My love-hate relationship with my accent


My accent is so heavy it could crush a truck. It sounds like I am boasting – I’m not.

When I first moved to Israel from the United States, I knew some biblical, but not conversational Hebrew. The equivalent would have been saying things like, “Get thee to a felafel stand.” I worked hard to improve my language skills. My first job in Israel was at an ad agency, and my hand-written creative briefs would come back with corrections in red ink. A speech-therapist friend gave me mouth-muscle exercises to do. I finished my Masters at Tel Aviv University, completing coursework and exams in Hebrew. But with all this effort, twenty-five years after moving here, my accent still sounds like I got off the boat last week.

Don’t think I don’t enjoy the benefits of having a thick accent. By sounding American, I am assumed to be educated and relatively wealthy, at least have wealthy parents back in The States. Being a native English speaker opens certain networking and professional doors, particularly in the Israeli high-tech world.

And my accent has been the source of comic relief in my family for years. Imitating my accent is a sport. A recording of my saying the word “batatush” was one of my kid’s ringtones for awhile.

But there is also the assumption that I am naive, raised “soft” in my assumed privileged American childhood. A born sucker. When shopping to buy a new home for our family, my husband and I would jot down the phone numbers posted on the building projects in our desired neighborhood. We would both call. When I called, the agents gave me a different price of up to half a million NIS ($140K) more for the same home, compared to what they told my Israeli-accented husband. You can buy a home in America for half a million NIS!

I call this the ‘Accent Commission.” While sometimes it is just easier to have my husband close prices on certain items (like our home!) I have accepted that part of having this accent means sometimes paying the Accent Commission on subjective prices, like household repairs.

And of course, there is that other mom whose kid has been in class with mine for years and who never spoke to me except to ask me repeatedly if I want to give her daughter English lessons (I am not a teacher or tutor).

But why is this on my mind more today than other days? We were a group of 7 couples at one of those meet and eat dinners in a stranger’s apartment. You eat their homecooked food, and the host shares their interesting personal stories. And the host spoke about how she moved to Israel ten years ago from Europe. One of my friends politely commented that she spoke Hebrew with an excellent accent. Her response was, “Well, people with thick accents are just cowards, too afraid to try.”

Now, I don’t know this woman, and I will likely never see her again. And my friends in the room – all native Israelis – are smart enough to know that accents don’t work that way. They certainly don’t judge me for speaking fluent Hebrew with a New York twang. But my good mood – we were celebrating a birthday – transformed into crazy, feverish ANGER. The evening continued, and except for a very snarky comment to the host, I managed to enjoy myself.

Now I have lived in Israel, speaking Hebrew fluently enough for 25 years. Twenty-five years of unsolicited telemarketers stopping their pitch to ask me, “should I say that in English?” Twenty-five years of asking a question in Hebrew only to be answered in English.

But this was the first time I felt so judged by the way I speak. And in the days that followed, made me think of the way I judge others by the way they speak or look or dress. And I commit to trying harder not to make assumptions. Maybe my thick, clumsy, awkward accent taught me something.

Publishing Memoirs of a False Messiah


I am thrilled to publish my debut novel Memoirs of a False Messiah.

The ebook and paperback are available on Amazon and the audiobook is on Audible, Amazon and iTunes!

It’s been a long road to publishing my debut novel.  It started when I was 24 years old with a BA in creative writing, a couple of short stories published in literary magazines, and a hunger to write long fiction. Accepted into an artist residency program in southern Israel, I left my belongings in a storage facility outside of NYC and flew to Israel to focus on my writing without the pressures of earning a living. That lasted eight months. Once the book was written, the not-so-fun work started. Writing to agents. Getting rejected by agents. Getting accepted by an agent only to be rejected by her later. This was not the writing life I wanted.

The program ended and real-life with its real-life pressures seeped in. Still in Israel, I took a job. Then I started a Masters degree. Then I fell in love and we got married. We had kids. He got sick and I was his caretaker. He died and I was a widowed mom of young children. Writing fiction felt like a luxury I would never be able to afford again.

Years passed. The kids grew older. My career in high tech matured. I remarried. And then an unexpected window opened. The company where I was working was sold, and as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I was not part of the deal. I knew it would take time for me to find another job, and I had a small cushion so I could focus on reworking my novel and publish it. This was always the dream.

I have been working in marketing for over twenty years. While promoting a book is very different from marketing technology solutions to businesses, certain principles are the same…I think. I decided I preferred to spend my time learning to self-publish over shopping my book to agents or publishers. I hope I made the right call, and that is one of the topics I plan to write more about on this blog – my adventure with self-publishing.

And of course, I started writing the next novel…

I hope you will read and enjoy Memoirs of a False Messiah. Stay tuned. There is more coming.

You can add the book to your Goodreads shelf here.

Memoirs of a False Messiah

You can hear a sample chapter on SoundCloud:

Married Again

Married Again

On Sept 20 I got married, again.

I am very lucky to have found great love – the kind of love that I want to celebrate and announce to the whole world – twice.

The first time I was a 29-year-old bride, focused on building my career, wrapping up a Masters degree, and most of all, dreaming of building a family.

At 48, getting married is something completely different because I already have a family. We stood before the rabbi, with our kids – most of them taller than us – and officially merged our families.

When I think about the future that we will create together, it is a calmer future. It is less about building a family and more about developing and enjoying the family we have.

I can’t think about marriage without also thinking about Jeremy. I was Jeremy’s wife for nine years. Now, just two weeks shy of what would have been our 19th wedding anniversary, I have been Jeremy’s widow for ten.

The truth is that Jeremy, and Alon’s late wife Miri, are very much a part of this marriage and family. Beyond helping to create and shape who our kids are today, they taught us how to make a marriage work and how to function when the worst happens. Alon and I met as we both struggled with their loss and the weight of raising our children without them. It was a long, dark time for both of us, and we helped each other, and our kids through it.

When I was a lot younger, my mother, wisely said to me, “anyone can be a great boyfriend when things are great.” And she was right. It doesn’t take much character or strength to be wonderful in wonderful times. But before our relationship even started, Alon proved wonderful even in the very worst of times.

Now today, we are back to wonderful (“tfu tfu”) – we are happy and healthy with established careers and a warm, beautiful home. I look at these amazing teenagers. Each one of them incredible in his or her own right. The fact that they all look gorgeous is nice but superficial. The truth is that each of them is gorgeous on the inside. They are kind, supportive siblings filled with wonder for the subjects that interest them, whether it be music, sports, gaming, acting, politics or medicine, and I am immensely proud of them.

I look at Alon. My handsome, strong, seemingly tireless partner who despite his never-ending “doing” – whether its working or cooking or driving or running – also knows how to just be…with me. And I am thrilled to spend the rest of my life with him. And I want to celebrate this love and announce it to the world.

Bumped into an old friend…of my late husband


I was sitting at the bar in a crowded restaurant during the lunch rush when the man sitting next to my friend said, “Pamela?”
I stared back and nodded, and he smiled and said, “It’s Jackie.” A shiver ran through my skin. Jackie. The hairdresser-turned-businessman who set up shop in our basement periodically while my husband was weak with cancer treatment to cut his hair…and cut my son’s hair too…and be a friend.
Jackie, who didn’t ask for anything in return except the opportunity to do something kind for a friend and his family when they were in need of kindness.
He got up from his chair and hugged me. His eyes were wet and so were mine. I had not seen or spoken to him since Jeremy died in July 2008. We have just slipped into 2016 which means it’s been 7 and a half years. I didn’t ask him for his number or friend him on Facebook…I doubt we will be in touch. But I am writing this because the next day I am still feeling the shiver and relishing the reminder of how good people can be to each other.
I just wish I could tell Jeremy that I saw him.

What would Dexter do?


I love watching TV. I’m sorry if that makes me sound lazy or unambitious. After all, I can list all the books I could be reading, languages I could be learning, bookshelves I could be building instead of binge watching another b-level series on VOD.

I’m not unapologetic – I am sorry. There, it’s off my chest and now I can move on with my friends and role models, Dexter, Alicia Florrick and Olivia Pope.

Role models? Yes.

What would Dexter do?

Wouldn’t it be great to go through life with a team of writers planning how you will calmly respond to every conflict? To be ready with a carefully calculated quip for every workplace dig? To respond with wisdom, humor and clarity to my children’s issues.

So I think to myself, when faced with a particular dilemma, what would they do? How would Dexter get the eight year old to care about homework? How would Olivia deal with this particular power grab at work? How would Alicia handle that comment from my neighbor?

Of course, this is just a moment I take to myself before muddling through the best I can without my team of scriptwriters. After all, my issues are not going to wrap up neatly after 40 minutes and the other characters in my life are not going to conveniently forget what I say and do now…when the next episode rolls around.

The myth of moving on

myth of moving on

A young husband in my extended family just died suddenly, leaving a younger wife and a two-year-old son. Talk quickly shifted to how she could possibly get on with her life. But it isn’t really possible.

Moving on is a myth. There is no “moving on” after a life-changing event like a personal tragedy. We do not walk down some linear path, wait for a few beats for the mourning to pass, and then keep walking in that same original direction.

It’s been about seven years since my husband died and eight since his game-changing diagnosis of terminal cancer. The family we created with three small children and a couple living and working as partners with workaholic habits and really really good cooking (him) no longer existed. I didn’t only mourn the loss of my husband, I also mourned our life. There was no moving on. That life was as dead as my husband.

Together with pain and loss came reinvention.

The reinvention process started without me. I was no longer Jeremy’s wife. I was Jeremy’s widow. The crazy-haired, red-eyed mom that just lost her husband and seemed to be losing it in general. People looked at me in a different way and they looked at my kids in that abhorrent, side-tilt, we-pity-you way too.

I needed to change the subject.

My next reinvention was the Runningmom. When people asked me how I was doing, I told them, “I ran 12KM today!” I needed time to mourn before I could even start to figure out who I was without my husband, and the Runningmom gave me some space to do so. As more time passed, I continued to redefine myself, as we all do as we move through different stages of our lives.

So what can you say to someone who’s life has just been kicked into a parallel plane?

What do you do when the worst happens and your life as you know it is changed forever? The best advice I received (though it was hard to follow) was this: Breathe. Drink plenty of water. Sleep.

But please don’t ask them to move on.

What are Pamunications?


What are Pamunications?

It does seem a bit self-involved to name a form of communication after myself, but hey, so is creating a blog. The truth is we all have our very personal ways to communicate – effectively or not so effectively. Pamunications are my personal and professional truths in written form.

The name comes from work – I am the VP Communications at the app delivery company ironSource. When the company was still relatively small, I handled all the communications myself – PR, internal com, SEO, social media, community outreach, web content, conferences, and more – so Communications and Pamela merged into one word.  Today I have a small team, but the name stuck in my head.

So here is my list of topics that are important to me and I believe I have something worthy to say.

  • Corporate communications is evolving as quickly as our mobile phones.  And I love it.  I will write about new ways to deliver messages effectively and the old ways that haven’t changed.
  • The world seems crazy sometimes – and I will write about my struggle to raise children sanely in this crazy world. All my kids – 3 biological and 2 step – lost a parent to cancer. My experience as a caretaker, widow and mom to kids who have seen hell up close impacts how and what I write.
  • There is the work I do for my head, and the work I do for my heart. I will write about balancing the two – drawing from my roles as founder of a charity, and the lead of the community outreach program at ironSource,
  • And then there is everything else…running and Pilates…those people who walk in front of my car at night when its raining, dressed in black…life as an NY expat in Tel Aviv…my love-hate relationship with kube…and all that other stuff that I’d like to squeeze out of my head and shape into a coherent meaningful thought.