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Jodi's Blog (183)

Can you help me?

When I lived in South Africa I used to take school-aged kids with limited Jewish backgrounds on away Shabbatons. Part of the programing was an activity where Judaism is shown in museum of the future as an old religion that is no longer around. The message was that if we do not care about your heritage then one day our grandchildren will walk through a museum of Judaism as Jewish life will cease to exist. Cute activity but in South Africa 20 years ago there was very little assimilation and…

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Added by Jodi on April 8, 2014 at 12:32pm — No Comments

My Personal Mission

On Shabbat we took a JICNY group to Crown Heights for Shabbat. We were privileged to hear Rabbi Simon Jacobson speak about having a purposeful life and he said that each person should know what their personal mission in life is. He spoke about the crises in our modern world with so many unhappy people and so many people relying on therapy. His suggested the anti-dote is that people should know what their personal mission in the world is -…

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Added by Jodi on March 26, 2014 at 7:00pm — No Comments

Preaching to the Choir

I attended the “Reel Abilities” Film Festival at the JCC in Manhattan. This festival is unique in that all the movies share a common theme and focus on people with various kinds of disabilities – physical, cognitive or psychiatric; genetic, congenital or acquired.

I love these movies as they give me a different perspective on the world and educates me on those forms of disabilities that I am not as familiar with.

As one on the opening night speakers said of the festival, "It…

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Added by Jodi on March 13, 2014 at 8:30am — No Comments

Who loves me?

Every night, when we put Caila to sleep, after her bedtime story,the last thing she asks us to do is to go through a list of everyone who loves her. We rattle off the names of family, friends, class mates, teachers and therapists. She beams through the whole process and then turns onto a her side with beautiful look of pure content and off to dream land she goes.

Caila feels so loved and accepted. In spite of her challenges she is exceptionally confident and will always offer to lead…

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Added by Jodi on February 25, 2014 at 8:00am — No Comments

America the beautiful - my favorite travel destinations

Recently I have travelled a lot even by my standards, I was in North Carolina, home 1 week then Miami, home a week and then South Africa for a family visit that included 17 hrs flight each way and 3 nights on the ground. Home a week and for my kids' winter break we are now in Arizona. Gavin and I realize that we have an unusual set up where we both can work from anywhere and we also make use of the miles and hotel points acquired on Gavin's frequent business travel. …

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Added by Jodi on February 14, 2014 at 4:04am — No Comments

My disability awareness

February marks Disability Awareness Month and each year since I have joined this community I see hints of progress. In fact this link shares that even the fashion industry is rethinking the definition of a perfect body. http://www.upworthy.com/i-bet-these-people-never-expected-to-be-models-but-the-results-are-so-gorgeous-2?g=3&c=reccon1

Along with…

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Added by Jodi on February 5, 2014 at 2:00am — No Comments

I Left South Africa 20 Years Ago Today

What a journey! 3 countries, 9 cities and 27 apartments before making Manhattan home almost 14 years ago!



Our adventures included living in the outback in Australia and the most remote parts of New Zealand. We got married very young and we had aspirations to make aliya and move to Israel.  Gavin had a large student loan from medical school and there was arbitrage opportunities working as a doctor in outback areas where they paid a lot and we could take these…

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Added by Jodi on January 13, 2014 at 2:48pm — No Comments

You have to be the change you want to see

I have been reading the book ‘I am Malala’, the story of Malala Yousafzai, the young girl shot in Pakistan by the Taliban for going to school, I heard her speak at the UN at age 16 and heard her TV interviews. Like many around the world, I was captivated by her bravery and passion and so was inspired to read the book.

Malala comes from a poor family in a poor part of the world with extremely repressive conditions especially for woman. Malala did not see herself as the victim but…

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Added by Jodi on December 31, 2013 at 9:30am — No Comments

Memories of Mandela

Although I left South Africa over 20 years ago I have still been caught up in the emotion and passion surrounding Nelson Mandela’s death. He was a true statesman and leader. He was a complex person who was more than a terrorist, freedom fighter and president. For those who did not live in South Africa at the time you may not appreciate just how on the edge the country was. It was his leadership as a peacemaker that allowed South Africa to be a success story.

Mandela's death has…

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Added by Jodi on December 17, 2013 at 3:00pm — No Comments

Resilience

My kids come home from groups at shul with prizes. They go to birthday parties and come with goody-bags. Chanukah just ended and even though we only gave them one gift they got gifts from friends, the nanny and all the parties they attended. Candy is out of fashion and prizes are in. Like candy, in my view these prizes are also unhealthy.

We are raising a generation of children who have so much that they cannot appreciate anything. It's all about having and not about enjoying or…

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Added by Jodi on December 9, 2013 at 12:46pm — No Comments

Challenge of Special Needs Siblings

When I heard the news that Caila had Down’s syndrome I was naturally shocked. I had so many emotions, thoughts and fear raging through me.  I was worried about how this would impact the lives of my other children.

Five years on the whole experience of parenting a special needs child is not…

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Added by Jodi on December 1, 2013 at 5:30am — No Comments

Have you heard about the new Jewish special needs school in Manhattan?

This week we had our monthly team meeting for Caila where all her therapists and teachers get together to discuss her progress and challenges. The ELC Principal asked us if we were smiling? She went on to say, “because I am smiling” While Caila has her challenges in an inclusion classroom, she is making wonderful progress with hard work, a dedicated and skilled SAR Faculty and lots of support. We are all delighted!

“Have you heard about the new Jewish special needs school in…

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Added by Jodi on November 22, 2013 at 1:30pm — No Comments

I Have A Dream

I was lucky enough to attend the GA - The General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. This year's conference was in Jerusalem and provided the perfect opportunity to combine a business trip to visit my jdeal team with some inspiration for the work I do in the community.

I have recently attended many big Jewish conferences including AIPAC and…

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Added by Jodi on November 14, 2013 at 4:14am — No Comments

Jewfest

Last week I attended Kosherfest, the largest kosher food industry trade show. Every year, I find the whole experience fascinating. There are retailers, wholesalers, media, food bloggers, industry professionals and people just there to taste food. You also see every kind of Jew. Chassidim speaking Yiddish,…

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Added by Jodi on November 7, 2013 at 10:00am — 1 Comment

Lessons from my crazy week running a big event

What a week! My annual gala for JICNY was on Monday. It is the one event that we use to raise money to fund our annual budget. It's always a stressful event as I need the funds and rely on the event. I work full time, so pulling this off as a volunteer is very stressful. We have also set the standard that people know our…

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Added by Jodi on October 27, 2013 at 8:50am — No Comments

Living in NY

We just spent Shabbat in Newton outside of Boston. Gavin's uncle started a family tree and found the Samuels branch in Chicago. One son Rabbi Samuels lives in Newton.



So many people asked us if we like living in a big city and I answer that I live in a village.  I really feel that NY is a series of villages. You live, shop and socialize in a few block radius. There may be many nail places or dry cleaners but you use the local ones. I have lived on the same…

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Added by Jodi on October 6, 2013 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

Inclusion is not easy but its the right thing to do

I read a blog last night about a family whose son started a new school and was sent home on the first day of school with the administration citing behavior issues. There were no formal assessments by experts just summary conclusions by people with 25 years of experience that this child should not return to the school.…

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Added by Jodi on September 25, 2013 at 6:43am — No Comments

Inclusion is not easy but its the right thing to do

I read a blog last night about a family whose son started a new school and was sent home on the first day of school with the administration citing behavior issues. There were no formal assessments by experts just summary conclusions by people with 25 years of experience that this child should not return to the school.

I read this in bed just before going to sleep and it was on my mind all night. It reminded me of our situation 4 years ago when we applied to the community day school…

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Added by Jodi on September 25, 2013 at 6:30am — No Comments

Fighting for inclusion

Fighting for Inclusion

One of my five New Year's resolutions included writing my blog every week. So far I have been somewhat more successful with my diet resolution. The reality is that I am been so busy because we launched jgives.com our new charity portal, just before Rosh Hashana. I also hosted almost every meal over Rosh Hashana in Tel Aviv where I did not have a kosher kitchen just foil trays, 1 pot and 1 knife and no help at…

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Added by Jodi on September 16, 2013 at 1:30pm — No Comments

Intrepid travels with the Samuels family

We are in the final leg of week-long trip to Bosnia, Croatia and Montenegro. We decided on these countries after meeting a backpacker at a coffee shop in Turkey last year. When he realized we were also Jewish travelers he "bageled" us and we schmoozed. He had been on a 2 year travel and he said the Balkans were his highlight - cheap, friendly, beautiful, historically rich and relatively easy to travel.

I immediately started researching and I could tick off my criteria: Inexpensive,…

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Added by Jodi on August 20, 2013 at 2:43am — No Comments

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