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October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘bathroom’

‘On the Rerouted Train’

Friday, March 9th, 2012

The sudden jerk of the train woke Rena up with a start. She blinked a couple of times realizing she was still on the subway. Her head was pounding from the roar of the tracks. She adjusted her headphones letting the music echo heavily in her ears. Rena closed her eyes again trying to ignore the headache which just wouldn’t go away. She scanned the train car mindlessly. The lone guitarist stringing at his guitar grateful for every penny thrown into his hat; the mother trying to calm her restless children; the punk rocking to his music blasting so loud for all the train to hear. The teenagers boisterously arguing. Rena looked back down at her darkly painted fingernails noticing the chipping nail polish. She took a deep breath as she switched the song on her I-pod and ran her fingers through her long straightened hair, noticing it was beginning to get oily, yearning for a warm shower.

Closing her eyes again, images kept creeping back into her mind. Her brother’s scared face… She tried pushing away the expression on his face when he walked into the bathroom and saw her holding the pills. She tried pushing away the image of her father’s anger. She tried closing her eyes to her mother’s tears. Rena fidgeted with her I-pod trying to blast the music to flood out all her thoughts. But still, between the drumbeats she heard her brother’s confused tone saying her name over and over.

“Rena…Rena!” his tone was surprised. His tone was afraid. His eyes spelled confusion. He slowly let his fingers fall from the door knob as he backed away muttering, “Rena you’re kidding right?”

She shuddered as she remembered her uncontrolled reaction. Slamming the door violently. Screaming for him to leave. It all kept creeping back at her. The loud flush of the toilet, the pills swirling down away forever. Sitting on the hard subway seat, Rena buried her face in her knees trying to block out the sounds of yelling, the endless phone calls, the endless stares from her neighbors and friends. How did she mess it all up? She asked herself over and over. But as she thought of that she heard her mother asking the same.

“Rena what happened? Rena what was wrong? Why did you do this?” And somehow as her mother’s pained voice banged at her mind dripping in guilt, she couldn’t pinpoint a specific answer.

The train came to a sudden screeching stop. Rena looked up, staring at her blank reflection in the subway window. The dark eyeliner outlining her eyes was beginning to run. Loose strands of hair hung in her face blocking her pained eyes. Again she looked around the car noticing the confusion on everyone’s faces. She lowered her music and suddenly heard the conductor announcing, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry for the inconvenience but the M train is being rerouted to the A line. For the M train please transfer at the next stop.”

Rena glanced at the map trying to figure out how exactly she would get to her destination now. Annoyed she looked at the rest of the passengers whose feelings were visible on their faces.   She tried figuring out which train to transfer to as she began thinking about how crazy it made everyone when one train was rerouted. One train off its tracks. One train off the planned route. It messes everyone up. And slowly the stops on the map all came clear. She was on the wrong route.

Rena bit her lip as suddenly she saw her reflection differently. She saw herself as a lost train. Her dripping eyeliner. Her chipped nail polish. Her short skirt. She ran her fingers through her hair nervously as she approached the chassidishe woman sitting with a bunch of children. Pulling out her head phones and tugging at her skirt Rena took a deep breath and anxiously asked, “Excuse me.”

The chassidishe women looked up at her curiously and nodded. “I’m trying to get to Boro Park,” she asked bravely. She made up her mind. She would reroute her train too. The women furrowed her eyebrows and tried explaining which train to take. Rena thanked her and as she got off the train she fished for her phone in her bag full of open candy wrappers and endless packages of gum. Stepping outside onto the sidewalk the sun blinded her in her realization. She turned her phone back on ready to face the phone calls and texts. Sliding the touch screen she dialed her home number, her heart pounding with every ring. The phone to her ear, she slowly started walking down the street, each step feeling heavier and heavier. The rings seemed to go on forever and Rena bit on her nail waiting for someone to pick up.

A Shampoo Gemach

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

My two delicious daughters were engaged in one of their favorite activities – bathing. Swimsuits and all, they were playing in the water, unaware of all the rushed Erev Shabbos preparations. Every once in a while I would stop by the bathroom to check if they needed anything, but they were quite self-sufficient and very occupied.

After almost an hour of bath-time fun, I told them that it was time to come out. They wrapped themselves in their soft, fluffy bathrobes, their wet hair dripping and their natural curls beginning to spring back to shape.

“Wow, girls, you were in there for so long! What were you playing?” I asked them.

“Shampoo gemach” was the simple and innocent sweet answer.

“Shampoo gemach? How do you play that?” I was intrigued.

“Well,” my older daughter answered, “I was a lady with a shampoo gemach and Shira came to the gemach to borrow shampoo.”

So simple. Shira ran out of shampoo so she went to the gemach to borrow some more. (I hope she had the sense to get dressed before going out!)

Pride washed over my senses. I tried to place the pride. It wasn’t pride in my children, as they were just mimicking the society in which they live. Rather it was pride in our community that stresses gemachs and acts of gemilas chesed. Families that try to find ways to help others. People that go out of their way to search for opportunities to practice kindness.

I thought of my building of 10 families, 10 neighbors sharing a common space. One neighbor lends their car freely to those that need it. Another neighbor runs a simcha-accessory gemach – providing tablecloths, vases, serving platters and the like. A third neighbor has a medicine gemach, another a refrigerator gemach, and yet another a chair-and-stamp gemach. That puts us at six gemachs in a 10-family building.

We knock on each other’s doors to borrow noodles, flour and sugar. Sometimes we even borrow money from one another. Most of us have lists posted in our homes with items that we have borrowed, ensuring that we return them.

Olam Chesed Yibaneh” (Tehillim 89:3). I thank Hashem that I merited to live in this microcosmic world of chesed. I thank Hashem that my daughters play “shampoo gemach.” I thank Hashem for the opportunity of living as a frum Jew, searching for ways to make life easier and more enjoyable for other people. And I daven that Hashem focus on our positive acts toward each other and ignore our shortcomings, thereby being zocheh to the final geulah.

Qalqilya Girl Freed From Bathroom Prison

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Palestinian Police have freed a 20-year-old Qalqilya woman from her bathroom, where her father had imprisoned her nine years ago — because she wanted to go to school.

When police arrived on Saturday, they heard the young woman’s cries for help. Her father at first refused to unlock the bathroom door, but when police forced him to open it, they found the woman lying on the floor, with a pillow and a blanket. Her father admitted that he had kept his daughter, now 20 years old, locked in the room for nine years, saying that she had not seen sunlight in all that time.

Welfare authorities said the young woman told them she was fed only a sandwich and apple each day, that she was forced to eat and wash her own clothes in the bathroom, that she was led out of the room in the middle of the night to clean the house, and that she had not visited a doctor since her imprisonment began. She said her father intimated that she could commit suicide if she wished.

The woman’s parents were divorced; her father remarried, apparently around the time when the girl’s imprisonment began, and his new family knew about the imprisoned girl but did nothing about it. His sister, the girl’s aunt, asked police for help after he refused access to the young woman for years.

Upon being freed, the woman was reunited with her aunt and her mother, who said that she had stopped asking to see her daughter because she feared that her ex-husband would only respond by abusing the girl.
The young woman’s father, an Israeli Arab, was transferred into the custody of Israeli police and remanded by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court.

Tummy Time

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

They say that my baby is a dream baby.

Now you might wonder who “they” are. It’s those folks who come up to me and say that my baby’s feet are cold without socks; her head is baking in the sun without a hat; she’s too hot with that blanket over her. Oh, the joys of living in Israel, where we are all family.

They tell me how lucky I am, how blessed I am. I guess she is appropriately named Bracha, since she is not much of a crier. She is content, sleeps nicely, and nurses well. Please Hashem, no surprises with future babies who have colic!

As I was sitting at the computer writing about my dream baby, I suddenly wondered, “Where is she? She is too quiet.” So I turned around to see what she was doing. I had left her sitting behind me with toys to keep her busy, and she had been playing nicely. As she was no longer there I went to look for her, and found her happily sitting on the bathroom floor, surrounded by a pile of ripped tissues. Okay, back to my story.

As a tiny baby, Bracha slept a lot, and during her time awake, when she wasn’t hungry or tired, she would sit contentedly in her car seat or on a blanket on the floor. Many mothers, doctors and nurses told me about the importance of “tummy time” – placing an infant on her tummy to increase the development of her upper body strength. But I didn’t take them seriously.

I made a slight effort to comply, and saw that my baby did not like even the smallest amount of tummy time. So I forgot about it for now. Why would I choose to place my adorable, happy, quiet baby who lay perfectly peacefully for long periods of time on her back, and subject her to being unhappy? Was tummy time that important? Did I really have to make her suffer for her own good?

When Bracha was about four months old, I spent some time with my rebbetzin at her home, where she frequently babysat for her four-month old granddaughter, Batya. While Bracha spent most of the time on her back, Batya had become accustomed to being on her tummy, and could lift her head. We noticed the drastic difference and realized that if Bracha had been given her tummy time, she would have greater upper body strength and mobility.

My rebbetzin advised me to start putting Bracha on her tummy even if Bracha did not enjoy it.

I was still hesitant, until a few days later when a friend came over and asked me if I ever gave my baby tummy time. I wondered if she was clairvoyant, until she explained that her sons were both plastic surgeons who spent a great deal of time making helmets for babies who had flat heads as a result of lack of tummy time. She told me that Bracha had a flat head, and it was apparent that I had been placing her on her back for too long.

Until that moment, I would never have considered making my baby unhappy purposely. But now I realized that she needed tummy time, whether she liked it or not. And whether I liked it or not.

So the tummy time began, followed by kvetching, whining and whimpering.

“Mommy, how can you do this to me?” my four-month old seemed to plead, as I slowly began incorporating longer and longer periods of tummy time. Little by little, she began to raise herself on her arms, pick up her head, and develop the crucial upper body strength she needed in order to crawl and grow properly.

I don’t know if this challenge was harder for her or for me. It must have been very difficult for her to desperately try to lift her head when all she wanted was to calmly lie on her back, as she was accustomed to doing.

It was also terribly painful for me to watch her strain and exert herself to merely raise her head off the floor, then put it down again and pitifully whine, begging me to rescue her.

I had to fight my intense urge to grab Bracha off the floor. I resisted the temporary relief of her momentary discomfort for the greater goal of her growth.

I began to connect this episode in my daughter’s life to events in my life. When things do not go as planned, I often wonder, “Hashem, how can You do this to me?”

As I struggle with life’s difficulties, I am sure I am not alone in thinking, “Why do I need to go through this? Why do I have to suffer so much? Can’t Hashem just end the challenge now?”

As I watched my baby struggle in her attempts to grow, I knew this was what was best for her. I came to realize that as the ultimate parent, Hashem surely does what is best for us, regardless of how much we must struggle. He gives us what is right for us at every moment, in order to help us learn, grow, and develop.

Even though they are not always pleasant or easy, our challenges are ultimately for our good.

Punish Us All

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

       Every time a Muslim terrorist commits an atrocity, the insane reaction of our liberal societies is to punish everyone collectively. Several years ago, a terrorist tried to detonate an explosive hidden in his shoe. As a result, every airline passenger is now required to remove his shoes and pass them through an x-ray device. It is common in airports to see long lines of passengers walking barefoot or in their stocking feet, queued up and waiting to have their shoes checked. Instead of forcing all Muslims to fly barefoot, every single passenger is inconvenienced to avoid racial profiling. 

 

      Now that a Muslim terrorist has hidden explosives under his trouser legs, we will most probably witness a demand in the near future that men remove their pants before being allowed to embark on an airline flight. The Muslim terrorist also went to the bathroom for an hour before the flight landed. Will we now all be restricted from going to the bathroom one hour before the end of a flight? We are lucky that the Muslim terrorist did not go to the bathroom three hours before the end of the flight!  

 

     The terrorist carried a pillow as he left the bathroom. As a result, all pillows and blankets will now be removed an hour prior to the end of a flight.  

 

     At a recent family gathering, my three sons, my wife and I met for our monthly family cream cheese and lox fest. We began to explore alternative solutions to this need to punish all airline passengers for the crimes of the Muslim terrorists. Hopefully, the airlines will not take our suggestions too seriously, but if they do, please remember that you saw them first here in The Jewish Press.

 

   The first rule, of course, will be that men (maybe also women) will no longer be allowed to wear long pants on flights. Kilts will become fashionable. Shorts in every style and color will become required attire for the international jet set, especially on flights from Florida and California. I wonder if trousers will also be forbidden on Air Force One and private flights.  

 

     Transparent slacks for men and women may become the next big seller and may be a good investment for someone with money to burn. The limits of the transparency will  have to be determined by airline officials in consultation with TV comedians.

 

     A steward or stewardess will be stationed in each public restroom and closed-circuit television will be set up in each restroom to be monitored by the pilots and airplane crew.  

To avoid the possibility of the terrorist blowing up the plane over densely populated areas, all flights between New York and California will be routed south over the ocean to Panama, over the Panama Canal, and north to California.

 

     No flights will be allowed between American cities and large population areas. Buses and trains will be allowed, until a Muslim terrorist threatens to blow up a bus or train.  

 

Special handholds will be glued above every seat in the aircraft and passengers will have to sit during the hour before landing with their hands above their heads. 

 

      The most effective solution and the most peaceful is to fill a plane with sleeping gas instead of oxygen, and to require all passengers to be in a deep sleep until the flight is over.

 

         I am sure that many of you can come up with your own innovative solution to punish the entire traveling public instead of, G-d forbid, profiling terrorists, as the Israelis do. Everyone knows that a little old lady in a wheelchair can be dangerous, especially if she is the tenth check-in passenger.

 

      Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com

Esther Schoenfeld Class Of 1969 Reunion

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

I do not remember where I was or what I was doing just 40 minutes ago. But it is with crystalline clarity that I remember exactly where I was four decades ago.

 

I was on the Lower East Side at 45 Ridge Street, or 110 Broome Street (depending on the entrance) – and I was having the time of my life along with all my friends at Esther Schoenfeld High School. Once upon a time, long ago and far away, we paraded carefree through the halls of Schoenfeld with our bathroom passes – some genuine and some forged. It’s been a long trek, yet the memories linger on.

 

My mind is overflowing with these marvelous memories. I conjure up images of a carefree youth spent with friends, many of whom I am still in touch with today! That is the beauty of reminiscing it’s selective. The zany stunts and shenanigans, which seemed radical and rebellious then, are fond and glorified memories now; cutting class to go sun bathing on the roof; Lucy’s lunches; congregating in the fifth floor bathroom – to Rabbi Rothberg’s chagrin. No matter how much trouble I got into, no matter how many times I was sent to Dr. Willner’s office, no matter how many checks I had on Rabbi Lubin’s Delaney cards, and no matter how many times Mrs. Stern kicked me out of class, in retrospect, everything was terrific.

 

To recapture those vivacious days, I am eagerly looking forward to our 40th High School Reunion, where we will regale as we once did. All Esther Schoenfeld East Side graduates of 1969 are encouraged to join the merriment on Sunday, May 3, from 12:00-4:00 p.m., at Khal Chasidim, 4820 15th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.

 

For additional information, please contact Lillian Lieberman at 718-837-3687, or wordsthatwill@aol.com.

 

When What You Can Do Changes (Part I)

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

(Names changed)


As time moves on, and we get older, what we can do changes. There was a time I could bathe four kids at once, kneeling by the tub, quickly catching anyone who slipped. Now, if I go to bathe even one grandchild, I can barely feel my knees as they go from pain to numbness and getting myself up off the bathroom floor…well that, in itself, takes ten minutes. But even though our abilities change and we know we cannot do what we once did, the expectations others have of us don’t necessarily change with us.


This is even truer for well spouses and other caregivers. What you did for your spouse, the devotion and caring that you showed him or her everyday 20 years ago when the illness began, is still expected 20 years later. The same level of care is also expected by your parents should they become ill and need you. Twenty years may have passed and your stamina is less, your health has declined and your responsibilities may be more, but the expectations your loved ones have of you were defined long ago and, in their minds, you had better deliver.


When Miriam’s father became ill and needed care, she insisted he come live with her and her husband and their two children for his convalescence. Her mother, 25 years older than Miriam, was not able to care for him in the manner he needed. And so, Miriam’s father spent six weeks being cared for by his daughter until he could once again, go home and, with his wife’s help, resume a relatively normal routine. 


Almost 20 years have passed since her father’s illness.  Miriam’s children are grown and out of the house. Her daughter lives in Europe and Miriam relishes the visit she gets from her once a year.  They no longer live in the large house with the many bedrooms and bathrooms but now occupy a small two-bedroom condo and have only one bathroom.


 Last month, Miriam’s mother was told she needed surgery and a long convalescence would follow. A few days before the surgery, Miriam’s husband was taken to the emergency room by ambulance with mysterious stomach pains. Not being able to find the cause, the doctor scheduled many tests for the next few days to help determine a course of action.


Shuttling between her mother’s hospital and her husband’s hospital in the next few days left Miriam depressed and exhausted. It was also just before the holidays and besides the need to cook and clean and prepare for the occasion, Miriam’s daughter was scheduled to arrive in two weeks for her yearly visit.


 Miriam`s husband’s tests were inconclusive. More tests were ordered. Meanwhile, Miriam`s mother made it through the surgery well, but not waiting for the nurse to help her to the washroom, she tried to get off the bed herself and broke her arm. Her convalescence would now require more care and more time.


It was while discussing with the social worker what was an appropriate placement for convalescence, that Miriam`s mother angrily and adamantly refused to even consider being placed in a convalescent facility. She reminded Miriam that she had taken care of her father and now she, her mother, expected the same treatment. She would consider nothing but living with her daughter for the next six to eight weeks as she recuperated. She would not be shipped off to some home.


Miriam was beside herself as she left her mother and set off to see her husband.  She had not begun to even think of the holidays and her daughter’s visit.  How would she juggle the next few weeks with so many unknowns and so much guilt and unhappiness?


In the end, with the support of the doctor and the social worker, Miriam`s mother was told by the medical professionals that her convalescence could not be done at her daughter’s home. She needed the help of the professional equipment and staff.  And so she finally, but resentfully, agreed. 


But what of the rest of the “Miriams” in the care giving population? Not all of them can depend on the understanding of a doctor or social worker to help. Every caregiver must learn to see what his or her limitations are. They must realize that as they age and/or as they go through the rigors of care giving, their physical and emotional ability to give will change. 


Unfortunately, the expectations of those around them will probably not change. It will be left to them to deal with these unrealistic expectations. They will have to choose between their own limitations and the needs of others. 


Making the wrong choice by giving in to the pressure of what are no longer realistic expectations, will hurt both those you love as well as yourself. You will not be able to meet their needs. They will receive inadequate and resentful care at your hands and you will have to cope with your own self-anger for embracing more than you can handle. Everyone will lose and everyone will be worse off than they were before.


You can reach me at annnovick@hotmail.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/when-what-you-can-do-changes-part-i/2008/08/06/

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