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15 Sivan 5765 - June 22, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly
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Home and Family

Taking a Breather

"I told her a story that I first read as a single, and that I appreciate more and more as my family grows," relates Adina. "An impoverished mother of eight was walking outside one morning, when she happened upon a fresh egg lying in the grass. Thrilled to have some extra food, she took it home and decided to cook it for her family. The problem, of course, was that one egg couldn't feed ten people. 'Whom should I give it to?' she thought. 'The baby? She could do with the protein but what about my teenagers? They need their energy to learn. Maybe I can make an omelet and split it three ways. No, that won't help anyone.'

"The mother cooked the egg, then covered it with a cloth, and walked past her children to her bedroom. She locked the door and sat down to eat the egg. 'Ima,' her children called through the door. 'What are you doing in there?'

"What was her reply? 'I'm making a mother for you!' "

As parenting research has shown, very few Jewish mothers are guilty of not loving their children enough. On the contrary, problems often arise because mothers are so devoted to their families that they neglect their own health and wellbeing.

"Mothers who don't work on 'making a mother for you' end up burnt out, unwell or dysfunctional, without enough physical and mental energy to nurture their spouses and offspring. This is the reasoning behind the keytanat imahot," claims Basya W. "A few days away, with undisturbed sleep, wholesome food that the ladies have time to sit and enjoy, and some spiritual inspiration succeeds in rejuvenating the women, body and soul."

Basya and Adina first organized an English-speaking womens' getaway last summer. They were both a few months after birth, and were exhausted. Their sympathetic husbands were happy to send them to a hotel for a few days' rest, but the prices for full board for individuals were prohibitive.

"We didn't want to go on an Israeli mothers' keytana," Basya declares. "Although we live in Israel, attending a shiur or program in Hebrew requires intense concentration, which is not particularly relaxing. Further, there are definite differences between `Anglo-Saxons' and Israelis, both in mentality and in their idea of a women's getaway."

"We decided to organize a getaway ourselves," Adina explains, "the kind of keytana we would like to attend. "Of course we didn't realize then how much work it would involve. We needed two getaways just to recover from organizing the first one!"

The getaway last year was a resounding success. "The group clicked; the atmosphere was positively charged. We relaxed, we ate, we slept, we laughed, we swam, we worked on ourselves in the optional Mothers Rejuvenation Workshop. All the attendees from last year were inspired to change the way we said Berachos and Amens, after the keynote lecture by the Bobover Rebbetzin of Bat Yam."

This year, Basya and Adina decided to take some of the organizational and financial pressure off by applying for a subsidy from the Jerusalem Municipality's Department of Chareidi Affairs (Agaf Chen Charedi). "They have been incredible," Basya notes. "They negotiated a great price from the hotel; they fought for a high level of kashrus and tznius; and they went out of their way to fund an outstanding program."

"Tova, the municipal representative who helped us organize the getaway, told us that the Department of Chareidi Affairs were very excited about the concept of a keytana for English-speakers," comments Adina. "They realize that this target group have it much harder in many ways than their Israeli counterparts, and were happy to subsidize this idea."

Why might an English-speaking woman in Israel need a getaway more than an Israeli? Any `Anglo-Saxon' immigrant can answer that one. Israelis usually have a large extended family: of parents, siblings and grandparents whom they can `invade' with their own family for Shabbos, or ask for help when the going gets tough. Immigrants leave their support system behind, be these familial, financial or emotional. While immigrants tend to become each other's support groups, there is a limit to how far one can impose one large family on another.

Even the planning of the English-speaking getaway reflects this. "Many of the keytanot are for three nights; ours is only for two, as most of us do not have family here to help out while we are away, which places a heavy burden on the husband," says Basya. "We run the camp from Monday to Wednesday, since starting on Sunday overstresses the mothers to clean up from a late Shabbos and get everything ready in time. Ending on a Thursday again stresses the mothers, who have the rush to make Shabbos the minute they return."

This year, fifty or more English-speaking women from Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Bnei Brak and Tsfat will enjoy the gourmet food, beautiful gardens and the outdoor pool at the Eden Inn Hotel in picturesque Zichron Yaacov at the end of June. "We have a great program planned, but we don't want to give away details, so we can surprise you."

[For more information, call Basya at 5852297 or Adina at 6520584]

 

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