Friday, September 29, 2006

Thursday night has came and went. With another spoonful of goodness to see my friends and another teaspoon of good times spent. We took a cab home, from a sickly taxi driver who had a scratchy voice and a direction to go. As a couple friends jumped out on the way to taste the tastes of another bar, he let the last friend out and we began to talk.

"So why are you in Israel?" he asks. I sigh, in the back seat, leaning my head on the head rest. "It's been a long night .." I say. He pauses waiting for me to explain. I tell him where to stop and we start speaking. I tell him my story and he listens. "Honestly, Amit.." I start.. " "The more i'm studying, the more i'm living.. and the more i'm feeling a bit more lost". "He nodded in agreement. "Aristotle once said the more you learn the more you don't know... Amit followed. Sounds like your on his path...."

about that time, he pulled his car over. poured a vodka shot and we spoke for another 45 minutes about his family, his life... my philosophies. We spoke until I regarded the time of day to go to bed and let all the contemplations of my mind go to rest. I am grateful for those rare moments of rhetoric with people you don't know... because, as time goes by, sometimes the taxi driver knows more than you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Mashal for the masses

Here is a mashal/parable a friend shared with me after I tried to convince him I was crazy for moving to Israel, doing the whole Orthodox thing, and doing the motions of the the pretty average 26-year- old with the definately not-so-average background that left me with my feet planted here.

I always maintained that if you believe the Kitchen table positioned where it is as normal, and getting your mail everyday is expected and that life is 8-5 and taxes, then I suppose that yeah- I am most definately mad. But if you add a spoonful of G-d, the way everything has fallen into place for me here in an eerily perfect pattern- it's almost expected. The cycles of life are turning slowly. Tsiki's sister found out her due date is on the day of her brother's death. The cycles of life are turning. And while I live my days here, sometimes blindly, and sometimes with a ball of excitement, i'll hold on to this mashal. Because it's beautiful and I like the way it speaks to me:

A rabbi told me this on a Jerusalem street corner 11 years ago in January...

Before you're born, an angel beseeches your soul. The angel shows the soul all of the wonderful things that will happen to it if it is given a body. The angel takes the soul to heights of earthly joy planned out for it and lets it feel as good as it could feel if it is born. The angel then plunges the soul into the deepest depths of all of the pain that it will know, making it experience the loss, the angst, the sadness, the hell that would sometimes be life.Then the angel gives the soul a choice. It can either be born and take the pain and the pleasure together, or it can choose to stay in the world of the ethereal. Neither decision would be wrong.

Since you're born, your soul obviously made the choice to take the pain with the pleasure, the earthly good with the bad. So, no matter how painful life might be sometimes, your soul, your deep subconscious with which you've never spoken, knows that pain cedes and that ultimately the moments of joy outweigh the hurt. In some unknown past outside of time and space, you promised yourself it would get better.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Laying of the sauce

My brain has been on high gear for many days now. One would think after living in a small Thai town by myself for 17 months, I would know loneliness, or that of all my losses and moves throughout this globe, that I would know how to say goodbye, but I still stumble. There is a hint of fragility that I try to numb.

Sometimes when I have a good yawn. My heart flutters.

Oh how my second Rosh Hashana in this country is so different from the first! How one year can do so much and yet feel like it has already started the same way as the last one. I spent Rosh Hashana in Ranaana with Channah Bananna and her famma, we had lots fooda and I went to shul-eh and my belly was constantly full-ah.

Being around families made me miss mine all the more. But if I had to say something I noticed about my last year, i'd say something about the way my Judaism has progressed: Last year I was introduced to Hebrew, never even knew what "Mein-ya-nim" was, Shalom to me was what I read on the plaques on friends doors but it never resonated with me. With time I started going to Synagogue and it gave me a knot the size of an avocado in my stomach and this year, I spent Rosh Hashana following along and getting lost in the prayers and finding my way back into them and flipping pages and getting lost and getting back into them and I loved it deeply.

I spent all last year praying for strength. With every breath I had, I hoped to keep my chin up and make everything beautiful and most people would say I did. But this year I want something different. I want a little luck. With that thought, I marched over to the lotto stand (it was the 25 million shekel jackpot last night) and let my hand guide me. I figured all the chances of what had happened in my life and my aching heart- well, I figured I had the light of lady luck on my fingertips and I would never know until I tried.

I didn't win the jackpot.

I figured G-d was rolling his eyes at me and wondering if i'll ever learn. Probably not, but i'll work hard this year. Just like that last and know i'm doing everything I can to maintain authenticity and become that better person. My brother just wrote to me: "Susi, we taste wine when others are drinking the diet coke of life's philosophies." .. that's beautifu. The thoughts in my head that are bouncing back and forth and my trials may not be healthy right now. But i'm really into the philosophy of life and you can only create effective philosphies when you effectively live life. And I know that's what i'm doing. I just wanted to be able to hide in someones arms when it sometimes gets scary.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Those lil white lights

Kabbalistic belief is that the universe is broken down into atoms. As are we. And swimming deep down into our souls are elements of goodness that create white lights. As we grow and do good in this beautiful snow globe, our lights grow and we shine like the drag queens in the Lower East Side on a Saturday, post-shabbat night.

One thing I have always stood by in the last year and a half is making my sadness beautiful. That pain and ache can be filtered as negative but just like a violin echoes a heartwrenching melody- it's almost as beautiful as it is sad.

And so, as P Bonez and I decided to say our goodbye's, our violins played a melody for us on the beach yesterday in the form of sailboats sailing by and shoulder stands in the water. We let the sun brown us and shed tears over an amazing friendship that was a stable companionship, but not enough to bring us into the new year.

Breaking up sucks.

But if we overcame all the challenges a relationship of a man dedicated to his faith and his ideals and a woman dedicated to her La La world of happy places and soundtracked days, well- I suppose we were going to break up in the best way possible. With beers on the beach and standing still to watch the fish in the sea. Hand in hand we were to say goodbye so he can find what he wants and I'll stand there, dumbfoundly waving in the symbolic sense, and holding that chin up and cracking my violin on the way home.

my brother told me just because I have a bit of a story that landed me in the Holy Land to remember that G-d doesn't give you a background check when stuff like this happens. I told him I knew that.. Obviously. But I expected a gift certificate that I could cash in times like this.

I lost my best friend two days ago. And I know his heart hurts as much as mine for different reasons but I'm a little lonelier without his goodnight phone calls. In the world of the Ginrod, you split up and then become best buddies and he'd fall for the woman he needed and I'd fall for the man I wanted and we'd best friends with picket fences and laugh about ever having a story together. My world isn't very logical. Most of society stop speaking after parting ways. Bonez and I sunbathe.

It is the Jewish New Year and because I am not Jewish, I don't get all the points for practicing it, but I'm hoping the angel on my right side is racking up my points and saving some cash for the upcoming year. The year Ginrod will become a Jew. That's good enough to stick around mother Israel no?


Monday, September 18, 2006

1.5 Cycle of a Ginrod

I've always carried around this list in my head. Of the necessary things a woman should know in order to be well rounded. Aside from the universal knowledge of being able to keep our white laundry white and making traditional family food as well as achieving a moderate level of baking ability and color coordination, I've always believed a woman should know how to drive a standard car, a motorcyle, play the guitar, have a moderate level of skateboard ability, have general knowledge on physics, chemistry, biology, OR mathematics, know how to change a flat tire on a car, know how to Jumpstart a car, know at least when you need an oil change and definately where to add water when your car is overheated.

Last thurs, I was able to finally learn when to hold em', when to fold' em', when to walk away, and when to run. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to walk away until I lost all my Kesef, which was2-3 hours later. Either way I think I enjoy the game, and I imagine after 5 more- I can achieve moderate playing ability, with the patience of my competitors, of course.

Las+Vegas= obesity. That's all I can remember the last time I sat playing blackjack where I lost $30 and retreated to the nickel slots for the duration of the trip. Family's lining up at the all you can eat buffets, toppeling their plates with whatever fancied their eyes. Top headlines lately: Obesity in America is at epidemic proportions. G-d, I love my country. Iran is building nuclear weapons, AIDS in Africa, Paris Hilton is a hooker, and Americans can't stop eating their cookies.

Speaking of Americans.

It seems as if every Jewish teenager between the ages of 17 and 19 were walking the streets of Jerusalem over Shabbat. American Teenagers can be spotted by their way of incorporating their sleeping wear into evening spazieren clothing. They can be heard with their ability to shriek in decibals unknown to the human ear.

As friends and I walked home from an extremely satisfying and filling Shabbat dinner. We were stopped by a small group of these future leaders of America and Israel.

Please begin the playing of the typical, middle-upper class- uber peppy -valley-American accent. Now.

JAP #1: excuse me, like where is Pierre eh Kanig, er Konig?
Gentleman to my left: Furth down to your right
JAP#2: OMG!!! an accent!!!!
(giggles all around amongst JAP pride)
JAP#2: English.
Gentleman to my left: Yeah.
JAP#2: England. SHOUT OUT!!!
JAP#1: Thanks!! Byeeeee!!

Two gentleman and Ginrod stand there dumbfounded.

It's becoming really tough to stand up for my country and represent what I believe American to be when I have so much.. competition?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Aside from Thursday night (which is the usual Friday night in the west), Tuesday evenings are the only free evenings I have. And if I don't have any hot dinners with a ravishing young man, I usually am found running around a two block radius of my home, running errands.

I have realized the older I get, and the less time I have, I have become more and more anxious with hints of OCD.

I come home, move the coffee table and stretch my right leg out, imitating some Yoga poses the past 6 lessons have helped me remember. Samuel L. Jackson is on Letterman and I am a bit disappointed to hear the title of his latest film: Snakes on a plane.

Downward Dog position. Sam J cooks southern food for his family. Chatarunga. Sam J plays golf in really pretty Golf courses. Virabhadrasana.Sam J's agent wouldn't let him play with real snakes. Trikonasana. Letterman announces that Gnarles Barkley will be performing shortly. I break into doing push ups. I notice all the crumbs on the Red Chinese rug and get the dustbuster. I stop, momentarily captivated by seeing the band on my ipod playing on the TV, I remember to make my weekly soup: Sweet Potato.

Vegetables chopped. I loathe dicing sweet potatoes. I collect the onions, the celery, the carrots, the sweet potatoes, into neat piles on a large platter. I look at the clock. 7:00 p.m. "if i cook now, i'll be in for the night with nothing more to do" I think to myself. I quickly Wash the dishes and slip on a pair of yoga pants and tie the extra key to my waste and take off toward the beach. Ten stairs, up and down I run, stretch on pole, three more I run, skipping every other stair, I tap the steps on the way down and calm my breathing by walking along the beach. Then run back home, jumping over shadowed piles of dog poo and run around couples walking hand in hand. Some teenagers just finished surfing, they have there wet suits on and I wonder if Miami is like this in the evening time. Or are we more California this evening?

My dreams have been a bit bothersome. My subconscious is a bit stressed and I don't doubt the plethora of reasons for it. I dream of sick babies, and of large houses with different rooms, and trying to open the curtains to bring light in. I woke up this morning and the first thought in my head was "How can I visit the Eyals before Shabbat AND buy my needed religious books for the holidays?!" One hour there, one hour to Jerusalem= two hour nap on the bus?

All in all -life has become simple. Yesterday I was interviewed by the army in Jaffo, overlooking the Sea. Jaffo is such a classically beautiful city, the sun beat on my eyebrows as the interviewer asked me if I thought Tsiki would have wanted me to be here, in Israel, doing what I am doing. "That's a pretty loaded question to me" I said. "But i'd say, if he knew what I am doing, he would not at all be surprised". And left it at that.

Got a Shwarma spicy to go and returned to work. I looked forward to this feeling ever since I urgently left Thailand. That feeling, "I'm bored" I say to my friends, instead- I should be saying " I'm content", see the extra pound on the scale? That means I'm satisfied. This week.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

On your birthday

You were never much for elaborate gifts or big dinners to celebrate. You resented putting the worth of it all in a tightly wrapped gift or a watch. Each Christmas, Father's Day, and birthday, it was always the same request. "I want a nice card, with some nice words, I want you kids at home, and I want us all to sit while Bryan plays the piano."

As I got older I concocted new ways of impressing you. One year, I phoned all over Tulsa trying to find a Mariachi band. Unfortunately, no one would perform on my waitressing salary. Instead we had wine and cake at mine, and I would hand over a carefully written letter of what having you around meant to me.

When I left, I promised myself I would write to you and mom, I wouldn't be the daughter who forgot her parents on the other side of the world. I wrote every week so we would experience it all together. And we did, I found 67 letters of mine stuffed in a large vase when I came home to visit last Summer.

Oh dad, I remember when I returned to Thailand and I spoke to all my Peace Corps friends, so many of them lost their fathers too, and their eyes became wet when they understood I was part of that club as well. Amanda told me I would never stop missing you, that the emptiness never goes away. She's right, I miss you a lot, I miss you being mad at me, I miss you advising me, I miss you being proud of me, I miss you bugging me to give you a grandson, I miss having that security of a father. I miss knowing mom was safe because you were taking care of her and I miss her taking care of you.

It's been a year and a half. The last dream I had of you, you were sitting in some homestead with acres and acres of flat land. I was driving by and you walked out waving as you were getting into your truck. I cried to you and asked why this craziness happened. How did I go to bed one night in my home in Thailand and wake up in Israel? You smiled and said "it will be all right" as if all my heartache was normal and it's just life and to be dealt with-you then drove off.

Sometimes I wonder if I feel you more now that your gone than when you were alive. Maybe it's because I took you for granted. Before ,I never knew what it was like to be without you in my life... But now, I see you in every accordion I hear, every bird that perches itself, singing on a nearby limb, in every old man sitting on a bench smiling at the sunshine. I feel you in every stupid financial decision I make, or when I am planning my future. Bryan is so much like you, I lean on him these days- he's what you would have been like had you not experienced ww2. You did something very right in the way you raised him (us).

I couldn't do anything spectacular for you on your birthday today. I am a little torn, because I miss you and because I don't know the best way to remember you. My life has changed forever not having you around. The older I get, the more I want to go back to being that little girl on the shoulders of your 6'2 frame. I want to be the kid that followed at your heels on my little red bicycle as we went to the bakery. I would have wished you around a little longer, to walk me down an aisle if I ever am to get married- I wanted to make it professionally enough to take you on a voyage- where we would play father daughter catch-up. All I do now is play catch up with every memory I have of you.

Above all, I thank you- I could not have done ANY of this without you. I am proud to be my father's daughter. I'll keep all these thoughts scribbled in little notes in my heart, and I'll remember that many are not as fortunate to be their father's daughters and leave it at that.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Yesterday's lecture with Rabbi Levine confronted an issue I have overwrought myself with since I found myself in Israel. When does human choice begin and fate/destiny end- Or perhaps: Where does fate end and human choice begin? Do we all have a date, spiritually stamped on our forehead? Do we die because we have reached our expected level of spirituality? Are we more fortunate to die and experience the afterlife than suffer on earth? Can we actually begin to explain a concept we can barely hold on our plate?

"Rabbi Levine" I started, "I know it's a bit silly to even mention this, but when we get on talks like these, the afterlife- the universe, I can feel spoonfuls of insanity creep into my pores. I feel stressed- I feel as if the room is closing in".

When I was grieving deeply last year, I would sit on the tiled steps of the Eyal's home, late into the night, hoping that an epiphany would occur in the form of some visual spiritual awakening, where I would see and understand a concept that my heart could not swallow: devastation, loss= destiny?. I would be able to tell everyone "Yes! I understand it all now, all my concentration and all my pain makes sense and everyone will soon make sense of it too!!". Then I would lead a stream of well wishers into the Horizon of happiness whilst playing the flute.

Rabbi Levin began his explanation from not putting yourself in compromising situations to endanger yourself and your destiny, he explained one's spiritual merits. From his long explanation of life vs. death, it began to take shape. "So basically I've had it all wrong." I responded." When I joined the Peace Corps and did so to be altruistic, I thought perhaps my good deeds would result in goodness coming in all forms in my upcoming life, but in that assumption, my perception had been all wrong, I should understand that such good merits of humanitarian work is recognized in the form of being able to grow, learn, and get through tough times. The goodness of ones spirit is desired in order to attain spiritual fuel to get through life. Not to be rewarded."

After going over 20 minutes in the Shiur, I closed my mind on thinking on such a grand scale- it is so easy to get caught up on the feelings of infinity and how to carry that thought on your back. Instead, I strolled into the streets of Tel Aviv, relieved that the humidity dissipated itself earlier in the week. I met a handsome gentlemen under the streetlight of Disengoff and Ben Gurion and we strolled to my local for a cold pint and some talk about geometrics.

At this moment, and this week- i'd rather bother myself with chicken salad recipes and beginning my weekend. The universe can wait one more week, when i'm not feeling so hormonal.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Israel is negogiating the release of their captured soldiers by possibly including the release of Samir Kontar. Read below this horrific story in TIME that crushed my heart.

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 25, 2006

Twenty seven years ago, Smadar Haran suffocated her two-year-old daughter. She was trying to quiet the whimpering child as the two of them hid in the family's attic while PLO terrorists searched for them in their apartment in the coastal Israeli town of Nahariya. The terrorists didn't find them but took Smadar's husband and their four-year-old daughter hostage. When the cell, retreating as security forces pursued them, found the rubber boat they'd arrived in disabled by gunfire, one of the members shot Smadar's husband Danny in the back and drowned him in the sea to ensure he was dead. Next, he smashed little Einat's head on beach rocks and crushed her skull with the butt of his rifle.

It is this man, Samir Kuntar, the sole surviving member of the cell, that Hizballah leader Hasan Nasrallah promised to liberate this year from an Israeli prison by kidnapping Israeli soldiers to hold as a bargaining chip, an act Hizballah pulled off two weeks ago, precipitating the current fighting across the Israel-Lebanon border. Smadar Haran, meanwhile, has found herself again directly affected by the conflict, albeit in a much milder way. Nahariya is just five miles from the border with Lebanon and was the target of many of the rockets Hizballah has fired into Israeli towns since Israel launched its bombardment of Lebanon to retaliate for the seizure of two of its soldiers. After enduring a few days living in the windowless, reinforced room in their house — a requirement for any new residence in Israel — Haran and her second family (she's remarried and has two daughters, now 18 and 25) relocated to the home of relatives in Herzliyya, a tony town near Tel Aviv.

Haran supports the government's offensive. She thinks it's necessary to show Hizballah that Israel is strong in order to deter further aggression from the group. As to whether Israel should consider exchanging Kuntar for the kidnapped Israeli soldiers, Haran says she won't share her views with anyone but her closest friends. She adds, " I'm not going to be part of Nasrallah's game. He would like to see us turn family against family, pain against pain. But I won't comment on what the government should do. It's a national question. I'm just a civilian."

Hara, 54, longs to return to her seaside home in Nahariya. Meanwhile, she tries to enjoy the Herzliyya beach and the mall nearby. But when she came across customers haggling over jewelry the other day, she couldn't stomach it. "Imagine, thinking about buying jewelry with everything that's going on. I don't want things to be normal." A visitor reminds her that she has just spoken of how much she longs for normalcy, for herself, for the state of Israel. "Thank you for reminding me," she says, and smiles.

Haran is a kind of local hero of normalcy. Hers was an unbearable story, but she bore it. She never sought media attention, but she didn't scurry from it either. Today, she relates the events of April, 22, 1979, with a strong voice, in a beat as steady as a metronome. She skirts over the details only when describing how two-year-old Yael died. She says there was never any question that she'd start a new family. "I knew nobody could call me Mom anymore, but I was still Mom in my heart," she says. "I felt someone should get the tenderness I had to give."

She never embraced the idea of avenging her loss. " I don't believe in feeling happy when innocent Arabs are being killed. And I don't understand people who support suicide bombers because they say they are avenging their brother's death, or something. From my situation, I know there are other possibilities: to rebuild life, to understand that life is sacred, that each one of us, Jews and Arabs, should try to find a way to have a good life." After her family was murdered, Haran, who had been an art teacher, pursued a master's degree in social work and is now a psychotherapist working in a clinic with Jewish and Arab children with special needs.

She came out publicly in support of the 1993 Oslo peace accord between Israel and Yasser Arafat's PLO, though Samir Kuntar's cell was part of the organization. "I really believed the Palestinians were ready to live in peace with us,"she says. Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin invited her to attend the Washington signing ceremony with him, but at the last minute she pulled out, unable to face the idea of meeting Arafat. After seeing Rabin off at the airport, she returned to Nahariya and placed olive branches on the graves of her daughters and husband. Rabin, in his memoirs, said that as he stood in the Rose Garden during the signing ceremony, he was thinking of her.

Today, Haran thinks she was naïve about Oslo and the Palestinians' intentions. "It's an ongoing war and this was just an intermission," she says. It was the outbreak of the second intifadeh in the fall of 2000 that changed her mind, in particular the images that October of ecstatic Palestinians, many with bloody hands, celebrating the lynching of an Israeli soldier. "I thought my daughters were going to live in peace," she says. "I don't think so anymore. Maybe the next generation."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Shabbat in Herzilliya.

I've had one of the finest experiences of luxury, only 10 Kilometers away. As we lay on the couch, with the memories of a truly excellent shabbat and sunburnt bodies to remind us of a truly fabulous 25 hours.

It was quite the experience to spend the weekend with 6 men. I'd like to consider myself quite the fortunate woman to get to be the fly on the wall during a "guys only" weekend. Granted, most of these boys I feel quite comfortable with. Most of these boys I spent everyday with for five months as we studied Hebrew and then threw down on the basketball court in Jerusalem. As much as it's an honor to be considered "one of the guys", I don't doubt it's just as offensive as well. Being one of the boys means you can't act offended during the usual expected times a woman is expected to. But it does mean not getting picked on as much when an episode it required as well as being alloted the last glass of wine from the bottle without an argument.

Being the only female during a guys only weekend also means aiding in your team losing the touch football match, getting hit with a squash ball in the stomach, seeing a couple of bare behinds, and catching the manly men singing some Madonna song at the poker table.

On ,Saturday I was carried cross legged to the beach in Herzilliya and placed upon a newly made silken handkerchief a size just large enough for my bum. Two of the guys I was with fanned me with a peacock feather that was specially ordered from China and shipped in with the last load of gems to a store nearby, which was on the other side of the marina from the apartment we stayed in (which is, hands down, the NICEST apartment I have ever set my Midwestern toes in). Another fed me grapes and stuffed vine leaves while singing me the new Bob Dylan album as we wasted time waiting for the other two at home to finish preparing lunch.

The waves in Herziliya were monsterous. And each time I ran into them, I do admit- I had a gulp of fear that they would vacuum me into some whirlpool I couldn't swim out of. Not to worry, the boys created a wall in front of me and allowed the waves to break on them. Rather that than wet my hair no?

Ahh yes, Another fine weekend to put under my belt. I am patting myself on the back from managing quality weekends. It's definately an art to master, and I feel I am quite close.