Once a Year, or Love of Homeland


Once every year she packs a suitcase and leaves. Once every year she becomes young and restless once more, with no family, with no chores, not Mother-Of or Wife-Of, just her and the sea, and the waves, and the streets of her childhood and adulthood, and desert and valley and the Sea of Galilee and conversations deep into the night. Laugh lines on her face, her eyes bright once again, she traverses the land to the south and north, to east and west, endeavoring to use the time to its fullest.  In summer she puts on her sandals and walks the shores of her childhood, remembering taut skin, insatiable curiosity, and the infectious joy of life. She walks the beach and asks herself where the bygone years have vanished to, gone by so swiftly. She never even stopped to check if she achieved her childhood dreams or just settled into her daily routine. Once a child herself she became a woman, married and bore sons, the epicenter of her universe, who fill her heart with kindness and infinite tenderness and powers she never suspected were hidden inside her, and now she boards a plane again, finds her seat, gazes through the window and eagerly awaits liftoff. The flight, she knows, will be ever so long, but it will lead her to the faraway youth she left behind all these years ago. As if having shed her skin, she now speaks (nearly) flawless English, and has adopted near-boundless tolerance, and a courteous smile, still struggling to create silence among the noises in her life.

A woman, fifty-two years old. She has recently discovered new creases in her neck, and creases spread too into her hands that held, loved, changed diapers, fed and caressed. She looks at her hands, remembering her aging mother, and her dear friend she had lost some years back, and thinks how kindly fate has smiled on her, to be fifty-two, healthy, with many years ahead to give and to love, to encourage and accompany, and she is a lucky woman – no more, no less. אני

The plane lifts off. She brings books with her on each flight, and always they remain untouched at her side. She cannot read on flights, but they are there to impart a homey feel, temporary though it might be. The flight attendant serves her champagne. She gazes outside upon soft clouds, the plane sours and she notes the endless sky above, radiant with the sun she misses in her everyday life. She raises the cup and whispers “cheers” and smiles to herself, only to herself, and leans back, having scurried all day, packing, organizing, making lists and giving final instructions to the cleaner and the gardener, and reminding her mate once and twice a doctor’s appointment and transportation schedules.

She adjusts the screen in front of her, already searching for a movie to take her to other worlds belonging to other people, and thinking of all the things she will do as soon as her feet touch the ground of the airport. She will grab her bag, check and double-check she did not forget to take her glasses, as on other times she had left them on the plane. She will bid the stewards farewell, thank them politely, and then her feet will touch the ground and she will think to herself that in all likelihood nothing has changed since the last time she visited. She’ll rush to collect her suitcase, to collect her rented car and drive alone, as always to the hotel on the seashore. On the way she will adjust the mirrors, the seat she had just sat on, and try not to think about her body’s exhaustion after such a long flight. She will turn on the radio and search for the same beloved old songs. She will drive in endless traffic.  Avoiding talking on the phone, she will look out and see all she had left the last time she was here. Tel Aviv will once again be crowded, her drivers hot-headed, and she will pray not to be crushed from either side. She will allow an irate driver trying to cut her off to merge, offer her a sympathetic smile, and think she had probably had a long day and has many a chore still waiting at home. When she arrives at the hotel darkness will have set, and she’ll exit the car, and drag a heavy suitcase behind her. She will enter her room and immediately open the largest window she finds and look out at the sea. She will inhale its scent, listen to its waves and know she is home – finally home.

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Costa Rica oh, Costa Rica


Costa Rica, oh Costa Rica

Costa Rica, a beautiful tropical country, was good to us. Rainy and sunny, sultry and uplifting, and above all pleasing to both eye and soul. This year, we took our family to this beautiful tropical country, located in Central America. Although we had previously visited Mexico, and there are parallels between the two countries, Costa Rica has its own unique character. Costa Rica is considered a “third-world” country – a developing country – but every so often, one could see the sparks of the modernity, creeping in little by little. We had been told that the citizens’ primary difficulty is the corruption of the leadership, which invests not in the country but in its own pockets.IMG_7428

 

I loved Costa Rica’s landscapes – endlessly green, filled with thick jungles. I loved its human landscape – good, simple folk, quick to offer aid at every opportunity, kind-faced and kind-hearted. I loved, too, Costa Rica’s unhurried pace: Everything has its own proper time, which we Westerners fail to appreciate, and sometimes even to comprehend. The pace of life in Costa Rica has a calming deliberateness, which is afforded a central role and inspires a relaxation missing from most of our lives. It is not for nothing that Americans arrive at Costa Rica once retied to build their home, and not for nothing that we met Israeli families who chose to make it theirs. There is in Costa Rica a leisureliness: the world can wait as nature displays its unique charm.IMG_7375

We started our trip near Arenal. This volcano had been inactive for centuries, but a massive 1968 eruption destroyed a small town called Tabacón. This area is rainy throughout most of the year. Despite the downpour, we toured the region, including a hike in a black, volcanic landscape, during which we wandered upon a sugarcane juice extraction plant, where that delicacy trickled directly into our mouths. In Tabacón we visited the hot springs. I have no particular love for hot springs in general, as their warmth is often accompanied by the smell of rotten eggs, but lo and behold – these hot springs in the mountain’s shade, warm and restorative and calming and inspiring the soul to marvel at the splendor of nature and the world at large, and how blessed we all are. It is regretful that we all commit the sin of forgetfulness of the good in the world and its magnificence, and Costa Rica awoke and illuminated these sympathies and an appreciation of what we have been given. We took a day trip to the singularly unique Israeli ranch run by amazing people who save animals and gift them a home – Lands in Love (see the accompanying link to the late Moti Kirschenbaum’s film about Costa Rica). The ranch is pleasant, as are its people – a highly-recommended experience to any Israeli traveler in the area.IMG_7379

From Arenal, we continued to the mountainous Monteverde, which was also (despite our longing) not exactly flooded with sunlight. Monteverde is a fascinating town, reachable only by unpaved roads (like most roads in Costa Rica – that which we take for granted is not always the case; this trip served as a reminder to appreciate convenient roads as well). In Monteverde we attended a nocturnal nature tour, which was in my opinion one of the greatest experiences of the trip. We saw sloths sprawled upon great trees, and for the first time I saw where birds hide away at night. We saw an especially venomous snake, and generally prayed that nothing bites or stings us.IMG_7446

From mountainous Monteverde we descended to the Pacific coast, which provided a familiar-to-Israelis heat and humidity that I, having lived in Seattle for many years, was excited to feel once more (hard to believe, but even unbearable heat and humidity are something you come to miss). We spent the next few days on the beach in Manuel Antonio. The beach is enchanting and filled with a variety of birds, with crabs that stroll around everywhere (including your bathroom), and with discourteous monkeys who break into balconies, open refrigerators and help themselves to food. The days we spent in Manuel Antonio were the first days of Hanukah, and one of the two local Israeli families has opened a wonderful falafel shop. Every day we came to eat the delicacies and bask in the kindness of the hosts, and even light the first candles of Hanukah with all the other Jewish and Israeli travelers in the area. The reception was exhilarating, and included sufganiyot (an Israeli donuts) and their familiar taste – truly a delight.IMG_7444

In the final days we traveled outside the capital of San José, where we once more toured the endless jungles and entrancing waterfalls, and in the final day had an unsettling experience touring a coffee-growing plantation. During the tour we learned about coffee-making processes and even watched the simple machines at work. There is extensive use primarily in human machines in this industry as they come very cheap. We learned that the salary of the laborers (including young children) is paid out according to the number of baskets they fill. On average, the wage is $15 for a day of work. Most laborers arrive from a much more problematic developing country – Nicaragua. The meager salaries and child exploitation are heartbreaking, but on the other hand, without this scarce income the laborers might starve. Whether or not to purchase coffee from this type of plantation is quite the dilemma. On one hand is the issue of supporting an establishment that exploits children and other weak populations and pays them pennies, and on the other hand is the tragic poverty and very real threat of starvation of those very populations. It is a dilemma I’ve yet to form an opinion on, but the complicated sights are heartbreaking, and once more remind us to appreciate what we have in life, hold our children close and thank God for the opportunity to gift them with a better future.IMG_7593

On the final day we bid a regretful farewell to Costa Rica. It will remain in our hearts forever, stunning and untamed and warm and rugged, volcanic and absolutely gorgeous.IMG_7577

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Happy Birthday Yotam: Learning Disabilities as Growth


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Saturday marked the twenty-third birthday of our oldest son, Yotam. Yotam is our eldest son, and like all firstborn, he had a big role in establishing our family. Yotam deserves tons of birthday wishes. He grew up to be a lovely young man, with a lot of love in his heart, and with wisdom and diligence that each of us can learn from.

Yotam was a happy, bouncy child – a delightful kid – full of sweetness. When he reached first grade, we had hard time understanding why homework was an endless nightmare. At school, Yotam had great difficulty just sitting in one place for a long time. The first and second grade teacher in Israel did not really understand what the problem was and moved him to a back row, so his jumping wouldn’t interrupt and disturb her. The same happened with the third grade teacher in the United States.  At last, when we reached fourth grade, his experienced and wonderful teachers spoke to us and suggested testing for learning disabilities.

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The diagnosis revealed that Yotam suffers from ADHD, dyslexia and dysgraphia. I will never forget the day we got the results back. Of course, our hearts went out to our son to for the difficulties he was going through.  More than that, I personally was a mess, feeling disappointment in myself as a mother, and a huge failure. “How did I not realize something is unusual?” “How did I fail to see there is a problem?” “I gave him the learning disabilities!”  I realized only then that I, too, have learning disabilities – disabilities are usually genetic. I had terrible guilt. But it was a huge turning point. From that day on, we looked for tools to help our sweet, charming and unique son. Here are the things we taught Yotam, and those things that I think all parents of children with learning disabilities (and maybe all parents in general) should teach their children:

  1. You are unique and special. We love you as you are, no matter what.
  2. You are smart and creative. Children with learning disabilities will always find creative ways to deal with every problem.
  3. Grades are not valuable and are not indicative of how good you are, not how talented, not how intelligent, and so on…
  4. If you have done the most you could, it does not matter what the results are.
  5. In Hebrew we taught “What does not enter through your head, goes through your bottom.” This means, if you cannot understand or remember something, try harder, keep trying, or try something different – until you get it. We taught this to all our sons, whether they had learning disabilities or not. You do not give up, just try harder.
  6. Failure is a tremendous gift – by failing we learn the most about ourselves and our abilities. Failure always takes us to places of growth. It hurts to fail, but is never the end of the world. The most important thing is to learn from our failures and take our failure as a growth process.
  7. Successes are to be to celebrated. Enjoy and be proud of them – any success is not obvious. These were the main ideas that we tried to teach Yotam and his brothers. Three out of four of our boys have learning disabilities.  So what?

What does it mean to actually have learning disabilities?

Having learning disabilities means we learn in different ways, sometimes unconventional. In addition, each of us has his own talents. The trick is to channel the talents and empower them. The most important value we teach our kids, is that they always have a choice. They can choose what they will do in life. Not everyone has the luck to be born to a supportive, understanding family. Having challenges in life is to be expected. They must always strive to do the most they can in the existing conditions. This is the fifth year of Yotam at the University. He is about to complete a double major degree in Accounting and Psychology, and has already a signed a contract for to work at a Fortune 500 company.

If Amnon (my best friend and life partner) and I had known the future, that this child who had so many difficulties in elementary school, middle and high school, will do great in life, we would had been much more relaxed. Believe in your children; believe in yourself; the rest will come.220-2030_IMG

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Life – What We Were Never Told


Life is quite funny, if you know to look from the side and laugh. Life is also quite serious, and sometimes painful. Life is something extremely complex. Exactly four years ago I went through surgery to remove my thyroid due to Cancer. Ever since my illness, my life has changed forever. It is a bit difficult to explain how our physiology affects our psychology, but it does. Our bodies are very influential – this is what I believe. Life brings us to places and conclusions, sometimes, that we could not even imagine if we looked from the heights of our twenties.
This year I celebrated fifty. I do not take for granted my life. I appreciate every moment and every day, appreciate my beloved family and friends who support me when I am in need and celebrate with me in happy times. I think that in recent years I am much more complete with who I am, happy with the changes I made in my life in recent years.

What happened and why? What causes trauma to change our perception of the world and to change who we are? It seems to me that one of the reasons for this is the realization that we are only living on earth on borrowed time, and should never take our lives for granted, but keep the good, and if needed let the bad go. Move forward. (Some say that we should do this, since we are not trees – not glued to the ground.) Move. If necessary, make changes.
The present is the right time to transform what needs to be changed. After all who knows what life will bring tomorrow?
The changes I made in my life were not easy at all; they took a great toll of pain and tears. First we went back to live in the United States (after the disappointment and pain experienced in the Israel, my homeland). It does not mean I will ever could stop missing Israel; it’s not that I’m not divided between both lands. I learned to live with the constant yearning in my stomach, and I have realized, I still am divided and probably always will be, but I needed to teach myself how to live with in completion. After all, the lawn of neighbor was no greener than ours, and living in Israel did not let me feel like I belonged, or that it was the right place for our family. We did not fit in. I decided it is ok to live with this dividedness, and it is fine to live where my family finds happiness.
I learned that having a peaceful and calm life is a gift some people cannot afford; I am thankful for my peaceful life; I just cannot live in a roller-coaster, crazy life any more.
Another change was a separation from some people – some of them very close to me. I said goodbye to some of them emotionally, and some of them are not a part of my life anymore. I just do not let people hurt me anymore.
The change that occurred within me was not easy, but necessary for me to live a sane life. I make sure to have supportive, loving, positive people around me. I am surrounded by people I love; that makes me feel good about myself.
Another change is not only giving to immediate family and friends. I also believe in giving to the wider community in which I live by volunteering and taking a leadership role. The children do not need me at any hour of the day, and I can give my time to our wider community, also helping support Israel. In general I am a big believer in “good brings good and giving for giving”. I’m surrounded by people with similar beliefs, to my great joy.
There are a lot of things that we were never told about life, and that’s fine. No one has the axioms of what is right and what is wrong. We are all searching for the right path in life that is just right for us. The road is important: to experience the beauty of what we have, put aside what is not beautiful and good, and move on.
Let goodness accompany you in every way you go.

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Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder: An Unforgettable Experience at the Edge of the World


IMG_5330Each one of us has dreams. It is important to have dreams; it is important to have things to look forward to. I had a dream that I thought would never come true. I’m talking about New Zealand, a country that really is at the edge of the world.
Every year we talked about the possibility of a trip there, my partner in life, the man that I love, and I. It has been many years that we’ve been talking about the dream, and both of us agree “next year will be quite right to go there”, but in our life, as in life, we get carried away with the reality of everyday life, obligations and the day-to-day desires of our children.IMG_5022
Last June when we talked again about New Zealand, Amnon said, “This time we travel,” and I looked at him and thought to myself, “yeah, right”. Doubts always rise when it comes to fulfilling the dreams I have; I always hesitate, don’t know why. Amnon said, “This time I’m serious, I am booking the flights”. I kind of got scared, to be honest. “What shall we do with the kids if they do not want to join?” I said. “We’ll sell them,” he replied, as he always answers questions like this. We called our kids who are University students, and asked if they want to take a trip to New Zealand with us. The answer surprised us: “Of course,” was the answer of both. It was a very unusual answer for our kids, who always prefer to come home, eat home cooking, go to our sports club and meet their friends. Our two younger kids also expressed interest, and Amnon booked the air tickets for all of us, six months in advance “so that there will be no excuses to cancel”, he said.

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We counted the months and days, every detail meticulously planned, and we made sure there would be a combination of hiking and other sports activities, to make it more interesting: four boys to entertain, you know. We could not believe when our flight landed in New Zealand. My eyes filled with tears of joy, and happiness. Surrounded by my loved ones, I set a foot down in New Zealand. Not every day dreams come true so powerfully complete, when I am surrounded by the most important people in my world.
New Zealand is a lovely country.IMG_4903

I never even thought much I would fall in love with this country. Humans did not yet destroy this piece of God. We visited primarily on the southern island, where the number of sheep is at least ten times the number of people. This island ranges in terms of the landscape: it has amazing beaches, including sea lions sprawled on the huge rocks; it has lakes, huge ones; it has forests that look like a painting (one of them, which we visited, is where they filmed “The Lord of the Rings”). The island is almost all open space with little towns, ranches, and only two small cities. In one of them, Christchurch, a terrible earthquake tragedy happened four years ago; until today, the city never recovered. The other, Queenstown, is a small city at the foot of Lake Infinite where there is a charming mix of landscape and urban life. Everywhere in the South Island there are options for varied and interesting sports activities, including extreme activity. Our oldest son jumped at the very first bungee spot, our two middle boys did glider flying, and we biked, hiked, sailed and fished. Together we watched the stars and the rare birds, and most importantly, coalesced as a family.IMG_5196
As our two older boys have been living away from home, it was a great opportunity to see up close what lovely people we raised; and the two young men had a great time with everyone too. Family cohesion was pleasant to see, the love that flowed from everyone (even though there was teasing and nagging, too – after all, boys are boys ). Couplehood relationship had also its moving moments.IMG_4961
The tour winded down with two days in Auckland, on the northern island: two days of rest and wandering in the big city, which has a million and a half people living there, but it’s hardly noticeable because the majority is constructed on homey small scale rather than up into huge skyscrapers.
Dreams have to be fulfilled, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This beauty, physical and emotional, of this amazing experience with my family I will carry in my heart forever.

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The Iraqi-Israeli situation and the peace issue – One person`s oppinion


DAUGHTERS OF IRAQ by Revital Shiri-Horowitz

DAUGHTERS OF IRAQ by Revital Shiri-Horowitz

Since posting about the special video meeting between the students of the American University in Iraq and me, I got many supportive emails form the western world. I got supportive emails, but also found out that not only people from America, Europe and Israel read my post, many people from Arab countries read it too. I felt like a wall came down, even just for a bit, as I could communicate regarding my book, Israel, Jews and Arabs, and the situation of the citizens of Iraq.

After the post was posted I noticed that many Arabs read it. I wondered how they reached it. After a few days Dima contacted me and said that her dad reposted it, thinking many people will criticize Dima for even speaking to me.  “But the really nice thing was”, she said, “that people really supported the dialogue, and thought the Jews are dearly missed in Iraq”. I was very surprised to hear all this, and actually realized that Iraqis, they don`t have a problem with the Jews, the problem they have is with the existence of Israel.

Dima told me that for Arabs, just the existence of Israel is like “a Holocaust” to the Arabs. I did not speak to her more about it. It is a dangerous place from my point of you to cross. What would I say? That just the comparison gives me the chills? Don`t they know that Jews were taken to the gas chambers just because they were Jews? That the Arabs who lived here were never executed? That they had a choice to leave and had a place to go? A situation that the Jews did not have the benefit of having?

I think that there is so much information and brain wash that still takes place in the Arab world, and I really wish that these days, where internet gives so much information, and people can judge for themselves, maybe they can see the truth.

Everyday life in Iraq is unbearable, suicide bombers, shooting in the streets, Isis, all this brought life to be unbearable, and as Israelis, we can sympathy with that. We were the first country to suffer from suicide bombers. I remember that when our oldest was two years old and I would drive with him, I always tried not stop next to busses, because of suicide bombers, who used to bomb busses. Israel is also living every day with lots of threats surrounding it, and as I said before, if only they could see what Israel is going through, and see that Israelis are just people like them, raising families, hardworking people, who at the end of the day are looking for quite, safe, and peaceful lives, maybe then we could cross religions, cross every other boundaries and just live side by side in peace.

 

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A surprising interview of me, a Jewish-Israeli-American- Iraqi Author by students at The American University in Iraq


A young student from the American university in Iraq contacted me a few months ago. She wrote me that she was very emotional after reading the book “Daughters of Iraq”. I don’t know what gave her the impulse to try and find me. I imagine this was a very bold on her part. I think she did not expect me to open a window for her into my world, even though she  was opening a window for me into her world.  I get e-mails from readers every once in a while, but this was the first time I have been approached by Muslims from an Arab country. I was very surprised and excited even though I didn’t really trust her in the first few exchanges. We began to exchange messages. She was asking me questions related to writing the book and I was gladly answering. At one point I asked her questions about her life. I discovered she is originally from Baghdad, the city both my parents immigrated from to Israel. She is studying in the American university in north Iraq, in the Kurd area that is at the north east, in the mountain territory. I couldn’t hold back and I asked her if she was not afraid to be there, with ISIS in the area and the war with the Kurd. She replied that because the city she studies in is in a mountainous area, there aren`t any concerns right now that ISIS will be brave enough to go there and fight in a mountain territory the Kurd know like their own hand.

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After a few conversations the student told me that her name is Dima, and that she is studying English literature and education, and that she is supposed to teach two lessons in her class, and she chose my book, “Daughters of Iraq” as the subject. I was very excited and offered to help in any possible way.

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Dima asked if I was willing to answer students questions if that could be arranged. I replied that I will gladly do this. I didn’t imagine how emotional and surprising this whole experience is going to be, and how much it will impact me. We set a date, which was quite far out, and as the date got closer we agreed that we will arrange a first face to face conversation, just to make sure the technical part works. I saw Dima for the first time and was touched. She was very sweet, shy, a beautiful girl and I think very brave. It is not at all obvious that a young, Muslim girl living in Iraq, should talk face to face with a much older women, Israeli, living in the US. Our first meeting was very exciting. We made sure everything works, checked the time zones and made sure that we both understand the local time during the lesson, because there is a 10 hour time difference (same difference as from Israel).

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Finally, the exciting day arrived.  Truth is I didn’t really know what to expect, but I thought to myself, these are only students asking questions. I simply thought they will ask more about writing and fewer material questions about the world as it looks like from my side. The entire conversation was in English. I was surprised by the quality of the English they were speaking, and I was surprised by their western clothes, boys and girls together. Dima introduced me and I said hello nicely to everyone. We waved to each other and then they each approached the computer in turn to ask questions.

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The very first question I was asked was if I would like to visit Iraq one day. I answered immediately, “Sure, I would love to visit someday”. I did not realize what I brought on myself, because the next question was hard to answer: “Why are you interested in visiting Iraq after all the hard time the Iraqis gave the Jews”. I admit, I was a bit surprised, because I thought this wasn’t the message I sent in my book. I answered that the Jewish history in Iraq is very long. Many generations of Jews lived in Iraq. Actually Iraq was one of the main and biggest centers for Jews for hundreds and hundreds of years. There were good times and bad times, but I was grateful for the fact the Iraq was a home for Jews for so many years. It is true, my grandfather could not wait to immigrate to the newly established country, -Israel. In his times, and since declaration of Israel as a country to be established, the Jews went through really rough times, but my roots are located in Iraq. I am very curious to see the place that my fathers and great fathers lived in. Israelis are not allowed in Iraq, even my own family, but as an American citizen I can visit.

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And then they asked a little bit about the book. Am I Noa? (A question that shows up a lot in other forums as well). I was asked what led me to write the book (also a very logical and human question to ask), and then I was asked a questions that I found very hard to answer. They asked: “What are you? Iraqi? Israeli? American?” I was confused for a minute and then answered that I am Israeli first, because this is my primary identify and I am American second, because I hold an American passport, and my children (some of them) were born  in America. I am also Iraqi and also Jewish. I told them that I feel like a citizen of the world and I hope they are as well, because at the end of the day we are all human. They then asked if I see myself as Palestinian. I think they maybe didn’t really understand who I was. I said I don’t. I am Israeli, and then I talked to them about the problem of the refugees. I said that the Jews that came from Arab countries are all refugees and that the Palestinians are refugees, and if it was possible to exchange populations it might have solved the conflict.

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I’m not sure they understood what I said, but the conversation ended, we took selfies together and I received an email from Dima with deep gratitude. She said all the students were very excited by the event and especially by my candor that they did not expect at all. There were even students that were not registered to the class that asked to join the interview. Dima said that the students felt very comfortable asking questions and I was glad I made it possible for them to feel they can ask whatever they wanted. Later, Dima sent me an article she wrote on the book “Daughters of Iraq” and only from it I learned that she chose to read the book and thought it will be about Jews defaming Iraq. She was so surprised to read a book that does not judge Iraq and doesn’t judge any of the other characters and events that happened but only tells their story. This was a very interesting point for me, because it was the first time I ever thought about my book in the terms she was using.

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I told Dima that I am always open for more questions and I will answer to the best of my ability. I was moved by how much the world has become small, how simple it is to cross borders, physical and emotional, via the internet. I did not ever imagine that an Arab population will read my book and could even identify with my characters.  I feel I have won a great gift.

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Tips for life


I ran into my friend M, this morning, at the “French Bakery”. “I think I need some help”, she told me. “How can I help?” I asked her, when she was putting her younger son in the stroller, getting ready to go grocery shopping. “I think I need some help with organizations. I just cannot even get to write my resume, not to mention other things, and I am forgetful too. How do you do it? How did you do it all these years, with four boys?”

I smiled at her, and hardly kept my eyes dry. The reasons for that are multiple. I will try and explain. You see, I raised four boys (and still have two living at hope, thank God for that). I am also a published Author, but what Martha never knew was that I have learning disabilities. I have ADHD and some kind of Dyslexia. I am very forgetful, and not so organized myself, and every day was and still is a struggle with that. She did not know how many times I skipped meetings, how many times I wrote only a few lines and how many years it took me to write each book, because I am forgetful, unorganized  and tends to day dream instead of doing what I really love doing, which is write. She never knew how many times I forgot to pick up my boys from school or other activities, even last Friday, I forgot to pick up my youngest from Basketball, just because Basketball just started, and was not inside my brain routine yet. My son called to ask if I forgot him, and did not realize how much those words were so painful to me.

I looked and M and said: “you know? I have learning disabilities too…I managed to do it all but look, I am still making mistakes, things don’t always work well, but I have the best suggestion to you, something I use to. I have this real smart phoneJ, and it is very smart. Every night sit down for a few minutes and organize the following day. Put times and assignments, and put the remainder buzz on, so it will remind you what you need to do at a specific time. Without my phone I am totally lost, I am forgetful and I never get to what I really would like to do.”

What I did not tell her, because I was forgetful, was that it is important to keep my space organized. I get lost with a mess, so my house is always tidy and clean, just because of this. So I can function. Us, women, have so many chores, and things we are dealing with every single day, if we are happy and content our families are happy and content, so don’t ever forget to put in your day, every day, something you really love doing, and even for just a short time, just to make sure there is “a you time” in all this endless giving”. It is the same for men who are the main caregiver. Every caregiver should do this, so they feel they are not getting all lost in all this “giving to others circle”. And one very important this too. Every day stop for a minute and think about all these thing you are thankful for, and give a big hug to someone, even yourself.

May peace and happiness will always fulfill your days.

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Fifty years of insights – celebrating fifty


Two weeks before I turn fifty…Wow! Just this number takes away one beat from my heart. Although many people would say that age is just a number, the real age is the one in our hearts, but still, fifty…I feel respect for this number, because it is not that obvious to reach fifty, each day is a gift, each year a great gift, and turning fifty is even greatest.  Fifty is a great time for soul searching, just to stop and think, remember and feel everything you experienced in your life. That was then... Revital Shiri-Horowitz and friends

The first fifty years of my life passed too fast…They were interesting, variable, challenging, funny, happy, sad, annoying, frustrating, just regular life. Life itself is built from lots and lots of small minutes and big ones, from long hours and very short ones, days that passed in a flash, some were slower, whole life (almost..).

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The road I took brought me to be the person I am today. I feel happy and content with who I am today. I learned to accept myself, and even like myself for who I am, the way I am, with the good and bad within me, with the beauty and the ugly, with the laughter and the cry. Life was good to me, thank God; I so much appreciate what I have, what I archived in fifty year, and would never trade my life with anyone else.

How do you summaries fifty years on a piece of paper? Complicated! There are so many ways to do so, and billions of moments to describe. Through my memory I go back to many moments that went by, stopping for a while at the most meaningful ones, where I experienced a full life in minutes, that influenced me forever. Passing through my memory in many meaningful moments, stopping at the happy moments, at challenging ones, at those I learned something about life itself. Stopping at the moments that I felt I missed something, thinking what if I had done something different, stopping at many moments I felt just happy, moments that were hard and sad.

I go through fifty years in a brief, stopping at places I have been, and people who were there with me, people who are still a part of my life, people who are not anymore, people who came back after many years, and people that I lost, some of them forever. All this is still a mystery.

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All those moments, all those people, all those experiences, turned me to the person I am today.

Smells…Pictures… Like little pieces of the past…Smells is one of the strongest things, easy to take me back with just smells: a baby smell, citrus blossom, the smell of the ocean, and many other smells that reminds me of people and places.

Insights…Which insights do I take with me to the next fifty years?

If there is something good in your life, that makes you happy, do your best to protect it.

Life is short, too short, and they are built from little pieces of moments. Just enjoy the moment, enjoy what you have.

Revital Shiri-Horowitz at her booksigning

Go with the flow…Teaching myself to go with the flow. I used to do this more in the past, today much less, sticking too much to the familiar.

Beauty is at the eye of the person, we can choose beauty. We can choose to see the beauty in everything and anything.

To let go…Let go of fears, let go of hardships, to let go of people, to let go of myself. Not to torture myself with things I cannot change.

Breathe. Breathe deeply before saying something. Breathe deeply when you have experiences, breathe deeply when there are hardships, breathe deeply when you love, breathe real deeply when you are angry or mad.

Anger, guilt, negativity, all of the above is worth of letting go. I still have a long ways to go.

A very important insight is the journey itself. Every part of the journey has its own beauty. We are all taking a journey we cannot stop or go back. Time is passing so quickly, so fast, what we have today may not be there tomorrow. Just enjoy the journey.

Giving – Giving in the sake of giving awards the giver much more than the receiver, so just give with open heart and open hands, because it benefits everyone.

Heath – one of the most important insights. Without good health we are not able to fulfill all of the above. So, put energy and effort at maintaining good health, body and soul.

Never be afraid to ask for help – extremely important. Everyone has tough times, where we need a shoulder to lean on, a word of wisdom, support. It is only human, we are all humans. We all need love.

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Wishing for myself to love and be loved, to hug and be hugged, smile and have lots of great laughers, enjoy the journey, have less stress and cherish everything and each and every moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Travel back in time, but with thirty years of experience…


What would you say if you were taken back in time for three days, in a time machine, to one of the very meaningful periods in your life? If they asked me I would say it’s kind of unreal, maybe I would add that this is not even something I would have liked to go through, after all, it has being almost thirty years.

My time travel happened about two weeks ago, while I was visiting Israel. For three days I was with my Army friends in Kibbutz Eilot, the most southern kibbutz in the world.  I was an urban girl who joined a youth movement including kids all over Israel. Our Army service was a special program that combined Kibbutz life and protecting Israel. I joined this program and it influenced me so much and really shaped me as a person.

I was sixteen when we met and twenty one when we went our separate ways. Five years of maturing and a mandatory Army service, so crucial for the existence of the tiny country of Israel.  It was the first time we were away from home, serving our country. In that time I learned about myself so much:  who I was as a person, as a woman, as a part of a bigger community, society. I learned how to be independent, to choose well. Many moments I experienced came back again and again in my dreams throughout the years. I cherished those years and people I shared my life with, in my heart and mind forever.

Thirty years passed since our paths separated. These years passed so quickly, too fast. We all did different things. There were times I kept in touch with some of them, and times I had no connection at all. Keep in mind – the world shrunk and became so small only in the last few years.  We all met in Tel Aviv for one magical night of a reunion three years ago.  It was then I learned that what I thought about life when I was twenty, turned out to be very different. The paths people took were different from what I envisioned when I was twenty. I never imagined I will be living and raising my four sons on the other side of the world. Didn’t know I will only dream in Hebrew, speaking English in real life.

I waited, like a little kid who is waiting a whole year for their birthday party. I was so excited and counted the days. These three days passed way too fast just like a birthday party. In the very first night we just hugged, laughed and remembered. The following day we took a day trip to Timna Mine. It is an ancient copper mine that has existed for the last 3000 years. We enjoyed the beautiful desert, with its limitless colors and character. We climbed, crawled, laughed, and of course remembered. At night we danced. I don’t even remember when I danced so much the last time. At nights I shared a room with one of my girlfriends. We talked and talked every night, soul talking, that reminded me why I loved her. We fell asleep exhausted. Those hours reminded of the many years has passed, because we had so much to talk about – thirty years, summarized in just hours.

In the last morning we went on a guided tour to the fields of the Kibbutz. The tour was full with interesting information, colors and tastes. Again, lots of hugs and smiles, and just a bit of sadness, because we all knew that our paths will separate in just a few hours.

During those three days I was engulfed with love.  A feeling of peace took over, the kind that makes you just be, no words needed. I had the time to think about decisions in life. Lots of what ifs…came to my mind: What if I stayed at the Kibbutz, what if I stayed in Israel and never left, what if I insisted on things I wanted back then. I believe we all had the same thoughts; it was just hanging in the air. But at the end of the day, I did it my way in my own way. I regret nothing: I am happy and appreciative of what I have and what I have become.

The people we were are long gone. But the ties that are in our hearts are there forever. These people helped shaped the person I am today, and I am so grateful to each and every one of them for their gift. On that weekend I was just Revital. Not someone’s nom, or wife, or daughter or anything else. I was simply myself, a twenty year old with thirty years of experience.IMG_2178IMG_2165IMG_2360IMG_2153IMG_2435IMG_2439

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