Exploring the Hinterlands of My Psyche

Over the years, I’ve been asked by other writers where I come from and the answer has always been the same: nowhere special. I didn’t work my way up in a Manhattan-based magazine or attend Journalism school. I didn’t even take English in college. Still, I write. When fellow writer and friend, Caren Osten Gerszberg, [...]

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A story of words

 a.  Agrof: fist “Taaso cacha im hayadayim,” I use the command tense to tell my Israeli students to imitate my hands. I show them fists and stack them one on top of the other. “Agrof, ze agrof!” one shouts out at me. It’s not a mean or annoyed shout, but a friendly one, to help [...]

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An Open Mic-Like Night

Two Sunday nights ago, we were invited to a poetry reading. Not at a quaint independent book store or some cool café, rather at the home of a British woman who teaches English classes to elementary and middle school children. When the eight-week session began last September, Simone went hesitantly. Louise had asked the 8th [...]

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First Call, Part II

Throughout the fall, the conversation often revolved around Daniella’s tsav rishon. She’d come home from school with new updates from classmates: how she was being summoned before two of her peers even though her birthday was only a few days before theirs; how she’s been called first although she’s the last or newest arrival in [...]

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First Call, Part I

When the envelope arrived mid-July, I spent a few seconds deciphering the writing in Hebrew only to realize it was addressed to Lang, Daniella. The green lettering of the return address was foreign yet familiar: Tsahal, the Hebrew acronym for IDF or Israel Defense Forces. Since Daniella was away, I put it on her bed. [...]

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Making the most of every month

A look back at 2013 JANUARY Most unique fundraiser: when I got invited to a swishing event I had no idea what it meant. And I wasn’t alone. Two friends, a Brit and an Aussie, joined forces to import something their friends abroad had done to create a do-good, guilt-free shopping experience. To swish: to [...]

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A frigid cold evening out

A friend from my writing group honks outside. I cannot believe she’s here and almost wish she had cancelled. I’m shivering despite my layers: long-sleeve shirt, sweater, lightweight down vest, scarf and coat. The rain is pounding with intermittent hail, thunder and lightning. So unlike Israel. “Are we really doing this?” I ask Nicole as [...]

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Call it coincidence or synchronicity…

While attending a yoga class last week in Amsterdam, my story about practicing yoga abroad appeared on the Kripalu website. Whether or not you have ever attended a yoga–or any other–class in a faraway place or simply spend time amidst people who speak other tongues, this story is for you.     Yoga Far From Home [...]

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Poolside Yoga

Minutes before class one Sunday morning in early October, a student arrived and asked if we could practice outside. I slid open our glass door and spread my arms to feel the air. Not too hot, like in September, not yet cold, like in New York, just perfect; the Goldilocks principle, as my teacher Susan [...]

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Seeing the streets with new eyes

“Look at the sign,” Guy says at our first stop. “Who can read it?” He assumes nothing. We are nine people: five Americans, two Canadians, one Berliner and one Israeli, founder of another tour-based start-up called mekomy.com I do my best to sound out the letters: “mirpadiya”. Even if I can sometimes read, it doesn’t [...]

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Comparing lemons to oranges

“Are you sure we’re picking today?” Daniella asked as soon as she looked outside. I knew why she was asking since the sky was unusually grey and heavy as if rain were lurking behind. “Yeah, I actually went onto Leket’s website to confirm. We’re on!” Despite the wishy-woshy weather, we smothered on sunscreen, took hats [...]

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Stacking and celebrating and vice versa

Ten days ago, we took the kids out to dinner to belatedly celebrate Benjamin’s 20th birthday. When we asked him where he wanted to go, he chose Italian  in Tel Aviv and let us do the decision making. We left Raanana with the girls, picked up Benjamin near his apartment in Herzilia and headed to [...]

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A walk on the wild side

Two Fridays ago, the first of our two-day weekend, Philippe, Simone and I headed north alongside the coast toward Haifa. Despite a friend’s vague directions—exit at Mikhmoret, left at roundabout, right at end, right and follow the Alexander river toward a play structure and bridge—I was determined to see an area  where sea turtles gather. [...]

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Home Alone

“You know, Mommy, that if you were going away and we were staying home, it would be bayit rek,” Daniella said to me a few weeks back, the day she and Simone were boarding a plane for San Francisco. “I hadn’t thought about that. It’ll be bayit rek indeed—for Abba and me.” With the girls [...]

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On reflection

Eighteen years ago, one Indian summer Wednesday morning, I attended my first yoga class in Oakland, California. I remember being one of about four dozen people, crammed mat to mat in a large, sunlit room, a sea of royal blue covering most of the hardwood floor. The instructor, a short Asian-American man with the most [...]

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Summarizing summer

On travel: Philippe and the girls and I spent three weeks in Thailand surrounded by golden Buddhas, reclining, sitting, standing, walking; colorful temples with ceilings and walls painted in fire engine red, sea blue, lime green; monkeys swinging from trees and begging for peanuts and bananas, near caves with shrines and bats; monks of all [...]

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A little work and lots of play

This is my mat in its new home, a place where I will stay and teach for the next six days. A five-star hotel called Bayit BaGalil, House in the Galilee, it is nestled in the hills above the mystical city of Safed and to the west of Lake Tiberias. A two-plus-hour drive from Raanana, [...]

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We’ll all just be reduced to an app

When a networking friend called to ask if I’d be interested in starring as the prenatal yoga instructor for a new i-phone app, I jumped. Since leaving New York, I hadn’t been teaching pregnant women and missed the young expectants and their wide open smiles. “I’m trying to line up a nutritionist and get us [...]

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Welcoming Summer

As summer solstice neared again, my childhood friend Judy and I made a plan to attend the 108 Sun Salutations on the deck in front of Ella Yoga at the Tel Aviv Port for our second time together. I remembered it vividly from last year, especially how sore my upper body was the morning after and how [...]

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Another side of Israel

Rainbow banners lined the street lights, stop signs and poles. Deafening music pulsed. Temporary kiosks dotted the sidewalks selling beer and wine; young men pushing shopping carts sold bottles of water. Barriers closed off certain roads to cars and busses and police with florescent yellow vests patrolled on foot. Endless swarms of people filled the [...]

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The smallness of me

Saturday morning, 6:25am, my friend Shani texts me she’s outside. I pick up the oversized plastic tote bag with my yoga mats, sunscreen, sunglasses, SPF long-sleeve shirt, hat, keys and water and quietly walk out to her car so as not wake up my family. Even though it’s earlier than I want to be up [...]

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A unique rite of passage

Last Wednesday night, we were invited to our friends’ house for a unique rite of passage, to celebrate the 10th grade students, who were receiving their first identity cards called Teudat Zehut.  Most kids around the country simply go with a parent to the Ministry of Interior carrying the necessary forms and photos, wait to be [...]

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Full Circle

Last Friday, I walked into a room full of smiling teenagers, a rare and special sight. Even rarer, though, was who the kids were. “This is Itamar,” a tall girl wearing jeans, t-shirt and red sneakers says. “She is 16 and live in Raanana. She like…” Her English wasn’t perfect, but the effort was extraordinary. [...]

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A month in time

Before moving to Israel, I remember being concerned that I wouldn’t have a life–work, structure to my day, meaningful-ness. A year and a half later and, much to my surprise, I have realized that my concern was for naught. Here is my story of the past month–where we’ve been, what we’ve been up to, how [...]

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Alterations

Alterations

When Daniella and I arrived at Maya’s, we were not alone. A middle aged couple was standing in line ahead of us, one girl was finished and changing into her clothes in the dressing room, and another was gazing at herself in the full-length mirror as if she were a princess getting ready for a [...]

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An unexpected shift

As we were flying back from New York in the dead of winter last week, late February, Simone was the first to notice the sky. “It’s weird how sunny it is here. Like it’s summer outside.” She didn’t need to say more: not like in NY. I was thinking it quietly to myself, too. I [...]

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Immersion at its best

Ten days ago on a Tuesday night: our new neighbors invited Philippe and me for coffee with the two other couples on our side of the street. He was going away, but I accepted. After teaching a private class, I waltzed two doors over in my usual yoga attire of black sweats and dark purple [...]

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An unforgettable hour

“Boker tov ve Shabbat shalom,” the man at the door said when he greeted us Saturday morning at the entrance. The six of us girls stood around him listening intently to his instructions. We were to remove our glasses, coats and purses and put them in the lockers. “Aval teshmaru ksat kesef im atem rotsim [...]

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Anti-climactic outcomes

Three weeks ago, on a cold and rainy night, I ducked out into the darkness to attend a free event entitled “Israel Election 2013”. Sponsored by the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel and The Jerusalem Post, the evening was a debate between the representatives of the main political parties. I knew that if [...]

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A weekend away, worlds away

I unrolled my mat on the not-so-clean carpeted floor of the conference room and immediately noticed the annoying fluorescent light overhead as well as the sounds of people working in the adjacent kitchen. A vacuum vroomed in the distance. It was a little before 7:30am and already the hotel was abuzz. “Boker tov, shmi Na’ama,” [...]

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Water in three parts

Part I: Tsunami When the previews ended and the lights went off, it was precisely 10am. Usually the Saturday morning matinees are crowded, but since it was raining hard outside, the first of many stormy days to come, I imagined most people just opted to stay home. My serial killer movie friend Ruty and I [...]

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Bringing in the new year with yoga

Within hours of emailing my entire contact list—yoga students, networking group and greater circle of friends— inviting them to a partner yoga practice on New Year’s Eve, I got one “count me in” and a humorous tease from my friend, Shuli. They’d come if we served those waffles with cheesy-mushroom sauce, she said; it was [...]

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A look back

December 21 has passed, and I am happy to say that the world as we know it has not come to an end. And now, nine days later, almost another calendar year has passed, which makes me pause.  We have been in Raanana for 16 months, and, as to be expected, our move has been [...]

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If a picture can make you cry

I had no idea what to expect. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is often in the spotlight, the Palmach Museum in Ramat Aviv is a must-see, but the Rabin Center never comes up in conversation.  Still, one of the many historical museums in this tiny country, it had been on my short list for years.  [...]

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Garbage makes for great mindfulness

Late October, while the girls and I were tinkering in the kitchen around dinner time, someone knocked at the door. “Mi ze?” I asked before opening. Usually anyone other than our family of five buzzes at the gate, which connects to our phone, alerting us to visitors, and we buzz them in. Sometimes, though, certain [...]

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A very, very mad world

Day 8, Wednesday, November 21, 2012 8:15am: I call 107, the city of Raanana’s free phone line for questions, help, anything the municipality can address. First a woman answers asking what I want. In my basic Hebrew, I tell her I am a Raanana resident and want to know what we can do to help [...]

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“The Situation”

Day 1, Thursday night, November 15: Philippe and I met our friends Amy and Viktor, who live about 45 minutes away, at a midway point, Jem’s Brewery, in Petach Tikwa. The only reason we were able to reserve a table was because they had 100 cancellations due to “The Situation”. From 8:30 to 11pm, the [...]

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Tickled Pink

Last month, while the girls were off from school, Simone and I spent a day on Rehov Shenkein in Tel Aviv. Known for its trendy boutiques and hip cafes, Shenkein is diagonally across from the Carmel shuk, a good 10-minute walk from the seashore and Philippe’s office. Aside from simply strolling on a hot fall [...]

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Time, Take Two

The last time I can remember taking off my watch for an extended period of time was in December 2004. While attending an Introduction to Anusara Yoga weekend retreat at Kripalu, I decided to mark my visit—the third—by doing something different.  I glanced at my watch, which I put on every morning and take off [...]

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Time

Almost seven weeks have come and gone and I still have a cast on my right forearm. I could almost say I have grown accustomed to being one-handed. Supposedly, hopefully, if all goes well and the x-ray results are good, the cast, along with the four pins sticking out of my wrist underneath, will be [...]

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Please Press Pause

Twenty-three days ago I fell in France, broke my right wrist, was operated on under local anesthesia and released the next day. Seven days ago I went for an x-ray and saw that my wrist was not in the right place. I came home, curled up in bed and cried for the first time since [...]

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From open to mindful

Ever tried peeling a banana with one hand? Flossing your teeth? What about untying a knot? In the past two weeks, I have attempted all of these mundane motions with my left hand (along with my teeth and my right elbow) only to realize they are impossible and require both. For now, an unknown time [...]

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Faire la fête

Last Monday, I got an email invitation for a Wednesday night party. Two couples wrote: Hi all, Its five years to the day, this Wednesday, since we made Aliyah with our families. We’d love to raise our glasses and toast this milestone with our friends who have helped us so much along the way. Please [...]

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Pitas and endless possibilities

I found this in my files and felt the urge to post it. The story stemmed from a writing exercise many years ago when taking a class on description. Re-reading it made me smile and remember my first five years in Haifa, a northern city on the coast, where Philippe and I lived when we [...]

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The ferocity of celebration

When my aunt sent me a beautiful blog post from The Times of Israel written by a woman named Alli Magidsohn, who, after 93 months in Israel, is returning to Los Angeles, I was struck by something she wrote. Called “The little things I’ll miss about Israel”, the writer lists things, both tangible and intangible, that [...]

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A yogic summer celebration

Last Thursday, June 21, I, along with another one or two hundred people, welcomed summer and celebrated the sun. At 6:30pm, a solid hour before the blazing yellow planet was due to set, we rolled out our yoga mats on the deck outside of Ella Yoga and slathered on sun screen, getting ready to begin [...]

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An ideal itinerary

I knew Friday would be hot, not the blistering August kind but the over-crowded, wall-to-wall people, on-the-brink-of-Israeli-summer kind. Dressed in a long-sleeved blouse and light weight khaki pants, I slathered sunscreen on my exposed body parts, filled up my water bottle and put my SPF straw hat near the door to get ready for a [...]

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Old-fashioned fun

FACTS: Kids still have birthday parties long after their bar and bat mitzvahs People plan and pull off parties a few days ahead A party at home with friends and food is all it takes People clear their schedules to celebrate—births, birthdays, going to the army A last minute email invitation suffices No  printed invitations, [...]

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Getting our hands dirty

When I heard that the girls were off from school the day after Shavuot last week, I decided it was time to do something for someone else. Since our arrival, I have devoted the bulk of my time to building up my yoga studio and, more recently, trying to get a memoir writing class going. [...]

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Springtime in Israel, Part II

Picture this: bright yellow sun pounding, Jerusalem’s dry heat penetrating the skin and the parking lot pavement, hundreds of people gathering outside a large rectangular building, where inside they  don fleeces, jackets, gloves, scarves, hats, socks, boots, preparing for the cold before opening a heavy inner door and looking up, down and around at ice, [...]

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Springtime in Israel, Part I

Picture this: the end of a beautiful Saturday, almost sundown, at the beach, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, palm trees, endless stretches of white sand, aqua-blue water that shimmers in the sunlight, people—bathing, sunning, picnicking, playing paddle tennis, packing up to go home, practicing yoga. It is picture perfect. Before getting out of [...]

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Walking with purpose

On Friday morning, I walked. At 8:30am, I rushed my family out the door to the municipal pool parking lot, where we joined about 1,400 other people—Israelis, Brits, Australians, French, South Africans, Americans—and walked. We walked alongside people pushing babies in strollers and others pushing people in wheelchairs. We walked with people walking their dogs. [...]

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Sirens and fireworks

After a lot of cajoling, Philippe and I finally succeeded in getting the girls out of the house. The goal was to get to Yad Lebanim in the center of town in time for the erev Yom HaZikaron (eve of Memorial Day) ceremony. With helmets on and bikes in our hands, we stood single file [...]

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Memory, Memorials, Remembrance

I. On the eve of The week-long holiday of Passover, which celebrates the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt, just ended last Friday night in Israel and, five days later, another holiday has begun. Only this one isn’t a celebration or a day off from school or work or cause for a family meal. This one [...]

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A new perspective

By the time the girls and I left for our two-week trip to San Francisco, I was ready to see family, reconnect with old friends and feel my feet on American soil. My positive energy was waning, and I was craving a break—from the ups and downs of trying to build my yoga studio, the [...]

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All in moderation

When my childhood friend Judy invited me on a 2½-day yoga retreat/juice fast, I jumped. A pediatrician on a moshav, she was asked to be the physician and was told that she could participate and bring a partner as compensation. Never in my 16 years of being on the inside of the yoga world had [...]

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In the Dark, Part II

I took my dinner in the dark experience to the mat. Four days later, during my midday Sunday class at Ella Yoga, I sat in front of 12 people—one American, one Latvian, one Russian and nine Israelis—and told them about BlackOut. Only two people had heard of it and one other had eaten there; the [...]

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In the Dark, Part I

When our friends from Westchester, Beth and Aviva, told us last year that they were coming to Israel in February to celebrate Aviva’s bat mitzvah, we told them we would love to partake. All in all, we saw them a few times during their two-week stay: at Tzipori, one of the most sophisticated archaeological sites [...]

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Blind date with a serial killer

Every day, I scour emails from newraanana, InHasharon, tanglo, CIWI searching for doctor recommendations, potential yoga students, writing events and other random information. All Yahoo groups, they were created for the English-speaking communities of Israel to keep people up to date, informed, in touch. Most of the time, I read and delete. Then, one rainy Monday [...]

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Three strikes, you’re out

For the past few months, we’ve had two nagging government-related must-do tasks hanging over our heads: DMV for Philippe, Benjamin and me to obtain Israeli drivers’ licenses and the Ministry of Interior to renew Benjamin and Daniella’s passports. For weeks, the three of us have penned in DMV on different days only for one of us [...]

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Something for everyone

Back in September, amidst the havoc in our house, the last thing I wanted to do was get on the highway, drive south to Rishon Lezion where I had never been before and devote the better part of my day to standing in line at IKEA. But our list was getting longer and more urgent [...]

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PERCEPTION VS REALITY, PART II

Five days after the Idan Raichel concert, on yet another rainy night, I attended a soiree at our friends’ house. It was neither a social gathering nor a fundraiser but an awareness raising event, to meet and greet and hear the story of a man named Getu Zemene, former director of the Jewish community of [...]

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PERCEPTION VS REALITY, PART 1

Two years ago, Philippe and I went with friends to an Idan Raichel Project concert in New York City. The mastermind behind the group, a young Israeli named Idan, sat on the far left side of the stage behind a keyboard and sang along with a dozen or so musicians from Israel and other countries. [...]

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Sometimes you just have to stop

A week ago Friday night, we bundled up in our pajamas, cranked up the heat and hunkered down for the Israeli version of winter: an off-and-on stream of pounding hard rain. When, around 7pm, just as we were sitting down to dinner, it turned into hail, we stopped to listen. Philippe and Benjamin ran to [...]

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Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes

Shortly after I began teaching at Ella Yoga in November, one of my students highly recommended an Iyengar class with another American teacher named Nancy. Since I crave a class—or some instruction—in English, I decided to try the level 2-3. The first Thursday I went was sunny and hot, and when I walked in at [...]

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Home away from home

Usually our afternoons are home filled with homework, maybe a playdate, and a tutor or two, followed by after-school activities: Simone plays tennis twice weekly and goes to  NOAM youth group, while Daniella takes art, an English reading and writing class and teen yoga. When the regularly scheduled Monday afternoon tutor cancelled and then Simone’s [...]

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Three A’s

I. Arthur Despite our intense fatigue from travel delays last week, we were excited to spend our first day in Nice on foot. After a gourmet croissant breakfast, we treated the girls to a ride on a Ferris wheel, wound our way through the old city streets to the outdoor market at Cours Saleya, then [...]

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The Week—thus far

Bad week for: Layovers. To arrive at our final destination—Nice, France—Philippe, Daniella, Simone and I flew through Munich where we changed planes. When arranging our flights two months earlier and choosing a sunny destination for Hanukkah vacation, winter weather-related obstacles had never occurred to me. Due to a snow storm in central Europe, our outgoing [...]

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Trade-Offs

Finding the good or laughing at myself when I’m feeling down is probably one of my greatest challenges here. Some days, I have to work very hard to stay light-hearted and open.  I realize, though, there are trade-offs. Here are my top 10:   What I miss on a daily basis…                                                                 WFUV radio, commercial-free, [...]

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A page-turner

Within weeks of our arrival, I enrolled Daniella in a reading and writing class in English. In 9th grade, she is the youngest of the group, who are 10th through 12th graders. In the past two months, she has read Farenheit 451 and most recently, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. [...]

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My new best friend Danielle

I met her my third week here when I was feeling desperate. It was a hot Monday mid-morning when she started talking to me with her clipped British accent, and I was drawn to her. I noticed her right away; she was small and dark and familiar looking. After eyeing her, I just knew we’d [...]

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A meaningful morning and more

A meaningful morning and more

Last month, we were invited to our Canadian friends’ daughter’s bat mitzvah. It was a three-part celebration with different invitations and groupings for each. The Torah reading in Jerusalem was for family only, but Philippe, Daniella, Simone and I were invited to the party on the rooftop of a night club in Herziliya, across the [...]

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Yoga on High, Part III

Yoga on High, Part III

By week four after our arrival, I was feeling antsy, ready and eager to teach. But the house wasn’t done, the studio was a sty and I had no choice but to wait. By week five, there was progress; the cork and bamboo flooring we had brought with us was laid down and for the [...]

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Yoga on High, Part II

Yoga on High, Part II

For the past 12 months, I had been emailing the manager of one of the most stunning yoga studios I had ever seen. Called Ella Yoga, it is about five years old and part of the renovated Tel Aviv Port. With three rooms, Ella offers up to 80 classes a week; there is Ashtanga, Iyengar, [...]

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Yoga on High, Part I

Yoga on High, Part I

In the past two months, I have taught yoga three times. It’s not a lot, in fact nothing compared to my 15 classes a week in Westchester, but it was enough to sustain me and realize the potential. Thanks to Michal Lichtmann, an Israeli living in New Jersey whose mission in life is to bring [...]

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Galina, Muhammed, Hyaman and me

Galina, Muhammed, Hyaman and me

One Thursday, a few weeks after we arrived, Philippe went to work while I stayed home to oversee the workers. It was a quiet day with only two regulars: Muhammed and Hyaman. Both Arabs, they had been working on the house long before we arrived and almost every day since. In fact, Muhammed had been [...]

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Times to remember

Times to remember

When we spent the 2007-2008 school year in Israel, there was one day in particular that stood out at me, a day that I knew I would never forget. Sunday, November 4th was not only my nephew’s circumcision ceremony in Jerusalem but also that of the baby boy born to Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, [...]

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To market, to market

To market, to market

WEEK I: At first, I thought it was a fluke, a one-off that could never recreate itself. In all my years of living/summering here, I had never had anything but aggravation at the supermarket. First, because you need to insert a 5-shekel coin to retrieve a cart, the carts’ wheels are always askew, requiring one’s [...]

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A Holiday with Two Names

A Holiday with Two Names

This past Friday night sundown to Saturday night sundown was Yom Kippur, which, loosely translated, means the Day of Atonement, when the Jewish people repent for all the sins they have committed in the past 12 months. And for many Jews in Israel—and around the world—it is exactly that, a solemn, holy day accompanied by [...]

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Nature’s Beauty

Nature’s Beauty

For years, all I focused on was the filth: the dirt, the dust, the garbage alongside some of the roads, the stench of chickens cooped up or of burning rubber. Israel has a lot of it. Every trip we made I saw it or smelled it—the potential threat of jukim (Hebrew for cockroaches) creeping along [...]

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Paperwork

Paperwork

To be a new immigrant in Israel is to sit in some god forsaken government office and wait your turn. Twenty years after the advent of the computer and internet and scanning documents, there is still so, so much paperwork. Identity cards with photos in light blue plastic covers and proof of residency cards in [...]

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Making Peace

Making Peace

Shortly after we arrived in Israel a few weeks ago, I was talking with my friend Aviva, who said something that struck me: “This time, you’ve come back with your eyes wide open.” Indeed, this is not my first time living here; it is my third. When I initially came in April 1989, I only [...]

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