Friday, December 6, 2013


Our beloved Madiba has gone to the realm of his ancestors from where I hope he will continue to guide us.
His departure was not unexpected, in fact, it was more than timely, and even so, I feel bereft. What I feel is diminished, but so so grateful that he was such a strong part of my life.
There is nothing I can add to what has been said and written, and to what will continue to be said and written about Mandela. I want to write about his impact on me, from a totally personal and subjective view.  I cannot write this without honoring my parents.
My parents were born in South Africa. They raised us, their children, to be aware of the injustices of apartheid. Our eyes were opened from a young, tender, and impressionable age, and dictated all the future choices we made in our lives.
My parents belonged to a party called the Liberal Party, and their motto was "one man one vote." The party eventually has to disband when it became illegal for a party to represent people of every color that make up South Africa.My father was a lawyer, and at the dinner table he would quote from the speech Mandela gave in his defense at the Rivonia Trial. We listened to the trial on the radio and read about it in the Rand Daily Mail. Of course it became illegal for the media to quote or to read from anything written by Mandela. He became a non being, and if it weren't for my parents, I would have been quite unaware of him, or what he stood for. My dad also gave me the book "Let My People Go" by Chief Albert Luthuli. He told me about the African National Congress, then everything was banned - it was illegal to have these books or to read from them.  The fear of what the Government could do permeated our lives. Later, much later, I met Luthuli's daughter in Atlanta, but that is another story.
My parents met Mandela, and Oliver Thambo. They were both very impressed by Mandela, by his stature, intelligence, and compassion.
These were the people I heard about at the dinner table and in my home. I was made to understand that their struggle was for every South African, no matter their colour.
Eventually I chose to leave South Africa. Not too long after that my whole family left. One leaves one's country through choice, or because one has to flee, but it is there ones' roots remain no matter how hard we tried to uproot ourselves, and so we avidly followed the ongoing unfolding story of South Africa.
Madiba led the country through change and all South Africans felt better in the world, no longer pariahs. His influence spread over the entire planet. Indeed, we are all connected, over space and time. This is what his passing has made so clear to me, the eternal lesson. We are all interconnected. One man's death diminishes us all.
May we continue to live up to his legacy and to honour him and his teachings wherever we are in the world.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Vindication (sort of)

This ordeal sort of resolved just before I turned into a raving lunatic, gnashing my teeth, wailing, and tearing out my hair. It ended with me encamped in the Apple store on 4th Street in Berkeley refusing to ever leave again until my problems were sorted out - my tech problems, that is. In the end the smiling blue T-shirted genii won out!
My issues and problems  have been resolved for the most part although the battery is still being depleted swiftly on the iPhone. I have turned off every possible thing that may use too much battery time, short of turning off the phone itself and never using it!
Vindication sort of arrived when I read an article in the economics section of The New York Times in which the writer implied that Apple may be using planned obsolescence in the iPhones. Then this morning I heard someone on NPR talking about the battery problems many users are experiencing with the new upgrade. So …. not just me, but this has been such a lesson in the amount of time we spend with our technology, and how dependent we are on it.
We have made a pact with the devil folks, and there ain't no turning back.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Not Yet

It aint over til it's over

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cyber HELL

I know the particular hell I have been going through for the last couple of weeks is a hell that is probably unique to the first world, but I live in the first world and these problems that I will now describe have been excruciatingly exasperating and real to me.
I wonder how much of my entire life span is spent trying to solve technological problems. A substantial portion, I am afraid.
My most recent round of unproductive time began when I downloaded Apple's latest operating system - 7.0.2 or whatever it is. I tried to make an appointment on my iPhone's calendar and it didn't work as it had worked on the previous version. I scribbled my appointment on a piece of paper, stuffed it into my purse,  and continued on my way to work out at the local YMCA. The receptionist and I commiserated about our technological ineptitudes, then she asked to look at my phone to see whether she could figure it out. The two of us stood gazing blankly at the little screen waiting for something miraculous to occur when we pressed buttons - some miracle like an appointment appearing on the appropriate day at the appropriate time. It didn't happen, and we both shrugged despondently. At that moment a young personal trainer appeared - she said that she too, was not familiar with the new system, but could she take a look at my phone - she looked at the screen with an unfurrowed brow, touched something and there it was - perfect. She showed me what she did and all seemed fine. Until I returned home - both my iPad and my iPhone's batteries were completely depleted. Dark blank screens. This had never before happened, and never in the space of two hours. I charged both my devices. When I removed the charger, I could visibly see the battery being depleted as I stared at the screen - 100% and going down, very fast, even though I had not even used the damned devices.
I turned of bluetooth, face time, I disabled location services - I basically turned off everything there was to turn off, and still, the batteries went down down down in an alarmingly short time.
I called apl-care and a young man (I presume he was a young man) explained how to get rid of open apps, by sliding them upward on the screen (different than before.) He assured me this would help - it did not. Basically I could use both devices while they were being charged, which made no practical sense. I do not walk around with electric chargers on my being.
I called apl-care again. This time a young woman informed me that they had many people reporting problems with this new system, luckily for me the new upgrade 7.0.3, had just come out and it addressed all these problems. I should download the brand new upgrade, and wait for 24 hours to see if things were better. If not, I should call back again, and she gave me a case number.
Maybe it it pointless, but I will add at this juncture, that these phone calls take a long time. Nothing is shorter than an hour.
I waited 24 hours, down went the batteries, maybe even faster than before - I called and after trouble shooting, turning off apps, adding apps, enabling and disabling everything that could be enabled and disabled, the young man gave me another case number but this time said I should take my devices into the Apple store.
I made an appointment at the genius bar, and the young pleasant genius did everything I had done many times, by now. He then performed a diagnostics tests and looked at the results on his device, and informed me I had a software problem, not hardware. They would have to totally clean out my devices and then restore them as new. So, he did this with my iPad - again, this appointment took a couple of hours. He told me to take my iPad back home and manually restore everything, and I did this. Again, this does not happen in an instant, and I had dinner to prepare. He also told me to perform the same cleaning out procedure  on my phone but first I was to upload photos that were just on my phone to my laptop, and then clean out the phone. Well, the next day when I connected the phone to iTunes it did not recognize my phone at all. On to my landline again, I called apl-care and the man who answered told me it was really lucky I had got him on the phone because he can help me solve this problem. Again, painstakingly, we went through every single procedure I had done before. We then checked my USB ports (I knew they were fine) and my cable, and as far as I know, everything single application and everything I had ever stored on my computer for the past 20 years. He was devastated - nothing was wrong with the phone except for this battery problem and still iTunes was not recognizing my device. He then put me through to his supervisor (I sat through several Beatles' songs). She - a she, and I went through all these procedures yet again. She then made another appointment for me at the Apple store. She apologized profusely and thanked me for my patience and understanding, and gave me a case number and a direct line to call her should I need.
Two days later I went back to the Apple store and a very pleasant blue-haired young lady and myself went through everything again, including the diagnostics test. Apparently some people had incipient software problems that came to light with this new operating system. Whatever, my phone was again cleaned out and restored - photos are back on, apps are running, and for the last two hours the phone has held its charge.
I am just NOT going to hook it up to my laptop to see whether iTunes recognizes it or not.
I am now trying to catch up with the rest of my life that was put on hold -
In other words, I hope I am emerging from my cyber hell somewhat intact and retaining at least some shreds of sanity so that I can continue functioning in the first world.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Desert Sands

The flurries of the snow globe have been replaced by desert sands. In Israel it is difficult to even imagine snow, but the flurries continue, with possibility a gradual settling down, but as yet, no clear visibility!
Despite fears of an attack on Syria and global repercussions, it proved to be a truly wonderful time in Israel. We had a glorious family reunion with cousins/sisters from South Africa, and together we travelled over Israel. it is such fun to experience it as a tourist, albeit, for me, a tourist with deep and entrenched roots.
It is 40 years since the Yom Kipur War - that terrible war that changed our lives forever. I went to the kibbutz, and spent time with my abiding friends. After 40 years I see how the pen of time has etched its markings on myself and those around me. It is as if that invisible, but constant presence of the  pen has etched deeper lines into peoples' faces, it has carved out hollows and lessened the angularities and planes of our faces and bodies. It has sketched a different color into our hair and removed the hair of some, and yet the essential being of everyone I know and love remains constant, just with some superimpositions! In fact, it is how things should be, ever changing, and yet built on a firm foundation.
And now I have returned to face whatever is here. Yesterday when I visited the program at work one of the little boys sank his sharp razor like little teeth into my right forearm, puncturing my flesh and drawing blood. I can only hope that this is not a foreshadowing of what the future holds!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Snow Globe continues

I am still floating around, waiting to make sense of whatever these big changes are. At the same time I am seeing new kids, and getting ready to say goodbye to two 'old' ones who will soon be turning three! That is alway hard, when I have been with them for almost three years. I have been privy to most of their lives, and have watched them grow and change. I also get to know the families really well and have shared many special moments with them, and then, goodbye!  (A repetitive pattern in my life as well)

Just after the new year, I leave for Israel. I leave on a Friday so I will travel, hopefully, with 'normal' folks who will not be up to pray at different times during the flight. (Read my blog entry: Strange Flights.)

Of course the situation in the Middle East leaves much to be desired! I can only pray for a good family reunion.

So ... more later, maybe from Israel, maybe not

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Snow Globe

I feel as if I am in a snow globe and some unseen hand has shaken it up, and I float around, without gravity, without a center - upside down, on my side, head up, head down. The flakes surround me and I cannot see any horizon. I cannot see any settling of these flakes, and each moment, each day, brings a renewed shaking.
This is, for me, a time of many changes, on the personal and professional level. the only thing I am able to do, at this time, is to honor the process, as difficult as it is.
It is for this reason, that I have not written new posts. All my psychic energy is taken up with momentum caused by the shaking of the globe - from time to time I experience gratitude, in spending time with friends, in the enjoyment of books, in walks in nature, in the rebuilding of my physical strength and the healing of my hand.
And so I drift and float, and hope for glimpses of clarity until the flakes eventually settle.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cast Free

My cast was removed without undue ceremony a few days ago. The doctor declared the fracture to have healed very well. Of course I am delighted. I am now in a brace and have to do range of motion exercises followed by a strengthening program, but that comes later. Of course my range of motion is not back yet, that will, I know, take rather a long while. However, I am definitely on the road to recovery.
I can drive, and even filled up the car with gas, something that was impossible to do just one week ago.
What a strange blur this time has been - it will have been two months by the time I return to work!
The disability 'issue' resolved after 5 weeks. I do NOT want to go through that again.
I managed to listen to the tapes of a 8 hour seminar I was unable to attend and sent off the test answers last week.
I have read quite a few books, although what on earth possessed me to take a large hardcover book out of the library I don't know. I had seen the film and wanted to read the book, a Swedish thriller "Easy Money" and i saw it in the library and took it out. I have endless books waiting to be read on my really convenient kindle, but no, I decide to shlep a large and heavy book around with me. I must say, these recent Swedish books do not paint a pretty picture of Sweden. I wonder if the gloomy weather has affected their psyches.
I have also seen many movies, and I thinkI am  the only human left who does not have Netflix. I very much enjoy my forays to the neighborhood video store which is still there, and which does have an excellent choice of movies, from classics to  BBC series.
I continue to walk and the gardens continue to bloom, although the roses have already lost some of their initial glory. I now look forward to tending to my little patch of earth in the back of my house.
I do miss my little ones, but am afraid they will have forgotten me by now. For them it is really a case of out of sight, out of mind. Maybe a couple of them will recognise my big black bag of toys even if they do not recognize me!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Neighbourhood

Now that I am done with the ridiculous bureaucratic nonsense, I am enjoying this most unusual weather, and am going on walks. Although this year has been the driest on record, the gardens and patches of wildflowers on the median strips and along the BART paths are glorious.
I walk past a garden where some of the rosebushes are at a perfect height for me to stop and inhale their intoxicating aromas. The pale pink rose, so pale as to be almost white, has an almost heady fragrance. The orange and red roses although glorious, have no smell. The scent of the sterling roses is powerful.  Hedges of yellow climbing roses and jasmine and tea roses abound. The rhododendron bushes bowl me over in their gorgeous flowers of purples and reds, pinks, and creams. Japanese maples in deep wines and emerald greens spread their branches. I love the drought resistant gardens with their flowering succulents amidst rocks. Asian gardens laid out in stones resembling rivers with sculpted bushes and trees alongside. The wide pavements lurch upward pushed by roots, and cracked by quakes and time. Grasses and herbs peek through the cracks. The gutters are lined deep in soft pink petals.
On these very hot and dry days I seek the shade of the trees. Some still bear their blossoms, white, pink balls of fluff, others are turning green. The bottlebrush tree reminds me of Israel and the gardens with the birds of paradise and aloes remind me of South Africa.
I pop into a neighbourhood cafe to ask the owner if he does have to move. He has been there for 24 years, but because of Albany health laws can no longer serve the succulent fried chicken his wife cooks up on weekends. We chat a while  and he gives me a bowl of today's soup to taste - vegetables and sage sausages. Yummy. I go to the YMCA to hand in my card till I am able to return. I see all the regulars and we chat and joke. I pop into the local whole health pharmacy and am delighted that the owner can give me a bottle of ayurvedic nosedrops. Not everyone has these, I exchange pleasantries with the owner and continue down to have an iced latte and read in the corner cafe. The pleasant Thai server knows that I always have a low fat latte, but today my order is different - I want it iced. I sit inside - the cafe is full of people escaping the heat.
All is right with the world.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


After my week of utter frustration with no replies from my doctor, and getting absolutely nowhere with the disability website, or my supervisor, I woke up Thursday morning and decided to take the bull by the horns, (one horn anyway).
I called an advice nurse (30 min. wait) and told her that my doctor had not replied to my e-mails and that I wanted  to see an orthopedist. She promised to get my not unreasonable request through to my doctor, as my e-mails hadn't worked. I then called the medical secretaries' office - I had left three days of voice messages asking her to call me about the disability forms. This time I spoke to a receptionist. She was actually nice and helpful. She said it would be best  to come into Kaiser office, explain that I cannot get on online and request a packet.
My neighbour drove me to Kaiser - a route she now knows well. I picked up the packet. On the way home I requested that she stop outside one of my newest and youngest patient's apartment, I wanted to check on the little girl.
I had only just begun to see the six-month old girl whose mother had had gestational diabetes. The little girl had a seizure at birth and had been without oxygen. She seems to have some neurological damage, as her tone is uneven and her left hand is tightly fisted with an indwelling thumb. She is young enough that she can benefit, in fact probably recover completely, from intervention. I had only seen her twice and even in that time frame she had improved, (with grandmother's help of course.)
I walked up the wooden stairs and her abuela came to the door. She let me in and I spoke to her and held the 6-month old girl's tightly fisted hand. Of course no arrangements had been made for her to be seen in my absence. I told her abuela to put her on her stomach (about 24" of floor space) so she can roll and bear weight on her hands. I showed her how to massage her hand and I left, furious. This little baby needs to be seen!
I came downstairs to find my neighbour with tears in her eyes. She was born and raised in Richmond and can't believe I work in these areas. She asked how many people live with the child in the rickety one bedroom apartment. I told her five that I know of.
She filled in my disability forms and while she was doing this my doctor called. She wanted to know why I had not seen an orthopedist!!!! That afternoon I took BART and a shuttle to Kaiser in Oakland. My cast was removed, my wrist and hand x-rayed. A delightful young hand specialist had my hand reset - in a purple cast this time, to match my purple thumb, and told me I cannot work for another five weeks.
So I am relieved that things have more or less been taken care of - I have also let my supervisor know I will be out for a longer time and my wee ones must be seen!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I broke my hand on April 16th. On April 17th a cast was put on and I received a letter from the doctor with dates of my time off work.
A receptionist at the office of the Medical Secretary at Kaiser. informed me that I must submit my claim online. He gave me a form with the websites numbers.
OK, that was one week ago - since then I have been online. The first time I tried there was a message to say the site is down until April 21st, which was Sunday. I tried anyway on that date - site still down. I tried Monday 22nd, filled in the claim form online, clicked submit and received an error notice. I had, to the best of my knowledge,  filled in all the fields correctly, but I tried again, and again, and again - same notice. The notice also proved an 800  number to call - I called, and pressed 1 for English, then pressed every number I was supposed to, all the while receiving a message to go online for faster service. Eventually I pressed the number to speak to someone only to get a message that they have a high volume of callers on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Wednesdays to Fridays specifically between 10 and 2. If I can't call outside of these times there is a 10 minute wait. I have time, of course, so I waited, only to get a message stating that the maximum number of callers has been reached.
I have tried the entire procedure every day since. I have also left messages for the person in the office at Kaiser. I have also called my work supervisor - nothing. I am met with a stunning response of silence.
Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr and grrrrrrrrrr and grrrrrrrrrr again!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


First and foremost, I sadly have to tell you all that I fell (a simple trip on a simple hike) and fractured my right arm - near the hand. Distal end of radius which is the long bone in the forearm on the thumb side. (That is a very quick lesson in anatomy.) Thing is, I broke the very same bone in the very same place about 28 years ago and it did not turn out well. Damn, is all I can say.
On the bright side, this unfortunate break gave me the time to get in an independent consultant on the difficulties people have with posting comments.
It turns out that it is really easy - at the bottom of each blog is a little word, 'comments', and next to it an envelope looking thing. Click on the 'comments' word and NOT the whatever that thing is, and up will come a box to leave a comment. If you click on the other thing it causes problems, misunderstandings, etc. and seems to send any remarks into cyberspace where they are forever lost, irretrievable, whirling around without any purpose in the atmosphere.
So dear ones, please leave a comment now to see if it works for you - it did for us.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yom Hazikaron

This evening is the evening of Memorial Day - Day of Remembrance, in Israel.
Erev Yom Hazikaron and I sit in The Pub on Solano Avenue in Albany, thousands of miles away from Israel. Once again, I am struck by the insignificance, or non-meaning, of time and space.
The Yom Kipur War is "our" war. Tragically in Israel each generation has their own particular war, or uprising, or terrorist attack. "Our" war, the Yom Kipur War was fought 40 years ago. Forty years, four decades, and yet it is as if it is happening now.  It is, and will be, forever imprinted in my cellular memory, dormant and ready to erupt at any moment.
This was the war that forever changed our lives, it shattered our youthful illusions of immortally, and Israel's illusion of invincibility.
Forty years and everything has changed, Israel, the kibbutz, the Middle East, us. We have matured, in fact, we have aged. My friends are now grandparents, some have become ill, or have died. Only the constant cycle of life and death continues.
In my heart Ray (Rafi) my husband, will remain forever young. I am sure he would not even imagine my life now. At the time of the war, I could not have imagined it.
Memories of sudden awful endings to life; war, accidents, shootings, certainly bring to my mind the entire meaning of life. I find I am confronted by thoughts of what have I done with my life. I am reminded that I do not have children, and so I have not secured my place in the future. Have I frittered my life away? Am I frittering my life away?
So Memorial Days are to remember those who sacrificed their lives, and I remember all of them, Arabs as well as Jews. Has anything been gained? Has anything been learned? or are we doomed to repeat these endless, tragic cycles in a ghastly repetition of wars and violence.

When I began writing this blog I did not think it would turn out like it has. What I wanted to say was that it was lovely coming home this afternoon and to hear the voice of a very dear friend on my answering machine. He called from London to say he had just returned from a memorial service, and he thought of me. We experienced the war together, and now it is so good to return home and be reminded that we are still connected. I know I am on the minds of my friends in Israel. I was, in fact, supposed to be there, but changed my plans to go later this year.
In America there is a strange phenomenon. No sooner than a tragedy has occurred, for example, like  the December 2012 shooting of the children in Sandy Hook, than the media states that the parents should move on with their lives. Witless reporters say idiotic things like "it is four months since this father lost his son, and he still cries like it had just happened." How absolutely inane, and how in denial of the impact of tragedies, deaths, and wars on our lives. No one ever forgets, and what is more, no one should forget.

And I did not mean for the blog to end like this, either ....

A small addendum, I hardly every get comments on my entries. The statistics show that people are reading my blogs, but there is so little response that I question myself (and we all know that statistics lie!) and think that perhaps I should stop blogging. I probably will continue, but I would sometimes like to know if there is anyone out there ....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Shooting

It was with a feeling of cold sick horror that I read a name in this morning's paper - Demaria, a 19 year old boy was gunned down in Richmond yesterday morning. He was on a run with 22 others, residents of housing projects, young people trying to change their lives around. They were on a training run in midmorning,  training for vocations. Amongst the people running were his father and brother. Their trainer and those running heard and saw a white SUV come screeching toward the runners. Everyone saw them gun down Demaria, even continuing to shoot as he lay, dead, on the pavement.
Over my morning coffee I read the article, and honed in on the name. Could it be the Demario I know? But he is Demario, not Demaria, maybe it is a typo; please no, don't let it be. A quick calculation, Demario was back in Richmond for spring break, that means he must now be gone, back in college, away from the killing streets.
I felt clammy, my heart beat faster and a wave of nausea overcame me as I flashed onto the image of three young men lying dead on Cutting Boulevard. A tarp was being placed over one of the bodies. The other two were lying nearby, still uncovered - I saw jeans and sneakers as I drove past, feeling faint and very ill. How long ago had I seen them? Four, maybe five years ago, also gunned down in midmorning.
No, this could not be the Demario I know, but he is someone's Demario, and he lay on the streets, uncovered for a long while, as police took in all the details, the tireprints, the runner's footsteps, they questioned traumatized witnesses ...
and the horror goes on.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


During the seder, one of the songs we sing is Dayenu. It reminds us to be grateful for what we have now,  in this moment. instead of  wanting more, something better, something else..
Because of the work I do, I am always reminded of the need to be thankful and to count my blessings. I am grateful: for my health, for the fact that I have work, for my home, for my friends, for my family.
It is during this time of Passover that my different lives come together, melding, unifying, ehn continuing on their separate paths. I spent the first night of the holiday with people I know very well from the kibbutz I lived on. A couple of them I have not seen for at least 25 years, and here they are, in Albany, and we celebrated the seder together.
Another seder was spent with the south african part of my life. And in this part there is a melding, for many of the south africans also lived in Israel.
 Then, on the very last day of Passover, I was on skype with a cousin in South Africa when my phone went. A good friend from the kibbutz called to tell me of the very sad passing of the daughter of  friends of ours, as well as a friend who lives on the kibbutz.
It is these events that again remind me to be grateful. To be thankful for our lives, and our health.
In the midst of all of this came a really gratifying day at work on Friday. A day in which, once again, I was reminded of the benefits of early intervention.
I have been seeing a girl for about two years. She was referred because of premature birth and a severe cerebral hemorrhage. She has a shunt in her brain, and, until Friday, she could not walk. She has been seen by myself and a physical therapist for almost two years. For the first year she did nothing but scream with both of us. When I came to the home she would smile until I sat down to work with her. She then began to scream and cry (although there were no tears) until her caregiver, in this case, her grandmother, came back to sit with us and protect her from me. Her mother takes her to physical therapy, and there she did the same thing, screaming every time the physical therapist tried to touch her. This hysterical scenario continued for almost a year, until one Friday, when I got there, she smiled and no longer cried. This too, was a mystery, but a pleasant one.
She has never ever tried to walk, although we both have tried to get her to crawl and to get up by herself from lying down to sitting without help. She did get orthotics and always indicated to me to put them on when I came, but she remained sitting in them.
This Friday I came in. She had just woken up and did not have her orthotics on. She turned to smile at me when I came in. I sat next to her and she pointed to my bag because she wanted to see the toys I would produce from my large black bag.
She scribbled on an etch-a-sketch, then put simple puzzle pieces together, then suddenly, to my amazement, I saw her pulling to stand  at the sofa. She turned around and walked, without orthotics or shoes, on the wooden floor, all the way to her room!
 That is it, she is walking, she is also using her left arm and hand.
All of this is because of persistent work on the part of her therapists and her mother. Without this intervention, she probably would never have walked.
It is so gratifying and exciting to see these changes which will just get better and better, towards a fully functioning independent being!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Exodus

I am not reading the book of the same name by Leon Uris, nor am I watching a re-run of The Ten Commandments. It is simply that as Passover approaches, my thoughts inevitably turn to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. I have been with groups with Israelis, and they are NOT an easy group to travel with at the best of times. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for Moses to lead this group of people from a known slavery to an unknown, and most likely, unimagined freedom.
A few years ago I joined a group of Israeli war widows for a tour of the Pyrenees and Basque country.
This tour was advertised for what it was, a week in the spanish side of the Pyrenees, and the Basque country. The itinerary laid out the towns in which we would stay and the areas we would see each day. We were not embarking on a journey into unknown and unchartered territory.
On the very first day, after traveling a few hours through rugged mountains and gorges, the woman sitting next to me declared that she had enough of scenery, she wanted to go shopping. "When will we get to Madrid?" she inquired. I told her that this tour did not include Madrid. She hadn't realized this, she saw a tour to Spain and arranged to come on the trip without reading any further.
This scenery she could see in the Golan heights - we would have days of scenery, how awful. If only she had realized ....
Others agreed with her. Furthermore, the restaurants didn't serve kosher food. This caused further rumblings. Some others seemed to understand that they wouldn't get kosher food in Basque country. They brought cans of food with them, and were not inclined to share this with the others who had not had this foresight.The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao - maybe the architecture was interesting, but who wanted to waste time in museums? Cathedrals are of no interest whatsoever. Guernica - yes, awful what happened to the civilians there, right now there were suicide bombings in Israel, Guernica was even before the Second World War.
The accommodations were not good, even the weather was not up to par - too cold and rainy. In short, it seemed that many of the participants were utterly miserable from the moment we left until we returned. I can only surmise that they were, in fact, quite miserable both before and after the tour.And so I think of the exodus, the decades before, and the decades after.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


For the past few months I have been thinking about time, and what it really means.
It is a measurement that we absolutely need in order to exist, but it is just that, a measurement - we exist in this constant continuum of now, like some vast cosmic swimming pool. 
I have led, and do lead, three very distinct lives. The first part of my life was in South Africa, and I carry within me distinct memories of people and events and smells that all are in me now. 
Then I have my life in Israel, with its own very distinctive memories. 
Then there is my life here in America, equally separate and distinct from those other lives, and yet, all the time those three lives exist in me, sometimes overlapping. Like molecules moving about the three lives bump against each other, sometimes become part of each other, and then move on again. All is a constant ebb and flow.
I have had the privilege of meeting up with cousins and friends from my past over these past few months. Despite the passage of decades, of separate lives that have been and are being lived, we instantly recognize each other, and all that ever was between us exists in the eternity of now.
How fitting then, that just when I am grappling with these very elusive  concepts, I went on a trip to Yellowstone. It is as if the vastness, the magnificence of ever-changing nature, mirror the thoughts that have been with me. The cosmic swimming pool is the caldera in which Yellowstone exists now, and has existed for aeons.
And now I am back from Yellowstone, but all I have to do is to close my eyes and immediately be transported to that magical place which exists on our planet, along with all the magical places, and somehow despite their very separate and distinct regions, they also all exist within each other, as we do, within each others' lives, eternally.