Thursday, December 31, 2020


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dressed in Whites

When you hold that kid for the first time, in a hospital in Detroit, you imagine the milestones he’s going to reach. You can envision him heading off to school for the first time, playing sports, graduating from high school and college, and getting married. And then life happens, and you find yourself enthralled by that kid doing things that are so far off your radar, it needs its own radar.

When Daniel was born Aliyah wasn’t something that we were considering. But ten years later, we were on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight to Israel. I never pictured him wearing those fantastic white uniforms with Israel emblazoned across his chest, representing his new country in baseball tournaments in Czech Republic, Italy, and the United States. I couldn’t foresee him wearing those white Bnei Akiva shirts as he disappeared every Shabbat. And I don’t think I could have ever predicted that one day, I would be sitting in the bleachers in Haifa, with the Mediterranean sea as a backdrop watching him wearing a white uniform being sworn into the naval unit of the Israeli army.

There were about 170 of them, standing at attention, relaxing, and standing at attention once again. The rav from the base read something from Sefer Yehoshua, and then together as one, they pledged to defend the State of Israel. They were divided up into three groups, which I’m sure there is a military terms for it but as an Oleh, I have no idea what that term might be. And then, each group began calling up the soldiers one by one. They ran to their Mifaked, one at a time, with music playing across the square where the ceremony took place. They stopped, saluted, and took a step closer to their commanding officer. They were handed a gun and a tanach, and the sound of Ani Ashbeer (I swear) rang out for the next ten minutes as each soldier individually committed himself to serving in the defense of Israel.  

The scene felt like we were watching a movie. The song Al Tid’agi Li Ima (Don’t worry about me mom) played as Daniel ran to get his gun and swear in. Together, Aviva and I watched as our boy began something we could have never envisioned.   

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Sorry if you came here thinking there was a new post. Just need to test something with image sizes

Monday, June 27, 2011


We don't make it easy on our kids. We say we are, and we mean to, but we don't. We do what we feel is best, and then we try to protect our kids from the fallout that occurs, but we definitely don't make it easy.

Last night, one of those kids graduated from elementary school. Our middlest, who we always thought would have the easiest adjustment to life in Israel, actually had the hardest time getting used to this place.

When we first arrived he was stymied by the language, and always seemed to be a step behind socially. He struggled in school, and though he has read thousands of pages in English books, he has rarely picked up a hebrew book for pleasure, and then, always under duress.

But he persevered. He watched TV in hebrew, and paid attention in class, and get fighting to gain proficiency in hebrew and in school. We worked with his teachers, deciding which classes were worth his effort, and which classes he didn't need to pay attention to. And after two years of ignoring history, geography, and the other lesser subjects, he was ready to jump all the way in.

His hebrew is flawless, his grades at the top of his class. He served on the student council, ran for an elected position and won, edited the school paper and his year book and sang in the school choir. Last night, at graduation, he sang and played guitar, performed in the class production, and proudly walked across the stage to get his diploma.

True, he isn't the most popular kid in his class, but he has a few close friends, both English and Hebrew speakers. He enjoys nature and origami and playing guitar and helping others and, of course, sitting quietly in a corner in the house and reading books.

He was the one who always made me wonder if we made the wrong decision to move. If he had stayed in Detroit, with his friends from birth, in an English environment, who knows how his second, third and fourth grades would have turned out.

But we didn't. And we didn't make it easy on him.

So he did it all anyway.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Three years ago, sitting in a coaches meeting, I told the other coaches if I could keep the kids together, my team would win the league championship in 2011.

Well, 2011 came, and the kids were still somewhat together. We had pitching, hitting, and most days, a decent defense.

We played hard through all 12 games of the season, finishing with an 8-3-1 record, good for fourth place and a shot at the championship.

Our first test came against our rivals, the Piranhas, who play in our city. This was the third time we were meeting. Early in the season we fought to a 3-3 tie, and in the final game of the regular season, one bad inning doomed us to a 6-2 loss.

No big deal I told the kids, before the game. We proved that we could play with the Piranhas, and had nothing to fear. Nothing, I would learn, except for our defense. And lack of hitting. And poor baserunning.

In a game where everything that could go wrong did, we began the game with a leadoff double, and stranded him at third. It went downhill from there. Our normally reliable defense fell apart, with our first baseman and second baseman misplaying key ground balls, and our first baseman and short stop dropping pop ups. Before we new it, the game was over, and we were heading to the third place game, losing 7-1.

There were some highlights. But none that overshadowed the loss, and not worth mentioning here. In the end, we lost our chance, and with it, the bold prediction I made in the 2008 preseason meeting was flushed away.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Air Time 81

Better than calf roping, the torah dance and playoffs, plus disappointment at the spelling bee, bad purim spiel ideas and more. Your reading Air Time, so stick around.

Chalk this one up to tasteless purim humor. We never stop pitching ideas at the shul. I’ve tried bouncing this one around, and keep getting it back in my face. We have many more members than seats at the BKA, and many members will need to sit downstairs in the second minyan over the high holidays. But who will sit downstairs. And who will make that decision.

So here’s the pitch. We have a table at the front of the shul. Above the table is a banner saying prayer sets you free. Members approach the table, and are sent to the right or left. Now, I know holocaust jokes are taboo, but this could be really funny, especially with the right people manning the table and sending people to the left or right.

But no, I was told. Rejected. At least until all survivors have died. And then, we can reconsider.

Watching the rodeo tonight with Veev while we waited for her cake to bake. But when the announcer said there was bareback bull riding and barrel racing, she said should wasn’t going to watch any two bit rodeo without calf roping.

I wrote it on facebook and I’ll say it again here. If you’re a bull rider, and you want to look retarded, put on a hockey helmut before you ride that bull. You’ll fool the world into thinking you can’t feed yourself and spend most of the day drooling.

We spent tonight at the shul. Five new torahs, a new building, and a video with me saying it’s a beautiful makom tfilla but its more than that. Nailed the line. Even the Hebrew part. Might even be Oscarworthy. And the we grabbed some food. And then we went to a private afterparty. And had more food.

Neccessary. If this was spelled correctly my middlest might still be alive in the spelling bee. But unfortunately for him, there’s only one C in it. So he was out, and just like that, his elementary school spelling bee eligibility is all over. Nice while it lasted.

My baseball team made the playoffs, winning a hard fought 9-3 battle against one of our rivals. Next up, a battle for Modiin, and then, three days later, playoffs start with the same Modiin rivalry. I think its going to be a heck of a couple of games.
That’s it for now, You’ve been reading Air Time

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eternal Capital

The flags. They are the first thing I notice as I look toward the stage at the bottom of the Amphitheater. White and blue, in the seats, and on the dance area. I feel drawn to the flags, almost mesmerized. I feel connected to these flags, in a way I could never connect to the red white and blue. This is my land, I think. My country.

The music starts. We are celebrating Yom Yerushalayim , the day Jerusalem was reunified, with a concert. It has been 44 years since the unification of Jerusalem. It was paid for with the blood of Israeli soldiers, taking it back from Jordan, who grabbed control of the old city in 1948.

I am at the concert with my middlest. He has a smooth, pure voice, and has performed at Yom Yerushalayim, but tonight we are celebrants, not performers. I wonder what he thinks as we watch the concert. Is he thinking about future concerts that he will sing in, or watching the band leader to see how he runs his show? I will ask my middlest later, I tell myself, but for now we'll just enjoy the concert.

"אם אשכחך יךושלים" he sings. If I forget you, Jerusalem, "תשכך ימינית" - cut off my right arm. The song seems more powerful this year. With so much talk about a Palestinian country in the '67 borders, about dividing Jerusalem, this song sends us a reminder.

Netanyahu had it right last week in Congress. We do not occupy Jerusalem, just as we don't occupy Judea and Samaria. Its our country, our eternal capital. And we won't give it up. It is worth fighting for, worth international condemnation, worth the price of blood that was extracted from us in 1967, and in every attack including the bombing at the bus stop a few weeks ago.

The concert continues, and my middlest leaves our seats and walks to the amphitheater floor. A few minutes later, he has a flag in his hand. All around him people are dancing, but he is only watching.

What does he see, I wonder. The pose is familiar. It reminds me of me standing at third base, coaching my team. Arms crossed, legs apart. If only I was 25 years younger, 200 pounds lighter, and looked like Veev's family, we would be identical.

The concert ends and we walk back to the car. I want to ask him what he sees when he watches the concert, but I decide not to ask right now. I reflect on what I have seen. The flags, the connection to the land, and the detemination to continue to fight for Jerusalem as our eternal capital.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Line Out

Over the past four season, I have learnt a lot about the game of baseball from coaches I have worked with. New drills, mechanics, warm-ups; all were a mystery to me when I first started coaching baseball. 

Coaching two national teams has exposed me to several of the better coaches in Israel, and one of the best I have worked with is Amit. Amit and I spent almost every Wednesday night together on the baseball diamond, running practices for our Young Cadet (13-15) national team. At 20, he knows more about the game then I have ever known, and is a considerably better player than I will ever be. 

Still, we got along well, and many of the things I learned from working with him I use in my team's practices. 

And now that I am playing baseball, I have integrated many of his lessons into my game. Like leadoffs, and head-first dives back to the bag. Most especially, I bring his hitting approach to each at bat. With no strikes, I am looking for one pitch, or I'm not swinging. As I get deeper into the count, my strike zone expands, from one pitch one spot to protecting the plate and shortening my swing to get the ball in play. 

Amit pitches for his team, and as luck would have it, our first two regular seaosn games were against his Tel Aviv team. He started the game behind the plate, and stayed there until the eighth, when he came in to try and hold a 3-2 lead with runners on second and third. The runners had already come in by the time I stepped to the plate, with a runner on first, two outs, and a 4-3 lead. 

Amit throws hard, harder then anyone I have seen so far, and it was no surprise when he struck me out for the second out of the inning. His pitches move around the plate, and for a rookie like me, getting the bat on the ball is no easy task. 

Which brought us to game two, played last night. This time, Amit was the starter, and by the time I got up to the plate, with one on and two outs in the bottom of the second, we were already losing 9-0. 

I stepped to the plate with a positive approach. He may throw hard, but I wasn't conceding the at bat. He might get me out, but he was going to have to earn it. The first pitch was a ball, low and outside. It's a tempting pitch to swing at; you think you can crush it, but it stays out of reach. The next pitch looked low, and I let it go, but the ump called strike one. He brought some high heat for the third pitch of the At Bat, and I swung badly, my worst swing of the night. 

With a 1-2 pitch coming up, I dug into the box, mentally prepared myself to protect the plate, and looked at the mound. He threw another fastball, toward the outside of the plate, and I swung. 

When you swing a bat at a thrown ball, you want to do more than make contact. You want to connect the fat part of the bat with the front of the ball. And when you make that kind of contact, it feels perfect. The bat, the ball, in perfect sync; the ball torpedoing off for hopefully a line drive hit.

And if you didn't guess yet, it was perfect. The ball shot off the bat down the first base line. The First baseman, who was standing on the line to hold the runner, didn't have to move to catch it. Three outs. End of the inning. End of a solid At Bat. 

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Over the past three years, I have attended well over 100 baseball practices. Morning practice, afternoon practice, night practice. I have woken up for 6 AM practices, and come home eafter 10 PM from the field from other practices. I have taken part in two a days, four hour sessions, and pitched thousands of baseballs in batting practice.

Tonight I went to another baseball practice, but for the first time ever, it was as a player, and not a coach. At 35, I have finally joined a team.

When I was a kid I wanted to play in the Oak Park little league. My parents did not want me to play then. Sometimes I was told that the sport was dangerous, other times the reason was Friday night games. Whatever the reason, instead of playing hard ball with the city little league I played soft ball in the shul league.

I have played, though. A few times. Pick up games. But I never imagined I get to play in a league, with umpires and team shirts and baseball pants and dugouts and all the other things that come with an official league. And then, a few weeks ago, while playing catch between two games of a double header in Arrezzo, I decided it was my turn to play. I was going to give up coaching the national team, and take one year to play baseball.

When I left to practice, my biggest fear was that I would embarrass myself. The fear was heightened when I saw some of the players at practice, including the 20-year old head coach who I went to Italy with last month.

I was worried that ground balls would go through my legs, that my throws would run wild, and all I would manage at the plate was a feeble ground ball, if I even made that much contact. Fortunately, none of that happened. There was some balls I should caught during infield drills, and some throws I need to put more mustard on to get them to third base, but overall, not very embarrassing. Even a few line drives to the outfield when I stepped up to the plate.

The guys on the team were great to hang out with, and I am looking forward to our first exhibition game on Tuesday, followed by our first regular season game on Thursday.

But before I do that, I have to get ready for Little League practice tomorrow.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Italy Tournament

For those of you who are interested, you can watch as games are updated, and check out everyone's stats at the following website:

Click where it says Baseball Allievi in Arezzo (August 3-5) and in Siena (August 6-9). They aren't playing in Grosseto this year.

Good luck to R and D! We are very proud of you both!