There are ways of coming into this world…
And there are ways of going out…
Around nine months ago Ayala Pamela Weisfeld z”l was diagnosed with breast cancer that had metastasized into her liver, brain and spine. She passed away around one month after the diagnosis. It was a devastating story that shook all who knew her and thousands who didn’t.
The Brand New Mama’s Expo this Thursday is the first of its kind in Jerusalem and will be in Pamela’s memory with part of the proceeds going to her husband and her two small children.
Ayala Pamela as a mother
I asked Pamela’s sister Alissa Altman to tell me about things she loved to watch in Pamela’s mothering.
“I loved watching Pamela’s complete and utter joy in her children, primarily of Adiel, because sadly, after Anael was born, she was unwell and in pain most of the time, prior to her diagnosis.
“Pamela was never self-centred or self-absorbed, but she could be a bit of a hedonist,” Alissa told me. “I was constantly in awe of how, despite that, she wouldn’t hesitate to stop what she was doing to feed her children, comfort them, rock them to sleep or cuddle them. Her face completely lit up whenever she looked at them.”
Alissa told me that although normally “fearless,” while pregnant, Pamela admitted she was afraid that she might not love her child as a mother should. But Alissa was there to witness Pamela falling in love with Adiel, her eldest child, the moment he was born.
This picture has become quite well known. It was taken by Pamela’s husband, Shmuel Weisfeld on their last camping trip together.
Shmuel told me that although they loved camping together, after their first child arrived, Shmuel assumed their camping days were over. Until one day Pamela said, “I need to go camping.” Shmuel was surprised but proud.
Pamela surprised Shmuel once more when they already had the two children, by announcing she wanted to go camping again.
“So off we went, a week before Pessach, camping for five days.” The photo is from that trip.
Shmuel took the children camping one night over this past Pessach and he said to me: “I had no idea how much work it is. I don’t know how she managed to be a full on mother with two babies in the wilderness and still enjoy herself. No idea.
“And that’s how I see this expo,” Shmuel said. “A celebration of her motherhood and all mothers out there.”
The founding of the Brand new mama’s group
Motherhood is not a simple task anywhere, let alone when living across the world from your natural support network, like many young Anglo olim in Israel.
Two years ago, while Dalit Rosin, an olah from England, was nursing her first child at 3:00am, she was fascinated by the idea that mothers all over were doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. That realization coupled with the shock of just how much one small baby could turn her life upside down overnight, gave her the idea to start Brand new mama’s group, a Facebook group for Anglo moms and moms to be in the Jerusalem area.
About her decision, Dalit said, “Where else can you communicate with others from the luxury of your own home in your PJs? At 3:00am you could you ask questions, share stories and get instant responses.”
Dalit has watched the Facebook group grow to over 1,300 members (it just passed its 1,300 mark!). She loves how much it helps dozens of moms on a daily basis. Here is an example of a post in the group from today:
Brand new mama’s expo in Pamela’s memory
But for a while now she had an idea of bringing it into the realm of “real life” instead of keeping it only in the virtual one. The Brand New Mama’s Expo 2013 which she is organizing with her friend and now business partner Carol Dweck Goldman, is their brave attempt to bring together moms, products, services, workshops and a Gymboree, all taking place on the lawn of Ginot Ha’ir, a partner of the event (on Emek Refaim in Jerusalem).
Dalit said: “It has been a big project but not without love, dedication and belief that this is something worthwhile for the mamas, by the mamas. Also, I really wanted to honour the memory of Ayala Pamela Weisfeld who was a mama in the group who sadly passed away from cancer – and the expo is in her memory.”
Words fall short when trying to talk about someone you love but even so I asked Alissa what others might learn from the way Pamela chose to live her life.
Alissa replied that Pamela was the type of person who let you know what she was feeling so you didn’t have to guess. She was also very aware of others’ needs, including when it came to giving presents. She was very serious about attachment parenting and nursing but never believed in telling anyone else what to do.
Alissa said she thinks this event in her dear sister’s memory is a good and appropriate way to remember Pamela. “She was a devoted mother, committed to nursing her children, and to attachment parenting, and would be completely supportive of an event like this, bringing new mothers together.
“I’m proud that she made such a positive impact on people and I hope that people who didn’t know her, learn a little about the person she was as a result of this.”
Songs about moms
By the way, I just learned today that Let It Be was written by Paul McCarney about his mother who also passed away from cancer when he was only 14. She came to him in a dream and then he wrote this classic.
And for the details…
Check out the group here. Guess what! It grew to over 1,300 right as I was publishing this piece.
The Brand New Mamas Expo will be held Thursday April, 11 at Ginot Ha’Ir, 12 Emek Refaim in Jerusalem.