Friday, May 6, 2016

What Goes Around Comes Around, The Perfect Gift

What Goes Around Comes Around
A phrase meaning you get what you give.
About twenty years ago or more before going to the states to see my parents, I saw an adorable and practical kitchen "tool" of sorts. It was a raised wooden board that had a plastic "bowl" underneath, so you could easily "catch" the cut vegetables or fruit. I thought it would be the prefect gift for my mother who made lots of salads and vegetable. So, I bought one for her and afterwards wished I had also gotten one for myself. But I never, ever saw one again.

That is until a short while after my daughter got married. They came for a Holiday, and her husband had seen what he thought would be the perfect gift for me and bought it. Yes, it's exactly what I had bought my mother about a decade before.

I still use it daily!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Culture in Jerusalem, Painting Exhibit

My friend Ellen Lapidus Stern  gave me a call before Passover that she was opening an exhibit of her paintings in Jerusalem, on 45 Emek Refaim Street. I promised to make a great effort to get to see it, and today I did go.

The exhibition is open everyday from 8:30-9pm and is closing on May  10.

It was wonderful seeing her paintings up on those walls in the old building. In some ways the well-worn walls were the perfect backdrop for Lapidus's art.

I hope you can get there to see all her meaningful and beautiful paintings. Yes, they are for sale.

Here are some photos of the paintings. All of the photos here in this post were taken by me, Batya Medad.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When "Red" Brings Wonderful Memories

This week, I needed a photo with "red" for 52Frames. After taking lots of photos, I ended up submitting one which wasn't planned at all. Some red clothespins caught my eye.

"Red Clothespin, Memories"
I get very nostalgic about clothespins and hanging clothes. It's my favorite household chore, and we even planned the terrace so I'd have lots of clotheslines, 20 meters total. I grew up in Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, which has not only the expected playgrounds and parking lots, but even until this day, there are areas with clotheslines for the residents to use to hang and dry their laundry. I absolutely adore the smell of freshly sun-dried laundry.
As a little girl, I loved helping hang the wash, and when I couldn't reach, I'd stand on a milk-box. Way back in the middle of the previous century, milkmen delivered milk straight to the door and the glass bottles were placed in sturdy boxes, strong enough to hold me.

I know that many, many people have absolutely no experience hanging clothes on lines to dry, but for those of us who grew up, or even still live, in Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, clotheslines are normal. Here in Israel some people, like myself still hang out the wash, and there are apartments designed with clotheslines, but they are "hidden," which reduces the sunlight on the wash, very much defeating the purpose of the clotheslines.

Here are the other photos I had thought to send in to 52Frames, but some members who helped me choose thought there was something more mesmerizing in this photo of the clothespins.

"One Man's Trash is Another's 52Frames Photo"
When the time frame started I noticed this "red garbage" among the leaves on a bush, I couldn't resist, but this wasn't acceptable by others.

Still Life in Red
Not having planned this, I suddenly noticed that these "kitchen tools" could be perfect for the "Red" challenge. But nobody agreed.

I took lots of photos of these flowers, but I didn't like the focus.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

We Thought They'd Live Forever: My Parents

It's so strange to think that both my parents have now passed away. It's only two weeks, since my father died, and in some ways it feels like a million years ago. And in some ways it feels like it never happened, even though I did sit shiva here, before Passover. I wasn't at the funeral, which was held in New York just before Passover began. 

I've been going through pictures and will no doubt post more. My mother passed away less than three years ago. They were both the longest living, record-breaking members of their families. Considering the effects and influences they both had on their grandchildren, even great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews (and their children, too,) and of course the three of us, their kids, in a sense they haven't really died. When you leave descendants and memories, like my parents did, it's clear that just their bodies no longer function. Their talents and interests can be seen in their great-grandchildren and will Gd willing be passed to the yet future generations. 

Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L, and Shirley Spiegelman, Z"L

Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L, and Shirley Spiegelman, Z"L

My Mother and I a few years ago

My Parents and I in their Great Neck, NY, livingroom 

My Father and Uncle Max Kaplan, Z"L, playing with my older daughters over forty years ago

My Father in the US Navy

My Father in the US Navy

My Mother many decades ago

My Father

My Mother

My Parents with a Friend in the Phoenix Old Age Home where they lived for close to three years

My Father and the Traveling Dentist

My Father Leaving the Traveling Dental Clinic
Bli neder, not a vow, I hope to post more photos of my parents from other times in their lives, not just when they were very old.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Eruv Tavshilin- עירוב תבשילין What? How?

Jewish Law has evolved and developed in some interesting directions, and I'm taking about the strict aka Orthodox, Torah Observant. 

In a year like this one, we Jewish housewives found ourselves in a quandary of sorts. Here in Israel, Shabbat came immediately after the last day of Passover, which is a holiday in itself with the usual HolyDay-"holiday" restrictions. One of those is that cooking is supposed to be for the holiday's enjoyment and not to stock up for later on, even the immediate Shabbat. I guess you can plan on eating leftovers all Shabbat, but that is an insult to the Holy Day.

So Chazal, Our Sages, came up with  Eruv Tavshilin- עירוב תבשילין, which is prepared before the HolyDay, two types of cooked food, specially blessed and put aside for the last Shabbat meal. 

I baked up one of my "bake and serve" one pot vegetable meals, and then I "crowned it" with a slice of matzah.  And before putting it in the fridge, I said the blessing, so all of my Shabbat cooking on the holiday, even something as simple as adding more water to the urn so it would suffice for Shabbat was permitted and kosher.

Of course, none of this will help in a month plus when we have Shavuot coming after Shabbat, since Shabbat is holier, more restrictive than the HolyDay Shavuot. Since then we won't be able to start heating up any of the food on Shabbat for Shavuot, I'm thinking of serving a version of bagels, lox, cream cheese and salad.
When the second day of a holiday falls on Shabbat, as it does this year, or if Shabbat falls immediately after a holiday, it is rabbinically forbidden to cook or bake on the holiday in preparation for Shabbat. Eruv tavshilin is a ritual that, when performed, permits preparation for Shabbat during a holiday. It is interesting to note that there is no prohibition from the Torah to cook or bake during a holiday for Shabbat, and the two reasons given for the allowance are based on the following possibilities:
Either: (a) Shabbat and holidays are considered to be the same day. Since the holidays are referred to as Sabbaths in the Torah, the permission to cook and bake during the holiday is thereby associated with the preparations necessary for Shabbat during the holiday; or (b) in the event of the arrival of unexpected guests, one would need to prepare extra food for the holiday, and Shabbat, by extension, would benefit from these extra preparations.
Why then, if the Torah permits the preparation of food on the holiday for Shabbat, do we need the eruv tavshilin as dictated by the rabbis? Tractate Beitzah offers two explanations for eruv tavshilin. The first is based on the concern of the rabbis of Talmudic times that the needs of Shabbat would be overlooked on occasions when a holiday precedes it, thus they created a unique and tangible preparation for Shabbat that must be attended to before the start of the holiday. The second thought is that rabbis were concerned that by permitting food preparations for Shabbat during a holiday without having a formalized reminder of the exclusivity afforded to Shabbat’s preparations, one might come to make preparations for the subsequent weekdays during the holiday as well. The Torah strictly prohibits preparation for secular days during a holiday or on Shabbat. (OU-Kosher)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Jewish Mourning: Got Up From Shiva Before My Father was Buried

my father and I
All in all, there's nothing more humane, suitable for us humans than the Jewish Laws of Mourning. Sometimes things may seem a bit peculiar, such as the fact that I ended up not only sitting shiva (observing the traditional week-long mourning period) before my father was actually buried, but I ended it before his actual funeral.

my mother and I
What was this based on? You may be wondering. Everything I did was as per the instructions of our local rabbi, Rabbi Elchanan Ben-Nun. What I will write here is all layman style; I do not know on which halachot and tshuvot etc. anything was based on. But I must say that none of this was actually surprising or new to me. Sitting shiva before the funeral takes place is common when family members are separated by great distances or can't travel for other reasons.

After my sister called, the Tuesday morning before Passover, 11 Nissan, that our father had passed away, immediately after notifying my husband and kids I contacted Rav Elchanan. In that very first message to him I made it clear that I would not be traveling to New York for the funeral, nor was I involved with the logistics of the funeral and transporting my father from Arizona to NY. He responded that I should be prepared to sit shiva "immediately." "Immediately" did not mean that very minute, but when he'd make it over to my house in a couple of hours. In the meantime I should arrange to have someone available to do "kri'ah," make the first cut in my ritual ripping of shirt I was wearing, and while waiting I could continue with pre-Passover cleaning etc.

By the time the Rav came over, a few friends knew including the one I had chosen for the "first cut." I had done that for her a number a years ago when her own father had died. She, too, had sat shiva at home with her children in attendance, while the funeral was abroad.

At the same time I was making preparations to sit shiva, nobody was even sure when my father's funeral would be. It was in the middle of the night Arizona time, and American funerals, even Jewish ones, are not all that soon after death. Jewish Law requires that the body should be returned to the ground and soon as possible, generally the same day. Waiting to be buried is considered as making the dead person "suffer."

In Israel our guess was that my father's funeral would be either late Thursday or on Friday. Please don't forget that Friday night began Passover, and the Pesach Seder would be then.

According to Jewish Law, the major holidays, such as Passover, stop shiva, so I knew that I'd be finished Friday early afternoon, and I also knew that even if my father was buried Friday afternoon, the shiva would be very short, possibly counted in minutes only. That is what happened when my mother's mother had died sixty-four 64 years ago.

When Rav Elchanan came over, he supervised the kri'ah and told me that the actual shiva would only begin when I got notice that my father was in the hands of the chevra kadish,  the Jewish Mortuary workers. So I asked my sister to notify me. In the meantime I could continue getting ready for Pesach, as if I could concentrate on anything. I asked about the traditional "after the funeral meal" of round food, like eggs and bagels, or pita, and the rabbi said that I did need it. I asked if I could prepare for that, and he said:
"No, that is the job of the neighbors."
So I let them know, and food arrived when needed. My children came during this crazy time and helped get the house ready for shiva. Once I got notice from my sister, the shiva began for me. And due to the difference in time between New York and Israel, I was already "up" and ready for Passover before my father's New York funeral began.

I am grateful that in this modern world with cellphones and internet I knew immediately that he had passed away, because not all that long ago communication took longer, much longer. If notice of a death is over a month after the fact, then there is only a short symbolic shiva, which happened to a friend of ours. But that's another story...

At my mother's "unveiling." They have a double stone, which has been "waiting" for my father to rejoin her.

I hope that this clarifies things for those who haven't heard how Jewish Mourning can work when not all live in the same area. Please consult with an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi when confronted with such situations.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Matzo Ball Making- Kneidelach into The Soup

Photographed by my husband, thanks.

Stove Top Passover Cooking, Good All Year, Too

On Passover I have to cook my chicken and beef on top of the stove, because I don't kasher the oven for Pesach. I do have a small Passover oven which I keep parve for all the baked vegetable dishes etc. At this point in life, I'm not in the market to buy one of those ovens for chicken. First, there's no room and second I look at my life/age and say:
"For  just a few weeks use, it really isn't worth it."
"We've survived so long without one, we will survive ad me'ah vi'esrim until 120 perfectly well fed, too."
The CPA daughter in me looked at my 60th birthday as
"OK, now you've hit the halfway point in the  me'ah vi'esrim 120. Oops!"
So, yesterday I did the messy cooking, the fleishig/meat stuff for the last of Passover, 5776, 2016. And here are some photos and instructions aka recipes. And why do I call these "instructions?" That's because one isn't to OCD trying to measure and count and follow exactly. I never know how long it will take to cook or how much exactly of anything I will add etc.

Chicken "Bottoms" with Parsley, Carrots, Onions and a Dash of Wine
In Israel, the bottom part of a chicken is the favorite, and I bought a couple of packages for the holiday. When cooking stovetop, it is best not to make too much at once. Four rather zaftig bottoms fit perfectly in this low pan. They were joined as you can see by carrots, onions, parsley, pepper, paprika and the wine that Eliyahu Hanavi didn't drink. Any wine can be used or nonne, too. I cooked it covered on a low flame until when poked and prodded it seemed completely cooked.

Beef Braised with Onions, Garlic and Ripe Tomatoes 
First I seared the beef in hot olive oil with the chunks of onion and garlic. Then I added the gorgeous red tomatoes and about a half a cup of sweet wine. I lowered the flame and covered it.  I also added about half a cup of water, nothing else. I let it stew for a couple of hours. You may need a bit more liquid, but my pot is a good one.

Two Baby Chickens with with Parsley, Carrots and Onions
Rami Levy was selling these tiny chickens on Tuesday when I was working. I wish I had bought lots more, but there's a limit as to how many I can carry. They fit perfectly in the pot side-by-side, and were cooked the same way as the "bottoms."

These recipes are easy, healthy and good all year round. And, of course, they are strictly kosher!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sitting Shiva is Very "Macro"

Davka, just the week that 52Frames had "Macro" for its theme/challenge my father passed away. I had a strong feeling from what I had been told by my sister that his time was short, and I rushed submitting my photo, so it wouldn't prey on my mind.

"Flower Power"
This tiny flower, less than an inch in diameter, is from a bunch given by a guest. I don't have a fancy camera with lenses and all, so this is the best I can do.

Camera: Canon Canon IXUS 145
Location: Shiloh, Israel

And now that I'm both "up from shiva," the intense Jewish mourning period, which is usually after the burial,* and I was also about to write my usual weekly post about my the photo I had submitted to 52Frames, I feel a connection between the two.
macro photography
photography producing photographs of small items larger than life size
When one is sitting shiva, one is supposed to concentrate one's energies and conversation on the dead person, the person being mourned, which consequently makes him or her "larger than life size." In death we are equal. Nobody can defeat it.

For years I've seen the Hebrew word אמת emmet, generally translated to mean "truth," as a verb. The מ ת mem, tof are the root that means dead/die and the א alef when a prefix on a verb is first person future.  So in my way of reading/understanding the word  אמת emmet it means "I will die," and that is the truth for all of us humans.

I don't know of any linguists or theologians who have written in this direction on the word. I am interested in your feedback, thanks.

Links to the posts I wrote about my father, after his death:

Sidney Spiegelman, 1920-2016, 5680-5776

* I guess that I still have to explain at some point, not this post, why I sat shiva before my father was buried. But today that's not the planned post.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Quick Passover Kosher Cooking Carnival

I had been planning on posting this Pesach/Passover edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival last Wednesday, while finishing my Pesach preparations at home. But, as John Lennon so famously said:
"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."
Or the Jewish saying:
"Man plans, and Gd laughs."
Yes, as many probably know, since I've been blogging about it non-stop and writing on facebook, my father died last Tuesday morning Israel time. He and my mother are now together in their adjoining graves, which they purchased in 1959.

My father's death put a hold on my KCC planning, and then Passover stopped the shiva, and now it's Chol Hamoed, and we still have to eat, so I decided that I'd do a very quick Kosher Cooking Carnival and hope I didn't lose any of the posts people sent me.  I try to keep track and organize KCC on facebook, and you're invited to sign up there. I will just list a whole bunch, ok a few, post titles I think you'll find interesting, without naming the blog or site.

I'm pretty sure that this selection of Kosher for Passover recipes will suffice for a basic KP menu, at least in an Ashkenazi home.  I'd appreciate your feedback. Unlike most editions of the Kosher Cooking Carnival, this time I accepted even older posts, not just recent ones, because I wanted it to help everyone cook for Passover. All the recipes are tasty and usable and servable all year long.

Please visit them, comment and share, thanks. Also, of course, please send out the link to this edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival!!

Easy-to-Make Kneidelach, matzah balls, for soup
Unleavened "Passover" Pound Cake
Chocolate Matzo Mousse Cake
Pesach/Passover recipes (vegetarian, dairy, fish)
One "Pot" Bake and Serve Meal!
Flourless Chocolate Cookies
Easy as 1-2-3 Macaroons
Spatchcocking a chicken for Pesach: the secret to moist, juicy, kosher chicken
A Pesach breakfast favorite
Pesach Banana Cake (pareve, non-gebrokts)
Easy, Tasty and Impressive Eggplant Recipe
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cake
Caramelized Onions and Three Cheeses Frittata
The Secret of Gefilte Fish

Li'ilui nishmatam, may their souls be elevated:
Shifra bat Chaya Raisia
Alexander Ziskind ben Tzvi Hersh

Monday, April 25, 2016

Modern Condolence Calls, Not F2F

My Mother, Shirley Spiegelman, Z"L, 1925-2013
A great beauty to the end...
My mother, and her younger sister were "shiva champs," both having sat shiva nine times for parents and siblings before their own deaths.
My mother,who suffered from senility in her final years, was not capable of a shiva for her younger sister a few months before her own death, which would have made her grand total for sitting shiva ten. As you can imagine, Jewish Mourning, the "shiva" was part of my earliest childhood, especially since both my maternal grandparents and my oldest uncle passed away in less than a year, before I had turned four. A couple of other of her siblings died before I got married and moved to Israel.

In those days, if you couldn't pay a shiva call in person, or like when my mother's mother died just hours before the Passover Seder, 1952, cancelling shiva*, which caused a terrible difficulty among the mourners as one of my older cousins remembers vividly to this day, you sent a condolence card. I remember seeing them around and even sending some when circumstances necessitated.

You must remember that even non-local phone calls were very expensive until a couple of decades ago, and email/internet/whatsapp could barely be thought of even as science fiction. Does anyone remember the telegram?

My father, Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L, 1920-2016
holding the invitation to the wedding of his grandson
which my parents couldn't attend. My mother actually
passed away just a couple of months before the wedding.
It's not even a week since my father died, and I've already sat shiva here in Shiloh, gotten up (before he was even buried,) celebrated the Passover Seder and even had my first "outing" with a cousin and our husbands.

Besides the surprising amount of people who managed to make the time to visit/comfort לנחם me here in Shiloh during my almost three day (Erev/Eve of Passover) shiva, dozens, or a hundred or more people either phoned or sent a wide variety of modern messages.

The beauty of the modern age, and easy communication is that not only family and friends can "comfort" the mourner and show respect, but even strangers who are inspired by the story, or as in my case those who only know me on the internet, facebook or read my blogs. And speaking of my blogs, last night dear friends, extended family (cousins of my father's cousins) called me up and told me that they had only heard of my father's passing from my Arutz 7 blog post. Unlike when my in-laws died, I didn't even think of putting ads/announcements in the Jerusalem Post and Torah Tidbits.  There were so many other things/logistics to think about.

According to Jewish Law, the mourning and comforting periods for a parent last a year, so no doubt I'll be blogging more about the topic and about my parents. And it's never too late to express one's condolences לנחם linachem.

Honestly, I have found comfort in the calls and notes. Thanks.

*When the burial is just before a Jewish Holiday, the shiva is reduced to barely an hour (maximum it could be a few hours until just after noon/half-day), and not continued/resumed afterwards.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Re: My Father's Father's Family "Three Minutes in Poland"

While I was sitting shiva for my father on the Eve of Passover, my friend dropped a bag next to my chair:
"There's a book and coffee."
Later that day, during a lull in the shiva, when nobody was there to comfort, I opened the bag and found  "Three Minutes in Poland." Now that I'm "up from shiva" I'm reading it. It's the amazing saga of Glenn Kurtz, who tells how he discovered and researched the short film his grandfather took in pre-World War Two Poland.

I plan on reviewing it after I finish reading it.

Now why is it so exciting and so fitting as reading material during the mourning period for my father? It was even one of the props/tools/visual aids I had at my service when sitting shiva along with pictures.

So many of my neighbors are immigrants or children of immigrants, including Holocaust survivors, so a common and favorite question one asks a person sitting shiva for a parent is about the family background:
From where was your father/mother or his/her parents?
When someone is a good few generations in Israel it's rare. With the help of this book I was able to talk about my father's father's family, their European background and their way of thinking. "Three Minutes in Poland" is about the Jewish community of Nasielsk, where my paternal grandfather's family had lived until well before the Holocaust.  Unlike many Jewish families from Europe, it seems that the Spiegelman clan, my father's father's family, were not optimistic about life in Europe. They were ambitious businessman and decided that their futures would be better in America.

Not just my grandfather and some of his siblings left Nasielsk, but his parents, aunts, uncles and cousins were also in the states. Most arrived before or after World War One. My father was raised in a large clan including both sets of grandparents, because even my grandmother's parents and most of her siblings had left Rogotshov, Belarus prior to World War Two. Not that long ago I was contacted by descendants of cousins of my father's mother, and we are now in touch pretty much daily on facebook.

All of this is rather amazing, as far as I'm concerned. I'm very glad to have an amazingly suitable book to read after sitting shiva. Here's a video about Nasielsk, Poland, 1938, and the author of the book:

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Reflecting on Sitting Shiva for My Father

My Father, Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L, 1920-2016
Photo I took just a few months ago, during my last visit with him.

Looking at this picture of my father, you wouldn't think that he had been "evaluated" as suffering from severe dementia. Dementia is such a strange condition. I don't think you can accurately call it a "disease."

During the almost three days I had to sit shiva for him, I tried to describe him as accurately as possible, the father he was to me when he was young, the man many of my neighbors knew when he lived with us, and the person he became afterwards when in Arizona.

Shiva is a wonderful thing and so helpful for the mourner. I'm sorry that my brother and sister didn't have the experience I did. That's for a few reasons.

The first is that my father's death was less than a week before Passover, so I couldn't attend. Because I stayed home in Israel I sat shiva pretty much from when I got notice until just before the holiday started. Actually I had ended the shiva even before he was buried. My brother and sister had no real time for a shiva, not even a short one, like I observed. And another reason is that they aren't involved members of a Jewish community.

"Shiva" the mourning period is a complex time according to Jewish Law. "Shiva" comes from the word sheva, seven and is that because under normal conditions, for seven days after a person is buried, the close family members, children, siblings and spouse, are supposed to take a break from their normal routines and responsibilities. The community and family members not required to "sit shiva" are to take over and take care of the mourner. Food and household chores are to be done by them, so the mourner can concentrate on being together, when applicable, and telling those coming to comfort לנחם linachem about the person who had passed away.

Those coming to comfort are to remember not to bring up other topics unless the mourner specifically asks. Generally, one isn't supposed to speak unless the mourner initiates conversation. But it's acceptable to ask about the dead family member, like:

  • How old was he/she?
  • What did he/she do?
  • Where was he/she born?
  • How old?
Yes, questions that will facilitate talk by the mourner. Most of the time, the people who came to comfort really kept the conversation on proper target, and I did find it very comforting. But I must admit that the rare times when visitors were too busy trying to "entertain" with their own news got not only me, but others in the room annoyed and upset. Sometimes I could get it back on track by starting to distribute pictures of my father, especially from his service in the U.S. Navy during World War Two. People usually got the hint and started asking good questions. 

Sitting shiva on my own was particularly exhausting. It also meant that when someone called me own the phone as a "shiva call" I had to speak even when the room was full. Those calls were important, as important as those who had been able to come to the house. Everyone understood that. 

Neighbors brought food for me to eat while I was sitting shiva. Normally, in previous times when my husband sat for his parents and I sat for my mother, the kids and I took care of all the meals. But this time, since it was just before Passover, and the cleaning and Passover cleaning had to continue, as I sat, though not by me, my children were very busy in the house. I didn't want to ask them to also make me food. My Israeli children, the grandchildren and my husband got the house all ready for Passover. At most I gave some instructions, especially about where things were or where they should be put.

If it had been possible, my children would have gotten a lot out of being part of the talk during the shiva. They would have found it a comfort, as I had.

I had really been hoping that my father would somehow have died during a time in the year when my sister could have come home to Shiloh with me and we could have sat together here for a few days. Many of my neighbors knew him and have very fond memories. 

Now it's already Passover, post-seder. One of my daughters did all of the cooking for us, though she wasn't with us for the seder. We were with two other children here at home. They did their best to make me a comfortable as possible. 

Yes, life must go on...

Friday, April 22, 2016

BDE, Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L, 1920-2016, As An Israeli

My late father and I on the plane to Israel when he made aliyah in 2009

One of the reasons I was glad to be privileged to sit shiva for my my father here in Shiloh is because he lived here with us for close to a year and had many friends.

Around Rosh Hashana of 2009, my mother had fallen badly and needed to be in rehab for a month. My father was in no condition to live on his own, so it was decided that I would bring him on aliyah, which is blogged about quite a bit way back when.

Aliyah To The Land of Israel At 89
It certainly wasn't an easy thing, but with the help and support of my children, husband, cousins and neighbors, I think we gave my father a wonderful experience. His brains cells may not have remembered it for long, but for sure my family here and neighbors certainly do. Many of the neighbors who came these past few days to menachem avel, comfort the mourner told me how much they had liked him and admired him.

Casting A Shadow

We had planned/expected/hoped to have my mother along with him here in Israel within a few months, but it just didn't happen. That's why after less than a year, we packed all but his heavy winter coat and took him to live in Arizona, with my mother and near my sister, who then had responsibility for both my parents.

I Explained That They Were Like Spies

But while my father was here in Shiloh he joined in all of our activities. One was the annual visit of "the spies."

Dementia is a very strange and variable condition. I'll have to blog more about it at a later time, but I must say that although my father hadn't been able to take full responsibility for himself for many years before he came to live with us, his "social genes/brain cells" were unaffected. Many people who got to know him during the time he had lived with us were completely unaware that he suffered from dementia. He could still win playing cards. His game of choice was "Casino," which requires planning and addition. That was a favorite in his family for kids and suited his CPA mind.

Keeping Busy, Arts, Crafts and Exercise

I must say that the father I had live with us was not the same father who had raised me. When I was growing up he was busy and stressed out working, supporting the family. But decades later--remember that I was already a grandmother--I got to meet a really wonderful loving person. I had to stop working that year, and although we really didn't have enough income to live on, it was a year of great value for the entire family and our Shiloh neighborhood.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Father, Sidney Spiegelman, Z"L

I am sitting shiva for my father until Friday noon. His funeral will be in New York on Friday, but I'm not traveling in for it.

My parents and I over ten years ago or more, maybe even twenty years ago. In a few months it will be three years since my mother, Shirley Spiegelman, passed away.

I was always certain that my father would live forever. He was a powerful person in his way, and he survived war and illnesses, even recently. The doctors were amazed by him. But in the end, he had enough. He never liked being idle. He wasn't a spectator and didn't watch sports at all. I remember that a cousin's husband kept trying to convince him to bring my brother to watch a baseball game with him and his sons. He finally did it once, but that was it. My father liked to be active. Once he and I went with a friend of his and his daughters on a fishing trip. They rented a boat and we caught fish to bring back home to cook. I wouldn't touch the live bait, so he'd put the bait on on the hook, and I fished and even caught some. That was fun.

Sitting in an audience watching wasn't his thing, except if it was to accompany my mother to a play. She loved the theater. I don't know how much he enjoyed watching plays, but he loved my mother and would go wherever she went. During one of my visits to New York without my kids, when my parents were still functioning pretty well, we went to a folk music production on the shore of Steppingstone Park in Great Neck. It was one of those settings in which you sat in your own picnic/beach chairs you had brought along. My father immediately fell asleep and slept through the entire show. Afterwards he complained about the music, but he would not have been happy staying home alone. He liked people and was never put off by strangers.

We have my father's album from the time he was in the US Navy. He was on the western, the Pacific front and went to Japan, Manila and more. He returned home rather cynical about war and fighting. Before being drafted he had rushed himself through City College, NYC, because he knew that war and military service was imminent. He wanted to be an officer in the US Navy, to enlist and be able to choose the basic type of service, rather being drafted and be at the mercy of the military bureaucracy. For that he needed more than the university degree, he needed to find a way to hide the fact that one of his eyes was much weaker than the other. And that, too, he succeeded in doing.

The US Navy trained my father in electrical engineering, and on the ships he had to figure out how to assemble, use and repair radar. "Problem solving" was a specialty. Also when he did his CPA exam as an accountant, the first section he managed to pass was the "problem solving," not the laws and basic calculations. He could figure things out.