Homemade “cup of noodles”

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I cooked all my shabbat food last night. I stayed up till 1am to get it done so we could go on this gorgeous hike with our kids’ school!

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Sooo worth it!

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(I didn’t go in, got the water fun vicariously!) The kids had a blast and we came home tired and starving!
So I tossed this little gem together in 10 minutes! .

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hope it fills some of your bellies on “one of those days”!
Ingredients:
400gr uncooked egg noodles (ramen, or any type you like)
4 cups water
1 tbs kosher salt (or 1 heaping tsp reg salt)
1/4 c dried wakame
1 c frozen peas and carrots
2 Tbs teriyaki or soy sauce
1 tsp Worcester sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp white pepper

Directions:
In a medium pot bring water and salt to boil.
Add wakame and noodles and cook unvovered until soft and most of the water is absorbed.
Add the other ingredients, cook another 3 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
Serve and enjoy!!

I haven’t posted on my blog in ages, but this was too awesome not to share!!
(Plus tomorrow is my birthday, so I figured I’d do something productive before I turn 34!!)

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An article I just can’t finish

With all due respect to the author, I am unable to fonish reading this Times Of Israel article about justifying Netanyahu’s decision to release prisoners and enter negotiations with the PA leaders.

I’m having trouble continuing to read b/c of this:

These terrorists, despite the terrible acts in which they played a central part, should have been released to their homes many years ago — from the moment that Israel’s governments decided to forgive their handlers.

via Why Netanyahu is right on the prisoners | The Times of Israel.

No. That is a skewed view of justice that undermines your premise. A person who murders is responsible for his own actions. Humans have free will and no matter the circumstances, even severe brain-washing, a person must be held responsible for his choices and his actions. Referring to their “handlers” as if the terrorists are non-human is wrong. It is the exact premise on which the “negotiations” can take place at all!

That somehow we are being called upon to view Erekat and Abbas based on their professed intentions and not on their consistent actions, is a travesty!

Let’s take a trip down a different road of thought, shall we? You are a hard working business owner struggling to get your idea off the ground. You subscribe to newsletters from some of the best motivational speakers and business coaches out there. What are all their emails and catchy facebook memes telling you? All your great ideas and your talent are wonderful, but it’s your actions that show who you truly are. The decisions and choices you make are based on your internal belief system and they drive your actions – and that is what will bring results in your business!!

And in your terrorist agenda.

So no. I disagree from the outset of your article. Terrorists, murderers, co-conspirators and “handlers” must be treated as human beings – and held responsible for their choices and their actions and the dogma that caused it. In my opinion, they should not have even been serving life sentences at all. They should have been put to death. And then we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all. Humans are not bargaining material. Not the terrorists being released and not the precious lives they obliterated. And most importantly, remember that now the lives we are bargaining for might be yours, or your children’s.

Are you still willing to go to the negotiating table to offer your own life for the ones who will be released? Would you consider entering a business agreement with a CEO who has made it clear that his agenda is to destroy your company? I wouldn’t. The only scenario I can think of where that would be the right move would be if I know I’m going down anyway, and hoping to lighten the blow. If that’s what Netanyahu is thinking… God help us! (Who essentially is the only One who can.)

And on that note, I’m going back to my newborn.

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Separating “Nursing” from “Breast-feeding”

There is a common misconception that nursing is another way of saying breastfeeding, and while it is true that it is almost impossible to breastfeed without nursing, it is also possible to nurse and bottle feed. In fact, it is essential to your baby’s health and development.

Here’s the truth. To nurse a baby means to tend to her needs, and it has come to be specifically associated with feeding. Women who breastfeed their babies are, by necessity, in close contact to their infant during feedings. There is, by necessity skin-to-skin contact, and most often there is also eye contact and interaction. Some mothers sing to their babies during feedings, talk to them, read to them. Many babies will reach for their mother’s face, or hand and play while feeding. What goes on during that interaction?

The obvious is the actual milk that is being given to the baby, which I don’t have to sell you on. It is obvious that mother’s milk is the perfect food for a human baby, and that fact has been discussed and proven ad infinitum, so I’m not going to go into it here. (But if you’d like an absolutely excellent read about that, I highly recommend Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding. Totally wonderful book, very clear and easy to read.) And the decision to use artificial milk or to supplement with artificial milk lies solely with each individual family and their individual needs.

But here’s the not so obvious information about nursing. That physical interaction that goes on between a baby and his mother during feeding is directly related to the health and development of the baby, as well as the health of the mother.

Let’s start with mom. When you are producing breastmilk for your baby, your body secretes specific hormones for that purpose, oxytocin, prolactin, endorphins are the main ones. These hormones, aside from directing the production of milk, also provide other benefits: stress relief, mothering instinct, and pain relief to name a few. So now my bottlefeeding readers are going, “Ok, so what does this have to do with me?” The thing is, that if, for whatever reason, you have chosen not to breast feed – or even if you are pumping and giving bottles of breastmilk, your body will produce these hormones when you “nurse” your baby. That is to say, when you hold your baby in your arms during feeding, making eye contact, talking and singing to your baby. That is what nursing is. And you can do it with a bottle too, if you choose to. When you nurse your baby, your body will produce the same hormones as if you were actually breastfeeding, albeit in smaller amounts. Even fathers or other care givers will experience the “nursing high” and reap all the benefits!

Now let’s talk about your little one. When a baby nurses, her body also produces oxytocin, also known as the hormone of love and connection. And guess what, your baby will get his oxytocin fix from being close to you while he’s eating, even if he’s not actually suckling at your breast.

Why am I telling you this? Unfortunately, in most of North America and a lot of the developed world, breastfeeding is still not the cultural norm. Many of today’s new mothers are children or grandchildren of women who were convinced that breastmilk was substandard to factory-produced “scientifically proven” baby milk. That attitude is hard to shake. One of the major factors in successful breastfeeding is having a lot of support, so it is not surprising that so many women in our generation have trouble breastfeeding when our own mothers and grandmothers are looking at us if not disdainfully, the with uncertainty and concern for the well-being of our baby!

Another huge factor in establishing a healthy breastfeeding relationship is birth and those critical first hours post-partum. With the birth system in most of the world being as broken as it is, again, we are not left to wonder why so many women have trouble getting that most crucial breastfeeding relationship off to a good start. And while almost every obstacle can be overcome, to do so requires the support and education that is only recently becoming available through mother-friendly birth campaigns, books and birth and post-partum doulas.

Another important thing to state here is that most of the time, the decision to bottle feed cannot be undone. Meaning that even a woman who made the decision to use artificial baby milk under duress, or due to circumstances beyond her control or knowledge, cannot go back to breastfeeding even if she wants to. There are also circumstances where a baby cannot breastfeed due to complications like cleft palate or premature birth. And mothers who are bottle feeding, even if they are giving exclusively breastmilk, can feel very frustrated by the loss of “nursing.”

So I’m here to tell you that every mother (and every father, and every daycare worker, and every babysitter) can nurse their baby. Every single one of you. When you choose to hold your baby when you feed her, make eye contact with her, caress her arms, talk to her or sing to her – you are nursing your baby.

The only mistake you can make with a bottle is routinely putting your baby down and propping up the bottle. Those of you who know me know that I don’t make blanket statements, I am very aware of the significance of the choices we all make, and the individual needs and concerns of each person. So I am going to be very clear here: “Nursing” your baby is essential to his development! So grab your breasts, or grab your bottles, but whatever you do, nurse your baby!

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Why I’m here

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Yesterday outside of my daughter’s pre-school, I connected with another mom who I knew to be new in the community. We chatted for a few minutes, she moved here from Gush Etzion (yes, the area outside of Jerusalem where a few of the recent rockets hit). She asked me where I was from and how long I’d been here. “I grew up in NY, made Aliyah from NJ. We’ve been in Israel almost 4 years now,” I say in unfaltering Hebrew, with a little disbelief. This Chanuka will mark our fourth year in Israel. 

Her response was something I’ve heard a few times recently, “I am so impressed with those who choose to leave America and come to live in Israel. It must be so hard. It gives us strength when we see this.” And after 4 years, I have fashioned a response, “It’s not easy. Especially leaving family. But this is where the future of the Jewish people is, so thank God, we are here.”

Afterwards, I found out that her husband had just left to join the IDF reserves preparing to enter the war in Gaza. 

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We had only been here a few weeks when our 3rd child was born. Traditionally, the Friday night after a son is born a small celebration is held to welcome him to the world. (P.S. nowadays, I am pleased to say, many people will do this when their daughters are born as well!) We didn’t know that many people yet, not well. But many people in the community knew us – the new family that just moved from America! We were a sensation! A novelty. There hadn’t been English speaking Olim moving to Katzrin in many years. So there ended up being quite a turn out. 

Yoram spoke briefly in his broken Hebrew, thanking the community for their warm welcome and thanking God for our beautiful, healthy son. A man asked him why we came here. So Yoram told him. No matter what we had in the US, Israel is our homeland. This is where we are meant to be. And why specifically the Golan? We fell in love with it. Our souls told us that this is where we belong, and we stayed.

Several of our guests had tears in their eyes. They told us that we “strengthen them.” 

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The story of my Aliyah started before I’d ever even visited Israel.  I was in seventh grade. It was 1993, I was 13 years old, living in NY and starting to feel a little bit of freedom. Most days I rode my bike to school or took the city bus with my friend. On Sundays I was allowed to go to the mall on my own… the first signs of growing up. And of course, along with all that came the other side of finding my autonomy – fighting with my parents, struggling to do the right thing – even when it was also what my parents wanted me to do. I can remember a few mornings where I left my house after quarreling with my mother about homework, or housework, or boys, or music… feeling self-righteous, and wronged, and wrong, and sorry. And knowing that after recess, I’d see my mom in class and apologize (she was my science teacher that year!), or maybe when we got home if it had been really bad. We’d hug and say, “I love you,” it would all be ok.

When the terror attacks started in Israel, I started feeling very scared and unsettled. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. We were saying special prayers in school, and doing things to support Israel from afar. The international community started crying “Land for peace” and of course everyone had an opinion. I remember feeling frustrated hearing my parents and their friends discussing what Israel “should do” about the intifada. Easy for us to yell and fight around a Shabbat table 6000 miles away about whether or not it was worth trying to give the Arabs some of Israeli land in exchange for a promise of peace. Easy for us to discuss the lives of the citizens of Israel and of the soldiers and their families while we sat and drank Chivas and ate herring and gefilte fish (Ok, I didn’t drink the Chivas, but the grown ups did.). It just felt wrong.

And then one of the terrorist bombs was detonated on a city bus near Bayit VeGan in the morning. Almost all the victims were kids on their way to school. Like me. Had they fought with their moms for being late or not doing homework? Did they have any premonition, did they somehow know that this would be the last time they would board a city bus for school? The last time they’d have to worry about what they were wearing or if they would pass the test or get invited to a party or get that part in the play? Did they know?

When I was 13 I made a decision. If I’m going to learn about it, and I’m going to pray about it, then I’m going to do it. Am Yisrael, the Jewish Nation belongs in Eretz Yisrael. It’s not fair that Jewish kids my age living in our Homeland shouldn’t be able to get on the bus in the morning without fearing for their lives while I go about my own life happy and safe in NY. 

We had a cleaning lady at the time named Myrtle, a middle aged Black lady with whom I shared my deepest thoughts while helping her clean the kitchen, including my conviction to move to Israel as soon as I was old enough. She asked me why I would move to a war-torn country, if I’d be willing to leave my family, what was so important about it? I’ve grown a lot in 20 years, matured, seen some things, changed my mind about many many – most, of the ideas I had when I was 13. But the answers I gave Myrtle are the same answers I give now, if a little better articulated. Eretz Yisrael is all we learn about, it’s all we pray for. It is where our past and future resides. It’s the only place I can imagine raising my children. Eretz Yisrael is my Homeland.

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Where else in the Middle East…?

I suppose it’s time dust off this old blog and start writing again. Who knew it would take a war to get me back here?

While rockets are flying and CNN is lying and all the rest of us are just trying to figure out where to stand (and what supplies to put in our safe rooms) I wanted to share a snippet of seemingly unrelated life.

Yesterday morning I met with a lawyer in a city in Northern Israel for the second time, her name is Sachar.

She owns her law office and has 2 assistants and one other lawyer working there. My purpose was just as a translator for a new Olah (let’s call her Shira) who needed Sachar’s services.

Sahar called my cell phone at 8am to confirm the appointment. First she asked me if I was alright and if everyone was doing ok, something about the concern in her tone made me connect the question to the operations in Gaza. Then she reminded me of some things that Shira needed to bring along with her for the appointment.

During the appointment, I read the diplomas on her wall. Sachar graduated from Bar-Ilan university and had certificates from a number of other Israeli institutions.

While we were there she took a call from a client. I heard her compassionately tell her client that she would make sure to meet with the client’s brother and mother and that she will do the maximum to ensure that the client on the phone got all the help they needed. She took another call that I couldn’t follow because she was speaking in Arabic.

I’m not sure if Sachar is a Druzi woman or an Israeli Arab, but she’s certainly not a Palestinian (which is a made-up nationality created when Israel was under the rule of the British Mandate, Jewish old timers who lived here before 1948 call themselves Palestinian, too). She knows as well as you do that there isn’t anywhere else in the entire Middle East where an educated Arab woman can own a law office, where a professional Arab woman can call her assistant in to her office to make copies at the copy machine a foot from her desk, while she sat and continued to focus on her client. Only in Israel.  

Today was Shira’s court hearing to which I accompanied her. I wasn’t allowed into the hearing but stood outside and peeked through the door occasionally to see if I could get a sense for how it was going. Sachar caught my eye at one point (she had to turn around to check if I was watching) and gave me an encouraging nod to let me know things were going well.

After the hearing, which seems to have gone well for both parties, Sachar briefed me on what happened so I could help Shira with the next steps and gave Shira a hug and reassured her that everything would be just fine! Having be involved from the beginning of Shira’s saga and in touch with Sachar a few times over the course of it, she and I also hugged and I told her how compassionate and thorough and caring she is. 

Outside of the Middle East there are many free countries, where women of any ethnicity have equal (or quasi-equal rights) but in this region, there is only one. Only in one country, roughly the size of New Jersey, situated on a continent twice the size of the US, can a woman like Sachar get an advanced education, and become an independent business owner and a lawyer. Only in Israel. 

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What I learned today

~I don’t know anything at all about the deep rooted, intricate relationship between secular and religious Israelis.

~there is more  to be learned from body language than from what is actually being said.

~ I can walk from my house to the municipal building in 5 minutes when I’m late for a meeting.

~ there is no limit to how much dirty Asa’el can attempt to consume and likewise no limit to how many folds and creases must be changed after he plays outside.

~ If I don’t write then I can’t call myself a writer, so I’m going to just write and see what happens.

:)

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Afternoon happiness

Against the beautiful backlight of a pre -summer Golan afternoon,we glimpse gentle moments of happiness.

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