Friday, March 8, 2013

Why I Like International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day. It's a celebration of how far women have come from preparing the pottage in the tent and washing the menfolk's feet to being full partners in running the world. And also a reminder to keep fighting for the right to be full partners and whatever it takes to achieve this - usually issues to do with pregnancy and childcare.

Candi at Looking For Blue Sky has written why she doesn't like International Women's Day. You can read her post HERE. She ends with the words:

"Don't get me wrong: I love my children more than life itself.  I just don't love the way that society views me now that I am a mother.  And until that changes, International Women's Day is pretty meaningless."

I started a comment in reply to Candi but my thoughts on this subject need their own space. So here they are.

Men don't need to fight for equality in the workplace. There is no cause, fight, or issue with men in the workplace. I don't think there is much of an issue either for women who don't have children. Except in religion (don't get me started), women who are free to devote as much time to their careers as men have pretty much arrived in the boardroom. 

The issues, therefore, are about childcare. There's also the care of elderly parents to some extent, so perhaps the issue is about the role of carer in any family. It doesn't matter which adult in the family is the carer - a mother, a father, a grandparent or a hired nanny/housekeeper. The point is that there needs to be a carer and that has traditionally, and obviously, been the woman. 

The facts of lower infant mortality, family planning, and washing machines free up the modern woman to the extent that she can go out to work and have a fulfilling career. If the family has alternative 'carer' arrangements there's no conflict. But modern medicine and technology don't negate the need for a designated carer in the family. By definition, the primary carer needs to be available for family stuff. 

I agree that girls should be educated as much as boys, for whatever role they choose as adults. And I believe they should have the choice. I agree that once a woman has chosen the career track and, if she has children, her family has an alternative carer, then she should have equal opportunities and remuneration at work. I agree we should celebrate that women have these choices when for so many centuries they did not.

I don't agree that society looks down on mothers. Who is this 'society'? Society is made up of many sub-groups and the one I would most like to identify with at this stage in my life - the homemakers, mothers, and carers' society - most certainly does not look down on me for being a mother. In fact, I used to feel looked down upon for not being a mother (before I was one) far more than I do now for having a job rather than running a department.

As a single mother this means I have given up on a lot of material things but I am not less, I am more for finding the joy in free entertainment and simple food. My place in society is not defined by my spending power. You can contribute plenty in non-monetary ways.

However, I would not say that society looks down on women without children. I would say that your personal vulnerability and ambition dictates how you see yourself in the eyes of 'society'. 

I never had big ambitions to conquer the world. I only ever wanted to be a mother and a homemaker. I have a circle of friends who enjoy and take pride in being the carers rather than the careers in their families. Most of them also work, many in high-powered careers but with the restrictions that go with being the family carer. And those of them who are lucky enough not to have to work for a salary, contribute loads by way of voluntary work and have much to be proud of. 

You can feel victimised in this role or you can relish it. It's not about how society views you, it's about how you view yourself. If a group of corporate big-wigs look down on you so what? Society isn't only those in the boardroom. Society is also the mothers, the teachers, the grandparents, the nurses, the shopkeepers, and the carers. 

International Women's Day isn't just about smashing the glass ceiling. We can also celebrate the power, for example, of the homemaker bloggers (mostly women) who have knocked the consumer world sideways with their online outreach and influence. We can celebrate women's business initiatives in the developing world that utilise the power of women to educate their children and raise their families out of poverty. I personally celebrate single mothers who have chosen to be included in the society of families even though they were not lucky enough find their life partner. 

I love being a woman in 2013 and this is why I celebrate International Women's Day. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Good Deeds Day 2013

Good Deeds Day is an annual celebration of good deeds. All over the world, hundreds of thousands choose to volunteer and help others, putting into practice the simple idea that every single person can do something good, be it large or small, to improve the lives of others and positively change the world.Good Deeds Day will take place March 10, 2013.
Taken from the Good Deeds Day website. 

Good Deeds Day was started in Israel in 2007 by local philanthropist and business woman Shari Arison. Since then it has spread to over 30 countries worldwide. It's as simple as it sounds. We celebrated it here in Israel yesterday, March 5th, but the rest of the world is doing it on Sunday 10th March. 

Nearly 400,000 people here signed up for more than 5,000 good deed projects. Here's one that I love that happened at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

DD and I went to another Good Deeds event in our neighbourhood - The Yedidya Bazaar. Organized by  Noomi Stahl and her team of volunteers, I was aware that they had been collecting all and any second-hand goods. I thought it was just going to be a massive jumble sale with proceeds going to charity. I had some books to donate and I wanted to give my support so we went. I took some money of course and laid out the ground rules to DD on the way there. "We can each choose one thing." I knew there were going to be a lot of books and toys as well as clothes, shoes, and household stuff.

So we get there and see an enormous hall full of all of the above and nobody is selling. People seem to be taking whatever they want, bagging it and walking off. Strange. Obviously I asked and found the most brilliant system going on. You take what you want and pay 2 shekels (approx 30p) for each item on your way out. And at the exits there were indeed tables manned by volunteers who were counting items as customers left.

We came out with 4 books for DD, 1 book for me, and a box of Mickey Mouse jigsaw puzzles. (6 items = 12 shekels or about 2 GBpounds). I had taken proper money and I was prepared to pay something decent for charity and come away with a couple of things. However, the real good deed was seeing many people who were kitting out their entire family with the clothes - people who wait all year for this event. People for whom 2 shekels an item is a Godsend.

My friend told me that they made over 4,000 shekels the first day (they run it for two days) - that's more than 2,000 donated items gone to new homes. I'm saving up all my hand-me-downs and pass-me-ons for the Yedidya Bazaar next year.

Anyone got any Good Deeds Day stories to share?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits 3

DD (waking up at 6am with the sun streaming in through the window): Mummy! I want to get up now!
Me: Not yet, it's too early.

DD (after a whole load of sweets): One more toffee or no?
Me: No
DD: I didn't know, that's why I was asking.

Me (holding up two shirts): Which top do you want?
DD (chanting but not pointing): En-den-deeno, soffa-lakka-teeno, soffa-lakka-tikka-toe, elik-belik-bom,
Bom Bom Bom
Niftach et ha'albom (we'll open the album)
Sham tireh otee (there you'll see me)
Beyom huladetee (on my birthday)
Tee tee tee (me me me)
Ach-oh-tee (my sister)
Hamelech amar (the king says)
Tispor ad..... (count to....)
Kamah? (How much?)

She points to the orange shirt and shouts: "ACHAD! that one."

Monday, March 4, 2013

More On Monday - Mishloah Manot

As a follow up to my Silent Sunday picture yesterday. This was our Mishloah Manot for the festival of Purim. Purim is all about the story of Queen Esther and the wicked Haman. Apart from dressing up in costume and eating and drinking a lot after listening to the Purim story read aloud and trying to drown our every mention of the wicked Haman with rattles, whistles, boos and stomping of feet... apart from that, one of the customs is to give two ready-to-eat foods as gifts to at least two recipients.

"It is meant to ensure that everyone has enough food for the Purim feast held later in the day, and to increase love and friendship among Jews as a counter to Haman's assertion that the Jewish people are characterized by strife and disunity." Wikipedia/Mishloah manot

It's great to buy all sorts of fun edibles and get the children involved in wrapping them, writing cards and delivering them on the day. Unfortunately - or fortunately because everyone has so many friends - it has deteriorated into a grand swapping of sugary junk (sweets, chocolates, biscuits, etc.). The kids love it. This is how it works:

You spend an enormous amount of money on sugery junk, spend a few hours wrapping it up nicely with homemade cards, you take them round to your friends and gleefully hand them over to your friends's children, and finally you return home to find a whole pile of similar junk left on your doorstep by other friends. The friends you visited obviously gave you their gift on the spot so you also have a bag full of stuff equal to the bag you gave away.

You try and hide it from the children as much as possible, throw some away while they're not looking (feeling guilty for wasting food as if gummy snakes are food - LOL), ration it, put quite a lot inside your own stomach (in order to save your children's teeth you understand).... and then  you just give up. "Have what you like. Once it's gone it's gone." 

Every year I say I'm going to do healthy Mishloah Manot next year. The traditional custom was to give real food and some people do this. When you get a real dish (a small lasagne, a little quiche, or homemade bread and cheese) it is so appreciated. One friend made granola and gave little boxes of it with a fresh pear. That was my personal favourite this year. I'm thinking little potato kugels next year. 

Whatever happens, I'm on a mission to convert the Jews to Real Food Mishloah Manot! (RFMM!) Out with the junk I say! Two, four, six, eight, what do we appreciate?- RFMM! We shall overcome..... I just have to get my daughter on board. She'll be 5 next year. What are my chances? 

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Unexpected Jerusalem Marathon 2013

Photo: Lesley Prais
Obviously the Jerusalem marathon was expected. DD had no kindergarten, the roads were closed, it was all over the papers and fb, friends had been training for months. But we weren't even going to go. Well we had planned to go to the end of the road to see them running past but we got up later than expected. The route comes down Yehuda Street and crosses Bethlehem Way at the end of our road. The paper said they'd be there between about 9am and 9.30. So we were going to mosey over and take a look.

However, no kindergarten means no alarm clock and no reason to move ourselves with any urgency. We eventually left the house at 9.45 and decided to go shopping. I even had my shopping trolley with me and it hadn't even occurred to me to bring the camera (I so need a smart phone). 

Then we heard the music. So of course we followed the music, just to see if there was anything left to see. I now realize that the 9 to 9.30 prediction was for the professional athletes who come in from all over the world (and Guy Gordon). We missed them but our experience was even better. 

First we saw Dafna and Didi Melchior running with their son Dvir. Then Eliot Sacks. Then Martin Sykes. I realized that we'd arrived at exactly the right time to see all my 30/40/50-something friends who were running either the whole, the half marathon, or the 10k. Sorry we didn't see you David Graniewitz, Yael Zisquit-Gabbai, Robin Zalben, and the Behrmans - next year. 

Photo: Nadia M Levene
The music blared, there were clowns juggling, the neighbourhood was out cheering. DD put out her hand for [low] fives (kiff in Hebrew) with the runners as they went by. We chatted with friends, danced, clapped... I had to ask a friend to take a couple of photos for the blog and email them to me - thanks Lesley Prais. Then Nadia Levine said I could take photos from her wall. So thanks Nadia too. 

Over an hour later we went shopping. I couldn't drag DD away - "just one more kiff mummy". I didn't know it was such fun to watch - I mean it's just running after all. Next year we'll take sandwiches and a thermos :).