Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reunited and it feels so good...

Yom revi'i, 28 Iyar 5771, Yom Yerushalayim.

Kol isha alert:  Ofra Haza sings "Jerusalem of Gold."  Besides its beauty, this version is especially nice, as it gives translation and Hebrew subtitles; so it makes a good learning tool.

What else needs to be said than is stated so clearly and poignantly by the great Naomi Shemer?

יום ירושלים שמח לכולם

When G-d gave out the vocal gifts, He gave an extra portion to the Leviim (Levites), I am told.  I would not be surprised to learn that Ofra Haza, a"h, is a descendant of the family of Levi.

Kol isha: Various interpretations exist regarding the subject of men listening to the singing of women.  Check with your own posek (rabbi who answers questions of Jewish Law).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Barry, we hardly knew ye.

Yom revi'i, 21 Iyar 5771.
Barry's final resting place looks out over these beautiful hills.
As a friend of mine said today at the levaya:  "It's a bad day when you wake up in the Gush and have to decide which funeral to go to."

Yesterday was a tough day in Israel, and specifically heavy for Gush Etzion.  There were a number of vehicle accidents that resulted in deaths, three of whom were from our communities; and a friend here in Neve Daniel lost his battle with cancer.

Forty-three is just too young.  Especially when there are three little kids left behind with their mother to try to figure out what is going on.  There are so many sad ironies here:  Barry seemed to have won his battle, more-or-less, and was on a pilot trip with his family to determine where they would live when they made aliyah.  He was suddenly stricken ill; and during his long stay in the hospital, much around him changed, as a result of his circumstances.

His dear friend and brother-in-law had summed it up with his usual off-beat humor (that he says he learned from Barry):  "When he wakes up, he's going to have to deal with some pretty big changes.  He and his family are olim [new immigrants to Israel].  He's got a new country, a new language to learn; his kids are all enrolled in Israeli schools...  I think the first thing I'll tell him is that Bin Laden is dead.  He'll be able to handle that."

He never got to put a smile on Barry's face by sharing that news.

This difficult couple of days strangely reminds me again about the good of being a Jew, and the good of living in Israel.

In my personal olden days, I was spared the pain of knowing too deeply the pain of others, or the great joy of being constantly apprised of their moments of joy.  I was unaccustomed to being intertwined at the Jewish level in the lives of others.

But as we got involved with the Jewish experience, we were joyfully and painfully aware of the life cycle events, from birth to death, of our adopted extended family.  And since we moved to Israel, this collective sensation has only deepened.  Clearly, this is bad and good.

In the famous words of fellow blogger, RivkA, a"h, "I choose to focus on the good."

  • When you hear about the traffic accidents in Israel, you know that most of the country will be pasted to computers, trying to find out who were the victims, and if they were, in fact, accidents.  (At this writing, that last detail is still being investigated.)
  • When you hear the names at last, you know that you know them, or at least something about them, or at least someone who knows them, because we are such a small and intimate country.
  • When you need a ride to the levaya, you know that five to ten people will come through with offers.
  • Some people at the levaya will be from places across the country, even though they are not related to the family, because the whole country is the size of New Jersey.
  •  Because it's Israel, we can all cry together and say Tehillim anywhere, and no one will look at us funny.
  • Because we are family, we will visit the mourners for seven days, and listen to whatever they have to share -- even silence, or stories, or tears, or laughter.
  • Because we are family, I know those little children and their mother will eat and have shelter, even as they try to figure out what they are going to do with their lives.

As we were leaving the cemetery, one of his daughters said, with the sweetness of a young becoming-aware child:  "Most of these people only met my daddy once or twice.  They don't even know him."

I said to her, "You will tell stories, and then they will know him.  And if you tell them a lot, then you will remember them.  I'm coming to see you later.  Think of a really great story, okay?"

She gave me that shy smile/shrug that she's already picked up from the Israeli kids she goes to school with.

Eliezer Baruch Chaim ben Gedalia, I have to take you off my refua shelaima davening list.  But you will stay in my heart, even though I am one of those people who will have to rely on stories to get to know you.  Like many other people, in our community and beyond, I took on a small mitzvah in your merit.  Each week when I learn that little extra on your behalf, you will be there.

Thank you for making me a better Jew.

May Amy and her children Miri, Eliana, and Binyamin, along with the rest of Barry's family, be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

To learn more about Barry, and to help in any way you can with the care of widow and his orphans, please visit The Barry Shuter Family Trust.

Barry, we hardly knew ye: a play on the title a famous Irish anti-war song.  We are at war with cancer; so it seemed fitting.
Levaya: funeral
Gush Etzion: a "settlement bloc" in the southern foothills of Jerusalem, in the hills of Judea
Refua shelaima davening list: too many names of sick people who need a speedy and total recovery, for whom we pray

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"All of that was not our affair."

Yom rishon, 18 Iyar 5771, Lag B"Omer.

One of the beautiful communities of Gush Katif, before the "Disengagement"
 For friends and acquaintances in Karnei Shomron, Elon Morei, Beit El, Givat Ze'ev, Kochav Shachar, Kochav Ya'akov, Ofra, Shiloh, Eli, Almog, Hevron, Susiya, Otniel, Kiryat Arba, Karmei Tzur, Ma'ale Amos, Nokdim, Tekoa, Itamar (haven't they suffered enough???), I offer the following quote.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)

Before the uprooting of the Gush Katif communities, I never would have thought I would need to employ Niemöller's quote for Jews about Jews.  But now, seeing my community on the list of those that will allegedly survive this proposed cut, I can only think that I must not be silent.  Because in the end, they will come for me.  And there will be no one left to speak for me.
destroyed "for peace," 2005
As far as I know, this list of potential sacrifices is still only at the level of rumor; and I sincerely hope that the events and speeches of recent days have reminded those in power that these communities must never be uprooted.  Especially for hollow promises.  The list is in Hebrew; so if this is not your strong language, read instead the language of numbers.  Each community's name is followed by its number of citizens.  "Citizens" means people like you and me, who go to work, who work the land, who send their kids to the best schools possible, who put on uniforms to defend their families from enemies, who want to live in peace and harmony with their neighbors.
Katif, destroyed "for peace," 2005
Please bear in mind that many of these communities are not "settlements" the way you and I envision settlements, because of the way the media like to portray them.  They are not shabby little tent villages, or clapboard construction, thrown up to "steal" land from harmless Palestinians.  They are communities that have existed in some cases for generations.  They have Biblical history.  Many were uninhabited when their present occupants nurtured them from barren sand.  Just like Gush Katif was.
Netzer Hazani, destroyed "for peace," 2005
We cannot know what is coming, dear fellow citizens of Eretz Yisrael.  But I want you to know that I will not look at you as expendable, for some illusion of safety and comfort.  As our Prime Minister told the American President yesterday:  “A peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality.”
Neve Deqalim, destroyed "for peace," 2005
Communities rumored to be "on the chopping block" should Israel negotiate more "land for peace":
גוש צ. שומרון

חיננית              906
חרמש              225
מבוא דותן         356
ריחן                 196
שקד                 653

סה"כ               2,336

גוש שומרון

איתמר              939 
אלון מורה          1,520 
ברכה               1,672 
יצהר                1,053 
מגדלים             140 
שבי שומרון        803 
אבני חפץ          1,547 
יקיר                  1,411 
כפר תפוח         1,073 
מעלה שומרון     767 
נופים                471 
סלעית              536 
עמנואל             3,464 
ענב                  688 
צופים                1,290 
קדומים             3,918 
קרני שומרון       7,002

סה"כ                 28,294

גוש בנימין

בית אל             5,867 
בית אריה          4,105 
בית חורון          1,190 
גבע בנימין         4,242 
גבעון החדשה    1,307 
גבעת זאב           12,643 
דולב                 1,308 
הר אדר            3,752 
חלמיש              1,150 
טלמון               2,994 
כוכב השחר       1,880 
כוכב יעקב         6,453 
כפר האורנים     2,332 
מבוא חורון         1,677 
מעלה לבונה      595 
מעלה מכמש     1,363 
נחליאל             454 
ניל"י                 906 
נעלה                930 
עופרה              3,039 
עטרת              510 
עלמון                1,002 
פסגות              1,793 
רימונים             654 
שילה                2,466 
עלי                   3,005

סה"כ                 67,617

גוש בקעת הירדן

אבנת                64 
אלמוג               210 
ארגמן               172 
בית הערבה      113 
בקעות              199 
גיתית               316 
גלגל                 160 
ורד יריחו           232 
חמדת              155 
חמרה              150 
ייט"ב                251 
יפית                 174
מחולה              456 
מכורה              166 
מעלה אפרים     1,604 
מצפה שלם       205 
משואה             187 
משכיות              60 
נירן                   65 
נעמ"ה              130 
נתיב הגדוד       181 
פצאל                272 
קליה                328 
רועי                  159 
רותם                 90 
שדמות מחולה   540 
תומר                310

סה"כ               6,949

גוש הר חברון

אדורה              253 
אשכולות           611 
חברון               606 
חגי                   555 
טנא                  679 
כרמל               469 
מעון                 424 
מצדות יהודה     419 
נגוהות              243 
סוסיא               945 
עתניאל             717 
פני חבר            370 
קרית ארבע       6,904 
שמעה              388 
תלם                 221 
כרמי צור           804

סה"כ               14,608

גוש מזרח עציון

מעלה עמוס       388 
נוקדים              1,124 
תקוע                2,074 
אספר-מיצד       377

סה"כ               3,963

סה"כ 123,767 יהודים

Elei Sinai, destroyed "for peace," 2005
When Niemöller was interviewed late in his life about his famous quote, he said, "We let that happen.  All of that was not our affair."  He clearly regretted holding that opinion.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Once again, with feeling!

Yom revi'i, 14 Iyar 5771.

Today is Pesach Sheni.  I ask the Dearly Beloved for ideas to share with my Ahavat Yisrael group this evening.  He's getting ready to give a guitar class; so I tell him that I just need an idea or two.  I see the little gray cells starting to work, as he scoots his big office chair over to the bookshelf.  "It would be good if it could focus on how ahavat Yisrael and Pesach Sheni might be related," I say to him.

His face brightens.  "It's all about ahavat Yisrael!" he responds enthusiastically.  And then he sets about explaining to me the two very special features of this "second chance" mitzvah that Hashem revealed to our forefathers in the Midbar.

In order to participate in the Pesach offering, it was necessary for the desert generation to be ritually pure.  Coming into contact with the dead rendered one impure; and the process of purification was long enough to preclude them from being able to participate in the sacrificial ritual.  But let me tell you how precious were the people who were our forebears.

There are a few different versions given for what was the mitzvah these people were involved with that prevented them from being able to participate in the Pesach offering.  Perhaps they were carrying the coffin of Yosef.  Perhaps they came across the remains of an unidentified corpse, and took upon themselves the mitzvah of burying it.  Perhaps they were involved with the burial of Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron HaKohen.  In any case, they were fulfilling the mitzvah of burying the dead, which is the purest form of ahavat Yisrael a human being can achieve.  This mitzvah is so dear, because one performs it knowing that the recipient cannot pay him back, cannot reciprocate.  It is the highest form of ahavat Yisrael.

Of course, these great men could have said, "Since we were involved in this mitzvah, we will just wait until next year to offer a Pesach sacrifice.  After all, one is exempt from a mitzvah when in the performance of another mitzvah."

But they not only loved their fellow Jew.  They loved Hashem, and couldn't bear to be left out of the opportunity to serve Him in this great mitzvah of bringing the Pesach sacrifice.

Hashem "made an exception," and gave them a second chance to bring the offering.  Of course, we learn many things from this act of Hashem.  One comes first to mind, as I think of the special group of women I meet with on Wednesday nights, who leave their homes and families for an hour seriously to discuss how we can help to repair the world.

Second chances are not just in the realm of G-d.  Who has let me down, who could stand a second chance?  After all, how many "second" chances has Hashem given me?

I am honored to be part of a family that cares so much about the mitzvot as to have asked for a second chance to honor our Creator.  And I am humbled and honored to be on the giving end of a second chance, just like my Father in Heaven.

Pesach Sheni: a second chance to offer the Passover offering, exactly one month after Passover
Ahavat Yisrael: love of a fellow Jew
Mitzvah: commandment from G-d; also refers to a good deed
Midbar: desert; Biblically refers to the generation of the giving of the Torah
Aaron HaKohen: Aaron the Priest, brother of Moses

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

War & Peace: the short illustrated version

Yom revi'i, 7 Iyar 5771.

Romi Sussman took this photo of us.  Thanks, Romi and Josh!
The Dearly Beloved and Yeshiva Bochur were bonding over beer and barbecue on Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Israel's celebration of her sixty-third year as a modern State.

During the discussion of such important topics as poisoned fish, Johnny Cash, and the importance of being a poor black man to making great music (I kid you not), they decided that the reason Memorial Day in America has become marginalized is all about timing.

Memorial Day evolved from a day to honor the Civil War dead in early May to part of a long weekend at the end of May for shopping and trips to the beach.  While there are still patriotic stalwarts who visit graves of American war dead, the number of citizens who truly appreciate the power of the day is dwindling.

My guys surmised that if Memorial Day were observed on July 3, more people would continue to recognize how significant was the sacrifice of young American lives to the building and maintenance of the United States.

They came to this realization as they discussed the emotional juxtaposition of Yom HaZikaron (Israel's national Day of Remembrance of our fallen heroes and martyrs) with Yom Ha'atzma'ut (modern Israel's Independence Day).  It is impossible not to appreciate those 22,867 service men and women who gave their lives that we may celebrate our freedom after the sun goes down on the day marking their sacrifice.

On our way to visit the military cemetery at Har Hertzl, we stop with everyone else at the sounding of the siren, signalling a national moment of silent contemplation.

Beautifully maintained, the military cemetery at Har Hertzl witnesses thousands of visitors of all backgrounds coming to pay their respects to our fallen soldiers.

We are painfully aware that these losses are not remote and isolated.  Everyone has lost someone, or knows someone who has lost someone, in the defense of our tiny country.

Everywhere we walked, classes and talks were being given to the youth about the importance of this day.

Flowers were in abundance.  Some graves even looked like gardens.  A few graves were still marked in the more traditional Jewish manner with stones left by visitors.

We were overcome by the sight of this woman, tenderly brushing dust from the surface of the grave stone, as one might brush crumbs or tears from a beloved child's face.

There were many beautiful memorials.  Note the Magen David cut into the stone above.

Our Tehillim seemed so important here, as we did our small part to participate in the process of holding our precious Land.
"I will praise you, O L-rd.  Although You were angry with me, Your anger has turned away and You have comforted me." ~ from the Haftara read after the morning service in Israel on Yom Ha'atzma'ut

Family time in Israel.  What a great way to celebrate the privilege of living here!

Neve Daniel is very good at displaying national pride.

There are 3.5 mangalim (small barbecue grills) per capita in Neve Daniel, and they are all being fired up today.  (I made that figure up.  The number is probably much higher, and doesn't include fancy-shmancy "American" grills.)

There is no better town for crashing parties.

See?  The natives actually greet you with a smile, and offers of food.

This sturdy shirt is 38 years old.  His dad wore it.  May the sturdy fellow wearing it put it on his great grandkid someday, and tell its history at his own Yom Ha'atzma'ut barbecue.

The work of local artists is proudly on display, honoring modern Israel's 63rd year of existence.

What is Independence Day without football?

The mark of a good boy is not that he doesn't knock the door off the utility box during  the game.  The mark of a good boy is that he stops the game to replace the door.  Good on ya!

The Dearly Beloved and I get in a few games of catch while we walk the Land.

Taking patriotism to heart (and head): Yaelle reminded us of a WWII army nurse with this lovely mitpachat.

There were many moments with good friends.

"Swifter than eagles, stronger than lions, they fought for the liberation of their people and homeland, sacrificing their lives for Israel's rebirth in its holy land." ~ from the Memorial Prayer for Fallen Israeli Soldiers

May their sacrifice never be for nothing.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Another great reason to celebrate Israel: Haveil Havalim

Yom rishon, 4 Iyar 5771.

The first couple of weeks in May (late Nisan, early Iyar) in Israel typify the roller-coaster life of the Jew.

Yom Hashoah has been designated as the day to remember the Heroes and Martyrs of the Holocaust.  The anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was chosen by the secular Jews who initially settled the land of Israel after WWII.  I have heard that they chose this day out of that evil thirteen years because it was a moment in time when Jews fought back -- and these new Israelis wanted to put as much distance as possible between their new State and the cauldron from which they had escaped.

While I understand the Chareidi viewpoint of expressing the link between the Shoah and the Destruction of the Temple, I can also appreciate the standpoint of these escapees from Hell.

As I stand for the siren that signals the national moment of commemorative silence, I pray for the Geula; I mourn the members of my father's family who didn't make it out; and I am grateful that my entire nation is standing quietly together for this moment.

Tonight, on Yom Hazikaron, we will remember those who fought and died to defend our tiny nation.  In recent years, this day has also been designated to remember all of those who "defended" Israel just by living here, and by dying here:  those who were blown to bits while sharing a bite of pizza with a dear school friend, or while buying an ice cream cone for a doting grandchild.

Again, we will fly flags at half-mast, and stand for a moment of silence when the siren sounds throughout our land.  A dear friend asked us to accompany her to the memorial service to remember our fallen tomorrow on Har Hertzl.  We struggled with this.

We are not keen on crowds, even for worthy causes.  I left the decision to the Dearly Beloved, who would be responsible for logistics, such as "getting us there."

Finally, he said, "Tell her we'll be there.  We have soldier sons now."  May they never need be remembered by us.  May they serve their country, and come home healthy and whole, with amazing stories to tell their great grandchildren.

And before we catch our breath, we will drag out our mangalim  (barbecue grills) to set the country on fire with barbecue events in honor of the birth of our small nation.  The entire country will celebrate, regardless of political affiliation, the fact that we are indeed a free people in our Land.

A frightening amount of beef must be purchased and prepared.  The fire that fills the land will only be rivaled by the bonfires built by children on the Thirty-third day of the Omer...  but that's another story.

In the meantime, let's enjoy one of the benefits of being one people in our Land.  Haveil Havelim #315, the One Wedding and a Funeral Edition, has hit the stands, and is available at Esser Agaroth.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ulpan Drama: Playing's the thing.

Yom chamishi, 1 Iyar 5771.

Two of my Raise Your Spirits heroines, Avital Macales and Yael Valier, are the talented Ulpan Drama instructors.
Let's see now...  A chance to work closely with two of my "stage idols"...  An opportunity to learn Hebrew in the form of play...   A once-a-week requirement to hang out with ladies I like.  That sounded like a great plan.  So I signed up for eight weeks of Ulpan Drama, yet another brainchild of Dena Lehrman of Efrat.

Dena opened her home for our Ulpan Drama session.
Dena is an occupational therapist who for the past five years has worked with teachers, students and their parents to improve organizational and learning skills.

 I was privileged to encounter Dena shortly after my family's aliyah.  She arranged for the talented Yaron Shane to teach our children a thing or two about film-making.  It was a great introduction for then-15-year-old Stunt Man to the world of Hebrew, and a pretty good outlet for his creative talents.

I asked Dena what inspired her to come up with the Ulpan Drama concept.

"The past two years I've been running a workshop getting students ready for high school," she said.  "We noticed that even [many of] the kids who had been in Israel for a while and 'spoke Hebrew'...had a weak vocabulary and had a hard time expressing themselves."

I asked her how she came up with the idea.  "I try to be an out-of-the-box thinker and approach students with my 'hands on' style as an OT. Ulpan Drama seemed like a natural offshoot.

"We started brainstorming about how we could use drama and role playing to facilitate Hebrew development. I thought of 'playback theater,' which really forces the participants to reinact real life situations. From all the research on language development, it seems that there is a greater chance to remember and file away new words more efficiently if they are learned in a real, experiential way. It also helps to decrease some of the stress and tension when learning by acting, as opposed to more traditional frontal learning."

 This sounded like a perfect venue for me to try to improve my Hebrew.  Even though I am terrified to be "on stage," I found this technique to be much more fun than it was threatening, mostly due to the small group size, the warmth and patience of the instructors, and the support of my fellow players.

Did we have fun, or what?!  Avital and Yael gave us many and varied opportunities to practice thinking on our feet in Hebrew during each session.

They would give us a tzena -- a scene -- to play out, with some key word or phrase that must be incorporated.  For example, two of us played trainees to a third's surgeon.  We learned many new words, and practiced inserting those we already knew into unlikely moments.  (How many times could one say "I've never done that before" in an inappropriate place during an autopsy to elicit laughter, especially when her partner kept asking "When do we eat?")

Another scene should have been perfectly ordinary: how to ask an exterminator to help rid the house of cockroaches and ants.  We learned many useful words -- but we also learned of a creative approach to natural extermination, as Heather had us doing a "La Kukarača" tap-dance to help her crush the little buggers...

Our teachers would give us objects to describe -- and none of us could resist offering completely new uses for household items.

Try describing your unique use for disposable plastic gloves in Hebrew.

Some of the ideas for using a towel were pretty creative -- and funny.

What you see as a rug beater became a fly-swatter for mutant flies, or a piece of jewelry, or...
If we didn't know the word for "fly-swatter" in Hebrew, our fearless leaders did, and taught us.  They gave us characters to portray, sometimes in scenes with others, sometimes with secret character traits for the others to guess at.

I didn't get pictures, but one of my favorite exercises caused me to end up doing a Broadway musical with Sandra.  We were quite smashing.  And ridiculous.  :-)
What an actress!  When Hannah Sara is sad, the whole world cries with her.

One of my deepest and most annoying roles was as "kinim" -- lice -- which were invited (?) to a Pesach Seder.  "Yecch!" was the classic review of my performance.  Score!!!

The body language delighted me as much as the dialog.
Yael and Avital asked us to describe objects or events so that the supportive audience -- hey, they were going to be "on stage" next! -- could guess.

Each time we learned new words, Avital or Yael would dutifully mark them on a whiteboard; and we would get an email with all of our new words, and their translations.

My pile of flashcards grew...
...and GREW...
...and GREW!  By the time the eight weeks ended, I really had learned a lot of words...  because I lived them.
These ladies were so talented, it did not surprise me to learn that most of them involve themselves in Raise Your Spirits, or in Dames of the Dance.  By the time our classes ended, I wanted everyone's autograph!

Dena sums up Ulpan Drama:  "Baruch Hashem it's been a wonderful experience both for the participants as well as for the three of us running the project. It's been great to see how the participants gained confidence and started to integrate new words into their everyday lives. As you know, it was also a lot of fun!"

Thanks Dena, Yael, and Avital.  Thanks Sandra and Heather and Meira and Hannah Sara and Shimona and Zahava.  I had a great time!

More sessions of Ulpan Drama are coming up or are in progress.  Contact Dena at 054 942 5600 or at tfosdena@gmail.com  for more information about classes with Yael and Avital for women and girls, or to register.

Yael Valier received her BA in Psychology from YU, and her MSW from Bryn Mawr's Clinical Social Work program. She has further professional training in grief counseling through Nechama Counseling. Yael has experience teaching stage skills, interview skills and public speaking to teenagers and adults. She acts with the Raise Your Spirits Theater, for whom she has also written, and has also acted with two Playback theater companies – the Hebrew-speaking Dance-Playback group Na'na for women, and the English-speaking Playback Hamra. Yael has enjoyed the challenge of translating songs from Hebrew to English for bilingual movies. She currently works in voice-overs and sells her educational science album on her website Tremendous Earth when she isn't working at her day-job doing background searches in patents. Yael has six sons who keep her amused.

Avital Macales studied Hebrew Language at Bar Ilan University and is currently completing an advanced editing course at Efrata College. She is an experienced actress and singer, including playing the lead role in Sandcastles, a feature film which was screened all over Israel in 2009. A resident of Efrat, Avital recently appeared in her third Raise Your Spirits production, Judge!, as the bold heroine Yael. Avital did her national service in Tehilla, the aliyah organization, helping English-speaking children acquire Hebrew in fun and creative ways. Avital made aliya from California when she was two years old. She has six sisters and therefore has a soft-spot for young girls, enjoying having fun with them and teaching them important skills painlessly through the things she does best.