Thursday, May 25, 2006

Alaska, cont'd


It really was a great vacation! We went sea kayaking in Sitka -- which was a great way to get out into nature. Our tour guide Billy reminded us of Keanu Reeves in Parenthood -- and not in a good way! It was his first tour and he was a little more concerned about getting us back to the boathouse than actually pointing out the local flora and fauna. Not to mention his ongoing concern about us being "discomfortable." Like, that is so not a word.

I would highly recommend sea kayaking to anyone looking for a great workout. And in 40 degree weather (that is Fahrenheit, BTW), it is an effective way to stay warm. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Baby, it's cold outside!


Well, Frume Sarah and PC have returned from their trip to Alaska. It was actually a forshpice (appetizer) of Alaska as we had but two stops in Alaska; Sitka and Ketchiken. It was beautiful and we do plan to return and explore our 49th state. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 05, 2006

All's Well That Ends Well

All 40 boxes have been packed and moved out of my study at the J. Diplomas off the wall...the very last thing was to remove my mezzuzah. There should be a blessing. Or something to say. Some way to mark the moment of departure. Even when it is a good departure, there is still some sadness.

Frume Sarah will be sailing the seven seas so it'll be rather quiet 'round here til mid-May.

I'll return with stories galore!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

And the massage?

It was just wonderful, thanks for asking!

La Stone Therapy
A unique type of massage incorporating the use of heated smooth stones, placed along the spine and other areas of the body and integrated into the massage. The combination of heat, oils, and massage allows for deep relaxation and a trip out of this world. A very special experience. Excellent for chronic muscle tension.

I'm hooked!

In Print!

I rushed out my front door first thing this morning in order to check for my article in this week's Jewish Journal. And there it was -- a glaring mistake! I misidentified Barack Obama as a Representative rather than a Senator. I had picked up on the mistake and had hoped that it could be changed in time. Apparently I was too late -- eek! It could have been worse, I suppose. I could have identified the Junior Senator from Illinois as a Republican. Oh well. Luckily it was corrected in the online edition which may be found here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My Perspective

[This is the article that is slated to run in this week's Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. I will post the link when it is up. I will also write more about the trip in the next day or so. It is day 5 of my sabbatical and I have a Hot Stone Massage in 45 minutes so I've got to dash!]

As I drove my children home after school, how many men, women, and children were fleeing from their homes this week in Darfur? As I tucked my children snuggly into their beds, how many mothers crept out of their refugee camps at night to gather firewood to keep their children warm this week in Darfur? As I flew to our nation’s capital in support of our government’s commitment to justice in Sudan, how many villages were burned to the ground by the government-backed militia (known as the Janjeweed) this week in Darfur?

In the shadow of the Jefferson Memorial and with the Washington Memorial just across the Basin, we ended Shabbat. Bimheira v’yameinu yavo eileinu, im mashiach ben David. Speedily in our days, may [Elijah the prophet] come with the messiah, son of David.

These words we sing as we usher in the new week. Hoping, praying that this will be the week that will see the coming of the messianic time. This week is different. We, who stand over two hundred strong, are thinking of a people thousands of miles away who truly need that peace and need it right now. The victims of the genocide in Darfur so very present in our hearts as we pray together.

A military helicopter flies directly over us and we pay no attention. If I were a woman in Darfur, that very same helicopter would strike fear within me. A military helicopter in Darfur signifies not safety but the beginning of a raid by the Janjeweed. How fortune I am, O God, to be a thousand worlds away. And how ashamed I feel to even utter those words.

I sleep fitfully. What am I doing here? What real impact will this gathering really have? Several thousand people gathering on the Mall cannot end the suffering. Our Tradition gives us only two instances where we are actively commanded to seek out opportunities to fulfill a particular commandment. They are “Seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:15) and “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). Rodef. To pursue. To be one who pursues peace. One who pursues justice. Pursue – it is such an active word. During the restless night, I realize that my presence here is not merely a symbolic act nor should I view it as an act of passivity. Rather, by being here and joining my voice with many others, I have become a rodefet. I have become one who pursues.

This is to be a family reunion of sorts. I am joined by my mother, my brothers, my sister, one of my sisters-in-law, and her cousin. Completing the Amado-Einstein-Schorr group is my young cousin whose mother had introduced me to activism by encouraging me to write letters on behalf of the Refusniks two decades ago. How proud I am to stand with over one hundred Jews from Los Angeles, an effort coordinated by Jewish World Watch and the Jewish Federation-Council of Greater Los Angeles.. And our group stands amongst groups from congregations, day schools, Hillel students, JCCs and other Jewish groups from all across North America. Over fifteen-thousand people. Young and old, we have come together with a unified purpose.

Jews marching for Jews. Self-explanatory. But Jews marching for African Muslims? Why? Why stand up for a group of people whose lives have no impact on mine?

Because my faith demands it of me. Because I cannot be angry at the world for allowing six million of my people to be slaughtered if I am not willing to raise my voice in protest for the Darfurians.

The association of Darfur with the Shoah is a natural one for us. When we hear phrases such as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘relocation,’ we know all too well what these euphemisms are concealing; the organized destruction of a people.

Many of the signs reflect our natural instinct to draw connections between the realities of Darfur and the memories of our recent past. Signs bearing the slogans “Never Again,” “Never Forget,” and “Save Darfur” are in English and Hebrew. And there are others. A refugee from Liberia, with the Texas flag draped over his shoulders, carries a sign declaring “I saw it, I escaped it, stop it now!” Three co-eds from the University of Iowa drove all night to hold signs that say “to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.” A high schooler from Boston wrote the words “Schindler’s List, The Killing Fields, Hotel Rwanda. Don’t wait for the movie.”

Now what? What do I do now that the March is over? I don’t have the international respect of Elie Wiesel whose mere presence is a constant reminder of what can happen when the world remains silent in the face of evil. I don’t have the political clout of Senator Barack Obama whose impassioned words elicited great cheers from the crowd. Nor do I have the popular attention of George Clooney whose recent visit to Darfur just last week will do more to forward this cause then a dozen marches. What I do have is the desire to see the genocide brought to an end. I can write to President Bush. I can make responsible choices in the voting booth. I can stand in front of the consulates of NATO and African Union nations, Russia, and China between now and June 2nd, a day that corresponds this year with the day we celebrate God’s revelation at Sinai. How fitting that these visits, as suggested by Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will “be taking place during the counting of the Omer, in which we move from the freedom given us at Passover to the responsibility that came with accepting God’s laws at Sinai.” I can receive regular email updates from the Save Darfur Coalition ( and American Jewish World Service ( I can encourage my colleagues to join with the more than forty Southern Californian congregations who have already become active members of Jewish World Watch. And I can continue to talk about Darfur with my friends, congregants, and neighbours.

Speedily in our days, O God, speedily in our days may this nightmare end and may our brothers and sisters in Darfur know enduring peace. May this be Your Will.

Frume Sarah from A-Z

Everything you wanted to know about me from a to zed, alef to tav, negative infinity to positive infinity...

Accent: I've always wanted one, but don't think I really have one. Often accused of being a Valley Girl...

Booze: Pathetically low tolerance. Kahlua and Cream reminds me of the U.N. Pub in Netanya.

Chore I Hate: Am I limited to just one?

Dogs/Cats: What about them?

Essential Electronics: Internet, cellphone, TiVo.

Favorite Perfume/Cologne: On me: Anais Anais, but still looking for new signature scent. On PC: Armani

Gold/Silver: Yes. But never together!

Hometown: Fountain Valley, CA

Insomnia: Not since Beernut was born almost 6 years ago.

Job Title: Rabbi.

Kids: Two, so far.

Living Arrangements: With my family in our little house.

Most Admired Trait: Compassionate listener.

Number of Sexual Partners: One!

Overnight Hospital Stays: Six.

Phobia: Heights

Quote: People consider faith a minor thing, but I consider it very, very important(Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav).

Religion: Jewish.

Siblings: Younger sister, two younger brothers (and one sister-in-law).

Time I usually wake up: 9:30am if left to my own devices. 6:05am now that Beernut is in grade school.

Unusual Talent: They're all pretty usual.

Vegetable I refuse to eat: It would be faster just to name the few I do eat.

Worst Habit: Eating habits (see above!)

X-Rays: Back, stomach, ankles, knees -- a whole bunch.

Yummy Foods I make: Spaghetti sauce, lamb chops, artichoke dip, Toll House Pie.

Zodiac Sign: Aquarius

Want to play? Consider yourself tagged. This is a long one, though, so I'm not putting anyone on the spot this time.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Homeward Bound?

At some point around midnight, (my cousin) Raven suggested that it might make sense to stay up all night rather than risk missing our 4:30am wake-up call. It seemed a little crazy at the time, but as I was putting the finishing touches on my article for the Jewish Journal, it wasn’t long before I too realized that going to sleep would be a tremendously-risky move. Taking a break around 3:00am-ish, I sat down on my bed to watch “Philadelphia” – a movie that I hadn’t seen in years. Not too long after that. I realized that despite her best efforts to pull an all-nighter, Raven was fast asleep – with remote firmly in hand.

I figured that once the movie had ended, we’d have just enough time to finish packing up and grab a taxi. By some lucky stroke, I happened to glance that the clock only to notice that it was 4:53 and we needed to be in a cab no later than 5:10am. I jumped up and tried to rouse Raven from her deep, deep slumber. Not an easy task, let me tell you. And even once she was up, it was slooooooooooooooow going. I had sudden insight into how she almost missed our flight out to DC just 45 hours earlier. This girl moves like molassess!

The traffic was in our favour and we were safely deposited to Washington Dulles International Airport 2 hours, 23 minutes before our flight by a taxi drive whose radio entertained us with Contemporary Gospel music. Early? A bit. But security really did take a while. And my 14 year-old cousin seems to require a Starbuck fix every few hours – and it was a very long line. (Incidentally, I didn’t start drinking coffee until my 4th year of Rabbinical school.)

After jaunt into the Borders (she apparently required a bookstore fix every few hours as well. Sound like anyone you know, PC?), we made our way to Gate D24. And we sat. We sat and we sat. And then at about 7:55am, we boarded our flight. It would be of little surprise that only moments after inflating my travel pillow, I was fast asleep. A gift really. About 90 minutes later, I foggily became aware that we were still at the gate. Or, more accurately we had returned to the gate. Apparently we had gotten as far as the runway when the pilot noticed an illuminated light on the dashboard (or the airplane equivalent) indicating that one of the jets was having an issue. Back at the gate, the mechanical technicians had just corrected the problem and were performing a diagnostic check to make certain that we were “good to go.” So I called PC, DadGiraffe and Raven’s mom to inform them of our delay. And then I went back to sleep. A really hard, deep sleep too.

So deep that I was truly surprised to hear the arrival announcement. It seemed like just minutes ago we were sitting at the gate at Dulles and here the captain was making the “check, cross-check” announcement. Well, as it turns out, it was just minutes ago that we’d been at the Gate D24. Flight 149, it seemed, needed a new part – and the part was at National International Airport. Isn’t that a funny name? National International? Good thing they’ve renamed it Reagan International. Anyway, once they got the part over to Dulles, it would take about an hour to get it into place.

“Not to worry,” the kind customer service representative at Gate D12 told us, as she handed us a slip of paper with an 800 number on it. “Just call this number to get on the next flight out.” Call the number? Isn’t that what you, my kind customer service representative, is supposed to be doing? “Or you can stand on this really long line.” Now that seems like a lovely way to stretch my legs after sitting on a grounded plane for 180 minutes. How thoughtful of you. “But if you aren’t trying to make a connection” – and we weren’t – “you might as well wait since this flight is definitely going to go.”

The word ‘definitely’ should have been the tip-off. Nothing about this day has been definite. It was now 10:30am and we were now tired and hungry. A dangerous combination. We went to an eating establishment that was masquerading as the Golden Arches. Given my vast experience with McDonald’s both domestic and international, I can say without hesitation that the poor customer service was matched only by the poor food quality. What a disappointment.

Back to Borders. Though I had resisted the ever-present urge to make a literary selection (yeah for me) during our first Borders venture this morning, I reasoned that the travel delay now required some new reading material. There are always dozens and dozens of books that are of interest, but after being steeped in all things Darfur this weekend, I wasn’t in the mood for anything light and fluffy. I chose Paul Rusesabagina’s autobiographical account of the Rwandan genocide.

So tired was I that after about page 24, I had to close my eyes for just a few minutes. Around 12:30pm, I awoke with a start. Women’s intuition? Sixth sense? Whatever. It was a darn good thing I did because apparently Flight 149 – the one that was “definitely going to go” – had been cancelled. No one around me had heard any announcement. Word was just traveling by word of mouth…

I approach the ticket counter with some other disgruntled customers. The "kind customer service representative" was getting less and less kind. Though she claimed to have made an announcement, not one of us sitting at Gate 12 had heard said announcement. But not to worry. She had already booked us on a flight scheduled to depart at 3:26pm. Unfortunately we would have to stop in Dallas as "all the direct flights have either left or are already booked." Bummer!

So Raven and I hauled our stuff down to Gate 19 and sat. We sat and sat and sat and sat. And then, we overheard someone say that this flight was delayed. Something about mechanical trouble. We checked the board at the gate, but no change had been made and no actual human was at that counter. So we checked the big board in the hall and sure enough, new flight scheduled to leave at 5:00pm. Again, no announcement.

I'm all for postive thinking. A positive attitude can make the difference, sometimes, between success and failure. However, sometimes a situation calls for a realistic attitude rather than a positive one. Case-in-point -- the inbound flight from Dallas was only first scheduled to land at 4:36pm. Now I realize that American is a new airline and doesn't have much experience in this department, but even I know that the likelihood of a 24 minute turn-around (and no, I didn't do that math myself. Raven did it for me.) is slim-to-none. Furthermore, we were now scheduled to arrive in Dallas just 35 minutes before our connection.

To be continued...