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Jodi's Blog (206)

7 Special Years I Wouldn't Change

Caily you are seven years old today and I clearly remember the day you were born and so much since.

I remember before you were born that I had an overwhelming feeling that something was…


Added by Jodi on February 25, 2015 at 12:00pm — 1 Comment

Beyond frustrated

It's North American  Disability Month and an opportunity for me to reflect yet again just how far behind the Jewish world and Orthodox community is when it comes to inclusion of people with special needs.

I know that there are many who work tirelessly in this field advocating and fighting for inclusion but the reality is the needle has not moved much.  Certainly in the 7 years that I have been part  of this world there has…


Added by Jodi on February 15, 2015 at 1:50pm — 2 Comments

Tomorrow is another day to make dreams come true

I recently liked a cute Facebook post, “Tomorrow is another day to make dreams come true”.

I went on a tiyul that visited communities in the south of Israel.  These border communities endured the war this past summer where they had to run for the bomb shelters up to forty times a day. One kibbutz had more than forty missiles land within their grounds and sadly they lost a beautiful 4 year old child in one of the…


Added by Jodi on February 3, 2015 at 4:30pm — No Comments


Anyone who has ever been to Israel knows all about Israeli chutzpa. Chutzpa is a word that is impossible to translate adequately – it’s a combination of outright audacity and the refusal to accept “no” for an answer, but it’s even more than that……

A few months ago we were at the Dead Sea and we wanted to make a barbecue. There were very clear signs all over advising that campfires and barbecues were forbidden yet there were many groups enjoying a campfire and/or barbecue. We asked a…


Added by Jodi on January 19, 2015 at 2:30am — No Comments

Feeling Like an Outsider

A few nights ago Gavin and I attended a music concert in Jerusalem.  There were not many Anglo's there and I felt completely alien in the environment. At the end of the concert Gavin confessed he felt the same.

We have been struggling with culture shock. We spent 8 summers in Israel, countless trips and I lived here in my gap year. Frankly we are both surprised that we are experiencing culture shock.



Added by Jodi on January 7, 2015 at 2:41am — 1 Comment

That kid should not be here

On Friday night I was in synagogue. After services a teenage choir performed for the community. A cute little kid went on stage and started dancing. While he was adorable, his father realized that he was stealing their thunder and whisked him off stage.
This kid was not happy and lay in a heap on the ground having a melt down as the father battled to pick him up and take him…

Added by Jodi on December 22, 2014 at 7:38pm — No Comments

Funny Face

A few weeks ago, we spent Shabbat with friends who also have a child with Down syndrome. At the end of Shabbat Caily looked at this child who is a few years older than her and said "You have a funny face!"  We all cracked up at the irony of the situation and I wanted to ask Caily "have you looked in the mirror recently? – You may see a similar “funny” face.”

We recently had a few situations that made me think about what we teach our kids. Caily was squabbling with another…


Added by Jodi on December 1, 2014 at 4:57pm — No Comments

Showing our Strength

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water.” Eleanor Roosevelt


I read the above quote a few months ago and thought about all the moms of special needs kids. None of us knew our strength until the day we heard a diagnosis that changed our lives forever changed and tested our strength. Anyone going through trauma, tragedy or major change will no doubt agree.

On Tuesday Israelis yet again had to deal with tragedy.…


Added by Jodi on November 21, 2014 at 2:30am — No Comments

Just do it

Gavin and I met in Israel 23 years ago, we were engaged 6 months later and have always dreamed about getting back to Israel where our story started. Over the years, we left South Africa, moved to New Zealand, then Australia and finally New York where we lived for the past 13 years. But we never gave up on our dream of going to Israel and were fortunate to be able to spend a couple of months in the summer there for the past 8 years. Then in September several things just suddenly fell into…


Added by Jodi on November 2, 2014 at 9:00am — No Comments

How One Family is changing the Way we see Down syndrome

Recently an article was written about my family on Living the Treaty Life.

Imagine for a moment, selecting a preschool for your child. You go through all the options, make enquiries and schedule…


Added by Jodi on October 20, 2014 at 3:57pm — No Comments

Have You Heard Our Exciting News?

You may have heard our exciting news… The Samuels family is moving to Israel. Gavin has accepted an offer to work there for the year. We are moving this week so the kids can maximize the school year.

This has all happened very suddenly as we only found out on Sept 19th that we would be able to go so soon. This is fitting though, as it is typical “Jodi Style” … 23 years of talking about living in Israel, spending entire summers in Israel and then…


Added by Jodi on October 4, 2014 at 5:00pm — No Comments

All Down Syndrome Babies Should Be Killed

Mid-August to October is the hardest time for any special needs mom.  It’s the time when one starts fighting for the services from the Department of Education that are mandated for your children, but have to be fought for anyway. It’s the time when you feel the indifference of the bureaucracy, yet to you and your family, every decision and every choice means so much to the special soul that you are advocating for.…


Added by Jodi on September 14, 2014 at 12:00pm — No Comments

A Real Disconnect

We have just concluded our 10 week summer vacation to Israel. We also stopped in Cypress, Berlin and a short side trip to Poland so that Meron can try meet his goal of 30 countries before his Barmitzvah  next year.

Yesterday we were on a train packed with backpackers.  It brought back lots of memories from my free spirited and crazy treks in Europe.  The good old days when I thought I was anonymous in society and that my actions had no consequences.  I have crazy…


Added by Jodi on September 2, 2014 at 4:15pm — No Comments

A Broken promise

Last night I was standing with Gavin watching a concert in Tzefat.  We are here for the Klezmer festival one of our favorite summer activities.

We were sitting on a low wall on the side when a group of religious guys came up to Gavin.  The one guy started explaining something to Gavin and I could see gesturing and nodding and then they left and Gavin had a smile on his face. I asked Gavin what they wanted. Apparently one of the guys had made a promise that he…


Added by Jodi on August 19, 2014 at 2:30am — No Comments

My Israel

I have been in Israel for seven weeks now and I have been struggling with a blog post. My struggle has been around the fact that I have so many ideas and so much to say that I could not find just one topic to focus on. I have experienced a country of unprecedented unity, a country at war, country mourning its dead and a people so resilient that life goes on no matter what the challenges.

Today, I read a heartfelt letter from a NY acquaintance that has spent 7 months in Jerusalem. She…


Added by Jodi on August 6, 2014 at 4:30pm — No Comments

What I Love About Israel

It’s been surreal being here through the sirens. After each siren I marvel how people just continue with life. It so Israeli – and I can only imagine the contrast in any US city if there was just one rocket. The city would be in lock down with mass hysteria.

There are many more subtle things that I appreciate too. This issue closest to my heart is how much more integrated special needs people are in society. I only have to reflect on my experiences dealing with summer camp. The answer…


Added by Jodi on July 15, 2014 at 3:05pm — No Comments

This is My Dream for Caily

The world is small and HaShem works in mysterious ways. We have been coming to Israel for many years and renting the same apartment each summer. 

When Caily was born I was referred to to read an article about a family who have a daughter with Down syndrome. The apartment has a guest book and I realized the names in the guest book were the same as the family. I reached out to the mom and she has been my guide since.…

Added by Jodi on July 7, 2014 at 4:00pm — No Comments

Reflecting on inclusion

As the school year ends I look at Caily with so much pride, she has achieved so much. Inside I tremble with fear. 
I have always known that the younger years were going to be easier. Caily is very cute but cute only gets you through to a certain age. When your kid with special needs is…

Added by Jodi on June 21, 2014 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Average can be great

My daughter Temira, age 10, frequently makes comments that are both wise beyond her years and highly amusing. Last week she said "Imma, why do the single girls we know always say they want a cute guy. They should just marry someone like Abba - he is just average - not good looking not bad looking but a great father and good husband." Needless to say this quote, when I posted on Facebook, received a huge amount of viral coverage because her comment is true not just for dating but so many…


Added by Jodi on June 12, 2014 at 11:00pm — 1 Comment

Bringing light and goodness in the face of devastation

Last week, our dear friends suffered a terrible tragedy – they lost their 3 month old son to SIDS. Its every parent’s worst nightmare to wake up and see that there baby is not breathing. The family then suffered a double tragedy when the 49 year old grandmother of the 3 month old, suddenly passed away while the family were sitting shiva. An absolutely devastating story.

A few days later I received hate mail targeted at my organization and me and some of our best volunteers. The person…


Added by Jodi on June 1, 2014 at 8:30am — No Comments

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