As someone who facilitates over 100 meetings a year (sympathy cards welcome), I have the occasion to ask my clients who work or volunteer in the Jewish non-profit world, “what makes a meeting a Jewish meeting?” The answers rarely vary much: an abundance of food, plenty of passionate disagreement and informal post-meeting meetings that happen in the parking lot after the official meeting has concluded. In other words, as participants in Jewish communal life, we tend to cater to our shared need to eat, argue, and avoid hurting each other’s feelings in public.
As soon as I heard the news about the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, I immediately thought to myself in horror “What if one of my kids had been a victim?” I also knew as soon as I thought it that there would have been absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent it had either or both of my 11-year old twins been in the worst possible place at the worst possible time.
But my next thought was even more upsetting: “What if one of my kids had been the shooter?”
If we’re not already Facebook friends, please come find me. You’ll get updated on what my son Jacob is baking for Shabbat, what sports victory my daughter Sophie is celebrating this week, and how patient my husband Michael is in managing all of our personalities and schedules without losing his sanity.
When it comes to Hebrew, I have mastered a single phrase, ani lo m’daberet ivrit, which means “I don’t speak Hebrew.” The problem is that, while my command of the Hebrew language is severely limited (read: previous sentence), my Israeli accent is pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. It leads to a significant amount of confusion on the part of the listener – that disconnect between what I am saying and how I am saying it. I see people look at me with confusion, wondering, “Does she really not speak Hebrew?