Blogging in the Book of Life

Blogging in the Book of Life

Times of Israel bloggers reveal their inspirations -- and their wishes for the new year

With Rosh Hashanah upon us, we asked our bloggers at The Times of Israel to reveal their wishes for the new year and briefly touch upon a special someone or something that inspired them in the past year. Some followed our instructions to the letter. Others chose to stick to either new-year wishes or last year’s inspirations. And still others didn’t get the memo. But those that came through succeeded in inspiring us, and we hope they’ll do the same for you.

Shana tova to our readers from all of us here at The Times of Israel. 

Laura Ben-David

My new-year wishes

As we all prepare our own iron-clad Rosh Hashanah family traditions, I would like to extend my own new year wishes to the entire Jewish people. Whether you’ll be praying fervently at synagogue, or praying no one makes you go to synagogue; whether you will be listening to the shofar blasts, or listening to blasting music; whether you will be dipping apples in honey or dipping shrimp in cocktail sauce… As we approach the Day of Judgement, it is my deepest wish that we stop judging one another. Let us always remember that we are all part of one nation, whatever our observance level. Let’s leave the judging to the Big Judge.

Zev Farber

My new-year wishes

To avoid sounding either too selfish or too selfless, here are two sets of wishes. For myself, I wish to successfully defend my dissertation by May, and land a good academic position in some place where my oldest (teenage) daughter will not curse me forever for moving her to. (If any readers happen to be chairs of search committees, there is no time like the present.) For Israel, I wish for more separation of church and state, better standards of living for all who are barely making it, equality for the disenfranchised, and safety for all its citizens from our many enemies, inside and out. Oh, and a kosher Wendy’s. I hear they have the best burgers.

My inspiration

A cause near and dear to my heart, and one about which I write most passionately, is the issue of religious extremism. This problem is seething in Israel and those who combat it fight an uphill battle. To my mind, two Jewish leaders stand out as having been active in pushing for religious tolerance and pluralism in Israel, and for protecting the rights of those citizens upon whom the more fanatical elements of the dati community — and I am dati myself — have infringed: Rabbi Dov Lipman and Rabbi Seth Farber (no relation, but a good friend). Seth’s work at Itim is inspiring; I send any and all queries and problems that come to my attention to him. Dov (whom I don’t know personally) was/is one of the leaders in the battle for Beit Shemesh, and often when I sit down to write a blog post, Dov has already written it, only better — which does save me time to work on my academic projects, so I thank him for this (as long as he doesn’t do it too often).

Sarah Tuttle-Singer

My inspiration

Last year, I took one of our 12 suitcases out of storage, dusted it off, opened it up, and crammed in all my clothes, three photo albums, my mom’s journals, a bag — (ok, fine, three bags) — of assorted hair and makeup products that I had collected before leaving LA, the silky zebra dress M. wore as a baby, and the tiny cotton onesie with the sheep parading up and down the middle that Little Homie wore for the first month after he was born.

And I left my home on the kibbutz.

And while the taxi roared out the big yellow gate and down the winding road lined with fragrant eucalyptus trees, shattering the stillness of the starless night, it occurred to me that I had forgotten something: my family.

My husband and I tried, but we couldn’t make it work.

Our marriage was broken. And over the last several months, instead of trying to Krazy Glue the hell out of the pieces, I ground my high-heel boots into them.

Dust to dust.

“Where the hell am I going to go?” I asked myself over and over and over during dark nights trapped in my mind. “What the hell am I going to do?”

Usually, when a couple splits, they follow the standard protocol: the wife has support from her community — her family and the friends who are like family — while the husband has his people who stand behind him.

But what do you do when you’re all alone in a new country, and you’re going through a divorce, and the only so-called community you have has your husband’s back and not yours?

You build your own community. That’s what you do. In moments large and small, you create a home for yourself, even if you have to start from scratch. And slowly, slowly, slowly, that’s what I’ve done, through writing and (over)sharing with the incredible virtual community at Kveller, led by the incomparable Debbie Kolben. My writing at Kveller has brought me an incredible network of support: from job opportunities to friendships both virtual and in person. And there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t recognize the incredible impact this website has had on my life. And beyond my story, Kveller has created a safe space for parents to knowledge their shortcomings and share their stories of strength.

Devora Mason

My inspiration

When I started out this new year I never would have thought that I would become a part of such a compelling and stimulating motley group of people such as The Times of Israel bloggers. I have become part of something so special and so different: each writer inspiring in their own way. I am able to write about my experiences, my thoughts, to offer advice, and when all else fails, to just blab away online even if no one is listening. My “Ask Devora” column gives me an interactive edge with my readers, and our blogger’s events makes me feel connected to others who are writing for many of the same reasons that I am. My goal for this coming year is to somehow, somewhere, get David Horovitz to dance in public. Here’s to another fabulous year…this last one is still vibrating!

Marc Goldberg

My inspiration

The beautiful thing about Israel is that just about everyone in this country is going to be celebrating in their own special way. While many will be in shul and many will be by the beach, and still more will celebrating at home with their families, one bunch of people will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah by helping others. At the Jaffa Institute, volunteers will be packing food parcels for 1,400 Holocaust survivors and other deprived people in the Tel Aviv/Jaffa area. This year they are hoping to feed 150 more families than last year.

My new-year wishes

It’s the kind of selflessness exhibited by the people of the Jaffa Institute as they quietly and selflessly go about their work that inspires me as we move into the new year. So as I wish all the readers of the Times of Israel a happy new year I ask that you take the opportunity to head over to the Jaffa Institute website and see what you can do to mark the end of one year and the beginning of another by helping someone else. Have a happy, healthy and sweet New Year.

Lynette Nusbacher

My inspiration

My mother, who is going through her third round with cancer right now, is my inspiration for soldiering on. She had the pancreatic cancer, she had the lung cancer, and the new cancer — who knows? She took chemotherapy as a weight-loss program and an opportunity to try some new hair color. She is a badass lady from Brooklyn who doesn’t give up. She’s earned all over again the respect I should have had for her when I was younger, and she’s my example for dealing with the lesser troubles in my life.

Varda Epstein

My new-year wishes

My wish for the coming year is that President Obama will not be elected to a second term and that his constituents will learn to look outside their favorite domestic issues to the more serious conflicts that threaten all of humanity, now and in the future. In order for this to happen, people will need to stop swallowing whole the fare fed them by the mainstream media in its efforts to win the ratings war, and instead develop new, more credible sources of information. The Times of Israel is a good place to start!

My inspiration

The person who has influenced me most this year is my husband, Dov Epstein. He has an uncanny way of succinctly summing up current events, predicting the possible outcomes of those events, and hitting on the perfect solutions to conflicts and issues. If only he were running for prime minister — I’d vote for him in a heartbeat.

Shira Zwebner

My new-year wishes

Normally, I don’t share my wishes for the new year. It’s a bit like when you close your eyes and blow out the candles on your birthday cake — you just don’t reveal your wish because then it won’t come true.

But, this year, I’m going to make the exception. First and foremost, I wish good health to all of my family and friends (and all of you, dear readers). I wish that Hashem will continue to bless my little nuclear family with good health, happiness, a steady income, and opportunities to do good deeds. I wish to be able to make my family happy, whether it be by making my husband a specific dish that he loves, or just finding the time to get down on the living room floor and play with my girls. To be blessed with the wisdom to educate and discipline responsibly and effectively, and that my daughters spend as little time as possible in Time Out. To declutter our apartment, and finally put away that bottle of Glenlivet! (I don’t mean by ingesting; just putting it back in the liquor cabinet.)

For my sister and brother-in-law, who are new olim to Israel, to both find jobs soon so they can continue to realize their lifelong dream of living in Eretz Yisrael. That my brother, a single, 31-year-old, handsome, kind, witty, successful, well dressed, awesome guy, will find his bashert this year.

For peace and harmony to prevail, and that it’ll turn out that war is nothing but a game schoolboys play with their imagination. For my parents to experience tremendous pride and joy from their children and grandchildren. To end my addiction to Facebook and Twitter and finish writing my second book, and to find a book agent and publisher to actually publish it. For long life, to be written into the Book of Life for another year, and to see my grandmother at her 90th birthday (please G-d!). For Sookie and Eric to survive Bill, and for the cancellation of “Keeping up with the Kardashians.”

Rain in Israel throughout the winter, and milder summers, so I don’t turn into a puddle when I leave the apartment. To skype more often with my older sister and her family. For the New York Jets to win the Super Bowl.

And, saving the best for last, for another year of love and laughter, mutual respect and joyful moment, with my one and only.

Shana tova to all!

Sharon Altshul

My new-year wishes

To say I would like more cash and less photo credit as my one wish for the new year, I know is really bad.

I hope that if I am walking with camera in hand and a rider crashes and tumbles off his bike, he will get up, brush himself off without a scratch, and ride home. That if I am on the scene, speeding cars will stop within a centimeter of impact. Riots? Forget it.

So it seems that as long as I never get that OMG amazing photo, it really is a good thing for a very good year for all. Shana Tova.

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