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Updated: Mar 24, 2023


This is my first blogpost in my new website. I say “in” because I view the website as a home.

Granted I can’t give you schnitzel for lunch, nor can I offer you to sit in the yellow wingback

chair in the kitchen, but still, this site is my home—the place where I connect with you

through writing and singing, from my room of my own in Haifa to my home of my own on

the web. Textured and peeling walls, sunlight and shadow—a place where I can share all my

voices.

WriteInIsrael.com, my former website, was a wonderful place. It still exists, but I stopped

visiting when David and I left Tel Aviv for Haifa in July, 2019.

I felt guilty ignoring you on my old site during Corona, but I used those lockdowns for

growing a new skin in an old, neglected, beautiful city. Instead of writing, I played the piano.

Instead of poems, I wrote music and songs. Instead of walking on level ground, I climbed up

and down stairs, for Haifa is a city, not only of Sea, but also of Stairs.


When freedom to wander returned, rather than teach creative writing, as I did in Jerusalem,

Beit Zayit and Tel Aviv, I became a student of voice, piano, jazz and dance. Who knew that

one’s seventies could be the kiln for developing latent talents. I even went back to Yoga, after

a fifteen-year break, and today I can do The Plow!!

My professional haircutting chair enjoys a prime location on the porch, facing two old spruce

trees and the branches of a neighbor’s eucalyptus—a lovely place to have your hair cut,

should you be in Haifa and feeling adventurous. After Ann Hood’s daughter died (Comfort: A

Journey Through Grief, Norton, 2008), she took up knitting. She needed to be busy with her

hands. I started cutting hair the year after my mother died, but I have yet to figure out the

relationship. Subject for a future essay.

My goal in my new web home is to emphasize honesty and vulnerability. I look forward to

new relationships with old and new readers.

Feel free to write me directly from the Contact “room.” I especially look forward to reading

your reactions to Our Names Do Not Appear, my first book. If you are an Emily Dickinson

fan, please let me know.

Take your time roaming the site.

Again, Welcome Home. And when you leave, watch out for the wild boar in the garden.



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Forget the fifty titles for the memoir I’m currently submitting to independent

publishers, I can’t even settle on the author’s name.

My father told the officiating rabbi thirty minutes before my chuppa that I was

“christened” Judy Stonehill.


For my first twenty-six years Stonehill tailed my Judy. One of the reasons I came to

Israel fifty-one years ago was to find a nice Jewish name.

Labensohn works in English, but Israeli clerks invariably turn me into a Levinsin or a

Lavinson by inserting yuds in various syllables and deleting the dot from the bet.

After I divorced twenty years ago, I was free to change my name, but didn’t. There

were enough changes to deal with and bureaucratic issues to settle.  I was not about

to add another challenge. “It’s bad enough you abandoned us,” said my daughter. “At

least keep the same name.”

Eventually, she got married and changed her name.  Years later my first-born son cut

and Hebraicized his name to Lavi.

My first option for a pseudonym is Judy Steinberg. My father’s name was Steinberg

until 1927, when he Americanized it to Stonehill.  But Steinberg was a name his own

father had picked up from some nice Jew in Hamburg who helped Joseph Gyshinsky

board a trans-Atlantic boat.

Judy Gyshinsky, my second option. I’ve been rolling that around my tongue for

several years, but it still feels too Ukranian for me.

When I’m in a heavily mother-loving mode I think about adapting my beautiful late-

mother’s maiden name. Judy Grossman, option three. I could live with that

Hungarian name, though I have too much antipathy towards Hungary lately.

Since I’ve been living in Israel for half a century, maybe it’s time to Hebraicize my

name. (No, Word Check, not Herbicide).  Throw out Stonehill and Labensohn and

become Har Evan. This is a Hebrew translation of Stonehill and Steinberg.  But then

I am confronted with the contradiction in having an American first name and a

Hebrew last name. “Judy?” Israelis say, ignoring the tzip-tzuck above the gimmel,

and call me Gudi.

It’s probably time to rename that contradiction of identities and call is a plurality of

identities. A wealth of identities. Acceptance of multiple and porous identities. Judy

Har Even. Or Judy Lev. I rather like that last option. It would look good in 16 pt.

white Calibri print, boldly covering the bottom third of my memoir’s front cover.

Who’s she? Never heard of her, publicists will say. Not one item on Google. No

Facebook. No platform.  Nada. Must be a new Israeli upstart.

No worries. I’m used to being an unknown entity. When I had my winning essay

anthologized in In Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction (Norton, 2005) and two


other college writing texts, my pseudonym was Judyth Har-Even (sic).  The

publishing world has never heard from her since.


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Over the past five years I have let go of things I’ve loved. The first thing was

television. I grew up on American TV from 1948, but I could not stand watching

Israeli news delivered by men and women who commented on each item with 

squints. Moreover, TV watching demanded sitting and, as a writer, I had enough

sitting.


I let go of my car, a machine I once imagined was my key to freedom. Whenever I

turned on the ignition, I became a monster, fighting for space on the road, swearing

at strangers. Walking, riding a bike and taking buses felt  healthier. Moreover,

driving demanded sitting and I had enough sitting.

Recently I stopped wearing earrings because it took me too long to find the holes that

have been in my ears since 1960. I do not enjoy feeling incompetent, so I gave up

earrings. No biggie.


I’ve given up all subscriptions to concerts, lectures and gyms. For classes, I only do

those I can enter randomly on a ticket with ten entrances. There are always

exceptions: “Songwriting” demanded a commitment of fourteen sessions. I complied

and didn’t miss one. Should I ever be accepted into a modern dance troupe or rock

band, I will sign up for life.


Last week I unsubscribed to thirty-five lists and newsletters that flooded my inbox

daily. These mailings once made me feel popular, connected and needed. Lately, they

made me feel lost. Without this clutter of  upcoming events in Vancouver, Berlin and

Hebron, my chances of remembering why I approach the computer in the first place

are greatly increased.


I have let go of the belief that western-trained doctors know what is best for me. I go

along with such doctors only for diagnostic purposes. Then I turn East. Thus, I

stopped taking statins and aspirin. The stars on most of my blood tests fall within the

healthy parenthesis. The rebellious, wandering stars get treated with needles, ginger

and supplements, and then, only half of the recommended dosage.  Naturopaths and

acupuncturists have greatly improved my quality of life.


Decades ago I let go of whites– sugar, flour and rice. For the fourteen years during

which my mother deteriorated from Alzheimer’s, I became, in chronological order

macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan and paleo. Since her death, I have regained balance by

eating vegan at least four days a week and adding eggs, fish or cheese when

necessary. Once a month I eat four kebabs and one hamburger when my son invites

me to a cookout at his house. I will always take at least one bite of a pistachio cake,

lemon meringue pie, or anything chocolate of 70% or higher.


Coffee. I am on and off, but only before ten a.m.and only black with cardamom,

ground in front of my eyes by Honi at 79 Jerusalem Blvd. in Jaffa.

I have let go of travel abroad because I have everything I need right here on the

corner of Be’eri and Szold. Airplane travel seems like an assault on my healthy, aging,

and only body.


After letting go of so many things, I bought something that dramatically changed my

life: a standing desk. This mechanical wonder also enables me to regress to the

sitting position with a gentle clasp and clench of both still-functioning hands. My

VARIDESK has become my Mercedes.



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