Do I Want to Know What You Think About Israel?

images-2A friend messaged me last week: “Dying to know what you think about Israel!”

I knew I’d be called out sooner or later. I’m aware I haven’t posted anything about Israel here or on Facebook, not even to share particular articles that have helped me gain a better understanding of what’s been happening in this latest go round of insanity and violence.

(Now that we’re here, however, this one is particularly enlightening.)

Mostly, I’ve stayed quiet because I don’t feel like I have anything useful to add. There are many people with brains far bigger than mine weighing in on the IDF’s excessive force, Hamas’ misappropriation of humanitarian aid and dead children all over the place. Plus, I just don’t have the stomach to go keyboard-to-keyboard in the comments section of obvious anti-Semitic and historically erroneous propaganda.

Let’s face it: Nothing coming out of a computer in Savannah, GA is going to lift a blockade or neutralize rockets or talk sense into anybody halfway around the world. The world is better off with my hippie peace prayers, said and felt sincerely for every person, everywhere.

But if I’m being really honest, I haven’t jumped into the increasingly hostile conversation because I don’t want to lose any more friends. Back in California, I once almost ruined a four year-old’s birthday party by arguing Israel vs. the Palestinians with one of my neighbors. Another time I also threw a plate of falafel back at some asshole in the middle of my neighborhood’s community festival for selling to me with a note attached to the plate that said “Free Palestine from the Israeli Nazis.”

These confrontations made me so angry I could barely speak. They also made me afraid. These were people who screamed in my face about burning rubble in Gaza and then condoned the vandalism of an American synagogue as understandable retribution. They were anti-Semitic but wouldn’t admit it, condescendingly “explaining” that “I don’t have anything against Jews, I just think Israel is evil.”

Living in the South for the past eight years, I’ve gotten used to a more benign, even welcoming attitude towards Israel, which creeped me out at first and still makes me nervous since it often seems attached to an evangelical agenda.

Truth be told, I’m just not interested debating Israel’s “right to exist” or its right to defend itself. Nor am I interested in doing a ring-around-the-rosie dance to usher in the End Times.

My thoughts on Israel? I am amazed at how a few kibbutzniks have turned a dusty sliver of land into a bustling, fruit-bearing economic nexus in a mere 65 years. I am astounded how Jewish people have created a democracy among hostile neighbors after being decimated in the Holocaust (actually, “decimated” is an understatement, since it literally means to annihilate a tenth of the population. The Six Million killed in WWII were a full third of the world’s Jewish population.)

I am grateful for the advances in technology and medicine that come from Israel’s laboratories (your cell phone? Invented in Tel Aviv.) I am humbled that even in times of war, Israeli doctors treat their enemies.

I’m also definitely not someone who thinks Israel can do no wrong. I think the right-wing settlers and their anti-Arab vehemence are an embarrassment. I think the situation in Gaza—and the West Bank, which will eventually play in—is complicated and convoluted and sad.

Still, when I see other Jewish people posting anti-Israeli sentiments and then read about the looting and intimidation of Jewish businesses and college students in Paris and Belgium and Boston, I want to ask, “Do you think they don’t mean you?”

When I see the posts that portray the abject, undeniable suffering of the people of Gaza that fail to make mention of Hamas’ use of Palestinian children to build tunnels so they can kill Israeli kindergartners, I want to cry out with the injustice.

When I see that a synagogue in Miami was covered in swastikas this morning, I have to put aside my fear of taking sides. That the world would respond so quickly with anti-Semitism only strengthens the reasoning and resolve of the Jewish state.

I stand with Israel, always and proudly. My heart goes out to all who are in pain. I’ve also had enough of the hateful one-sided posts that portray Israelis as brutal and Palestinians as victims. Yes, they are victims—of a fundamentalist terrorist regime that would sacrifice every one of them to destroy Israel and America. Anyone who has seen the tunnels and rockets can no longer deny that Hamas leaders are lying when they claim they want peace.

I like to think I’ve curated my friend list with intelligent, compassionate people, and I don’t have to agree with them all the time. So far, I haven’t defriended anyone for their sympathies. But I am going to start commenting and sharing some of the thoughtful, factual posts that present the truth about Israel.

If anyone feels the need to defriend me for that, I completely understand.

 

Nits, Rats and Poison Ivy: A Trifecta of Repugnance

Once upon a time back in 2006, I wrote a post called “Mold, Diarrhea and Escargot,” a detailed and repulsive summary of the grossest and most disgusting day in the life of any Jewish mother, anywhere, ever.

That day has now been eclipsed by a perfect storm of biblical afflictions that probably should win some type of award except that I don’t want it commemorated in any form or fashion. However, if you want to buy me a sympathy drink after reading this, I won’t turn it down.

First, when we dropped the children off at their lovely, green Jewish summer camp, the cursory nurse check revealed three tiny little white blobs on my daughter’s heads. I mean miniscule, tiny flecks that could have been dandruff or remnants from a spitball fight she had with her brother. But when the nurse pointed at them, I knew. NITS. Lice eggs. Lousy. Literally.

I tried not die from shame since I know that having nits or lice doesn’t mean you’re dirty or that you are a bad person. It’s pretty common among kids these days, though I had never had to deal with it before my daughter’s Girl Scout troop has passed them around for an entire year (if there was a badge for nits, we’d OWN it.)

I don’t know how or where she got them this time, but I was not real thrilled to douse her head in chemicals once again. It turns out the poison doesn’t work anyway, because apparently regular lice has mutated into a super organisms that are taking over the planet. I took the nurse’s advice and combed and combed through the girl’s hair with tea tree oil under a bright lamp; I did the same to her brother just in case. And El Yenta Man’s. And mine. We were up past midnight combing through each other like baboons. I didn’t spot any bugs, and everyone got a clean bill of health the next day.

But STILL. We are the NIT family. The nurse was so kind and sweet, reassuring us that we weren’t the only nit family, and that she would quietly check Little Yenta Girl from time to time to make sure those little buggers stay away. If they don’t, I’m sure I’ll get one of those “Hello-this-is-Camp-nurse-it’s-not-an-emergency-we-just-wanted-to-let-you-know” types of calls.

In the meantime, while the kids are enjoying themselves, prayfully nitless, El Yenta Man and I have been enjoying even more revolting adventures. After reveling in a lovely childless dinner out on our first evening alone, we returned home to thinking that we would, *ahem*, make the most of our aloneness. Except we weren’t alone.

As EYM went to grab a water from the pantry, he found a bigass rat in there, that was, in his words, “clamboring all over the sugar and shit like Templeton from Charlotte’s Web.

Again, if shame could kill a person, I WOULD BE DEAD ALREADY.

How. Could. This. Happen. TO ME? My pantry is so freaking clean you can eat off the shelves. I even finally got the Tupperware tub for the dog food.

Except that there was a RAT eating the pistachios, which means I am a horrible housekeeper and all-around terrible balabusta. And basically useless, since all I could think to do was scream and swat at it with the broom.

EYM grabbed the BB gun and started shooting up the place, tiny metal balls bouncing off the tile floor like we were surrounded by enemy fire in Vietnam. Fifteen minutes later, my beautifully organized pantry lay in ruins and we’d pulled out the sideboard, the baker’s rack and the refrigerator. EYM had the gun pointed on it as we slid the wine cooler back for its last stand, but at the last minute I begged him not to kill it. I opened the door and it scuttled out, tail dusted in Whole Foods organic flour.

I had just started putting everything away when I heard my husband whisper, “Oh no.” He was staring at a long cardboard tube on top of a pile of potential art supplies hoarded by Little Yenta Girl. The faintest of scratching sounds emanated from it. “Oh no NO NO NO.” He climbed up on top of the sideboard, peered into the tube and screamed like a little girl.

YES OMFG ANOTHER RAT.

EYM actually shot the bb gun into the tube (not recommended), and a bionic rodent performed the terrifying ninja feat of climbing UP out of the cardboard tube, across EYM’s feet and out into the dining area, trailing tiny drops of blood on the wood floor. EYM finally cornered it in the girl’s bedroom, but not before ransacking the place, pulling the mattresses off the beds, pulling out drawers, flinging finger puppets and toys around the room and turning her room—which yes, I just cleaned and made all pretty for her when she came home from camp without nits—into a war zone that looks like it had been hit with rockets by Hamas. (Oh shit, sorry. Too soon? It’s been a terrible week for so many. Prayers and blessings for safety for all.)

The second rat was not as lucky as his compadre; he died after taking about 50 bb’s to the body (a la Willem Dafoe in Platoon) and couple of butts from the gun. Even though he kills and guts fish, regularly, EYM was terribly traumatized at the violence of it all, and I heard him apologizing the rat as he finished him off. It was really awful, y’all. I still haven’t been able to go in there and clean up.

To top it all off, both El Yenta Man and I are suffering from a wicked, weeping, itchy, full body-swathing case of poison ivy, probably from consoling ourselves with too much alone time in the backyarden.

A trifecta of the most disgusting things ever, all in one week. If you can top that, I would really, really like to know.

 

Camp Packing Blues

Oy, it’s that time of year again when I crawl into the attic to shlep down the plastic drawers and the duffel bags large enough to hide several dead bodies.

The Yenta children are off to Jewish camp next week, and as usual, no one is anywhere near ready. The nice people at camp always provide a handy-dandy checklist to follow, yet somehow, I remain farmisht.

Who owns 25 pairs of freakin’ underpants? Why must I send two bars of soap when it takes three months to disappear a shared one? Does a hoodie count as a jacket or is it a long-sleeved shirt?

Plus, Little Yenta Girl’s feet have basically doubled in size this year, and it turns out that clown-sized sport sandals are expensive and hard to find. Also, Young Yenta Man now uses a vast arsenal of hair products that may require its own Hoffa-sized duffel (I suspect the Gum Tresses Wax Gristle may contain unkosher ingredients.)

What this family needs is several pairs of extra socks and a whole lotta luck.

PRO_AL_1355499206_MTov_500_compactOh, what’s this?! Mazel Tov knee socks from ModernTribe.com! If I send each kid to camp with a pair, does that make up for only sending one toothbrush?

I bet they help Lil’ Yenta Girl crush it in the gaga court.

 

 

 

 

Thoroughly Modern Abby: Savannah’s First Jewish Mother

44127092_132244189224-1In honor of Mickve Israel’s upcoming 281st anniversary, Yo, Yenta! is featuring guest blogger and all-around balabusta Phoebe Kerness.

THOROUGHLY MODERN ABBY: The story of Abigail Minis, founding member of Congregation Mickve Israel, business entrepreneur and independent woman.

Abigail Minis, one of the original Jewish settlers of the colony of Georgia and one of the original members of Congregation Mickve Israel, is considered to be one of the most foremost women in American Jewish History.

On July 11th, 1733, she arrived in Savannah at the age of 32, along with the 40 other original Jewish settlers, on the ship the William and Sarah. She was accompanied by her husband Abraham Minis and her two oldest daughters, Leah and Esther.

Welcoming her in Savannah was a rough and primitive environment lacking access to the necessities of life. She devoted herself to her children. Over a period of 11 years, Abigail gave birth every two years, followed by her youngest child four years later at the age of 47. In total, she gave birth to nine children, five girls and four boys, and raised eight of them to adulthood.

Possessed of a hearty constitution, Abigail survived her pregnancies and births at a time when pregnancy death rates were high. When Abraham died in 1757, she went on to display fortitude of will and wisdom. Upon his death, Abraham stipulated Abigail as the executrix of his estate to insure that she had the wherewithal to support, educate and to bring up their children.

By the time of his death, Abraham had established himself as a successful planter and businessman. Abigail took over his businesses and doubled his fortune. She invested in real estate in and around Savannah. In 1764 she opened the Minis Tavern which was to become a highly successful enterprise.

When the Revolutionary War broke out, she convinced Royal Governor Wright to grant her and the children safe passage and protection in Charleston until the British were defeated. She hired someone to manage her affairs in Savannah in her absence. At the same time, she assisted the Continental army with money, food ammunition and uniforms. When the War ended she returned to Savannah, regained control of all her properties and businesses, again doubling her fortune and continuing to increase her real estate holdings.

Abigail Minis died in October of 1794 at the age of 93. She was survived by her five unmarried daughters and six grandchildren. Her sons had all predeceased her. She was way ahead of her time and would have been hailed as such by the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970’s. She was a single mother, a well-respected citizen and a shrewd business woman. To have lived to be 93 in the 1700’s was remarkable.

Although documentation is scarce that verifies that Abigail Minis’s family was active in Savannah’s Jewish community, it is reasonable to assume so. The Minis and Sheftall families, the only German Jewish families in the earliest days of the colony, were close in business as well as cultural background. Reverend Bolzius, the Salzburger minister who lived in Ebenezer and who had friendly connections with Savannah’s German Jews, commented on the strict tradition of the two German Jewish families.

Abigail Minis was buried in the Mordecai Sheftall cemetery and her husband and two of their sons were buried in the original Jewish Burial Plot in the area of the present monument at Bull and Oglethorpe Streets. Philip Minis, Abigail’s son, was the first parnas of Mickve Israel after its post-Revolutionary reorganization. Finally the ultimate confirmation: descendants of Abigail and Abraham Minis were connected with the Savannah Jewish community and Mickve Israel for about 260 years.

Mickve Israel’s Museum Committee wants to remind our congregants that, although women have not always held official positions of leadership in American Jewish congregations as they do today, women have always been leaders in our Savannah congregation.

Abigail Minis set very high standards for generations of Mickve Israel women who followed her. She was a true heroine of Congregation Mickve Israel and Savannah, one of the foremost women in the history of American Jewish life, and a thoroughly modern woman.

 

Who is like you, Friday Night Live?!

com_friday-night-light_062014_539_332_c1Y’all know I am a Craig Taubman groupie from way back, and it saddens me that the Silver Fox recently retired from leading the epically joyous Friday Night Live services at Temple Sinai in Los Angeles.

I’m sorry I never got to attend, though 2007′s Hallelu in Atlanta was a small taste of Taubman’s wonderful musical and communal legacy.

By all reports, the last gathering blew off the roof, including this truly rockin’ rendition of “Mi Chamocha” featuring New Orleans clarinet riffs and a killer rap from hiphop’s Jewish heart, Kosha Dillz:

I’m pretty sure rapping would cause considerable plotzing among regular Friday night congregants of historic Congregation Mickve Israel, but maybe Craig and Kosha would consider a reunion if they’re ever down Savannah way?

Throw Out the Lox! Vita Smoked Salmon Recall

218Well, here’s every Jewish mother’s worst nightmare:

The package of lox (or as I’ve heard it referred to, “smoked salmon”) I bought at Publix last week for some nice bagel sandwiches to take to a beach picnic has been recalled for the presence of a certain vile bacteria.

According to an email from the Georgia Dept. of Agriculture received yesterday:

Vita Food Products, Inc. of Chicago, Ill., is notifying the public that it is recalling 1,878 pounds of Vita Classic Premium Sliced Smoked Atlantic Salmon due to possible contamination of Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

The email did not mention the also common symptoms of stomach cramps and diarrhea. Gross.

The product was sent to Hannaford stores in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, H-E-B stores in Texas, and Publix stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina beginning on April 7, 2014.

Yep yep, Publix. In Savannah, Georgia. At Twelve Oaks Shopping Center, to be precise.

The packages are vacuum sealed, black in color and bear the Vita logo centered at the bottom. Product from this lot can be identified by a SELL BY AUG 17 2014 date and lot number 00764B, which can be found on the right side on the front of the package. The 4oz size of this product is the only size subject to this recall.

All of the above. Darn.

Well, that sucks.

A shame this alert went out the day AFTER Little Yenta Girl and I ate the sandwiches.

After an evening of a rumbly, unhappy tummy, I managed to, erm, expel the offending Listerical mononucleuses or whatever those little fuckers were.

My girl’s digestive reaction was not quite as fast, yet she appears to be much better after a day of seltzer water and a double dose of probiotics to help her gut’s good bacteria kick out the interlopers.

Vita is offering a refund for the contaminated yuck lox if I sent it the product label, but that would have required touching it and no, just no. Anyway, the minute I got the email alert and discovered it was a match, I made Yenta Boy take it from the fridge with a paper towel, wrap it in two plastic bags and throw in the outside trash can.

But now our favorite protein snack will be tainted in my mind. Maybe not forever, but there’s something about diarrhea that turns a person off.

In the meantime, we’re going to stick to hummus. Or maybe not. Dammit.

 

Yes, all girls—and boys

(Crossposted from Connect Savannah)

There is no hell more hideous or humid than the soccer fields on an early summer afternoon in the South.

The sun pounds down with a mallet in each fist, destroying any doubt of its supremacy in the universe. The tall pines beyond the fence droop, the grass browns before our eyes. The bloated air heaves itself around like a DMV employee two months from retirement.

Yet the players on the field appear impervious to the blinding swelter. They move like warriors, calculating each pass and kick, snaking the ball around their opponents’ defense to take a shot on the goal. If they fail, they regroup like a pack of wolves and try again. Along the way there might be a push here, a shove there, the occasional elbow to the ribs if the ref isn’t looking.

Who knew 10 year-old girls could be so terrifyingly tough?

Huddled under a pop-up canvas canopy with the other parents, modern Bedouins clad in Rainbow flip-flops and drinking cans of La Croix, I watch my daughter and her teammates with awe. It just never gets old, the unexpected breakaways, the soaring kicks, the balls taken to the chin and shaken off with a gap-toothed smile.

Though raised by a feminist to believe I could be President or an astronaut, I was never quite comfortable with the physical aggression required to be an athlete. At 10, I was busy reading the Judy Blume canon and organizing a union for my paper dolls. The last time I played real soccer was a friendly college dorm match when some freshman from New Mexico slide-tackled me and I limped off to the cafeteria, crying.

But these girls, with their baggy blue uniforms and their coltish legs, they are so fierce, so strong, that it’s difficult to imagine that anything could ever bring them down.

For the moment, at least. They have a few years before they shoulder the societal pressure to be skinny or absorb the subtle messages to downplay their intelligence and power. They haven’t yet had to wonder why their male colleagues make higher salaries for the same work or rebuff the “romantic” advances of assholes who just don’t get it.

Soon enough, though, these girls will become women. Then it becomes a whole new ball game.

The May 23 shootings in Santa Barbara by a 22 year-old spoiled little psychopath have sliced open what has always been a marginalized conversation about gender, revealing the guts of our culture’s pervasive dysfunction around women’s sexuality. Like the haruspex of ancient Rome, we must take the opportunity to divine meaning from the entrails.

Before he took up his weapons, Elliot Rodger blatantly blamed his impending rampage on all the women who wouldn’t have sex with him. Who knows if he even asked them nicely—he felt sure that he was owed their “adoration” and attention, and by “depriving” him of it, they deserved to die.

While this obviously falls under the umbrella of flat-out insanity, many rightfully recognized this as misogyny—a poisonous attitude against women that goes back to the tale of Lilith’s banishment from the Garden of Eden.

Misogyny feels entitled to womens’ servitude and feeds on the fear of female empowerment. It lurks in the dark, dank dungeons of the internet and in CEO offices on the top floors of skyscrapers. It can thrive in street gangs or frat houses. It is Nietzsche, Patrick Bateman and the Taliban.

Misogyny is chauvinism’s more horrible, sadistic older brother. It is what drives village elders to stone a woman to death for accidentally showing her ankle. It is the tasteless skit on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze that features a six-foot tall goon dressed in hideous drag laughing about rape.

Misogyny is at the root of the closure of 50 women’s health clinics in Texas, Arizona and 25 other states in the past three years. It is the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls and the gang rapes of children in India. Misogyny denies humanity. While chauvinism would merely suppress women, misogyny fucking hates them.

This most recent mass shooting gives a small window to stare it straight in the eye before some other tragedy captures our collective attention. While some of us could complain about “the mens” all day long, there really is no societal counterpart. Margaret Atwood describes the differential as “Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”

On Twitter, hundreds of thousands of women and a few men have used the hashtag #YesAllWomen to voice their fury and frustration for all that females must fear. Right on cue, a backlash arose via #NotAllMen to dismiss it as the hysterical exaggerations of a bunch of chicks.

The parallel feed/thought process is that not all men harbor that kind of evil, and duh, of course not—not even most men. There are so many fine male role models, the good dads and sweet brothers and loyal friends who love and respect women.

Arguing that only sidetracks the discussion. As the New Statesman’s Laurie Penny writes, “the devil has more than enough advocates today.”

Whether you choose to view Rodger’s terrible act as what Penny calls “misogynistic extremism” or the result of a sick, lonely kid who couldn’t get laid, there is no denying that his attitude towards women—in part created and validated by the cultural tides—figured into it. (It should go without saying that one can be both mentally ill and a misogynist.)

True, over half of Rodger’s victims were male—the misogynistic poison that fueled his violent entitlement harms everyone. As much as objectification hurts girls, boys suffer tremendously from the pressure to find their value in some kind of sexual “score.”

The tragedy in California has no upside, but perhaps it will make us more conscious of the misogynistic tendencies hidden in our language, our beliefs and what we brush aside as mental illness and good ol’ boy traditions. Maybe because of it, my daughter and her teammates will grow up in a fairer, saner, less hateful world. Maybe not.

But as I marvel as my girl bounces the ball from her chest to her foot and sails it down the field, I know I will never quit calling out the poison.

Shavuot: The Forgotten Holiday

imagesIt’s time for Shavuot already? Errrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmm, I forgot.

I know, in past years I waxed on about my awesome holiday crafts and bragged about how the strawberries were bursting like I’m some kind of balabusta.

Well, this year the garden’s a little wilder and life’s a little messier. Sorry I’ve not gotten around to decorating my Shavuot table with peonies. Though Kveller’s Bethany Herwegh did and it’s simply lovely.

(I do so adore the Pintrest-y direction Jewish lifestyles blogs are taking! Even if makes me feel like the worst Jewish mother ever. I bet Bethany is a true balabusta who never forgets to replenish the Shabbos candles and has to use jack o’lantern votives scrounged from the junk drawer. *sigh*.)

You’ve got to admit, Shavuot is not the Jewish holidays cycle’s most thrilling point on the pinwheel. This year it falls into June, and with school out and everyone already in full-on summer mode and I’m more in the mood for margarita pie than I am for cheesecake.

But then my Jewish guilt gets all riled, and I go looking for a little Torah knowledge, since Shavuot is a harvest festival meant to celebrate the giving of the tablets to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Or is it?

Elon Gilad writes in Ha’aretz that with its uncertain name and twisted history, Shavuot might not even be a holy day at all:

In its earliest stages, during the First Temple period, Shavuot was an appendage to Passover, the first of the two major agricultural holidays. Shavuot marked the end of the festival (Atzeret) of the 50-day period called the Omer, between the harvest of barley – Passover – and the harvest of wheat.

During First Temple times, two loaves would have been baked out of that first batch o’ barley, brought to Jerusalem and used in a massive ritual he rightfully deems “complicated, bloody, and expensive.” Gilad explains that according to the Torah, the loaves were “waved before The Lord” with wine and “a complicated array of animal sacrifices.”

That kind of partying just simply isn’t sustainable, and the practice was wildly adapted over the years until somehow—and no one really knows, not even the most sagacious among us—we got to cheesecake and blintzes.

Gilad concludes with good-natured realism that while all-night study sessions that include the Book of Ruth are still the rage in the yeshivas, most less-than-pious Jews don’t get too fancy about Shavuout other than to eat some dairy deliciousness.

So maybe I shouldn’t feel so badly, sitting here with my peony-less table and my blintz-less freezer.

But now that I’m aware of my farblogence, I can’t stop thinking about Shavuot and its opportunity to absorb its compelling and confusing spiritual gifts.

Maybe I can work up a hankering for a pizza.

 

 

Here’s Your Prostate PSA

EYM**WARNING: This post gets super personal in an Osmosis Jones kinda way.

This is El Yenta Man.

He’s quite a handsome devil, nu? Even though he leaves wet towels on the floor and still loads the dishwasher like a monkey after 16 years of marriage, I’d like to keep him around. Jewish husbands who can cook and like a zaftig tuchus are hard to find.

A couple of years ago during one of his regular man check-ups, his doctor found a lump on his prostate. (Past 40, us ladies get our boobies smashed for our yearly mammograms; the dudes get buggered with a rubber glove.)

As you can imagine, we were a bit alarmed. While a prostate is a useful piece of male anatomy that helps make the babies, much like its owners it can get increasingly irritating and enlarged as it ages. Often, as in one out of seven bodies, it can develop cancer.

Thankfully, prostate cancer is not life-threatening and easy to treat if caught early. Since it’s so common, it is a popular topic among dudes of a certain age, right behind Salma Hayek and whether goatees are still working if they’re gray.

But because El Yenta Man doesn’t do anything the normal way, his lump has to be different than all the other prostate lumps. His lump has to be special, not a regular tumor that doctors deal with decisively and swiftly and then everyone goes back to playing golf on their iPhones.

Nope, EYM’s lump had to develop within the walls of the actual gland, a condition so rare that there are only a handful of documented cases and no real treatment protocol. It’s official name is a Prostatic STUMP, as in a Stromal Tumor of Unknown Malignant Potential. Totally sounds like the RUOS in the Princess Bride, does it not?

We’re not real good at taking things seriously around the Yenta house, so we named it “Stumpy.” Of course, Stumpy the Tumor is as unwelcome a guest as a giant rat, and the extermination process is, well, radical. The problem with Stumpy is that he could get real troublesome real fast, or he might just hang out in EYM’s epithelial wall doing absolutely nothing forever. None of us want to play Russian Roulette with a quiet tumor, but since the surgery comes with risks of its own, EYM didn’t jump at going under the knife in such a sensitive area.

Thus began a journey to figure out whether–or when–to evict Stumpy. Feeling limited by the medical options in Savannah, EYM tracked down the No. 1 prostate expert in the country, Dr. Peter Scardino of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. It just so happens that Dr. Scardino is a good ol’ Savannah boy himself, and EYM was able to score an appointment in Manhattan in the summer of 2012. In spite of all the hysterical opinions both professional and amateur regarding my husband’s prostate, Dr. Scardino calmly told us to “wait and watch.”

So we’ve waited, but it takes some complicated and expensive equipment to watch a prostate. Last week we flew back to NYC for some time with Dr. Scardino’s new MRI machine (much kinder and gentler than the previous model, which makes a vaginal ultrasound look like a freakin’ spa treatment.) When the digital photos came up, we were at that computer screen like it was the Game of Thrones finale.

Our first real look at Stumpy revealed that holy cow, he’s a lot bigger than we thought. I mean, you could see him quite clearly as the tech rolled the arrow around, hanging out right behind EYM’s bladder. But here’s the good news: He hasn’t changed much since the last time Dr. Scardino checked him out.

What that means is no surgery. For now, anyway. And another trip to NYC in a year. Which is actually pretty fabulous. Thanks, Stumpy.

But the prostate, it is no joke. If you’ve got one or you love one, go get it checked.

T-Shirt of the Week: Keep Calm and…WTF Where’s My Rescue Remedy??

i-don39t-keep-calm-cuz-i39m-a-jewish-mother-long-sleeve-t-shirt_red_long_sleeve_tshirts_thumb_a92100clHappy Mother’s Day!

Look, I’m all about blasting the stereotypes about Jewish mothers, and I really don’t appreciate being called neurotic and overbearing and dammit if someone tells me to JUST RELAX one more damn time I’mma gonna slap…

Um, right. Carry on then.

From Israeli-T.com.