Friday, October 21, 2011
We danced round and round in circles as if the world had done no wrong
From evening until morning, filling up the shul with song
Though we had no sifrei Torah to clutch an hold up high
In their place we held those children, am yisrael chai"
Every Simchat Torah, I would think of this song as I danced with Channah. She was my Sefer Torah. Last year we realized that it was the last year that she would be my Sefer Torah. She was getting too big to dance with me at shul. Rachel and I were both comforted, knowing there was going to be a new Sefer Torah to dance with this year.
Last night at shul, I could feel a tear in my soul. I wanted to connect to the joy and deep meaning of the day. At the same time, I didn't have my Sefer Torah to hold and dance with. I had a hard time participating, never mind enjoying the night. I had expressed to the Rabbi earlier in the week that I wanted Kol HaNearim. He told me that it had been taken care of.
This morning the auction reached Kol HaNearim. (Chatan Bereshit & Chatan Torah are assigned before the Chag). I immediately put up my hand to bid. Things went so fast that I am not sure how much I bid, but I had to withdraw pretty quickly. A friend dropped out when bidding hit 1000 NIS. Very quickly, the price hit 2000 NIS. The Rabbi called a timeout and asked who the other bidder was. They had a short meeting. The other bidder was someone who is really important in our life and is one of the people we consider to be our adopted family. The auctioneer choked up as he announced the two had formed a syndicate and had purchased the Aliyah for 4000 NIS and were giving it to me. Suddenly, I was overcome with a feeling of peace and comfort. I was able to fully enjoy Hakafot.
The Aliyah gave me a lot more Chizuk then I thought it would. All the kids said the bracha with me while Channah stood behind me. My aliyah talked about the land allocated to Dan, Naphtali and Asher. Our home is in the Dan region and Naphtali was the name we were going to use if Channah had been a boy. Chattan Bereshit (which came right after mine), mentioned Moshe seeing "Gilad" before he died and the Gabi reference, where Moshe died and we don't know where he is burried. It also contains the letter that I wrote for Gabi, although leining was not taking place from that particular Sefer Torah.
I do not believe in segulahs, as they tend to be people putting their faith into made up rituals, where the outcome is not always in our hand. However, having Kol HaNarim seemed to be the correct way to express everything that we have been through this year. I spent the time hoping that Hashem will grant our prayers to not be quite in the same positions next year. Next year, I will be more than happy to stand by and watch as I hold my own new and little Sefer Torah in my arms. May Hashem answer this one prayer with a yes.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Before the game could start, we had an unusual problem. We had a full 9 man team but the other team was one man short. Not only that but one of our players brought a bunch of his kids including a 16 year old that we lent to their team. The original trade was a player straight for nothing. Then we realized that most of our main players were away and we only had one bat. At that point we sent in another negotiator to get a bat as part of the trade. We also gave them a LF, until his turn a bat (he batted 7th in the first) until their "9th" player arrived.
I started the game batting clean up and playing 2nd base. The first inning we scored a bunch of runs and held them scoreless on a bunch of pop ups. The 2nd inning they caught up, after we went 3 up 3 down. I was able to catch an inning ending pop up, which is a play that has been a problem for me as long as I have played baseball. First inning I had a one out ground out to advance the runner to their. Second inning I struck out.
Third inning I grounded out again. I also dropped a pop up. Then the controversy started. With the bases loaded, a ground ball was fielded and thrown home. The ball hit the catchers glove and it landed in his feet. The umpire called him out. He said the catcher had the ball and dropped it after being bumped by the base runner. They then hit a grounder to me, which I turned into an inning ending 4-3 double play. The other teams coach who had been on 3rd base at the time went nuts.
In the 4th we made a pitching change. Our (ringer) catcher, came into pitch for our coach. I was moved behind the plate. I did not have a good game behind the plate. On what play with runners on 1st and 2nd with two out a grounder was hit to our 3rd baseman. Umpire yelled, foul ball, so he didn't rush to make a play. Then he said my mistake and tried to rule it a fair ball. If it had been fair the inning would have been over. Once again their coach went nuts arguing the call. He wanted it to count as a single with the bases loaded. It was eventually ruled no pitch and the batter flew out to CF ending the inning.
In the top of the fifth the score was 11-10 with me at the plate with two runners on. I hit a clutch RBI single passed the second baseman making the score 12-10. We scored our last run on a wild pitch bringing the score to 13-10.
In the bottom of the fifth I was still catching. Two runs had scored making the score 13-12. Then the batter struck out with a ball low in the dirt. I don't know if it was a strike or not. All I know is I caught the ball and tagged the runner for good measure. The coach of the other team came out yelling at the umpire again. The ump said either you go or I go and walked off the field. Eventually he came back to finish off the inning. At that point, I went back to 2nd and our catcher went behind the plate as our regular pitcher returned to the mound to go for the save. First play was a ground ball to short which, was thrown to me for a 6-4 out. Then the next ball was grounded directly to me, for me to get the unassisted last out. The game was called, even though there was time left, because the umpires didn't want things to get more out of hand.
When hand shakes went around their coach shook on umpires hand but not the other. This lead to another shouting match, with the coach being threatened with expulsion from the league and the umpire being critized by the other ump for stirring things up.
The final outcome is we won our last game 13-12. Despite my mistakes, I made a solid contribution to the win.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
As Judgment Day approaches, I cannot help to think with great sadness of how much things have changed in the past year. I went into Rosh HaShanah feeling confident that our lives had just seemed to fall into place. Gone was the feeling, that we were not where we were supposed to be in life. I entered the year confident that I finally had my life in order.
-Channah was starting elementary school and loves being Israeli
-The frustration of a possible move disappeared a few days after returning to Israeli soil
-I have a great job with a great boss
-I had finally set up the learning schedule I wanted, including a chavrusah
-We were doing a tremendous Mitzvah by allowing a long term guest stay in our apartment while they tried to put their life back together again
-I had taken it upon myself to publicly defend one of my Rabbi's from a major controversy taken out of context
-We made the decision to be more proactive, so that I would make the 240 km trek more often to the closest hockey arena
-We were satisfied with our lot in life, including accepting that our family would always be the 3 of us.
-Rachel had upgraded her skills over the summer and was looking forward to applying her new skills to her jewelery
-We were living in the land promised to our ancestors so many years ago, we were literaly living in Jewish history.
That confidence carried over Less then a week later, with Yom Kippor approaching, it appeared that the prayers of a very special 6 year old girl had been answered. All she wanted was a little sister. Although it was a very difficult pregnancy, we met every step of the way with tremendous joy. I was confident that such a wonderful gift would come to fruition. When we hit the gestational date, where Channah was born, we celebrated and went out and bought a stroller. We were coming down the stretch home free.
Then one night Rachel's instincts told her something was wrong. The false confidence I had built allowed me to convince Rachel to wait until doctor appointment in the morning. By then it was too late. Even in the ambulance, full siren racing towards the hospital, I thought the worst case scenario was, we were dealing with a preemie and NICU time. It didn't even occur to me that her life had been in danger and it was already too late. Gabi would be born that day, just without a heart beat. Life would never be the same.
Over the last 7 months we have seen the best and worst in people. We have endless stories of both close friends and strangers, stepping up to help us deal with our grief. There will be many people standing before God this year, with the merits of not only literally saving Rachel's life but saving my family from being destroyed by grief. The flip side is the countless friendships and relationships that have been destroyed in the last number of months. People who we thought we could count on, who put their own comfort in front of our time of need. People who decided what we needed best but didn't have a clue, how wrong they were. People who would ask what we needed and proceed to do the opposite. I have done my best to forget about the burnt out wreckage of those lost friendships. That doesn't mean I sometimes miss the illusion of what I thought I had.
This year, I stand in judgment not with my accomplishments but holding the shards of my broken family that I am trying to put back together. I have less merits than last year, to plead to over turn the evil decree. The only thing I can ask, is that "time served" is enough punishment for my family and that we will have the strength to get back on our feet. I have always tried to be the anchor to hold everything together. Even in the last two weeks, I have found myself feeling more like a dead weight then keeping the ship away from danger.
May everyone (especially those who took the bitterness out of this year), have a sweet, healthy and happy year.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Tonight, the police decided to pull me and the car in front of me over. While, I didn't think I did anything wrong, I started to panic just a little. I asked what was going on and all the officer said was that I he needed my license and insurance. My baseball uniform doesn't have pockets, so I try to keep remember to keep my phone and wallet in the front seat. Not only had I not done that, I couldn't figure out where I left it. Fortunately, I was giving my team mate a ride to his bus stop. I told him to get out my ownership papers, while I continued to panic looking for my wallet. In the mean time he was also able to deal with the 2 girls who were trying to tremp a ride to Jerusalem. I eventually found my wallet. The officer added my name to the long list of people who had also had random inspections and we were on our way.
In case you missed the only in Israel part of the story. There were two girls, on a highway on ramp, waiting for people to stop (either voluntarily or by the police) to give them a ride to Jerusalem.
As for the softball game. It was the first game of the season. For some reason the coach decided that, I can hit and batted me 5th, as I played 2nd base. The other teams pitcher was throwing real hard. My first at bat, I hit the ball so it landed just outside the batter box in fair territory. That was good enough for a single (the teams first hit of the season). My 2nd at bat I hit a hanging liner up the middle that was caught. I also had two put outs at 2nd base. We lost 11-0 after 5 innings on the mercy rule. Although the game was much closer than the scoreboard made it appear.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Shavuot night, they announced that a new Sefer Torah was being donated to the shul last night. What immediately appealed to us, was that they allocated the last two words for all of the children and would only require a 5 NIS donation. We immediately bought one for Channah and Gabi. After much contemplation we decided to by two letters at full price. One for my FIL who is currently on the winning side of a battle with a brain tumor and one for our family.
We got to the house where the final letters were being written and I told the Sofer that I had bought two letters. He asked if I wanted him to do it or if I would like to do it myself. I told him that I wanted to do it. He showed me how to hold the pen and had me practise on a scrap piece of parchment. I got it perfect on the first shot, so the Sofer picked out some of the harder letters to fill out. My hand started to shake, then I couldn't get the ink to come out. After some moving around he found me a Bet and a Reish to fill in from the world בארץ I wrote my two letters and then the Sofer cleaned them up and finished the word. There are commentaries who say that you can read out all of Jewish History in Parsha וזאת הבראכה and now I had my own special word. I hadn't really been paying attention to the Pasuk and in my head was thinking how it normally refers to the Land of Israel and how appropriate that was.
I then went to Shul for Mincha and looked up the Pasuk. In that section the word comes up 3 times. 34:5 - Moshe died, 34:6 - we don't know where Moshe is buried. 34:11 - evidence there will never be another like Moshe. I immediately freaked out because I thought, I had written from 34:6. My special word in the Torah was a remez (hint) about Gabi. Instead I have a Gzerah Shava (when on word is written in multiple places, we can learn out concepts between the different psukim).
I don't know what the lesson is, but somehow it connects, the first ever generation of Olim (our Aliyah), Moshe's unknown grave (just like Gabi) and those unable to enter the land of Israel.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
We were playing against the Demona 2 team, which is a young team that reminds of the Mighty Ducks. They have a coach that really works hard to guide them and they are constantly cheering or trying to syke out their opponents. They're aggressive, fast and love to bunt. They also have the hardest throwing pitcher in the league who did not pitch tonight.
There were a few great only in Israel moments. The umpire started the game asking what bracha to make on the eclipse. After call our Rabbi, I passed on the message. One of my team mates was so excited he started the first half of the bracha, then stopped and started waiving his arms. He was so excited to make the bracha he forgot what to say. I was glad to help him out.
The coach wanted to try me out at First Base for the game. I was having a horrible night, during warm ups so they moved me back to my preferred position at Second Base. Although, I normally justify my roster spot with my glove, this time it was my hitting that contributed to a great night.
My first at bat, I put down a first pitch bunt that landed straight in front of the plate. The 1B forgot to go to the bag, so all I had to do was run passed in to get the single. I think some runs also scored on the play. I eventually scored to increase the lead to 4-0.
My second at bat was the most memorable for me. On the first pitch, I tipped off that I was squaring up to bunt. This sent the defence into a panic, after my first successful bunt. The base runner knew, I had no intention of bunting and used the distraction to steal 2nd. I then put down a perfect bunt down the first base line for another hit. I eventually scored on a 2 out wild pitch.
My third at bat, I took the first pitch and the runner was caught stealing. I then took the next pitch and lined it over third base for my third single of the night. Next batter, I was forced out at 2nd base to end the inning.
My fourth at bat, I just didn't feel I had the pitcher lined up right and struck out.
The most bizarre play of the night happened when the other team had a runner on 2nd. The batter walked, while the base runner stole third. The batter then took a big turn towards 2nd. He was nailed in a run down, as we conceded the run. For those scoring at home it was a 2-3-6 out on a walk.
As for my glove, we the first ball hit towards me was mostly knocked down by the pitcher and the runner beat out the throw. The 2nd play was a 4-3 put out on a simple ground ball. I played catcher for the last two uneventful innings, as we nailed down the game for the win.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I had an very interesting conversation with a friend this evening.
Me: We are going to the cherry picking festival. This time we are trying to go with someone who knows how to get there.
Friend: but the Mitzvah in this week's Parsha is to explore the land.
Me: I want to explore the land and bring home cherries!!
Friend: That's selfish of you.
Me: Think of what would have happened if the Meraglim brought back cherries instead of grapes. Jewish history would have been completely different.
Friend: The wine companies would use a different logo.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Truth is, the whole thing was sort of a goof up. An old friend is becoming a tour guide and invited us to a private tour of the kotel tunnels- something I have always wanted to do but have never gotten around to. Needless to say I jumped at the chance.
Well, maybe jumped is the wrong word since try though we might we got there 20 minutes late. And the tour was already gone. Ok, so no it wasn't. Can we chalk it up to a bad brain day that the tour was actually supposed to be next week and I screwed up the dates?
Anyhow, I ended up walking around the city walls from shhar yafo to shaar haashpot which, thought it has stunningly beautiful views, also has stunningly insane hills. Boy did I get my work-out for the day (and I was running trying to make the tour we were "late" for!
In any case, we decided to see if we could get on a tour anyway, and ended up signing up for two separate tours- one the kotel tunnels, and 2 the
The technology is amazing. You get a set of headphones that have a built in sensor and as you move from room to room it hooks up to an overhead computer to keep pace with how quickly you choose to move through the exhibit.
Each column is made up of hundreds of pieces of stacked glass that have been carved in different ways. It starts with the "pillars" of the Jewish history. It moves through a few diferent eras but I only took pictures of those I found most interesting.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
From time to time over the last couple of years we have considered buying a car. Most Olim consider buying a car towards the end of their 3rd year, before their rights expire. We had been working with a razor thin budget. We kept getting told that if only we doubled our budget we could get a decent car.
With everything we have dealt with in the passed year, some family members decided to help remove the financial obstacles that were hampering our car search. So this time we were fully committed to the search with quadruple the budget. Again we ran into the response if only we could kick in another 60% we could get a decent car.
This time we had some other things going in our favour. Driving is really impractical for my commute to work. The way our street is designed, it would take longer if we decided to drive some places then to walk. No matter how much we rely on the car, we think it is safe to say it will be a low milage car.
The week started optimistically, as we thought we had found a really great deal on a yellow 2004 Getz. It was sold before we had an opportunity to look at it. Over the course of the week, we ran head first into the frustration, that buying a car in Israel can be.
- A mechanic who we have relied on during previous searches, didn't seem too interested.
- One agent would only look for the best value on one particular make and model of our choice. For 200 NIS he could help us decide what particular car that should be. While we were looking for this century, he was thinking a little older. Plus he never returned phone calls.
- The company that found the first Getz had seemed promising. Then we found out that any car that was not on their lot would require a 500 NIS deposit just for the opportunity to see it.
Out of frustration, I opened up Shemeshphone and called the local dealers. The first one offered 'Haimeshe' service but didn't speak English. Then things started to fall into place.
The place I called was a local dealer in the industrial part of town. I told him what we were looking for. He suggested that we could use financing to and get a slightly more expensive car with more bang for the buck. I gave him our floor price and waited to see what he could do with it first. He said he would contact his Jerusalem lot to see what they had. He would call me back in the afternoon.
He did exactly what he promised. He found 5 cars and only one was slightly above the budget I gave him. He would get a driver to bring one of the cars to Beit Shemesh for us to take a look free of charge. He said he would call us when it arrived and he did.
The car was in excellent condition. A few scratches (this is Israel) and the 'z' had fallen off. We took it for a test drive including going up "the hill". It performed very nicely. There is ample room for what we need.
In the end we bought a 2006 White Getz GLF. Milage is a little high, which will balance out with our low mileage driving. It has a 1.4L engine which solves some of the fuel efficiency concerns. We got it for 8,300 NIS below list price. The engine and transmission are under warranty for 6 months. On Wednesday their mechanic will come in and perform any required maintenance that is coming up. The tires are brand new. Pick up will be on Sunday, once I am able to take care of the insurance.
Tonight the Rabbi made sure to point out which bracha to say when we pick up the car. We think we got a great deal with excellent customer service, while staying local. I don't think things could have gone any smoother.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
I learned to hold my little girl's hand because it is a big scary world out there, but that sometimes there are times to let go and let her try to do it her way then kiss it better after.
I have learned hat often it is better to it than ask forgiveness than to ask permission.
I have learned that field trips are lots of fun but staying home can be just as fun and often more cozy.
I have learned that laughing can come at the worst of times and that crying is not always a bad thing.
I have learned that sometimes sleeping on the floor is the only way to get a decent night's sleep
I have learned that weekends don't need to start on Friday's.
I have learned that having a lousy haircut is not the end of the world.
I have learned that raisons go great in carrot cake- but only the yellow ones.
I have learned that sometimes I need to let my child follow her dreams even if they hurt me.
I have learned that being a good mom means saying no as often as it means saying yes.
I have learned that you don't always need to tell Abba everything that goes on when you are "out with the girls"
I have learned that worrying about money has a a time and place, but so does spending money for a memory that will last a lifetime.
Lastly and most importantly, I have learned to love unconditionally even if sometimes I forget how it's done.
I love you mom.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
In January, I passed the physical and a few weeks ago I played my first game. I was blown away when I arrived at the field. It was the same one that used to host the IBL. The field was impressive with grass, dirt infield, properly drawn foul lines, foul poles, permanent bases and an outfield fence. They even had two umpires. They also had rules I never heard of for this level of play, such as a designated field and a DH (who could play the field).
The team we played against was really talented. Playing in Spanish, with real baseball names like Rodriguez and Ramirez added to the intimidation factor. I soon discovered that I might be out of my league with the skill of some of my team mates. They stuck me in RF where I had trouble tracking down fly balls (which has always been a problem for me). At the plate where I normally redeem myself, I was hit by a pitch, grounded out, then struck out. We lost but managed to not invoke the mercy rule (down by 15 after 3 innings ends the game). I wasn't 100% sure if I wanted to go back.
The week before Pesach was hard to get guys out especially with two games on the schedule. Last night we had only 9 guys. They stuck me out at my preferred position of 2B. The coach was playing SS. Based on the way we were covering plays, it was clear I did not have his full confidence.
In the 2nd inning there was a hard hit ball to my left. As I tried to get the ball, in fell out of my glove and I ended up making picking up the ball while lying on the field. From my position I could only manage a weak throw and to make things worse I through it into the ground. The ball slowing trickled to the first basemen with enough time to get out the runner.
A few plays later, there was an attempted steal of second base. I ran to the bag and the throw was low and off to my left. Instead of sliding, the runner deciding to go into 2nd standing up. I caught him and the ball at the same time. I took a knee my head as I fell over but as I we untangled I was able to show that I still had the ball and the runner was out. When I first stood up, I was worried because my head hurt and I couldn't see anything. Someone pointing out my glasses had fallen off solved that problem.
From that point on I had the full confidence of the coach. He gave me first choice on handling certain plays. Later in the game, I picked up another assist as the runner fell and didn't get up after rounding second base. As the cut off man, I was able to get the ball in, with plenty of time to get him out.
At the plate most of the team was poping out. Even the catcher caught two foul balls. I managed to hit the ball hard on the ground into a 4-6-3 double play. We lost 19-1 after 4 innings, finishing the game almost an hour early.
This was more of they type of game I wanted to play (minus the lack of offence and losing) and am once again looking forward to the next game.