Thursday, July 31, 2008

Your Evening Smile*

Tired and Thirsty

The Italian says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have wine.
The Scot says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have scotch.
The Swede says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have aquavit.
The Russian says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have vodka.
The German says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have beer.
The Greek says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have ouzo.
The Jew says, I'm tired and thirsty. I must have diabetes.

*Although diabetes is now present in my family -- and perhaps in yours -- I still love this joke, and hope that nobody is offended by it.

Sorry, Jamie Lynn Spears...

...I neglected to wish you a mazel tov on your baby daughter, born last month.

The bottom line is that I hadn't known you'd already given birth. Somehow that news item had escaped me.

But today, while reading that you and Mr. Fiance were planning a September "small, backyard wedding," ( in three acres) and that you were already down to pre-pregnancy weight, i thought, "Hey, something's not right here. I've been left out of the loop."

So I sought out a birth announcement...and found it in the fact that you sold exclusive "1st baby photo rights" of Maddie to OK! magazine.
Good for you...getting some large lump sum ought to cover the salary you had to forego as Zoey in Zoey 101. After all, you -- nice, little role model to tweener girls -- had gotten knocked up at age 16 (okay, so in April you turned 17) and the show got cancelled after its third season.
And it's so nice you met your man in church; how Christian of you.
Well, happy baby & happy marriage, Jamie. Hope it's everything you ever dreamed of...while you were a little girl and looking up to big sister/role model Britney.
By the way, why didn't you name your daughter Zoey? Just askin'....

Your Morning Smile

Rebecca & Jacob

Jacob, age 92, and Rebecca, age 89, living in Florida , are all excited about their decision to get married. They go for a stroll to discuss the wedding, and on the way they pass a drugstore. Jacob suggests they go in.

Jacob addresses the man behind the counter: "Are you the owner?"

The pharmacist answers, "Yes."

Jacob: "We're about to get married. Do you sell heart medication?"

Pharmacist: "Of course we do."

Jacob: "How about medicine for circulation?"

Pharmacist: "All kinds."

Jacob: "Medicine for rheumatism and scoliosis?"

Pharmacist: "Definitely."

Jacob: "How about Viagra?"

Pharmacist: "Of course."

Jacob: "Medicine for memory problems, arthritis, jaundice?"

Pharmacist: "Yes, a large variety. The works."

Jacob: "What about vitamins, sleeping pills, Geritol, antidotes for Parkinson's disease?"

Pharmacist: "Absolutely."

Jacob: "You sell wheelchairs and walkers?"

Pharmacist: "All speeds and sizes."

Jacob: "Good! We'd like to use this store as our bridal registry."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sorrow & Simcha: Life's Juxtaposition

You may link to my piece in this week's online edition of New York's Jewish Press. (I will buy a print edition on Friday, its release date.)

It was very minimally edited and thankfully did not lose any of its essence. The one error is in my bio: the link to my blog was typed incorrectly. It should not have had a period after the www -- that link takes you to a single post of mine, written nearly 4 years ago.

I hope you enjoy my writing.

**Update: the link was corrected apparently; thus my first commenter was able to find me okay.
Thank you, Jewish Press, for making the correction.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Four Seasons Lodge

I was perusing an American publication online and discovered this documentary: Four Seasons Lodge.

Taken from a program where it premiered at a film festival in Washington last month:

In 2005, New York Times journalist Andrew Jacobs found a group of Holocaust survivors who, since 1979, have spent their summers together at the Four Seasons Lodge, one of the few remaining bungalow communities hidden in upstate New York’s lush Catskill mountains. Jacobs was so mesmerized by the group that he returned as a filmmaker to document the rich traditions, lifelong friendships, and collective memory of the residents before they disappeared.

Now in their 80s and 90s, the German and Polish Jews of the Four Seasons Lodge are among the few who continue the Catskill summer vacation tradition. Every summer they gather, laughing and bickering like family, recounting unthinkable times through bittersweet tears and finding strength and refuge in each other’s company.

Lodge president Carl patrols the grounds, resolving issues and squabbles. Vice president Hymie’s handyman skills and humor are always in demand. Genya and Olga, friends for over 65 years, confide and argue like sisters. Jacobs shows them in the present, and traces their history through revealing archival footage and photos. As summer nears its end, the Lodge’s future is uncertain: some residents push for its sale while others are adamant that their refuge remain intact. Yet whatever happens, the family bonds will remain.

A comical yet touching portrait, FOUR SEASONS LODGE celebrates the lives of those who have overcome unfathomable events. As one of the residents proclaims, “To live this long, this well, is a victory.”

Check out the trailer.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion

After my mother-in-law passed away last month, I felt the need to write something -- not in particular about her, but about the experience of going through two major milestones in one week: her death on the Monday evening and my oldest child's bar mitzvah on the Shabbos.

I had gone to a wedding on the night before she passed away, I went to her funeral on the Tuesday, I went to my son's bar mitzvah on Shabbos and I went to an unveiling on Sunday. The only thing missing was a bris.

Talk about life cycles...

I wrote my personal essay, then looked around to find it a home in print. was the first place that came to mind, but they didn't want it. The Canadian Jewish News agreed to hold on to it for a while, should there be extra space in the paper (but never actually saying they would run it, either). I tried Mishpacha magazine with a query, but didn't hear back.

Then I recalled THE JEWISH PRESS, out of NY. Years ago, when I was still single, I'd had two personal humorous essays appear in their singles' pages. I'd been thrilled with the venue, knowing that I'd be hitting the right target audience with my words.

So I went straight to the top and queried the senior editor of The Jewish Press and ... long story short... Jason Maoz agreed to print the piece.

The newspaper is accessible throughout the U.S. and Canada, with a large proportion of the readership in the NY/New Jersey area and perhaps in Florida as well. My piece will appear somewhere in the newspaper this Friday, August 1st. It will be available in their online edition Wednesday, July 30th.

In bungalow colonies in the Catskills, in family rooms across the five boroughs, at lakefront summer homes this Shabbos, people will be reading my words. Strangers will be getting a glimpse into my psyche. My late mother-in-law, z"l, will be receiving some form of recognition.

It's always nice to get published; it's nicer to get published when a piece has personal significance in your life.

My words will have found a home and for that I'm grateful.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Visiting Day

My son who was just bar mitzvahed 6 weeks ago is experiencing his first time at sleepover camp...SLEEPAWAY camp to you Americans.

My husband and I are living vicariously through Avi because neither one of us has experienced overnight camp before. Although Avi is primarily with classmates from his school, there are campers from NY, Montreal, Ottawa, other U.S. states, including California.

Today was visiting day. It worked out well because Avi had come home for Shabbos with two friends so they could attend a close friend's bar mitzvah, so we were simply driving him back to camp.

And what is visiting day at camp?** Half-hour 'display' sessions and sessions for separate swimming, and an entire hour and a half geared to registering kids for the Summer 2009 season, which happens to also be the camp's 50th anniversary.

Visiting day is also like going to your kids' school or going to shul: shmoozing with other parents, making small talk, comparing life notes, etc. The truth is I'm not too good at that -- or even comfortable with that -- in any setting! But it's truly not me that counts this time. It's our son Avi...who just happens to be having a great time.

And for that we're grateful. Okay, so what if he's not trying every activity? Okay, so what if he's not caught in too many camp photos? Okay, so what if he's only written a note or two to us?

He's having a good time, and that's what matters.

And we've already opened the discussion re. the possibility of my daughter going next summer -- her bat mitzvah year...

Perhaps I'll be writing a blog post next mid-July for Visiting day 2009...!

**And what is Visiting day at camp...aside from parents portaging coolers and hampers, lawn chairs and knapsacks, barbecues and pizza boxes, blankets and cameras all the way from their vehicles in the parking area to park themselves and their campers or staff members somewhere and have mini feasts. (Jews and food... isn't that what life's all about?)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cue the Kewpie Doll!

I believe this is my favorite movie scene of all time -- check the video between 1:57 and 2:15 minutes. It makes me laugh every time -- however many times! -- I see the film.

Note a young Lucille Ball.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We Need to Hear from More People Like This One

National Post Published: Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Re: Grim Exchange For Israel As Soldiers' Bodies Returned, July 17.

I read with revulsion of the celebrations in my native country over the return of terrorist Samir Kuntar; never in my life have I been more ashamed to be Lebanese.
That someone who murdered innocent civilians would be hailed as a national hero stands against the core of human decency that I would have expected from my fellow citizens. Kuntar crushed the skull of four-year-old Einat Haran, after forcing her to witness the murder of her father, Danny. These are the acts of a cold-blooded killer that ought to be reviled. Instead they are being championed by my countrymen and used as propaganda to further fuel the murderous agenda of groups such as Hezbollah.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yiddish, Hebrew, or Yenglish?

I just completed a wonderful survey about the development/use of American Jewish language. I read about it on Nextbook, a wonderful site about Jewish culture.

You, too, can complete this survey. Go to

If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact Prof. Sarah Bunin Benor ( or Prof. Steven M. Cohen (

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Everyone's Got a Story...

...some just have more to say than others.

And this is where author/editor/lecturer Ruchama King Feuerman came into the picture.

Ruchama, who hosts writing workshops, both in person and via teleconferencing, recently compiled and edited a book of short stories/essays written by some of her students.

Not only does Ruchama have the pleasure of presenting this new batch of writers, she scatters some of her own writing tips and tools throughout the pages. Catchy and concrete ideas that are sure to help any writer work through challenges or offer a springboard from where to start.

Back in February 2007, I wrote a post called The Perfect Name. It was about Ruchama and the blog she'd just started. Alan Busch commented on my post, thanking me for the reference to Ruchama.

I am more than pleased to say that Alan is a talented writer himself, having put out his own book -- Snapshots in Memory of Ben -- a tribute to his beloved son who died at too young an age. Alan has a couple of essays featured in Ruchama's latest book "Everyone's Got a Story".

See, it pays to read blogs...and write!

Pick up a copy of this fine book of Ruchama's; it will make for good Shabbos afternoon reading, or late-night reading in bed.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!

To all of my American friends and readers:
As you celebrate your nation's independence, may you have a safe and healthy weekend.
(just an an aside: in my years of blogging, I've been using American spelling, not Canadian, so that the majority of my readers -- Americans -- will not think I'm typing with spelling errors.
:) )

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Bus Brigade

Okay, so school was out...what? A week ago for most kids, two weeks ago for others.

The school buses had the shortest hiatus on earth, only to reappear in the last two days.

Today is my two younger children's first day of day camp. We stood outside the house with the dog, waiting for the Camp Eitan bus.

"I see it down the street!" yells Noam.

A bus nears.

Nope. It's a Camp Robin Hood bus...and passes us by.

"There it is!" yells Adina.

The bus nears.

Nope. It's a Lubavitch Camp bus...and passes us by.

A mini school bus passes in the other direction. Might it be ours? Maybe camp enrollment from our area is down and we've downsized to a minibus...?

Nope. The bus doesn't slow dow. It's a Camp Green Acres bus.

Finally a bus comes our way. No fancy names or decorations on the bus. But a familiar face of the bus driver whom these kids have had for the past few years during their camp sojourn. The bus slows, the doors open, greetings and goodbyes are exchanged...and my kids are off to camp!

I take Max our dog for a walk when the kids are gone. Throughout our neighborhood, outside lovely homes, you see parents standing with their children or nannies standing with their charges. All are doing what we did -- waiting for that big -- or little! -- orange/yellow schoolbus to transport these children to day camps.

This scene happens in the morning between 8-9:30; between 3:30-5:00 in the afternoon, the scene will be in reverse, as parents and nannies stand outside the homes, waiting for the schoolbuses to drop off children.

The pattern will repeat itself from Monday through Friday...

Tomorrow, big boy/bar mitzvah boy Avi, is off to overnight camp for the first time. I don't think it'll be a big orange/yellow schoolbus we'll be looking for in the shopping center's parking lot where he gets dropped off. A comfy, coach bus ought to do the trick!

May all these buses drive safely throughout the summer, transporting their precious cargo to and from camps and summer programs.