Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 38th birthday! Which means that today I am completing two full 19-year cycles of the Hebrew calendar.

What’s interesting is that my life, as well, has consisted of two totally separate 19 year periods.

I spent the first 19 years of my life about as far as a Jew can get from Judaism. And the second cycle began with a trip to Israel at the age of 20 that turned my life upside down, or, I guess you could say, right side up.

Yesterday I was speaking with a friend who told me, “I know I should be grateful, but the truth is that I take everything I have for granted, my husband, my kids, my life.” Afterward I tried to figure out why my friend and I are so different in this way, because I feel so intensely, off-the-charts grateful for everything I have. And I realized that the answer exists in these two black and white, Heaven and earth 19-year cycles of my life.

My friend, who grew up in a religious Israeli family, knew from the time she dressed up as a bride for Purim at the age of 4 that she would get married, have kids, have a religious home, live in Israel. It wasn’t even something she KNEW, it’s just what was.

But I know that if G-d hadn’t picked me up out of the LL Bean catalog I was living in by the scruff of my neck at the age of 20 and dropped me in Israel, that today I would be another sad American statistic: intermarried, first of 2.2 children born when I was 35, daycare every day from 8 AM to 6 PM, and a home with a dusty Menorah sitting on the same mantel as the Christmas stockings hang from. And wondering, on the rare occasions that I have a moment to think, why I feel such terrible emptiness in my life. Why I feel such a sense of loss when I have lost nothing, or at least nothing I am aware of.

So today, on my 38th birthday, I want to publicly thank G-d for everything. For my husband. For my children, For my home. For Israel. For this good and holy life I’ve been given.

I know, I really do, that things totally didn’t have to turn out this way. And they nearly didn’t.

So, I just wanted to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU (with a capital “Y”).


  1. Thank you for the good wishes in your e-mail to all us Moms. There is something nice about a birthday that makes one feel full of love, and we feel it overflowing from you.

    I also had a birthday this month. It was a good birthday, with a feeling of tremendous gratitude for the things in my life – my wonderful husband, and my great kids, and having the zchut to live in my own apartment in Yerushalayim.

    Happy Birthday to YOU! May your life be filled with fulfillment, holiness and nachas.

  2. Hadassah Aber

    Mazal Tov! thanks for all the blessings. May your next 19 year cycle be overflowing with additional blessings so that you can enjoy this stage as well. Believe it or not kids grow up, marry, leave home, etc. Be ready to let go and let them soar!

  3. yehudis chana

    Mazal tov on your birthday! Thank you so very much for your inspired insights! May Hashem bless you today and always with everything you need to create the life you desire–to 120 and beyond…

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