My Daughter, My Hero

We are constantly bombarded with advice about how to be good parents. My wife and I are of the belief that there is no one system that fits all — only that every word and every decision must be rooted in the infinite love we have for our kids. The specific dynamics of that love are influenced by the specific child with whom we share it and by the morals and ethics we’ve come to learn and continue to learn in trying to live as Orthodox Yidden.

But this isn’t an advice column — more like a glimpse into my efforts as Dad. This post comes out of a desire to express wholly and completely a positive message to my daughter, a young woman of considerable strength who — like all of us — sometimes falters in her confidence. I have met parents who believe that their children can only learn from criticism. Criticism is important when it’s constructive, but as a teacher, I have seen the often sad results of parenting through criticism. Our kids need confidence to succeed. And confidence is not only learned. It is also a gift we can give our children with our words. 


Your mother is fond of saying about you, “When I grow up, I want to be like her.”

And she’s only half kidding.

The truth is she’s right. You have something about you that your mom and I have had to work on in ourselves our whole lives: a fierceness to be you.

Chloe Hannah became Kalanit Chana became Chana.

When we named you Chloe, which means ‘to bloom’ in Greek, little did we know how you’d truly bloom.

When we named you Hannah, little did we know how gracefully you would fill every space you occupied.

When we named you Kalanit – after the beautiful anemones that bloom in Israel in spring, right around your birthday – little did we know how precious and honorable a flower we nurtured into the world.


When you took the name Chana as your own, you showed us how you will choose your own path by which you will bloom. Your shoulders stood taller, your eyes brightened with confidence, and a demure smile curved ever so, implying an inner strength as bright as a burning diamond.

Now, you have your own mix and mismatch style. You defend the defenseless. You stand up for what’s right. You don’t criticize or judge. You just do your thing. If someone is doing their thing and invites you, you’re not afraid to say, “Not today, thank you very much,” and go back to doing your thing.

You are brazenly you. I thank Gd for the gift you have, the fire with which you light the world.


Why Notter.




Ms. Fierce, you were born in a time of massive changes going on in the world, and with Mom and me. A little over a half a year after 9/11, people everywhere were still nervous and scared, making all kinds of predictions, so many frictions and fictions causing conflicts and rising tensions.

You came to us kissed by an angel, sweet as a strawberry, a patch of dark hair and ocean-deep eyes.

By the time you were 4, you were sitting on the couch teaching yourself how to read with flashcards we had used for Noah when he was learning.

On your 8th birthday, your hochlota (resolution) was to choose to take your middle name as your main name. You said, “I want to go by my Hebrew name. But Chana, not Kalanit.”

“Why?” we asked.

“Because that’s who I am,” you said.

Now you’re 12 and a half. I write this with such utter pride and admiration for you, for your willingness to learn, for your determination to be understood, for your righteous chutzphah, for your love of truth and fairness, for your sense of humor and daring silliness, and for your ability to recognize the good in others and in yourself, as well as to recognize your mistakes and faults for which you earnestly make clear your apologies and then your intentions to improve.

Inner Beauty

Chloe: constantly growing.

Hannah: doing so with such conscious grace.

Kalanit: precious, tough, and a daughter of Israel.

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Chana: you brought out your true, inner self, the G-dly part of you, and made that who you are on the outside, strong and beautiful.


How appropriate that the idea you wanted to express at your bas mitzvah months ago was inner beauty.

This is what I know: you exemplify the essence of that every day.

Once, you claimed Chana, mother of Shmuel, as your namesake. How appropriate, as it is from her that we learn about prayer, about whispering prayer, the very manifestation of the concept of inner beauty.

Her prayer came from deep within, from the core of her being. Why didn’t she scream it out? Why don’t we yell our prayers? What was the power of this silent prayer that isn’t exactly silent?

We whisper just loud enough for our own inner ear and for Hashem to hear. It is our time of being most connected to Hashem, the source of all, in a way of love.

Expressing the inner beauty of her prayers in whispers, moving her mouth with soul-force words, Chana looked drunk, swaying like a candle flame. For the times, she acted irrationally, out of the norm. But she was merely overwhelmed with her love for Hashem. Her essence became her whole.

Whenever we learn this story, I think she must have been shining, shining with the same light that pours from your face when you smile, when an idea fills you with understanding, and, yes, when you daven.


Every day you bring something new into our world, something bright with light.

Most recently, it was a sentence. You’d been crying because you were leaving longtime friends behind to go to a new school, something you’d chosen to do on your own.

I said, “Chana, you’re so brave to do this.”

And you said, “Brave people cry, too.”

Yes, they do. It’s what makes them brave, to be able to allow the tears to fall and do the deed needing to get done despite them.

Your mother has done it. So has your brother.

You’ve done it before, and you’ll do it again.

Experience redefines the very words we use to shape the world around us.

Before Noah, the word “smile” meant your mother’s cocoa sprinkled eyes. After, “smile” became synonymous with endless sky in his eyes as well. And then you came along and the word “smile” also took to mean there’s so much more to learn.

We’ve marked the years with schooling. In two years, Gd willing, you’ll be sitting in my English I classes.

Nine years in that particular classroom teaching true believers, trenchant critics, wanderers, seekers, mystics, mavericks, and merrymakers; many are now mothers, shluchas, teachers, students of international relations, entrepreneurs, photographers, a chemist, nurses, activists, and even colleagues.

First, though, they were my students. Young women who, apart from being themselves, have shown me the myriad possibilities of you, of potential ways and means of you.

But in that mix and mismatch style of yours, you’ve already given us signs that no matter how much we try to learn from our own life experiences and those of our students, the ultimate teacher of what we need to learn about you will be you.

Chana, you inspire us every day. I write this here, publicly, proudly, announcing to whoever will read this, that you are my hero.


P.S. – Dear reader, Gd knows why I feel the need to preempt by asking you to know that my son knows how we adore him and see him too as the hero in his own story as well as ours. 

Cover photo and photo of author w/daughter by Dalia E. Photography.

Photo of anemones in Israel by Zachi Evenor.