AIPAC Reflections


This past week I attended the annual AIPAC Policy Conference. I am still processing everything I learned about the organization and about the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. I’m also trying to figure out if there is a place for me within the AIPAC structure and what, if anything, my involvement could look like. I am not someone who can just write a check and leave the work to others. When I believe in a cause, I like to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. I also believe in leading by example.

In any case, for me the jury is still out on whether AIPAC represents the totality of my feelings towards Israel. I was raised in the 1960s and 70s by parents who were Zionists. During their early lives, Israel wasn’t even a nation yet. In fact my maternal grandfather high tailed it to what was then Palestine, by way of Canada, the summer he was 15 years old in the early 1900s. Along with his best friend, they volunteered during the First World War effort by the British to seize power from Ottoman Empire. I remember the stories told by my mother, I have photos from my grandfather’s time in Palestine. And I also recall the wonder and joy that my parents felt when in 1948 Israel was recognized as a country and a homeland for Jews.

But Israel is a complicated place. Enemies surround it on all sides and every day presents existential risks. Internal politics are complicated as well. While she is a democracy, Israel has a parliamentary system with a coalition government. The current leadership represents the older generation who, like me, remembers the earlier days when idealism was a driving factor. But the younger generation struggles with how to make peace, determine borders and coexist with neighbors of differing religions and cultures.

These days it’s hard to remain idealistic and realistic at the same time. I believe, and will always believe, in Israel as a Jewish homeland. Israel is also a diverse and liberal society that accepts people from all walks of life. But as the country matures, it’s easier to see her flaws. After all, nothing is black and white. There are those who see Israel as an occupier of the Palestine territories while at the same time, those very Palestinians resort to constant violence against their Israeli neighbors.

As an organization, AIPAC’s mission is to support U.S. policies that support Israel. Seems pretty clear, right? Unfortunately it’s not that simple. There is partisanship and polarization both here and around the world. And while it may be easy for some people to compartmentalize this one issue, support for Israel, it’s harder for me. AIPAC’s By-laws state that it is a bi-partisan organization, and yet these days, with a conservative government in Israel and the U.S., it feels like it skews more to the right. This year’s Policy Conference made a valiant effort to woo progressives (AIPAC/Israel code for “liberal), and I did feel somewhat encouraged. I also believe that if people who think like me shy away from getting involved then we will have no voice in the organization at all. It’s up to us to hold AIPAC’s feet to the fire and make our progressive presence felt. Confusing? Yes. But in sorting through my feelings about AIPAC, I am reminded of the passion and commitment of my grandfather and others of his generation. If they hadn’t risked everything and jumped into the struggle, there would be no Israel. Perhaps it’s time for me to continue that struggle into our modern world. As our sage Hillel, said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?”

And, here’s Bentley waiting for Shabbat!  IMG_2942

Jewish Mothering: To Worry, Or Not To Worry, That Is THE Question


I want to start by stating that I do not like to perpetuate stereotypes. They are unfair exaggerations of behavior, physical or emotional characteristics. That being said, there is often a kernel of truth that underlies the stereotype, that breathes life into its surrounding imagery. To wit: the Jewish Mother. What comes to mind when hearing that phrase? Overbearing? Neurotic? Meddling? Over-involved? Prone to throwing massive quantities of food at one’s offspring?   Although I am both Jewish and a mother, I like to think I’m none of those things (although I do admit to the last). But truth be told, I do possess elements of all those characteristics.

One common phrase that triggers most Jewish mothers is hearing, “Everything is fine, but…” over the phone from a teacher, camp counselor, youth group leader, other parent, etc.   I can’t count how many times I heard it while my kids were growing up. And now that they’re adults, I hear their version: “I don’t want to worry you but…(insert crisis here)” I heard it recently from one of my angels, in a text, natch, and of course I calmly and reassuringly responded. I even made the mature declaration that even if I were worried, I could manage it and never did I want my child to be afraid to come to me with a problem. But the voices in my head were screaming, “Oh my God! Should I come there? My poor baby! How can I help????? I want to fix it for you!!!!”

Now, I am not suggesting that Jewish mothers have a corner on all the worry. Not by a long shot! But when I talk to my non-Jewish friends about how they handle the crises of their adult offspring, their responses are much more…um…restrained. I suspect they also have voices in their heads but on the outside, they seem more matter-of-fact, more in control of their emotions. HOW DO THEY DO IT????? And even when I can control my exterior, my insides are so fired up and loud, it’s all I can to do keep my head on straight. And sleep? Oy, forget about it!

My mother used to tell me that the worry never ends, no matter how old the child. Becoming a parent means a lifetime of it! But she also told me that at some point, you have to have faith that you provided your kids with the tools they need to navigate their lives. And for the areas where you’ve made mistakes or fallen short, there’s always therapy! See? The stereotype is true!

Okay, enough about me. Here’s a picture of Bentley out for a walk.

IMG_4356Shabbat Shalom, everyone!

Bentley: My Emotional Support Dog (Because, really, isn’t that a dog’s actual job?)


Today I woke up feeling kind of blue. It was like all the air had gone out of me. I felt flat, empty, blah. And then I remembered, it’s February; gray, chilly, damp, middle of nowhere, February. This happens to me every year after the festivities of the holidays and the exhilaration of the New Year. When February rolls around I can almost start to feel like Spring is just around the corner and then, sometime after Ground Hog Day it hits me: it’s still winter and I just feel droopy. When this happens, I often spend some time cuddling with Bentley. Bentley is my four-year-old Australian Labradoodle. He’s 29 pounds and just the right size to lay around with. He’s doing it right now, see?


Something that always helps my mood, in addition to a cuddle with Bentley, is taking him out for a walk or run. But this L.A. girl doesn’t run outside once the temperature drops below 55 (okay, 60) so it’s been awhile because, well, February in Nashville. But today, something lovely happened. Sometime in the late morning, the outside temperature hit 73 degrees! In February! And it wasn’t raining! In fact, it was kind of, dare I say, nice. So I decided it was the perfect time to get my little buddy some real exercise. So I laced up my shoes, wrapped my running leash around my waist and off we went.

I have the good luck to live near one of Nashville’s greenway trails. They wind throughout the city, giving folks paved pathways perfect for running, walking, biking and dog walking! My greenway is only a block away from my front door and gives us a perfect 3.3-mile loop. So, off we went on our walk/run.

At this point, I should explain the title of this post. In our family, we have a pet peeve (pun intended). It’s when people claim to need an “emotional support,” pet and it’s clear they’re faking it. Recently the news had a story about someone wanting to take a peacock on an airplane for emotional support! Really????? Anyway aren’t all pets technically “emotional support?” I mean, isn’t that their purpose? I don’t know about you, but Bentley’s job is to be my pal, keep me company and generally just make me happy. He’s soft, fluffy, affectionate and co-dependent. Why wouldn’t anyone want to take him everywhere? But alas, not everyone loves my pooch as much as I do.

But today was a good day. Smack in the middle of February, Bentley and I had a great run and it really feels like Spring is near. I know, I know, there will be more rain, more frost, maybe even some snow before Winter fizzles out. But today, we celebrate a respite and I count the hours of daylight, waiting for Daylight Saving Time to begin again. And Bentley, well he’s doing his job. Staring out the window, keeping me company and comforted. Now, if only he could fold laundry and put the groceries away!!!!  Oh, and here’s Bentley after our walk today.  Whattayathink?  Pretty cute, huh?


Plan “B”


“Life is All About How you Handle Plan B
Plan A is always my first choice.
You know, the one where
Everything works out to be
Happily ever-after.
But more often than not,
I find myself dealing with
The upside-down, inside-out version —
Where nothing goes as it should.
It’s at this point that the real
Test of my character comes in..
Do I sink, or do I swim?
Do I wallow in self pity and play the victim,
Or simply shift gears
And make the best of the situation?
The choice is all mine…
Life is all about how you handle Plan B.”
― Suzy TorontoThe Sacred Sisterhood Of Wonderful Wacky Women

This past week my synagogue community lost someone very suddenly. The man was in his late 60s, which sounds pretty young to me. He had a serious heart attack, hung on for a week and then passed. His wife, children, extended family, friends and community are reeling from the shock. He was one of those guys everyone knew. He was funny, sassy, smart, athletic, a free spirit, charismatic. One of those guys everyone wants to be around. I sat on several committees with him and we sparred often, laughed continuously and always parted as friends. He didn’t carry grudges but also didn’t suffer fools lightly. In short, he was one unique person who kept everyone on their toes and is now gone way too soon.

I found out at the funeral that a common quote around their house was, “Life is all about how you handle Plan B.” It got me thinking about how that applies to my life. I’ve suffered the loss of both my parents, some childhood friends, I’ve uprooted myself to move to a new city, my kids haven’t always met my expectations, I’ve been faced with career upheaval and it goes on and on.

There are other versions of this quote. John Lennon famously sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” and there is a Yiddish saying, “Man plans and God laughs.” I guess the point is that life is mostly about Plan B. We humans have the gift of free will and that offers the illusion that we also have control. But as I get older I keep bumping into the idea that life is unpredictable and messy and sometimes joyful and sometimes painful.

I do not believe this means we shouldn’t make plans, or that we should sit fatalistically and wait for things to happen to us. What I believe is that we should be hopeful and optimistic and make plans and dream big. But we also need to develop the resilience to weather the ups and downs that life throws our way. We should expect that sometimes things won’t go as planned and be open to other options.

If my friend’s death taught me anything, it’s that I need to live life on my own terms. I should make my plans but be prepared for anything. I should not wait to follow my dreams. And if, or when, the unthinkable happens, I have a community of family and friends waiting to hold me up and carry me through the darkness.

Shabbat shalom, y’all!


The Journey Begins


I’ve been a news reporter and journalist for over twenty years.  I’ve covered big city stories about education, politics, social justice, families and children.  I’ve also spent the last ten years in a smaller city where I hosted a radio interview show.  I toyed with the idea of writing novels but honestly, it’s not my thing.  My goal is to write from my heart, to share my ideas and opinions.  The challenge is to be as open and honest as I can be.  My profession trained me to stay out of the story, to be fair, balanced and let the reader draw her own conclusions.  I’ve told the stories of many people over the years and now, finally, I want to tell my own stories, in my own voice.

Join me on this new journey and I hope you’ll share your comments and thoughts.  As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it.”  I don’t want to miss anything, and neither should you.

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton