Our Kids Abroad in Yisrael. At a time of year when most families come together to celebrate–when siblings slide back into their comfy childhood roles and when cousins, who may not live in the same neighborhood, reconnect and enjoy quality time together–those women whose families are divided by thousands of miles and across the Atlantic Ocean are often overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, pain, and even abandonment. They dream of having their family under one roof. They miss their children and grandchildren living abroad. And yet, if they make the decision to take the trip overseas to spend the holiday with these children, invariably other offspring, elderly parents, and extended family will be left behind.

Moms whose children live abroad are often emotionally drained, frequently juggling–responsibilities, schedules, finances, their attention. These are the women who find camaraderie and strength in a new networking group recently formed at the Marion and Aaron Gural JCC called O.K.A.Y.–Our Kids Abroad in Yisrael.

O.K.A.Y. was launched last month at the JCC to meet a growing need in our community. As more of our children discover that the love we as parents instilled in them for EretzYisrael is a thirst that can only be quenched by a commitment to living in the land of milk and honey, we are seeing a noticeable trend in newly married couples, young families, and even singles making that bold move to establish a home in the Holy Land. As one mother openly stated at the initial O.K.A.Y. meeting in February, “We gave our children a genuine love of Israel, we prayed that we would raise them to become independent adults, but when they actually pick up and move there we are devastated.”

Although each woman who found her way to the O.K.A.Y. meeting had a different “story,” the frustrations and sentiments shared by the group were familiar to all. “Most of us are proud of our children, some of us are even convinced that they are doing the right thing. We are excited for them as they embark on this new chapter in their lives, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy,” said another O.K.A.Y. mom.

The purpose of the group is not to complain or feel angry–although who better than another mom in a similar situation to understand those needs?–but to share experiences, lean on one another, offer advice, and exchange practical tips and resources. For example, shipping packages to Israel in a reliable, reasonable method is a subject looking to be explored.

If you are a mom whose children live in Israel or know someone who is, mark the date of the next O.K.A.Y. meeting–Monday, March 7, 7:00 p.m. at the Marion and Aaron Gural JCC at 207 Grove Avenue in Cedarhurst. The group would love for you to join in this heartwarming yet heart-wrenching journey we share. Call Rachayle Deutsch to register or for more information, or e-mail rachayle.deutsch@guraljcc.org.

The Marion and Aaron Gural JCC is a beneficiary agency of UJA-Federation of New York, a member agency of the United Way of Long Island, and an affiliate of the Five Towns Community Chest.

Family Bingo Night. Sunday, March 6, 5:00—7:00 p.m. Pizza, salad, drinks, and dessert will be served at this bingo night. Prizes for all winners. $18 per family. Includes one bingo card. Additional cards can be purchased for $5 each. Registration is required! To register or for more information, please call the JCC, 516-569-6733.

Student-to-Student Peer Tutoring/Homework Help Program for Elementary and Middle-School Students.Thursday, March 3, 17, 31; 6:30—7:30 p.m., at the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC, 207 Grove Avenue in Cedarhurst. Free of charge. Taught by local high-school students (grades 9—12). Male and female tutors are available. For further information, contact David Weingarten at 516-569-6733, ext. 215 or david.weingarten@guraljcc.org.

NYSDMV-Certified Defensive Driving Class. Chaverim of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway and the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC are cohosting this easy way to get up to four points off your license and 10% off your insurance costs for 3 full years. There are no tests, and the class itself is not difficult. Cost: $60. Advance signup and payment is required, as there are limited spaces. http://chaverim5t.org/defensive-driving-class-sign-up-2016/

LIFE: Long Island Friends Experience Recreational Program for Adults with Disabilities. The group meets one Sunday a month, and two Monday evenings a month at the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC, 207 Grove Avenue, Cedarhurst. Questions? Want to register? Want to know what time to schedule Able Ride to pick you up? Please contact David Weingarten at david.weingarten@guraljcc.org or 516-569-6733, ext. 215.

The J.E & Z.B. Butler Foundation Sponsors JCC Adult Singles with Disabilities Group. Monday, March 7, 7:00—9:00 p.m., Exercise and Art with Mary. Refreshments will be served. (No dinner.) Fee: $5. Monday, March 21, 7:00—9:00 p.m., Spring Fling. Wear your favorite spring hat and dancing shoes. Dinner and dancing with DJ Gary. Fee: $8.

Designing a Mezuzah Cover with Ofra Levin. Enjoy a relaxing pastime while mastering an original wire-work skill that will allow you to create a unique mezuzah cover that you will cherish forever or give as a beautiful and meaningful gift. Join this wire-wrapping mezuzah workshop using a glass tube and your choice of wire from a wide variety of colors and sizes. Decorate with freshwater pearls, semiprecious stones, and shiny crystals. Tuesday, March 8, 7:00—9:00 p.m. at the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC, 207 Grove Avenue in Cedarhurst. $40; registration a must! Call or e-mail Rachayle Deutsch to reserve your spot.

Songs of Israel: Reflections of a People with Debbie Eisikowitz. In this interactive three-part series we will listen to, analyze, and sing a varied selection of ShireiYisrael, mindful of the time-bound messages they convey. The series will include a Neshima Chamber Ensemble performance of relevant works. Three Tuesday mornings; March 8, 15, 22; 11:00 a.m.—12:15 p.m.; $15 for the series. Held at the Music Room at Temple Israel, 140 Central Avenue in Lawrence. Please enter from the back parking lot. To register, call or e-mail Rachayle Deutsch.

Woman’s Shiur with Michal Horowitz. Pirkei Avos: Wisdom of Our Fathers: Timeless guidance for turbulent times. Tuesdays, March 8, April 5, and May 10, 11:30 a.m.—12:30 p.m., $40 for the three series or $15 per class. To register for the series, call Rachayle Deutsch.

“Cooking with the Elements” with Chef Naomi Ross. Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m.—1:00 p.m. $165 for the series/$60 per class. Call or e-mail Rachayle Deutsch to register.

March 9 — Wind. Air is fleeting unless you trap it. Learn how to give rise and air to the perfect sponge, airy soufflé, and perfectly steamed dumplings.

April 6 — Earth. “Salt of the earth,” one of the basic elements that can cure, preserve, pickle, and season. Don’t miss this Pesach-friendly class.

May 18 — Water. Water spawns life. It also enables us to make glorious pasta dishes, creamy polenta, and soul-restoring soups. Harness the power of water and learn some fabulous dairy dishes just in time for Shavuot!

Clean Eating with Rivka Fuchs.Thursdays 3:00—4:00 p.m. (Immediately following Zumba Gold–no fee for both.)

March 10. Have you ever dieted and failed? Learn how small changes create greater success.

March 17. The Sugar Blues. Can just cutting out sugar lead to a significant health improvement and weight loss? To register, call or e-mail Rachayle Deutsch.


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