Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We're Not in Canada Anymore

This morning Peri and Shlomo decided to accompany me to my hockey game. Shlomo loves watching the puck and it is always more fun when your family is there to enjoy it with you. It also helps when you have a decent game.

Towards the end of the 80 minutes on the ice an young frum couple walks into the arena. They happen to be in the area and saw the arena with the sign 'Ice Peaks' and wanted to know what it was.

They walked up to Peri and had this conversation:

Israelis: What is that thing they are on? Is it plastic and why is it so cold?
Peri: It is ice and it is cold to keep it frozen.

They seemed confused by the concept.

Israelis: Why is everyone dressed so warmly?
Peri: They are wearing padding.

They couldn't understand what padding was or why it was needed.

Peri explained the concept of a puck and the importance of having protection.

They then couldn't understand why 'the guy in the net' was dressed so warmly.

Peri explained that it was a thin shirt with lots of padding and very important.

They asked if the game going on was the only activity the could be done on the ice or were there other things to do on this ice thing. Peri told them that skating was a fun activity.

When I got off the ice they asked me where to get the things on my feet, so that they could go on the ice now. The idea of playing hockey was way out there. They thought that since no one was going on the ice after us that they would be able to try it out immediately. They then started calling all their friends to join them in trying out this new weird activity.

I am not sure if this qualifies as an 'Only in Israel' moment. It definitely qualifies as never in Canada.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

We Danced Round and Round in Circles

I was really nervous going into Yom Kippur this year. The last time I had tried to fast was 17th of Tammuz. That fast ended mid-morning when I almost went down. The meds I take require me to have balanced food intake throughout the day to avoid side effects. On top of that the panic attacks had returned. The day before Yom Kippur, I had a panic attack that was so severe I collapsed on the ice before allowing myself to bounce back. At one point I had been scared that if that ever happened they would never allow me to play hockey again. Fortunately, that is not the case.

I couldn't get a heter to eat from either my doctor or my Rabbi. I just focused on doing what I could. In the end it was one of the most enjoyable and meaningful Yom Kippurs I have ever had. Unfortunately sometimes when you take a huge leap forward you quickly take a small step backwards intsead of being able to carry on the momentum. That is the best way to describe the week of Sukkot.

Then on Sunday night, Simchat Torah had come around. Our family had our eyes set on enjoying this particular Simchat Torah for a long time.

The auction had wrapped up and the tables and chairs were being moved to set up for a night of dancing. A friend brought Shlomo over to me. I immediately took him and sang quietly in his ear the same words I sang to Channah on her very first Simchat Torah and every year afterwards until she was too old to dance with me. 

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
I have written and told the story many times of why this song and Simchat Torah is so important to me including here and here. Shlomo and I danced together. I finally had that moment with my long awaited Sefer Torah.

Last Simchat Torah, Peri promised me that this year I would have Kol Nearim while holding my son in my arms. She made sure that she won the auction and that I would be able to have that special moment.

For the 3rd time in 5 years, I was under the tallit surrounded by children for that special Aliyah. Shlomo was in my arms and Channah was standing beside. With Channah's Bat Mitzvah coming up it was a moment that can never be replicated.  This Aliyah has transformed for me from one of sadness and hope to one of joy and happiness. All 3 of my children were there, to mark the occasion that even in the darkest hours we find a way to rebuild and find the happiness again. Just as the month of Elul, Rosh HaShannah, Yom Kippur we work on personal growth, we follow it up with the Simcha of Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

It happen to work out that over all of the Simchat Torah dancing I held two of our shuls 3 Sifrei Torah. I also held two of my three children. The day is about the death of Moshe and finishing the Torah and immediately transitioning to the very beginning with the creation of the world.

This year is one that is going to be filled with a lot of new beginnings. So far my family is off to a great start.