Category Archives: General musings

The first day of school

The first of september….bringing a thrill to parents everywhere. (Well, almost everywhere, I only found out recently that not everyone starts school at the 1st of September)

My daughter started third grade today. Doesn’t matter which class they go in, there is always the anxiety when you send your child off. So many questions. Will they hit it off with the teacher? Will they succeed? Will they be happy?

When my daughter came home at the end of the day, I eagerly awaited her report. She came home with a big smile on her face which put me at ease before she even opened her mouth. Yes, she liked both her teacher for Jewish studies and her teacher for non Jewish studies. Phew! Let’s hope she will go as happily to school every day as she went today!

My son (who has HFA) started yesterday. He is now in high school called Yeshivah. There are only Jewish studies from now on and the schedule is very heavy. He has to be at the synagogue at 7.15 am for prayers and then starts yeshivah until 1.15 PM. he has a break until 3 PM where he starts again until 8.30 PM. He eats supper in yeshivah.

He was very nervous to start as he grappled with issues like; will the boys tease him? Will they ignore him? Will he have a good seatmate?

My stomach turned when I saw him off with a prayer. I was anxiously awaiting his return. When he came home he was smiling from ear to ear. He had a great seatmate, his classmates greeted him nicely and according to him, the first day was a succes! Second phew!

The dreaded first day is over and I pray for a successful year for both of them!

How did your kids’ first day go?

ThursdayTidbits: prayer 

Men and boys from 13 yrs old have to pray with a minimum of 10 men called a minyan. They have to do whatever they can not to miss praying with a minyan. There are 3 prayers a day: morning, afternoon and night. 

When we go on vacation, we can only go to places that have a minimum of 10 men so that a minyan can be formed. That’s why you usually find groups of Jews vacationing together. 😀

For more ThursdayTidbits visit my FB page: Orthodox Sunflower 

Prayers needed

Tomorrow morning my 3 year old nephew who was diagnosed 6 months ago with Neuroblastoma is undergoing a complicated and very long surgery to try and remove the tumor which is wrapped around many organs including the aorta and the kidneys. It’s a delicate procedure as it involves sensitive places. We can use all the prayers and good thoughts we can get.

I will keep you updated!

Thank you!

Headstone ceremony

My grandparents were very special people. My grandfather passed away a few years ago. My grandmother passed away last summer. As per Jewish tradition, the headstone (matzeivah in Hebrew) was being unveiled around 11 months after her death. Most people do it either after 30 days or between 11-12 months after the passing. This past Sunday, a hot summer day, we made our way to the cemetery for the unveiling. The extended family was there which included all their children and grandchildren and people close to them. My grandfather had been an influential member of our community, one of the leaders. We had a quite a few people coming for my grandmother’s unveiling in my grandfather’s honor.

We started off with saying psalms corresponding to the deceased’s Hebrew name. Then one of my uncles spoke a few words. He said he will be reading a letter my grandfather wrote. This is what the letter said: “This letter is to opened by the unveiling of my wife’s headstone. As I went through the Hell that was Auschwitz, I made a promise to G-d that if I get safely out of this hell, I will dedicate my life to charity and good deeds. I came here, found my woman of valor that I shared my life with and settled down. I tried as best as I could to fulfill my promise and my dear wife was a full partner and did all she could to help me. She told me: “I ask nothing of you but when the time comes, I want to be put to rest next to you” so if this is in accordance with Jewish law, I want you to bury her next to me. If this is not possible for whatever reason, make sure I’m not buried next to a non Sabbath observer or a stingy rich man.”

My grandfather was the most giving person I knew, he couldn’t fathom someone having riches and not give to charity. he lived for charity and so did my grandmother. My own family was the recipient of his monthly envelope with cash in the mailbox. Until today my family has no idea it was him.

I found that letter extremely moving. After that my brother in law said some words, remembering that special couple who left behind a legacy of charity and righteousness and G-d fearing descendants. He broke down in tears while begging them to intervene on his son’s behalf who is stricken with pediatric cancer. Not a dry eye was left after his plea.

The ceremony ended with the Rabbi saying the Memorial Prayer and the sons reciting Kaddish.

Follow me on Facebook

Dear readers,

Are you on social media? If you’re on Facebook, follow my page for extra’s. 🙂

Every Wednesday, I share a blog post from here. Thursdays I started something called #ThursdayTidbit where I share an interesting tidbit of ultra Orthodox Judaism that you probably don’t know.

I hope to see you there!

Take care,


What I don’t like about myself

“It sounded like a clichĂ© topic to me, this writing prompt asking what I don’t like about myself. A real yawner. Haven’t we all been over this before?”

Off the bat, this was an easy question to answer. There are many things I dislike about myself. I could go on and give you a list. But as I dug deeper and thought about this question, something hit me. Every single thing I would list is actually something I keep hearing from other people. People close to me, people like my family. It’s the words I grew up with that have lodged themselves permanently in my brain and which I have made my own. After hearing certain things about me all the time, they started to become part of my self-talk. I started believing them.

I dislike my low self-esteem. It’s not easy building yourself up when your sense of self has been trampled on all your life. I was never good enough. Being made fun of when I was a slightly overweight made me very self-conscious about my weight ever since. (And I was thin then compared to now!). Hearing from my spouse I’ll never be a good housewife made me believe it. When I organized a stunning Bar Mitzvah event for my son, I got many incredulous comments not believing I really managed to pull it off.

I don’t believe we realize how many of the negative self-talk comes from things we hear from the people close to us. Growing up I felt I must be a lazy person. This was something I heard often from my parents and teachers. Looking back, if I was growing up these days I would have been diagnosed with ADD. But in the 80’s who knew of such things? We just got labeled as lazy and forgetful good for nothings. My low self-esteem continues to plague me till this day.

As a survivor of abuse I realized I needed therapy to help me move forward in life. One of the things we did was work on my self-esteem. My therapist claimed that she saw many good things in me and she worked on getting me to believe it too. She sometimes had to stop the session to ask me if I realized that she just gave me a compliment. I actually did but my usual reaction was to brush it off because in my head it couldn’t be true.

The effects are far reaching and everywhere. I barely write because I’m sure I’m not good enough. Sure, I have all the reasons like English not being my first language, no proper training, and all that. I don’t bake because I “suck” at homemaking. I could give many more examples too.

All because I chose to believe what I was fed, what I’m being fed. The criticism about my life continues to come from all sides. I have to make a conscious decision every day to not believe the words I’m hearing from those around me and my inner voice who joins them.

It has made me stop and think about the way I talk to my kids. One of my children is not easy. I have made the mistake of throwing the word “lazy” or “you will never..” to him. I’m not perfect and it’s all too easy to fall into the familiar pattern I grew up with. Now that I’m in therapy and I’m starting to see the damage this approach has done to me I’m working on stopping this harmful behavior.

So the thing I dislike most about me is the fact that I believe all the negative things other people have said about me, I have let other people’s opinions of me shape me, and I believed what they said.

And that’s the greatest tragedy of all.