empty Slice of Life

Strength And Optimism

Our friends Leah and Gabi Spitz were in the car with their children on their way to volunteer in...

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Jonny and Gina Kirsch, residents of Beit Shemesh and safety enthusiasts, have done it again! They recently inaugurated the Janet and Stephen Kirsch Safety Center, the first of its kind in Israel, and possibly in the world.  This mobile center, operated by “Safety Israel,” contains home and garden settings that are erected and dismantled as they move from one school and neighborhood to the next throughout the country, teaching children basic rules of safety. The center aims to teach children to navigate everyday hazards in familiar and comfortable places by simulating real dangers in a safe learning environment. 

It’s been a rough week. When I checked the news on Motza’ei Shabbos, I had to do a double-take. Seven innocent people, a 14-year-old among them, were murdered in Neve Yaakov in cold blood on Friday night. Several others were wounded. It reminded me of the Mercaz HaRav Massacre in 2008, when eight students of the yeshivah were shot to death by a lone terrorist. I recall staring at my computer screen thinking there must be something terribly wrong with my computer. The words I was reading and the images I was seeing couldn’t possibly reflect reality.

Winter has arrived in Israel.  There was a cold day last week and it’s also the last week of January, so we call it winter.  With Beit Shemesh reaching 73 degrees this past Friday, it’s time to bundle up.  But seriously, in our town, it usually drops into the 50s or 40s in the evenings, and this winter season has brought with it a slew of viruses: Covid, flu, stomach, and whatever else.  I, myself, have been under the weather for a week already with a runny nose, aches, and barely a remnant of my voice. I’m so sorry to have to say this but those of you who were thinking about tracking down my phone number and calling me to tell me how much you enjoy my column will now have to wait. Talking, which is usually an enjoyable activity, is not fun at all right now.  It’s not even an activity.  And the fact that nobody can hear me causes frustration for all involved: me - the unable to talker - and everyone else - the unable to hearers. But what can I do?  When I get a nasty cold, it usually goes straight for the jugular. Literally.  And my voice goes into hiding.

At the age of 19, Chavie* was in her second year of college, working hard at school, happily spending her free time with friends and family, and generally living a life typical of girls her age. A little over nine years ago, during the period of the Yamim Nora’im, Chavie’s life took an unexpected sharp turn. 

We needed a break. Close to 20 years ago, when there was a lot going on, my husband and I decided that we needed to get away just a bit. It was a last-minute thing, but we managed to locate a tzimmer (bungalow) to rent up north in a moshav in the Galil region. We farmed out our kids, packed up some food, and were off to spend a relaxing Shabbos “away from it all.” Just the two of us.

“How on earth do you work down there?” asked my daughter, who needed to do something on the family computer.   My hole “office” is the tiny vestibule at the bottom of our basement staircase which leads to our airy and spacious guest room, my husband’s spacious office, and our spacious garage. My desk is wedged into the not-so-spacious area between the bottom of our stairs and the wall.  As opposed to other rooms in the vicinity which have bookcases, large desks, and proper lighting, my office has a garbage pail and convenient access to our collection of dusty suitcases, usually located under the staircase but which were temporarily removed due to a recent flood.