Posts tagged " Vancouver "

Private Property vs. Community Health

September 6th, 2016 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

In some cities, like Vancouver, British Columbia and Jerusalem, Israel, we have noticed that a significant percentage of apartments and condos in many buildings are vacant most of the year. In the former example, they tend to be owned by Chinese investors as an ’emergency refuge.’ In the latter case, they tend to be owned by Americans and Europeans who occupy them for holidays and vacations. In both cities, entire neighborhoods (more…)


Thirty-two Hours and Twenty-Five Years

July 5th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 2 comments

The younger children in our family occasionally went on “run-aways”. Their second oldest sister, Rena, would take them out, one at a time for a few hours, boarding a bus for our small city’s four-block downtown area. There, they would wander around carefree, leaving chores and schoolwork behind. Each journey included a stop at the ice cream shop and bead store; other venues were optional. As the afternoon ended the girls would return home ready to get back to their responsibilities.

My husband and I just went on our own “run-away”. For thirty-two hours we left work entirely behind and drove to Vancouver, British Columbia. Our first trip to Vancouver was back in 1986, when our eldest child was five and we had not yet met our youngest few children. That summer boating trip established the coastal waters of British Columbia and the Canadian Gulf Islands as our vacation destination of choice. Whenever we could, we returned, often spending Shabbat plus a few more days in Vancouver. For those lucky Vancouverites, life probably has its normal worries and stresses, but for us, the city is wrapped in an escapist glow

Recently with barely more than a day at our disposal, my husband and I were attracted to the city as powerfully as a child is to the first ice cream truck coming down the street in summer. Arriving late at night, we eagerly anticipated what we knew had to be the next morning’s first activity. Biking around the Stanley Park seawall beckoned. Renting bicycles for two seemed ridiculously easy compared to all those years when we rented twelve for our own family and the single friends accompanying us on our trip. As we eased onto the park’s path, my husband and I began two hours of cycling which spanned twenty-five years of memories.

Vancouver’s physical beauty is awe-inspiring. Blue water and majestic tree-filled mountains proclaim God’s creative powers and recalled our thrill as parents sharing these blessing with our children. Each landmark we passed – the 10 o’clock cannon, the beaches peeking out as the tide withdrew, the children’s water park complete with a kids’ dryer – evoked memories of years past. Riding under Lion’s Gate Bridge reminded us of many a Friday when we timed our boat’s arrival to coincide with slack tide at the narrow entrance to Vancouver Harbour, dough for the Shabbat challah rising in the galley.

We passed the turn-off to the aquarium where our family had participated in an after-hours’ sleepover, dozing feet away from the killer whales’ whooshing circuits.  Our children grew along with the belugas, otters and seals, many of whom they greeted with recognition as we pre-paid admission on Friday so that we could spend long Shabbat afternoon hours in their presence.

Beyond the harbor lay cities, bays and islands whose names stir up countless joyous memories. Ganges, Keats Island, Plumper Cove, Telegraph Harbour, Tod Inlet…these were the places where our children learned to sail and swim, to gaze transfixed at huge starfish, to thrill at the sight of a wild orca. Here they grew to feel capable and competent as they navigated the waters, reading charts and coping with tidal variations, currents and the ever occurring unexpected. Here is where concentrated and isolated time in a small, floating space cemented our family bonds.

As we continued biking, leaving the park and heading to False Creek, the two of us were accompanied not only by recollections of our children, but of the several single young women from our synagogue who used to sail with us, providing much needed extra pairs of hands and eyes.  We spent long summer evenings discussing marriage and family with these girls.  One has just welcomed a second grandchild with the husband whose visit on board we orchestrated hoping that romance would blossom, and the other, along with her own husband and seven children, was hosting our youngest as she settled into a new job in Southern California.

Sometimes, life’s to-do lists seem overwhelming. I am overflowing with gratitude to God for my thirty-two hour “run-away” with my husband during which we recalled so many blessings He has granted us over the years, not least of which are blissful surroundings He created that nourish our souls.




Marathon Maturity

May 4th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet


It is possible that that some people do not consider a pyramid of bright yellow sulfur to be an attractive sight. But for our family, that view always evokes nostalgic smiles and wistful sighs. You see, along with heavy seaplane traffic and the striking architecture of the Vancouver Convention Centre, the miniature mountain of sulfur always signaled to our family that our boat had passed beneath the Lion’s Gate Bridge and was approaching  our Coal Harbour dock, one of our favourite boating destinations (we even get into the British spelling as you can see).

This past Friday, my husband and I arrived in Vancouver by car rather than by boat, but even so we both felt our spirits lift as we caught sight of the familiar landmark across the harbour.  We had come to Vancouver as the cheering squad for our daughter Miriam, who would compete in her first marathon on Sunday. Aside from the achievement of running the 26 mile course in an amazing four and a half hours despite almost constant rain, she and her teammates also raised over a million dollars for Leukemia/Lymphoma research.  I was delighted that so many of you supported her efforts.  Thank you.

Over the years, our family hasn’t been very typically American in our children’s sports activities. We had a few summers of T-ball and soccer day camp when the kids were younger and a basketball season or two during high school.  But our lives never revolved around Little League or driving kids to and from games and practices. Our children’s physical pursuits tended to be more informal neighborhood games, individual endeavors like snow-boarding and the family passion of boating.  Parental cheering squads just weren’t often needed.

One reason we weren’t into team sports was that we live in an area with only a small population of Sabbath-observing Jews.  Most games were scheduled for Friday night and Saturdays, which our children learned effectively ruled out their participation. One year our son did find a basketball team that played only on weekdays.  However, to his disappointment, their final championship game fell on the night of Purim, the Feast of Esther, and he went to synagogue rather than to the gym. 

Last November, when Miriam decided she wanted to run a marathon and to train with the well-known Team in Training, the fund raising arm of the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, she discovered that training was scheduled for Saturdays and Tuesday nights. At that point, had it been me, I would have shrugged and looked for a pottery course instead. But Miriam explained to the coaches that she could not attend the Saturday runs on account of Shabbat and found friends with whom she could run on Sunday instead.

That was one of the ways in which she balanced being part of the group and following her faith.  Another was that on this past Saturday, while her team members spent the day before the race touring Vancouver, she and we enjoyed the Sabbath in our hotel. We lit the candles on Friday evening and spent the long sunny Saturday attending worship service, enjoying our Shabbat meals and strolling the busy harbour front to view our beloved snow-clad mountains, the seaplanes and ships, and of course the yellow sulfur stack.

Since the official pre-race pasta party, intended to assist carbohydrate loading, was both on the Sabbath and did not involve kosher food, we brought pasta salad from home for Miriam to eat in our room on Saturday night.  With all the issues that cropped up for a religious Jewish participant, her team members were always understanding and helpful.  Until Sunday night after the race was over.  That was when most of the runners enjoyed a rambunctious party featuring a great deal of the alcohol they had to refrain from in the weeks leading up to the race.  They were sure that beer was kosher and were puzzled by our daughter not participating.

Finishing a marathon is a great achievement; living with integrity is an even greater one. Well done, Miriam!



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