| Personal Accounts |

In His Shelter

In the anguish, in the longing, in the loneliness — He is holding us in His Shelter. Three encounters

Ride On

By Shira Fein



rev Rosh Hashanah, preparing for all eventualities, I call Kav Halachah. “I have a kid who takes many baths to calm down. He has a lot of issues.” Issues is code word. If the rav wants, I’ll explain. Easier not to get into it.

“Yes? Can you speak up? The line’s not so clear.”

“Can he have a bath on Rosh Hashanah?”

“On Rosh Hashanah?”

“Yes. He goes into the bath a few times a day. It regulates him.”

“Let me get this straight. You want to put your kid onto a bus on Rosh Hashanah to calm him down? You’re not going to find a single posek who will let your kid ride a bus on Rosh Hashanah.”

A bus? What?

“I said a BATH. A BATHTUB. WATER. Can he go into the BATHTUB on Rosh Hashanah.”

“Oh. Sure. No problem.”

I hang up the phone and begin to laugh. Then I’m filled with outrage — what rav would think I want to put my kid on a bus on Rosh Hashanah, “issues” or not? And then I am filled with despair because after meltdown after meltdown, when my house is half-destroyed, and I’m half-insane, a bus on Rosh Hashanah sounds like quite an attractive option.

Along with CARS (now GARS) and ADOS and ADI-R, not to mention scrutinizing the guidelines of the DSM-V, I’ve always thought that there should be another criteria for diagnosing children on the autistic spectrum. Doc should put aside her papers and go through the calendar. Around the year with autism.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 663)


By Chaya Leeder



never liked Succos.

Though I grew up in a Conservative home, we still celebrated the Jewish holidays, and Succos was no exception. With concrete blocks and wooden boards bought from Home Depot, and white sheets to drape over the walls, my father built a beautiful structure, erecting each part with care.

My job was to attach the tens of New Year cards, some yellowing and stiff with age, around the middle boards with push pins. Even more exciting was when I was allowed to climb up on the rickety metal ladder to hang colorful gourds and homemade paper chains from the ceiling.

However, the minute we all congregated in the succah on the first night to say Kiddush, my enjoyment ended. Before each meal, I strongly advocated to stay indoors. A few drops of rain? The food will get ruined! A particularly breezy night? We’ll catch cold! I didn’t like the bugs, the temperamental climate, the cramped quarters, the sticky plastic chair I had to peel off my legs every time I stood up.

My mother would often invite people to eat with us, and as we had one of the only private succahs within a five-mile radius, it was often filled to (or beyond) capacity.

I didn’t understand why we couldn’t celebrate Succos in central air. Still, at the end of the holiday — spent curled up on the couch, glancing at the succah through the picture window — I always felt sad and a little regretful, wondering if I should’ve given it a chance.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 663)

Lego House

By Toby Schorr



aring for our incredibly, incredibly, incredibly — okay, did I emphasize that enough? — medically complex child makes me feel like we’re trying to build a house out of Lego.

It’s a really sophisticated Lego house, with three floors and a kitchen and bedrooms and all sorts of neat little details you don’t expect to find in a Lego house.

But at the end of the day, it’s made out of Lego. And Lego was never made to live in.

A Lego house can come crashing down on you. Living in one means never really being able to relax, always alert to the slightest sign of a piece being knocked out of place, so you can quickly replace it before the whole thing falls in on your head.

Sometimes I just want to scream, “Houses are supposed to be made of bricks! They’re supposed to stay in place forever, or for a very long time at least! You’re not supposed to go to bed wondering if your house will still be standing in the morning!”

Today was Huvi’s first full day in her new preschool and her first day coming back with the teacher who’s going to be accompanying her home. My husband went along for the ride, and when they got to our house, Morah Sari told me she was so grateful my husband had come for the first day. She described what it was like to get our (it wouldn’t be fair to say spoiled little brat, this isn’t her fault, so let’s say our very high-maintenance little girl) into the car.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 663)

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