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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Time For Designated Watchers

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Within the last few days, with weeks of summer still ahead of us, I have read and seen news reports regarding very young children who tragically drowned in backyard swimming pools, despite being in relatively close proximity to parents and other adults.

In several of these horrific mishaps, the children (there were incidents of siblings who perished as well) had been safely ensconced in their home or visiting relatives, but had managed to somehow slip away from under the grownups’ noses, get themselves outside, where they either jumped or fell into a nearby swimming pool. In some of the instances, the child had unlatched a back or side door of the house, and had climbed over a fence surrounding the pool.

Their family members may have become aware after just a few short minutes that the child was absent, but sadly, a few short minutes is all it takes for a child to drown.

Most of the children were pre-schoolers, three or four or five years old. Old enough to manipulate a door handle or latch and walk out, but not old enough to be aware of the life-threatening danger they had put themselves in.

These children lived in different cities, states/provinces and countries and were racially and socially/economically diverse.

What they have in common, however, are parents and siblings and grandparents who will be wracked with grief and eaten up by guilt for the rest of their lives, tormented by what they know was a preventable loss.

How could it be, they wonder, that in a household with assorted, responsible adults such as grandparents, uncles and aunts, that no one noticed a child was missing? Many were truly stunned that the child had been able to open a locked door or gate, or climb up a fence double their height. Who would have dreamed, they wondered, that locked doors or gates or fences were not enough to stop an adventurous toddler?

The answer is obvious. At a gathering, one will glance at the child and see that he/she is in the room and then continue to shmooze or eat or gravitate into another room to talk to other people. You assume the child will remain in the room “where all the action is” or that he/she wandered off to play, or is currently snuggled on the lap of a beloved family member in another part of the house. This is the case 99% of the time, and therefore a reasonable conclusion with a benign outcome. However, that often correct presumption, when wrong, can have grave consequences.

In a previous column, I stated my opinion that a young child, (even two or three, in fact,) is likely safer when watched by one specific person, than is one or two whom several people surround.

A solo “watcher” knows that he/she cannot take his/her eyes off the child, as there is no backup person to “fill in the gap.”

Also there are few if any distractions that would impede the watcher’s focus. However, when there are a number of people in the room, there is a tendency to let down one’s guard, because there are so many “eyes” in the room. But it is a misguided attitude. People are not focused on the child; they are socializing, catching up on family happenings etc. Maybe they do look around, see the child and continue what they are doing with a false sense of security. In the meantime, the child has darted out.

In the summer, hundreds of heimische families in New York stay in bungalow colonies in the mountains. Many have three or more children under the age of 7. It is easy for a mother to get distracted while in the company of her peers and it is crucial that all the little ones are being watched at every moment. Sometimes, a parent can be too confident, believing that because there are so many other mothers around, someone will notice if a child is in trouble. That is not necessarily the case.

Nor can one blindly accept that “Hashem yishmor.” We are exhorted to take care of ourselves, and it goes without saying that we have to be extra machmir when trusted with the well-being of those who can’t take care of themselves – either because of extreme youth, age or physical or mental disability.

You Sleep Where You Eat

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Netanya cats are numerous and just this week we’ve seen the summer litters being sprung into the street and the lawns and the parking lots and, yes, the beaches. If you’re a New Yorker, think of these cats as Netanya’s squirrels, except they’re way more useful than squirrels because they eat mice, rats, snakes, roaches – if it moves, Netanya’s cats will eat it.

They’re usually lean and move quickly, but only when they move, that is to say, during the 20 daily minutes in which they budge. The rest of the time they sunbathe, preferably above the garbage, to make sure they’re around when the new shipments arrive.

That’s it, whatcha’ looking at? Nothing to see, go away…

Two Arabs Arrested for Arson in Jerusalem Vicinity

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

On July 9th, after an intensive investigation, Jerusalem Police arrested two Arabs, aged seventeen and eighteen, suspected of starting fires around the main entrance to Jerusalem two weeks ago. The Police announced that the two have admitted the arson, explaining that their actions were motivated by nationalistic causes. They started the fires by throwing Molotov cocktails, which were discovered at the point of initiation of the blaze. Seventy five acres of forests were consumed. Another ten Arabs have been arrested so far on similar charges.

Several recent fires which have blazed across Israel, especially in the Jerusalem vicinity, are believed to be the work of Arab arsonists who are methodically setting fire to natural brush and thicket in attempt to cause injury and damage to property. The fires also cause traffic congestion on main highways which have to be closed, causing backups for many hours and shutting down main routes between major cities in Israel. In some cases, residents are evacuated due to fear that their homes may be burned.

The Jerusalem Fire Department reports that two hundred fires have been extinguished since the beginning of the summer. Most of them have been determined to be caused by arson.

On June 28th, Arabs set fire to fields at Eish Kodesh, in Benyamin. Aharon Katsof, Eish Kodesh spokesman, told Tazpit News Agency that the residents noticed smoke coming from the Wadi below their community. The community’s RRT (Rapid Response Team) identified two suspects fleeing the scene towards the Arab village of Cursah. Half an acre of barley was destroyed, causing immense financial loss to the field owner. Two months ago, two acres of vineyards were destroyed by fires at Eish Kodesh. After the incident, IDF trackers found the trail of two men leading to Cursah.

On June 25th the home of Yiskah and Elyasaf Orbach at Chavat Gilad was severely damaged by fires started by Arabs. Beny Katsover, head of the Shomron Communities Council, responded to the arson, saying: “The time has come for the Government of Israel to renew its policy of deterrence against Arab vandals by destroying their homes, alongside the expansion of the Jewish communities. Our enemies will understand that they are achieving the opposite of their actions.”

Summer Fiesta – Mexican Dishes!

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Spice up your summer with these colorful and zesty Mexican dishes. Since I like it quick and easy in the kitchen, all of these recipes are no fuss dinners that are full of flavor.

Quick & Easy Chicken Burritos

There is nothing more satisfying than digging into a freshly made burrito. With tasty fillings all wrapped up and ready to bite into, you won’t care about making a mess!

Ingredients:

1 small onion, diced
2 tbs. olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1 cup of uncooked rice (I used brown basmati)
1 package of taco seasoning mix (I used Ortega)
3 cups of water

Directions:

Sauté onions in a large pot with olive oil. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink.

Add rice and taco seasoning to chicken then add water and mix well. Cook until water is absorbed by rice.

While the chicken and rice mixture cooks, dice up some fresh tomatoes and open up a can of corn and black beans.

Serve in a wrap (I use whole wheat) or as a taco bowl with the chicken and rice in bowl with tomatoes, corn and beans layered on top.

Fresh & Tasty Fish Tacos

This is definitely one of my favorite recipes. It’s super easy and fresh and tasty. I often serve this for Shabbat lunch, buffet style so my guests can create their own tacos with their choice of toppings. Guacamole, salsa, corn salad and shredded cabbage are all great toppings.

Ingredients:

1 lb tilapia fillets
¼ cup olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 small red onion, diced
1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp. teaspoon cajun spice or cumin or fajita seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
Hard tacos
SALSA & PURPLE SLAW to garnish (check the site for those recipes!)

Directions:

Combine olive oil, lime juice, red onion, cilantro, cajun spice as well as salt & pepper in a large zip lock bag.

Place the tilapia fillets in the bag then seal and let it marinate in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

After it has marinated, bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Using a fork, flake the fish into pieces. Serve in taco shells with salsa and purple slaw.

Flavorful Steak Enchiladas

Similar to a burrito, enchiladas are rolled tortillas filled with meat, rice and veggies that you bake with a tomato based sauce that are usually topped with cheese. Since these are meat based, I left out the cheese. If you opt for a veggie version without the steak, top with shredded cheese before baking.

Ingredients for Steak Marinade:

1 lb. pepper steak, cut into small strips
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder

Ingredients for Filling:

1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 can of diced tomatoes (14.5oz) – reserve
1/2 cup of sauce on side
1 can of tomato sauce (15oz)
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. mexican pepper flakes
1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup of uncooked brown rice
2 cups of water
whole wheat wraps

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine olive oil, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. chili powder and pepper steak in a large ziplock bag. Marinate in fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Place rice and water in a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer and cook until water is absorbed.

While the rice cooks and the steak is marinating, sauté onions in a large frying pan until golden. Add in garlic. Cook for several minutes before adding the red and yellow pepper. Mix well and cook for several minutes then add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. (Remember to reserve 1/2 cup of sauce on the side) Add spices and mix well. Cook until pepper is tender.

While the tomato and pepper mixture cooks, cook steak strips until no longer pink.

Take the 1/2 cup of reserved tomato sauce and pour on the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan.

Take the whole wheat wraps and one by one fill it with brown rice, tomato, onion & pepper mixture, steak strips and some chopped cilantro. Roll over and place in pan with rolled side facing down. Once you have filled up the pan, pour some of the remaining tomato, onion and pepper mixture on top then place in oven and bake on 400° for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle on some fresh chopped cilantro before serving.

Matana’s Gift

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Dear Readers: The long, lazy days of summer are upon us and it’s time to sit back with a cold drink and good book. The following is a reprint of a fictional story I wrote a long time ago. Though it is made up, there are parts that are all too real. Long lost objects have miraculously turned up under the most unlikely circumstances. This story is in memory of a second cousin, David, who was blown up in his tank during the Yom Kippur War. His wife had their first child, a girl, eight months later.

* * * * *

It was the Thursday before her daughter’s wedding and Chana Bendiner had so much to do, so many minute details to attend to. Yet here she was in her attic, blowing the dust off a photo album that had remained buried, but not forgotten, for over 20 years. She stared at the leather-bound cover, gently caressing the embossed gold lettering, unable to open it, yet unable to put it down.

For Chana Bendiner knew that the photos that lay within, unseen for two decades, would unleash a torrent of bittersweet memories, releasing intense emotions from the deeply buried vault in her heart in which she had locked them – an soul-numbing process that had taken years of effort and a deluge of tears.

Inhaling deeply, prepared to have her breath taken away by a tsunami of memories that would flood her inner core, she opened the album book.

Looking up at her with a smile as radiant as snow bathed in sunlight was her 22-year-old self, her blue eyes as bright as the skies over the Kinneret; her hair a honey-blond cascade of curls spilling out from her bridal veil. Chana wryly touched her light brown sheitel, grateful that it covered the grey strands that had stealthily infiltrated her hair.

Her smile trembled and her face contorted as she looked at the young man at her side, her chatan, her golden-voiced Dov, Berel to the older generation. His puppy-brown eyes glowed with life, framed by thick auburn eyelashes that matched his thatch of auburn hair. A subtle brown sheen barely saved him from being labeled a gingi – a redhead.

Both native New Yorkers, Chana Rotgerber and Dov Walbrom had met at a kumsitz melavah malka at the home of a mutual friend in Jerusalem. Chana had been enchanted by his mellow tenor voice as he sat on the floor, strumming his guitar and singing Israeli folk-songs. He in turn could not take his eyes off her. He would later describe her as human sunshine. To their mutual relief and delight, they discovered that both had made aliyah, determined to give of their talents and skills to enhance their ancestral homeland.

The two and a half years of their marriage were of fairy-tale caliber: both delighted in the existence of the other. The “icing on their cake” had been the birth of their redheaded, milk chocolate-eyed baby girl.

“Go figure,” Chana had exclaimed to her ecstatic, peacock-proud husband as she scrutinized her newborn daughter. “For nine months I grow this human being inside me, my waist explodes and may ankles swell – and she’s the spitting image of you! It’s like I had no part in all this!”

“Well at least we know she’ll be good-looking,” Dov teased as he dodged the pillow Chana had thrown at him.

They had named their child Matana. Chana had had her heart set on naming her baby after her mother’s sister, who had perished in the Holocaust. She knew however that the name “Matel” was not quite appropriate for a sabra, and she was delighted when Dov, a bio-engineer with a creative bend, had come up with the name Matana, which was Hebrew for gift. It was perfect, sounding enough like Matel to satisfy the thrilled grandparents, yet preventing the teasing that would have been the inevitable fate of an Israeli child called Matel. Almost immediately after her naming, Matana was nicknamed Mati, and that was what she was called from that moment on.

For 10 months after Mati’s birth, her father would croon her to sleep, composing different tunes and changing the words to suit the baby’s mood. Often her doting daddy would spend hours playing his guitar, tape-recording the music that flowed from his hands. When Chana had asked him what he was so busy with, he told her he was working on Mati’s wedding march. It would be played as they walked her to her chuppah and her waiting chatan.

Improving One’s Mood

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

For the most part, my husband is a very good husband and father. He loves our children and will often go out of his way to make sure their needs are met. He is also loving and good to me. However, he often comes home with a very negative attitude. When he arrives home from work, he sees nothing good. He criticizes the children for not being in pajamas or for not finishing their homework. Even if he is right on both counts, he does not convey his criticism appropriately or at the right time.

When my husband comes home, he should be excited and happy to see the children and me. I want him to be positive and loving and to notice all the good things the children have done. I want my children to be excited when my husband comes home, and not want to go to their rooms as soon as possible. While I don’t blame the children for not wanting to be around when my husband is acting negatively, I wish my husband would be more positive so that the children would look forward to his return home. I do not think that they dread his coming home from work; however, they are definitely learning to stay away from him.

I know my husband works hard and wants time to relax after a long day. But the children miss him and want his attention. What can I do to help my husband come home with a happier attitude?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

It is difficult to ascertain why your husband is coming home in such a bad mood. Perhaps he is hungry and tired from a long day at work and wants to relax a little when he gets home. Maybe he is experiencing a lot of stress at work and is bringing it home with him. Or it’s possible that he just grew up in this kind of home and is recreating what he went through. If your husband is simply tired or hungry, or just wants some time to relax when he comes home, you will be able to easily remedy your situation.

When he is calm and not hungry, you can explain to him, in a gentle and loving manner, that he seems to be coming home in a very bad mood. It may be something he doesn’t even realize is happening. Ask him why he thinks this is. If he says that he does not know, ask him if he is having a hard time at work or if he is extremely hungry or tired when he returns home. If he says that he is hungry, one solution may be to send an extra snack with him to work, so he does not come home with an empty stomach.

Making your husband aware of this – in a non-accusatory way – is a step in the right direction. If your husband becomes defensive, make sure to remain calm and tell him that you know that he is a great husband and father. Assure him that you want to help him feel better when he comes home.

Devising a plan that works for both of you is key. It would be ideal if your husband could think of a solution, as people are generally more invested in something when it is their idea. So, even if you originate the jointly accepted idea, try to make it seem as if he came up with it. If he expresses a liking to your suggestion, say to him, “What a great idea. I like how you thought of it.” And if your husband is not on board with your idea, then make every effort to jointly create a plan of positive action.

Attempt to explain to your husband how hard you try to have things organized during the hectic period before he gets home, and that you get nervous when he comes home feeling unhappy. Using an “I feel” message generally helps people not to become defensive, as it puts the “blame” on you and not on the other person. Thus, saying things like “I feel bad when you come home upset. I want you to be happy to come home and I want the children to feel good about the time they spend with you. What can I do to help make this time easier for you?” would be helpful. This will likely make it easier for your husband to explain to you what is going on with him at the present time, and it will help you arrive at a solution together. Also, this is generally more effective than saying something like, “Why do you always have to be in a bad mood when you come home? It is extremely annoying and obnoxious, and I want you to stop it!” These ineffective comments will probably lead to a fight, and although you may release your frustration you will likely feel worse afterward.

Turkey’s Intelligence…Oops…

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

My oldest son, Elie, spent today in the Reserves and will be in for a few weeks later this summer. It is what happens when they finish their service in the standing army – a yearly commitment to stay ready; to be prepared. He dropped me off early in the morning so that he could take the car and save hours on a hot bus. Much later, Elie called to say he was on his way back to get me. When he arrived, he told me about the new facilities they had built on the base since the last time he was there – the comfortable chairs, and the air conditioning.

Most of the presentations involved PowerPoint with a speaker guiding them through the various topics. July in Israel – it’s hot but the room was pleasantly air conditioned – if, like Elie, you sat right under the machine. The problem was, the power kept going out and so each time, the PowerPoint presentation was interrupted and they waited several minutes for the power to return. Finally, the last speaker came up and once again, the power went out again, “you’re out of luck this time” the presenter told everyone, “my presentation doesn’t need PowerPoint.”

And the last thing Elie he told me about his day was, “you’re going to like this one.”

Without names or ranks…one of the officers told Elie his name was on Turkey’s list of Israeli officers recently published. These are names of men that would face prosecution for their actions on the Mavi Marmara flotilla fiasco. Turkey believes they have a right to arrest and put these Israeli officers on trial.

Of course, Turkey is ignoring the fact that their civilians attacked our soldiers but, anyway – there’s a bigger problem…at least in this. The officer so named – wasn’t on the Mavi Marmara. He’s an artillery soldier. He wasn’t even there…so much for Turkey’s intelligence – military or otherwise.

One really has to wonder how many of the other names are inaccurate. Turkey’s military intelligence – now there’s a contradiction in terms.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/turkeys-intelligenceoops/2012/07/04/

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