My Enchroma Experience

Following my highly successful GoFundMe campaign, thanks to the incredibly generous contributions from friends and family, I received a pair of Enchroma glasses in the middle of August. Here’s a summary of my experience:

When I first got the glasses I went with Rivkah, the kids, and several of my close friends to a park near my house. The park has many different play items, all with varied and bright colors. With great anticipation and excitement I put on the glasses and looked around. At first there didn’t seem to be much of a difference. I continued to walk around and look around and I slowly started to see some changes. I noticed a bright, light-purple pole which previously had looked more like a sky-blue. I noticed that the grass looked a bit greener. All in all though things looked pretty much unchanged.

I’ve been wearing the glasses now for 2 months and I think my eyes took some time to learn what they were seeing. The first thing that really blew my mind was when I looked at a traffic light and, to my shock, saw that it was a very deep green; probably close to grass color. Previously the green traffic lights have looked like a pale green, almost white. Then, maybe a week or two later I was walking my kids to school and noticed some stunning purple flowers on a tree. Without the glasses they were still purple, but definitely not stunning. I stopped and stared at them for a full minute.

Overall, greens look sharper. Purples are vibrant, there are a couple more colors which stand out, but overall the world is unchanged. To get a bit technical, there are three different types of lenses to choose from and I opted for the Cx-25 medium sunglass lens instead of the Cx-14 standard sunglasses. I had hoped that they would work indoors at least slightly, but they sadly don’t. If I had the chance to exchange them for the full sunglass lenses I most likely would. I don’t know if that would make the experience better for me, but if given the choice between these lenses and nothing, I’d probably get them again.

Well, that’s my review. Not as exciting as I thought they’d be, but definitely cool and better than nothing. I don’t think I’d buy them again at a $650 price tag, but if you’ve got the money and you are colorblind, I’d recommend trying them out. They’re fully refundable within 30 days, even for customized lenses. So it’s definitely worth a shot.

Hope this review helps anyone who is colorblind and looking into these.


Please Help Bring Color to My Life

I have been colorblind all my life. I've heard all the jokes, been asked countless times what color things are, and changed my career path goals a few times based on my colorblindness. Growing up I couldn't even dream of being an Air Force pilot because I knew my colorblindness wouldn't even allow me to try. In college I dropped out my graphic design degree program because the colorblindness was too high a barrier to climb. Even today, working on the computer all day, I have moments all day long when I struggle to determine what colors I am seeing on the screen. It may not impact me in a severe way anymore, but I'm reminded on a daily basis by little things throughout the day that I have an impediment, and that I just don't see colors they way others do.

I recently discovered that there is now a company called Enchroma which sells glasses specifically to correct colorblindness, and the type of colorblindness I have is the ideal candidate for these glasses. When I watched their promotional video, and then some videos that people made when they used these glasses for the first time, video 1 video 2 , I cried. I cried because for the first time in my life I had hope that maybe there is a way for me to see the world the way everyone else sees it.

I started a campaign on GoFundMe to help me raise money for these glasses. You can find the campaign and contribute here.
The glasses are $520 before taxes and shipping. After all is said and done they will probably cost close to $650. I'm calling on all of you who have joked along with me at my colorblindness all these years to help me with my quest to see colors normally for the first time in my life. I really appreciate it!


We're All One Big Family

Early on Monday morning this week a fire broke out in an apartment not far from my home in Givat Shmuel. In the course of a few hours a family with 4 young children lost their home and everything in it. Clothing, appliances, pictures, toys... you name it, they lost it. Thankfully they all survived and are recovering from their injuries in a hospital.

The thing that blew me away is that the community has banded together and gotten collections for a new apartment for them (along with furniture), clothing, toys, and other basic needs.

The thing that really blew me away happened outside of the community. I sent an email to all of my coworkers asking for clothing and toy donations. Someone immediately came to me with a pair of shorts (don't worry, they weren't the ones he wore to work) and the next day I got emails from several coworkers that they have some things they'll bring in for the collection. One person even told me that they are organizing a collection on their Moshav! A few hours later someone came to my desk, opened their wallet and peeled off five 200 shekel bills for the collection! These people don't even know the family! I don't even know the family!!!
This was all the stuff I collected from work, plus 1000 shekels
One thing I've learned about this beautiful country and it's amazing citizens is that we all live in celebration and tragedy together. We may yell, scream and fight amongst ourselves, but it's just because we love each other like brothers and sisters do.


We're Moving

No, not back to America. Sorry to disappoint some of you. We aren't going far actually. Not nearly as far as our last move. 

When we moved to Givat Shmuel we agreed to give it a year to see if we liked it and we'd reevaluate towards the end of the year and start looking elsewhere if we weren't happy. We couldn't have found a better city. In the last 10 months we've made an incredible number of incredible friends. Our kids have found their place in the school system and made friends of their own. Rivkah and I have both found jobs which we love, and which love us back.

So 10 months in, we've made our decision. We are going to stick around here for a while. And we've found a home to suit us for a long time to come. It's a four bedroom home with room for a guest room, our library, and plenty of space for us to host guests from here and abroad for visits, parties, game nights and everything in between. 

We've found our home. We hope you will come and visit. Our doors are ever open to you. 


The Reflection Before The Party

Thursday is Independence Day. You can feel it in the air already that everyone is preparing to have a great day of fun. Some are going to the beach. Some are traveling to family and friends. Pretty much everyone is going to have a barbecue. But first...first we will have a day of solemn reflection.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. When I lived in the United States, Memorial Day usually was a time to reflect on my grandfather who passed away from cancer which came as a result of radiation poisoning in the Navy. I would think of the men and women who served and fell in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan while serving our nation.

On Thursday the state of Israel will turn 67 years old. However there are 67 people who will not be taking part in the celebration. These are the 67 soldiers who fell in battle while protecting me and my family as rockets fell from the skies and air raid sirens wailed at all times of day and night. This year I will be remembering those young soldiers who fought to protect MY life. The lives of my family members. Of my friends here in the land of Israel.

I didn't know any of these people personally, but I'm not kidding myself. A friend of mine was in Gaza last summer and the soldier next to him was critically wounded. Move a few feet over and a friend of mine could have lost his life.

In her blog post earlier today, my friend Romi wrote about her experience moving to Israel during the Intifada in 2001. She felt, as I do, that it wasn't even a question. Yes our enemies are right here, in our faces. Yes things can get hot and scary and dangerous. But who am I to sit on the sidelines and watch? I believe with all my heart that Israel has a right to continue to exist as a Jewish state. What better way to make that statement than to raise my children as Jews who keep, respect, and understand Torah values, here in the Jewish state of Israel?

On Thursday I can party. Tomorrow, I'll remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom.

May HaShem console all those who are mourning the loss of family and friends. I simply cannot imagine the pain.


As the Siren Sounds

I walk into a room at work with the intent of finding out the progress of a project from one of my developers. I barely have the words out of my mouth when everyone in the room stands and closes their eyes.

In the distance, the siren winds up.

The siren blares.

It keeps going, loud and clear. 10 seconds...20...30...

60 seconds later the siren winds down.

The siren ends.

I wipe my eyes.

The conversation continues.


When I moved to Israel last summer, I was very quickly introduced to the sirens. I was in the parking lot at the grocery store. I didn't know what I was hearing. Someone shouted at me to run for cover. It was followed by a distant explosion. Over the course of the next month I was treated to many more such experiences...

At home in the middle of the day, we'd scoop the kids up and head to the stairwell to wait for the last explosion.

In the park, we threw the kids into the stroller and ran for the nearest building, seeking cover with other trembling parents and other scared and crying children.

In the middle of the night, we woke the kids up and again ran to the stairwell, hoping the kids would go back to sleep nicely once the coast was clear.

So now, even though I was totally prepared for the coming siren, it still caught me off guard. This was the first time I just stood and listened. Today the siren was sounded to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Right now there is a survivor speaking to my coworkers about his experiences. The reason I cried was not out of sadness. While the siren was blaring I found myself smiling. I was thinking about how lucky I am to live in a country that is so vibrant, thriving, successful; a country which is so small and yet is recognized as a global leader in innovation, technology, ethics, military. Israel is tiny. Her population is a drop in the bucket compared to so many other countries. And yet she is so large. In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, "speak softly, and carry a big stick." Well, I can't honestly say I've ever heard an Israeli speak softly, but Israel carries a big stick.

Next week is Israeli Independence Day. So much has happened in the last 67 years and it is amazing to look back and see how far this country has come. Today, we remember those who fell at the hands of Hitler and the Nazi's, but next week we will celebrate those men, women and children who escaped his evil, came to Israel, and laid the foundation for the country I live in today. As the song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang goes, "Up from the ashes grow the roses of success." This is quite literal. From the ashes of Nazi Europe, to the successful and thriving country we have today.

For now, the sound of the siren still reminds us of fear. I hope to be blessed enough to see a day when our enemies tremble at the sound of the sirens, as we walk in peace and harmony.

Never forget.


A Bittersweet Wedding, A New Chapter Begins

"It takes a village to raise a child"

This resonates with me, not in the sense that everyone in my "village" helped to raise me, but that I can point to many people along the way in my life who have contributed to who I am today. Besides for my parents who played an obvious leading role, there are many other "parents" of mine who I've looked to time and time again for guidance and love. Some came and went, and some have been there for as long as I can remember.

One of the constants in my life was Stella Frankl. Many of you who have read my blog know that Stella's battle with cancer affected me deeply, and when she passed away last year it was devastating. I felt like I had lost a mother of mine. She was a constant symbol in my life of peace, tranquility, a successful Olah to Israel, and so many more things. I distinctly remember unsuccessfully trying to keep my emotions in check at work on the day she passed away and of breaking down at my desk at the end of the day and just letting the tears flow freely.

Over the past year, as I've watched Yarden, Max, Miriam, Rivka, and Yedidya pick up the pieces, I've tried to do so myself. It's not been an easy task, especially with making Aliyah this year. When Rivkah and I came to Israel on vacation in 2012 while Stella was in remission. I had the opportunity to spend some time talking to her one-on-one and I told her that we were serious about making Aliyah in the near future and she told me that she'd be there to meet our flight. I was so excited to be able to share my Aliyah experience with someone who had inspired me so much and was one of the main role models I had for doing it. That conversation was one of our last talks and it's something that sticks with me to this day.

It has been especially exciting to see Yarden picking up the pieces and meeting his now new wife Gilly, who went through a similar experience as Yarden's, and I had the privilege of attending their wedding in Bat Ayin on Thursday night. It was actually the second time I had been to one of Yarden's weddings (I was in attendance when he and Stella got re-married after her conversion). I have to be honest that the celebratory mood did not come easily for me. During the dancing I fluctuated between extreme happiness (how couldn't I? Yarden looked so ecstatic) and stepping outside to let out some tears. I even called my father back in the States and we talked for a while about the good old days in Potomac.

Despite the tough emotions that I was facing, I think I've hit a turning point though. I still miss Stella every day, just like everyone else she touched and affected during her lifetime. But during the wedding I could feel her presence there, and I could feel her approval. I felt like Yarden and Gilly were including her in the celebration. I didn't feel like she was being packaged up and put into a dusty box on the shelf. Yarden has left no doubt in anyones minds that Stella wasn't just a phase in his life, a chapter that he's left behind. And on Thursday, as he started a new chapter with Gilly, Stella was there along with all of us, helping us write the first few sentences and putting her stamp of approval on the page.

I hope that Yarden and Gilly share many great years together. It's truly amazing that they found each other and their love and joy was abundantly clear.


My 2015 Reading Goal

I've always been a reader. When I was in elementary school we had an annual 600 minute reading challenge and whoever logged the full 10 hours got a free ticket to 6 Flags. I regularly doubled up the goal with 20 hours. I've Harry Potter books 4-7 within 48 hours of obtaining a copy (some withing 24 hours).

When I got married, and more-so when Yaeli was born, I stopped finding the time to read. It was very difficult for me and weighed on my mind constantly. If I found time to read I would get a few pages in and then fall asleep. I was reading at a rate of about 1 book every month or two, if that.

I found Goodreads.com around April last year and signed up for the reading challenge to push myself to finish 20 books in 2014. It came down to the final week of the year but I completed my goal. I couldn't have felt better. I decided that since I only started tracking my progress in late April, I could probably fit more books in for this year.

So, for 2015 I've set myself a goal of 30 books. It's a modest pace of 2.5 books per month. I think I should be able to hit that goal, and in fact I've already finished 3 and January isn't over yet. I do have some very long books on my list so I'm not getting too cocky about my progress.

What I really love, though, is that having this challenge is pushing me to put my phone away on the bus and instead of wasting my time on FaceBook for 40 minutes (twice a day), I'm spending that time reading a book. I've finally become happy and comfortable with the amount of time I have to read and I'm really looking forward to not just reaching my goal but of hopefully overshooting it.


The Importance of Every Encounter

In case you haven't heard of the app called Timehop, It's a nifty little app that looks back at your history on connected social mediums (FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram...) and every day it shows you your posts from that day in history. For me it's usually pictures of my kids, tales about sporting events, or something to do with Rivkah. Nothing that's ever really made me stop and think.

Today, my brother Matty posted this picture:
At a glance, this is just a reminder that a year ago he was in Israel for the first time and experiencing what the country had to offer. However, if you know Matty, you know that this is the night he met his now-wife Zoe, in a chance encounter.

When I saw this post I couldn't help but think about how often we meet new people, or even interact with people we are familiar with, and just have no clue what kind of impact we will have on the other person. If we could each look a year ahead at our Timehops and see what has happened in the year to come, how might we approach our everyday interactions with other people? Will the passenger I cut in front of to get onto a bus end up being a coworker some day? In Matty's case, will the person he had a chance encounter with in a bar thousands of miles away from home end up being his wife? What if he'd said something that wasn't so nice? How different could his year and his life have been?

Matty was given a rare blessing to be reminded a year later of a chance encounter from the past. Hopefully it can remind all of us to think twice when we talk to others and to think about what your actions now might effect down the line.


A Secret Whispered, A Dream Realized

One year ago, on a freezing cold New Years Eve in Downtown Pittsburgh, Rivkah and I were spending the evening taking in the new year with two of our best friends. We went to several shows, including a great performance from River City Brass, our first trip to the Arcade Comedy Theater, a browse through Amazing Books, and drinks at the Fairmont Hotel. We even got to see Marc-Andre Fleury, who did NOT seem to appreciate that I recognized him (and maybe chased him a little to wish him a happy New Year).

At around 11:50, as the countdown ticked closer to midnight, and the thermometer ticked closer to zero Fahrenheit, I turned to Rivkah and we had the following whispered conversation:

Me: Should we tell them?
Rivkah: Maybe. We haven't even really decided 100% yet.
Me: I think it's the right time. It feels like the right time.
Rivkah: Ok, let's tell them.

We turned back to our friends, and told them something we hadn't told to another human being. Not even our parents. We told them that we were planning to make aliyah in 2014. We aren't exactly sure when, maybe September or October, maybe earlier, but one way or another by the end of 2014 we would hopefully be living in the holy land of Israel.

We celebrated, brought in the new year together, and the next day I opened up a profile with Nefesh B'Nefesh. The rest, as they say, is history. On July first, six months later to the day, we landed in Israel and became full blown citizens of this wonderful country. We've had our ups and downs, and we haven't yet transferred our drivers licenses so there's still plenty of bureaucracy left ahead of us, but now, one year later and six months after landing, I feel like we made the best decision of our lives.

Shana Tovah. I wish all of you a successful year and you should be able to achieve the goals you set for yourself.