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“Just Another double Murder.” Here is proof that #NPR no longer even tries to hide its anti-Israel bias

Sukkot. The Feast of Booths. In Hebrew, the fall Jewish holiday is also known as “Zman Simchateinu,” the time of our joy.

Sadly, this week has been anything but.

It has been a season of Jewish blood.

It has become a season of terrorizing Jews in their own Jewish homeland.

It has become a time of complete isolation for Israel and the Jewish people, when at the United Nations not even the United States, with Kerry boycotting Netanyahu’s speech, stands strong with Israel.

Last week, I watched in horror as the Palestinian Flag, the same flag that was waved in triumph by throngs of celebrants in Judea and Samaria on 9/11 – was raised in recognition at the United Nations.

I was disgusted yet hardly surprised, at the raising of this flag, when Abbas announced in his speech to the United Nations as Abbas said his people are no longer held to the stipulations to the Oslo accords, as if they ever did have peaceful intentions of co-existence.

A shred of me was hopeful. If these people really want a nation, than perhaps that wavering flag would signal them to show the world that they can indeed conduct themselves with peaceful dignity. That they are ready to do the hard work it takes to create a country. That they are now more concerned with building up a nation of their own rather than destroying another.

In the morning, I woke to the news – on my Facebook feed, that a Jewish couple   driving home from a Sukkot celebration were murdered by Palestinians in cold blood as four of their children sat in the back seat.

So, I turned on #National Public Radio and I waited to hear the coverage. Surely, after they dedicated so much coverage to another senseless death in Jerusalem when Israeli extremists torched an Arab home in Jerusalem, killing a baby and burning other family members.

I waited.

Yes, the news cycle was a crowded one: another mass shooting. Another hurricane barreling towards the East Coast. Th endless war in Syria.

But surely, there must be some time to dedicate 1 minute, 30 seconds to report the murder. Especially since Abbas’ Fatah Wing declared full responsibility immediately following his scathing speech at the UN General Assembly.


So, I called NPR on it.

I questioned them directly in a message on their Facebook page. Here, I screen captured the exchange:


Does this lift any doubt just how blatantly biased NPR is towards Israel?

Are you really still a supporter of NPR?

I’m donating My Two Cents to National Public Radio, and nothing more. Here’s Why

nprDear National Public Radio,

It is late October and that means it is fall pledge drive around the country at local public radio stations, asking us to support their thorough, balanced in-depth reporting.

All summer, I listened to NPR’s reporting of Gaza’s war with Israel. Funny how, in the weeks leading up to the drive, hardly any stories have come out from NPR’s Jerusalem bureau. Really, NPR, did you think your listeners and long-time donors have such a short-term memory on how you cover Israel?

I know, I know, without the rockets firing from Gaza or the IDF shooting them down, there is really nothing coming out of Israel that is worth taking up precious air-time.

What with the Ebola epidemic (which Israel has sent a team of doctors in West Africa trying to save lives, and back in Israel, medical researchers are racing to find treatments and cures), and the increasing power of ISIS (which, many of ISIS’ Syrian civilian victims are being treated in Israeli hospitals), the story of the Middle East’s only modern, democratic country fighting for its life has slipped off the radar.

But your coverage of Israel, and your under-reporting of the rise of Jew hatred, in part by your coverage, has not slipped the minds of many of your donors, myself included.

So, in spite of my love of Car Talk, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and in spite of all the wisdom Michigan Radio has given me about my new home state, here are several reasons why I am no longer donating or picking up my phone:

  1. Coverage of the conflict is reduced to a perverted basketball game, where NPR kept score of the deaths of Palestinians and Israelis, as if there was some moral equivalence. It went under reported that the impetus of this summer’s conflict was the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teen-aged boys, and the fact that Hamas puts out handbooks to its population on how to kidnap Israelis. That you didn’t report.
  2. Gaza fires missiles into Israel for days or even weeks without NPR coverage. I know this is true because my Israeli friends, and an Israeli-Invented app called Red Alert tells me whenever a Quasam rocket is fired. It is only when Israel retaliated in self-defense, that NPR picks up the story, which continually makes Israel appear to be  the aggressor.
  3. NPR failed each time to report that it was Hamas that broke all 11 cease-fire arrangements in this summer’s conflict, prolonging the war and causing only more deaths to Palestinian civilians.
  4. NPR attributed the number of the deaths to “Palestinian sources,” which, in the Gaza strip, is Hamas, a terrorist organization which looks to inflate civilian deaths by using people as human shields to further perpetuate their cause.
  5. Let’s look at Hamas’ ultimate cause, which NPR time and time again failed to truly investigate, or question, when it so graciously interviews a Hamas official: If brought to negotiation table (negotiation with Israel, as stated in Hamas’ charter, is a non-starter, because Hamas states it refuses to negotiate with Israel) NPR reported this summer that Hamas’ goal is to lift Israel’s occupation and blockade around the Gaza strip and open up the waters to fishing boats. NPR fails to press on to really report what Hamas wants: the ultimate destruction of Israel and to murder all Jews. It is printed clear and simple in the Hamas Charter, yet those highly skilled NPR reporters somehow don’t have the time to do any in-depth reporting on this document.
  6. NPR’s failure to question the Palestinians on how they educate their children, which is pretty much clear brainwashing bent on fostering hatred towards Jews. Such education is administered through Hamas-sponsored children’s programming, and schooling conducted in schools monitored by the United Nations.
  7. Throughout this summer, and into the fall, there has been an uptick of Anti-Semitism. Jews being murdered in places like Miami. Brooklyn. Swastikas appearing on college campuses as fast as they can be erased. A rabbi’s car set on fire in the parking lot of a synagogue on Rosh Hashana.  All this has gone under reported by National Public Radio.
  8. Rosh Hashana came and went. Did NPR go to the Israeli towns in southern Israel for a follow-up story on how Israelis are celebrating the New Year, in what could have been a massacre delivered through Hamas’ terror tunnels? No. That would place Israelis in too human a light.
  9. Once again, money is being poured into Gaza to rebuild. Has NPR ever investigated how much money Gaza has received in the past, and how much of that money went into building terror tunnels instead of: schools, pharmacies, libraries, theatres, homes, etc? No.
  10. A virulent Anti-Semitic glorification of terrorism in the form of an opera is now being staged by the Metropolitan Opera amid protests led by Jews and prominent politicians like former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. No coverage.

I know I can name more reasons I am no longer giving to NPR. Now, don’t get me wrong. Oh yes, I’ll still listen. All day long. I’m just not paying for it anymore. Because paying for this kind of coverage is akin to weaving the rope that will be used for the gallows for my people and the Jewish state, thanks in part  to your incomplete reporting.

Tell the truth on Israel and the Middle East. Report the truth of what Hamas really wants. Then maybe I’ll meet your dollar for dollar challenge.

Swan Song, House Hunt

soldOn my latest trip to Wegmans, my shopper’s club card failed to scan after many attempts to swipe it though the machine. It seems I have used this card so many times I’ve worn it down. Now, if a girl’s Wegmans shoppers club card no longer functions, I guess that’s another sign that it’s time for me to leave town. 

Here is my final column in the Democrat & Chronicle. Thank you to all the readers, including the cashiers at Wegmans who recognized me with my groceries, who all made me feel like a celebrity. 

Tomorrow, we head to Detroit for a “vacation” of looking at houses that are already pending a sale, houses that just went on the market only days ago. 

Maybe at least this time, we won’t get a flat tire on the way. 

Never underestimate the power of a smile. If you attended a CenterStage show at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester in Brighton, Cora Holliday’s smile from the box office booth was almost as unforgettable as the performance.

For the last several years, Cora was box office manager for the theater. When she sold me tickets to shows, we always chatted about how rehearsals were going and how excited she was for opening night as she browsed her computer screen to find me the best available seats.

“Even if you came to just one play at the JCC, you would remember Cora. She just had that way about her that made everyone feel special in her presence,” said Ralph Meranto, director of JCC CenterStage.

Behind that smile, Cora was fighting diabetes, a battle she succumbed to on March 13. She was 50. Even after having her second leg amputated, Cora’s positive attitude never faltered as she planned to soon be driving and yes, dancing on her prosthetic legs. The JCC in January held a fundraiser in her honor to offset her medical bills and to retrofit her car.

A celebration of her life is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, at the Jewish Community Center, 1200 Edgewood Ave., Brighton. Donations in her memory can be made to the JCC or the National Kidney Foundation, 15 Prince St, Rochester, NY 14607.

Thanks to all who shared stories

Goodbyes are tough. I have been dreading writing this final column for weeks now, but it is time for me to focus on my family and our big move to Detroit.

To all the readers and all who made my job so easy by pitching me story ideas over the last three years, I thank you. I especially want to thank the Democrat and Chronicle for helping me find my voice in reporting on all the local heroes in our midst. It gave me such a sense of connection and belonging in Rochester to know that this column helped raise funds and awareness for so many of the causes that you support. It truly has been a privilege to write it each and every week.

I will be sticking around for a few more months, so say hello if we bump into one another in the Pittsford Wegmans. You also can follow my Motor City musings and adventures at my blog or @slgittleman on Twitter.

Starting next week, please welcome Missy Rosenberry to this column.

A graduate of Cornell University, Missy has lived in the Penfield/Webster area with her husband and three children for 11 years. In addition to writing this column, she is a teaching assistant for the Webster School district and a part-time karate instructor. Please send her the latest happenings in your town to

As for me, it is time to plan my life’s next chapter. Once I get to Detroit, I hope to find a writing gig as good as this one.

I also look forward to making many new friends in a city poised for an economic and cultural renaissance.

I hope to take part in Detroit’s gardening movement as it sets to turn its urban blight into the world’s largest urban farm.

And when new friends ask me where I am from, after living here for 13 years, I have earned the right to proudly declare, “I am from Rochester!”

Does WordPress take an anti-Israel slant? I think so. Here’s why.

I’ve been blogging for about two years now on WordPress.

I’ve even been Freshly Pressed!

The one post that I got this honor was, ironically, a post about being Jewish!

This post was a tongue-in-cheek take  take on how Jews perceive Halloween. For a Jew to be funny on WordPress, that’s okay. Poke fun at themselves or at their religion, or express ambiguity at one’s Jewish identity, that’s cool too!

But to write about Israel from a pro-Israel standpoint? Apparently, that falls on deaf ears to the WordPress gods.

I wondered to myself in all the favorable posts I’ve written about Israel, in my writings about my travels there, why blogger love didn’t come my way.

As a Jewish educator and a Jewish mother, as a trained writer and reporter making multiple trips to Israel, I wrote thoughtfully.

In one post, after experiencing hostility towards women by the ultra-Orthodox, I wrote critically.

I added great photos of all I saw. I showed pictures of how Israeli soldiers keep ALL religious sites safe and accessible to ALL religions.

I’ve written about how Israel helps earthquake victims and how Israel develops state of the art agricultural and medical advances that can benefit all of humanity.

Still my stat counter didn’t budge. Maybe, my writing isn’t all that. But still, I wondered.

So, out of curiosity, I entered “Israel”  into WordPress’ search engine. This is what came up:

A blog post criticizing Israel for blocking backers of Palestinian protesters for entering Israel:

Israel Protests

Israel Blocks Pro-Palestinian Activists’ ‘Fly-In’ Attempt In Europe, …  activists barred from boarding flights to Tel Aviv, after Israel sent blacklist Voice of America – Jul 08 06:04
An IDF soldier, a “brave” one (as if only this one is brave, as if the rest are chicken shit) for speaking to the BBC (as if they are such a credible source of news) about the crimes of his country:

Brave Israeli Soldier Speaks Out On BBC Against the Crimes of His Government…Fiannaiochta

Oh, and what blog post popping up into my reader spewing falsities about Israel would be complete without calling Israel an apartheid state, Israel as apartheid state

PLENTY of those posts to go around. One, filled with so many lies I had not the energy or the strength to refute every lie this blogger claimed to be true, was Freshly pressed. WordPress Freshly Pressed not one but two diatribes all but legitimizing  and justifying Hamas and their industry of death.

Then, there are the tried and true tales of Israeli occupation of Gaza, never mind the fact that Israel withdrew from Gaza completely in 2005.(What, what about the blockade you say? If Gazans would only import food and clothing and construction supplies to develop an oasis of hope for a Palestinian state instead of using its resources and spending it on BOMBS imported from Iran smuggled in from Egypt, there would be no need for a blockade).

And genocide in Gaza, when the deaths of any Gazans are actually welcomed and glorified, that’s why the innocents are used as human shields.

All these blog posts delegitimizing Israel floated right to the top of my searches for posts on Israel. You know what else floats?

When I looked for Israel blogs that defended Israel’s right to defend herself from months and years of missile attacks from Gaza, or any post that gives the Jewish state any legitimacy, they were way down on WordPress’ search engine results.

Worse than the violence, worse than the missiles, worse than even the mothers in Gaza who cry for their martyred sons wishing they had more sons to give to Allah, is all the misinformation about Israel in the media, WordPress being just another guilty party.

Sculptor Susan Ferrari Rowley goes in New Directions with Minimalism

4-2-2, Susan Ferrari Rowley, photo courtesy of AXOM Gallery

Here is my article on Susan Ferrari Rowley’s Rochester exhibit which ran in the November 11, 2012 Living Section of the Democrat 7 Chronicle: 

In the male-dominated world of art, it’s tough to be a woman sculptor. Women artists seldom get the space they deserve in the pages of an Art History 101 textbook.


The exclusion of works by women is further evidenced in the inventory of American museums, where only about 5 percent of museum collections include works by women artists, according to the Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. An even smaller percentage include sculptures by women.

That is why Robin Muto, who is the co-curator of one of Rochester’s newer galleries, AXOM Gallery & Exhibition Space, jumped at the opportunity to show the work of Rochester-based minimalist sculptor Susan Ferrari Rowley in an exhibit specifically designed for the studio’s airy, high-ceilinged space.

New Directions,” on exhibit at AXOM, 176 Anderson Ave., through Saturday, offers the viewer a range of human emotions in stark white fabrics, stretched and sewn onto soldered aluminum frames. The works will head to New York City’s OK Harris gallery in December.

Contrast in form

“New Directions” reveals Rowley’s current migration from creating larger outdoor and public sculptures to works scaled for private residences. Asymmetric pieces likeInseparableCentered and Off-Balance exude an edgy tension as they balance precariously on pedestals Rowley custom designed to be just big enough for their footprint.

The “living on the edge” quality of these smaller works also suggests anatomical elements of a body, legs and arms. A calming, translucent glow that seems to start from within the sculptures hints at an inner soul.

Rowley’s sculptures are a contrast of materials and moods. They are large and imposing, yet they invite the viewer to come closer. Through cloth and metal and angular and curved lines, the exhibit of about a dozen abstract pieces can be experienced by stepping around, over and through them.

Outside the main gallery is the story of the art through photos of Rowley making them in her Scottsville studio.

The dominating work in “New Directions” is 4-2-2, a 10-foot composition of three geometric forms. This construct of three white, billowy shapes gives off a peaceful, translucent glow made possible by the carefully placed overhead track lighting. At the same time, three enormous metal poles that extend from the floor to the 14-foot ceiling impale the composition. The very moment of this piercing appears to be captured within the tension of the cloth.

Though abstract and stark in composition, 4-2-2 was created out of a very human emotion: the heartbreak of impending loss. Rowley says it was inspired by the death of her dog Tu-Tu (pronounced tiyu-tiyu), who was a loyal companion for almost 14 years.

Rowley melds techniques like sewing, traditionally regarded as a feminine skill that she learned from her grandmother, with the more masculine crafts of soldering metal and machine tooling. The combined media make each sculpture confrontational in its large scale, yet lightweight and vulnerable in overall appearance.

“I like to work in opposites,” says Rowley, associate professor of fine arts at Monroe Community College. “Metal is hard, and poly fiber fabric is soft. There are male and female qualities, a vulnerability yet strength in my work that are emotions I needed to embrace in my own life as I evolved as an artist.”

A cause in jewelry

“New Directions” also includes Angular Extremes, wearable bracelet art that is the result of Rowley’s tenacious three-year campaign to convince American machine tooling factories and other manufacturers that they can make art and jewelry.

The aluminum bracelets are cast in a Milwaukee factory that did not think they were cut out to manufacture jewelry until Rowley talked them into it. The bracelets are shipped to Rochester, where another company provides the black-and-white nickel color coating.

She then designs the boxes, made from post-consumer recycled materials, with New York’s Jamestown Container.

It is a company where her late mother-in-law spent most of her working life. The label for the packaging was produced by another American company.

These bracelets are also part of the AXOM exhibit and available for purchase at Shop One2 Gallery on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus and the Memorial Art Gallery Store.

Influences on work

Growing up on Long Island, Rowley developed an appreciation for the arts by making treks into New York City. She found art in museums, but also in the windows of Macy’s or in the hand-drawn fashion advertisements in the Sunday New York Times.

On a sixth-grade field trip to the Museum of Modern Art, Rowley fell for a sculpture of abstract feminist sculptor Louise Nevelson. Rowley had found her calling.

“I remember on the train ride home thinking, ‘Making sculptures and placing them on pedestals, that’s what I want to do with my life!’ ” she says.

Later in graduate school, Rowley wanted to find additional 20th century female sculptors to emulate. She had studied the work of Constantin Brancusi and Marcel Duchamp. Then she found fiberglass artist Eva Hesse and sculptor and printmaker Nancy Graves.

“When I read about their lives and how they struggled as women sculptors, their drive inspired me. I knew if I was driven, I would be OK,” Rowley says. “I had to live up to my potential; I had to produce and show as a woman sculptor.”

More than 30 years into her career, Rowley still possesses that drive. She sometimes works alone in her studio. Sometimes she is “making it happen” on group collaborations. In 2004, she proved to be a quick study on zoning and construction codes when she designed relief art for noise-barrier panels placed along Rochester’s western highways for the New York Department of Transportation.

Rowley also made a suspended sculpture for the set of Garth Fagan’sLight Night and Melanin.

The diversification of work, trying to make it fit in several situations, is what she tries to impart to her MCC students, says Rowley, who received the 2011 SUNY Chancellor’s Award of Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.

“I tell my students that our brains have tremendous capacity to diversify,” she says. “Artists today have to have communication and business skills as well as artistic talents, especially when they are commissioned on a piece and will need to work with those with non-artistic backgrounds.”

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Fairport Community Rallies around Coach. My Interview with Gary Brown.

A Few posts back, I wrote about my wondering around Fairport, asking random people in the village about which local folks would make a good story and my brother calling me crazy for doing so. Well, if I didn’t wander around aimlessly, I wouldn’t have found a flyer about a golf benefit for Coach Gary Brown. And I wouldn’t have had the honor and the opportunity to meet this wonderful and brave family facing an incurable disease. Fairport Football coach Gary Brown, center, with his family, from left, Mackenzie, 17; Mike, 12; Max, 19; and his wife, Mary, at their Fairport home. Community support helped build the handicapped-accessible porch.

garybrownFairport Football coach Gary Brown, center, with his family, from left, Mackenzie, 17; Mike, 12; Max, 19; and his wife, Mary, at their Fairport home. Community support helped build the handicapped-accessible porch. / KATE MELTON
Written by
Stacy Gittleman

Get to know Gary Brown

Profession: Field manager at RG&E.
Family: Wife of 21 years, Mary. Sons Max, 19; Mackenzie, 17; and Michael, 12. Mother-in-law, Rita Clark.
Hobbies: Boating, fishing, hunting.
Brown’s advice for living every day:Make someone laugh. Give 110 percent to family and community. Banish the phrase “I can’t.”
What: 15th annual Fairport Football Alumni Association “Gary Brown Red Raider” Golf Classic.
When: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 9.
Where: Victor Hills Golf Club, 1450 Brace Rd, Victor.
Information: Sponsorships $100. Portions of the proceeds will go to the Gary Brown Foundation for MSA Inc. For sponsorship opportunities and more information, contact Don Santini at (585) 223-1274.

When Gary “Brownie” Brown played center for the Fairport Raiders in the 1970s, his coach Don Santini took notice of how his enthusiasm and determination would unite the team at game time.

Santini again drew upon these traits decades later when he asked the 1977 Fairport High School graduate back to help coach the team as a volunteer.

In 2003, Brown, a field manager for RG&E, completed the New York State High School Coaching Certification program and joined the coaching team for the Raiders.

Santini, who retired from coaching after leading the Raiders from 1975-92, describes Brown as “a doer.”

When Santini’s widowed sister-in-law needed her house painted, Brown organized a crew of friends and students to get the job done. Brown in 2007 started an alumni fundraiser to sell bricks to create a “Walk of Pride” walkway on campus to benefit the football team and raise scholarship money for Fairport graduates.

For seven seasons, Brown taught students what it takes to be successful on the field. He helped them build speed, coordination and balance.

But starting in 2009, Brown noticed some troubling symptoms in his own physical condition.

He often felt dizzy and had trouble keeping his own balance. He could not run as fast as he did in previous years.

After tests and doctors’ visits that came up empty and just days after his oldest son Max graduated Fairport High School in June 2011, Brown was diagnosed by a doctor in Michigan with a rare, degenerative disease called Multiple System Atrophy, or MSA.

MSA is a progressive and incurable neurological disorder that impairs the body’s involuntary (autonomic) functions, including blood pressure, heart rate, bladder function and digestion. The Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms, such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity and poor balance, affects 15 out of 100,000 people nationwide.

“This has been very stressful on all of us,” Brown said in slurred speech — another symptom of the disease. He noted that his wife, Mary, and sons attend weekly counseling sessions with a therapist. There is also a counselor available to Max as he attends classes at State University College at Cortland.

Through therapy, the Browns have come to a realization that they can’t go through this alone. But with the outpouring of the Fairport community, they won’t have to.

In January, Santini and other close friends of Brown established the nonprofit Gary Brown Foundation for MSA. Money from the foundation will be used to help the family with medical and counseling costs, raise awareness about the disease and offer support to others in Rochester struck by this disease. So far, just two others with MSA in the Rochester area have contacted the foundation.

The first fundraiser held back in January drew 900 Brown fans out to roast the coach and bid on silent auction items. It raised $58,000. The next, a golf tournament sponsored by the Fairport Football Alumni Association, will be held 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, at Victor Hills Golf Club, 1450 Brace Road, Victor. In addition to funding athletic scholarships at Fairport High School, a “significant portion” of the money raised will benefit the Brown Foundation, said Santini.

Funds from this foundation have enabled Brown to enjoy the company of family and friends on a porch with a handicapped-accessible ramp.

Brown thanks local contractors like Westwood Development for donating their labor to build the porch as well as a handicapped-accessible bathroom and bedroom on the ground floor of their house. Bristol’s Garden Center also donated materials for landscaping.

The foundation also paid for a golf cart that Brown uses to drive to the school to watch football practices and games. Though he is no longer coaching, Santini said his reputation still carries on and he gets a warm welcome from the kids.

“Fairport Raiders past and present, and even little siblings not yet in high school, will come over to shake Brown’s hand,” said Santini.

Mary, who describes herself as a “Buffalo girl,” can understand why people like her husband want to spend all their lives in Fairport. She has been “blown away” at the support the community has bestowed upon her family.

“If I pick up the phone to one person for help, I get 10 responses,” she said, referring to her neighbors who have prepared meals for nearly a year and helped care for their sons while Brown travels to Michigan for treatments.

The prognosis is grim. Doctors have given Brown a life expectancy of four years. But Brown knows he will be in good hands. In 2007, Mary received her master’s in nurse practitioning at the University ofRochester, long before Brown became ill.

“You know what (the late) Steve Jobs said, how you can only connect the dots in life when you are looking backwards? I truly believe that. I truly believe there are no coincidences in this life.”

I’m not Crazy, I’m Just Trying to Find Stories!

I’ve had lots of free time on my hands this month as my kids are all (I mean all three!) away at summer camp and my husband, well, he still has to work so we can eat and have a roof over our heads.

Me, I’ve had time to explore and actually wander around the outlying towns I cover instead of just “visit” the towns on the Internet through municipal webpages.

Sure, there is lots of information about events, festivals  and programs online, but there is no substitute for hitting the pavement and asking around.

On such a visit to Fairport, I took a break, sat by the Erie Canal and called my brother in New Jersey.

He asked what I was up to.

“Oh, I need to write a profile story about a person from a town I really know very few people, so I’m walking around this cute little village called Fairport. I’m  stopping into the library and local shops and saying hello and asking people for ideas.”

He paused. He chuckled. Then he began to speak. When my brother speaks, he has no filter. At least not  with his sister.

“You’re going around ASKING random people if they have ideas for you? You know who does that? CRAZY PEOPLE!!”

Perhaps. Perhaps the unstructured time of summer has driven me mad. But just  wandering around I gathered the following for story ideas:

  • A beauty shop that carries only sustainable products and is one of the only salons in the country that has a state of the art ventilation system that is constantly bringing in fresh air to protect the health of clients and employees. They also collect food for the local food pantry and portions of their profits go to a well project in Uganda.
  • An upcoming music festival
  • An ice cream shop owned by a Xerox manager called the Moonlight Creamery that has special wine-food-ice cream pairing events and crazy flavors like oatmeal ice cream.
  • Most of all, I found a golf fund-raiser to raise money for a Fairport football coach battling a degenerative neuro muscular disease. The minute I saw it, I said, THAT’s my story.

But, I can’t wander around all the time, people. I need your help.

I need for you to tell me about great little shops on the east side of Rochester that have great shop owners with interesting lives.

I need to know what organizations you’re giving your time to and what events that are coming up that go with your cause.

I need to know about the issues in your town you care about, how you are getting involved and how others can do the same.

Fall is coming. I’m nearing the end of my story idea rope and I can’t wander around the streets in the cold of February. Send me your best ideas NOW!

And what did you think of the Cover of Time Magazine?

I know I am getting this out under the wire, as the sun sets into the sky, but Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. It’s the hardest job in the world and you deserved every minute of pampering, every bite of that breakfast in bed you got today.

And, you are mom enough, even if you didn’t breastfeed your child until the age of four or five.

Time Magazine has had some pretty controversial covers around Mother’s Day.  I can recall one year a crying toddler hanging onto the toned, stocking and heeled leg of a presumably working mom with the headline something to the affect of “Is Motherhood Ruining Your Career?” I can’t seem to locate it, so if anyone can recall and locate the link to this article, please send it my way.

On another cover in 2004, Time Magazine did an about face, covering the other side of the coin by featuring a piece called  The Case for Staying Home.

Now, this week’s cover about attachment parenting caught my eye (well, my eyes nearly popped out of my skull) when it was posted by a friend on Facebook.   You must have seen this cover, the one with the almost four year old boy bellying up to the booby bar by using a chair, mother and son both with their eyes focused not on each other but on the camera lens.

I have yet to read this article about attachment parenting, but I did take the quiz to ask how much an attachment parent I am, or was, when my children were infants and I scored a 50 percent. I guess this is because I answered that yes, my babies did sleep in our  bedroom and our bed, but didn’t leave room to elaborate “only sometimes and only because I was too exhausted to carry baby back to crib after he fell asleep at 3 am after nursing.’

But this photo, and the controversy that is swirling around it, made me think of the days I breastfed my children, particularly my oldest. And how this image is a perversion of the emotions I experienced when I fed my babies this way. When they were – little babies.

When my oldest child, now 15, was born, I stayed home with her for three months. In those three months, I breastfed almost exclusively. It wasn’t easy and for any mom who has  chosen to feed her baby this way, you know it takes some time and practice for you and baby to get in synch.

After the initial frustration of learning how to breastfeed, nursing with my firstborn was a special bonding time, a quiet time, a time that actually forces new, exhausted mothers to sit down and be still. Not only does breastfeeding give new mothers a well-deserved opportunity to put her feet up, it also reduces one’s risk of breast cancer and helps a new mom lose that baby weight. A win-win situation.

Three months into being a mom, I went back to work, commuting three days  a week to my job in Manhattan. But, because I wanted to be supermom, I still wanted to give my baby (and me) all the benefits of breastfeeding.

So, off my daughter went to a loving home-based daycare. And off I went to work, toting a breastpump on the  train and through Penn Station and Midtown Manhattan.

Now, working in an office with twenty somethings who spent half their income on rent and the other on a bar tab, I was the old married lady with a baby at age 29. Definitely an oddity  in the office.

I needed to pump at work at least 2 times  a day. I also worked in a cube. But my co-workers were very supportive and my boss, a father of three, made sure that I had access to an empty office or conference room whenever I needed to pump.

As a master multi tasker, I made sure I was still productive during my pump “breaks.”  I got adept at pumping and checking my email and with the mute button, I could still sit and listen in on conference calls and monitor my client’s press interviews.

Not that pumping did not have its pitfalls.  Because, although I had access to my co-workers offices, none of the offices had doors that locked.

So, one day, even though I hung my PRIVACY PLEASE sign on the door, even though I shouted “PLEASE DON’T COME IN I NEED PRIVACY,” this did not stop one young man of about 23 from entering his bosses’ ofiice, my nursing station de la jour, and getting the shock of his life.

I don’t know what freaked him out more – the noise of the pump or the sight of, well…..

“OH MY GOD! ” he shouted.  “WHAT IS THAT?? WHAT ARE YOU DOING???”

I was calm. ‘I told you not to come in,” I said.  “I’m making food for my baby and I need my privacy, please close the door.”

The poor guy. He was far more embarassed than I. For as long as I worked there, he could never again look me in the eye.

Yes, there are times, whether one is a working, nursing mom, or when a crying baby needs to breasfeed, that a mom will have to nurse in public. When my first was born, my doula, or mother’s helper, not only taught and encouraged me to breastfeed, she also taught me how to cover up. Because  although I know breastfeeding is completely healthy and natural, I also didn’t feel like exposing myself to the world. And, any nursing mother will tell you that nursing goes far more easier when mom and baby can find a calm quiet place away from the public.

Although pediatricians recommend that nursing a baby for 1 or even three years is natural, and in third world countries breast feeding is a necessity to stave off infant and child mortality, the call of when is a  “normal”  time to stop breastfeeding is up to the individual mother.

As far as my babies, once they tasted solid foods and became too distracted to nurse by the world around them, and for me, once their gummy smiles gave way to their first teeth, we both decided that our special mommy-baby time was over.

So, whether you breastfed your baby for one month or one year or three, whether you went back to work full time or stayed home and let your baby sleep in your bed, you are mom enough. Motherhood is not a competition. Nor should breastfeeding be shown in the exploitive way it did to sell some magazines.

I’m Not From Here. But I’m getting There.

Last night I went to a professional women’s networking  event sponsored by the Jewish Community Federation. Local TV reporter Rachel Barnhart was the guest speaker. A young journalist with great passion and conviction, she spoke of her struggles early in her career and how proud she is to be working and covering news in the town in which she was born and raised.

Here are some things I loved learning about this homegrown reporter:

  • She stands by her convictions. In high school, she was suspended because she refused to stop publishing her own underground newspaper.
  • After sending in her first demo tape to land a broadcasting job, a veteran in the broadcasting business “ripped her to shreds” in an interview. Instead of getting discouraged, she was thankful for the helpful criticsm, took all suggestions into consideration and moved on.
  • Later in her career, she fought a non-compete clause in her contract at Channel 8 and then landed a job at WHAM, where after a year working as a web producer, she paid her dues and was back on the air for the 6 pm newscast.
  • She was the first local reporter from upstate New York to scoop the story that then-Rochester mayor would run as Lieutenant Governor with Andrew Cuomo. She picked herself and a camera crew and drove through the night to be at a press conference in the NY Metro area to be the first in the Rochester area to get the story – all on a hunch.
  • Even though there are bigger media markets out there, Rachel is proud to be covering her hometown because she passionately believes in its revitalization, thank you very much!
  •  It is with this faith in Rochester that Rachel has built quite a local following. A journalist of the digital generation, she has harnessed the power of social networking and has 7,000 Twitter followers and counting. Including yours truly.

As a transplant, one thing Ms. Bernhart said ratttled me. On bringing  in talent from those who are not from the area,  she said that it makes sense for the Rochester media market to hire native Rochesterians. Who better knows the area, its people than those who grew up here? Out of town editors and writers just “don’t get” Rochester.

Perhaps this is true. Rochester is a very tightly-knit town. If you have no relations here that can be traced back one or two generations, you are pretty much an outsider.  I’m not the only transplant to Rochester who has felt that it is hard to break into social and professional circles that were forged in grammar school. This is a big contrast from big cities where new people come and go and work their way in all the time. Like they do in my hometown of New York City.

Is it not my fault that I needed to go with my husband to Rochester when he landed a job here? Did we need to go where he could make a living? Where we could have money for food and clothing and to send our kids to a nice summer sleep-away-camp?

True, the initial connection my family has in Rochester is this is the place where my husband found a great job. But, this connection is often not enough for us trailing spouses.

Here is how, after 12 years of living in a town other than my hometown, I know I am almost “home” both geographically and professionally:

  • I don’t get lost anymore and know the difference between 390, 590 and 490.
  • I’m comfortable telling people I’m “from” Rochester when away on vacation. And when I start to say, “but I’m originally from…” I stop and let it go.
  • I have grown to marvel at the clean lines of the Rochester City skyline. Sure, it’s not the New York City skyline, but it has a really cool bridge. And I personally know the civil engineer who designed it.
  • My husband is home by six nearly every night. He has a 20 minute, traffic-free commute. In how many cities can you say that?
  • When our friends “back home” tell us of their struggles to get their kids into the best private schools, we proudly boast about the great public schools in Rochester’s suburbs.
  • I have yet to land a full-time job, but for the last two years, I have been bestowed the opportunity to meet all sorts of great interesting people through my column in the Democrat & Chronicle.

When I accepted writing this column, my editor at the time gave me some great advice: this is the chicken and waffle dinner column. It’s all about community.

This column will never win me the Pulitzer. It in no way matches the ambitions of my 22-year-old self fresh out of college.  In fact, most of my journalism professors would raise their eyebrows at the stuff I write about.  It’s not hard-hitting journalism.  In fact, you can call it fluff, and I’d be cool with that.

However,  my writing makes a difference.  Greyhounds have been adopted. People have found support as they battle illnesses like cancer, Parkinson’s and Crohn’s disease because of events I’ve plugged in my column. Bikes have been donated and refurbished for the poor by local Rotary clubs and donations of food have been dropped off at area food pantries. It’s the good news column in an industry that is mostly filled with bad news.

It doesn’t really pay much monetarily. I get the payback when little old ladies stop me in synagogue or at Starbucks or in the supermarket to say how much they enjoy reading my column.

For me, that’s the time I get the feeling that I am finally home.  For me, for now, that’s enough.

Window Shopping in Tel Aviv, Windows Shattering in Ashdod

As the violence between Israel and her neighbors in the Gaza strip heats up, I have been glued to not CNN for updates, but the news feed on my Facebook page from The Jerusalem Post. I am relying on the Jerusalem Post and accounts from my friends in Israel to give me the scoop on the latest to what is going on there. I have given up on US media on getting any story related to Israel right. The latest picture on the JPost newsfeed brought back memories of my last nights in Israel spent in Tel Aviv.

When you think of Israel these days, I bet that fashion does not come to mind. No, no, you say, nothing is ever reported from Israel except conflict and war. What else can possibly be going on there? 

A lot. Fashion, for one. Israel is entering the international stage for its fashion design. Israeli designer Ronen Chen’s can be found all over the world. Tel Aviv Fashion exec Molly Grad is one of Israel’s top female executive at Gottex Swimwear.

Tel Aviv designers teamed up with designers from Milan, its sister city, to put together Tel Aviv Fashion Week last November Some Milan designers included Milan’s Roberto Cavalli.

On our last nights in Israel this past December, we spent time wandering the streets in Tel Aviv, particularly the fashion district on Northern Dizengoff Street. The stores were closed, and that was a fortunate thing for my wallet because I knew I had no need to buy any of these clothes. Never mind my suitcases must have been already over the weight limit because of all the artwork, books and souvenirs I already purchased.

But the styles were oh so beautiful:

So, this is why this morning’s picture of a bombed fashion boutique in Ashdod really resonated with me.

Rockets from Gaza hit clothing store in Ashdod, 40 kilometers south of Tel Aviv. Photo by Jerusalem Post staff photographer Nir Elias

This is a picture that I bet will never make it into US papers.  It is not until you walk the streets in Israel, until you drive along her crowded yet modern highways, feel the beauty and the utter vulnerability of the land that you can really understand what is going on there and what Israel needs to do to survive. And thrive.

Israel,  I stand with you.

America, if you want to know what is going on in Israel, do yourself a favor and get your news from The Jerusalem Post.

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