Powered by WebAds

Friday, May 30, 2008

Yad VaShem

Our shul (synagogue) organized a trip to Yad VaShem this morning.

I had not been to Yad VaShem in a long time. Several years ago, the museum was completely revamped.

The new museum is quite impressive, both in its content and layout. One of the members of our shul works there and gave us an interesting tour, including an insider's perspective on the architecture and design of the new museum.

Everyone deals with the Holocaust in his/her own way.

For me, it is a heart-wrenching reminder that we, Jews, need to be strong and self-sufficient.

Towards the end of the museum, is the list, drawn up by the German leadership at the Wannsee Conference, for the "final solution to the Jewish problem." The list is of Jewish populations by country, ranging from Poland's 2,284,000 Jews down to Albania's miniscule 200 Jews. At that point, our guide pointed out that the Germans murdered hundreds of thousands of Gypsies and millions of Russians; but the only group the Germans sought to destroy to the very last number was the Jews. The Holocaust, he emphasized, was a war against the Jews.

Today, there are still people who want to destroy the Jews. Many of them live here, in Israel.
Many more live in the countries surrounding Israel. I believe these people when they say that they want to destroy us. I believe them when they say that first they will capture the land diplomatically and then they will destory us physically.

It makes me sad. It makes me scared.

On the day Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany, Moshe's grandfather was in Belgium for business. He called his wife and told her to shut the blinds, stay home, pack their bags, and take the last train out of Munich to Belgium.

This sound sensible to us, today. At the time, his friends and colleagues teased and derided him. They thought he was "paranoid" and "overreacting;" they nicknamed him "Jeremiah" (which is more accurate than they intended, since Jeremiah's doomsday predictions did come to pass).

Even Moshe's grandfather did not fully estimate the danger. Belgium fell to the Germans and Moshe's family fled again, this time crossing Europe on foot!

Because Moshe's grandparents took the threat of danger seriously, they survived.

Before the Holocaust, there were people, like Jabotinsky, who warned of impending doom. But most people, including most Jewish leaders, dismissed the threatening signs and disregarded the violent words and activities.

Then, like now, Ha'aretz had articles minimizing the threat of our enemies. (see this article f or quote from Ha'aretz articles in November and December 1932)

We say "never again." But slogans will not deflect our enemies.

When will we learn that when people say they want to destroy us, them mean it?

When will we stop justifying the activities of our enemies?

How can an entire country of Jews not understand that the most fundamental reason for a modern Jewish state is to protect Jewish lives?

I want peace. But I want to survive even more.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Chemo Day -- Tuesday is Wednesday - this week only

I can not remember when I felt as tired as I felt today!

The LLL retreat was Monday and Tuesday, so I pushed chemo off until Wednesday.

My chemo date was able to be flexible, but my other arrangements were not.

I have everything set up for Tuesdays: CK, whose daughter is in A's class, picks up our kids and brings them home. My afternoon schedule is clear, so I can come home from chemo and sleep. Friends cook us dinner, so I do not need to prepare anything. (Friends make us dinner on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you want to be on the rotation, please let me know.)

But Wednesdays are different. I have OT (occupational therapy) in the afternoon. And, though AJ picks up the kids from school and bring them where they need to go, I have to pick them up from there and bring them home. This Wednesday, even that arrangement was changed, because my son's activity was cancelled and my daughter's gymnastics group was having an early rehearsal for the end-of-year performances. And, of course, the rehearsal was at some place that I had never been before!

So, I was exhausted when I came home from chemo, but I did not have time to take a nap. I actually cancelled OT (good for me!). Then I called my back-up to pick up the kids (I was still hoping that I would be able to fit in that nap....), but I only got her voice mail. When she called back, it was already late and it was simpler to pick up the kids myself, since I needed to bring A to her rehearsal.

By the time I got home, there was less than an hour before I had to leave again, to go to my book club. I knew that if I went to sleep, I would never wake up to go. I did not want to miss the meeting because we were discussing our book list for the next year and because I read this month's book! I was quite interested in discussing the book!

After book club, I came home, exhausted, and went straight to bed. ("do not pass go; do not stay up and blog; go directly to sleep!")

This morning, my friend LJ came to help me tidy-up. She tries to come once a week. It is thanks to her that my household does not descend down to the depths of disaster. (She is aided in her mission by Moshe's niece, who also comes once a week, and two of Moshe's cousins, who also come once a week, usually on Tuesdays. The cousins, who are spending the year in seminary, are returning to the US in less than a month!)

LJ is absolutely amazing, and her help gives me hope that one day I will emerge from this mess that I have created. Today we (read: she) cleaned out the entrance of our apartment. My challenge, now, is not to place more junk on all the newly cleared surfaces.

I took LJ home afterwards, and then went on to Physical Therapy at the Maccabi building on Agrippas. Parking there is always a challenge, so when I saw someone pulling out, I just parked and walked the rest of the way, in the hot sun. (my handy-dandy handicapped parking permit does not help when there is no where to park!)

When I got to the PT department, I discovered that the secretaries had made my appointment for the 27th -- the Tuesday when I was out of town on the retreat! I was absolutely frustrated! I was so tired, and I had pushed myself to get there (and I had clearly recorded the appointment in my calendar).

To leave the building, I had to pass by the office of my gynecologist, with whom I had an appointment for the following week. Incredibly, there was no one waiting for her. So I took a chance, and waited for the patient who was with her to leave. Fortune (read: God) smiled down on me and the doctor was willing to see me. She sent me for an ultrasound to check something out, so I got that out of the way as well. (I have to have my ovaries checked every six months, so I had an ultrasound scheduled for next week as well.)

The ultrasound technician, J, was very quiet. But she was quite serious about what she was doing. When something looked suspicious, she called in a doctor for a second opinion. And, when he sent me to do a pregnancy test, she asked me to come back and let her know the results.

Thank God, the result was negative. The nurse seemed perplexed that I was relieved, until I explained that I am receiving chemotherapy and pregnancy is contraindicated. (As my doctor likes to say: "chemo is detrimental to a fetus and no chemo is detrimental to you")

When I told the technician the results, she was concerned and asked what I was doing to follow up on the strange growth. I told her that the doctor was sending me for blood tests and we would know more when we got the results. Again, she asked me to let her know.

I was surprised, and touched, by her attentiveness and concern. Earlier, when the issue of my cancer came up, the first response of this young, very secular looking technician, was to say "God be with you."

The doctor who came in to look at the ultrasound seemed confident that the growth is not cancer. But I admit that unexpected growths make me nervous.

A year ago, I had a similar growth, which turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. Perhaps another time I will post about that discovery, and the rollercoaster ride that rapidly took us to the highs of discovering we are pregnant, and then, just as rapidly, to the lows of having a miscarriage.

By the time I left, I was physically and emotionally drained. I had no idea how I was going to manage to teach my swimming classes.

I picked up my son, who went home from school with a friend, since I was stuck at the doctor's doing all these tests. Then we drove to the pool.

We sat together, for a few moments, drinking hot chocolate and talking. Spending that time alone with my son gave me a boost of energy.

For whatever reason, several kids were absent today. So my classes were smaller, and a bit easier to teach. I totally got into the teaching, and, by my second class, did not feel at all sick or tired.

When I finished teaching, I felt great.

Not long afterwards, the tiredness crept back up on me.

But I still could not go to sleep, because we had an appointment with a Sofer Stam (scribe) to check out a Megillah (scroll of the book of Esther) that we are considering purchasing. (more on that another time) It turns out that the Sofer, who lives a few blocks from us, is the brother of the husband of one of Moshe's cousins. His brother is married to Moshe's sister's husband's sister. Got that?? And, as if that isn't enough, his daughter teaches literature at the high school where Y is going next year.

What a crazy day!

But, I made it through the day.

I even managed to post this blog.

Now, I am going to sleep!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Two Days, One Night -- La Leche League Leaders Retreat

Three years ago, when I was first diagnosed, I had to decide whether to have a lumpectomy, a mastectomy or a double mastectomy. Given the cancer and my medical background, a purely clinical recommendation would be to have a double mastectomy and get rid of all future risk (little did they know...).

But, since the decision was not a purely scientific one, and emotions were also a factor, I was told that I needed to figure out how important my breasts were to me.

Up until that moment, I was.... um.... well.... rather attached to my breasts.

In addition to everything else that women with breast cancer experience, I was a La Leche League (LLL) leader. I talked about breasts and breastfeeding ALL the time.

So, half a year later, after I had lost my breast (reconstruction notwithstanding), and could no longer lactate on that side, I was faced with a decision: Did I want to continue my work as a LLL leader?

For a few weeks, I deliberated. How would I feel talking to mothers about breastfeeding? How could I offer support after facing such a devastating loss? Maybe my time would be better spent volunteering somewhere else? Maybe I should volunteer with an organization that helps breast cancer survivors? Maybe it was time to "retire," or at least take a "leave of absence" from LLL.

But, the more I thought about leaving LLL, the sadder I felt.

First of all, I firmly believe that everyone should do their part to make the world a better place. I am not one of those supermoms who can make supper for mothers who just had a baby or who are sick and need help. (God knows, I can barely get dinner ready for my own family!) But I can help mothers who want to nurse.

Moreover, I LOVE being part of LLL in Israel. Though leaders come from all over the political and religious spectrum, we all share many of the same fundamental values of mothering. With other leaders, I can freely discuss how long I nursed my children, or at what age they stopped crawling into my bed at night to cuddle (you don't want to know).

I love being in a room full of women who all believe in "family first," whose children are a pleasure (not a nuisance), who believe that a mother should be "responsive" and "attentive" (and that does not mean our children are "manipulating" us), who believe that children need their mothers (and that need is a real need, that does not go away as the child grows). The environment is nurturing and warm and caring and loving. And, though we don't always agree, we communicate with respect and consideration.

I am not a perfect parent. I often fail to live up to the standards of a LLL leader. (I don't post those stories). But, when I close my eyes, and imagine the family that I want, the picture would definitely fit into any LLL album.

So, I chose to stay. I still take phone calls. I still meet with mothers. I still run groups (though our group in Homat Shmuel is currently dormant). I still sit on the Israel Area Council. I do less than I did "before." Nevertheless, I am still an active leader.


I just spent two wonderful days (and one night) at our annual LLL leaders' retreat.

We had workshops about communication, and sessions about leaders' responsibilities, and a fascinating lecture about immunology and mother's milk (We learned all about the development of a baby's immune system, and that giving a baby "just one bottle of formula" has a significant impact).

I led the getting-to-know-you games at the start of the conference. It was a lot of fun and I received a lot of positive feedback.

I also ran the evening activity, which was nice, but not nearly as successful. I am not discouraged. I already have ideas about how to make it better next year.

I learned a lot, laughed a lot, and received lots of love.

How could I give this up?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lag BaOmer -- Where is Everyone Going??

Gone are the days when we all go to a Lag BaOmer bonfire together......

Y went off on her own, with her youth group. (To my surprise, I was actually relieved!)

Both MD & A chose to go to bonfires with their respective classmates (rather than with their youth groups). Lucky for me, both classes arranged to meet at the Hurshat HaYareach (Moon Park).

I had no idea that the Hursha was so large and had so many different sections!

We found A's class first (after half an hour of wandering around in the wrong section!). I dropped her off and promised to return.

Then we found MD's class (in a totally different section, with a different entrance!). I stayed a short while, but there were enough parents there (MD had made it clear that he prefers to be without his parents). As I was leaving, BR invited MD to sleep over. Actually, BR's father asked if MD was sleeping over. Of course, MD was excited to go to his friend's home. (two down, one to go!)

I spent the rest of the evening with A's class. It was very nice, and we all had a good time. I almost left with no children, since A's friend also invited her to sleep over, but the logistics did not work out. When we left, at 10:30, we were not the last family to leave.

At that point, we made a rather speedy exit because A burnt her fingers on a rock. On our way out of the park, we got some ice from a nice family. A thought of pouring the ice water in a cup, and I ran back to get her one. The ice water soothed her fingers, but the pain didn't really go away until the next day.

But A did not want to go home. We had planned on going to my sister's and that is what we did. We had a lot of fun! When A finally did ask to go home, I was surprised to see that it was already 1:30 in the morning! I am not sure which one of us fell asleep first!

At 4:00 in the morning, the phone rang and woke me up. Y was locked out!

When Moshe came home from work, sometime after 2:00, he had bolted the door. After all, wouldn't any normal parent assume their young children were all home by then??

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Friday, May 23, 2008

Support Group: Talking About Cancer....

I didn't want to meet every other week. "We will have cancer for years;" I pointed out, "it is better to meet once a month, over a longer period of time." Then I went to the first meeting... and couldn't wait for the next one.

Our second meeting focused on communication.

Our exercise: Creating Metaphors

Fill in the blank:

For me, talking about cancer is like _______________________.

P: bursting people's bubbles ("הפלנו עוד חללית")

T: a rope that binds [people together]

B: reading from a book, about someone else

C: removing a stone from my heart ("להוריד אבן מהלב")

L: a key that opens my heart
and also
a springboard to get to know myself better ("מנוף")

MA: a destroyer ("קוטלת") that leads to healing ("ריפוי"); talking destroys the disease

Y: like sitting on a beach, under a tree ("הקלה")

RivkA: having a job [working in hazbara; educating the world about cancer]
and also
getting rid of a burden (by sharing the burden with everyone around me)

I was actually surprised by my own answer. Not by the second part; that, I knew. But by the first part.

I had not realized the amount of energy I put into trying to explain/inform/reassure the people around me. I had not recognized that as an additional burden.

I expend a tremendous amount of thought into "the packaging."

How do I let someone know, without freaking them out? How do I gently explain that this is not a "short term thing", but a life time of dealing with cancer? How do I evoke understanding without sympathy? (empathy is fine, but I do not want people feeling sorry for me) How do I communicate that I want things to be "normal", even as I am describing how abnormal everything is?

How can I expect other people to make sense of this, when I can not make sense of it myself?

I have no answers, but I keep trying to find them.

Cancer is a tough item to "package".

For me, talking about cancer is like having a job educating about cancer.

On the other hand, the fact that it is out in the open, the fact that I can talk/cry/laugh/joke about it, means that I am not alone in dealing with it. Every time I talk/cry/laugh/joke about my cancer, I deposit a little bit of my burden on someone else's shoulders.

For me, talking about cancer is a way of sharing my burden.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chemo Day -- and the pressure is ON

My tummy hurts.

I probably have a tummy-bug, since my daughter seems to have the same thing.

Before going for chemo, we went to see the doctor on duty at our medical center, just to make sure that I was OK and not contageous.

I learned something new from the doctor. When I told him I was nauseaus, he responded: "No; you are not." (I think he liked the shock affect) Apparently, nauseous means "causing nausea". (i.e. if I am nauteous, then I make other people want to "throw up"). "You are," the doctor continued "nauseated." ("Which," he added, smiling, "is much easier to spell.")

Nauseated or not, I could go to chemo. So I went. I was anxious about arriving late, especially since I made a committment to arrive early on days that I receive Herceptin. However, last time, I arrived on time and they didn't start the Herceptin until close to 12:00, so I knew there would be time.

When I arrived, I was informed that there will be no electricity after 4:00 and the doctor recommends that you come back tomorrow. Tomorrow would not be convenient for me, for a multitude of reasons. I stood firm. I wanted the treatment today. It was obvious to all (the nurses and the doctor) that that treatment would need to be at a faster rate. I stood firm. "There is enough time," I insisted.

"You understand," the doctor explained, "that, no matter what, you are done at 4:00. The electricity is going out and we will not be working."

The pressure was substantial, but I had experience. "There is enough time," I repeated, calmly. (I was a little anxious about getting it wrong, but not able to show any doubt, lest I have to come in the next day) "There is enough time," I repeated, again, perhaps to reassure myself.

I finished, along with another woman, at 3:55 -- with five minutes to spare!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, May 19, 2008

Automated Answering Service


You have reached RivkA's answering service.

For an update on RivkA's progress, press 1

For an update on RivkA's blood tests, press 2

For an update on RivkA's CT results, press 3

For an update on RivkA's pain management, press 4

For an update on RivkA's family, press 5

For how you can help, press 6

To return to the main menu, press pound, or hold and an operator will assist you shortly....

(Thanks to P's daughter, who only half-jokingly suggested she install a digital directory on their phone)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Thursday, May 15, 2008

You Wanted to Know.... (Perpetual Patholoy)

So, Monday night, my friend calls and says: my father and his sister are friends with this super amazing pathologist. My aunt (who is also amazing) is here visiting. Get me your medical records by Wednesday, when I'm taking my aunt to the airport. She will bring them to the pathologist. Call my father, he will tell you what to get.


So, I drop Tuesday's plans to take the car to the shop (which, only moments before, had seemed like the logical activity for my "day off"), and I start making calls.

I know that getting everything is going to be challenging. When I called my friend's father, he told me that I needed to get slides and a parafin block. "Don't take no for an answer," he instructed.


So, first I had to argue with the Sha'are Zedek (SZ) pathology secretary, who says, regarding the parafin block: "we don't give that out." Then I had to argue with the Maccabi Lab secretary, who first says "we can't give that out," then adds, "you need to have a note from a doctor."

Thank God, at least I had slides already, from when I went to the US for my mastectomy/reconstruction. Of course, the slides aren't labelled well, so it's impossible to know which slides are from the biopsy, the lumpectomy, or the mastectomy....

Well, after I insisted that the material in the parafin block actually belong to ME (since it comes from MY body), the not-so-helpful SZ secretary conferred with the pathologist, who informed her that I actually could take the parafin block, if I leave a deposit (of 221 NIS -- you gotta wonder what that one shekel is for....). Oh, and please call back later to make sure that it will ready in time....

Then, the friendly-and-helpful Maccabi Lab secretary suggested I just get my GP to write the letter. If I have a letter, she explained, then I won't have to pay; though I still have to leave a deposit (of 1,000 NIS!!). Oh, and it will take three days. ACKKK -- I need it by tomorrow morning! OK, have the GP write "dachuf" (urgent), and I will see what I can do.

In the afternoon, I call SZ back. The secretary (not the same one) doesn't know what I'm talking about. "Please call again, in the morning". Then I call back Maccabi; the secretary is trying to help , but still can't make any promises. "Please call back in the morning."

Meanwhile, Moshe is trying to get all the paperwork and CTs on a DVD. But the scanner is not working...

I call my friend. She is leaving for the airport at 9:00 pm. Call our mutual friend, she directs, "He can bring the stuff when he comes home from work. I'm sure he'll be home by then." (Like my husband, mutual friend works in computers; I am not nearly as certain that he will get home early enough...)

I call mutual friend. He's usually home by then, but can't guarantee it. (I hear his wife say something quietly in the background.) He continues, "I'll do what I can."

I call my friend in Rehovot. Can you pick up the stuff from the lab tomorrow? She can. But how to get it to Jerusalem?

Make some calls.... Try some leads.... Nothing.

It is too late to make more calls.

I start composing a letter to the amazing pathologist.

I am too tired to finish it.

Go to sleep.

Wake up.

Start again.

Call SZ: "we have it ready for you; the lab closes at 3:00."

Call Maccabi: "it will be ready soon; the lab closes at 5:00."

Leads went nowhere. Post to blog. Post to various lists.

Get call from school at 11:20. School is ending at noon, because of President Bush's visit to Israel.

Stop everything. A had made plans to go to her friend's home after school. I promised to pick up the kids, if the school buses cancelled pick-up, like they did during Bush's last visit. I call the mother of A's friend. No answer. I call the father -- he says someone will be home at that time and the buses should be fine; that's why the school is ending early -- the roads are closing at 1:00. He'll call back if there is a problem.

Wait! Roads will be closed at 1:00! Drop everything. Take friend, who had come over to help me tidy up my house, and head off to SZ to pick up parafin block. At least I had good company for the ride....

Zip to SZ. Find pathology department in the deep, "down-below" of SZ. Get package.

Zip to deliver package to mutual friend. Mutual friend hands me a large, potted Aloe Vera plant, a gift from his wife and her mother. (THANKS!!) Then a cab pulls up with another mutual friend! Bizarre!! I invite cab friend to come for dinner on Shabbat; I tell him we are having guestst that he would enjoy meeting. "How do you know that I don't already know them?" he asks. As I'm getting in my car, I call out their name. "Yup, I know them," he says with a smile, "we'll be in touch." Small world!! But, no time for chit-chat. Close door and...

Zip back to our side of town.

Get back just in time to drop friend off to pick up her kids and for me to arrive at OT, at my appointed hour... on the dot!

Then, home and back to work!

Driving home. Moshe calls. He is also on his way home. He's driving right behind me. He is picking up an old scanner, that we never got around to hooking up. He's hoping to use that to finish scanning the material. Good luck.

At home: No response to any of my requests. My Rehovot friend checks with he neighbor, who owns a cab company. It will be 220 NIS to send the material by cab. OK, at least we have an option.

Moshe is worried. Even if he could set up the scanner right away, it was already doubtful that he could finish scanning all the material. We discussed some options (there weren't many) and our priorities. He would at least make sure to scan in the CTs. He left. Back to the office.

I still needed to find a way to get the materials from Rehovot!

Out of desperation, I called a friend who used to drive all over for his job. He started a new job, but maybe he still drives all over... He doesn't. But his office is in Lod (and there is a branch in Rehovot). "Why didn't you call me yesterday?" he asks, "I was working in Rehovot and could have brought the package to you in the evening." Little did we know! We tried to figure out how he could help. We couldn't come up with a feasable solution. Then... walla! (voila) After work, he would drive the 20 km to Rehovot to pick up the package, then he would drive back to Lod, to the airport, and deliver the package to my friend, at the airport!

A solution!!

OK, now to finish the letter for the pathologist, explaining what I'm sending him and giving him a brief overview of my medical history. (all this on one page!)

Oh, no!! I forgot about picking up A, who was no longer at her friend's home, but rather at the birthday party of a boy from her class, at the Traffic Safety Institute.

Time was running out!

I called the mother of another school friend, who lives closer to where we live. She's not picking up; her daughter didn't attend the party. I called another mom -- same thing. I called another mom -- same thing. Finally, I called the father of (horrors!) one of the boys -- same thing. I called another mother, who I don't know as well, but I was getting desperate! She agreed to bring A to her home. OK, at least her home is only a few minutes from my home.

I have less than half an hour to finish the letter to the pathologist.

I am desperately trying to compile a clear and consice document. I am running out of time. My brain is fried. I am struggling to focus. It is almost done.

My daughter calls. The mother is bringing her all the way home. THANK GOD!! I want to thank the mother, but I don't have time. A thanks her for me, as I hang up the phone.

Finish the letter. Review the letter. Make some alterations. Check again for clarity. Hope I did not leave anything out. Email the letter for Moshe to print. He puts the letter with everything he has compiled (DVD plus photocopies of the material that never got scanned). Then off to our mutual friend...

Time's up.

What's done is done.

I am beat!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yom Ha'Atzma'ut -- Part II

I don't know what happened. Despite all good intentions to sleep in, I woke up bright and early on Yom Ha'Atzma'ut. (Reality check: for me, "bright and early" came around 9:30 am).

By 10:30, our entire household was awake. By 11:15, we were ready to go... in theory. In practice, we didn't leave the house until 11:45. We had planned on arriving by 12:30. In reality, at 1:00 pm, we were the first to arrive. Our friends arrived half an hour later; my M&FIL arrived half an hour after that.

By 2:00, everyone had arrived. Finally. I was hungry.


Last year, since my mom was leaving Israel right after Yom Ha'Atzma'ut, we decided to stay at home, watch the Chidon HaTanach (Bible Quiz) and have a small family BBQ. It was a great day.

So, this year, we planned to do the same. We invited our friends T&JG to join us.

Then, a week before Yom Ha'Atzma'ut, my SIL called and suggested we meet her family, and my in-laws, at Ya'ar Ben Shemen. I could just see it: first it would take us hours to get there, because of all the traffic. Then, we would discover that we are all in different parts of the forest, because none of us really know the area. Then, we would spend the next few hours, calling back and forth on our cell-phones, trying to find each other. Not a fun day.

I described the potential scenario, in detail. My SIL hesitated only a moment before accepting my adamant rejection of her plan. I then invited my SIL to either "come up with a different plan or come to a BBQ at our home."

My SIL made other plans.... she hijacked our BBQ!

She called up our friends (who are also her friends) and asked them if they would mind having the BBQ at her home. Then she called us again, and cajoled us into have the BBQ by her. Only one caveat: there would be no BBQ. Hotdogs and hamburgers would be "grilled" in the oven.

I tried to negotiate, but I lost. First, my SIL's car died, so she could not go anywhere. Second, she does not like the smell or taste of a BBQ, and she finds the process too slow and tedious.

OK. Did I really have a choice?

So, off we went, to Hareisha!

When we got there, my little nieces were nowhere to be found.

"What?" my eldest daughter asked, in shock, "They just wander off on their own?"

"Yup. That's how it is, in a yishuv," I explained.

"When I grow up," Y declared, not for the first time, "I am going to live in a yishuv!"

Sounds good to me. I always wanted to live on a yishuv. Only, when the time came to leave the Yerushalayim, I could not tear myself away. I never wanted to live in a city. But I LOVE living in Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh (The Holy City of Jerusalem). Now, of course, it is a b'racha (blessing) to be so close to the hospital. (Who knew?)

Anyway, we found their cousins. (The yishuv is not that big -- There are only around 30 families; a few more families moved there recently).

We gathered inside my SIL's caravan, then split up: big people in the dining room, little people in the kitchen. Y was "camp counselor, elect." She likes that role. Besides, our conversation is "boring." (Not to us.)

Too soon, it was time for us to go.

We spent at least half an hour (probably closer to an hour) taking pictures on the lawn and finishing our conversations. The kids spotted each additional conversation as an opportunity to disappear and keep playing. It was a bit comical.... and also heartwarming to see how much the kids enjoy playing together.

We all had a great time!

But we had "places to go, and people to see...."

We were off to Ginot Shomron to hang out with good friends... and have a real BBQ. Ginot Shomron is Moshe's favorite yishuv. We could totally live there. It is beautiful. And there is amazing chevra there. Different friends heard we were visiting and kept coming by. It was so much fun!

Oh, and did I mention that our friends have a pool table?!

How awesome is that?!

It was quite late when we finally headed home.

We had some interesting conversations in the car, until, one by one, all the passengers, including me, drifted off to sleep.

It was a good day, filled with family, friends, good food, good conversation, and ideological debates about the state of the State of Israel.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Perhaps You Can Help

I need to get some pathology slides, from a lab in Rehovot, to either Jerusalem (by early evening) or Ginot Shomron (by around 8:00/8:30).

I can have the slides delivered to anywhere in Rehovot.

If you know of a reliable courier service, that also would be helpful.

This must be done today, as someone is taking the slides to a Pathologist in the US and is leaving the country this evening.

Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Yom Ha'Atzma'ut -- Part I

For the past three years, on Leil Yom Ha’Atzma’ut (Independence Eve), we went straight from davening (praying) to our neighborhood's celebrations. Everyone is OK with this, for about an hour... then all the kids starts clamoring for food and jackets (which I invariably forget to bring). But then we don't want to leave, because we don't want to miss the fireworks.

Last year, I noticed that some people went home after davening. They ate dinner, then came back for fireworks. They missed the inevitable balagan (chaos) at the beginning of the celebrations, and also some of the cute performances by our local kids. In short, they did not miss much.

This year, I determined, we would do it “right.” We would also go home for dinner. Then, with full tummies and a warm coat, we would go back out for the fireworks. I made a delicious soup in my slow-cooker, and I stuck a lasagna (it was really a pan of ziti, but we call all baked pasta dishes lasagna) in the oven.

I called some friends from the neighborhood and invited them to join us for our seudah (festive meal).

At some point in the late afternoon, Y announced that she had plans for the evening with girls from her youth group. As an afterthought, she asked if we had “family plans.” Since our guests don’t have any girls her age, I knew she would have more fun with her friends. With a bit of nostalgia, I recognized that she is the beginning to make her own plans, without us. (Wait! I'm not ready yet!)

I missed Y at shul (synagogue), but it was nice to sit next to A and give her my complete attention. Davening was nice; it was particularly special to daven with A, who chose to share my siddur (prayer book) rather than use her own. There was a lot of singing, especially at the end. I wanted to dance, but A was a little embarrassed. So we just swung our arms and did “k’ilu” (as if…). A thinks I am a little goofy. (she’s right, of course – but I do have more fun that way!)

At home, we set our table for the holiday. I am so glad we invited friends. Since we were having company, we all did a little bit more towards creating a festive atmosphere.

Dinner was so great, that by the time 10:30 rolled around, none of us felt like going out into the cold to watch the fireworks. Lucky for us, our windows overlook Gilo and we got to watch Gilo’s fireworks from our dining room. We got to have our cake and eat it too! (so to speak)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Seder -- An All-Time Record!

I meant to post this on Pesach, but I never got around to it... until now.

So, just think of this as a "time-warp"... :-)


We didn't mean to start so late.

We came back from shul, threw a few things into a soup pot, and set the table. Everything else was prepared in advance.

But there we were, starting Seder after 10:00 pm.

We tried to stay focussed. We really did. But everyone had what to say...

At around 1:30, my mother mentioned something about the seudah (festive meal)....

Y, my eldest, quipped: "The food is not important!"

My other kids all agreed.

(Have I mentioned how lucky I am to have the greatest kids in the world?!)

We went on.... focussed, but not in a rush.

Sometimes we listened quietly to Moshe's explanations. Other times we were all clamoring to be heard.

It was fun.

It was dynamic.

We said maggid in the living room, all sprawled out on chairs and couches, and none of us fell asleep! (well, my parents might have dozed off here and there, but not for long...)

At one point, MD said we should take a long time, so that we would finish at sunrise, so we could say Sh'ma (morning prayers), like the tana'im (Rabbis). We laughed and firmly declared that "We are not going to talk all night!" (little did we know....)

At almost 3:00 am, we finally reached the end of maggid, and read "B'chol Dor VaDor..." (In every generation, each person is obligated to see himself as if he left Egypt). At that point, the kids jumped up to present their play: "The M****** Family Leaves Egypt".

(I was notified in advance that the kids were going to make fun of our family....)

The play opened with Y (clearly playing me) sitting and staring at a (virtual) computer. She is "reading" and "typing", occasionally laughing, and oblivious to what is going on around her. MD and A, playing themselves, are trying to get "my" attention. "We are hungry," they say repeatedly, "What's for dinner?" Their voices grow louder and louder. Y finally notices them and says "There is food in the sink... no, the television... no, the refrigerator..." The kids finally find the food and sit down to eat....

Then, "Moshe" (played by Y) comes home and whisks the kids off to bed. As he says the Sh'ma with them, MD keeps spacing out. "Moshe" repeatedly snaps his fingers in MD's face, to keep him focussed. Then, as "Moshe" is singing the kids to sleep, it is "Moshe" who keeps dozing off in the middle, and the kids who have to wake him up to keep singing.

When the kids are asleep, Moshe tells RivkA that "Moshe (Moses) has been talking to Par'oh (Pharaoh) again.... We are leaving Egypt tomorrow."

RivkA jumps up, and exclaims hysterically "What?! We have to pack!"

In the morning, it is difficult to wake MD up. Then, the children are fighting to get in the shower. "A, hurry up already!!" "Y, are you ready yet???"

Then we see Y struggling to decide what to wear... She has many clothes but does not like any of them. "I have nothing to wear!" She shouts in desperation.

Finally, we see the family with knapsacks on their back.

"What do you have in your bag?" They ask each other. Moshe pulls out a bottle of coke.... another bottle of coke.... the remote control for the air conditioner.... and another bottle of coke."

(the real Moshe is laughing so hard, his eyes are tearing...)

Then we see the family trudging, exhausted, pushing themselves forward.... out of the kitchen.

They open the front door, see all their friends, and, with a sudden burst of energy, run to catch up....


We begin singing Hallel.... We eat.... We go back to the living room....

I start to doze off towards the end (or maybe it was in the middle) of benching. Moshe wakes me up and says "We are finishing Hallel, if you want to sing, now's the time."

I semi-sit up and start singing. Y & A are drifting off on the other couch. MD is next to me and singing along. The more I sing, the more I wake up. By the end of Hallel, I am on a roll! We zip through the end of the Seder and I am ready for more. So we sing all the songs at the end as well.

We finish at.... (drumroll, please)..... 5:30 in the morning.

The sky was already light!

All joking aside, I asked Moshe if he wanted to daven "Neitz" (pray at sunrise).

He looked at me as if I had fallen out of the sky. "I just want to go to bed," he said.

We all stumbled into bed.

As I was drifting off to sleep, Moshe whispered, "You know, I was joking about singing Hallel. I never expected you to actually wake up and start singing!"

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Yom HaZikaron -- The Day of Remembrance

Yom HaZikaron L'Chalalei M'archot Yisrael UlNifga'ei Peulot Ha'Eiva
Memorial Day for Israel's War Fallen and Victims of Terror

At night and then, again, during the morning, a siren rings throughout the country. Jews, from all walks of life, stop what they are doing, to stand in silence and respect; to grieve the loss of life from wars and terrorism.

Last night, I sat with my son and youngest daughter, to assist them in resolving a dispute. I was trying to guide them in reflective listening, so that they would understand each other and, hopefully, arrive at a place where they would want to work things out.

In the middle of our deliberations, the siren rang. We stopped and stood. As the siren rang, I glanced over at my children. I saw my son, standing with his head bent down, his baseball cap shielding his eyes from sight. I saw my daughter, also with head bent, and hands folded gently across her stomach.

Just minutes before, they were aggressive, each intent on stating his/her case; each convinced of his/her own justifications.

Then, the siren -- unifying the nation, unifying the siblings. Making the bickering seem so irrelevant.

We did not return to our discussion. The conflict will wait. Resolution will come another day.


This morning, I was home alone, alternating between doing things that need to be done and reading what bloggers have to say about Yom HaZikaron.

The siren rang, and I thought: I am alone. No one will know if I stand or not.

My back hurt. My ankles hurt.

I stood anyway. Not willing to be disconnected from Am Yisrael (the Jewish people), even in the privacy of my own home.



Almost 13 years ago, our good friend, Danny Frei, HY"D, was murdered in his home by an Arab terrorist. Danny's death, which is remembered today, on Yom HaZikaron, was a direct result of inviting and financing terrorists to come into our country and take over our land.

Just a few months earlier, the PLO was considered an enemy of the Jewish people because of its charter to destroy the State of Israel, and its dedication to terrorism and the murder of Jews. Thanks to Oslo (initiated by then Foreign Minister, President Shimon Peres, and implemented by the late Prime Minister, Yitzchak Rabin), the PLO, led by Yasser Arafat, was invited to live in Israel. The PLO immediately began murdering any and all Arabs who cooperated (in the past or present) with Israel.

The Arab who murdered Danny explained that he murdered him, and attempted to murder his wife (who, miraculously, survived multiple knife wounds), in order to prove that he was not a "collaborator" with Israel.

In the "old days", the Israeli government would have established a new Yishuv (Jewish settlement), as a deterrent to further attacks. These days, the corrupt Israeli government threatens to destroy the small yishuv, Mitzpeh Dani, that a small group of committed Jews established in Danny's memory.

Danny was a devoted husband, father, son and Jew. He dedicated much of his time to Jewish education and communal activism. A charismatic leader, he inspired and motivated others to be involved. The world is a lesser place without him.

Danny's final act on this earth was to bravely save the life of his wife. Though mortally wounded already, Danny jumped the Arab terrorist, who was stabbing Danny's wife. Danny's last words were "Run, M, run..." His wife fled the house and banged on their neighbors' door, before collapsing from blood loss. Danny's efforts were not in vain. Though their unborn child did not survive, his widow and daughter are alive and well today.

What made Danny special was not how he died, but how he lived. He was a forceful and dynamic young man. Everything he did, he did with joy and laughter. The last time I saw Danny, was at a Zo Artzeinu demonstration, spray painting yellow footprints on the street. I have long since forgotten the significance of the yellow footprints, but I will never forget his face that day, with his typical boyish grin, the mischievous gleam in his eye, and his contagious smile. "Come on!" he called to us, as he disappeared into the distance. We were walking too slowly, and he had no time to waste.

Our son is named in memory of our dear friend.

Today is a day, set aside, to remember Danny and all the others who were killed in battle and by terrorists.

Y'hi Zichram Baruch (May their memories be a blessing)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Medical Update: Bone Scan

No more waiting. As soon as I got the results, I read them. They were not what I was expecting. They were scary. I dashed off a rather panicked email to my oncologist, and tried to remain calm. It was difficult to ignore the long list of tumors, and the written conclusion that the bone scan shows activity since the previous scan.

Last night, after I went to bed, my mom came into my room. (Moshe was working late, and would not be coming home for a few more hours). She sat on the side of my bed, and put her hand on my leg. I found her presence comforting. I could tell she was sad that she could not make this problem go away. We spoke for a while. It was nice. Slowly, even as we were talking, I drifted off to sleep.

I woke up early to say good bye to my mom. It was hard to say good bye. I knew that the plane ride would be difficult for her and promised to let her know what is going on as soon as she lands.

Moshe and I left early for the hospital.

When the doctor called us in, we were quite anxious. He sat at his desk, flipping back and forth between the old and new bone scans, in silent deliberation. After what seemed like ages, he sat back in his chair and declared "I am not convinced."

He did not see anything "new." He called another doctor (I think a radiologist) and left the department to bring him the scans. We waited.

When he returned, my doctor said the other doctor agreed with him. I was not convinced.

"I have no interest in delivering good news to you," said my doctor. "The results appear to be scelrosis. You can go get a second opinion. Meanwhile, we will continue your treatment."

One of the things I love about my doctor is that he has no ego. He takes it for granted that I will want a second opinion. He has no vested interest in being "right." I appreciate that.

I was relieved to continue my current treatment. I want to believe that my doctor is right, and that the images just reflect new, dense, bone tissue. He seems pretty confident that everything is OK and I have a lot of confidence in his judgement.

Still, when I got home, I finally called up one of my "connections." Months ago, my mom's close friend, M, who is like an aunt to me, emailed me with the name of a good friend of hers in Israel, who is a radiologist. At the time, I felt no need to contact him. But I was glad to have that contact now.

Next week I will mail him my bone scans and 3 of my CTs (the first one, the current one, and one in the middle). He will look over the CTs and have another radiologist examine the bone scans. Hopefully, I will have the results before my next treatment.

Meanwhile, I am going to do an MRI to check my liver. My doctor suggested that an MRI might be informative. Moshe and I both wanted to do it. So my doctor agreed, and we got the referral. Now we just have to get the kupah (health fund) to agree... Nothing is ever simple.

I still feel like I am on a rollercoaster. But I am past the really scary part... for now.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, May 5, 2008

Support Group -- Women with Metastasis

Sunday night, I attended the first meeting of a support group, for women with metastasis, at Beit Natan.

When I arrived, exactly on time (!), five other women were there (six, if you included the facilitator, a social worker who specialized is psycho-oncology, who I met at the Beit Natan retreat). (read more about the retreat here and here)

I already knew four of the women: TK, my friend from chemo; Y, who was part of my couples group at Ma'agan; P who is in my art class at Ma'agan; and L, who called me when I was first diagnosed, thanks to Beit Natan, to offer support (she has been calling and supporting me ever since). (Y, P, & L were also at the Beit Natan retreat).

Then E arrived; I recognized her from chemo. Then C, who I recognized from the retreat.

At 6:15, we were 8 women. After a brief introduction, M, the facilitator, led a short relaxation excersize, including a guided meditation. At around 7:00, two other women joined us. One came from work, and the other explained that she had chemo that morning and had to wait until her nausea subsided to join the group.

They were just in time for a "getting to know you" excersize. M placed about 50 cards on the table. Each card had a stylized pair of glasses. Each woman chose 2-3 cards, to represent how cancer affected/changed us.

I chose:
* a pair of glasses with happy masks -- to represent how I want to appear, and how I want other people to respond to me; also to represent the effort necessary to be happy (something that used to come so easily, with no effort at all...)
* a pair of glasses with two figures, freely dancing -- to represent my love of dancing, and the fact that I can no longer dance; I will never realize my dream of going Israeli dancing with my daughters, and I can no longer really dance at weddings and simchas (I can do the "old lady" thing and dance without bouncing, but, even then, I am forced to stop as soon as my hip hurts...)
* a pair of glasses with yin-yang symbols -- to represent my search for balance, to do everything I can, without doing too much, and for seeing the advantages and disadvantages to every situation, even cancer.

By the end of the meeting, we were 10 women; ten mothers, most in their 40's, most with kids at home; some with kids younger than mine, others with older kids (some with both); all struggling to live our lives they way we want, despite living with cancer.

It was a good meeting.

I look forward to the next one.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Living is the Name of the Game

Well meaning friends still offer to put me in touch with "someone else who has breast cancer."

Three years ago, all these offers were like lifelines. Speaking with other women helped me clarify how I was feeling. I listened to their experiences and identified what "resonated" with me. With each conversation, I better understood myself and, eventually, determined what was "right for me." I became part of a very large, supportive community; a comunity of "survivors."

Most women, who survive breast cancer, eventually get to "move on." True, we are never be the same as "before." We need more frequent check-ups; and we worry that the cancer will return. But, over time, the intervals between check-ups extend to annual check-ups, and the concern fades into the background. Of course, we all have our physical reminders. Our bodies are never the same. Yet, for most women, "cancer" ceases to be the defining element of who we are. And that is how it should be.

But that is not how it is for women with metastasis.

Many of us look "normal." We "pass" for healthy, functioning people. We want to pass. We want to be normal. But we are not "normal."

Every time someone comes up to me and says "You look great! So, are you finished with your chemo?", my stomach plummets. On the one hand, I am pleased to give the impression that I am fine. Because, in many ways, I am fine. On the other hand, I am not fine. I have cancer. I will always have cancer (unless we find a cure and/or God grants me a miracle). And I will always be on chemo. That is just the way it is. And I can live with that. That is the goal: to live with cancer.

When cancer becomes a "chronic illness," life does not "return to normal." "Normal" changes.

We all want to be normal, so we seek out other people like us, other people who are "normal" in the same way that we are.

Since my diagnosis, I sought out other women with metastasis. At first, I focussed on finding women who have been living with metastasized breast cancer for over ten years. It was difficult to find women like that. But, here and there, I found women who are living with it (1 year, 2 years, 7 years....). I reminded myself that women are living longer now, because of all the great new drugs, and forced myself not to be demoralized by the statistics. And I changed my focus. I realized that the primary cancer is less relevant at this stage. I needed to talk with other women who are simply surviving metastasis.

I still focussed on finding other young mothers living with metastasis. I need to talk with other mothers, who have young children, who are concerned with many of the same issues that I am, primarily regarding our children.

But there are other issues as well. Issues that only someone who is living with cancer can fully understand and appreciate.

Every once in a while, I want to be surrounded by women who are "like me." I want to talk, without explaining, without apologizing, without pretending.

I want to be with a group of women who are all playing the same game.

The name of the game: Living with Cancer.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Proud Parenting Moments -- Shabbat Morning

The house seemed quiet, when I woke up, late Shabbat morning. As I opened my bedroom door, I heard quiet voices, coming from the living room. I rounded the corner.... to see my two youngest children playing together, so nicely. What a pleasure!

I had mixed feelings about disrupting their game, but, after our "good morning"s and a few other comments, I gently directed my kids to go daven (pray). My son and daughter did not object, and quickly went together to my son's room.

My misgivings were alleviated, as the sound of my children, singing their prayers together, drifted from the room.

I went to my husband, and motioned for him to follow me quietly. I wanted him to witness this special moment. The room had become quiet. We peeked in, and saw our children standing side by side, softly swaying back and forth, in silent prayer.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Even when I was a teenager, my face did not "break out."

Over the years, sun exposure has roughened my skin a bit. But, besides the freckles that I hated as a kid, my skin suited me just fine. Until now.

Every three weeks, before I get the Herceptin, I get a dose of hydrocortisone. Without the hydrocortisone, the Herceptin makes me itch... a lot. But the hydrocortisone makes my face break out... a lot.

So, when I met with my oncologist this past Tuesday, I asked if I could try skipping the hydrocortisone.

There was not much of a discussion. I am sensitive to the Herceptin, and the doctor thinks the hydrocortisone is absolutely necessary.

The fact that it makes my face break out is, relatively, insignificant. (to him)

As we were walking out of his office, my doctor joked about "writing on his blog": "I have a patient with metastatic breast cancer and she's worried about acne..."

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Pesach Visit to Har Grizim (Thursday, Chol HaMoed)

We all agreed that the weather was too hot and sticky to do anything before the afternoon.

So our family had a lazy Thursday morning. We slept late, ate a relaxed brunch, and eventually got on our way....

We drove to the Muqata and met up with Jameel and his family. Jameel had arranged a visit to the Shomron (Samaritan) community, on Har Grizim. Jameela could not join us, because of the little Jameelians. But afterwards, we would return to the Muqata for a yummy bar-b-q and lots of salads. (all my latent vegetarian tendencies disappear with the sizzle of an outdoor grill....)

At around 4:00 pm, we drove to the small Samaritan Museum, next door to the Samaritan Sacrificial Plaza. As we parked our cars, Yefet HaCohen (The Priest) called down to greet us from an upstairs window.

As we climbed the stairs to the museum, we were greeted by a tall, poised, older gentleman, dressed in a white flowing robe with golden trim, a white turban, with a neatly trimmed beard, and an engaging smile. He warmly welcomed us, greeting everyone individually, and shaking hands with the men and boys.

Then we entered the quaint, one-room museum, whose walls were covered with rich maroon tapestries, embroidered with golden letters of ancient Hebrew. On one wall were books, on another pictures; another had a glass display filled with coins and jewelry; another had ceramic vessels. Some areas of the room were carefully presented, while others seemed to be strewn together.

Yefet sat us down, and began his story. He told of centuries of persecution. With pride, he traced his ancestry, pointing to his beautifully framed geneology in the shape of a menorah, each generation denoted by a seperate golden link.

( In the background is a picture of the current Cohen Gadol (High Priest), the eldest member of Yefet's clan)

Yefet described Samaritan traditions. Their holidays, their traditions. According to Yefet, all Samaritans are religious, though they dress in Western fashion and have television and internet.

Seeing our interest, his excitement grows. He takes us behind a curtain, to a back room, his study. There he shows us various research projects, to which he has devoted his life.

When it is time for afternoon prayers, Yefet invites us to observe. We are all welcome to enter the Beit Knesset (synagogue), even the women (though there are only men in the Beit Knesset). The service is foreign and there is no women's section. After a few minutes of standing in the back, I go outside.

Sitting on a bench, on the sidewalk in front of the Beit Knesset, is a group of teenage girls talking in Hebrew. They are Samaritans from Holon. They look like secular Israelis. The Beit Knesset is for the men and boys, they tell me. They have no interest in joining the public prayers.

I ask them what it is like to be in school with Jews. It is normal, they answer; they are used to it. They start laughing and teasing each other about boys.

In the middle, Jameel's son walks by, eating a bag of Kosher L'Pesach Bisli (Israeli junk food).

"That's chametz to us," says one of the girls.

"You shouldn't walk around here with it," explains another, anxious for the forbidden food to be removed.

The intensity seemed incongruous with the secular dress.

One of the girls explains that they don't purchase any prepared foods on Pesach. On Pesach, everything is cooked and baked at home.

Then the girls asked about the orange ribbons and bumper stickers on our cars. How can we drive around like that? It is dangerous (because of all the Arab villages in the area). We are "asking for trouble."

Their attitude reflects something Yefet said earlier. The community is extremely cautious not to offend, lest they be persecuted and destroyed... again.

With only 730 Samaritans left, from a community that once numbered over a million, it is easy to understand their fear.

Yet the community seems open and friendly. Our group is a curiosity. We receive lots of looks... and lot of smiles.

"You should come see our Pesach sacrifice," one of the girls says invitingly, "That is really something to see."

For more about our day and the Samaritans, check out Jameel's Post.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,