Monday, January 7, 2013

Limmud UK 2012

This year has been full of amazing learning, especially about the opportunities for Jewish learning that are out in the world. With a desire to spread the word about Yadaim as well as connect to the European Jewish community, I sent Jacob a link to Limmud UK.  Since attending ROI 2012 I had been hearing about Limmud and after my summer residency at Hebrew College for my Ed.D. the dean of the school of education, Michael Shire, pushed that I attend as well. As I read more online it was obvious to me that this would be a fabulous family experience and before long we began the planning.  Thanks to the fabulous ROI Micro Grant program I was able to collaborate with the talented curriculum consultant Hannah Graham to prepare a two session presentation. 

We also made a plan to meet Terri in London for a few days and to head all together to Limmud.

We spent 5 stimulating, fun and exhausting days and cannot stop speaking about it.  2500 Jews came together at the University of Warwick to have the opportunity to chose from 1035 presentations from anything from food, text, politics, film, story telling, music, singing, puppet shows - seriously you name it and it was happening. Lazer went to the nursery and Zelia was in the first year of young Limmud.  We dropped them off at 9 after breakfast and we all went our separate ways.

I attended sessions like harmonizing, Shmitah year with Nigel Savage (fascinating and now full of ideas), learning with Yehoshua Engelman about Gan Eden and Joseph and Judah (now I am chasing him down as a teacher).  Jacob attended almost every session he could connected to food, ethics, kashrut, eco-kashrut and came away both inspired and ready to get involved. We would pick-up Lazer for lunch and take him back sleeping.  Then at four everyday we would get the kids and head to some family sessions.  We loved seeing Noa Baum and listening to her storied and singing with Shirlala and also doing pajama time with Karina from Shababa.  We would have an early dinner and head to pajama time, when all the young kids would get together and sing and dance and hear stories before bed.

Once the kids were asleep the fabulous volunteer babysitters would camp out in the hallways and we would head out to get a drink at one of the bars, hear another lecture or Matisyahu!

Everyday we remarked on the fact that the scope of the entire conference is so HUGE and that sheer amazement that it was volunteer organized and run - simply spectacular.  People, young and old giving of their time to make this event happen and with such joy:)  Also, to chose to learn about whatever you want and to have it taught by people who have chosen to teach it is a fabulous equation making for the most exciting learning.  The day we left Zelia wanted to know if we would come back again next year - we hope so!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yom Kippur 2012




This is the fourth Yom Kippur since we moved to Iceland and it can be a difficult holiday. This year as it approached I did not feel connected, didn’t feel the push to make the effort to go to Reykjavik for services.  I was conflicted but took the attitude of, “it is what it is”.  We shift through stages and this is where I am this year.
After teaching I returned home for dinner and as I was getting the kids ready for bed I could feel the imposition of Yom Kippur begin to envelop me.  After reading two stories I spoke to them about Yom Kippur, about the seriousness of the day and asking for forgiveness. I explained that Jews all over the world were choosing to fast and go to synagogue all day. I encouraged Zelia toward self-reflection about past behavior but she stayed focused on the wrongs done to her. I apologized to her for my lack of patience when it was most needed. Then I pulled Itzhak Perlman’s new Kol Nidrei up on youtube and we lay in silence and listened. The gravity of the day could not be ignored any longer.
You may know that Kol Nidrei is in Aramaic and not in Hebrew and so Zelia asked me what he was singing. She was entranced, as so many of us are, by this almost magical prayer. I explained, somewhat incorrectly, that he was asking for forgiveness from G-d and thinking about being a better person in the coming year. Kol Nidrei caused a controversy when it was added to the liturgy; a problematic plea for nullification for the promises we will make and break in the coming year. I hold the same discomfort with it as those did from centuries ago. Yet in this soulful plea there is an acknowledgement of our frailty as human being to tend toward weaknesses, toward imperfections. In its plea for forgiveness of future failures we recognize that we will fall short of our best intentions to be better, to try harder – this sobering knowledge is at the heart of the human condition.
The children slept and the night fell heavily. This morning too felt different. Jacob and I had a moment to speak about our shortcomings with each other and asked a heartfelt forgiveness from Zelia. Zelia, herself, wore the seriousness of the moment and without wanting to share any words went and gave Lazer a big, quiet hug. So, for the first time in my life, I have experienced the raw gravity of this day, which I found imposed on me without choice of action on my part to attend synagogue or fast. The weight of being a Jew and living a Jewish life simply became an expression of my life.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

ROI Summit 2012

Last November I was flow to Denver to participate and present at the Jewish Futures Conference at the General Assembly of North America. In September I entered my idea to address what JESNA and the Jewish Education Project termed prosumerism within the Jewish culture.

Now those of you who know me know that I am somewhat obsessed, at least incredibly passionate about Jewish education and was also beginning my Ed.D. last fall. Here is the video of both my talk and video submission for which I won the Jewish Futures Competition along with Ben Wiener.

While at the GA, Jon Woocher, who has the best title in the world, Chief Ideas Officer, took me under his wing and introduced to many people, one of which was Seth Cohen from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (behind the very successful Taglit-Birthright trips to Israel).  They spoke quickly, I did not catch most of it only that Jon said I would be a good candidate for a trip to Israel.

I tweeted, I emailed and several months later I received an email from Beto Maya with a reference code to apply to ROI - aha, now I began to understand. I was elated when I was accepted - I was going to Israel for the first time in 11 years and will have this amazing opportunity to meet other people committed to Jewish community and life and who are out there trying to make wonderful things happen.

Without a doubt it was a thrill. Every person I met at ROI, whether new to the community, a returny or a member of the staff was talented, committed, smart and capable.  What a gift to be with a group of people like this. We had the chance to hear inspirational speakers like Doug Ulman, CEO of Livestrong, Pascale Berkowitz (video) a journalist and Olympian and Yanki Margalit founder of Aladdin Knowledge Systems.  Each of these speakers was talented and accomplished in their own right, but I want to focus and give you a taste of the young people at ROI as we say in Hebrew, "berama" ברמה

Jenna Benn, from the USA founded an organization called Twist Out Cancer
Twist out Cancer (TOC) is a support community…with a twist!
Founded by 30-year-old lymphoma survivor Jenna Benn, TOC leverages social media to help survivors and their loved ones combat the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and helplessness that often accompany cancer diagnoses and treatment. TOC provides a forum through which anyone affected by cancer can share thoughts, experiences, stories, and insights, allowing for the exchange of ideas, encouragement, and wisdom from one community member to another.

Gur Geva from South African is dedicated to affecting women's health and founded Health SMS , which connects women in need to health professionals. HealthSMS focuses on using mobile phone technology to connect individuals at the base of the economic pyramid to vital health services. I n the first 6 months of launching, HealthSMS connected over 30,000 women with vital female health care services.

Ana Fuchs from the US who founded the Jewish Kids Group, Atlanta's independent Hebrew school, offering a fun-packed, content-rich, and meaningful Jewish supplemental education to children and their families, irrespective of affiliation.


Ami Yares from both the US and Israel is the Director of FocUS Music and is currently looking for support for an exciting new project, HEARTBEAT.The 2012 Borderline Remix unites Israeli, Palestinian, German, and African youth musicians, filmmakers and dancers (ages 16-21) to explore and voice experiences of migration and the quest for home. Working together over the course of six months from their home countries (meeting in Jericho, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Manheim) participants are exploring their diverse personal and communal narratives of forced migration, learning about the human right of asylum, and feeding their understanding, struggles, and hopes into their original music, film, and dance creations.

Kfir Damari, COO of SpaceIL, comes from Israel. SpaceIL's mission is to become the first to successfully launch, fly and land a small robotic spacecraft on the Moon, operate it across the lunar surface and transmit video, images, and data back to Earth by the end of next year, making Israel the third nation on the moon.  This exciting venture seeks to excite and involve Jewish students from around the world and increase their interest in the STEM fields.

Other truly spectacular examples from the ROI Community:
Ohad Sternberg who has joined the Peace Corps and work with both the Jewish and refugee communities in Moldova.
Oliver Marcus who is the program coordinator for JHub, a space for Jewish social action and innovation in the UK Jewish community.
Rei Dishon - Secret Artist
Sarah Bassin, the Executive Director of NewGround: A Muslim Jewish Partnership for Change
Yana Brook, head of the Student Department at JAFI in St. Petersburg and Founder and Director, The Hora People Project

Seriously I could list all 150 people and you would be impressed by them all.  Find a cause that speaks to you and support these committed, talented and thoughtful Jewish leaders.

Don't worry, I will plug my idea in another post:)

Almost an entire year has passed since I last wrote and updated this blog.  Needless to say countless things have happened, evolved and developed since then.  Here is a quick synopsis.



We are still in Skagastrond, Iceland.
Zelia is almost four a half and informed me after a visit in Amsterdam that she would like to learn a new language (for the first time she experienced not having access due to a language barrier).
Lazer will be two in August and is a total shovav (no great work for this in English, mischievous is closest), he adores Jack and Zelia and wants to do EVERYTHING she does.
Jacob is kicking ass in his job, has several grants and projects, manuscripts in the works and heading to present at ICES in Bergen, Norway.
I began my Ed.D. at Northeastern University in Jewish Educational Leadership, am working to found Yadaim Academy of Applied Academics in the US and just went to Israel for the first time in 11 years to take part in the ROI Summit.

The picture above is of all of us at the Esnoga (Sephardic Synagogue in Amsterdam where the Fidanques, Del Valles, De Castro and other ancestors prayed in the 16-1700s).

Friday, July 15, 2011

USA and Stykkisholmer - maybe the nicest town in Iceland!

It has been a LONG time since I have written and at least for now there are no pictures to add. Life has just gotten busy as they say:)

We flew to the USA for about 10 days over Memorial Day weekend to celebrate MamaZee's 90th birthday with the whole family. It was the most splendid visit, fun, relaxing and got to spend lots of time with family that we haven't seen in ages. After the birthday weekend we had a chance to stay with MamaZee, visit more with Tobi, Bryan and families, a great treat. We then headed to Chicago to see Terri, Zelia's great grandmother and Lauren and Ian as they waited for little Hemingway to arrive.

For the first time since moving to Iceland we were sad to say goodbye to the US and our family and coming back was challenging. Zelia was back in the groove in leikskoli and I began rehearsing for my grant project during Lazer's naps. The rehearsing is going super well and I now have gotten the rights to the music I will be using and have 2 out of the at least 3 sections of the work. It is exciting.

Before too long Lazer and I were back flying across the Atlantic to meet little Emita (Heimingway) while Zelia stayed with Jacob and Terri came for a visit. They had a great time exploring Myvatn (I still have not been there!) and hanging out at home. Lazer and I were busy exploring the streets of Andersonville and then we headed to NJ for a great time with Baki, Angie and the kids. I have not spent this kind of time with them in years and the kids were SO much fun. Lazer sat with Myles, was awed by Topper and loved to pieces by the girls, he even took a few steps on his own! All in all he did a great job and even cut a new tooth while away.

Coming home to see Zelia and Jacob was SO exciting, I could not get enough of her!!!! From the bus stop we headed over to VOX at the Hilton for a delicious brunch. We stayed through Monday and played while Jacob worked and then we drove home.

On Wednesday afternoon we got in the work truck with Jacob and drove 3 hours to Stykkisholmer where he had to go out on Thursday and collect samples. We arrived into the most beautiful and sweet town, built up on a hill overlooking Breidafjordur, a fjord filled with 100's of little islands. After checking in to the B&B we walked into town for dinner. There is a really nice harbor which made me realize how much I missed walking around the harbor in Isafjordur. There were LOTS of people out and about, tourists, a full camping ground, a few restaurants, just lively. The houses are cute and over all it felt to us a bit like Maine.

Jacob left early the next morning and when we eventually got up and out we headed straight to the pool. The weather was stunning, blue skies and heading into the upper teens. We played at the pool for a good long while and then got some soup at the bakery. It was so hot in the sun, Zelia stripped while eating. Later in the day I walked to the Library of Water which is spectacular. It is built on the top pf the hill overlooking the fjord and the town with huge windows. The space is filled with towers/tubes of glacial water collected from around Iceland and the floor is filled with words in Icelandic and English about water and experiencing it. I was in there just with Lazer on my back while Zelia dozed in the stroller. Lazer kept saying ah, ah, and the echo in the space made it sound like he was singing - now that's the piece I would create in there. It is open to the public for free, offers a writing studio and holds activities like yoga for the community.

After that we headed back to the harbor and while Lazer was fast asleep in the stroller Zelia and I ahd fu watching the bi kids jump of the pier into the water. Some of them were in dry suites but not all. It looked like so much fun and Zelia was mesmerized. When we turned to look the other direction they were loading up the ferry which heads to the westfjords and it was exciting to see the cars bot drive on and be lifted on to the ferry. And then....we got to watch Jacob come in on his boat.

The day before Zelia was quite concerned that Jacob was going to go out on an old boat and insisted that he not and that he go out on the new red boat, not the old yellow boat. While we were driving Jacob was pointing out a shipwreck of an old boat and she was anxious that that not happen to him!

After helping Jacob document the sampled we packed up, went out for burgers and got on the road. It was a great trip and actually felt like a vacation.

Tomorrow I will be running my first 10k and then we will head out on the peninsula to the light house for a night of camping. Next week we leave for Reykjavik and begin the ring road camping trip for 2 weeks!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

video update

video video video

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

catch-up pictures

Planing for the garden. Zelia also got her own little planter from MamaZee and she planted carrots, onions and radishes. She loves watching them come up, radishes first, then carrots and still waiting for that onion. She says the little leaves look like butterflies and some like hearts.

Yes, he seems to like the trucks, but honestly Jack's water and dog food are the most enticing things around.


He looks a bit like his cousin Ari in this picture!

Zelia in my rain boots, makes me laugh out loud when she walks around in them and can't bend her knees.