Monday, April 07, 2008

Family report

You may wonder why my blogging has really dropped off. Fun gone out of my life? Israel no longer so fresh and new? Certainly, these are good possibilities. That is, we've settled in a bit here, much to our surprise, people are busy - Natan's in play #3 of this year, Tick, Tick, Boom!, where he plays Michael, aged 30, HIV positive (actually he announces it more like AIDS, but I informed Natan that he's probably alive today, unlike the protagonist, Jonathan Larson, the playwright, who while straight, died of an aortic aneurysm the night before Rent officially opened) and struggling to make his peace with having left the world of acting for the business world and ultimately financial success. The play isn't a perfect one, and the production is a simply produced one and not perfectly directed (it's a teen direction team) but the principals all work hard and in particular, the girlfriend has a great voice. For Natan, it's a real departure - a role of some maturity, with modern, pop music which he has worked hard to learn to sing as his general style is more classical, and real choreography done by a young, hip hip dancer named Marvin. This play is definitely more fun than Korzcak's Children, where he plays a Nazi lieutenant, albeit it a sympathetic one. That play, is not a bad one, and the guy who plays Janusz Korzcak is really great.

Then of course, there was the family participation in the recent Wizard of Oz - Ira as Wizard, Natan as Tree, Winkie and Emerald Citizen. That was fun for many reasons mostly having to do with Ira's return to the stage after 30 years, in what was a brilliant and somewhat typecast role (at least to his family). Imagine if you will, Ira in vest and tailcoat, pate shining in the spotlights pontificating about brains 'Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity.'
How about fear, 'Frightened? Child, you're talking to a man who's laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe... I was petrified.' And as his balloon floats away without Dorothy - 'I don't know how it works...' It should be added that Gabe and Natan also worked liked trojans backstage - it was a big production.

Gabe, the Hebrew speaking expert of the house, plays football on Sundays, baseball on Mondays, ping pong on Tuesdays (he's retiring from that, he tells me) and TURNS 15 on TUESDAY!!! This is too much for me to dwell on really and we're canceling his birthday this year. He's really enjoying the Democratic School although I assure you that not much educational is allowed to penetrate past his teenage brain. I hope that we'll have a breakthrough and I'm looking forward to sitting on his head when he 'homeschools' this summer. We'll see.

Akiva and I are just 'floating here in the pool.' Akiva continues to enjoy school and his afternoons of horseback riding, occasional trips to the pool (this will increase with the warmer weather) and park (right now it's perfect park season) and his animal chug/activity at Ramat Rachel, playing with the bunnies, feeding the ducks and the goat and sheep and other animals who live there. He's much taller for those of you who haven't seen him in a while and his Hebrew continues come along nicely. His horseback riding is fabulous - he's posting ('kum-shev') and he's raising his hands with the reins and turning the horse. This is truly exciting to watch and I think that Fran in Brooklyn at Kensington Stables would be delighted to hear about it. His teacher Netanela is great with him and really skilled too. We're still struggling with toilet training but I imagine that as in all things Akiva related, it will take it's time and we need to be patient and accepting.

Shutaf (to see pics, look at our old website) Pre-Pesach camp will, to use a Hebrew turn of phrase, get on it's way/'yotzeh la'derekh' next Sunday. We're very excited - 30 kids (we're waiting on the final few), 4 young adults, 14 staffers, and 2 very tired founders, myself and my lovely partner, Miriam Avraham. I can't believe that I'm a camp administrator and I can't believe that we've come this far in less than a year! We raised close to 15k to make this camp happen and it would not have happened without the dedication and support of friends near and far. Pretty much all I do these days, is Shutaf, which has been both wonderful and exhausting. We hope over the next few months to be able to find funding that will let us breathe a bit more and focus on the summer program as well as getting our weekly youth movement program going next fall. All good things for kids with special needs and their friends here in Israel.

Beth says, 'Get involved, tell your community, email me about how you can visit us, volunteer, be part of the Shutaf community of friends.' But seriously, this is a good and important project and even from afar you can make a difference. Readers, if you know of anyone to whom this would resonate, please help me be in touch with them. If you have contacts in Israel as well, I'd be delighted to follow up on them. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a a country to raise awareness and change ideas about acceptance and inclusion and build real equality and understanding between all people - whether they have a disability or not.