the benefit of the doubt.

She taught us many lessons (I just didn't always learn them well), including priorities by making us to do our have-to-dos before our want-to-dos. When I questioned the size of our house, she drove me to the smaller neighborhoods and showed me what others have so that I knew how lucky I was. I never complained again.

My mother's spirit was strength, fight, and light. She did her best to always be there for us and for our family. She was chipper and tried to be understanding. She loved kids and spent as much time as possible with her grandkids. She never tried to set us up and stayed out of our love lives because she trusted us to know ourselves better than she did. She loved us.

She loved others. She bought gifts for people when they had kids. She helped others financially. She drew the Ganeinu logo for the synagogue camp (which is still being used today). Many things I only found out after she passed.

My mom loved my dad and he loved her. They didn't always get along, but they worked hard together. They started dating again when I was in high school and would walk around the mall together. She'd make him take her to dinner and would put up with him when he wanted to stay home and watch a cartoon (usually "The Incredibles" or "Shrek"). She made him lunch to take to work every day for decades and explained that she did that because she was his wife, and that's what she was supposed to do.


My Mom's Sickness
My mom lived with diabetes and chronic kidney disease for years. She didn't tell us all her problems because she didn't want to worry us. She fought and beat kidney cancer. I didn't find out she would need dialysis until I was on my honeymoon. She refused to take any of our kidneys and everyone at her kidney clinic loved her and her positive attitude. In her last year and "the summer that never was," she was diagnosed with colon cancer and meant to fight that too. She never got the chance, but I believe she would have beaten it as well.

Who Was My Mom?
My mom was a complicated person, but really was very simple. She loved art, dancing, traveling (even went by train when my dad stopped flying), teaching, children, and her children and family.

She was feisty and fought for what she believed in - for what was right. She was happy and private. She bragged about her kids (but only to those who had smart kids as well because she didn't want to make others feel bad). She always tried to have something nice to say to others.

I am a mini-me of my mother. People have recognized me as her daughter without knowing who I am - by my dancing, my face, and my attitude. I know I turned into my mother at the age of 8. I have her temper as well, but, like her, it is lessened and I do my best to work on it.

My mom will forever be 72. She was taken before her time, but she will forever be in my heart. My son is named after her; he looks like her. He has her spirit, both the feisty and the smiling sides. I will teach him what my mother taught me, by words and by actions. I miss so much about her and every time I think of something else she loved, I write it down so I don't forget.

She was so strong and amazing. Our rock and our light. Not perfect, but who is.

I would be quite proud if I became half the woman my mother was.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Moment of Heaven

It’s 10:30pm. I sit in my blue rocking chair, holding him to my breast. I gaze at the blond hairs on his round little head, paying close attention to how each is laying against the other. I wonder that he's a blond. I look at his little lashes, laying like shadows against his cheeks as he sleeps. He takes his right hand and grabs my nose, holding it gently, casually as though it belongs to him. It does. I smile and try not to laugh.

As he quietly moves his hand to my chest, I close my eyes, focusing on the feel of his tiny hand against me, just to the left of my heart. I think of each finger, where it lies, and try to sear this feeling into my long-term memory.

We switch sides and he looks for me, with his little lips, even before I am ready. We rock and bond, bond and rock until he loses the battle to sleep. His round little head falls back. He lifts it for one more quick tickle and it falls again against my left arm.

I look at him, his closed eyes, small nostrils and full lips and keep my right hand on his little stomach, feeling his breath – in, out… in, out…

Gently, I rise with him in a deep sleep in my embrace. His trust is complete, his arms falling by his sides, and I lay him, oh so carefully, in his crib, on his belly. His head is turned toward the wall, his little tushy is up in the air, with the octopus saying hello to the ceiling for just a few moments before he settles in.

Again, I leave my right hand on his side to let him (or me) know that he is loved, protected, and cared for. I slowly lift each finger, pinky first, away from him… slowly, for fear of waking him from his soft slumber. I resist the temptation, this time, to lean down and kiss him.

I look at him, see how long he’s gotten, think of just how little he used to be, and wonder how many inches he is now. I know he’s 17 pounds and 4 ounces today. His Abba and I have weighed him before bed.

My feet pad quietly across the room and I wince as the door creaks open, but there is no sound from my dozing little angel. I leave and shut the door behind me, grateful for this fleeting moment. I know that they are numbered. He’s already six months old but I’ll take what I can get – that’s all we can ever do.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

There Are No Palestinian Jewish Refugees; There Are No Palestinian Arab Refugees.

In 1917, the British Empire wrested Palestine away from the Ottoman Turks and occupied the land there until 1947. Shortly thereafter, the UN decided to divide the area into a country for the Jews and the Arabs. The Jews accepted this partition plan even though they were only going to receive 20% of the land and even though Jerusalem would not be completely included either.



Not one of the 22 Arab states were happy with this partition simply because it provided Jews with a Jewish country. Not only did they reject it, but seven Arab nations decided to wipe it off the map within one day of its birth.

In order to protect Arabs, those seven nations warned the Arabs living in Israel at the time to flee, to get out of the way of their incoming armies. Those Arabs, approximately 539,000 of them, followed their instructions and voluntarily abandoned their homes and property so that the Jews would (in their hope) be murdered and eliminated. The seven nations promised the Arabs that they could return and move into the Jews' houses after the anticipated successful annihilation of the Jews.

"We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down." -Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said, quoted in Sir Am Nahbah ("The Secret Behind the Disaster") by Nimr el Hawari Nazareth, 1952

The Palestinian Jews tried to get the Palestinian Arabs to stay.

"Every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops and business open and to be assured that their lives and interests will be safe. [However] ...A large road convoy, escorted by [British] military... left Haifa for Beirut yesterday... Evacuation by sea goes on steadily. ...[Two days later, the Jews were] still making every effort to persuade the Arab populace to remain and to settle back into their normal lives in the towns... [as for the Arabs,] another convoy left Tireh for Transjordan, and the evacuation by sea continues. The quays and harbor are still crowded with refugees and their household effects, all omitting no opportunity to get a place on one of the boats leaving Haifa." -Haifa District HQ of the British Police, April 26, 1948, quoted in Battleground by Samuel Katz

The Arabs refused, choosing instead to abandon their possessions and land. "The Arabs did not want to submit to a truce; they rather preferred to abandon their homes, their belongings and everything they possessed in the world and leave the town. This is in fact what they did." -Jamal Husseini, Acting Chairman of the Palestine Arab Higher Committee, told to the United Nations Security Council, quoted in the UNSC Official Records (N. 62), April 23, 1948, p.14.

At the same time, 850,000 Jews were expelled from other Arab countries where they had lived for hundreds of years. Some of the people who were forced to leave were successful professionals, and they left behind their property which was, of course, immediately confiscated. They all fled to the newly born Israel.

These Jewish refugees were immediately accepted by the State of Israel. They were given shelter, food, and clothing. They were treated as equals.

The Arab refugees who had voluntarily abandoned their land and property for the other Arab nations were not welcomed. They were treated as unwelcome migrants and placed in dilapidated refugee camps. The UN, through UNRWA, gave assistance because the host countries refused to.

Eventually, the camps become training camps for terrorists whose goal was to eliminate Israel. The host countries provided the training, weapons, explosives, and yet, the Arabs still weren't considered full citizens.

Rather, these Arab countries kept the displaced Arabs in misery, fed their anger, and used them as tools against the Jews and Israel, and pawns in the worldwide media.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, a refugee is "someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence." Based on this definition, there are no Palestinian Arab refugees. The Palestinian Jews never forced any Palestinian Arabs to leave. Quite the contrary. The Jews practically begged the Arabs to stay.

The Haifa Workers Council posted a bulletin on April 28, 1948, stating, "...our city flourished and developed for the good of both Jewish and Arab residents... Do not destroy your homes with your own hands; do not bring tragedy upon yourselves by unnecessary evacuation and self-imposed burdens. By moving out you will be overtaken by poverty and humiliation. But in this city, yours and ours, Haifa, the gates are open for work, for life, and for peace, for you and your families."

Even Great Britain recognized what was going on. The Times of London reported on April 4, 1948, "...the Jewish Hagana asked (using loudspeakers) Arabs to remain at their homes but most of the Arab population followed their leaders who asked them to leave the country."

Additionally, even if they were refugees, this status does not extend to further generations.

"The refugee status of the Palestinians was perpetuated by the host countries and the Palestinian leadership, and by the international community, through the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the only UN body dedicated to a specific refugee group (all other refugees in the world are the responsibility of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees). As a result, refugee status was passed down from father to son to grandson over 50 years, so that, today, they number three million to four million. That is why the Palestinians now account for about one-fourth of the world's refugees -- an impressive figure until one imagines how many refugees there would be if all the Finns and Germans and Indian Hindus and Muslims and European Jews who were made refugees after the Second World War (not to speak of the Greeks and Turks and Armenians who were made refugees during and after the First World War) were still considered refugees in the year 2000." -Mark Heller, co-author of No Trumpets, No Drums: A Two-State Settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In essence, the "Arab Palestinian Refugee" problem is of their own doing. They made the decision to abandon their land, property, and possessions because they assumed the Arab countries would kill the Jews and defeat Israel. Their intent was evil and their actions backfired. They trusted other Arab countries who, not only failed to protect and take care of them, but then used them as weapons against the Israeli state and the Jews. They are now trying to take advantage of other countries, the UN, and people's ignorance of history and law. We cannot allow this.

The Palestinian Jews had requested that the Palestinian Arabs stay. Israel has gone above and beyond to make peace with them. They still turn it down. The Arabs still hate and kill. History hasn't changed, and neither will the future. Let us be honest with them and ourselves and move forward from here. Let us focus on Israel and her Jewish future.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pregnancy and Narcolepsy: A Tough Combination

I've been pregnant for almost 36 weeks. I'm not sure how to describe my experience with it. For the most part, it hasn't been too physically taxing.

In the first trimester I had an underlying nausea that made it tough for me to eat much. If I did want to eat anything, it was greek salad and cheese. I'd have some days where I was so exhausted I couldn't get out of bed. The second trimester was a little easier. The nausea (mostly) went away, but I still had occasional days where I was so dreadfully tired I couldn't move. One of those days was Wednesday, August 7, 2013 -- the last day where I could have had a chance to spend time with my mom before she suddenly passed away.

Yes, I wish I could have had that time with her, especially because I was told she was quite funny and energetic that day, but I remember very clearly how I felt. There was no way I could have managed it.

The third trimester started off with acid reflux and heartburn, two symptoms I have never before felt in my life. Now I live off of Pepcid Complete. My appetite has been non-existent for eight months, but in the last 3-4 days, I have finally been hungry!

Since I was 7 weeks pregnant, I've had to inject myself nightly with Lovanox, an injectible blood thinner. This is because, five years ago, I had numerous blood clots in my legs and all five lobes of my lungs. I was in the cardiac unit of the hospital for 5+ days before they finally released me. For me, this is one of the most difficult parts of my pregnancy.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. This shocked me and quite a few other people since I am extremely active, thin, fit, and have only gained about 10-11 pounds my entire pregnancy. I was told that stress could trigger it (nah, I don't have any of that... I'm only dealing with the loss of my mother, moving in with my dad, unpacking, organizing his house, and preparing for baby). Regardless, as a result, I have to test my blood sugars four times a day by pricking my finger. So far, I am able to control my sugars with diet and exercise.

The stress I am controlling with prenatal yoga and gym-time.

At 36 weeks I will have to switch over to Heparin, another blood thinner that has a shorter half-life (they need to induce me at 39 weeks). Good news since it means I'm in the home stretch. Bad news because that means I have to now inject myself twice a day.... I am so entirely over this needle thing. I hated them to begin with, but having to stick myself, in my stomach, with a needle every day really wears on you.

I keep telling myself what my mother told me (she was diabetic): At least you get a souvenir at the end of this.

As bad as the needles are, the lack of sleep trumps.

See, I have mild narcolepsy that was triggered by stress in my last semester of law school. I don't fall asleep during the day; rather, my brain waves don't quite go in the right order when I'm sleeping at night and I suffer from EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness). Laugh all you want at this, but my sleep is only 25% effective. My last good night's sleep was in October 2006.

It's a mostly controllable problem (usually with an extremely expensive orphan medication called Xyrem). I say mostly controllable because, best case scenario, I wake up 2-4 times a night instead of 6-8 times nightly. Ambien is a second choice drug. I can't take either one while pregnant.

As a result, I have slept horribly the entire pregnancy. I am constantly either tired or exhausted. People blame it on the pregnancy, the growing uterus applying pressure on my bladder, the growing of a human being, etc. All of that is true. But my fatigue is multiplied and people just don't get it.

Last night I woke up at 3am, 4:30am, 5:45am, and 6:30am. I woke up for one of my twice-weekly doctor appointment and cried from exhaustion. I lost control and cried again at the doctor's appointment, and that's when my midwife took pity on me. Even though it is a Schedule C drug, they seem to be concerned with the possibility of addiction more than a harmful effect on baby.

And I need sleep. If I go into labor being this tired, I'm not going to be able to have a natural childbirth, or much energy to do any pushing whatsoever. This level of tired isn't supposed to come about before the baby, only after.

People don't understand. They even joke around that baby is training me for when it'll be around, begging me for milk every 90-120 minutes around the clock. I don't find this to be funny, but maybe that's because I'm sleep deprived.

One thing I'd like people to know: THIS IS NOT PRACTICE. This is Narcolepsy.

The average American sleeps less than 7 hours a night. For me, assuming I sleep through the night (I don't), that means it feels like less than two hours of sleep. Each night.

Nothing in life is normal when you're overtired. You can't think, can't remember things, can't handle simple tasks as well, and you aren't any fun to be around. For the most part, I've gotten used to the lack of sleep, but I reached my limit. I'm not going to take it every night, but I'm sure hoping the Ambien will help - even a little. If not for my sake, then for my husband's and my baby's.