Archive for December 2013

auld lang syne
ôld laNG ˈzīn,ˈsīn/
1.times long past.

A year is a long time to reflect on.

Especially when the days feel neverending, and then you look back and realize another entire year has passed. How did that happen?

Every year has its ups and downs. Surprises, victories, losses, and lovely moments in-between.

I grew closer to people. I went to Israel and won a scholarship for my time abroad.

And now I end the year with the unique feeling of purpose and completion that settles over us when the calendar hits December 31.

There was a little too much sadness and injustice in the world this year. Not affecting me or my family, thankfully, but too close to home.  I’m not sure if there was actually more of it, or if more people (myself included) were just attuned to it, because of the interconnectedness of the Internet.

Yet there was hope. There is always hope.

For me, 2014 has to be a year of adventure, of friendship, of confidence, and love. I hope to have an extraordinary experience abroad, complete a meaningful internship upon coming home, and somehow end the year with a real New Year’s Eve kiss.

2014 already looks promising — it’s an even number, after all, and I’m starting it at the same time I start many journeys, physical and spiritual.

It feels like the resolution to so many plot threads that were set in motion in 2013.

I know it will be the beginning of a transition for me and so many, as I enter senior year of college.

Yet I am ready.

London is calling.


(Auld Lang Syne)


“In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child.”  -Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

Dear Sammy/Superman Sam,

You wouldn’t know me.  We never had the privilege of meeting in person.  Yet I speak for hundreds of people when I say you’ve changed my life in ways you could not have imagined.

Several months ago, I discovered your parents’ “Superman Sam” blog, thanks to friends of mine, and my rabbi who is a dear friend of your family.  And I, a healthy 20-year-old with (very fortunately) no experience with life-threatening illnesses, began quietly following your story.  I feel as if I know you now.  But that is not enough.

I read about every good day and every bad day.

I read about the transplant, and will never forget your words to your cells, and your parents’ prayers.  Superman himself would envy your courage.

When I was frustrated about whatever trivial things were happening in my life, I went to the blog, and your strength gave me strength too.

I cheered when you went into remission, and as you grew stronger every day.

At Shabbat services on campus, literally HUNDREDS of people, who never even met you, said your name during the Mi Sheberach and dedicated their Torah study sessions to you.

A month ago, when the cancer came back, I refused to believe it.  I kept praying and hoping for a miracle, as before.

At that point, we were all reminded that tomorrow is promised to no one.  That the ground beneath our feet can shift in a moment, and life is so very fragile.

Yesterday, I walked past a display of Superman pajamas at Target and thought of you.  Then I went online and saw the news.  And I wept, as if you were a member of my family.  Because you are.  All of Israel is responsible for one another.  Your suffering, and your family’s sorrow and determination to fight back, is all of ours too.

Now, what I must do is join the many people who are speaking out on your behalf.  I will show the world how utterly wrong it is that childhood cancers only receive 4 percent of all cancer research funding.  The world is certainly more than 4 percent children, and children certainly don’t add up to 4 percent of all cancer cases.  Does that make people angry?  Well, it should.

I will do whatever I can to help other children, in your name.  Maybe it’s fundraising for more research and better outcomes, maybe I’ll pursue social work one day.  Who knows.

Today we mourn.  But tomorrow, we spring into action once more.

Sammy, you wanted to do something amazing, and you did.  You united hundreds, thousands of people, through your bravery, in only 8 short years.

May his memory be for a blessing.  

I always wondered why we say “for“, rather than just “may his memory be a blessing”.  Now I think I understand why: so that the people closest to the late person can turn to their memories for a purpose, for comfort, for inspiration.  That is what I wish for the Sommer family and all others.

File:Superman shield.png

This semester abroad is so close now, I can almost taste the tea and crumpets. 
My January 1 flight (Jan. 2 arrival) is booked.  
As someone who always looks for special meanings in numbers and dates, I think it’s especially significant that New Year’s Day 2014 is literally the start of my biggest adventure yet.  New year, new country, new friends.
A month from now, I’ll be sailing the River Thames on an orientation boat cruise.
Some more knowledge I’ve gained recently (thanks to a wonderful program alumna):  
-You’ll have to pay to join clubs at Queen Mary and most English universities, but theatre tickets in London are very reasonably priced, and most museums are free (!!!) for students.  
-Under no circumstances should you try to imitate a British accent.  It’s okay to be your American self. 
That’s all for now, as I push through finals and keep my eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel.  Much more to come.