Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand

Toys, divas and confidence

The last time Israel won the Eurovision song content, I was living in Jerusalem, and like many others, watched as Dana International, the competition’s first openly transgender contestant, advanced to the head of the leaderboard, with her song Diva. The confidence she exuded as a performer was pretty admirable. This year, while I didn’t watch the competition itself, I’d heard TOY, Netta Barzilai’s song, followed the advance excitement around it from afar. Since the win, I’ve read about how she was already experienced with looping sounds even before she went to music school or entered A Star is Born. She knew what she wanted to do, where she wanted to go, and this certainty, I think, certainly contributes to her self-confidence. But as she points out in this interview with the BBC, it wasn’t always that way.

When we measure ourselves and our accomplishments by others’ yardsticks, we run the risk of unhappiness.

When we have the courage not to pay attention to others, we can find our own voice.

Twenty years ago, I was working in marketing at a think-tank in Israel. Its senior management was in the habit of hiring very good people and then not letting them make decisions to do their jobs. Decisions small and large were made by the institution’s leaders. This lead not only to bottlenecking and gears moving more slowly, but also to frustrated managers. They knew they had more to give than they were allowed to, but their own bosses’ unjustified lack of confidence in them held them back. It was, needless to say, bad for morale.

Confidence is a tricky thing. Self-confidence rooted in knowledge is a good thing. Bluster stemming from insecurity is not. In those cases, self-confidence means being able to say, “I don’t know.”

Bitachon (ביטחון) means confidence. It also means security…and defense. And that makes sense.  Our guard goes up when we think we are being criticized. But if we are secure in what we are contending, then we need to be confident in ourselves for saying it.

What I’m seeing these days in social media and politics is a lot of bluster, name-calling, attacks. And the news isn’t any better, with white folks calling the police on people of color for every non-reason under the son. What are they afraid of??

Going back to what I said in my very first blog post, I read the news. And my heart hurts. “People are insecure. And they don’t want to be. So they look for ways to put others down to puff themselves up.”

It sucks. That kind of behavior hurts everyone.

That’s why it is kind of wonderful to see strong women like Dana and Netta. They are comfortable in who they are. And confident enough to share it with everyone else. As we all should be.

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Wendy lived in Jerusalem for over a decade submerged in Israeli culture. Since returning to the U.S. in 2003; she has been soaked in Southern life in metro Atlanta. An Ashkenazi mom to Mizrahi sons born in Israel and the US, MIL to a French Mizrahi DIL and an Israeli DIL whose parents are also an interesting mix, and a step mom to sons born in the South, she celebrates trying to see from multiple perspectives and hopes this comes out in her blogs. While working in Jewish and Zionist education and advocacy, Wendy's interests also have her digging deep into genealogy and bringing distant family together. All of this is to say, Wendy's life has brought her to the widened framework she uses for her blogs: there are many ways to see and understand.