Tag Archives: family

And Now This…

When the pandemic first rolled into our lives, my husband and I were still basking in the glow of a magical week long trip to Hawaii with our grown children to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Two days from now, we will be celebrating our 42nd. The months in between have been for us, as for most people, challenging, difficult and exhausting. As individuals we have faced our fears about the virus, dealt with social isolation and met professional challenges. As a couple we have dealt with adapting to a new way of living and working together, learning to find small pleasures in becoming co-workers who are also married. Tomorrow, things shift again as my husband returns to his office, at least for now, on a part time basis. And once again, we will evolve and shift our new found daily rituals into something else.

Over the years we have weathered a lot of change. We began as teenagers and grew up through college and post college degrees, became parents, lost parents, handled financial struggles, illnesses and a cross-country move. It’s really just the stuff of life. We are more fortunate than many, less so than some. The one constant in my life has been our relationship which, while sometimes difficult, has always served to ground me and make me feel safe and loved in an uncertain world.

This past year and a half, I’ve had a LOT more time to study my husband, to listen to his Zoom calls, to observe how he moves through a day. It’s interesting to see how my spouse conducts himself at work, something I never was able to experience before now. The change in tone of voice, his body language, the way he solves problems, all things I could never know when he was at his office. I’m grateful I have been able to see this side of him as it helps me to understand what he goes through each day and why he sometimes comes home with work on his mind. I also appreciate his ability to shift gears and listen to me when I pop into his office for a quick visit or to share something about my work day.

All in all, this pandemic experience has been good for our marriage. For a bit of time we have been able to blend our lives, share small daily moments and see each other in a new way. We’ve each had to adjust and learn to share our home office, learned to set and respect new boundaries with each other and appreciate our differences. Perhaps most important is that even in a long relationship, there are unexpected challenges life throws at us and we are resilient and strong enough to weather it. He is still my best friend, my favorite person and the love of my life.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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Joy and Pain

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

These last few weeks have left me a bit empty emotionally and creatively, which is why this post is late. The excitement of being able to think about a future after COVID has given way to anxiety about when to wear a mask, how to travel safely, whether to travel at all, how to begin to re-enter the world. It’s all pretty exhausting and overwhelming. Added to the mix is the excitement and joy that my daughter has finally landed her dream job and will be moving back across the country to Los Angeles. It’s a complicated endeavor that needs to be completed in a scant few weeks and involves a cross country driving trip (my husband will be doing that), finding a place to live and getting her stuff moved. And professionally, let’s just say it’s been complicated. As a newspaper editor and reporter for a Jewish publication, the escalation of violence in Israel and the current ceasefire have meant difficult information to sift through and report while I watch unfolding misery on both sides. And finally, this last weekend saw an ugly and painful display of antisemitism in my city brought on by one woman who used a yellow star as a symbol of being unvaccinated.

To unpack some of this, I’ll first focus on my daughter because her situation is one that brings me joy and relief. Last summer during the height of the pandemic, she lost her job. Since then she has pieced together a living, often working two and three jobs, while applying for and interviewing for something in her field. I watched her bravely persevere and overcome worry while dealing with grief and anger, most of the time with a smile on her face. She is one of the strongest people I know and I am so proud of her resilience and courage.

As for the COVID pandemic, I guess I’m doing what most people are doing and trying to take baby steps to rejoin the living. As an extrovert in normal times, I’m surprised by how exhausted I feel at the effort it takes to make and execute simple plans. I feel overwhelmed at choosing a restaurant, preferring to either cook at home or order in. There are a few local places that have wrapped us in comfort the last year and a half (thanks to the crew at answer.) and it feels so much easier to just do that. But we are venturing out a bit and when we do, I feel almost normal. I’ve said, “hello,” to some clothes I haven’t worn in a long time, praying everything still fits (thankfully, so far, it all does). I have two short trips planned this summer and a big trip in the Fall. I’m anxious about traveling, but also looking forward to the change of scenery.

My professional challenges are more difficult to explore. As a journalist I’ve been trained to look at as many sides of an issue as possible, to be fair in analyzing and presenting the facts and to be balanced in my coverage. Lately though, the rising antisemitism in this country and around the world has shaken me. I am, after all, a Jew in America, raised to love Israel by parents who watched and prayed as the tiny country was born over 70 years ago out of the ashes of the Holocaust. My father-in-law was a survivor of German ghettos, concentration camps and death marches. The last trip he took before his early death at age 52 was to visit Israel, to experience the joy and relief at a Jewish homeland.

I traveled to Israel for the first time as a 15-year-old teen and have visited a few times since, watching the country grow from a developing land into a high tech, modern day marvel. Is it perfect? No. Did growth come at a high price? Most definitely. Does it deserve both criticism and admiration for the choices made in the face of daily existential threat? Absolutely. But since when does criticizing your country render you unpatriotic or worse, guilty of some sort of treason? I was raised to question, to voice my opinion, to push back against injustice, to challenge the status quo, and that includes my views about Israel. But make no mistake, I am a Zionist, I am fully committed to its existence as the only Democratic country in the Middle East. And that democracy demands that I speak up and speak out. I do not pretend to understand what it is like to live with constant threat, rockets and bombs. And there is certainly plenty of misery to go around on both sides.

And now I turn to the antisemitism infecting my own city. The pain I felt when I saw a local shopkeeper peddling the yellow star of David, emblazoned with, “not vaccinated,” to an often uninformed public, was immediate and deep. My stomach turned over as I read with horror the words in the social media comments. My community’s response was fast and direct, spreading to the greater Nashville area and reaching the pages and airways of national news outlets. Most of the woman’s vendors have stopped their supply of merchandise to her store and have made their outrage known. It has been both gratifying and comforting to know there are many people who were also reviled by the post. But the pain lingers like a handprint slapped on my heart. Sadness weighs on me and the creeping fear that history may repeat itself keeps me awake.

I pray my family’s suffering at the hands of those who sought to destroy us was not in vain. Never again.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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Sourdough, Gardening, Life

One of my early loaves made for Valentine’s Day

This year we are planning a landscaping project and deck remodel, so I have decided not to plant my spring/summer garden. I really wrestled with what to do because I just love getting out into the dirt, tending to the vegetables and watching them grow. I also love preparing and eating the fresh zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other assorted crops throughout the Summer and into the Fall. I’m still considering a small container garden.

I have decided to continue my Winter project: sourdough baking. During the cold, dark months my son and I began cultivating a couple of starters. If you’ve been following me on Instagram @barbdab58 you’ve seen some of my efforts. It has been a lot of fun watching this little science experiment literally come alive in front of our eyes! Mix water and flour, let it sit on the counter and lo and behold, it bubbles, ferments and develops a pungent, delicious fragrance! Then we combine it with more flour, water and salt and it bakes into a bubbly, poofy, crusty loaf.

Over the last few months, we’ve experimented with different types of flour starters. We have one made from regular all-purpose flour and one from whole wheat flour. Each has its own unique fragrance, taste and personality. In fact, tradition dictates that we might name our starters and so we have introduced Rob and Laura Petrie, named after the main characters on my favorite TV show, The Dick Van Dyke Show. Rob is the lively, bubbly all-purpose starter and Laura is the more exotic, complicated, delicate whole wheat. We’ve also tried a few different flavors in our bread. We’ve used oats and maple syrup, garlic, onions and one that substitutes beer for the water. We’ve had successes and failures. This past weekend, we had a huge success with our original, classic sourdough. Previously we failed with an oatmeal loaf that was too wet, a whole wheat/regular blend that did not rise enough and a garlic loaf that was too garlicky. Early on, we had some failed starters, as well.

In sourdough, as in life, success depends on planning, patience, experience and that extra something intangible. Maybe it’s luck. But I also think it’s the love and attention paid and the focus and will to succeed. Last week I made my oatmeal/maple syrup loaf by myself. My son was busy and unable to participate. The loaf was tasty, with nice crumb and a toasty crust. But it was somewhat lackluster and rather flat. So this week I decided to go back to the basics, together with my son, and make the classic version. We took the starter out of the fridge, fed it, waited for the perfect timing when it was active and bubbly, and then began our process of mixing the dough, letting it rest, stretching and folding before letting it ferment overnight. In the morning, the dough was fluffy and shiny, with little bubbles just beneath the surface, and it smelled fantastic! After shaping and proofing, my son worked his magic scoring the loaf and into the oven it went. The result was a nearly perfect, golden loaf with a slightly charred crust and inside it was moist and tangy. As we reflected on how this loaf was different, better, my son declared that it was because we made it together, with love, as we’d planned, each contributing to the end result in our own way.

Last year’s garden

My sourdough journey has mirrored my gardening process, too. Nurturing something from the beginning stages, developing patience through trial and error and adding in lots and lots of love. This year has presented all of us with unforeseen challenges and the need to pivot and adapt to an ever changing set of circumstances. We’ve had to take the long view as we navigate our way out of this pandemic. There have been failures and successes and as we begin to emerge from our isolation, it is clear life is different, most likely permanently changed. But hopefully what appears is beautiful, the result of hard work, planning, patience and love. A beautiful juicy red tomato, a fragrant crusty sourdough, a meaningful vibrant life.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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The Leader of the Pack

How does our birth order influence our lives, our relationships, our personality, our parenting, our future?  I am the first born child, with two younger siblings.  My mother was an only child, and my father was the youngest of five.  I’ve spent a lot of time in my life thinking about birth order mainly because my parents made a point of impressing upon me the responsibility to take care of my sister and brother.  “Friends will come and go,” my mom would tell me, “but your siblings are forever.”  “Make sure you take your sister with you.”  “Hold your brother’s hand when you cross the street.”  “Always look out for your sister and brother.”  You get the picture. 

I have no recollection of the 18 months of my life before my sister was born, but I’m told my parents had a pretty good time with me.  So good, in fact, that they couldn’t wait to have another baby.  That was always their story and they stuck to it.  The new baby girl arrived, followed two years later by, “the boy.”  I do remember my parents bringing him home from the hospital all swaddled up.  “Watch the soft spot,” was the refrain for months as I awkwardly tried to sit with him on my tiny lap. 

I guess you could say I am a classic big sister.  Caregiving, bossy, driven, organized, high achieving.  I organized parades where I would sit in my brother’s red wagon, draped in a boa, tiara on my head, my brother gamely pulling me as I waved to the neighborhood.  I choreographed ballets for my sister and I to entertain our parents, clad in my mom’s old nightgowns.  And when my brother would get sick, I was obsessed with taking his temperature, bringing him toast and reading to him in bed. 

As the oldest, my developmental milestones and achievements were always the first for my parents.  And attention-loving drama queen that I am, I generally liked it.  I loved feeling grown up and couldn’t wait to, “get there.”  By the time I was 17, I’d graduated from high school, left for college and rarely looked back.  My summers were spent involved in theater companies, part time jobs, hanging at the beach with friends.  I got married right after college and never lived with my family again.  I guess you could say my early years were pretty standard for an L.A. girl growing up in the 1970s. 

This all sounds charming, right?  But underneath all that grooviness lurks a dark secret.  You see, I did enjoy being the oldest for all of the above reasons.  But I also hated it.  I hated the burden dumped on a little girl to always look out for the younger ones.  I hated not having any cover for my mistakes, so I just worked to avoid them.  I hated the assumption that my hard fought victories were preordained because I was the golden one.  I hated there not being much room for me, so growing up fast and leaving was the best option.  Most of all I hated not being allowed to rebel and act out like a normal kid.  “You’re older, you should know better.”  It’s all so exhausting. 

One time I asked my mom if my dad was happy his first born was a girl rather than a boy.  Her answer, “He was thrilled!  Big sisters are better at keeping the family together,” meant to be reassuring sounded to me like another assignment.  I spent years studying my mother’s techniques for entertaining and preparing holiday dinners.  I listened in on her conversations with my dad’s three older sisters for clues on how, exactly, I was supposed to keep us all together.  And when I became a mom to three children, I vowed not to put the same burden on my first born, also a girl.  Karma, right?

So here we are, all three of us in late middle age, our parents alive only in our memories.  I guess you could say I have lived up to my birthright.  I continue to try and keep the family together, to look out for my sister and brother.  We have aged, live in different parts of the country and each of us has been knocked around by life.  For one of us, life in general is a battle and the other two of us do our best to keep moving forward.  A very good therapist once told me it was time to fire myself from the job of being the Big Sister.  It’s hard to break the old patterns and often when I try, one of the two resists my effort to change, but I continue to work on that.  And while I now have a loving husband, amazing grown children and a circle of close friends, sometimes that little girl inside me just wants someone to take care of her. 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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Reflections on a Dirty Martini

There’s not much more to be said of the past year, and since the new one isn’t even a week old, I’d prefer not to comment too much or even try to predict any turn of events.  Life has not felt normal for a long time and frankly, I’m tired of trying to make any sense of things right now.  Instead, I just want to reflect on something small.  A martini.

My dad’s regular drink was a dirty martini.  Medium dry, Beefeater’s Gin, with a drizzle of Vermouth, a splash of olive juice and as the piece de resistance, those gorgeous, juicy, green olives with just a peek of red pimento winking at me.  He’d come home from work, call for my mom to join him upstairs while he changed clothes and they spent a few private moments together.  Then it was back down to the kitchen to mix that perfectly glamorous drink while my mom finished preparing dinner.  I’d hang around, hoping for a taste of the olive at the end.  Year after year he’d simply tell me I was too young, while I watched him sip that tantalizing concoction.  Finally, the day came when he handed over the olive.  Aaaah!  I’d finally made it!  I took the fruit from his toothpick and popped it into my mouth, sucked on it for a few minutes, then nibbled it bit by bit, savoring the tang of the gin with the saltiness of the olive. 

To this day, a dirty martini is my decadent pleasure.  Just the look of the triangle shaped glass with the olives perched on their toothpick inside the slightly cloudy drink of gin and Vermouth, makes me think of my dad driving into the garage in his Chevy Malibu, of our Delta Green shag carpet, our paneled den where I’d watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show, my mom made up, hair done, dressed for going out.  Yep, the late 1960s and early 1970s were groovy times, at least to me. 

In retrospect, though, they were also troubled years filled with social unrest, presidential scandals, assassinations, air pollution and some really groundbreaking protest songs.  As a late baby boomer, I was ill equipped to participate actively in the struggles of my older cousins to move the needle from the heady post-war (WWII) years to bridge the Generation Gap and herald the new age of technology just on the horizon.  But I watched from the sidelines as they marched, protested, chanted and sang about the wrongs they believed needed to be put right.  Those years shaped me, too, just like my dad’s dirty martini.  Part bitter, part tart, a little sweetness and at the end, an olive plucked from that marinade.  Every evening mix and repeat. 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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If it’s Tuesday, it Must be…

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

When I was a kid, my dad used to love to take us all to the drive-in movies. There was one that stands out called, “If it’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium.” I don’t remember the details, but it had something to do with tourists running all over Europe, different cities, different days, until they lost track of time. The film title became our family’s code for describing that feeling of being disoriented or off kilter. That’s exactly how I feel! This week, I’ve been at least one, if not two, days off, and I missed my deadline for this blog post. If it’s COVID, this must be…who even knows what day it is anymore?

Okay, so here it is, Thursday…again. I think this weekend is the Labor Day holiday? Yes, I’m sure it is. I’m just not sure where summer went. I’ve experienced most of it from inside my house, which means it feels the same as Spring and most likely Fall will feel the same. I guess I’ll need to change my wardrobe just to keep track of the passing of time. If it’s Tuesday, it must be…

Last month I shared my Whole30 journey. I’m happy to report I’m still on the journey. I’ve learned more about how my body experiences different foods. So far, I do well with most food groups. I have noticed that alcohol consumption affects my sleep, so I can decide if that glass of wine at dinner is worth losing some sleep over. My cravings for sweets and snacks have mostly disappeared, although some days I just need a little something in between meals, especially if I haven’t eaten enough protein. Overall, some good lessons and some new, healthier, habits are being formed.

In a little over a week, my middle son will come for a visit. We haven’t seen him since mid-February and while I’m very excited, I’m also a bit nervous and apprehensive about the health risk – for all of us. Crazy times. What used to be a routine trip now feels like a treacherous journey. If it’s Tuesday, it must be…

And to add to the fun the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is just around the corner. This year our congregation will hold services virtually with a combination of pre-recorded segments and live streaming from the synagogue where the Rabbi and Cantor will be present in the sanctuary. Disorienting? You bet! Bittersweet? Yep! There is so much to miss this year, most important for me is the feeling of being in my community, physically present together to usher in a new year (yes, we Jews get to celebrate the New Year twice). Yes, I’m grateful to be healthy and to be with my family. But this thing, this plague, started just before the Spring holiday of Passover and here we still are. If it’s Tuesday, it must be…

So, I’ll just close with a traditional Jewish New Year’s blessing and wish everyone a Happy, Healthy, Sweet New Year (whether you observe or not, what the heck!). Here’s hoping next month I’ll know what day it is…

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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The Other Side of the Couch – What We Didn’t Know

March 18, 2020 – A day like many other days – I saw clients, did paperwork, watered plants – walked out, drove home.  I did not know then what I know now – that March 18, 2020 was the last day I would see clients in my office for many months, that the country was embarking on a perilous journey with no current end in sight, that the major issues of mental illness and trauma would be Trumped – and I use this word intentionally – by a raging pandemic, poorly controlled.  I did not know that my office would become a laptop, a butler’s table (the right height for the computer), a new office chair, rapidly purchased when dining room chairs began to cause backaches.

I did not know that I would lose clients who hate working online, gain clients who love it (so convenient – just like in person).  I did not know that I would tolerate working online but sorely miss being with people, that my ability to survive as an introvert who does not depend on other people’s energy for motivation would be a plus in this situation, that being unable to see my daughter and granddaughter would become intolerable.

I would not have believed that the leaders of our federal government would literally reject science in favor of pushing for opening the economy – at the expense of hospitals, health-care workers, and vulnerable populations.  I would not have believed that the simple, caring act of wearing a mask would become a political statement.

In the months ahead there could be many good things – science-based treatment, a variety of vaccines targeted for the different populations that are most at risk, a coordinated federal response, an economic plan that supports everyone rather than the 1%.  What we do know now that we didn’t know then is that life as we knew it is irrevocably changed.  Good things will come again – but much has changed, and much more will change.  When January comes, perhaps many good and new things will move forward.

I keep hoping – and voting in November.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.

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It’s the End of the World as we Know it

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For the first time in a long time, I’m out of words. Not actually unable to speak (God forbid!), but out of pithy, insightful, tightly woven phrases. I’ve cried, I’ve ranted, I’ve shared, and I’ve bared my soul to anyone and everyone who would listen. Which means to say, mostly my family who are captive with me in our little home shelter and a few close friends. And now, I’m just done. I’m done railing against the unfairness of it all. I’m done focusing on the grief. I’m done being angry about canceled plans and missed opportunities. What remains for me is sadness and the realization that the life I had, the life we all had, or hoped to have, is gone.

But, and here comes my cockeyed optimism (thanks Mom), I do believe that the crises facing humankind are offering us an opportunity. Personally, I’m refocusing my thoughts and energy on self-improvement; mental, physical and spiritual. I’m taking on challenges and setting goals for myself that I don’t think I would have even thought about before. The time I used to spend in the car or running endless errands is now mine to spend in new ways. The distractions of modern life have been stripped away leaving a void. Filling that void in meaningful ways is what I’m working on. Because the thing is, at some point still to be determined, we will emerge from this isolation into a new world. I don’t want to feel that I’ve squandered the opportunity to be fully present and to find meaning in this experience.

So, here are some things I’m tackling. On the physical front my family and I are embarking on a health experiment, one designed to help us fine tune our nutritional needs. I’m also building strength with a personal trainer. Yes, I’ve been working with her for a couple of years now, but I’m pushing myself harder, working out on our porch and getting a hard sweat. Mentally I’m working more on my professional writing, pushing myself to dig deeper in the stories I write for the newspaper I edit. Spiritually I’m reading more about things that make me uncomfortable and challenge some old assumptions that have limited my thinking. I’m working on quieting my mind through meditation. And with much of my family all home, some old roles and behaviors are evolving as we navigate living and working together. And once again, I have my summer vegetable garden, but this year expanded to a larger space and some new experiments.

Well, I guess I did have a lot to say this month. Who knew? I will close with one last thing. Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary. I know, that makes us seem ancient. We have lived a lifetime together, beginning on that very first day of freshman orientation. We were so young, still just teenagers. The fact is, we finished raising each other. Last year we vacationed with our children in Hawaii. One evening after dinner, standing under a canopy overlooking the beach, out of the rain, my husband pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket on which he’d written his thoughts about our years together. Yes, this reserved, quiet guy who doesn’t communicate his feelings well, wrote the following (excerpted): “As one should expect, our life together has not been a bed of roses. We’ve had successes and setbacks and weathered a good many storms. We have learned that when you love someone, you do not love them all the time in exactly the same way. Some of the things we worried about turned out not to matter at all. What really mattered was our love. This one constant in our lives has grown stronger and I thank you for the joy you’ve given me during these 40 years together. Whatever the future may hold for us, we will always have our love. It is enough.” Yes, my darling husband, even during this sad, frightening, garbage fire of a year, our love is enough. Happy Anniversary.

Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask.

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Why is This Year Different?

traditional jewish matzo

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

This Wednesday evening marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover.  It is a well-known fact that it is also the most celebrated of all the holidays.  The observance lasts eight days during which we focus on the theme of our people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt, crossing the Red Sea in a hurry with little time to prepare.  The first night consists of a festive meal, or Seder, when we retell the story through questions and answers, singing, eating and drinking four cups of wine.  The point of this exercise is to both remind us that freedom is precious, and to teach the younger generations about our story.

One of the highlights of every Seder is the asking of The Four Questions.  These questions are designed to provoke discussion and thought around the significance of the holiday.  Usually asked by the youngest person at the table, the refrain is always, “Why is this night different from all other nights.”  The answers to the four questions are the heart of the rest of the Seder.  But the overarching theme is always: freedom.

 

Over the last couple of weeks, I admit I’ve engaged in bouts of self-pity.  I have felt afraid for myself and my family.  I have been depressed about the changes in my life.  I have been angry, too, that those in leadership who could have mitigated some of the damage, did nothing.  And I have felt sad and helpless.  These negative thoughts and feelings are foreign to me.  I am usually an optimistic person who can find fun and joy in most places.  But our current state of affairs has been really tough for me to accept.

A therapist would probably say I’m moving through the stages of grief, and that’s likely the case.  I know from grief.  My people know from grief.  Generation after generation of Jewish people have been chased around the globe, experiencing plagues, famine, Holocaust and antisemitism.  And we are not alone in this.  Other cultures and peoples have faced similar obstacles and discrimination.  I can’t speak for the others, but I can speak for myself and my people.  The one thing we do to defend ourselves against the darkness is to survive.  We survive by carrying on our traditions.  We survive by being joyful.  We survive by telling the stories.  We survive by holding tight to each other, even if it is only in memory.

Most years we host a large group of friends and family to join our Seder.  I spend weeks planning and preparing the ritual foods and the traditional festive delicacies.  This year, obviously, the usual crowd will not be joining us live in our home.  It was with a heavy heart that a couple of weeks ago I emailed everyone to cancel.  And it was at that point that I really felt the enormity of what we are dealing with today.  I was also able to relate to the story of my ancestors and the challenges they faced.  Personally, my world has become pretty small and my life has slowed to a pace way out of my comfort zone.  But we will have our Seder.  We will include my son in California via Zoom.  I will make my chicken soup the way my mother taught me.  My husband, who will now be home, will make the brisket.  We will drink four cups of wine (really, the best part).  And, we will retell the story of our exodus and our journey to freedom.

The final prayer of the Seder meal is one in which we express our hope that next year we will celebrate in Jerusalem.  For me, the meaning is not to literally be in Jerusalem, although that would be amazing.  I think of Jerusalem as my spiritual home, the place where I can feel free to express my faith and tradition.  But my actual home, here in Nashville, is also a place where I can feel free to be myself and to enjoy life with my family and friends.  So, this year when we say the prayer, I will be thinking ahead to next Passover, when I can once again open my home and share the story of our survival and freedom with 30 of our nearest and dearest.  In the meantime, stay healthy, stay home and wash your hands.  xo

 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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Dogs Are My Favorite People

I can’t help it.  Dogs really are my favorite people.  I mean, when you’re happy they celebrate with you.  When you’re down, they’ll do their best to comfort you.  Unconditionally.  For my post today, I thought I would share an article and a video (https://youtu.be/zg6feSnBGYY).  The grammar’s a bit funky in spots, but I didn’t correct it.  Anyway, my sister shared this one on Facebook and I thought I would share it with you.  Have a woofing good day!

We call them “men’s best friend,” but apparently they are everyone’s best buddy. The unconditional love they offer, the loyalty and their friendly, gentle nature make dogs some of the most adorable creatures on Earth. And I’m sure we can all agree, no one’s brighting your day as a dog does. However, this lovely dog seems to take kindness to a whole new level. Everyone, meet Bruno.

Now, all dogs love walkings and they all got a bit the adventurous spirit, but Bruno – a Chesapeake-Lab mix is doing it for a great cause. He walks 4 miles everyday from his country home to Longville, Minnesota just to salute everyone. And he’s been doing this over the last 12 years.

Naturally, he’s a living legend among the locals and everybody heard about Bruno. “Everybody knows Bruno,” resident Sharon Rouse told KARE11 News. ” [You] may not know the people, but you’ll know Bruno. It’s just been his routine as far back as I know.”

Apparently, Bruno was a wanderer since he was just a pup. In fact, that’s how he met his owner, Larry LaVallee. “A guy come in my driveway, and Bruno was a little pup,” the man said. He says, ‘I found your dog at the end of your driveway.’ I says, ‘Well he ain’t my dog.’” But Larry instantly felt in love with that cute little puppy, so he decided to adopt him right away.

At some point, Larry tried to stop Bruno going on his daily journeys, thinking he might get hit by a car or he might get hurt, but he failed. So he decided to let the adventurous dog to complete his daily routine.

Everyone in the town knows Bruno. He use to visit the library, the ice cream shop, offices, grocery stores and even the city hall. And people are greeting him with warm hugs and food. “He’s our buddy, we kind of watch out for him the best way we can,” said Patrick Moran, an estate office owner. “Last week he came in stayed about an hour and a half or two hours.”

Bruno became so loved by the community, they named him the city’s ambassador and carved a statue of him. “He’s more friendly that most of the humans in town, and I’m not saying that in a negative way about the humans,” another local said. “He’s that lovable.”

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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