The Birthday Gifts I Got Today

The Birthday Gifts I Got Today

I’ve been religious and living in Israel for 23 years now. But some things are hard to let go of.

Like making the switch from Jenny to Chana, which I did only last year. And like moving over from celebrating my December 29th birthday to the 11th of Tevet, which happened a few years ago.

But this year, something unusual took place. I celebrated my birthday twice because my parents were in Israel on December 29th, so we decided to make my family birthday party that day. Cake. Balloons. Presents. The works.

And today, the 11th of Tevet, I celebrated my birthday again. Just for me: a more spiritual, inward day to contemplate my life.

And today, my Hebrew birthday, Hashem sent me a few more presents…

I received the first gift last night, when I was listening to my USB collection of my favorite CDs, and out of the hundreds of songs on it, the one that came up was a song that my dear friend and learning partner, Efrat Razel, wrote for me for my 40th birthday 5 years ago. It’s about trusting in Hashem at really dark times, and she wrote it for me because at that time the darkness in our neighborhood felt so thick we couldn’t see any possible way out of it (click here to see that post from 5 years ago, with translated lyrics).

And what a gift to hear that song, and remember that darkness, while standing in our new home in our new neighborhood, where (even though I do miss many special, old, dear friends) my family feels so much safer and happier. Like a birthing woman who, after hours of nearly unbearable contractions, has her pain replaced suddenly and completely with the joy of a new life.

And another birthday present I received this birthday… Last night, after I heard that song, I went to the Kotel. And I davened like Henny Machlis used to (which I learned in the new book about her). Just like Henny, I praised Hashem for the impossibly intricate and beautiful world He created. And I thanked Him for all the blessings in my life (tears streaming down). And I asked Him for the things and help I need from Him. And I left the Kotel feeling so happy, like I had REALLY prayed, really connected. Not just read the words and gone home, wondering why it had felt so blah and flat again.

And another birthday present… Last night at the Kotel I was thinking about my Elul plan, the plan of yearly goals that all Rabbi Nivin students write up before every Rosh Hashana, and decided to make some changes. So this morning, I found the original file for my Elul plan on my computer, and made the changes, and printed it up again. And when I read my Elul plan over again, I noticed one goal at the end that looked unfamiliar. And I realized that for the last few months, I have been using an incomplete Elul plan which was missing the last line. And that last line was about how to make even more awesome! So, now that I’ve found it, get ready, JewishMOM;)…

And the final birthday present was that right before I sat down to write this post I realized that I forgot to put my 1st grader, Tsofia’s, lunch in her backpack. I thought I would have to run over to the school instead of writing this up… But when I called Tsofia’s teacher, she told me not to worry, she would take care of making her something to eat.

Which means I got to write up this birthday post for you JewishMOMs, and take this opportunity to bless you and your families with health, shalom bayit, parnasa, nachat, and a year full of good news and everything good!

And it means I have an opportunity to thank you, dear JewishMOM, for reading my writing all year long, and accompanying me through the ups and downs of my life. My virtual companion and valued friend.


  1. May you have all the brachot you are wishing for your readers. Happy Birthday.

  2. dear chana jenny
    may you be blessed with everything good, only revealed good, for this year and always
    may you have everything you want, everything you need, and everything you don’t even know that you need in abundance!

    thank you for inspiring us daily, for giving us a JewishMoms a voice…
    good health, parnassa b’harchavah, nachas from your children and grandchildren..

    much love!

    • amen, and thank you tamar for being one of my most loyal and long-time readers!!

  3. Dear Chana Jenny, may your deepest desires be met in Hashem. Happy Birthday! How can we ever thank you for the gifts you give to us all through the year? Today we celebrate YOU and your life and your work. May blessings abound for you. I love what you wrote about your time at the Kotel. If I could go there . . . ever . . . my heart would burst with thanks to Him. I could cry buckets of tears just pondering such a thought. Chana Jenny – you are MUCH-LOVED.

  4. Happy birthday! This website is always my go-to for chizuk. Hashem should bless you with all good.

  5. Happy Birthday! May you have a shnat brocha vihatzlocha bigashmius uviuruchnius, gam yochad!

  6. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Thank you for giving us Moms and Grandmas much to ponder and inspiration to add another thought, action, feeling, awareness of our beauty, potential and Love from Hashem.
    May you be Blessed till 120 years.

  7. Dear dear chana jenny, may Hashem bless you always with amon amin nahat from your wondeful family,may He grant you with vibrant health,shalom bayis,parnassa tova and a long life to all those you love!happy birthday and may we celebrate with you many birthdays on j!with live and gratitude ann

  8. mazel tov! wishing you brocha, hatzlocha,good health. and much nachas from your lovely family, and your family.

  9. Janet Waller

    Dear Chana Jenny,
    Happy Birthday! Mazal Tov! Thank you for this website, for sharing your wise, authentic, loving words and your love for Hashem and for our people. May Hashem grant you bracho and hatzlocha, good health, nachas from your children, and koach to continue your good works, and all good.

  10. Mazel tov and ad 120! There was a nice frum couple living in your house in Nachlaot before you bought it. The wife shared with me one day that it was her birthday, and that she celebrates both Hebrew and secular. In the secular, she buys gifts for herself (she called it the “Selfish” birthday) and on the Hebrew date she chooses some chesed to do. I don’t remember other women talking about this distinction between the two dates, and find it interesting that the two women who did used to live in that house.

  11. Mazal tov ad 120 iyh!! All the berachos.

  12. HI! Happy Birthday! I’ve been visiting your blog since the beginning ( or almost) and I feel like I know you! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read something you wrote or heard something you said that just spoke to me or made me feel like I’m “not the only one” on a crazy day.
    May Hashem continue to grant you the strength and wellness to inspire yourself, your family and US!
    Ad 120!

  13. What a wonderful and special way to celebrate your ‘real’ birthday. I like to call the other one a solar birthday! May the brochos that previous comments wished you all be fulfilled for good in a revealed way! Thanks for continuing to inspire us. Your birthday is Hashem’s way of saying the world is not complete without you in it. It is a wonderful time to review life and make ‘hachlotot’ (resolutions) for the upcoming year. Much Hatzlocha!

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