Tag Archives: peace

Merry and Bright

Dear Readers,

Belated Chanukah wishes…

Window dreidls
Window dreidls
First Night
First Night of Chanukah
made in school, kindergarten
made by Max in  kindergarten

Got this lovely card from my mother with a donation that she made to the American Bird Conservancy for Chanukah.

Tiwi, Photo by Jack Jeffrey, www.jackjeffreyphoto.com for more on ABC visit www.abcbirds.org
Tiwi, Photo by Jack Jeffrey, http://www.jackjeffreyphoto.com for more on ABC visit http://www.abcbirds.org
We call this time of year--- the Festival of Boxes.
We call this time of year— the Festival of Boxes.
window lights
window lights


a holiday gift to us made by Max, age 6, in Kindergarten
a holiday gift to us made by Max, age 6, in Kindergarten
More school handiwork for the holiday season, by Max
More school handiwork for the holiday season, by Max

Another bit of cuteness from school. Max says Snowman Soup is  delicious.

Snowman Soup recipe and snowman --another bit of cuteness form school. Max says these are delicious.
Snowman Soup recipe and snowman

I received this holiday card from an old friend.

Saw-whet owls, Photo by Art Wolfe. From a Sierra Club card. www.sierraclub.org
Saw-whet owls, Photo by Art Wolfe. From a Sierra Club card. http://www.sierraclub.org

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you health, love, peace, laughs, joy and all things merry and bright!

Thank you for reading and being there. 



"After the Storm"
“After the Storm” copyright Elana Halberstadt 2012

I Will Not Buy My Son a Toy Gun

On Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2011

For those left behind

Hawkeye, Photo credit: Lisa Pembleton

I am a veteran of the Israeli army. I feel strange using the word veteran, because to me, a veteran is someone who fought in combat and either was killed,  injured, or survived. But the dictionary gives the definition as “a former member of the armed services.” So, I suppose it’s OK to say that in this context. But this post is not about me. I use the word only because as someone who did serve her country in Israel, I know a little bit about what it is like to be a soldier. Even though I never fought in combat. And all political things aside, I can tell you that your life is not yours when you are a soldier. You are in service to your country. You wear a uniform. There are rules. You take orders. You learn to use a gun. It can be dangerous.

I mention this also because from an early age, I have seen up close what the effects of losing a family member, friend, or even an aquaintance to war, terror or the military, can be. Grief that comes from the loss of a beloved person in your life is a human, universal experience. But each loss is specific and personal. No two stories are the same, but they are all heartbreaking.

If you are a mother of a soldier, you might end up burying your child, your soldier. If you are a child, you might bury your parent soldier, a father or mother. If you are a husband, wife or fiance, brother or sister, or in any way related to a soldier, you are part of a world that is slightly less known here. Because here in the US, we have a volunteer army, and in Israel, there is a draft. It is required.

So, here we have a much bigger country, and the military families are their own sub set in our culture. In America it is not common practice for all 18 year olds to go to the army following high school. Here, if one is lucky, there is college. Then there are those who volunteer to be soldiers in the US armed services. People who do this, should be afforded rights and services when (and if) they return from their missions here or abroad. If they are injured, they should be given the best medical attention that exists. They should be supported in every possible way: emotionally, financially, and physically. Because they have given of their lives in service and they have put themselves in harm’s way. Whether the war (or wars) are justified or not, I think soldiers returning from war, or combat missions, or service of any kind should be treated with the utmost respect. Their families should be well cared for (in perpetuity) if they are killed in action or cannot work due to injuries (physical or mental). There shouldn’t be even one homeless veteran. It is shameful and outrageous there are so many.

I have not held a gun in my hands since I returned mine when I completed my two-year service in 1987.  I don’t want my son Max to play with toy guns. I will not buy them. I will not allow them as gifts. Yes, he is only (almost) five. I have no idea what he may ask for or want in the future. Saying never is tricky, but thankfully, lately he’s all about cars and Hot Wheels and cats and such. I teach him to use his words when he’s angry. I hope he grows up to be just about anything but a soldier.

When a family has their son or daughter volunteer to go into the army, as is the case these days here in the US, I think that is worthy of something. At minimum, respect. And respect should mean that veterans are treated well. Period. And there should not have to be a discussion about whether the war is right or wrong so as to justify whether they deserve to be treated with respect, compassion, understanding and real tangible help when they return home. They do deserve it. Yes. They do. Every bit of it and more.

And I don’t understand the concept of Veteran’s Day sales. It makes no sense to me. People have died, or are injured; is let’s go buy stuff really the answer?!  I don’t understand it. More people need to be aware of what the veterans experiences are, what the history is here, not what the best deal on furniture, electronics, or toys is (today, hurry, get great deals, 30% off!).

The toy guns. I hate them. I hate them and I won’t buy them for Max. Instead, I buy him colors, paints, pens and notebooks he can fill with words, drawings, and stories. I give him things he can build (or knock down) without hurting anyone. I teach gentle hands (with people, animals, and places). I want to believe my intentions and actions will give Max a place where peace has a chance to happen.

I dedicate this post to all the brave men and women, past, present and future who have served or will serve this country at war or at peace. Thank you. 

Here is a collection of websites and articles:

John Moore and a photo of grief from Arlington National Cemetary


A dog keeps watch


The first woman from the Oklahoma National Guard killed in combat will be laid to rest: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=511&articleid=20111110_11_A4_CUTLIN331370

At War: Notes from the Front Lines (about homeless veterans): http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/study-finds-homeless-veterans-stay-homeless-longer-than-others/

100K Homes: http://100khomes.org/

From Sesame Workshop and Sesame Street:Talk, Listen, Connect –Toolkit for Military Families: http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/tlc

Families Near and Far: http://www.familiesnearandfar.org/resources/grief/coviewing/

Fantastic info about grief and the grieving process on their resources page –Good Grief: http://www.good-grief.org/

Talking with Kids About News: http://www.pbs.org/parents/talkingwithkids/news/

Courage to Talk (regarding war injuries): http://www.couragetotalk.org/talking.children.php

Coming Home: Veterans Readjusting to Civilian Life: http://www.pbs.org/pov/regardingwar/conversations/coming-home/

The Bob Woodruff Foundation: helping to heal the physical and psychological wounds of war. http://www.reMIND.org

National Veterans Art Museum: http://www.nvvam.org/

International Art Therapy Organization: http://www.internationalarttherapy.org/militarytrauma.html

Women, War & Peace: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/women-war-and-peace/category/full-episodes/

I Want to Let Go But Not Give Up

On Wednesday, the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, 5772, I heard the sharp buzzing of a neighbor’s leaf blower. I shut the window.  I turned to apples and honey and Max. The buzzing was a reminder that there will always be external noise. So, how to quiet the mind? The home?

Max tells me about his day. Little snippets of stories, just enough to make me wonder about all the things I don’t know. Just enough to imagine what his whole day was like (there was a prayingmantis, a popcorn party, and a page with typewritten letters, including m-a-x). I only know for sure the before and after. The clinging to me in the morning. The anger when I picked him up. A day book-ended by tears and soothed with snuggles and kisses. We dip more apples in honey. “This is sweet and good.” Yes, Max, sweet and good.

I’m feeling uncertain and fearful about so much that’s going in our country and world. On the flip side, I’m also determined and hopeful. For today, I want to believe that if I focus on what is directly in front of me, I can at least create peace here in our home corner. Nothing fancy, just our family, love, food, music, and being together. Removing ourselves from the world of chaos and what appears to be insanity at every turn. I don’t know what else to do, but allow this space. These few days to stop work and the ordinary routine. To slow down. I want to let go of all the mistakes I’ve made this past year (and years past). I must make room for the new ones to come. I need quiet.

If I’ve hurt you, knowingly or unknowingly, please forgive me.

Maybe I’m just a hopeless hippie who belongs on a farm picking flowers.  But should we give up on flowers? Air? Water? Our planet? I’ll pick flowers for the dinner table. It is a beautiful day.

Then there is pure joy. There is love.


I want to accept who I am and accept others for who they are, where they are. I want to get Max to school on time more often.

What comforts me: Music, dancing, reading, being near trees or water. A nap. Getting and giving hugs from my family and friends. Doing something to help someone else gives me an instant boost. Laughing. If I can make you laugh, my day is made.

Peace happens

I hope I live up to the promises I make.

For myself, I wish:

  • To have more patience.
  • To not let fear stop me.
  • To listen better.

I hope we all find a way to get through and around what the world throws at us. I wish, truly and sincerely, for peace everywhere. I mean peace in our hearts, families, work, and also peace on the streets, in our governments, and other seemingly crazy, tall order wishes that I harbor. Peace in Jerusalem. I’d like to believe. I want to believe, even when I don’t. I want to give up, and not let go. I want to let go, but not give up.

Peace Stamp

Max helped plant this apple tree given to him by his Saba (Grandpa) Jerry in April, 2011.

Newly planted Apple Tree, April 2011

It’s grown quite a bit, as you can see here.

Checking growth, September 2011

If nothing else, change is inevitable. Max and his tree are proof. I hope we all continue to grow and move forward, each with our wants, needs, and dreams. One day at a time, one moment, one pile of laundry, one sunrise, one sunset, one tantrum, one drop, one tree, one word at a time.

Beach wonders

I love my family, I love my friends. I love life. I think our planet is a beautiful place. I don’t want to give up. I hope we can keep the world spinning for one more year. I think it’s up to us.  And in the meantime, I look around and see what is beautiful and good right here and now.

I am thankful.

Love and peace,


PS. Up until the recent protests on Wall Street, I’ve been wondering,  where are all the hippie – young people protestors?  I really liked this post from Toni Nagy (on Huffpost Parents). “Wall Street: A Reason to Rethink Parenting.”