4 – Reaching Out

Dec 7 – 12

Saturday’s luncheon filled me from noon until 4:30 with delightful conversation and a delightful array of salmon and vegetables and chocolate and perfect strawberries. My hostess invited a very close friend, and regardless of the obvious years of close friendship they enjoyed, I was not left to feel an outsider – in my book that’s a pretty perfect definition of hospitality to a stranger. I left feeling warmed, and since good things tend to come clustered, meet with another new friend, who had scheduled dinner to introduce me to two of her friends. We transitioned quickly into comfortable getting-to-know you conversation and then discovered that in 2004 they had stayed in the same holiday apartment unit I’ve been staying in since my arrival.

Saturday’s afternoon and evening visits included offers to lend me the various core essentials I’ll need to camp out in my new apartment while waiting for my shipment from the States, as well as delivery of the items I’ve purchased here. On Sunday, I returned to the sofa-sectional I’d found last week. Have you ever thought you wanted to buy something, and then when returning to reconsider or make the purchase, wondered what ever could have made you think you would chose that item after all? I’ve learned to shop and reshop (and sometimes reshop and reshop and reshop…) for purchases. Have I lost a few good opportunities? Yes. I think. But then, had the item been there several days later, I might have not wanted it after all, right?

Following post is the speech the UN Israeli Ambassador made to the UN General Assembly on Nov 24th. It’s brilliant, long but brilliant, presentation of the problem.

Sunday evening I attended a movie/Hebrew language-learning event.   Bethlehem, directed by Yuval Adler, won six Ophir Awards and was named among the 10 favorite films of the Jerusalem Post. Very manageable English subtitles relayed brilliant enactment of the personal bonds and conflicts of the Israeli-Arab conflict, followed by discussion groups: Advanced Hebrew, Intermediate Hebrew, Beginner Hebrew, English. Which did I chose? Beginner.   I didn’t for a moment consider the English group. How did I fare?

Fair. I couldn’t truly participate because of catching only 1 of 10 (??) words, but I learned words and it’s all a part of learning to listen to the language. You see, catching the “music” of the language is part of discerning where words begin and end. One of the hard things I’ve been doing is forcing myself to listen to Hebrew interviews or reality TV shows – not sitcoms (not a natural flow) or news reports (too fast, and vocabulary far beyond my reach at this point). Children’s shows are good, too, since sentences are shorter, vocabulary simpler. Researchers passionately endorce language-learning for the “aging” brain, and the process feels like a terrific workout. I’m enjoying it!

But what if I give it everything I can and can’t master it like I want?

If I don’t try, I’m guaranteed to not fail. Right?

The movies/language groups occur monthly, and I’ll be looking forward to these evenings. Another program they offer is a “little brother/sister” program of pairing adult Hebrew learners with 8th-grade Israeli students (native speakers) as tutors. The kids, I presume, receive the cultural exposure with people from other countries, practice their English, plus the experience of teaching an adult. I’m hoping the program is available to me during, or after, my upcoming 5 month language class.

While there was a time when others’ courage left me feeling defeated by my fears and uncertain, the courageous struggles of others now infuse me. They inspire me to want to support them in the battle, and enable me to navigate uncertain terrain, praying every step of the way. The following is one of the many courageous unknowns. She motivates me. Her struggles would be insurmountable to others, and yet she’s embraced help along the way and chosen to live fully and love.

The CHALLENGE: At 22 years old, married with two small children, ages 3 and 1 ½, “Rebecca” was beginning her third pregnancy when her life was turned upside-down. Her husband had a psychotic break. After months of hospitalization, his prognosis was so poor that both sets of parents and the couple’s Rabbi recommended divorce. Rebecca worked as an assistant in a local daycare facility while learning to function as a suddenly-single parent. Her parents live in the same town and help her to manage, but she wants her marriage, the father of her children, and the life she thought she was building.   She needs support to carry this baby – her 3rd – to term and to go forward with life.

HELP: Nefesh Achat b’Yisrael (Just One Life) provided loving support to Rebecca – with caring counselors, financial and material resources, and referrals – through this otherwise impossibly challenging pregnancy. Her emotions were joy mingled with loss, and fear of the unknown future, combined with the monumental decision about whether ending the marriage is best, all the while shielding her children from her personal trauma. Courage like Rebecca’s inspires me, and I want to help women like her tangibly. When I heard about Rebecca, her baby was due in two months. As her pregnancy progressed, she settled into the confidence of being surrounded with support, and began to see herself as a strong woman, able to cope, to deliver and raise her baby and his/her siblings.

That’s a part of why I’m here. Women and men everywhere tell similar and far worse stories, and history’s chapters are filled with countless unwritten stories of “unknowns” who wrestle with choices and make courageous decisions.

My heart soars to think I could help “Rebecca” and her children, both born and unborn. Had I met her, would I have been courageous enough to take the opportunity to reach out, to be a friend who initiates a call of encouragement, brings a meal or watches her children so she could run an errand? But I don’t know Rebecca, so I support Nefesh Achat b’Yisrael (http://justonelife.org/ for U.S. tax deduction). It costs money only, not time or energy, to help this reputable charity and help moms in otherwise impossible situations, their unborn, and families. Let them know you’re my friend, or better yet, let me know that you’ve joined me.

The days ahead are filled with preparations for my move – finalizing purchases of refrigerator and washer, scheduling deliveries, setting up internet service, watching a plan come together for equipping my new abode for basic survival with a few creature comforts. I’ll have 3+ weeks yet before my shipment from the U.S. will arrive. These amazing new friends are stepping up to the plate with loans: air mattress, sheets towels pillows, a few kitchen items, folding table and chairs, etc. I’m touched by the kindness and caring of others’ – whether long-term well developed friendships or new just-getting-acquainted folks. It’s so very difficult to receive, but even more so to ASK.

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