Motherhood

16 Surprising Things About Parenting in Israel

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

Our Motherhood Around the World series continues today in the ancient city of Jerusalem. Three years ago, Dasee Berkowitz and her husband, Leon, moved from the States to Israel with their three young children. Here, she tells us about desert camping, her trick for sneaking in dates with her husband and her favorite Jewish ritual…

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

Part of the wall around Jerusalem’s Old City.

On deciding to move to Israel: After graduating from college, I made aliyah, which is the Hebrew word for immigrating to Israel as a Jewish person from elsewhere (in my case, the U.S.). I lived here for 10 years and met Leon. We moved back to New York, where he became the rabbi at the oldest synagogue on Long Island. But it was always my dream to return here to raise our family. I think that contributing to the modern state of Israel is the most exciting project of the Jewish people in my lifetime, and I wanted to be a part of it. Now, we both work in Jewish education: Leon runs the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies and I’m the director of ‘Becoming a Soulful Parent’ at an organization called Ayeka.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

Dasee’s daughter Yael strolling in Baka, near their neighborhood of Arnona, in Southern Jerusalem.

On first impressions: The raw beauty of this place is condensed in the fresh, dry smell of the Jerusalem air. At night, you catch the scent of lavender and rosemary bushes that grow wild in many neighborhoods. In the morning, there’s whiffs of sunshine and dust. Whenever my family comes back from a trip, we immediately feel at home when Jerusalem air hits our noses.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

Quiet Jerusalem streets on Shabbat.

On weekly rituals: My favorite part of the week is Friday night, which we call erev Shabbat in Hebrew. [Shabbat, observed from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, is the Jewish day of rest.] Stores close early and people hustle home, leaving the streets quiet. There’s always the smell of something good cooking in our building’s hallways. My husband makes fresh chicken soup, which we have with challah bread, salatim or salads, hummus, a sesame dip called techina and other spreads. We love picking fresh rosemary, chopping it up and mixing it with olive oil and good sea salt for dipping the bread. A siren goes off at nightfall in the city, announcing Shabbat. My kids are usually in the bath and we love to listen for it. Then, before heading off to synagogue with the older kids, I light candles and offer a short, quiet personal prayer about something I want to work on in myself or as a mom.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

On giving kids space: In general, Israeli parents aren’t helicopter parents. My husband and I take measured risks in order to help our kids grow. I came home recently at 8 p.m. and saw the kind of scene that I love: my eight-year-old son Tamir and six-year-old daughter Yael were on their scooters in front of our building, with no adults in sight, playing with a friend they had just made. It’s a subtle shift to let them have those unsupervised moments. The most rewarding thing was when my son came home from his first overnight camping trip with his scout troop. His hair was slicked back with gel (some funny initiation rite) and his scalp filled with sand from the desert. He had the brightest, wildest eyes and biggest smile — clearly, he had had the time of his life — but said, ‘Imma, I missed you so much.’ That kind of independence — pushing yourself to try something new, combined with a longing to be in the nurturing cradle of home — is the Israeli recipe for happy, resilient children.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

Dasee’s daughters, Yael and Shalva, playing goomey at home.

On playing: Kids are always playing outside here, and there are parks and playgrounds in every neighborhood. Goomey is all the rage at the moment. It’s a version of jumprope that involves holding an elastic around your ankles, knees or hips while your friends bounce over, under, around and through it. My kids can derive hours of entertainment from a piece of elastic that costs about $1.50. And, like in the States, kids adore their ‘corkinets,’ which is the word here for scooters.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

On personal boundaries: In Jerusalem, the divisions between professional and personal are porous. If your child is sick, your boss will assume that of course you’re taking the day off. By contrast, in New York, I sometimes felt that to be taken seriously as a professional I had to hide the fact that I even had kids. And most people feel compelled to help strangers. The other day I was at the bank to get money and realized I’d left my wallet at home. That meant I wouldn’t have any cash to pay for parking or anything else. The teller’s response was, ‘Do you need some money?’ She was immediately ready to give me money from her own pocket.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

Schoolchildren dancing in the Old City.

On raising children amid political strife: From an early age, kids here have some grasp on politics and war. It always amazes me, having grown up much more obliviously in the States. I sometimes wonder whether our previous family life in Long Island, New York, was too sheltered, or if we are now on the opposite path, exposing our family to topics that are too difficult for children. On Memorial Day in the U.S., for example, you might go to a parade or do some sale shopping — probably not thinking much about the root of the holiday. But here, Memorial Day is intensely personal. There’s an ongoing war — everyone knows someone who has been killed in a battle or terrorist attack. A siren goes off throughout the city for two minutes on Memorial Day, honoring fallen soldiers while children stand at attention. At age six, my eldest daughter said, ‘We aren’t allowed to smile today. It’s a sad day,’ and then nudged her four-year-old sister to stand at attention properly.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

An Independence Day celebration in Jerusalem.

On difficult times: We arrived during a war time between Israel and Gaza, and it was very tough. We were trying to acclimate our kids, who didn’t yet speak Hebrew, and get settled in our new home. My girls were too young to understand what was happening, but my then-six-year-old son was in summer camp and would ask to wear his Israeli army T-shirt every day. He would say, ‘I am going to take off this T-shirt only when we win the battle.’ I tried to talk to him about what was happening in a way that was sensitive, hopeful and not too scary. Everyone has mandatory military service when they turn 18 — three years for males and two years for females — so children learn about it from the time they can talk. It’s seen as a natural step at that stage in their life. Eighteen is not so far off for my eight-year-old son, so I’m definitely hoping and praying for peace in the next decade.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

The Neve Tzedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

On dating your husband: Our trick is to book ‘date days’ as much as possible — we’re often too tired for date nights. On a Friday morning, we’ll go to our favorite health food store for a buffet breakfast of fresh juice, veggies, bread and spreads. When we sit down, we lock our eyes on each other, so that all the passersby we know (Jerusalem feels like a small town) get the signal to give us some private time. A couple of times a year we’ll take a whole day off together. We drop the kids off at school and then jump in the car to Tel Aviv for the day. We love going to Neve Tzedek, an old neighborhood with beautiful narrow streets filled with cafes and shops. We’ll each hop on a Tel-O-Fun, a municipal bike, and ride around. Leon and I also have a joke about the perfect ‘two-minute vacation,’ which in the summertime amounts to floating on your back in the ocean by yourself while the other parent plays with the kids in the sand. It’s the most relaxing two minutes!

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

On desert camping: Family camping is a big part of the culture here, and we’ve embraced it. The awesome but somewhat strange Israeli tradition is smoking cans of tuna fish on the campfire. You take the lid off, pour out the oil, and then cover the top with a piece of toilet paper! Then, you light the paper on fire and it smokes the fish. It’s really delicious, once you remove the bits of unburned toilet paper from your meal. (Roasting marshmallows is also a big hit, although our last camping trip was during Passover. S’mores made with matza are just not the same!) We also love to visit a kibbutz, or rural community, called Ketura. It’s only a four-hour drive from our apartment, but it feels like a different world. We sleep in simple cabins and use all the open outdoor space for running and playing.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

On appreciating water: Summers in Jerusalem are scorching. You spend a lot of time with water — either drinking it, submerged in it, or intensely sweating it out. Our Israeli apartment is built for heat — with stone walls and tile floors — which is a blessing in the summer. Because fresh water can be scarce in the desert, nobody complains about rain. ‘It’s a bracha!’ (a blessing), they will say. Drinking water is basically a national pastime and, as a mom, I take it to an extreme. If anything is bothering my kids (stomach aches, bloody noses, mosquito bites), my response is always, ‘Drink some water!’

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

On work/life balance: Israeli parents are pretty tired, like parents everywhere! Most adults work half days on Friday (and spend the afternoon preparing for Shabbat dinner) and take Saturdays off. Sunday is a work day, though — my biggest regret of moving here as an American is missing those true Sundays! But everyone in Israel takes the last two weeks in August off, as well as the weeks of the Sukkot holiday in the fall and Passover holiday in the spring. These are family times, with everyone united around the same traditions and observance.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

On managing motherhood: Israeli families tend to have lots of kids — often three or more — and the culture encourages that. Excellent fertility treatments are covered by national insurance. Working mothers get income tax breaks based on the number of children they have, and mothers get up to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, which can be shared with the father. Most families have two working parents, but the work day is shorter than in many other countries — usually 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., ending in time for school pick-ups. When we first arrived, I tried to copy the model I had in the States, which was to have a consistent afternoon sitter for my kids. But that proved out of sync with everyone else. Now, we rely more on friends to help out if Leon or I aren’t available, or we’ll hire a teenage babysitter when we go out at night.

On childbirth and breastfeeding: All my children were born in the U.S. before we moved here, but here are couple differences I’ve noticed: In Israeli hospitals, most births are run by a midwife instead of a physician. You have to make a special point to hire a private doctor for delivery if you prefer one, and it’s not covered by insurance. In the U.S., I remember pumping being a huge part of the transition back to work after childbirth, but mothers I know here seem more likely to switch to formula once their maternity leave ends.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

On raising Israeli kids: We speak English to our kids at home, but, more and more, when they’re playing with each other, they speak in Hebrew. ‘English!’ I often shout, because I want them to be proficient in both languages. Sometimes, when it’s time for them to do their English homework, they resist. ‘Imma,’ my son said recently, ‘We live in Israel now. Why do we need to know how to write in English?’ Once, I pulled out the globe and said ‘Tamir, try to find Israel on the map. See? It’s really small. It’s only here that everyone speaks in Hebrew.’ I felt myself slowly deflating his Zionist dream in that moment. But, overall, it’s been amazing to see our kids become so Israeli after just three years.

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

Shopping in the Old City.

On staying indefinitely: ​​My great grandparents could never have imagined that someone from their family would be living in Israel. This is the ancient homeland of our people, but we experienced 2,000 years of exile before it became the Jewish state in 1948. Without sounding too grandiose, it’s a miracle. There is something about the quality of relationships that we have with people here that really draws us in. It’s a place saturated in meaning and where life is lived so vividly. How could we leave?

Parenting in Jerusalem, Israel

Thank you so much, Dasee!

P.S. The full Motherhood Around the World series including moms in Congo and Sweden.

(All photos courtesy of Dasee Berkowitz, except: Dome of the Rock from Real Jerusalem Streets, the Old City wall by Sharon Zobali, Shabbat by Uri Baruch, schoolchildren dancing by Ariel Schalit/Associated Press, Independence Day via Jerusalem Post, the Neve Tzedek neighborhood from Vladale, and shopping in the cobblestone streets via Smithsonian.)

  1. Jessica says...

    This made me deeply uncomfortable and honestly, angry. When I got to the part about a child wearing an IDF shirt…. I burst into angrytears.
    I love this site, but this post was so tone deaf and blissfully one-sided, I had to really consider if I would come back to Cup of Jo. I will, but I hope you will truly hear all these comments similar to mine.
    I would LOVE to see a Motherhood post from a Palestinian woman.

    • NJ says...

      I understand, and can partially relate. As a person who’s lived in Israel all my life, I’d like to offer my perspective:
      This place is messed up and complicated. it’s easy to forget we’re literally living in a conflict zone. I understand how seeing a post about a Jewish woman in Jerusalem, who’s so unbothered by the fact that right near her people live under occupation, angers you. It angers me, too.
      However, this is one perspective. Not all Jewish people in Israel are the same. Not all of them are religious, or political right wing, or oblivious.
      It’s also often clear that people who’ve just moved here simply don’t see many of the problems I see: They feel so excited about being in a huge population of Jews, many of them have never felt free to “be Jewish” in public before, and have never had the privilege of having your culture be “normal”. They’re so enamored with the good side of Israel, especially if they had unpleasant experiences in their native countries, that they don’t see things that are just under their noses. It’s a bias, for sure. We all have it to some degree.
      But you have your own biases too. You got angry when reading this, and you’re not wrong. Were you upset to the same degree when you read other articles in the series, where American moms raise extremely privileged kids in developing countries, where right next to them local kids and families are not half as privileged? Were you as upset at those American families appropriating local cultures so easily, ignoring what this might mean to the people around them, and not giving back to these communities?
      One of my friends said recently that what many people don’t understand is that just like the Palestinians, most Jewish people who live here have no other place to go. Most us them don’t have dual citizenships, their families fleeing here from dangerous places when no other place would take them. Growing up between wars is not easy for any kid, even those who are better off in this scene. It doesn’t make it ok, it just means the conflict is more complicated. I get upset every day when I see kids with army shirts walking down the street because I know they don’t understand: Their parents probably didn’t grow up with the knowledge that they had no choice but being soldiers after high school, or that if there’s not a war this summer, next summer is likely, or that the kid on the other side is just as scared as they are of dying in it. It’s not an easy request, but I hope you can have empathy to people here on both sides, not just anger. This article is extremely one sided and upsetting, yes. But your comment is too, and I wish I could show you how this is way, way more diverse and complicated than is visible from afar. If you have any questions, I’d love to answer them from my own perspective. I know this isn’t easy.

  2. Just my two cents… I moved to Jerusalem in December, 2012 to join my American future husband there. We got engaged 16 days after I arrived and got married three and a half months later, in April. We had our first daughter in February the following year and our second daughter a little over a year and a half later, both in Bethlehem. We lived next to Mea Shearim, in the city center of Jerusalem. I volunteered down the road at an organization that helps Gazans and Kurdish children get heart surgery in Israeli hospitals. Our days were spent at the nexus of the Arab neighborhoods, ultra Orthodox Jewish, liberal Jewish, conservative Jewish, Ethiopian Jews and Christians, and many tourists from all over the world. We moved back to the US in October, 2015.

    I have to say that, like a lot of things in Israel, this piece was literally one very specific piece of the pie. Being a non-Zionist American there to get married and who learned Kurdish from spending days with Kurdish families, and not only this, but being a Christian, I had a more ‘outsider’ vantage point that witnessed and lived amongst many of the slices of pie. We constantly traversed Arab areas, Jewish areas, tourist areas, modern parts of the city, the Old City (with its contrasting cultures in distinct quarters, including Bedouin women selling herbs sitting on the ground), the big market called the Shuk, and, yes, parks for children to play. We didn’t have a car and walked or took buses or sharuts (taxi vans) everywhere. My husband tutored Ethiopian children of a family friend’s in their small apartment and an American girl whose dad worked for the consulate who lived in a very fancy apartment. My experience was bewildering and rich and I would like to offer a few points that stood out to me while there.

    Yes, tipat chalav — we saw a very kind and boisterous French nurse who immigrated decades ago who had seven children. Lots of inexpensive fruit of a large variety, including strawberries whose season was in the winter (though very little blackberries and raspberries). Lots of dust, dirt, and mosquitoes. Lots of range between pretty poor and pretty rich in one city coexisting in different neighborhoods, but always religion on everyone’s lips, even if that included pronounced atheism. Lots of big families on all sides. Lots of strollers. Lots of skirts and dresses on women and girls. Pants just aren’t so common for females in Jerusalem. Modesty perspectives ranging from hijabs to ultra short miniskirts. Lots of English, but underneath that, many different languages giving it accents and limited expression frequently. Hot summers, rainy winters. Jerusalem more temperate than other parts of Israel. Weird grocery stores with all the same few choices in each store. Soldiers with Uzi’s and sirens that go off sometimes to warn of a rocket that is landing somewhere near. More emphasis on family, not as much material ease and abundance, and not a lot of media influence.

  3. Munire says...

    I have been following Cup of Jo since Joanna and Alex were dating. Wow I feel so old now :) I have read many articles in this site that are not in line with my views and lifestyle. Yet they did not upset me or hurt me in a profound way. But this one does for being so unapologetically vocal about the entitlements and privileges that come at the cost of catastrophic events leading others to agony and anguish. I looked and searched for a sign of “womanly sensitivity and sensibility” that made Cup of Jo stand apart from others for me, and failed. Thanks for reading this and since I will not stop by again goodbye…

    • Zms says...

      I completely agree.
      The Gaza Strip is the largest camp in the world (I imagine my children growing up with such fear, constant terror, water and electricity shortages, lack of basic needs, it is heartbreaking). I struggle to see settlers as good people even in this light. They choose not to be informed and to ignore the suffering. Ignoring kids’ suffering is as bad as shooting unnarmed 14-year old kids playing football on the beach. Shame on them.

  4. A says...

    This comments section is absolutely beautiful and it has given me so much insight.

    I’m struggling with writing this without doing disservice to Palestine, to the people who’s homes have been taken and who’s lives have been destroyed. I want to preface what I say by acknowledging that.

    As a Jewish woman, reading this filled me with a profound feeling that I can’t quite describe. It’s the same feeling I got when I stood in a Jewish cemetery and my mom looked at me and said “This is how it feels to be surrounded by our people.”

    My family isn’t remotely religious; in fact, we are deeply atheistic. And yet, the fact that we are .2% of the world’s population does not escape us. And sometimes you only remember it when you read something like this, and feel that profound feeling you can’t describe. Because you are in America only because your grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great grandparents fled and fled and fled. Because your privilege rides on the back of murder and poverty and pain. Because you are only two generations removed from a diaspora that has shaped the culture you grew up in.

    And yet, to feel this, to say any of this, makes me feel as if I have diminished Palestine. Where there is murder and poverty and pain. Where people must flee. How do you hold in your mind a country that is the emblem of Jewish safety, and yet not diminish the atrocities it has wrought on another people?

    I’m not sure how to wrap this up but I wanted to offer these feelings here.

  5. Ashley says...

    I want to echo the shared sentiment of many fellow commenters. I am grateful that Cup of Jo’s readers are able to express themselves in such beautiful, articulate ways when articles bring up difficult subject matter. Brave of Cup of Jo to include conversations that they anticipate some readers may struggle with. But moreover, I am a proud member of this community because of how the discourse is respectfully conducted. I am tired of an internet, and society for that matter, that attempts to solve problems by screaming the loudest. While I cannot speak personally to all the various important, and somewhat painful, issues this article brought up, I can confirm how very inspired I am to consider the deeper impact this discussion has has on the topics of motherhood and citizenship for me. Thank you! Love this series, if just for these conversations! XOXO

  6. Merisa says...

    Ugh, I loved this. I live in Tel Aviv now – originally from the States. She captured the nuances beautifully. Because the day-to-day of a mother is just that; the day-to-day.

  7. I am an expat living here for the past 13 years. I met my Israeli husband here and we are raising our family here. My experience has been very different than Dasee’s – but that is what makes this country beautiful. There are so many different viewpoints – from native Israelis, Palestinians, Druze, Christians and immigrants from all over the world.

    I would like to add that Israel is big on family and especially procreation for Israelis (both Jewish and Arab). Fertility treatments in Israel are quite inexpensive (unless you go to a private doctor). A round of IVF in the States costs north of $10,000 where here it will cost you NIS 2,000 (approx $570).

    We are blessed with our first child because we could afford IVF.

  8. Sara says...

    I love this terrific interview! Makes me so excited to go back and visit Israel later this summer!

  9. M says...

    Yeah, this was a bit of a weird one, it was more about the family values than the place they were living.

  10. Laura says...

    I have adored the “Motherhood around the world” series, but I have to say this post made me deeply uncomfortable. It’s simply not an authoritative or very accurate portrayal of what it is to be a mother in Israel. I’m a secular and left-wing American raising two kids outside of Tel Aviv, and there’s very little here that reflects anything about my day-to-day life.

    The parts I respectfully disagree with:

    > Smoking cans of tuna fish around a campfire is not an “Israeli tradition” that I know of – in all my years of living here and sitting around a campfire, I have NEVER seen that happen! When I asked my husband about it, he said they’d do it occasionally in the army because they *had* to eat canned tuna… but it’s just not a thing. Not sure why this bothered me so much above all, ha!

    > Unless you’re a teacher, everyone in Israel does not take off the last two weeks of August, plus the high holidays in the fall and Passover in the spring. How wonderful if that were actually true! Yes, the daycares and schools close, but this is a huge problem for most if not all working parents, who scramble to find other arrangements. Some families do choose to plan vacations around those times, but that’s paid (or unpaid) time off you’re taking; otherwise you’re expected to be at work

    > The standard work day is unfortunately not from 8am to 3:30pm. Most Israelis I know actually work very long hours. Yes, there is a cultural norm of “misrat em” which translates roughly to “mother’s hours,” where moms leave around 3 to get their kids. But — and this is a big but — this is something you have to individually negotiate with your boss, and often might have to accept reduced pay or work to make up the hours in the evenings, or both.

    > Many, many, many, many Israeli parents are very much indeed “helicopter parents.” There’s just as much diversity in parenting style here as there is anywhere else.

    > And finally, I 100% disagree that all kids here have a grasp on politics and war from a young age. The story of her six-year old son wearing a military T-shirt and discussing “winning the battle” to me is very reflective of their family and values, but not the culture and country as a whole.

    My kids are still little but they have no clue that they live in a hotbed of political unrest and upheaval. They live quiet, peaceful lives where we go to the playground and negotiate how much Daniel Tiger they’re allowed to watch. No one has ever spoken a word to them about the “Arab-Israeli” conflict, and in fact, all the adults I know are in tacit agreement that you should shelter kids from the reality for as long as possible. Yes, that’s a luxury for us that most Palestinians do not have – but most people I know would be horrified to see a child wearing an IDF shirt.

    In fact, one of the things I struggle with the most is that living in the Tel Aviv area is such a sheltered bubble. People go to the beach and eat out to expensive restaurants and dress their dogs in little sweaters. We are so detached from the conflict. It feels farther away from me here than when I lived in the States. How crazy is that? Maybe my kids SHOULD be more exposed to the plight of Palestinians, but how does one go about that in a safe and responsible and nuanced way? I do not know.

    For me, what are some surprising things about parenting in Israel? Here are a few things things worth mentioning:

    > Because of the socialized healthcare system, you don’t have a family pediatrician as I was accustomed to in the states. You belong to a clinc and for all developmental checkups, vaccinations, and well-child visits, you take your child to a nurses wing called Tipat Chalav (“A drop of milk”). The nurses are the ones who make sure they’re hitting their milestones and everything seems to be on track. Only if your child is ill do you take them to an actual physician. For me, it’s been strange and disjointed, but it seems to work out OK!

    > In the States, when breastfeeding didn’t work out for me, the weaning process was brutal – I had a full milk supply and was only guided to use cabbage leaves and basically grit my teeth through the pain. But here in Israel, if women choose, they are given PILLS to dry up her milk supply, pain-free. I know those used to exist in the States but were associated with health risks. I’m not sure what the exact medication is, but I find this fascinating.

    > BAMBA! It’s a snack from peanuts and corn, with a texture similar to Cheetos, and it’s ev-ery-where. In fact, studies show that kids in Israel have far fewer peanut allergies because they eat so much Bamba from such an early age :)

    > The weather is absolutely heavenly for raising small children. It might sound like a small thing, but it’s truly life-changing. Aside from July and August which are brutally hot, the weather is just wonderful and allows you to be outside with your kids as much as possible. To stroll with my kids in 70 degree weather in February while the sun is shining, stopping to literally smell the roses… it’s magical.

    Anyway, just my two cents :) Love CoJ!

    • Kelly says...

      I wish you had been interviewed for this column! Super interesting, thanks for posting!

    • Laura, my mum was Israeli and I have to agree with you on pretty much everything here. I think you would be a better candidate for this interview. I knew there would be some tension when posting about Israel but you explained it a bit better I think

    • Shade says...

      Yep. I (an American) lived and worked in Tel Aviv for a few years with my Israeli husband. I agree with you 100% on your view. Also, I felt pretty uncomfortable reading this woman’s right wing perspective/portrayal of Israeli life.

  11. NJ says...

    I feel so close and so far from this article (and the comments!). It was lovely and fascinating, but also a tiny bit sad.
    I’m an Israeli born, half american girl. I’m 21 and I grew up in Tel Aviv, Israel, and I’m moving to Jerusalem soon for university.
    This article mentioned so many good and interesting things about Jerusalem (a city I’ll be living in in just a few months, and with which I’m well familiar with – I have a lot of family there). I love the happiness and optimism in it, and I want to make clear that I don’t see anything here as hurtful – perhaps naive, in a place or two, but good hearted. Some things made me smile, as they were so familiar – the part about Israeli parents being laid back, the parts about camping and trips, the smell of Jerusalem, the preparation for Shabbat, the beach and familiar picture of Neve Tzedek in Tel Aviv, my home town.
    Things that made me slightly sadder are the fact that even as a person who adores this place, I can’t forget that it is not equally good for all. Religious offices still have control over many things, including marriage and divorce rights. Education, even in secular schools, is becoming more and more right wing and religiously fondemental – and reform and conservative Jews have a hard time finding their place. LGBTQ people here, like everywhere, are still fighting for basic rights. The Israeli/ Palestinian conflict takes a toll on all of us, especially Palestinians living in the west bank and Gaza, and Palestinian kids everywhere, and that’s something which was largely disregarded here – not for bad intention, of course, and Dasee’s comments clearly show that. Does sending 18y/o kids to the military mandatorily, sometimes to combat units, make sense to anyone? Patriotism, or at least a love for your homeland and a wish to make it a better place, are not bad things. But as a young person who suffered through army service, and with many friends going through the same experiences or harsher, some in combat units – I’d be saddened to see a child wearing an IDF t-shirt, and I’m mildly offended when adults wear them – because it seems like they don’t think through the meaning of what military service is in this country, for both sides, and of the fact that those same t-shirts can cause pain and terror to many Palestinians, living alongside or under occupation. I understand the kid’s want to hear that the war is “won” and that soldiers are safe – trust me, as a person with friends in the army, all I want is for wars to be over and soldiers, as well as everyone else, to be safe. But political climate is a lot more complicated than that around here – which can be complicated to understand, especially as an expat who didn’t grow up here. I understand that.
    In any case, I loved seeing this article. I really appreciate how respectfully it was written, and how respectful the discourse in the comments is. And if anyone wants to know more about what I said, I’m happy to answer any question. Thank you for featuring this piece :)

    • Mona says...

      Thank you NJ for adding nuance. <3 from an exiled Palestinian.

    • Gabrielle says...

      Thank you for this wonderful comment! I am an American whose father is Israeli (and most of my family still lives there). I think here in the US often we are presented with the Israel as a place that you either think is completely good, or completely “evil”. And it is hard to explain to people who have not been there how complicated feelings are there, and how so many Israelis can love their country, but disagree with many policies, social norms, etc (much like in the US!). So thank you again for this great comment! You are exactly the type of Israeli who represents the country for me- you love it, but are willing to question and challenge to make it better.

    • Cristina says...

      Thank you for this addition. Your point of view and nuance on how complicated the situation is, is really appreciated.

  12. J says...

    It was a great article until you wrote that the working day is 8-3:30. That is so not true. The working day in Israel is much longer than abroad for most people – full time contracts are for 9 hour days. 8-3:30 is about 60% job. Nice for those who have it, or can afford to have it. For the rest (most) of us, it’s a dream from cloud cuckoo land.

    • N says...

      I completely agree and wanted to post the same thing myself! As an Israeli working in a global company, I often hear from colleagues all over the world that Israelis have insane work ethics, and in general we tend to work like crazy. As mentioned, it’s very difficult to find a part time job as a parent here, and in many professions parents are expected to juggle a full time job and more. Many of us also have a significant component of working with people abroad and spend many a night conference calling around the world…

  13. Reader says...

    For the commenters noting that this women’s experience cannot stand on its own and must be qualified by an opposing experience to have any value, then I hope you also critique all of CoJ’s posts–she is an American contributing to gentrification and displacement. America has policies that lead to displacement, suffering, and death all over the world, yet we don’t call out Jo when she doesn’t discuss it. All of us Americans live on American lndian land. Nations are, unfortunately, built on horrible things, and it seems intentional that this series does not ask mothers to focus on them. I would love to hear a Palestinian perspective, but not merely as a “please tell us pampered American woman the narrative we want you to tell us to confirm what we already think so we can feel like good people before we go out to brunch.” That’s virtue signaling. The conflict is a very real, personal topic for Palestinians and Israelis–I hope we can find ways to let both narratives be heard at face value without just pitting mothers’ perspectives against each other. Hoping for peace, hoping Palestinans also have a nation soon, grateful for these stories.

    • Reader says...

      And grateful to Cup Of Jo for providing a space for all of these mothers’ narratives. If I learned anything from the American election, it’s that humanizing perspectives we detest (or that put us in danger) doesn’t mean that we’re compromising–it means that we live in a world more deeply complicated than we could have imagined. And that there is so much work to do. Mothers live in complex, problematic societies and have motherhood narratives–no one mothers in a bubble. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sarah says...

      I am NOT diminishing or derailing the conversation about Israelis and Palestinians, but since a lot of people brought up the question of injustices in US cities as well as self-awareness of some of our own privilege, I wanted to share a link to a blog that I find very insightful and eye opening, about two mothers and transracial foster care/adoption in the US, in the context of a bigger picture of understanding ourselves and each other. I am not comparing the two issues.

      https://www.fostermoms.com/blog/awakening

      Also, I do think it is amazing to see where this blog post has reached. Just thinking how many people in different places with different histories and ties are reading this and talking. Makes me think how even though these conversations are hard and deeply personal, we are more similar and closer to one another than we may know. And that on most days we are enjoying the pure-fun posts on CoJ, too.

  14. Amelia says...

    I wish Palestinian children had the same opportunity that Isareli and American children have. They don’t.
    There have been other Motherhoods Around the World where the mothers profiled seem well-intentioned, but not that insightful about where they are living. To me, Dasee seems incredible and thoughtful when it comes to raising her own children. That’s fine, but seem she seems limited on thinking about all of the contexts for where her children are being raised. It is painful to read this post when we know the suffering that is existing for the mothers and fathers and children of Palestine.
    I think not only is it needed to have the Palestinian perspective, but as readers we should be insisting on having more perspectives shared on Cup of Jo. Let’s learn and know all of our stories, so that we can give ourselves and our children more than just our well-intentioned, but limited (and therefore misinformed) views of the world.

  15. Ramona says...

    Like many readers, I initially felt a little prickled by the unmentioned suffering of Israel’s non-Jewish populations. I recently worked with an Arab Israeli author to publish a work on the dangers children face being raised in unrecognized settlements, and it was hard for me to feel happy that this author’s kids can experience the “miracle” of growing up in their religious homeland when I know that it is coming at the expense of other kids. But reading the thoughtful comments here, I realize that we all have a lot to learn. I’m not saying that it isn’t this author’s responsibility to recognize that her privilege comes at the expense of someone else’s and to do something about that because I think it is (and I think she recognizes that in her own comment here), but I do wholeheartedly recognize that as a white woman living in a mostly-white neighborhood on Chicago’s north side I should be the last person to cast a stone. People living in enclaves of relative privilege often do so at the expense of another group of less-privileged people, and I think we often try to turn a blind eye to that reality or decide that it isn’t our problem or that we can’t do anything to solve it. We all need to try to open ourselves up to reaching across lines of socioeconomic status, race, religion, etc. and work together to solve our communities’ problems.

    • Sarah says...

      Your closing sentences from “people in enclaves of relative privilege…” especially were very impactful and addressed so many of the comments and concerns, here. It is not easy to self-relflect or take action, whether it be from fear, guilt, or just not knowing where to start, and I hope we – myself included – can start somewhere.

    • Jen says...

      Thank you. Well said.

    • Cristina says...

      Well said.

    • I actually would have preferred to hear from a Sephardi/ Mizrachi Jewish woman than Ashkanazi. As the jewish majority in Israel but never the ruling class, it could have been interesting

  16. Nina says...

    If anyone wants a glimpse into what life is like for *some* young Palestinian women, the documentary ‘Speed Sisters’ is interesting and not too heavy (I saw it on UK Netflix, don’t know if it’s still on there).

  17. Marte says...

    The comments got me thinking about how different parenting and life in general can be for two individuals who live in the same city or country. You share a location, but so much can be different.
    I love the motherhood around the world series, because of the insights it gives in how different my life could be if I were living somewhere else. But actually, my life could be radically different even just living in Amsterdam, but having made different choices, or having a different background. I would be really interested if this blog (or another publication for that matter) would publish pieces that include dual perspectives. For example two mothers with children around the same age who both live in the same city, perhaps in the same neighborhood, but have radically different perspectives. I.e. different racial, or social-economic, political or religious backgrounds. One child vs many. Single mother vs not. There are so many things that can and are different between families.
    It would be really great if both women were interviewed separately about the same topics, after which they could read the other persons experience and then meet to discuss together what insights they gained from reading the other persons world.

    • Fiona says...

      I LOVE this idea and would devour every installment – could be a wonderful “motherhood around the US” series :) Thank you for this!

    • I LOVE this idea too!

  18. Meg says...

    This is the most outrageous comment sections I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Thank you to the Jo team for building a house where there’s room for respectful, curious discussion.

  19. ceciel says...

    Really powerful dialogue, fellow readers! While we may have many opinions on the Israel-Palestinian history and this post, I hear respect in ways that you don’t find on the comments of newspaper articles or Instagram or FB, etc. Imagine if each of us women readers ran for office! We’d be discussing and solving problems and changing the world. xoxo (and Dasee, thank you for the post AND your extra comments based on readers’ questions and ideas)

  20. Malorie says...

    Long time reader, first time (I think?) commenter. As one who steadfastly avoids comments sections on any website, I’d just like to echo the comments of many other readers here and say that CoJ has the best comments section hands down. As an American with admittedly very little knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict who longs to learn more, I am very thankful for the nuanced and respectful comments here on both sides. Not only is it refreshing, but I’ve been able to learn a lot more about the conflict just from reading these comments. This won’t be my only search for information, but thank you all so much for giving me a jumping off point.

  21. Leah says...

    I’m happy to see that the comments here have remained civil, but baffled by the fact that many people’s first response was to require a Palestinian perspective in order to feel like this story is complete. This isn’t a competition. This blog isn’t a battlefield. This is simply a mother talking about her life and her family, and to try to make it into a political issue does her a disservice. This blog has had many posts about motherhood around the world from a huge number of different countries, many of which have had conflicts with other nations, yet it’s the Israeli mother’s post that people require more from. What a double standard, and how unfair to do this on a post that is supposed to just be about family and motherhood, not about politics.

    • KC says...

      Well said. And thank you for saying it.

    • Ellie says...

      I am also a long-time reader and have never commented, but I’d like to echo Leah’s sentiments! It’s unfortunate that Israelis and supporters of Israel are so used to being subjected to this double standard. I love this series and was so excited to see one about Israel, a country where I have visited multiple times and have a large family, but knew that the comments section was not going to be anywhere near as warm or welcoming as the other posts in the series. Sad.

    • Allison says...

      Thank you for clearly writing what I was thinking.
      Kudos to Cup of Jo for the series and to my fellow CoJ readers, some of whom I disagree, but love that we try do so with respect for the common human value of us all.

    • Eleise Theuer says...

      Thank you! I agree whole-heartedly.

    • While I wasn’t fond of the interviewee as such and wish there could have been another Jewish demographic to be interviewed, one that we rarely see in the spotlight (Sephardi/Mizrachi), it’s not invalid for an Israeli to be interviewed on a non political topic. If a Palestinian mother can be interviewed, it’s on her own merit instead of needing to compare her to the other mother. It was always going to be inflammatory to post anything about Israel but this was done ok

    • Ronen says...

      I’m a dad who’s enjoyed reading the Motherhood series as well as other posts on CoJ, and agree with you fully, Leah. We get to see a city, village, and place from the point of view of a mother and the life she’s built for her kids and family. Never has there been mention of “the other side”, whether it’s homelessness across the street in New York, a choice of clothing, or a career choice.

    • MP says...

      Thank you for saying that!! How unfair to take Dasee’s experience in motherhood in Israel and veer into complicated, political grounds. What makes this series so wonderful is bringing a feeling of connection to women we don’t know but experiencing the beauty and hardships of Motherhood no matter the country. It’s important to keep focus on what COJ is trying to accomplish.

  22. Nina Nattiv says...

    This was a great post! Israel is a country that deserves to be represented outside of the conflict at least once in a while. Yes, the war is awful and messy and both sides suffer from it. But once in a while, lets acknowledge that it is not a country only defined by conflict.

  23. Sarah says...

    Thanks so much for sharing this interesting, thought-provoking and endearing perspective on Motherhood in Jerusalem. As a non-religious person, the religious bias expressed in the piece at times made me feel uncomfortable (all religious bias affects me this way) yet I interpreted her as expressing part of why raising her (adorable!) children in Israel brings her so much joy. I was reminded of books by Chaim Potok that I loved reading as a teen-especially My Name is Asher Lev which takes place around 1948. I’ve also very much appreciated reading the comments by others, especially Yael offering a non-religious perspective of life in Israel as a companion to this piece, as well as Dasee’s additional comments, since I don’t know much about life in Modern Israel. I feel like I was given a glimpse.

  24. Caryn says...

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. Sorry, got excited. As Jewish person, especially one who used to volunteer at Kibbutz Ketura, I am really excited to see this post on Cup of Jo.

    I know that publishing is was probably an act of faith, as this country ( Isreal) despite being so small, encourages great feelings among different cultures and people.

    I wanted to directly respond to posters who requested a Palestinian perspective; I respect your postings, and your feedback.

    One post cannot undo any political situations, and one post cannot be 100% something to everyone. There is no single story.

    Giving a Jewish woman space to tell about her experiences in Israel does not negate any other experiences from any other culture or ethnicity in that Geographical Area.

    I do not feel that either experience should be used as a foil, or to pit one against the other. I believe that is not what this blog is for.

    There is a lot of divisiveness/hate in this country right now towards Jewish people. I would hate for people to use this space to add to that void.

    Please know and understand, you can be Jewish and not be supportive of Israeli politics, or decisions. Judaism is a religion, Israeli is a nationality. Jewish people are not automatic Zionists.

    The situation in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza is super personal to many, and super complicated. The situation unfortunately could probably not be incapsulated into one blog post, and I doubt that it should be. That would be disrespectful to both sides.

    Please let us all be reflective of our words, and how they may make others feel.

    It is my hope that we all read this post, and take from it what was intended, which basically is, to embrace perspectives with open minds.

    • Jane says...

      YES!!!! 1000%

    • Luna GC says...

      Beautiful :)

    • Eleise Theuer says...

      Thank you, beautifully put.

    • Sara says...

      Yes! Thank you for your comment!

  25. Becca says...

    As a Jewish person, I think it would be really interesting to live somewhere where your traditions are what inform the national “calendar,” if you will. To not have to hear people deride “Happy Holidays” as a substandard salutation to “Merry Christmas,” to not have to explain to your kids why they can’t go out for dinner on Friday night but are free to play on Sunday morning, to know that, more often than not, when someone mentions prayer that they are praying in your language – it must be so different.

    • Aly says...

      I think of this all the time. I also think about how closely the Jewish calendar is tied to the land. Tu BeShevat (the “New Year” for the trees) often falls in February, when Brooklyn (where my family is) is snowy and frozen, and it seems odd to sing songs about the blooming of the flowers. In Israel, it coincides exactly with the first blossoming of the trees.

  26. Ingrid says...

    Thank you for this especially nice article, the series is great anyway and I always enjoy reading it. Israel has a special place in my heart too and I wish Dasee and her family all the best for their life there, they have found their place, mazel tov from Berlin.

  27. Jessica H says...

    This is the ONLY place on the Internet where reading the comments leaves me encouraged. Such thoughtful, constructive, respectful comments. It’s a privilege to know you people are out there.

    • Oh I agree! I don’t often comment, but I do often read the comments and am also encouraged by the grace, respect and general kindness people have on Cup of Jo.

  28. What a great read!! Loved it. Especially all the food descriptions :) It’s been about 17 years since my last trip to Israel and I’d love to visit again.

    For anyone interested, I’ve been really intrigued by a Netflix series called Fauda. Give it a watch.

  29. Terry says...

    I checked back in this morning because I found both the interview with Dasee and so many thoughtful reader comments to have made me think more about these complex topics. I was very moved to read your additional comments, Dasee, and join you in peace. It is enriching to hear all kinds of people’s stories and I agree with you that it is through relationships that ideas and laws ultimately change. Curiosity is key. Thank you, Cup of Jo, for being curious and bringing so many stories to us through this series.
    Thank you, readers, for extending those ideas.

  30. Sarah says...

    am happy to see this post as well as the generally respectful dialogue (a change from what we usually see on news media sites comment sections!)

    I believe that this series is to show what it’s like to be a mother in different parts of the world, and it did just that.

    A few thoughts –

    1) Israel is often held to a double standard – as many commenters echoed, there are not nearly the volume of calls for another perspective, whether it be from a minority, socio economic group, religious group, region etc, in other posts. That doesn’t mean that those wouldn’t also be welcome. I’m amazed at what mothers can do in different circumstances than my own.

    On the other hand, what are readers hoping to gain from a Palestinian perspective? The joys, traditions, culture, ups and downs of motherhood, challenges of daily life, that get shared in this series, or are they looking for someone to say how much they’ve been hurt by Israel; to be angry and political (just as some felt this post was “too political”)? I hope it would be an opportunity to learn, offer insight, perspective and not to vilify Israel.

    2) The conflict is just not that simple. If it were, there would be a solution – which is not contingent only on Israel. Many many people on both sides have been hurt and lives permanently changed by ongoing conflict in the region. Israel is home to lots of people, living normal lives, who have the same hopes and dreams for their children many readers here do – like this family. No family’s happiness should be at the expense of another, on either side. This is a very complex situation.

    3) Several people had issue with the IDF and Dasee’s son wearing the army tshirt. I would say, especially in the US, the majority are very privileged to not have to serve in the military. For the individuals who do serve in the US military, their families take pride in their service, their country and protecting it – so do Israelis. Not because they are filled with hate, but because if they didn’t, there would be even more senseless acts of violence.

    We all need more dialogue and understanding and learning from one another. There is a lot of room to grow. I look forward to hearing more stories of motherhood, here!

    • Aly says...

      Thank you for writing this – everything I was thinking but couldn’t articulate!

    • Leah Klein says...

      YES this!

    • Katie Larissa says...

      Thank you, Sarah!

    • Britt says...

      Beautifully said!

    • maggie says...

      Completely agree. Such a thoughtful, articulate comment!

    • Thank you so much for this

    • Amy says...

      Your first point about double standards made my heart sink, along with some other commenters claiming double standards and outraged over why other posts didn’t spark similar outrage/demand for a counter viewpoint. For one, this post is probably the most political out of this series. Hands down, for better or worse. No one is disparaging the fact that Dasee graciously shared her world as a mother, but certain ideas she expressed were intensely political and have many implications that are not only affecting that region, it has and continues to affect US foreign policy and our relations with the Middle East, and that of many other countries. Two, yes, there is conflict, injustice, segregation, etc. all over the world. We’re only human and can only handle so much outside of our personal struggles, but we also want to seek justice and truth outside of our day-to-day bubble when we can. To that end, I don’t think it’s insightful or useful to claim a double standard or to merely say the situation is “complex”–it comes across as deflection–“Well so and so country has all of these problems, why are you so focused on attacking us?” But does that mean the dialogue must end there? Because of Syria, because of systemic racism in America, because of China’s human rights violations, does that mean discussion about Israel shouldn’t be on the table? Does that grant one immunity from hearing and examining counterpoints, or being open constructive, pragmatic, and/or secular criticism? Criticism doesn’t always equate to vilification or hate. All of the world’s problems are complex. How are we supposed to seek the truth and tackle these complexities if not by discussing, challenging, and demanding we see the whole picture?

    • Sarah says...

      Thank you for your reply. I absolutely agree that one peoples’ suffering does not justify/rationalize another’s or mean it should be ignored. No one wins, as someone said here. I think where I have a hard time is that it feels like the implication (and maybe that is not so) is that this family isn’t also deserving of happiness and a place to feel home. It is also why I commented that I hoped another view point would be for what you said, examining, discussing complexities. The same word I chose – complex -was not to deflect, but to state that there is a lot more to the history, day-to-day, policies, families, government/leadership, life, than can be tackled in one short blog post. Dasee touched on this point herself and provided a meaningful response in the comments. None of us has all the answers, we all have a lot of questions, concerns, and caring.

    • Rebecca says...

      well put thank you sarah!

  31. This has got to be one of the best Motherhoods Around the World yet! Jerusalem is on my bucket list to one day visit. Thank you for sharing!

  32. Dasee Berkowitz says...

    Thank you all for all of your thoughtful comments.

    It is inspiring to me that a piece about family life in Israel has a sense of gravitas, both for what is said about the particular topic in question as well as for what is left unsaid. As many of you mentioned, this was not a piece about politics, or about living in a not fully integrated society. It was a piece about my daily life as a parent, the stuff behind the headlines. But certainly, life in Jerusalem is full of meaning. As the Israeli poet laureate Yehuda Amichai wrote, “The air over Jerusalem is saturated with prayers and dreams, like the air over industrial cities. It’s hard to breathe.”

    I could write volumes about other aspects of life in Jerusalem. And of course, this piece is about one particular family, in one particular neighborhood in this ancient/modern city. Every mother’s experience is different. I too would love to hear about my Muslim and Christian Palestinian sisters in East Jerusalem and their experiences and struggles. I would also love to hear from my Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) sisters and how they parent 10+ children, and my secular Israeli​ Jewish​ sisters and their feelings about how entertainment centers ​are ​closed ​in Jerusalem ​on Shabbat. There are so many different ways to experience life in Israel. Mine is but one story.

    Israeli society is certainly polarized. Israelis and Palestinians both call this place home. Secular and religious Jews both vie for control over religious spaces and rites of passage (like conversion, marriage and burial). There is economic polarization as well. Capitalist business practices come to take over the hospital care, challenging the socialist base that stood at the foundation of this country and on and on. And as many people mentioned in the comments section, understanding the polarization in Israeli society can be a lens through which one can understand polarization in every society.

    How do we contend with multiple narratives? What will a secure future look like? What will a democratic and fair future look like? How can we ensure that every child lives with the same dignity and opportunities that we want for our own children?

    These are big questions that were beyond the scope of this piece but I love that the reactions generated can inspire us all to look at our own cultures more critically and ask the question ‘what kind of society do ​we ​want to create for my children to live in? And what is my role​ in​ taking a step in that direction?’

    Because the post generated so much interest in what it means to live in a contentious society, I want to share a word or two about my experience over the past three years.

    As an educator and religious person, one of the things that was important for me to do when we first arrived in Jerusalem was to find a spiritual home (e.g. ‘synagogue’) that reflected our family’s values.

    We found that in Kehilat Zion in Jerusalem, under the leadership of the remarkable rabbi, Tamar Elad-Applebaum (with whom I have the pleasure to also work with.)

    One of the central questions the synagogue asks is how can spiritual communities give strength, moral direction and communion with like-minded people to do the work of bettering Israeli society? It is not enough to be a prayerful person (in which we articulate our hopes and dreams for a better world at synagogue over Shabbat), but what does it mean to bring that awareness into the streets and into our everyday lives?

    Because I think that peace will ultimately come from the streets (in relationships between people) ​and ​not from politicians, some of the projects that we have initiated which inspire me are:

    1/ Interreligious gemach (which stands for gemilut chesed, shor​t​hand for ‘clothing center’, where Muslim and Christian women from Tzur Baher (an east Jerusalem neighborhood) join with members of our community to jointly collect and distribute clothing to people in need around Jerusalem.
    2/ A back to school event called “Going back to School Together” at the end of August held at the Jerusalem YMCA. It’s a collaboration with Kehilat Zion, Kids4Peace (a youth group for Christian, Muslim and Jewish kids) and Hand in Hand (an integrated Arab-Jewish school) that marks the beginning of the school year with all of the city’s inhabitants, from East and West Jerusalem.
    3/ Public Prayer events – Rabbi Tamar brings together Christian and Muslim leaders together to hold public prayer events that create more hope and understanding between communities during the times of the year that can bring us together (Christmas/Chanukah) and the moments that can also pull us apart (like Jerusalem day, which is celebrated by most Jews as a holiday, and by Palestinians as a dark day on the calendar.)

    There is so much work to be done here. It is easy to live a siloed life, but peace and understanding won’t come that way.

    I don’t have answers. I have a lot of questions. I encourage everyone who commented on this post to stay curious. Stay courageous and compassionate. It’s good for us and for us to model for our children. I will too.

    • Justine A Clark says...

      Dasee, thank you for your additional thoughts and information.

      Thank you also to all the commenters who pose questions and disagree on this board in a respectful, thoughtful and open way. The dialogue here always leads me to give time and space to an opposing opinion so that I can better understand where other people are coming from, and the experiences they are living in. I firmly believe that understanding the humanity of people with different opinions and lifestyles is what leads to understanding, cooperation and peace.

    • Katie Larissa says...

      Dasee, I love your heart more and more. Thank you for responding in love and with wisdom to all the queries and opinions.

    • Jo says...

      Thank you Dasee for your thoughtful, open and reflective writing. The dialogue here is indeed encouraging…

    • Annie Green says...

      I’d like to know about all of these as well. Especially how to manage with 10+ children.

    • Dasee, thank you for sharing and for your beautiful, thoughtful words. “Stay courageous and compassionate” may become my new mantra.

      On a different note, my family calls itself “Jewtino” (my husband is Jewish and I am Latina/ not Jewish), and we celebrate all of the high holy days and keep many customs, but I have to say out of everything, I adore Shabbat. We have friends down the street who host every Friday and it’s such a wonderful time to wind down, step away from technology, and share wine and conversation with people you love.

    • Dasee, this is a really thoughtful, respectful reply and you’ve handled the comments with care. The one thing that gave me pause in your post that I’m still not sure you’ve fully contended with is the part where you say that your grandparents would never have believed that you & your family could live and thrive in Jerusalem–“a miracle,” you called it. I can appreciate the meaning that this brings to your family history, but that “miracle” came at the expense of thousands of displaced Palestinians, did it not? It came at the cost of nearly a century of unrest for both Israelis and Palestinians. It has cost thousands (millions?) of lives. I know that you know this, better than I. And you say you want to welcome all narratives and stories of women living in Israel. And yet, your comment came across as lacking an awareness of how this “blessing” may be a curse for many others.

      I’ve had my own complicated, tangled relationship with the theology around God’s blessings, having grown up in American evangelicalism. We attribute every positive thing in our lives to God “blessing” us–our homes, our cars, our financial standing, our neighborhoods, our schools, our good jobs, etc etc etc. I learned the hard way to question the implications of that theology in the context of other people’s suffering. Did God really give me this beautiful home in the American suburbs while a Syrian refugee dies on the banks of the Mediterranean? I, for one, have grown really uncomfortable with this idea of Divine intervention for my personal happiness, especially
      when that “blessing” is inextricably tied to someone else’s suffering.

    • Cameron says...

      To Bethany – My reply always to big HUGE questions like that always is “If he is the potter and I am the clay, who am I to question that he made me (or this) this way.” Prays and much love for you on your journey!!

    • Leah says...

      Bethany, I appreciate your understanding of the complicated situation of Israel. It was established in difficult circumstances, and like the birth of many nations, it wasn’t peaceful.
      Yes, like you said Israel was built at the expense of thousands of displaced Palestinians. it is regretful and sad. But it has given home to the Jewish people after 6 millions were murdered because they had no where else to go. My grandparents are holocaust survivors, and their families were all gone. No country accepted them in their hour of need. For survivors from Europe, or Jews who lived in Israel for generations and worked hard to make it happen, it might have been seen as a “miracle”. While Jewish, I am secular, so I find it hard to call it so, but I see how a person of faith may look at it this way, as much as it hurt many to whom this miracle was a disaster.
      I wish for a peaceful solution for my country. I have love – hate relationship with it as the complexities and the realities of living in it today can put you in impossible situations.
      I love that the discussion here is respectful and accepting and admire Dasee and others who commented here for the efforts to make a change. May we see it soon!

    • Shira says...

      I loved your post, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed. There are SO MANY amazing things about raising kids in Israel versus the US that were just not mentioned.

      1. The concept of Melonit, or Baby Hotel, (like maternity hotels found in Asia) are usually affiliated with hospitals and are basically like it sounds-a luxurious hotel like setting to recuperate for a few nights after the baby is born with lactation consultants to help new moms breastfeed, nurses to watch the baby while you sleep, etc. I know the author did not give birth in Israel but it’s a well known concept and should have been mentioned.

      2. The generous healthcare. While not unique to Israel this is a BIG contrast to the US, where births can cost thousands of dollars. Also, in Israel home births are more expensive than hospital births because they are not covered by insurance.

      3. This was touched on a bit but Israelis truly have the “it takes a village” mentality-I’ve seen Israelis discipline random kids that were misbehaving on the playground and street and once had a mom ask me to hold her six month old in a Tel Aviv boutique while she tried on some clothes. Never would happen in the US.

      4. This is more Jewish specific but in America Jewish Day School costs thousands of dollars a year in tuition, often up to 40k in big cities like NYC. If you opt to send your child to public school, Hebrew school will still cost hundreds of dollars, if not a couple thousand a year. In Israel, both mamlachti (secular) and mamlachti dati (national religous) schools are free. Also even in secular school kids are taught Torah, Jewish history, etc. It’s a HUGE savings.

    • DD says...

      Thank you for your courage in speaking your mind. It is so uplifting to read your perspective – and equally wonderful to read all of the thoughtful, respectful comments even from those who don’t understand or share your viewpoints. Wishing you and your family a peaceful week.

      And also – CUP OF JO is really the best blog and virtual space out there!! These posts give me hope that there is still so, so much goodness in the world. Thank you everyone for lifting me up.

      JOANNA – keep up the great work! You are awesome!

    • Lorena says...

      Dasee, I thoroughly enjoyed your Motherhood Around the World but I love these comments even more. Thank you for reminding us to keep questioning, to stay curious and that in motherhood, we are all sisters.

    • Lisa says...

      Also in response to Bethany’s comments – I think that is something many Israelis are aware of. Amos Oz’s “a tale of love and darkness” gives an interesting perspective on this – it’s his autobiography. He’s an Israeli author who was born in Jerusalem in around 1938 to parents who had fled Eastern Europe (Romania and Ukraine) pre Holocaust. It’s about his childhood, growing up with families who had lost everyone (he reflects on what it just have been like for his mother for eg, thinking back at her school days and knowing that most of those people – her teachers and fellow students – died horrible deaths), and the founding of the state of Israel, and how it affected the non Jews that he encountered (not just before, but during and after). Another aspect that isn’t always mentioned is that it wasn’t just a place of refuge for European (primarily Ashkenazi) Jews. Around 600,000 Jews were expelled from the 1930s onwards from the Maghreb and Middle East, including places like Syria and Iraq where there had been Jewish communities for nearly 3,000 years. They were also taken in (though sometimes in terrible conditions, and under horrible circumstances) and Israel continues to do so today, eg the Yemenite Jews being driven out by the current proxy conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

      To be honest – i don’t think it’s possible to find any country in the world who’s founding didn’t involve conflict and displacement.

    • Lisa says...

      Further to Shira’s comment:
      Honestly, the baby hotel idea is wonderful and I really don’t get why other countries don’t have them. My friends used one after giving birth, and all the meals were provided, you have a private room and nursing staff can come and watch the baby if you need a break. They run parenting classes for you to attend and if there are any medical issues, as the hotel (or at least the one they were staying in) is attached to a hospital, the baby / mother can receive treatment straight away.

      I was also reminded just now as to why having a Jewish space is so important. This is a minor thing, but I live in London and after more than 18 months of battles with the council, a kosher restaurant opened nearby (on a street where there are at least 5 other restaurants). A petition is going to be able to extend the restaurant’s opening hours, because at present, it has to close by 9 (meaning – kitchen closed, all patrons out). All the other (non kosher) restaurants on the street are able to stay open until midnight. There isn’t any reason (no rowdy patrons, it being the only restaurant serving alcohol) for its hours to be restricted, beyond it being kosher (and therefore primarily catering to Jews). This is London, a large multicultural city, in 2017, and Jewish life is restricted.

  33. Emily says...

    Thank you for this post. Loved seeing Dasee’s world through her eyes.

  34. Marie says...

    Interesting article. Her family life sounds wonderful, and I became curious about the smoked tuna can. Perhaps something to try?

    I hope that a similar blog post will be made from Palestine. Israeli daily life can not be seen in a vacuum. And I was quite disappointed that she did not reflect on How it is to raise children in Israel when your neighbours live in occupied Areas, in refugee camps.

    • Deirdre says...

      Exactly! I second this. I think it would be a heart breaking contrast.

    • Jackie says...

      If a mother from the Gold Coast in Chicago wrote a piece, would we immediately say that we need a piece from a mother in a nearby project? I think that would be important, but I don’t think it would be our immediate thought – like it is when the piece is about an Israeli mom – and we should think about that too.

    • Jen says...

      The interviews are of ex-pats – I don’t think it likely the Palestinian interview would be of a displaced refugee. It would be of an American expat living in Palestine by choice – a rather different thing altogether.

  35. I miss Israel!!! Thank you for giving us glimpse at your busy life in the promised land. Loved seeing children in their uniforms playing and laughing coming from school. May peace be with you.

    Much love,

  36. I had many Jewish friends in university and they would always come back from their Birthright trips in love with their homeland. It’s really interesting to see how their lives would be like should they ever choose to live there. Really missing them now. Thanks for sharing!
    Nicolette | http://www.nicolette.co

  37. Barbara Thornton says...

    So interesting!! I loved every word. What a great mom you are and such a grounded person!

  38. Bethany says...

    This was so lovely. I’m headed on my first solo backpacking adventure this week and for some reason bought tuna in a can instead of the packet (maybe because I’m doubtful of my fishing skills ?). Now I’m excited to try cooking it!

  39. Jen says...

    As an expat mama these comments are so interesting to me (and I am floored – and thrilled – by the intelligence, thoughtfulness, and politeness displayed!). So many of the issues being called out in this post are issues I see in all the posts in this series – not even the ones from developing or problematic countries – but *all*. To be an expat anywhere is a peculiar and extreme type of privilege because one way or another you have access to making a choice many people don’t; and this often comes with other privileges too: access to healthcare, money, jobs, etc. that locals wouldn’t have. I’d love to hear from Palestine (and any number of other countries) too, for their own merit. Remember that to fit into the series the mother would be an ex-pat in Palestine by choice, and that her experience would still likely be wildly different than that of a native Palestinian mother. Almost all the mothers in the series have access to resources that mitigate the risks faced by local mothers (like being able to return to the US to give birth). I loved living in Japan because I had a very good life as an *expat* in Japan – I was constantly aware of the privileges this fact afforded me.

    I’m from California and living in Sydney, which in a day-to-day way isn’t drastically different (not like Japan was!), yet I still wrestle with many of the types of issues raised in the questions above. The privilege of being able (and willing) to actively choose where to raise your family is enormous. You could do a whole separate post – or series – on how all these expat mamas approach the philosophic, ethical, and moral considerations they encounter (fascinating!). Ultimately though, this series is about *motherhood* and I have to really commend the whole team at Cup of Jo for keeping focused… I know I’d have a hard time.

    Sidenote: It would be super fun for there to be a long-form podcast (like Nicole Antoinette’s Real Talk) JUST focused on all these (and other?) mamas. Maybe I’ll start one in my “free time” (ROTFL as my three yr old interrupts me to say “Mom! Mom! You have these things….” and “pets” my eyebrows).

    • Fern says...

      This is a really, really good point, and something that I’m actively struggling with right now. After I have our 2nd little one this spring, and we’re all recovered and packed, we plan to move from Portland, OR to Costa Rica. While on the one hand, I’m so excited for all of us to learn Spanish (and surfing, and to live more slowly, and eat bananas that didn’t fly half a planet to get to us), on the other, I am finding in my research that the expats in Costa Rica are having a pretty devastating effect on cost of living for native-born Ticos. (A Tico is a Costa Rican person.) While we don’t plan to live in a “Gringo Gulch” (because having only English-speaking neighbors would totally defeat the point of moving somewhere in order to learn Spanish), the hard truth is that our income is in dollars from software development, (which is why we can live basically anywhere there is internet) and we’ll be living alongside people who are paid in colóns, which is an inherent imbalance. It definitely gives me pause. We have a research trip planned soon, where hopefully I’ll be able to get better answers to my questions.

    • Luna GC says...

      Thank you Jen.

    • laura says...

      Jen, this was a really insightful comment.

      My first instinct after reading that piece was that it would be nice of CoJ did a subsequent “mothers around the world” that showed the perspective of a Palestinian mother. But reading what you wrote opened my eyes to the privilege of being an expat mother, and lead me to revisit that initial reaction… which I take as a sign of a well written comment!

  40. Rebecca says...

    Excellent post and made me miss Israel! Thank you CoJ.

  41. Kelly says...

    Living in a university town, I’ve had the privilege of knowing many Israelis. I was enveloped in their warm-hearted, fiery community and developed best-friendships with many. Being intellectuals, we talked much about the Israeli psyche and experience and was told that there is a desperation, that no matter the cost, the Jewish world community would never let a Holocaust happen again and that Israel, the country, is key to that goal (obviously). The thing that perplexed me was that even generations after the holocaust, no one of this community of thinkers, would acknowledge that the Palestinians are experiencing something similar. It was if they were still blinded by that pain and refused to see beyond. Hoping that dialogue like this opens peoples hearts and minds to ‘The Other.’ Much respect to all of you commenters, readers, and story-tellers.

    • Aly says...

      Hi Kelly. I really liked reading your perspective, and agree that the Holocaust does loom large in the Israeli national psyche and the Jewish diaspora psyche. I do have to point out that in the Holocaust, 6 million (SIX MILLION) Jews — civilians — were killed with the express goal of eliminating the Jewish people. While there has been so much Palestinian death and suffering in this conflict, most estimates of total deaths since the founding of the state of Israel, including both combatants and civilians, are in the tens of thousands. Every single life is precious and I do not want to minimize any loss of life. Everything that everyone has mentioned here about the tremendous suffering of the Palestinians is true and heartbreaking, and many, many of us, Jewish and not, are working and praying for peace. However, I would not call the conflict “something similar” to the Holocaust.

    • Kelly says...

      Absolutely the death numbers don’t compare. I was referring to removing people from their home land and all that that has encompassed. Sorry I wasn’t more clear.

    • Alexia says...

      I think it’s important to remember that while 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, 11 million total were killed, meaning 5 million people not of Jewish ancestry were also victims. To me, the lesson of the Holocaust is not the importance of a Jewish state, but the importance of safe place and environment for all persecuted groups. While the situation isn’t no means simple, it isn’t unfair to point out that a lot of action taken by the Israeli government goes against this message. Jerusalem was once neutral, UN territory. To me, that is how it should be. Jerusalem belongs to Muslims, to Christians, to Jews… it is an important city for many, and sharing it with everyone should be the ultimate goal. I’m not pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, but I do hope these two sides can come to an equitable and fair solution for all.

    • Aly says...

      Hi Kelly – thanks for clarifying. Hi Alexia – I completely agree with respect to the loss of 11 million lives in the Holocaust and the importance of a safe place for ALL persecuted groups. However, I must address the piece about Jerusalem: it was never neutral, U.N.-controlled territory. The U.N. proposed that plan in 1947 when it planned to divide Israel into 3 states: a Jewish state, a Palestinian state, and an internationally-governed state for Jerusalem and Bethlehem (which, as you mentioned, is holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims). After Israel declared independence, there was a combined attack on Israel by Jordan, Egypt and Syria, during which Israel gained control of West Jerusalem and Jordan gained control of East Jerusalem.
      I don’t mean to get too deep in the weeds of Middle Eastern history here; the current conflict is endlessly complicated, far behind my comprehension, and my heart breaks for both sides. I just feel the need to note that the current situation is the result of many acts by many actors on all sides (as some commenter below mentioned). I agree with all of the many commenters below who have said that motherhood will be the bridge to peace in this conflict. I follow an organization called Midwives for Peace – a grassroots organization of Israeli and Palestinian midwives providing prenatal and birth support for Palestinian mothers. I continue to hope and pray for peace for all sides.

    • Leah says...

      This is such an interesting thread of comments. As a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors I can say it is very much part of my identity. I was the first person in my family, who my grandfather opened up to and told his survival story, and it is with me every day of my life. The Holocaust is impacting everything from small daily decisions (I never peel potatoes) to major life decisions.
      I don’t think though that it prevents me from seeing the suffering on the Palestinians side or to personally strive for peace. I understand their pain and disagree with the policy of the current Israeli government to a point that I no longer live there. Still, believe in the importance of Israel’s existence – in peace within its neighbors, so the horrors of the Holocaust will never happen again.

  42. Kat says...

    I found this absolutely fascinating. Thank you, Dasee, for opening up your life in this way, knowing that you would probably be subject to criticism from an overwhelmingly privledged audience.

  43. Irene says...

    Thank you for posting about this family living inIsrael. . I know your politics lean left but it’s important to show that just beacause one doesn’t agree with the government of a country it doesn’t give them the right to villify its citizens. By presenting this woman and her family as normal and not some kind of fanatics you do a service to Israelis and your readers who may only get a view of Israelis as some kind of “oppressors “.
    Hope this was intentional – either way I loved reading it and am proud of the perspective it shows.

    • Catherine says...

      I agree – great comment. I would love to see a Parenting in Palestine version, though.

  44. Zulema says...

    I love these series! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us!

  45. Katie says...

    I wonder if part of why so many commenters are asking for a Palestinian perspective is not because of a need for things to be “balanced” or because of thoughts against Israel, but because so many of us are truly searching for how to best live in each of our own segregated communities right now. As so many people have said, everywhere in the world is segregated, especially the U.S. I think people really would love to hear more about how other women and mothers approach this in their daily lives. Since the election many Americans have been thinking about how to best live in this complicated modern world – what is the balance between political activism, service, voting with our dollars and just being present in our busy and wonderful lives. Maybe this isn’t the series to take some of the issues, but it seems like there’s lots of interest in learning how women across the country and world are living in this tension and finding ways to honor both sides of our lives.

    • Amelia says...

      Beautifully said!

    • Agreed, really well said. I took some issue with this post, but you’ve brought me around to the bigger picture and more common challenges at hand, in any/every place, including the US.

    • Annie Green says...

      I’m just interested. How other people live is fascinating. I’d be equally interested in learning about people in Korea or Afghanistan or Scotland or anywhere that hasn’t been covered yet and isn’t where I live, which is in Britain. It is the similarities that are striking – every time – and not the differences.

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Hi Annie! We did do a piece on South Korea :) http://cupjo.co/1HLs3qp

    • Laura says...

      Yes. This!

  46. Omaya says...

    As an American with Palestinian heritage, I am all too familiar with the policies Israel upholds in its occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The disparate Israeli laws that bar millions of Palestinian refugees from ever returning to the lands in which they were born while at the same time encouraging Jewish people of any nationality to inhabit the same lands is extremely saddening–not because any Jew can live in Israel, but because Palestinians cannot also freely make that choice. This personal account of family life in a beautiful corner of the world is just that: deeply personal. For that, it is valuable. However, until the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories ceases, Israeli stories will always be connected to the ongoing plight of the Palestinian people.

    • Agreed, Omaya, there’s a tremendous amount of unchecked privilege in this story, and it’s frustrating (at minimum). Let us appreciate family, anywhere, for its sanctity, but not forget the context, which has a fundamental effect on the quality of family life.

    • Very well put. Thank you Omaya.

    • lee says...

      This was my favorite of all the comments, well said.

    • Shirin says...

      Thank you.

    • sania says...

      Yes! exactly this. So well said

  47. Nan says...

    I love this series and this was yet another fascinating one – and such a beautiful, vibrant family too.

  48. Jodi says...

    Loved reading this article, I’ve always wanted to visit Israel (I don’t have kids but still did the article series fascinating). Especially enjoyed reading the comments section, its fantastic that people are able to discuss, debate, and LISTEN to each other in such a thoughtful manner. Thanks to the cup of jo community (jo herself, other writers and editors, and most of all the readers!!)

  49. Jen says...

    Dasee, you have a beautiful family! Thank you for offering a glimpse of your wonderful life.

  50. H says...

    Hi! I lived in Jerusalem for a study abroad for 4 months and visited both Israeli and Palestinian families. I remember thinking at the time that the only way to create peace in this region is for the mothers on both sides to raise a generation that love each other. Motherhood is so powerful – I think it could create peace in the Middle East.

    • golden earth girl says...

      What a beautiful insight. I got into the BYU Jerusalem program but as I was preparing to go, they closed it down :( I wish I could have gone!

  51. Michelle says...

    This is such an amazing blog community. Like many others, I enjoyed reading about this perspective but wished she had touched, even briefly, on the fact that life for Palestinian families must be very different. I’m sure that would be the case for other MATW posts, if I knew more about the conflicts in those countries. I studied abroad in Jordan in college and met a friend who hadn’t seen his family in Gaza for several years because it was too dangerous and difficult to travel back and forth. In that context and with such a well known conflict, it does seem remiss not to remark on the struggles that a large part of your fellow citizens are facing to be with or raise their families. Still, it was great to hear about this one perspective. More knowledge of the country and people in it is better than less!

    • Misha says...

      I felt the same way and I love how kindly you state this. It made my heart ache to read this post.

    • Emma says...

      I felt the same way. Rarely, do we see the Palestinian struggle.

  52. Francis says...

    What a beautiful country you live in, and so full of culture!! I can see why you are so drawn to staying there long term. Because of the media’s coverage of wars and unrest in Israel, many people like myself don’t get a chance to see the beauty and the true culture as you’ve shown us here. You have a beautiful family – thanks so much for sharing this with us!!!

  53. Hilary says...

    I appreciated this post very much. I’m sure this mama was well aware of the potential backlash from readers, and I commend her for sharing a bit of her life with strangers on the Internet. There’s so much ugliness and falsehood online; sharing and reading a small story about one family’s life feels like a good use of our technology and our time.

  54. Vi says...

    Dear Dasee,

    You have a beautiful, happy and healthy family. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences, I genuinely wish the best for you all in your new home.

    However, I read this post with an extremely heavy heart. I couldn’t help but be saddened by the way in which one of the biggest political and social disasters of our lifetime could be trivialised and presented in such a one sided way.

    I think that it was unwise to gloss over the devastating impact that the creation of “the modern state of Israel” has had on the thousands of Palestinians who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their identity and often their lives as a result.

    Like you, I hope for a peaceful future.

    I also hope that you will raise your children to have the compassion and strength to create a positive future for Israelis and Palestinians alike, to put a stop to oppression and inequality, and to open their hearts to creating a home for every body.

    I have hope.

    Thank you,

    Daughter of a Palestinian refugee
    x

    • Sasha says...

      I appreciate how kind and thoughtful your comment. In this time of so much venom and hatred spewed at one another anonymously online, you have expressed yourself without animosity, and in generosity for another human. May we all be so compassionate to each other, even when, especially when, we disagree. CoJ is a very special place indeed.

    • Misha says...

      Your beautiful comment and way you shared your heart inspired me and touched me. Thank you for being an example of how to speak one’s truth with love and honor.

    • Lamah says...

      Ditto.

      Granddaughter of a Palestinian refugee.

    • KS says...

      Thanks you for this Vi. I absolutely agree, and you stated it so beautifully.

    • Ilhaam says...

      I second your comment. I also am the daughter of a refugee. How wonderful it would be, if I could decide to go and live where my roots are? If I could go to Palestine during my summer vacation? If I could visit my Grandparents old house, which is the home of an israeli family right now, and spend time there? If I could show my husband, who is not palestinian, where I come from? If I could visit relatives and show them my almost 2 year old son? I feel I have been cut off from my roots, from my culture. All my grandparents died without me getting to know them. My parents don`t speak much about Palestine, it`s too painful for them. How wonderful would it be, if I had the option to experience my heritage, my country and culture in the same way as the author of this post described so beautifully….Iam happy where Iam right now, but I feel a part of me is lost, I cannot be completed. And so I also read this post with a heavy, heavy heart. Peace to all, wherever you are.

    • P. says...

      This loving, thoughtful and mature comment made tears roll down my face. Thank you.

    • Rainbow says...

      <3

    • As an American who moved to Israel and calls it home – I too echo your sentiment and look forward to the day where our children can both call Israel home.

  55. Jac says...

    These kids are so cute. Thank you for sharing. Made me hungry. As for people commenting that it’s sad that she spends a full day off to obey the tenets of her religion, seriously? Also, to say that she sounds privileged is a bit much, when we’re all reading about the best way to have dinner parties and buy Madewell and drink wine and curl our hair (my favorite blog)- aren’t we all a bit privileged? She is an American mom in Israel and she was asked to talk about her own experiences. Thank you again for including her. I enjoyed it very much.

  56. Amber Joy says...

    Thank you for sharing about a religious woman in a way that does not alienate those who are not religious, yet makes those who are religious feel included. This takes a special grace and I commend you for it!

    Another on a long list of reasons I love Cup of Jo! <3

    • Luna GC says...

      You used such a beautiful choice of words “special grace”. Thank you :)

  57. Christie says...

    Before I read this piece, I knew there would be anti-Israel comments or comments that we needed a “balanced” perspective. It’s one person’s perspective, people! When we had comments from a black woman in Namibia, we didn’t ask for perspectives from a white woman in Namibia. So much anti-Israeli hidden within. Why can’t Israelis just be?

    • shelby says...

      Israelis can’t “just be” – there is huge political, economic and religious strife going on in that region. To gloss over it or to just say ‘why can’t I live my life?’ is extremely ignorant and unjust for the Palestinian people living under Israeli rule who have no access to running water, electricity, and cannot leave the ghettos they have been forced to live in by Israeli government and military forces. To live in a state which perpetuates this kind of behaviour (whether you believe it to be justified or not) means that you cannot zone yourself out of it because it complicates your life or inconveniences you.

    • Christie says...

      Yes but that is the case for many countries around the world and there isn’t the chorus of attack. The Israeli government does some not so great things, but this family should be able to share their life without the controversy. Like it or not Israelis are just living their lives. No one asked for alternative perspectives on any other country. No one criticized the piece on China, or the DRC, or many other countries with turmoil and human rights issues. Why not? Because this is Israel which is held to a different standard.

    • Nora says...

      I understand where youre coming from, but I disagree with your argument that we shouldn’t comment on this post because we havent done the same in other troubled areas. Why should we quiet down here just because we haven’t cried out in each and every other case in the world?

      Shouldn’t we always push for a more peaceful, balanced world?

      This feels too much like the Black Lives Matter / All lives Matter argument..

    • Mia says...

      I agree that any one individual can only share their own story. And it’s important when doing so to name the impact our lives, lifestyles, government’s policies, and the way we live out our values has on others. This is particularly true for those of us (and as a white woman, I am one of us) who are benefiting from the oppression of those on the margins of our societies. It is incorrect to equate a Palestinian woman in Israel to a white woman in Namibia; their lived experiences are vastly different because one suffers from oppressive policies and cultural practices and the other doesn’t.

      Having said all of that, if CoJ were to interview a white mom in the US, most of us would struggle to recognize and name the challenges POC families face here every day. We don’t see it, and even when we do it’s hard to talk about. But that why we need to.

    • Amy says...

      I respectfully disagree–the reactions to this post are not knee-jerk, hateful, or blindly anti-Israel. No one criticized the piece on China because the person did not intertwine her personal decision to raise her family there with hotly contested religious and sociopolitical idealogy. No one contested the DRC post because the person did not imply it was her birth right to live there nor attempt to paint that country’s history of brutal occupation and colonization by Europeans in such a way that justifies their beliefs and guides their decisions in the present day.

    • Luna GC says...

      Well said Christie.

    • Nina says...

      Firstly, I believe we should hold every country to the same standards – the answer isn’t to lower our expectations of Israel, but to raise them for the rest of us. Greater awareness of privilege and the costs of our lifestyles all round would only be a good thing. Secondly, I think what makes reading this article particularly uncomfortable is that the injustice is so very close at hand – even within the city itself, because East Jerusalem is occupied territory – and the contrast so stark; and also that the interviewee herself brought up the “political strife”, but discussed it from the angle of her children’s support for and future involvement in the military, which is an occupying army. An important question to ask might be: why can’t Palestinians just be?

  58. Britt says...

    Joining the chorus – love this feature. What a sweet and beautiful family. I applaud this mother’s passion and resolve despite the challenges, both big and small.

  59. I love this post!! This is definitely one of my favorite MATW posts. I have dreamed of living in Israel with my family since before I even had a family, when I visited for the first time in my mid-twenties. I relate to some of the sentiments she expressed, about our great grandparents never imagining such a thing. My grandmother is a Holocaust survivor and emigrated to Israel after being liberated from a concentration camp when she was 15 years old. She lived on a kibbutz and met her husband and had her babies there. It was finally a place where she could be Jewish and walk down the street and be safe. It truly is a dream for some. I know it’s a complicated issue but I’m very proud of my Israeli heritage and absolutely loved getting a glimpse into this mother’s life there with kids!

  60. As an American of Palestinian heritage, I am truly heartened by the comments that express curiosity and support of the Palestinian people. I was raised by a Palestinian mama, and she is one amazing woman. (And she makes the best hummus around!!)

  61. Anne says...

    This series is always so great – and it’s fairly unusual to see Internet articles about religious families in secular contexts. I’m not terribly religious myself, but I really enjoyed that perspective.

    I do so appreciate that all of the commentators are keeping their contributions civil, but sometimes I wish we could all be a little less eager to be offended. There are many controversial countries and governments – that doesn’t devalue the experience of mothering in those lands. My (future) privileged Western experience as a mother will frankly be purchased at the expense of very poor workers in Asia, yet no one is calling for an article about raising child laborers in Bangladesh. It’s possible to disagree with Israeli politics, and also not attempt to censor discussion of life in Israel.

    If ‘Motherhood in Palestine’ had been posted today, the comments would all be calling for an Israeli perspective. I understand that this touched a nerve with some readers, but I have always found Jo and her team to be deeply concerned with the ethical considerations of their work, and I think we should all get some practice reading perspectives that we disagree with.

    • YES! Well said, Anne.

    • I says...

      Yes, thank you so much for your comment.

    • Jess says...

      I wholeheartedly agree with this. We didn’t see demands for an aboriginal post when Motherhood in Australia was posted. Yes, this is a hot bed region right now, but this is her personal opinion of her life. Can’t we rejoice in a fellow mom living her life? There is such a thing as being too politically correct.

    • Amber Joy says...

      Brilliant.

    • Shana says...

      Well said!

    • Sally says...

      But what’s wrong with being offended and disagreeing with each other? Should we be apolitical just because we’re mothers talking about mothering?

    • Moira says...

      I agree that you can disagree with Israeli politics and not censor discussion of life in Israel. However, I imagine that Israeli politics has an impact on daily life in Israel, and I was curious to hear more about it, and how it shapes her parenting, and that of other parents living there.

    • Reem says...

      My dear, it is not about being offended or not. I wish it were that easy – how I would love for my heart to be still when reading about this issue.

      It is about the fact that people moving to Israel are literally building their lives on the oppression and suffering of an entire people . And casual mention of ‘war in Gaza’ or ‘terrorists’ or children wearing Israeli army t-shirts obscures the reality and pervasiveness of the oppression and furthers the narrative of this being about equal sides.

      This is not about being offended, this is about life and death for some of us. I am sorry to be dramatic, but for many that is what it is.

    • Luna GC says...

      Yes!!

  62. Alex says...

    I usually hate comment sections for the trolls and negativity, but I am actually tearing up with happiness reading all these introspective female voices state their thoughts and concerns about this post in a way that is gentle, understanding, and filled with the desire to know more and think beyond… if only we could task CoJ readers with solving the many challenges in the Middle East, we might get somewhere :) Thank you Joanna for cultivating this kind of discourse!

  63. Salwa says...

    I live in East Jerusalem and work in Ramallah. I have long considered submitting to Motherhood Around the World, but it never quite seemed right. Maybe now is the time, in the comments?

    A few thoughts:

    -So much of what she says resonates with me, as well, but there are some differences.

    – “Weekends” are tough. Friday and Sunday are the typical weekend days here in Palestine, whereas Saturday is a school day. It’s a way of balancing the holy days of Islam and Christianity. If you work in the international sector, though, which many middle class and wealthy Palestinians do, the work week is Monday to Friday. This leaves a major scramble for childcare! Usually I work Friday and my husband takes care of the kids and we switch on Sundays. Saturday might as well be a work day.

    -The commute times are LONG. East Jerusalem to Ramallah can easily be an hour and a half when school is in session. Any delay at the checkpoints can stretch that time longer. Most parents I know try to have a back up babysitter (usually an aunt or a neighbour) who can pick up the kids if the checkpoints wind up being closed or backed up.

    -Schooling is a major issue for East Jerusalem Palestinians. The quality and funding are not at all equal to Israeli Jewish schools, so most parents want to send their kids to private school instead. The better private schools are in Ramallah rather than East Jerusalem, which means a long commute and checkpoints (see above). They are also pricey, and have restricted admission, but for many parents, they seem like the best chance to get their kids a chance. There are also Palestinian Authority-run schools and schools run by the UN Refugee Works Agency (UNRWA) but I have limited experience with those.

    -when someone’s is sick or not feeling well, we tend to bundle them up in more clothes and blankets rather than “prescribe” water! Even in 40C in July, if you have a stomachache, someone is going to tell you that it’s because your stomach is too cold!

    That is just a few thoughts… I actually loved this article, so perhaps that will help answer some of the questions that commenters have!

    • Carol says...

      Thank you!

    • Christine says...

      Thank you so much for this! I think your perspective is greatly needed and I would love to see you added to the motherhood series (outside of just the comment section).

    • Anna says...

      Love this perspective – thanks for sharing!

    • Yael says...

      As an American/Israeli living in Tel Aviv I appreciated this so much! I have about a million questions for you but I’ll refrain from doing this in a blog’s comment section. I’m so glad you responded :)

      One question I will ask though since you spoke of schooling: What do you think of initiatives like the Hand in Hand Bilingual Schools?

      I had to laugh about what you said about bundling up-I don’t have kids yet but I have heard so many elderly women on the bus yell in Hebrew at a young mom for not having socks on her baby in the summer for fear they will catch a cold!

      I do know paradoxically the water is also taken seriously. My husband tells me that when he was a child Israeli television ran a campaign to get kids to protect themselves where the word for sun-shemesh-was an acronym to help you remember things like water, a hat, shade, and other things. Middle East heat is real!

    • Leah says...

      What a beautiful comment Salwa. I grew up on the west side of Jerusalem and would love to read more about you. Hopefully Cup of Joe will pick up on that one! One thing we have in common – I was also brought up with bundling up as the answer to everything. Always wear a sweater, especially in Jerusalem because it gets cold at night! :-)

    • Laura says...

      So interesting, thank you for sharing! Would love to hear more!

  64. A says...

    Wow — a small child who says: ‘I am going to take off this T-shirt only when we win the battle.’ I fear that this region will never truly know peace if this is what comes from the mouths of babes.

    • Anne says...

      Is it really any different than little American boys who run around with toy guns and play violent video games?

    • Kim says...

      He’s a child!

    • Bridget says...

      Peace starts in the home. I didn’t let my boys play violent video games or play with toy guns… Thanks A

    • Amy says...

      Anne: Yes, it is very different when you consider the broader context. As mentioned in the post, military service in Israel is mandatory for young men and women. You can imagine it’s in the best interest of this policy to make sure that every citizen is indoctrinated at a very young age to believe specific narratives about their country. There is no exact equivalent to this for Americans, unless your 7 year old kid comes home from camp with a USMC t-shirt on and says something like, “I’m never taking this shirt off until the US destroys radical Islam.”

    • Leah says...

      Dasse mentioned that this happened when there was a war between Israel and Gaza (probably the one in the summer of 2014). As someone who lived in Israel during such time, you have to understand that rockets were falling on many Israeli cities. For us in the US it is hard to understand, but In Israel, alarms went on and you had seconds to take your kids and run into shelters before it might hit you. This is real war, nothing like playing toy guns, and you cannot avoid exposing your kids to it. In this type of context you should read her son’s comment.
      Like you though, I find it very very sad. I love my hometown of Jerusalem and I wish Israelis and Palestinians will find a way to live there in peace.

  65. Anna says...

    Having lived in Jerusalem and also in Jordan, I think it’s important to present a balanced perspective on this small area of the world. Like many who commented before me, I hope that Cup of Joe takes the opportunity to interview and publish a “Motherhood Around the World” from the perspective of a Palestinian mother, either one living in Palestine itself or one who is part of the Palestinian diaspora who lost their homes when the state of Israel was established and have been living since then in surrounding countries or other places around the world.

    • Britt says...

      When a story is published from a certain perspective it should not necessarily dictate that similar content from a different perspective be broadcast. This post is not a debate nor does it push a political agenda.
      It is simply one mama sharing her experiences in Israel.

      If COJ presents a piece on motherhood in Palestine it should be posted on the merits of the story itself, and not solely to “present a balanced perspective.”

  66. Elle says...

    Echoing some of the other commenters, I found this post to be very challenging. In the whiplash between “On Difficult Times” and “On Dating Your Husband” (even accounting for editing!) one can sense that this perspective is a deeply privileged one. Consider the ability to take “calculated risks” in child raising; this is simply not an option for many Palestinian parents, whose children are necessarily and constantly exposed to the threat of violence. Without minimizing the experience and impact of war on all involved, and with respect for the complex history of the region, how might we push back against the centering of Israeli experience over and against the struggle of the Palestinians? Or, alternatively, how might a post about Israeli parenting provide a model for how to raise justice-minded children, whose vision of the world might be more radically humane and peace-loving than the one they’ve inherited?

    • Willow says...

      Elle, such a calm, considered and respectful comment. A perfect example of how to discuss a sensitive subject.

      Cup of Jo gives me such faith in humanity-both those who write the blog and the readers who comment. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-thank you Joanna.

    • This seems like a strange response to me. Think of all the CoJ articles about fun (“deeply privileged”) things like dating your husband or finding the perfect dress for spring. All of those ignore that there are millions of people right here in our country who are working 3 jobs and barely making ends meet, and don’t have time to even think about dating their husband; there are people living in poverty here in the U.S., partly because of deeply rooted, systemic issues, and yet we are still allowed here to indulge in topics that are fun and relevant to our experiences. I wonder what it would be like if these types of insights were applied to every post here, and not just ones about Israelis enjoying their lives?

    • Elle says...

      Thanks for this comment, Joy. I take your point; privilege exists everywhere (and most certainly on this site!) so why critique it here? For me, there was a missed opportunity in this post to reflect on one’s own experience of mothering in relation to others–and specifically, in relation to those living very nearby, in very different circumstances, in contested territory. This certainly doesn’t foreclose experiencing or expressing the pleasures of living in Jerusalem. It is simply a call to think hard about what is being rendered abstract or invisible when we narrow our focus to the simply “personal” (which is always also political, as so many great feminists have taught us). To be clear, I think this critique could apply to many of the entries in this series; which is not to discount the valuable work they also do in illustrating difference across and within cultures (including within US cultures of parenting which are, as you rightly point out, themselves inextricable from systematic issues of poverty, racism, colonialism, and other forms of social violence).

    • Yael says...

      I am a Modern Orthodox American/Israeli living in Tel Aviv with strong family ties to Jerusalem, so I felt the need to chime in.

      First I love all the supportive comments about this beautiful family and comments curious about the Arab/Israeli or the Arab Palestinian perspective. It’s a, extremely complex situation-anyone that says otherwise on either side is a fool- and the more we can learn from each other the better.

      Please keep in mind this is ONE women’s perspective. Although my responses would have been VERY similar to hers as we seem to have similar idealogical leanings my MIL would have a VERY different take. She is also an American expat who raised her children in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada and is very left-wing and politically involved, as are her now adult children. I have literally heard her call the occupation “the root of all evil in Israel today”. She obviously would have written about her pride to be Israeli and her love of Israel and Jerusalem but you better believe there would have been a paragraph about politics and it would have been very clear where she stood. I’m sure there would have been critisism, as there was in this post. No matter what, someone on the other side will not be satisfied, and I think it’s natural. I probably would have been disgusted with a post that was completely politically neutral unless it came from someone outside the situation-maybe a non Jewish or non Arab American expat-which there aren’t many of unless you or your spouse works in a consulate or embassy.

      With all due respect, nearly every single Motherhood Around the World (and makeup posts and outfit posts, etc) feature a privileged woman, from the middle/ upper middle class, often in a creative field-CoJ does a great job of showcasing different ethnicities and WOC, but they fit into the same income bracket (not knocking the blog, it knows its target audience and it’s one of my favorites!). This is the demographic of CoJ, so it’s natural the women who reach out to be interviewed fit this description. This woman lives in Arnona and probably runs with the American/British expat crowd in the German Colony and Baka, some orthodox, some, like the author not orthodox but involved in progressive communities. NOTHING wrong with this-it’s my crowd too-but it’s the Jerusalem version of a lot of the women interviewed in Brooklyn. That demographic.

    • Kate says...

      Elle, it doesn’t sound like you did understand Joy’s comment. In terms of those living “very nearby, in very difficult circumstances” doesn’t NYC fall into that scenario? Do you criticize each article on COJ for not taking Toby and Anton into homeless shelters, or doing relief work with people struggling with addiction right in her own city? I’m having a hard time understanding why that burden must only apply to Israeli and/or Jewish mothers?

    • Elle says...

      Thanks for pushing me to reflect even harder on this, Kate. I’m in no way suggesting that the burden to examine one’s political and social position as a mother should fall unevenly on Jewish or Israeli mothers–we should all be engaged in that process (if it helps to know, I’m a Jewish mother living in the United States). I would fully expect, for example, a post from a Palestinian mother to offer a sustained reflection on what it’s like mothering in relation to the war, and what it means for how she raises her children. My point was that the ability to *not* examine the war in relation to one’s mothering–to treat it as a regrettable background–is a function of one’s insulation from it.

    • L says...

      Yael you are so right about the middle-class/middle-income CoJ demographic, and how literally everyone featured has that in common! I’d never really thought of it that way before.

  67. joe says...

    I am an Israeli who lives in Jerusalem. Things are very different for me.
    I work within the Palestinians neighborhoods, believing we MUST narrowing the gaps between East (Palestinian) and West (Israel) Jerusalem. Things are so much more complicated than described here and its affect my life here. I have a baby girl and I often thinks about a Palestinian mothers.. Also I don’t want my daughter to suffer any war but I want her to think about the kids in Gaza and that she will understand that there is no such a thing to win a war!! We all lose. Always.
    I’m not religious and it’s another important aspect, that secular people leave to other cities as Tel Aviv to avoid living in a city suffering from religious coercion.
    Israel is my home and I was born and raised here but I wish I could be so enthusiastic about living in Israel or Jerusalem..

    • Maddie says...

      Thanks for this perspective. Really powerful.

    • Ana Maria says...

      Love your comment, thank you for sharing

    • Aneta says...

      Thank you for commenting – really appreciate your perspective too, especially your point that there are no winners in war.

    • t says...

      Such a powerful comment and an excellent perspective. I just want to take a moment to thank you for sharing and to acknowledge your experience.

    • d says...

      What wisdom you display Joe. I would love to see a Motherhood feature on you. I truly agree that the key to peace (anywhere) is citizens wanting to create that peace in a peaceful way, not through war or the West mediating.

    • Nina says...

      Really interesting comment, thank you – and for your good work.

    • God this comment tears right into my soul. Joe if everyone understood what you understand. That with war we all lose, maybe we could find a way through this war. I wish for the safety of your family and loved ones. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  68. Dasee was my roommate for a semester during my year abroad in college. We’ve lost touch, but what a treat to see her show up here!

    As for the comments asking for a post from a Palestinian perspective, I think that would be great – in the context of gathering perspectives from many places around the world. It’s sad that these two always have to be pitted against each other. As though posting an Israeli mother’s perspective is unique in its requirement that it be balanced with a Palestinian mother’s separate from all the other mothers’ experiences you’ve shared. The Israeli and Palestinian mothers out there are not at war with each other personally. And, there have certainly been other locales featured whose governments have made controversial political moves. Was there a similar demand in the comments for mothers from the “opposing side” have a parallel feature? I don’t recall seeing similar calls, for example, for a Pakistani perspective after India was featured. I love that this series carries a thread of what motherhood is around the world, keeping the focus on mothering, and separate from politics. I would absolutely love to read about a Palestinian mother’s perspective (among many others), too. But, I don’t think it should be in immediate response to the Israel one. As mothers I would love to see us support each other, lift each other up, not promote conflict and division.

    • Jojo says...

      She made it political with her statement of being in exile for 2,000 years, and Israel gaining their ‘independence’ in 1948. She could have spoken about her mothering experiences without delving into what some of us deem to be political especially given what occurs in that region.

      Even with Fatimah’s (Indian/Muslim) write up, which did not include political references, another Indian lady asked that a Hindi be also featured in the future. There’s nothing wrong with us wanting to hear different voices from a country/region. Empathy makes you immediately think of how her life compares to that of a Palestinian mother’s.

    • t says...

      Beautifully stated.

    • Ami says...

      Hi Lisa, I love your comment and am so grateful for the respectful dialogue on Cup of Jo! Your comment really made me think about my own reaction to this post. I think the reason I really hope for a “parallel feature” is due to some of the specific things Dasee mentioned (and didn’t mention) — support for the Israel military, viewing Israel as a Jewish nation, and no comments on co-existing with Palestinian neighbors. I might be wrong, but I feel like if some of those issues had been acknowledged, I wouldn’t feel so hungry for the mirrored perspective?

    • W says...

      @ Ami: Thank you for you gentle comment – and for capturing so well the reasons I felt perturbed by this post.

      I enjoyed Dasee’s loving perspective on family and tradition. There is so much passion in her words and such a strong sense of community. She hopes for a peaceful future for her beautiful land. But to express such hopes without also acknowledging the Palestinians who share in those hopes, and with whom her future and her children’s futures are so intimately bound…

      Perhaps it is because it is most difficult to get to know those closest to us – especially those with whom we share a painful history. Perhaps she has not had the opportunity. That’s why it’s so wonderful to have these exchanges, so we can all learn from one another.

    • Agreed 100%. And stated so much more eloquently than I could compose!

  69. Leah Klein says...

    This is such an amazing post. I absolutely love it!

    I hear what people are saying about focusing more on the political and social situation that Israel is in currently, but when you’re there, it doesn’t feel quite that way. These are people who wake up, go to work, fall in love, raise their children…with the noise of war in the background. It’s there, but it’s not everything. They are living their lives, just as we are.

    • Elle says...

      Respectfully, the ability to put the war in the background is a deeply privileged perspective, and one that is simply not available to most Palestinians.

    • Sami says...

      Definitely agree with Elle. The violence in the Israeli-Palestinian area is something that deeply affects Palestinians in every way. The violence changes the quality of schools, available jobs, poverty, and safety; it is a pervasive and hostile experience for them. The fact that many Israelis can just ignore it is very sad and only keeps the area in a deadlock

    • bisbee says...

      This comment is for Sami. I hardly think that Israelis are ignoring the war. It goes on all around them, and as she said, everyone know someone who has died. I am Jewish, but definitely not blindly on the side of the
      Israelis. It is possible to want compromise in order to bring peace and a viable solution for both Palestinians and Israelis.

  70. I love this. My husband is Jewish and his mother grew up in Israel. I love the sense of community and tradition that is taught from a very early age. I look forward to visiting Israel one day with our daughter.

  71. Sam says...

    What beautiful kids!

  72. t says...

    The overwhelming sense I had after reading this is that it seems like there isn’t a good work/life balance for Dasee and her family. Their one day off a week is a day of reflection and rest and not necessarily rooted in pleasure. It came off as a little sad and overwhelmed but maybe I misunderstood that.

    Such a beautiful family – I hope they get a bit more down time in the near future (late August is coming up!).

    • Dee says...

      As a non-Jew who has worked for a Jewish organisation I can say from my experience that the sabbath is really a wonderful time and not sad at all! It’s a day of family, of food and of focusing on those you love. I think for most people it is a pleasurable time and depending on how spiritual you may be, pleasure is found in different rituals be it preparing the meal, going to temple or whatever one may practice.

    • t says...

      Thanks Dee. I absolutely didn’t mean that it is sad that their one day off is a religious day – i meant it is sad that they only have one day off.

      The overall feeling I had was that she wished she had a little more time for rest and pleasure. Thank you for clarifying that their one day off is both pleasure and reflection – that absolutely makes sense.

    • Yael says...

      Many Israelis have Fridays off as well-I actually do not know anyone personally that works on Fridays except for some kids in the IDF. All professionals I know (career soldiers, lawyers, NGO workers) have Fridays off.

      the occupations that seem to work on Fridays are shopkeepers, waiters and waitresses, retail workers, etc. as it’s a popular day to go to brunch with family friends, shop at the supermarket and mall, then go home to get ready for Shabbat. it’s pretty split.

      Her husband is a rabbi and probably works a lot on the weekends. I’ve been to a Shabbaton at Pardes where they had wonderful shiurim on erev Shabbat. I imagine he is very busy.

  73. Kay says...

    Man, I love this community. I was worried there’d be a lot of hate and anger in the comments section for this controversial post; but there are just requests for a similar post from the Palestinian perspective and other calm, rational comments about bringing balance to this issue. This blog and its reader are seriously the best.

  74. Karen says...

    As lovely and passionate as this perspective is, I would have liked to read more about the implications of parenting children in a fraught political situation. Of course Dasee hopes there will be peace before her son becomes an IDF soldier (who wouldn’t?), but besides that, how does she reconcile the ideals and values that brought her to Israel with its political reality? A commentator above correctly notes that this perspective offers a rosy view of Israel’s socio-economic reality; I’d say (also from experience) that it similarly glosses over a challenging political reality.

    • MB says...

      I came here to say the same thing! I noticed a few other commenters also asked for this perspective. I could not help reading political subtext and meaning into some of the comments Dasee offered (for example the government promoting many children). I found it troubling that my head went there but probably more so because it was glossed over to the point of being rendered an abstract problem rather than the (in my opinion) urgent conflict it is.

    • Allison says...

      Women aren’t always given a platform to share their experiences as they are in Motherhood Around the World. The series is often funny, surprising, and poignant. I always look forward to reading it. But the experiences of these women are never really neutral. They’re part of a wider social context and shaped by the person who conducts the interview and prepares the piece for this blog. A lot of women you’ve interviewed in the past acknowledge that complexity in some way through their anecdotes and reflections. This piece does not. To me, this piece is an extreme example of why it’s so hard to take one person’s voice out of context. There is always so much more to the story.

    • Sonja says...

      Karen,
      Exactly. I’d have loved to have heard more as well. Our neighbors are Israeli and just moved to the States because they didn’t want their 16 year-old son (and the rest of their children) having to join the army in a few years. They love the country (and the culture) immensely but recently they’ve found the political climate to be volatile and run by politicians they consider to be extremists. Probably very similar to me not wanting my kid to join an army run by a certain US president that might just get in a (nuclear) pissing match with North Korea or somebody similar.

  75. Hillary Kelly says...

    I appreciate the risk you took my publishing something that could be seen as controversial, but echo the other commenters: I’d love to also see a Palestinian mother’s post.

  76. Lisa says...

    Love this, and so timely! My husband and I are considering making aliyah next year, and it’s really difficult to have an idea of what it would be like with children. Most of our friends don’t have children yet, so they’re living very different lives to the ones we would and don’t think about child related issues, like schools, childcare options, work / family balance

  77. kayla says...

    love this! i had the pleasure of visiting israel in january and it was unforgettable. such a beautiful country with beautiful traditions.

  78. Nina says...

    I would love to read a similar story from a palestinian view.

  79. maggie says...

    This is my favorite Motherhood Around the World post yet! Thank you so much for sharing!

  80. linda ivri says...

    love this! thank you for sharing

  81. Aly says...

    This is my favorite, too!!! Dasee, this is so beautifully written. My husband and I just came back to Brooklyn after two weeks in Israel with our kids, and we are crying as we read this. We always say that the modern state of Israel is the most exciting project of the Jewish people in our lifetime! It is so wonderful to see Israeli motherhood through your eyes.

  82. I’m so glad this series is back! I don’t have children but it’s always so fascinating reading about how parenting around the world differs!

  83. Lisa says...

    I’m sooo happy to see this and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thank you so much for sharing!

  84. Rosie says...

    As an avid reader of Cup of Jo who lives in Israel, I was very excited to see this piece! It was very nice to read, but I have to say definitely glosses over the actual reality of living in a place where salaries are extremely low and the cost of living is very high. This is a classic “rose-colored glasses” situation. The standard workday here is 9 hours (by law), which means that 8:00-15:30 is a dream – perhaps the writer has that magical job that pays well and has fantastic hours. No one I know works fewer than 10 hours day – and frequently longer. Unless you’re in high-tech, a great salary for an educated employee with a master’s degree is less than $3,000 per month – that’s less than $34,000 per year. Now imagine a minimum wage or lower-income worker. Most people here live with their parents after they are married, and even when starting out as parents – not by choice, but because buying a home is simply out of reach with such low salaries. It is well-known here that you need to work for 15-20 years before you can even afford to buy an apartment (forget a house). Many married couples still receive support from their families.

    Don’t get me wrong – many of the things the writer has stated are accurate, and there are many wonderful things about living in Israel. But what I found most “surprising” about this piece was how little it resonates with my own reality.

    • Israeli Expat says...

      I would also add that this account of family life with Jerusalem showcases life in Israel’s most traditional city. The description of Shabbat observance and historic street scenes is definitely typical of Jerusalem, but most other parts of Israel are very modern both visually and in attitude. The start-up and research communities are renowned world-wide, the vibrant tech industry employs 300,000 people (in a country with a population of just 8.4 million). There is a tremendous (and often painful) difference between secular and religious communities, and while it’s not clear how observant the author is, she’s representing a particular perspective on Israeli parenthood. Which is fine – this is the case with the whole series–obviously any single column can’t capture the ethos of an entire country.

    • Lisa says...

      That’s interesting to hear. I found Tel Aviv (coming from London) to be incredibly expensive – part of that is the strength of the shekel vs a weakened pound, but still. Basic things like food was more expensive (particularly anything that was imported) than we’d pay in london (though in London kosher generally costs more), clothes, cars (with high taxes) and accommodation (property prices are similar to areas of london, but much worse quality buildings).
      Given how much lower the salaries are I really wonder how people manage.

    • Yael says...

      But this really is many people’s experience! Like the author most people I know are expats or Sabras living in and around her neighborhood in Jerusalem which is upper middle class. NOT the average Israeli by any means.

      And her experience applies to everyone in my social circle-except for hi tech workers and lawyers-they tend to work more, but have generous vacation time.

  85. These beautiful photos and descriptions take me right back to the two summers I spent in Israel — one of which was at Pardes. And you’ve given more evidence for our theory that Kibbutz Ketura is secretly the center of the world. Everything comes back to Ketura. Thank you for the beautiful interview.

  86. Love love this! They all seem so happy! I really enjoy this series. Well done!

  87. Shaina says...

    What an absolutely beautiful depiction of life in Israel. I got the shivers reading the last bit about staying indefinitely! Living vicariously through you Dasee!

  88. Amy says...

    I love (and struggle with!) this: “That kind of independence — pushing yourself to try something new, combined with a longing to be in the nurturing cradle of home — is the Israeli recipe for happy, resilient children.”

    • Heather says...

      Me too, Amy! It reminded me of this recent article in the New York Times about babies’ connections with their parents: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/well/family/why-a-babys-connection-with-a-parent-matters.html

      “Attachment theory was developed in the mid-20th century by a British psychiatrist, John Bowlby… Mary Ainsworth, his student and later collaborator, devised what is known as the strange situation procedure, in which a 1-year-old is briefly separated from the parent or caregiver, and then reunited, and the behavior during reunions is closely observed…

      “A child who has the general sense that the parent is likely to be responsive, she said, is going to ask for attention when the parent comes back in. The child may be upset, but calms down quickly, comforted by the parent, and thereby demonstrates what is called ‘secure attachment.’

      “Attachment…is about ‘being sensitive to your child in times of stress so they know if they’re upset, hurt, bothered, somebody will come make them feel better so they can move away and be back in their world again.’”

    • That was my favorite part of this post too :-)

  89. Katie Larissa says...

    This is my favorite one by leaps and bounds. I love how rooted in tradition and love this mama is!

    • She really does sound like such a wonderful mother :-)

  90. Maddie says...

    An interesting, evocative look at this experience. Respectfully, I think many would also be interested in a Motherhood Around the World edition as seen through a Palestinian perspective.

    • moong says...

      Agreed. I too would really like to see a Palestinian perspective.

    • Egle says...

      Yes!! A Palestinian perspective would be both very interesting and balancing the picture. Thank you CoJ!

    • Bonnie says...

      While I agree that it would be interesting to read about a Palestinian mother’s experience, I wonder if these readers also found it controversial to post on the experiences of mothers in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and UAE that are serious human rights violators.

    • MBB says...

      I just wanted to note something about the comments critiquing a double-standard in terms of Israel. Most of the comparisons brought up (Pakistan or Rep. of Congo or poverty in Bangladesh) have very little to do with the situation in Israel. Yes, there are abusive governments all over the world, and there are significant social and class differences amongst people of any country that would provide a very different perspective. However, what is perhaps most comparable to the Israel-Palestine situation is something like what takes place in Tibet with native Tibetans and Chinese. If there was a post about a Chinese mother in Tibet, I’d expect the same kind of responses asking about the highly charged political and personal experience of an ethnic Tibetan. In the same lines, I want to point out how different the situation in Tibet is and of course respect its history. My point was to simply point that out that some of the comparisons that call out a double-standard have really missed the mark and seem to denote a lack of empathy.

    • Allison says...

      @MBB
      Well said!

  91. FA says...

    I would be curious to hear more on parenting in a segregated society.

    While the post is interesting, this is one of the rare controversial posts on CoJ. Thanks for taking the risk, though.

    • Annie Green says...

      Agreed. I too would like to read about parenting in countries where there are very polarised societies. This was very interesting – thanks.

    • Christie says...

      The United States is a very polarized and segregated society. Let’s have a post on that? Eye-roll. Only Israel, out of all of the countries, gets these kinds of comments. It’s not even the worst of the human rights abusers profiled here. So tired of the double standard.

    • Sasha says...

      Actually, I would love a post on parenting differences in the US between different ethnic and socio-economic groups. I would be very interested to see a profile of an inter-racial couple that focuses on different approaches to child rearing in their families. Or you could do something similar to MATW and interview people moving to Midwest, Southwest, etc, and focusing on those lifestyle differences. There is definitely a East Coast/West Coast over-representation of people who get profiled on Joanna’s blog (though I am thinking more of beauty uniform, house tours, and those type of posts).

    • These types of comments are so interesting to me. So many societies are segregated–ours included! When we see features on Los Angeles (recently there was a great feature on a beautiful home in my Northeast LA neighborhood), there were no comments about the extreme gentrification going on, the people being evicted from these homes, the migration of immigrant families all across California… My point is, it wasn’t an article about that. That family in California probably deals with immigrants and segregation and racial divides on a daily basis even more than this Israeli family deals with the political issues in their society on a daily basis. These are articles about one slice of life, not the whole. I don’t understand why some commenters are so concerned about the “other side” when it comes to this post but have not expressed similar concerns in other posts.

    • Yael says...

      Please don’t assume or imply that Israel is segregated by law. Like the US, there are many incidents of self segregation, even among Jews, with Ashkenazi (Jews of eastern european descent) jews tending to be more well off than Mizrahi (Jews from Arab lands such as Iraq and Yemen), Sephardi (Jews whose ancestors were expelled from Spain and settled in Western Europe, Northern Africa, etc) and Ethiopian jews.

      When it comes to schools it is true that there are different systems: the ultra orthodox system, the mamlachti dati or national religious system, the mamlachti or secular system, and the arab system. HOWEVER Jews are welcome to attend Arab schools and vice versa, the system is not forced on anyone but caters to the needs of each. Jews (even in secular schools) learn Torah and Jewish culture in Hebrew and Arabs learn Quran, Arab culture, and Arab history in Arabic.

      Israel has MANY MANY problems but Arabs who hold Israeli citizenship have the same rights under the law as Jews who hold Israeli citizenship-in fact the only legal difference is that they are not required to serve in the IDF (a handful of Arabs volunteer each year, all Druze men-except those from the Golan Heights- serve, and some Bedouin clans serve). This law is out of respect as many have family in the Territories.

      In practice of course there is much inequality. Arab villages and neighborhoods tend to be poorer, often lacking infrastructure and funding, similar to a lot of inner city minority American neighborhoods. Among some neighborhoods, such as Jaffa in Tel Aviv, gentrification is strong and a problem. No rose colored glasses here; it really is very complex and complicated.