Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bringing Home my Sefer Torah

Around the time Channah was born the Journeys 4 CD had recently come out. The songs from that CD accompanied me on many trips back and forth to the hospital to visit Rachel and Channah. One particular song that has clung with me was The Man From Vilna. 

Full Lyrics

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 gather in our arms
In their place we held those children, the Jewish people would live on
Am yisrael chai

On Simchat Torah of that year I sang this song to myself as I danced with her. I continued to sing the song to myself every Simchat Torah.  The year Rachel was pregnant with Gabi was the first year Channah was too big to dance with me. I took consolation in the fact that I would have Gabi to dance with the next year. Of course that dream never came true, although I did have Kol HaNarim both Simchat Torahs before Rachel died.

At my Of Roof, Channah turned to Peri and asked her if she would give me a Sefer Torah. Sunday 
our Shannah Rishonah will draw to a close with our Hebrew Anniversary. This evening I got to bring home my Sefer Torah. Holding him in my arms brings me so much joy.

My Sefer Torah

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

First Night of Channukah

Tonight is the first night of Channukah. Which of course leads to the traditional question, why is this night different from all other nights?

For starters Peri has been in the hospital since last Tuesday. I am completely emotionally drained from the twisting drive to and from the hospital while trying to keep some sense of normalcy at home. Today I had to give myself a break and stay home.

It was also our little boy's first ever Channukah. Through the power of FaceTime we were able to have the whole family together for candle lighting. Channah, me and the dogs were at home, while Peri and Blobby joined in from the hospital.

Afterwards Channah and I watched some Channukah music videos while we ate dinner. We had lasagna that was prepared ahead of time for when Peri was going to be in the hospital. We also had latkes that Channah made with her friend this afternoon.

We found this year's batch of videos to be disappointing compared to other years.  Of course this one still remains my all time favourite.

Blobby received medical clearance to come home this afternoon. Peri's status is still uncertain. There is a possibility that she could be sent home tomorrow. They may want to keep her a little bit longer.

The events surrounding the pregnancy and my son's birth has given me an entirely new dimension to understanding and appreciating the lessons of Channukah. If his Bris is over Channukah I will share them then. If not I will write about them in the next few days.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baby Announcment and Pictures

It is with tremendous pleasure and HaKarat HaTov  that Peri and I would like to welcome our little baby boy.

He was born on Friday afternoon at 2:04 pm.  At 2198 grams (4 lbs 13 oz; same weight as when I was born) he is considered a Preemie.

This afternoon for the second time in my life I got to hold a live newborn baby.

We would like to thank everyone who has helped us along the way.

Peri and Jason

First Bottle

Monday, October 13, 2014

Local Entertainment -- Sukkot 5775

So far this Chol HaMoed we have stuck with local entertainment. Yesterday we went to see the circus at the local mall (Big Fashion). Today we went to the Biblical Museum of Natural History which opened yesterday by Rabbi Slifkin.

Every evening over Chol HaMoed, Big Fashion is having a circus show. The theme yesterday was African Circus. In the middle of the mall on the main floor they section off a section for the show. We got there early enough to get a spot upstairs with a great view.  The area around the performance was fairly crowded (at least 7 people deep) and kids kept creeping further and further inside the circled off area as the show went on.

Waiting for the Circus to Begin

4 guys did all kinds of different acrobatics to different African themed music.  They jumped through hoops, balanced on each other and unbalanced chairs as well as each other. These guys would make awesome wedding shtick.  The show was an hour and we had a great time.

Rabbi Slifkin "Zoo Rabbi" opened up his new museum for tours yesterday. There are still a few exhibits that have not been completed but it did not take away from the tour (except of the fact I would have loved to see the Hyrax which is one of the delayed exhibits).

The tour started with Rabbi Slifkin explaining the purpose of the museum and how he defines what type of animals fall under the scope of the museum.  He then showed a 10 minute video about lions and how they are treated in Tenach. 

When the video ended the curtain was pulled back to reveal the rest of the museum. Rabbi Slifkin then lead the tour through the musuem. There was a mix animals (live and stuffed), other artifacts that you would expect to see in a museum including eggs, animal horns and bones. He brought in a live python for the day to enhance the tour. It was cool as it was the first time I had ever touched a snake. Peri was having a great time with all of the live animals including (turtles, mina birds, gekkos, salamander, rats and albino hedgehog)

He covered the topic of animal names in Tanach including how and why they have changed. For example a 'Tzvi' is usually translated as a deer. It makes more sense if it refferred to a gazelle. He also covered different aspects of kosher animals.


There was also an extensive section on shofars. I didn't know it wasn't possible to make a shofar from a non-kosher animal because they are not hollow. The narwhal horn was also a nice touch.

Overall we enjoyed the museum with only 2 criticisms. The hour long tour cost 110 NIS for the 3 of us. It is a lot of money for only an hour. The Israel Museum would have only cost us 125 NIS.  The Biblical Zoo would have cost us 140 NIS for the day. We wanted to stay longer when the tour was over to look around. We didn't have the opportunity because a new group was coming in and we were hurried out.  Channah also noticed that at points it felt like the tour was being rushed because they were worried about time.

Overall the museum was a nice way to spend an hour, but was on the pricey side in terms of value for your money.  Based on the what was advertised this was the discounted price until the museum is fully functional.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Turning Back the Clock

Last Monday marked the end of summer as Channah returned to school. Wednesday was another marker that we have moved out of the summer season as I returned to the hockey rink. A hand injury is limiting me to that one game until after the chagim. It is a good time to reflect on what had been a very busy summer.

The war in Gaza did dominate our lives to some degree.  A dozen scrambles to the Mamad (sealed room) and the sound of jet planes, helicopters and occasionally being able to hear artillery fire in the distance made the war much more real then just following the news. With some adjustments day to day life continued mostly as normal. It was disappointing that the war did cancel our trip to the beach in Ashdod that I had been looking forward to at the beginning of summer.

For the first time Channah was in camp for the whole summer.  The first 3 weeks she went to camp in the Rama. She walked there every morning and we picked her up in the afternoon. She really came out of her shell in interacting with other kids. She also fell in love with gymnastics which is going to be her chug for the year. When the 3 weeks were up she went to another camp a little bit farther away. Channah discovered she had natural talent in archery, learned to play baseball and was exposed to Tae Kwon Doe. There were regular reports from the staff about what a great camper she was. We also continued our regular home work routine through the summer. The combination has really paid off as Channah has been absolutely thriving in her first week and a half of school.

The summer was not quite as happy a time for our car Snowflake. The air conditioner finally kicked out and wasn't worth fixing.  Despite the relatively cool summer (most of the summer was in the mid 30s instead of low 40s), we decided that Snowflake could no longer take the heat. We purchased Zoom Zoom which was a slightly newer car that could handle the heat. It was a real upgrade for us. Aside from a working air conditioner it also came with a bigger trunk, working stereo, remote key entry and sensors when you are backing up. I went from trying to avoid driving whenever possible to enjoying driving.

Zoom Zoom

Our original plan for the summer was to find a new place to live. After a lot of searching we finally accepted that it was not economically feasible with skyrocketing rent in the neighbourhood. Instead we met with the owner of the apartment to negotiate a long term lease and some improvements to the apartment. Fixing up the apartment became the project of the summer.  Plumbing and electrical was fixed and our bedroom no longer has carpet. We painted the entire apartment. Changes have been made with rearranging or replacing some of the existing furniture.  It was a huge step for Peri and I to set up our new home together. We celebrated by having a Chanukat HaBayit at the end of the summer. Our apartment was filled with people who are extremely important in my life. Even my Rosh Yeshiva attended.

Earlier this year I started to have a tough time battling PTSD and depression. Having the safety and security of a stable home environment left me face to face with deep painful memories and fears. Through therapy and medication, I have come leaps and bounds in this battle. For the first time in a very long time I have been able to allow my self to have wants, hopes and dreams. More and more I am uncovering who I am and who I want to be. It is tremendously refreshing to once again see life as full of potential instead of just struggling with whatever is sent my way. 

Rachel and I were once on our way to wedding. One of the people in the car was talking about the recent birth of a child. They had thought they had been done having children and that their timeline for when certain life events that happen as children grow up had been set. Instead they had turned back the clock by a number of years, as they will not hit those milestones until their youngest child grew up.  We didn't know it at the time but Rachel was already pregnant with Gabi during the conversation.

This summer has been all about turning back the clock. I have an opportunity to start again and build a life for myself that I thought had been lost forever.  This summer was a glimpse at what potential my life has. It is refreshing to have so much to look forward to.    

Friday, February 28, 2014

It Happened at Midnight

The candle is lit to mark 'The Day We Wished Never Happened'. It has been 3 years since Gabi our miracle baby was taken from us before she had a chance to take her first breath. As I wrote 3 years ago 'She taught us that even the impossible can come true, for both good and bad.' I never knew how bad life would get. Even today I am still learning how bad the darkest most grim days were. Sometimes I have flashbacks or memories that leave me paralyzed to face the world. Somehow I have been able to move forward and clean up the pieces. 

Halacha didn't recognize Gabi's life or death. As such any mourning or remembering is purely on a voluntary basis. She died on the 24th of Adar 1. This is the first year her Hebrew Yahrziet falls out before Purim. A quirk in the calendar and Halacha towards remembering made keeping the Gregorian date more logical.  

As I lit the candle a little while ago I was overcome with the symbolism of that decision. Normally a Yahrziet candle would be lit as the sun was setting. Instead I stayed up and waited until midnight. How fitting for the daughter who never generated any memories of her own to be remembered at midnight. Midnight, the time where the world is dark and people are sleeping. For most her memory is like a dream. For many like a dream that is forgotten when you wake up in the morning. 

In the darkness of the night a small candle can shine even brighter. This week I have had an outpouring from people who were touched by my little girl. Those who took the time to reach out really touched me, encouraged me and gave me new strength. New books are being added to the library in her memory. 

When candle lighting time comes in for Shabbat, Channah will get to light her candle next to the one remembering her little sister.  For the first time on the Anniversary, Gabi will have her Eema to look after her in the next world while Channah has a Mom to look after her here.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tshuva with a Mehadrin Fridge

When we made Aliyah in 2008 we wanted to invest in ourselves to make our new life better. We put a lot of our very limited financial resources into making sure Rachel's studio went from home made student equipment to professional grade equipment fit for a serious business.

Our biggest mistake was our decision to draw the line at the fridge. Not only did we buy the one that was absolutely the cheapest but it wasn't even frost free. We didn't even know that it was possible to buy a fridge that wasn't frost free.

Today I finally did tshuva for our mistake as we replaced our super tiny, energy inefficient fridge with a large, hybrid, energy efficient MEHADRIN fridge.We are looking forward to enjoying our new fridge for many years.