Sunday, December 30, 2012

Are Teachers in Israel Armed?

For the third time on my Facebook feed, a friend mentioned that Israeli teachers are armed in their classrooms. I know this to be untrue, my Israeli husband says it’s untrue, but I figured, what the heck, I will ask Israelis who I know who are geographically and politically diverse who live in Israel right now whether or not teachers are armed.

The media claim that Israel has armed teachers stemmed from the Sandy Hook tragedy two weeks ago.  There are those who claim that to save our children from the mentally deranged, we should arm our teachers, just like Israel does.

Only in common practice, Israel does not actually arm its teachers.

What propelled me to email Israeli friends just to make sure is that today’s source of the misinformation is located on Fox News web site and is written by a freelance journalist who lives in Israel, giving the piece some unfortunate credibility. And even more disturbing, 1.8 million people liked the article on Facebook.

I’m not sure if the author intended to be misleading and hysterical or if it was the work the editors at Fox News.  The headline reads, “Armed Teachers, Guards Bolster security in Israel.” In addition, the article is illustrated with a horrible AP photo of kids in Israel wearing gas masks, which was probably from a drill at some point.

The photo is classic sensationalism and out of context. The headline, as the article somewhat details, is just not true. This is somewhat admitted  by the author himself, although his explanation is totally contradictory and the sentence is pretty meaningless, “And the idea of armed teachers in the classroom, which stirred much controversy in the wake of the U.S. attack, has long been in practice in Israel, though a minority of them carry weapons today.

So what did my Israeli friends say?

I can't say I recall seeing any teachers with guns on them in school. Many have licenses to carry them because they live in occupied territory but I don't think they walk around armed...
- Vivian, teacher and mother of school aged children, Kiryat Gat.

I work at a school - teachers don't carry guns in schools
.-  Omri, school administrator and father of school aged children, Jerusalem

As far as I know and from our experience, teachers in Israel are not carrying guns
. – Sarit, special education teacher and mother of school aged children, Lachish

From my experience as a student in Israel- we didn't had any teachers with guns in school but I'm assuming that in the West Bank there are more people with firearms license and some of them are probably teachers
. -  Hila, cultural emissary, Tel Aviv.

What an outrageous lie!  Teachers do not carry guns
. - Sarah, curriculum writer and mother of school aged children, Modiin.

I have never seen a teacher carrying a gun in school in my life
  Shlomo, MD, PHD, Jerusalem

Totally disconnect from reality. Anyway, I am not aware at all of such practice. Sounds to me like science fiction. – Yariv, businessman, Bazra

No, teachers in Israel do not carry guns. – Michal, educational tourism, Tel Aviv

The one thought that a lot of people who wrote to me had was that maybe teachers in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) carry weapons because there are more threats there. I only asked one person who lives in a settlement there and he responded,

“Most teachers in Judea and Samaria don't carry guns in school,” Aaron, tourism, Ofra.

So what is true? What is the law?

In Israel, if a teacher is given the authority by the municipality and the Ministry of Education, he/she can carry a weapon in school. However,  that permission is given in very rare circumstances, so much so that the people I talked to are not even conscious of the possibility.

Every Israeli school has an armed guard, this is true, but the James Bond teachers are part of a mythology being spread currently by the NRA and news outlets.

Israel has a lot to offer to the United States, especially in technology and medicine. However, looking to
Israel to help us solve our school shooting problems is just not the answer, even if it gets your article likes on Facebook.

Click below for:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Real Housewives Confession

I need to confess something to my readers, friends, family and colleagues.

I watch a few different versions of Bravo’s Real Housewives. I think some of you may be surprised, just like you are when I’m not very good at Words With Friends. Before those of you who loathe the shows judge me, I am in the process of serious self analysis as to why I’m so enthralled with these very wealthy, very dysfunctional women.

And I am not alone. “Real Housewives of New Jersey” was the number one searched item on Yahoo on Sunday and Monday. It also was the highest rated t.v. show last Sunday.

So what is the appeal? I have not always been a reality t.v. junky. I’ve never really watched Dancing With the Stars or American Idol. I never watched Survivor or Big Brother. I did watch a couple seasons of the “Real World,” specifically the season with Puck and the one that was filmed in Chicago when I rooted for the Jewish girl on antidepressants.

But in the last year, I’ve been drawn to the Real Housewives. Why?

The answer, quite honestly, is the conflict. I have conflict envy. While I spend most of my life avoiding and preventing conflict, on these shows, the women are rewarded when they scream at each other, almost get violent, throw furniture, etc. If I acted the way that they do, and sometimes I would like to, I would have no family, no friends and no jobs. The louder they scream the more popular that they are.

Two of the screaming housewives. 

Watching other people say whatever they like, whenever they want to, is somehow cathartic for all of the viewers who have to live in the real world and can’t (and probably shouldn’t) say what’s on their minds. If I were paid a few hundred thousand dollars to act like a maniac, I probably would do so, gladly. I don’t know that my mania would rise to the level of the Real Housewives, but write me a check, and I will tell you what I really think about you.

So I will continue to lose my brain cells every week to watch these nutty women, even though I’m not proud of it. If you plan to confront me about it, please have Andy Cohen on hand to facilitate.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Facebook almost Plunged me into a Deep Depression

I’ve been a little depressed lately, and I’m embarrassed to admit why. But we are on the internet, right, so I have to come clean and tell you everything I’m thinking even though it’s trivial.

 The cause of my depression has been Facebook. For the past six weeks I have been posting, and no one has been commenting on anything I’ve posted. If I write a blog, and post the link on my Facebook page, not that many people have been reading it.

 My first thought was that I had reached my social media peak. I was over the hill, no longer of any interest to my Facebook friends. Perhaps, I thought, since getting married in March, I had stopped being interesting, and had just faded into bulk of 30somethings who had settled down instead of being known as my fun, quirky, single self.

I thought about quitting Facebook, but I thought to myself, if no one has any interest in what I have to say, I still have interest in looking at the cute pictures of friend’s kids, the funny post cards that sometimes give me a chuckle, and sometimes don’t.

 Still, I felt rejected, dejected.

 Yet I persevered and still posted.

 I posted a picture with the comment, “Hello from the desert,” a status thanking everyone for their birthday wishes, an announcement that I was heading to Gay Pride Parade, a Cubs Game with my Dad, and Sixteen Candles. And also I wrote thoughts that before June would have been abuzz on my wall. I wrote comments about hot new topics the health care law, a Florida lifeguard fired for drowning, the pregnant Yahoo CEO, an idea about the electricity problems on the East Coast.

A picture I posted that no one liked on Facebook 

So in my state of rejection, I dramatically decreased the number of status updates. I turned to another social media site in my hour of need, Twitter, and sometimes heard from my followers there. However, most of my followers on Twitter aren’t my friends, and so the feedback just wasn’t the same, although it did get me through the darkest of social media days.

 I also received some self esteem boost when I posted as the administrator for my company’s Facebook page. There, my posts were liked, commented on and shared. But on my personal Facebook page, nothing.

The last straw was yesterday. My husband and I are selling our bookcases and I posted them on Facebook. No one said a word. I was just really surprised because I know a lot of people are moving and they are great book cases. So I turned to my Facebook gurus/addicts the 20somethings in my office.

Now here’s the thing. I hate to even say that, because it makes me sound like the old fogey who doesn’t know how to use Facebook. But I swear I do. I am actually quite tech savvy. So the two 20somethings checked their Facebooks and noticed that they didn’t receive the bookshelves post. Then they commented that they haven’t seen me post anything lately.

Together, we checked my privacy settings to find out that I had somehow set it to only post to one friend.

I had been cutting down trees in the forest and no one was hearing them fall.

This discovery was embarrassing, we got a good chuckle, and we changed the setting. They gloated in the way that I have many times when I have helped an older person with a computer problem (although geeze, I hope I wasn’t as obvious).

 It still isn’t working properly, so I’m going to have to manually select my Facebook statuses for everyone to see. And yes, while it is ridiculous that I thought not one of my Facebook friends “liked” me anymore, it is sometimes like me to go to the glass half empty pretty quickly.

 I know - this whole post is ridiculous in its entirety. Why should I care if anyone “likes”, comments, or shares what I say? Because let’s face it. We are all validated by Facebook in some way, otherwise why would anyone use it? Everyone likes a little attention, even if it’s virtual, and we all enjoy our small piece of fame one click at a time.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Special Place in Hell for Rielle Hunter

Last month I wrote about disgraced former presidential candidate John
Edwards, and honestly I didn’t think I would be writing about him
again. But here I am.

Or more specifically, this is about Rielle Hunter, his infamous mistress.

I wish I was less schooled on the details of Ms. Hunter’s life, but
she has been on every “news” program this past week and I honestly got
caught up in her story.  She is promoting her new book "What Really
Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter and Me."

Ms. Hunter has made the talk show circuit obviously to promote her
book, but also, she says, to tell the “real story” of her affair with
John Edwards. She wants people to understand that John Edwards wife,
Elizabeth was not a “saint” and John was not a demon. She says that
their marriage was bad way before she came along, and that she should
not be viewed as a home wrecker.

Ms. Hunter has apologized not for the affair, or as she says, not for
loving John, but for duping the American public when she went along
with the scam that John Edwards perpetrated that Quin was not his
While the numerous talk show hosts have asked her “tough” questions,
they still have maintained an aura of objectivity and dignity during
the interview. They have tried not to seem judgmental.

But Ms. Hunter deserves a wrath of judgment.

My problem with her is not that she had an affair with John Edwards,
although that is certainly distasteful. Nor that she had unprotected
sex with him, for that she is stupid. But her crusade to parade around
the world bashing a deceased woman (Elizabeth Edwards), promoting her
own lies and infidelities, and causing more humiliation for John
Edwards children in the so called pursuit of the truth is just

I wish Ms. Hunter would have just been frank with all of her
interviewers to say, “I wrote this book because it’s salacious and it
will sell millions of copies. I need/want the money to support my
daughter. Even if the contents (none of which are really new) are
hurtful to the Edwards children, including my own daughter, everyone
has to make a living!”

Instead she sits disingenuously in interview after interview trying to
elicit Sympathy? Empathy? Understanding? None of which she deserves.

Ms. Hunter has said that she wants to change the way people think
about her from mistress to mother. I think she will always be
remembered as an insincere opportunist who failed miserably at her
attempt to be celebrated for her sins.

And I predict the person who will sit in judgment of her one day will
be her daughter.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Two new blogs

I have not been writing enough! It's been a busy couple months, but no excuses. I have had two articles published in OyChicago. One asks the question How could Cate Edwards stand by her father at his trial? The other recounts a crazy flying experience.  Thanks for following my blog, and I'll work on being such a slacker. But you know what I've been doing in my limited free time. Writing Thank You Notes!  Have a nice weekend.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Travel Tips: Connecting Flight in Europe, In Flight Food and Entertainment

During my last stopover on the way home from Israel, it was pretty obvious (and from talking to fellow travelers and people at the airlines) that security checks have increased dramatically for flights to the U.S.  I wish I had been prepared for the change, as by the end of my third screening, I felt like the dudes in those Snicker's Bar Commercials. (My angry celebrity persona would be Larry David.)

Speaking of Snicker's, I will also give you my take on airplane and airport food and entertainment.

If you don't feel like reading this, there is one important takeaway that inspired this blog: when you have an overseas stop, give yourself at least two hours to make your next flight. Currently, Orbitz (which I use, I'm not sure about the others) is providing flights in the database that only have an hour stop over. You will almost certainly not make your flight and unless it's a super small airport, your luggage won't either. Don't buy the one hour transfer ticket, unless you are totally flexible and wouldn't mind being stuck in your connecting city and don't need any luggage.

The Transfer

1. Don't expect to be dropped of at the gate.

I'm not sure if this was because of security or for another reason (traffic, personnel) we had to get off the plane and take buses to the terminal. This is only relevant because it's a little uncomfortable to be in a bus with no clue as to where it's going and  it adds to your travel time.

2. Even though you have never left a secured area, you will go through security again.

On my way last trip, I went through security again, was patted down (I hate that so much. It drives me crazy.), my feet and shoes and fingers were tasted for traces of bomb residue. My husband just had his bags checked again and went through the medal detector. My five feet of pure terrorist was clearly a threat to international security. (No, I'm just a short girl who travels a lot.)

3. More security at the gate

Then, last but not least, you will be questioned at the gate about your intentions for traveling to the U.S.  Then you may be questioned again by another desk agent if you raised any red flags - which I did.

Normally, I wouldn't write something about 1 travel experience, but I spoke to the airline and the last people questioning me, and they say that my experience is now standard procedure for all flights to the U.S from Europe.


Again, back to the Snickers Bar commercials. I have a hard time when I'm hungry. I get lightheaded, nauseous, have headaches and become irritable. Airline food is, with few exceptions, terrible. I've tried eating the regular food and ordering special meals. The food is just bad for the souls in coach.  What is helpful is to prep for the trip as if you won't be fed at all. I recommend dried fruit and energy bars if you are health conscious and cookies and sweets if you are not. Some people eat trail mix, but eating a lot of sodium when you are flying isn't a great idea.

What about the stopover, you ask? Well, the problem is that the food at European airports is ridiculously overpriced and not very good. Also, if you can pay in U.S. dollars, you get change in the local currency. This might be okay, if every country was on the Euro, but many of them still use their native coins. (Anyone need a few Lira? Zloties?)


Don't expect every airline to have small t.v.s in the back of the seats or even several visible ones. You can look online to see your plane's entertainment options, and you should before you travel for 13 hours creaking your neck to watch Forrest Gump three times on the single screen in the front of your plane's section. Don't expect the airport you are connecting will have free WiFi. Even if it supposedly does, you may be sharing the small network with thousands of other people, and hence, you will not be sharing at all.


I know I'm very lucky to get to travel, and please don't perceive this post as whining. I just wish that I had someone post this blog before my most recent and other prior trips, and I wouldn't have been so cranky on the flight (instantly forgotten after watching the new Muppets Movie).

If you have any advice for travelers in this genre, please comment below! If you have any questions, if I can, I'm happy to answer them. (Unless you are asking about cheap tickets. I have no advice except to use Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Etc.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Where is the Pause Button?

I am a licensed realtor salesperson and have been for about 9 years.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to try to sell you a home in this blog.

When I studied for the Real Estate Exam, the class and the material were difficult for me. In the end, I excelled, but it took me longer than I thought to understand all of the terms, perform pretty simple mathematical story problems, and pull it all together.

My brother is my sponsoring broker. He is excellent at his job and has weathered the tough market due to his excellent reputation and customer service.


We had some friends over for dinner tonight and their two children. Something my friend said a couple of times about seeing two people she knows always “rushing around” has prompted me to write.

I am guilty of this. I’m constantly thinking about what I need to do next, almost to (or just above) the level of compulsivity. This makes me extremely productive, but sometimes I wonder if that fury is fueled by negative energy.  When I’m not being productive, I often get stuck in feelings of anger, disappointment, exasperation and guilt.  It’s only when I return to my normative frenzied state, that I can take a break from those toxic feelings.

Some might say I should address the cause of the toxic feelings and correct them. I don’t think the feelings will ever go away, because to some extent they are based in reality, or at least my perception of reality. What I do have control over is how I respond to those feelings.

The frenzy is the easiest way to escape emotions, but it’s not the healthiest, and it takes a toll.

The best weapon is to pause.
Really Pause.

Pause to have nice friends over for dinner, but not being compelled to cook a four course dinner for them. (I made soup, chicken and veggies, they brought the starch and dessert).

Pause to make a cake this week. I never bake.

Pause to catch up on the phone with a few friends.

Pause to write an old friend a verbose email.

Pause to write a blog post.

Pause to call my brother to give up my real estate license. I had until April 30 to become a broker, as Illinois is removing the salesperson designation. The transition called for many hours of continuing education (which I had decided to do online).  I finished 75 percent of it, (the class was actually quite interesting) but to complete the final 25 percent was going to take gargantuan will on my part, and in the end I just didn’t have the time.

I felt bad for a while (I’ve had a year to complete it) that I wasn’t prioritizing it. But between work, exercise, a Hebrew class, and getting married in Israel and having a reception in Indiana, and writing thank you notes, it just wasn’t going to happen.

You may ask why I had a real estate license in the first place. Part of it in the beginning was to help my brother out, make a little money, and also due to the encouragement of my dad,also a realtor, that it could be my back up plan.  My dad really wanted me to complete the course.

 My brother was really nice about it when I called him. It was a little bittersweet.


So without thinking about it too much, I hope to include many more pauses in my life that will help me not to be as focused on yesterday and tomorrow. I don’t have a plan (because I plan too much as it is), but it has to be my priority.

Because I believe living a life consumed by what’s next and resonating hurt is no way to live at all.

On Thursday, Rabbi Wolpe who I follow on Facebook posted this on his page which has really resonating with me:

"To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself. Whenever a man so concentrates his attention -- on a landscape, a poem, a geometrical problem, an idol, or the True God -- that he completely forgets his own ego and desires, he is praying. Choice of attention -- to pay attention to this and ignore that -- is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer."
W.H. Auden

I hope this weekend and week that you will have the inspiration to pause, and I hope that I do too.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Key Lime Pie for Brain

I remember someone once explained to me the concept of non profit financial allocations and how sometimes a great idea wasn’t funded because it would mean something else would have to be decreased or cut.

He said, “The pie doesn’t grow any bigger, you just have to cut more slices.”

At this point in my life, just this month or so, I feel like I need a few more pies, to stop eating pie, or to throw the pie in a clown’s face.

But let’s say I’m the pie, I just feel right now that I keep slicing myself into smaller and smaller pieces, almost to the point of them being minuscule so that no one wants a taste anyways, but I want them to still have it.

What is bogging me down is so dumb, so unimportant in the scheme of the universe, it’s almost embarrassing, especially because I don’t have kids.

Twelve lovely women are throwing me a shower for my recent wedding. I put off buying a dress for this shower until Monday. Finally, I did it. Why do I hate shopping so much? That’s for another blog post. But I have the dress, now, I still need shoes and the right kind of bra. In addition, I need to buy them “hostess gifts.” To my parents’ huge annoyance, I haven’t done this yet. I plan to go to this cute store right by my condo on Friday after work.  But what if I run out of time? What if I show up to the shower with no gifts, braless,and  in flip flops?

I have some thank you notes to write that after Saturday will become 40+ thank you notes. I never wrote thank you notes for my bachelorette party (thank you notes and a penis cake just seem weird). And I didn’t write thank you notes to my the gift givers at my Israel wedding because my husband said that isn’t customary. But I’m worried he’s wrong or that I was wrong not to write thank you notes for the bachelorette party.

And then there’s the wedding reception on May 20. I need something to wear to that. I don’t want to shop. I hate shopping, but I need something really nice.

The next thing bothering me is I am supposed to renew my real estate license by taking a course and a test. I have until April 30. I have taken half of the course, but I need to finish the rest. Then I need to take a test. I have 11 days now to complete. They gave us a year to complete it. I’m down to 11 days. Part of my lackluster attitude is I don’t practice real estate. My brother is a broker and way, way back in the day I would help him once in a while. But I think the last time I did anything useful for his business was 6 years ago. So it’s hard to motivate, but I feel bad about not doing it. Especially because it’s not hard, just time consuming.

Then there’s my second bedroom in my condo. I want to get rid of all my books. I have a mini library. The room is starting to smell like a library because of them. But I can’t do it. I’m stuck. One reason is because I just love the books, the other is I don’t really know what to do with them or how to pack them up or whatever.

I need to organize my kitchen, but I can’t do it. I’m stuck.

I haven’t been a very good friend to anyone lately. But I don’t even know how to right now.

And then there’s work. I feel very stressed out. But it’s hard to tell what is self imposed and what is actual.

And then there’s some legitimate stuff as well in my family that is causing me concern.

And some Visa issues (8 months from now! HaHa) that need to be worked out for my husband.

And what about the dentist? When am I due for a cleaning?

And how will I ever be able to manage having kids if my brain is going like this every day!

To avoid it all, I’ve joined a fancy gym. I work out almost every day. Today I watched the Real Housewives of Atlanta Part 1 Season Finale. I burned 500 calories (allegedly, who knows if those machines are correct) and was thoroughly entertained. But when I got off the machine, I just felt guilty because of all the other stuff I need to get done.

My husband is great. He sees me spinning my wheels and tries to put the brakes on. Despite his valiant efforts, he’s snoring and I’m awake at 2:35 a.m.

On his computer. Because mine died tonight. When the hell will I fix that?

I know people have much, much more significant problems and challenges in their lives. And I try, try to think about that when overwhelmed by what I’m overwhelmed by. But, it doesn’t really work.

And I just think about my tiny pie pieces.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Analysis of Hemy Neuman Trial

On November 18, 2010, I saw on Facebook expressing grief over the death of Rusty Sneiderman. I read the posts for a few days, completely in denial that I had known Rusty when I was 18 years old. We went on a double date my freshman year of college.

After hanging out with him and his friend a couple of times, I never really talked to him, beyond a brief wave or a hello. I remember him dating Andrea and seeing them together at parties.

But that was a long time ago. I am not friends with either Rusty (may he rest in peace) or Andrea, however I have been following the coverage of his murder.

He seemed like a good guy and from the press everyone really loved him.  They have two young children. The entire case is extremely tragic.

Rusty was killed by Andrea’s boss, who she was having some sort of relationship with. This was found to be true after a man hunt by police to see who would have shot point blank a father right after he dropped his child off at daycare.

Currently the assassin, Hemy Neuman’s fate is in a jury’s hands.  He admits to the murder but claims he was insane.

Although Hemy is on trial, you would think by what happened in the courtroom and malicious Facebook posts and tweets that Andrea was being prosecuted.

Now let me make one thing clear. If Andrea had anything to do with her husband’s death, she should spend the rest of her life rotting in jail.

However, currently she is not indicted, yet both the prosecutor and the defense have insinuated that she has blood on her hands.

This method has been distasteful or possibly slanderous. There is also some degree of sexism. She was criticized by her reaction to her husband’s murder. I guess because she wasn’t a sobbing woman, she must have murdered her husband. Ridiculous. People have all sorts of reactions to tragedies. There’s no right way to respond. She was not a damsel in distress, but it doesn't mean she wasn’t devastated.

She is also being portrayed as the “black widow.” True, she won’t admit to the affair, although she does concede that parts of their relationship were inappropriate.  Even just the imagery of a “black widow” is to add a fantastic element to the argument.

Another issue is when Andrea took the stand, she was a bit combative. This was also deemed to be abnormal behavior by the press and the public. Just because she’s a woman, does she have to sit on the stand like a wallflower and sob? Why is that so?

I also think that this entire strategy for the prosecution and defense of scapegoating Andrea could backfire. It might be difficult to convict Hemy if it’s unclear who was responsible for the murder.

 Like I said before, I don’t know Andrea. But the coverage of this case and the lawyers’ tactics to scapegoat her has been melodramatic and a mockery of the justice system.
And if they know that she was involved, she should be charged with a crime, not be given the Scarlet Letter treatment.

No one knows what goes on in a marriage besides the couple. Being judgmental of her relationship is just unfair when we don’t have the entire picture. It sounds like she got involved with a psycho while she was married who ended up killing her husband, who was beloved by many.

While her behavior is morally problematic, it doesn't mean that she killed her husband, and if she didn’t kill her husband, the portrayal of her as a manipulative collaborator is terribly unfair.   
My deepest condolences to Rusty’s family and friends. I hope the verdict will bring you some sense of closure. May Rusty’s memory be for a blessing

Marriage Advice

It is exactly a week before my wedding. 

Tomorrow I leave for Israel with my fiance, dress in hand awaiting the big day to celebrate with friends and family from the U.S. (who I am eternally grateful to for shlepping to Israel) and Israel.

Today was my last day of work until March 26, so I should be focused on the wedding. I should be excited. I should be happy.

So I take my emotional temperature (I hope that doesn’t make me a sociopath,) and I’m definitely happy, perhaps the happiest I’ve ever been.  I won the lottery in husbands to be, and we’re pretty much as perfect as possible for each other.

But a question that everyone is asking me is sort of freaking me out,

“Are you excited?’

So I lie, and say “yes” because I mean I think I am excited. But I just don’t really know what that feels like. I know what anxiety feels like. I know what fun feels like. But I have trouble with “excited.”

It reminds me of that poster that they have in Hebrew (and I’m sure in every other language) “How are you feeling today?” I spend less time learning the words than wondering what the hell the smiley faces are supposed to be expressing.

I may have trouble with excitement, but I have no trouble with love. I feel so lucky and blessed to have found love. I am thankful every day. 

So as I was packing, and trying to figure out how to seem more excited, I was also thinking of how many books to bring (can’t bring myself to go digital). Then I thought, maybe I should not be reading just any old book, but something to prepare myself for my upcoming marriage.

I thought about friends who pray and/or read psalms. But they just don’t (sorry to whomever I’m offending) inspire me, although some of the poetry is beautiful..

So I thought about turning to eastern religions, and reading marriage meditations or quotes by famous authors on love. But that also didn’t appeal to me.

So I still don’t have an answer for how exactly I should prepare for holy matrimony. I am going to a mikvah, a ritual bath, but because it is mandatory in Israel (will be written about later), I’m not sure how inspiring that will be, either (although I’ll keep a semi-open mind).

But then I had a thought to look atthe advice that friends and readers gave me a few months ago when I got engaged in the hopes that I would indeed write an article such as this one (and get some good advice).

A ton of people said, don’t go to bed angry. As an insomniac, I just need to go to bed in general, but ok, I can do that one.

Below are the quotes I really liked, not because I necessarily agree with them (although I actually have no clue if I agree with them), but because they were really heartfelt.  I tried to categorize them and was not able to include everyone’s advice (but I do appreciate it!) Also, if you didn't get the chance to comment last time, please feel free to do so now. 

Marriage comes First

I don't think there is anything you can do to guarantee happiness during marriage, but one important thing is understanding that when you get married your new family of choice should take precedence over your family of origin. Not that you shouldn't care about your birth family, but your priority should always be your new unit.
Age 36 married 4.5 years

Always put each other first. – age 29, married 1.5

Always try to make time for just the two of you. Once you have a family it becomes more difficult but it's important to have some time to yourselves
. Age 30 4.5 years

Oh, and say "I love you" and mean it every day!
Age 57, married 27 years

Love the person for who he/she is and will be

Accept your mate for what they are from the beginning. It's not fair to think you are going to shape them into your "dream mate" after the marriage. Be respectful, supportive, and proud of the person you married, when you are alone together and when you are out with others
.- age 62, married 26 years

Your spouse is just as imperfect as you are. Fill your relationship with smiles and grace more than eye rolling and ridiculous expectations.
– age 35 married 14 years.
·     If I am willing to allow, encourage and provided growth (emotional, intellectual, spiritual) for my partner, I will create both stability and the freedom for sustained relationship.
·         it's not static.
·         it's dynamic.
·         and hard.
Age 40, 18.5 years

Fight Fair

When you have fights, so much of the reason they drag on longer than necessary is ego and pride. let your spouse IN. let them know why you're angry, or why you see it one way and they see it another way. It will make the next disagreement that much easier to resolve if you both know where you're coming from. 
age 34, married 4 years together for 9

I read about a study in which people who had happy marriages never crossed a line into calling their spouses names. You could say, "This was a crappy decision you made" but not "You are crappy." Important distinction. Age 45, married 15 years

It's more important to be fair when you argue than any other time. Be kind, even when you disagree, especially when you disagree. Even if you are right.
Age 39, married 11 years

Stick with it

Commit not to divorce. And I don't mean that in a casual way. I mean in a serious way that comes from the very center of your being, from your faith
….No matter how crummy you are to your partner. No matter how annoying he is to you. You are loved no matter what, and mistakes have time to be corrected. It's a kind of love that supersedes all. -
age 35, married 10 years

Practice patience. 
Marriage is for the long-term: people can change and will given lots of opportunity. Life gets lifey, so bad times will come and, with patience, will go. By being patient, we also become witness to the miracles of who another person really is and, God willing, who our children become
. – age 38 married 7 years

advice is stick with it when things get hard. Too many people believe that when things get really tough its best to call it quits. Sticking with it when things are hardest takes faith and strength... But it's worth it if you really love someone. A happy marriage is worth fighting for –age 30, married 6 years

Committing to love another through the fairy tale, through job losses, through sickness, through own self concept issues..through not easy..but worth it!
 – age 36, married 15 years

When Harry Met Sally Love Stories

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hushed Tones

Sorry to make you jump around, but here is my latest blog on Oy Chicago. It is about a class I just took to be certified in Mental Health First Aid.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I'm jonesing for a Wilco concert. I need to sing, whistle, clap, dance and follow Jeff Tweedy's fingers as he rocks the guitar.

I love Wilco so much that when I see them live, I have this overwhelming urge to cry with joy, and I sometimes do after the concert.

Here are my favorites.

1. Forget the Flowers

2. Jesus, Etc

3. I am Trying to Break Your Heart

4. Hummingbird

5. I'll Fight

6. California Stars

7. Far Far Away

8. Outtasite Outtamind

9. Red Eyed and Blue

10. I Must Be High

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dear Mormon Church, stop the proxy baptisms and we are totally cool with your religion!

This is my attempt to explain to the Mormon Church (LDS) why baptizing deceased Jews is so offensive.

When I was little I remember being confused when my Bubbie would say that she was going to “visit her mother and father” at the cemetery.

Before I understood what death meant, I actually thought that my great grandparents lived there, and I just did not have the opportunity to meet them, yet.

Eventually, I came to understand that my Bubbie was visiting graves to ensure that they were properly kept to honor her parents.

Honoring the dead is an important value in Judaism. A candle that burns 24 hours is lit on the anniversary of a loved one’s death as well as on specific holidays.  There are points in the morning, evening, and afternoon prayer services to say a prayer in honor of the deceased.

In order to say this prayer, the tradition states that you need a quorum of 10 Jewish men. (Today in most Reform and Conservative Synagogues women are included in the quorum). My father goes to synagogue 6 times a week to ensure that there are 10 people in case anyone is in mourning can say the prayer.  My dad often is the one standing reciting the mourner’s prayer for deceased loved ones who don’t have anyone else to say it for them.

During the most important holidays of the year, there is a service specifically for people who have lost loved ones.

Jews take the responsibility of honoring the dead extremely seriously by commandment and by custom.

One might ask, who cares if a Mormon baptizes a Jew posthumously.  The person is dead; they don’t care.

To say nothing is to condone it, and this would be a violation of our duty to preserve and honor the memory of the deceased.  

(Not to mention that it’s distasteful given the centuries of forced conversions Jews faced to avoid further persecution).

Instead of apologizing, the LDS Church should rescind the baptisms (if you can baptize dead people, you can unbaptize them, right?) and stop any future baptisms of Jews like Anne Frank, Daniel Pearl, and others who lived as Jews, died as Jews and whose memories deserved to be honored as such. 

For more articles about this issue: 

Friday, February 24, 2012

LA Fitness Intervention

Yesterday, the LA Fitness in Morton Grove, IL was closed by the health department for being unsanitary.  The news was not shocking to anyone who works out there or the LA Fitness where I work out on Clark and Diversey.

At the end of 2011, LA Fitness took over all of the Bally Total Fitness clubs in the Chicago area and many other places.

At first I thought the takeover might be good. Over the years, many of the Chicago Bally Total Fitness clubs had become more and more dilapidated. The club on Clark and Diversey stopped offering basic services like anti-bacterial hand wash or an easy way to clean off the machines after usage. The lockers are rusty and the toilets are often disgusting. I wondered what happened to the gym that I joined 10 years ago (at that Morton Grove location) that was a decent, affordable place to work out.

And while I didn’t expect miracles when LA Fitness took over, I also didn’t expect it to get worse. But it has. On one recent weekend, there was no toilet paper. They put industrial paper towels in the locker room (which certainly wasn’t probably good to the already deteriorating toilets.) I saw a woman ask the manager why he didn’t go to Walgreens across the street and purchase toilet paper. His answer was that they were expecting a shipment on Monday.  

The saddest part has been the rapid exit of the club’s friendly employees due to firings and the reduction of pay and benefits.

Here’s the conundrum.  In the vicinity, this is the closest, most affordable gym to probably tens of thousands of Chicagoans. You can just go in, work out, and try not to think about the deteriorating conditions or join a more posh gym for more money which many people can’t afford.

It’s like working out at Walmart, but Walmart has higher standards.

To be fair, I’ve never been in an original LA Fitness Club. It might be very nice. But working out at the clubs that they have taken over feels more like being at colonized gyms where the conquerors don’t care about the country’s infrastructure or citizens.

I think LA Fitness should address all of its “new” members via email and explain what its plan is for the clubs that they have taken over. Is it to run the clubs into the ground so people have to work out at their other facilities or are they planning to renovate and when will that happen?  We just want to know.

Personally, I would like them to renovate. These clubs employ so many good, decent people and offer an affordable place for people to take out their stress, lose weight, and prevent obesity.

In the meantime, I heard there is a sale on toilet paper at Walgreens.     

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Married Friends! Help!

Dear married friends, if you have five minutes please answer the following question: what advice, based on your personal experience, would you give to ensure a happy marriage? Your answers will be published anonymously in an article I'm writing. I will just include your age, sex and the number of years you've been married (so include that too). 

You can comment here anonymously. Just please be sure to answer the question, your age, and the number of years you've been married.