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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Here's to a Successful 2015

Yesterday, when I was heading home after a meeting at TKE, I was asked if we celebrate the secular new year as we had celebrated Rosh Hashanah several months before.  My response was, "yes."  You see, while the Jewish New Year marks the turning of the Jewish calendar, we also celebrate the secular calendar.  In the United States (and in most countries worldwide), Jews follow 2 calendars - the Jewish calendar and the secular one.  So, yes, it is ok and I encourage everyone to celebrate as we "ring in 2015."

2014 was a very successful year for my family for many reasons.  Of course, the highlights include the birth of a new daughter and a renewing of my TKE contract.  However, as my family celebrated this year, there is so much more to do in the upcoming year and in future years.  You see, we still live in a world with millions of children going to bed hungry or starving every night.  We still live in a world in which people can be killed for the color of their skin or their sexual preference.  We still live in a world in which human sex trafficking (especially children) is one of the most profitable industries.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the problems in the Middle East.  Of course, all peoples in the world want to live peacefully.  However, what we find in the Middle East are people fighting over religion and land...and, I must say that although I support Israel as a Jewish country, I also hope and pray for peace for all people in the Middle East.  There is a way for this to happen - and I pray that the solution will come soon.  Organizations like Kids4Peace (K4p.org) are really trying to pave the way for this to happen.

As we ring in 2015 this evening, let us hope and pray for all people in the world to live in peace, where there religion, race, culture or creed do not determine their rights as human beings.

Rabbi Erin Boxt

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Legends that Stay With us...ALWAYS!

This may in fact be one of the hardest blogs I will ever write.  You see, I have always believed that there are people that come in and out of your life.  Sometimes these people are great influences on you...and sometimes they just seem to be passing through.  I have had the privilege and honor to have many, many wonderful influential people in my life.  And, I have even had some "passer-by's."

However, this blog is about someone who came into my life when I was very young and remained in my life for almost 30 years.  Malka Altman - a name synonymous with Camp Coleman - a spirit unlike any I have ever known.  She was Mom, Counselor, Aerobics instructor, Dairy Queen Blizzard provider, friend, rock, and in so many other ways just a huge help in my life and in the lives of thousands of Colemanites.  She truly was a sun - shining brightly during the day so all of us could learn and enjoy the warmth of her smile, her hug and her friendship.  She truly was a star - shining brightly at night providing the comfort and strength needed to make it through even the darkest of times.  She was Malka - and no other word is needed.

In 1995, I remember being called into the office of Bobby Harris - the director of Camp Coleman.  I knew I was in trouble when I looked over and saw Malka.  She was not angry with me.  No, it was much worse. Malka Altman was disappointed in me.  Never in my life have I felt as low as I did that day.  Malka was never upset, never angry - she loved everyone and treated everyone with kindness and respect.  But, on that day, I had disappointed Malka.  Years later, when I still remembered that moment and approached Malka to apologize, she told me one simple thing - "Erin, we all make mistakes.  It is how you learn from it that matters."  Even years later, she was still teaching me how to be better.  And, let me tell you, I never disappointed Malka again.

When I introduced Malka to my daughter (Carlie) and Batya, she was so incredibly happy for me.  She even promised to love Carlie as she loved me when she came back to camp.  While Carlie did come to camp for the first time as a camper in 2014, Malka worked first session.  Carlie did get to meet and enjoy a Malka hug, but never as Malka the Head Counselor or Mom!  However, now, Malka will be watching all of us at Camp Coleman - each and every day.  Every time a child smiles at Camp Coleman, Malka will be there...guiding us as we teach, grow and learn.

Malka - you will be remembered every day.  You are C-O-L-E-M-A-N...and what will Announcements be without you?  Well, I guess we will have to rhyme on our own....  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Life's Reality Checks

Shalom!

It has been quite some time since my last post, but I have been a bit busy!  October and into November brought the last few weeks/days of the Boxt household being 3.  On November 4, at 11:50 PM, Danika Tzippora was born.  And, even though she came on her own time (a few days early), she was not quite ready for the "big world."  So, Batya and I had to spend the first few days of young Danika's life commuting between our home and the hospital.  Of course, the hardest part of the whole situation was trying to explain to her big sis, Carlie, why she had not come home yet.  You see, as the daughter of a rabbi, Carlie is much more aware of life than a lot of kids her own age.  Many, many times (unfortunately) over the past few years of her life, Carlie has watched as her Aba went to visit people in the hospital (or in hospice). Of course, death is inevitable...so, when I told her that her little sister was sick and had to remain in the hospital for a few days to get better, her immediate response, "She isn't going to die, is she?  I really want a little sis," definitely pulled at my heart strings.  Thank God we brought Danika home after only 6 days.  For our little family of 4, things have turned out beautifully.  And, for that, I am blessed and eternally thankful.  Yes, Danika has quite a set of lungs on her, but as we were told in the hospital, "When she cries, it means she is breathing and everything is ok!"

Throughout those 6 days in the NICU at Northside Hospital (more on them later), Batya and I were faced with test after test after test.  You see, Danika had stopped breathing 2 times while in the nursery for more than 20 seconds...and the doctors/nurses could not figure out why.  So, mostly for precautionary reasons, every possible test was run.  After all was said and done, nothing came back abnormal.  So, Batya and I are monitoring Danika closely on a Apnea monitor for at least a month.  Again, this is one of those things that we must do just to make sure.

Every time Batya and I spoke with the staff in the NICU at Northside Hospital (and really ALL of the doctors and nurses at Northside), we were truly amazed not only at their knowledge, but also with the level of care they showed to every baby present.  And, while we were thankful that Danika was progressing, we were also very aware of the other babies...and the uncertainty present.  My heart goes out to every one of those babies and their families.  When your baby is sick (and it does not matter how old they are) - there is no worse pain.  And, let me tell you, although I appeared very strong during the whole process, I was torn up inside.  I really did not know what would happen next...and I just prayed a lot that all would be ok, not just with Danika, but with all of those little ones.  I must say...there is no better of a staff than the staff in the NICU at Northside Hospital.  Thank God for every one of them!

Over the past couple of weeks, as I have been at home on paternity leave, I have had many opportunities to marvel at the beauty and perfection of little Danika.  Yes, she is loud...but you know what?  She is a Boxt...so there is no surprise there.  The strongest woman that I have ever known is her mother, after all.  I am so blessed to be sitting next to Batya Boxt on life's roller coaster.  She keeps it real...and grounded.  I could not imagine my life without Batya...and now without Carlie and Danika as well!

Sometimes, life happens - and most of the time it is a reminder to take a step back, refocus and start again. Those little breaks, those reality checks - perhaps it is what we need when it happens; on the other hand, perhaps it isn't.  It is up to you to decide...

Rabbi Boxt