Outrage

There is little more to say.

Today in Jerusalem, four fathers woke up, put on prayer shawls and tefillin and went to their synagogue to welcome the day in morning prayer as they did everyday.

Today two cousins, Arabs, woke up and armed themselves with hatchets, cleavers and guns and also went to that synagogue.

Their intent was to kill everyone that they could inside of the synagogue.

When all was said and done, the four fathers were dead. Many more of the morning worshippers were hacked and maimed. A policeman was shot in the head.

He died tonight.

The Arabs were killed in a shootout as they tried to escape.

Benjamin Netanyahu says that the homes of the cousins will be demolished. Arrests were made, others detained. The internet reported another attack this evening in Jerusalem.

I saw videos of Arabs in East Jerusalem throwing candy and celebrating the massacre.

I watched a live video of the Kotel (Western Wall) throughout the day.

It was desolate.

People in Jerusalem said the buses were empty, people were skittish.

But…people do go on.

I feel strongly about this. I know that the people in Jerusalem are surrounded by Arabs who live and work amongst them. Cab drivers, cleaning staff, bus drivers. And for the most part we are friendly with them and they are friendly with us.

Now the seeds of mistrust have been sown. I can’t help but say that even though they may or may not even remotely know any of these terrorists who are so wantonly killing Jews in Jerusalem these past so many years; Sadly, because they have not taken any steps to put their collective foot down and mandate responsible leadership that can and will take decisive steps to STOP it, they are just as complicit as if they, themselves, wielded the cleavers and axes this morning.

And I also know according to western standards how I feel is not politically correct but it IS correct by way of my Israeli sensibilities and I am an Israeli you know….allowing this CANCER to remain and grow independent of any action to cut it out and eradicate it forever will only bring further heartbreak to Israel. Cancer is not “managed” – it is expunged for the best outcome. And when it isn’t….

Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet.

Am Yisrael Chai!

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Introduction to Judaism

It seems that our Introduction to Judaism class raises more questions for Scott and more questions for me to answer than I like to deal with.  Tonight was no exception.  Mostly the hard questions I tell him that it’s a good idea to ask his sponsoring rabbi, that I just can’t give him the answers he is looking for.  But tonight he didn’t seemed satisfied with that answer and pressed on.

The class dealt with history and specifically, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.  I guess I realize that each person would have his or her own answer to the question Rabbi Mahler posed which was, would you convert and keep your religion a secret or would you just leave?

Unfortunately, for Jews then and throughout history leaving wasn’t as easy as it sounds because there wasn’t always a place for them to go TO which is why the establishment of Israel was and IS so important…a haven ALWAYS in the storm.

But I am not sure I conveyed this adequately to Scott or that I even had the words or knowledge to convey this because this led to, why do Jews have a persecution complex and then to, why do Jews somehow think they are better than everyone else.

So I figured I’d pose these questions here and ask….what are your thoughts?

Riding the FACT Bus

Last week I had to take the local paratransit.  Because I get medical assistance, I am qualified to ride the bus and because I had an appointment that was overlapping a commitment Scott had to attend to, I had to take the bus.

I have to admit I was terrified.  I didn’t know what to expect and there wasn’t much I could do about it.  I just kind of had to grin and bear it and hope it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Unlike my trip to the synagogue on Rosh HaShanah, I didn’t have the chance to prep with my therapist Kellye prior to my bus ride…this was a cold turkey bus ride.

The good thing about the bus is that the driver, Jack, is a really nice guy who makes you feel really comfortable right from the start.  He’s happy and talkative and seems to understand if you’re not so much.  He called about 30 minutes before he came just to tell me that he was on his way and what time I should be outside….cool.

I sat outside and waited.

At exactly 11:15 when he said he’d be there…the bus rolled around the corner and I got on.  Little did I know it was the “party” bus!  There was one person on when I was picked up and she was chatting away with Jack which was fine with me.  Then we dropped her off and picked up three more people who were regulars apparently and they just laughed and chattered away.

I felt a little conspicuous sitting in the front seat and definitely out of place.  My face was warm and the bus was hot.  I felt like I was going to throw up the entire ride but I made it.

We got to the road where we’d have to turn left to get to our destination….I was consumed by my panic and nerves and I jumped up and told Jack to turn…and he was all like, “I KNOW dear, I come here all the time, don’t worry!” and then laughed at me.

PUBLIC HUMILIATION as the rest of the party bus laughed along.

Inside I knew they weren’t laughing at me…well, maybe they were.  And if not, when I got off the bus and lost my balance and almost fell down, well, you get the point.

But, the real point is that I did it.  And it was a HUGE step for me.  Do I want to do it again?  Actually I do.  I need to do it again to make it not so weird and not so strange.  So I can maybe be a quiet part of the party and feel like I belong more and not feel so much like I felt – a fifth wheel on an already unbalanced bus!

Still, after I got my balance back and walked into my appointment I knew I had taken a major step for me.  It may seem really small to most people and even for me, given my past life – the chick who left it all behind and moved to Israel and made a life for herself and her son despite everything for two years and would do it again in a heartbeat (her heart tells her) – it seems a little trivial, but I know given where I am at mentally now, it was one of the biggest steps I could take right now.

I don’t know when or if there will be any more big steps, I just know there was this one and I am very proud of myself for making it.

Life As A Headcase: Frustration

I love to use websites for inspiration for my writing, especially when I can’t seem to come up with anything I think is worth writing.  My favorite site is Thoughts From The Blue Notebook and today’s topic deals with frustration.  Which…I guess is a good topic for me because Frustration is a great friend of mine.

Back that one up, maybe not a great FRIEND but due to my physical issues, it is a constant companion.

Frustration comes to visit right along with the Darks.  I feel down and I get frustrated because it makes me feel inadequate, lazy and whiny.  I am afraid I am getting a reputation as a hypochondriac because I have so many things on my health plate.  I get myoclonic seizures which annoy the hell out of me.  Imagine having your reflexes tested non stop for minutes or even hours!  And there’s nothing I can do to stop it except take medication that I often run out of if I have a particularly bad month.

Frustration is there beside of me.

I want to take my son to the book store, have a mocha latte and read a magazine on home remodeling.  I can’t because I have seizures and my license has been gone since September.  I am optimistic though that I’ll get it back but Mr. Frustration mocks me now.  And the time drags.

I think time and Mr. Frustration are close, personal friends…or just in on this together.

I’m content and happy with my life but I have this part of me that longs for the
magical recreation of those happy moments in my life.  It’s like this part of me whom I call The Little Dreamer Girl wants to collect all the happy she can so we can just fall into it and roll around naked.  (Okay TMI, I know but that’s what it’s like).

And very often this quest to bring me baskets of happy blows up in her tear stained face because like a cat bringing home a dead rabbit, only to make it’s owner happy, other people don’t really understand what she’s all about.  Hell, I hardly understand all these parts of me.  How can I expect anyone else to get it.  And when they don’t get it, how can I even explain that it’s not ME doing this.  It’s Little Dreamer Girl and I really have a hard time stopping her from gathering those happy things and bringing them home.

Frustration holds her hand I think and I wish she’d quit going off with him.

Frustration digs deep into my soul, what little I have left, when old friends won’t talk to me anymore.  When people I thought would be there forever don’t want anything to do with me.  And especially when they stop by and say hi never to return. Frustration exacts his revenge and takes his pound of my flesh and blood, and mind, and runs, cackling into the darkness.

Frustration is a contant in my life.  Not MY constant (ala LOST) but constant enough that I am not surprised anymore when I feel his presence.  I just try to remind myself that Frustration comes and goes, although at his own whim.  I never know when he’ll show up or even when he’ll go.

He knows of my neshamale’s (Little Soul in Hebrew) deep connection to Israel and Jerusalem and he sits by the sidelines taunting me, enveloping me in sadness and homesickness, and making sure I know it will never be in my grasp again. He plays with my life like tinker toys.  Some days he let’s me be built up and other’s he pulls me apart.  His exaltation comes when there is absolutely nothing I can do, when I feel completely overwhelmed, powerless and empty.

But that’s how Frustration is.  And sadly, I have to learn, somehow, to live with him.  He will always be there and somehow I have to find a safe place and never let him win.

Fireside Chat With The Autism Mom: Life After the Autism Waiver

My son, Evan, is 21.  We were out of the country immediately after his graduation from high school which was an incredible experience.  I have to tell you, Israel is DA BOMB for autism services.  There are services for babies, little kids, big kids and adults.

TONS OF SERVICES!

So many services that they apologize to you for not being able to get your kid into a group home (if they so choose) for 6 months to a year.

SERIOUSLY???

In the US, you’re lucky to have a multi-year wait much less the blink of an eye that is a year. We really appreciated the services there but…all good things much come to an end and we returned last March for various reasons.

I got Evan back into therapy again at the John Merck Center here in Pittsburgh that specializes in autism spectrum disorders and their treatment.  Then I got him back with his case management service that helps provide various services he needs.  Unfortunately, the state cannot provide adequate services to everyone who needs them.

You know the drill…there are other children more severe than your child, yada yada yada.  So we got limited funding which would get him a community aide for a few hours a week and at least get him out of the house and into the community. This was especially important since I was having seizures (and still am) and lost my license last September.  We live in a pretty happening area but you need wheels to MAKE it happen.  It’s kind of disappointing to me to miss out on it all (although since I am agoraphobic it’s really not as bad as I make it sound – I’m all “big dog on the porch” though, to talk about it!)

Evan feels so isolated because in Israel we were in Jerusalem and it was like paradise. He figured out the bus system and with his monthly bus card, he could go anywhere the buses or light rail went, including school which made him so much more independent.  He knew the bus system so well, when stranded at the mall by a visiting friend, he called and told me he had it covered and walked in the door 20 minutes later. He could shop on his own, buy iced coffee (an Israeli treat and very unlike the US version) and generally do the weekly shopping if asked and given the credit card.  He was Mr. Jerusalem and absolutely blossomed there – including becoming fluent in Hebrew!

But now we’re home and there aren’t any buses and so he does feel kind of trapped.

Well, I was informed by our case manager that some full waiver slots were coming open.  What that would mean is that Evan would have $30k to use for aides, supported work situations, camps, programs and other goodies we can’t even begin to imagine.  When we had the original money for the aide for a few hours a week, we couldn’t even find an organization that could provide a local aide or even an aide close to Evan’s age.  We had used the services before Israel and basically he would go out for dinner and an evening at Barnes and Noble with a kid who probably couldn’t get a better job.  That discouraged us this time too since we wanted someone local to keep him in touch with his new community but also someone closer to his own age (they sent a grandma once) who could be more of a buddy and not so obviously an aide.

Once I heard full waiver slots were open, I started my campaign to get them for my son.  I called everyone I could think of, including the county social worker who would hold the determination conference, and begged.

I talked about my epilepsy and how my inability to drive really limited Evan’s life. I knew he was on the list but I didn’t know if he’d make the cut.  After all, they were reviewing ALL the individuals, some older and some younger, and some with greater need.  It was a crapshoot whether we’d get funding or not but I made sure I brought his case before the right people and fought the good fight.

And…he was the first to receive waiver funding this year. What this means is that he has this funding for life.  FOR LIFE!  Unless we move, of course, which I don’t think we would even consider unless we went back to Israel but I don’t see that happening except for vacations. He has 25 hours a week of aides who come to take him out, play basketball and do artwork with him.

It’s overwhelming actually to go from zero to 100 mph in such a short time period but I can see, while he is tired and a bit overwhelmed, he is happy. He gets to go to baseball practice and play on another league he wanted to join.  The girls who are his aides are his age and they play basketball and catch and color with him when he wants to.  They take him shopping with them and out to lunch.  He is 5th on a waiting list now for supported employment.  His psychiatrist and I think this is a great option right now as he prepares for regular employment (if he wants…but its his choice.)

Right now his days are filled which is exactly what I wanted for him.  And my heart is filled for him.  His world has opened and it’s his for the taking.  He arranges what he and his aides will do, he makes calls to schedule things and actually used the internet to find the local library’s address the other day so he could go there. I am so proud of him and glad that people listened to me with compassion for him.  That’s what we need more of.  I thank those people who made this possible.  I actually called and thanked the county social worker who I doubt gets much thanks for the hard decisions she has to make. But we thank her.

And every time I see the smile on my kid’s face after his aides are gone for the day, I thank her even more.