Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Dodo's have landed

Currently posting from the kitchen floor in my new apartment on someone else's internet signal.

The table we thought would be here was not. The mirror we thought would be here was not. The people we hoped would eventually be here are. Ok, well not Channah. It is way passed her bed time.

Pictures and stuff to come tomorrow. I could do it now with my web cam, but if I wait for morning you might actually be able to see stuff.

I Broke the Bank

I have a long standing track record for clumsiness and breaking things. For the most part I have not been to bad until the last few days. On Friday, I found Rachel's cell phone charging in a glass of water. A couple of mishaberachs and time out in the heat, it has managed to have a speedy and complete recovery.

We do not have access yet to most of our funds that have been transferred to our Israeli bank account. We needed to access money from our Canadian bank account in order to buy all of the things we need to set-up our apartment. I went to the bank machine of our local branch. I had to wait in line for my turn. I entered a number that was close to the maximum daily withdrawal on my card. OVER THE LIMIT. So I reduced the amount by 500 NIS. OVER THE LIMIT. I reduced the amount I was trying to withdraw by another 500 NIS. OVER THE LIMIT. I reduced the amount by another 1000 NIS. OVER THE LIMIT, THIS MACHINE IS TERMPORARILY OUT OF SERV

ICE. Oops. There were now 5 people behind me in line. Plus the bank is supposed to be open on Sundays because it is closed on Friday. It wasn't.

I went to the other bank on the next block. Once I realized that it was a touchscreen, I had no problem withdrawing the money we needed.

New News

Well, we finally have an apartment in Israel.

Jason just got off the phone with the landlord and we can go to the apartment ot get the keys any time now. Yay!

Did I mention our keys are purple. Ok, not a big thing, but a fun thing none the less.

We spent all day today running and going and doing. I can not believe how much there is to do!

Today we got-

2 under sink cabinets - 1 for each of the bathrooms. I should explain that we sort of have 1 and 2 halves of a bathrooms in our new place. The "master bath" has a toilet, sink and open shower so the entire room gets soaked when you shower.Yes we have a shower curtain, but the water goes all over the floor and sprays pretty much all over the room. The "public" washroom is divided into two rooms. A tiny room contains a toilet and an itty bitty sink. A larger room next to it contains a bathtub and shower and a larger sink. A door at the other end leads to the laundry room and entrance to the mirpeset (balcony).

None of these rooms had any storage. We felt that toilet only room needed no real storage (but will likely be getting an on the wall shelf above the toilet for extra toilet paper and bathroom readers and what not). The other rooms clearly needed some storage for things like shampoo, toothbrushes, extra supplies, face towels, etc. Not having any cabinetry in a bathroom is a normal occurance in this country, so there are cabinets made of rubbermaid type plastic designed to fit around sink plumbing and are sold fairly inexpensively in hardware stores).

While we are on the topic of bathrooms, I also got two small garbage cans for the toilet bathrooms and toothbrush holders, toilet brushes, soap dishes, etc. Oh, and two night lights. One for each toilet room.

two phones (one for our regular phone line and one for our voip line.) - And while we are on that note, we still do not know when our phone lines will be set up. We called the guy who was supposed to arrange for it all, and he told us it was taken care of, and then we never heard from him again and he is not so hot at returning our calls. We called the phone company ourselves today and we know the order was palced, but it was for next week. We asked to have it changed to tomorrow, and they told us they would try. In other words, don't bet the farm on hearing from us any time in the next week. I really hope it goes faster than that becuase a week without internet might send me round the bend!

Night tables - we were having a hard time finding anytihng we liked in a reasonable price range. We found a set of desk drawers today. The right size, the right height. Decent colour. Excellent price. It is just funny becuase the top drawer of each set has a lock on it... I wonder what we should put in those...

A desk - Ok, so as we both have laptops we do not really need a desk per se, but we do need a permenant home for our files, our printer, regular office supplies, etc. We found a nice, cheap desk (actually, the one designed to go with our night tables) that has a hutch above it and a decent ammount of storage space and places for other electronics.

Lightbulbs - seems fairly self explanitory. I told you Israeli apartments did not include anything. Actually, I take that back. Want to know the funny thing? It includes mezuzzahs! Seriously, every door has a simple mezuzzah already in place. We will replace some of them with ones special to us, but theoretically they are already there. (Actually, as the halachot of putting up a mezzuzah are different in Eretz Yisrael and they need to go up the day you move in- even in a rental (no 30 day grace period like in chutz la'aretz)

Bubbie friendly objects - scrubbies, a broom, a squeezy (what Israeli's use instead of a mob), a dustpan, and other random bubbie toys :) Yes Bubbie, I even plan to use them once in a while. In this catagory

2 fans - when it is 37 degrees you run the air conditioner at night and save your sanity. When it is 32 you use fans and save your shekels.

a microwave - I do not think this one really needs an explanation.

a garbage can - every kitchen needs one. It is shiney!

a timer - for once we fianlly settle on which shabbat appliances we want ot buy (we are trying to decided between two different brands on hot plates, crock pots and shabbos kettles.

4 chairs - the precious tennants left us a nice sized table on the mirpeset. We are giong to move it inside and use it as our only piece of furniture in the main room until the nice one we ordered gets here and/or our lift shows up (whichever shows up first). We bought 4 plastic chairs to use with it that will end up on the mirpeset and being used in the succah.

So all the stuff is beign delivered tomorrow. No wait, I lie. That is what was supposed to happen. In the end they could not do that so my saviour Lor is picking the stuff up for me in the morning. Did I mention that I was in the store for almost 2 1/5 hours this afternoon?!?!?! Service here is not what it is back home... wait a minute... maybe it is... Ace is sort of like Canadian Tire now that I think about it.

Also being delivered tomorrow is our fridge, our mattresses and our beds. We hope.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Just another shabbos...

Well, we just says good bye to our third shabbat here in Bet Shamesh. We are still homeless and stuffless, but funny enough this is starting to feel like home. He shul was nice. Lots of singing anode loads of friendly people who actually came up and said Shabbat Shalom! I think I'm going to like it here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Play date :)

This morning we had a playdate with a set of twins who are going to be in Channah's class (and their mommy.

The girls were a good match with all of them into dress up, princes', polly pockets, and tea parties.

The mommies were a good match with all of us into being mommies, having relatives in Toronto, and being a pretty good hashkafic match.

I really think we picked the right area.

Go-Karting around the Mountain

I had my first experience driving in Israel. It was different from anything I am used to.

There are no stop signs or traffic lights in Bet Shemesh. Outside of the shopping plaza there was very little traffic along the routes I took. I am having trouble picking up street signs as they are completely different. Plus there are a few street signs that I have no idea what they mean. Lane changes are done as needed (which is fairly frequently) without any sort of signaling. It is like driving around a giant go-kart track @ 60km/h.

When the need arises I can handle the driving outside of the busy cities.

Come on everybody, sing along!

שארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת...

refrigerator אני קניתי בארץ ישראל
refrigerator אז יש לנו
ואין לנו בית
בארץ ישראל

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy birthday to Jason!


Ok, I know I am a couple days late, but I have not pulled pictures off my camera since I took this. Our first "simcha" in Israel.

See the candles? 3 and 1 and 1 for good luck!

Our alien


ok, so it is just for fire hoses, but I keep expecting it to ask me to take it to my leader.

Take me down to paradise city...


Took both girls (Chana Bet and Channah Samech) to the old city.

On the buss on the way in we sat in the very back row. The girls bumped around and had a blast!

Our Channah really wanted to go to Migdal David (David's citadel, David's Tower, whatever the heck you want to call it). She had an image of a castle like Casa Loma in her head. We figured she would in for a shock and would be disappointed.

We were wrong.

We told the kids they had to find the red clues in order to get to the end of "the maze". (The arrows to each of the exibits were red). All in all we quite enjoyed it.

After we finished we went ot find my cousin's store that my mother told us was on the cardo but is actually right on the square in the rova. Nice store. He gave us a nice print of a tehillim microcalligraphy. I like the mocrocalligraphy things so this worked out well for me :) I need ot get a couple of frames though before I put up all the ones we have.

We took them for lunch and then to the kotel.

Then we took the bus home.


Water water everywhere!

Yes, believe it or not even in a country of with water shortages, everyone knows kids need water play. A moshav near here got smart. They bought a couple of giant inflatable water slides, and installed a couple of overhead plant misters. There is also an old guy with a hose.

They charge 30 shekel a kid and 20 shekel an adult and it is all you can slide. Lor, Jason and I took the kids and we had a great time. Ok, the kids had a great time, and we enjoyed not having to deal with them much for a couple of hours.

Can you say not helpful?

Ok, so in order to finish the paperwork for our kupat cholim (health insurance) we had to go to the Maccabi (the provider we chose) office. we were told to go to the 2nd floor. the sign on the wall said "Maccabi office, 2n's floor". We got on the elevator and saw this.

From the bottom up

chet
-1
caf
1

What would you push?

From the Bet Shemesh weblist

"We have begun planning for a new semester of social skills groups which will
begin immediately after Succot. We work very hard to respond to the needs of
the community when planning our pogroms..."

Really? Are we really planning pogroms here in Bet Shemesh? 'Cause honestly? That really does not seem like the best thing to be teaching people.

My gosh do I love Israeli English spelling. Tonight at the grocery store I saw "Vegetle Cutlets". I bought myself a bottle of Pantene Pro V "sham poo" (hmmm... is fertilizer that good for your hair they market imitation stuff now?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This crawled across the floor today


It was huge. Like the size of a whole head. Ok, so maybe I am exaggerating, but it was big, and mean, and I saw danger in it's eyes.

Jason killed it with his bare hands. My hero.

The Quest for Strawberry/Bannana

Yesterday was a crazy day. In the morning we went to get our bank cards.

I caught the train into Jerusalem. I had lunch at Pizza Hut. I had a personal pizza (mushrooms, pineapple, olives) and a volcano (hot brownie with a scoop of ice cream, covered in chocolate) for dessert. It was not as good as pizza in Detroit but it was a nice sit down restaurant.

I then had a job interview in the Technology Garden. The facility was beautiful. It had 8 office towers connected by a giant grassy park. Plus is was right next to the train station The job is a telemarketing job, 5pm-11pm 30 NIS/hour + commission + compensation for transportation (as per Israeli law). They expected one lead per hour for bonus of at least 20 NIS per lead. The money is OK. Once factoring in transportation I don't know if I could handle the hours of the job and Ulpan.

One of things I love is freshly squeezed Strawberry/Banana juice. I went to the juice place in the food court. The stuff they served was Strawberry/Banana in a Slurpee/iced coffee form. Picture Prigat with triple the amount of sugar. It was good, just not what I am looking for.

I then took the bus to the Tachanna. I would be meeting up with DW later in the evening. I had time so I decided to take a walk down Yaffo. I still feel silly about getting lost in the old city was happy to see familiar surroundings. I took a stroll through Machane Yehudah. There were only two fruit juice places. One had no hasgacha and the other was heter machira. At this point in time I am not so comfortable at holding by heter machira.

I continued walking to Ben Yehudah. I walked around for a little while. There were 3 fresh fruit juice stands. They were all heter machira. I will probably have to wait a few more months for Strawberry Banana juice. I was walking through looking at all the shops with the touristy gizmos and tourist incentives. I just walked through thinking that this is my home. It was a great feeling.

I then walked back to meet up with Rachel. We had horrible fallafel/shwarma. I saw the second Tadiran phone since landing. It was in an office being renovated next to Holy Bagel.

The meeting in Jerusalem went really badly. Then we got lost trying to follow a short cut back to the bus. We ended up taking a taxi to the main bus stop and catching one of the last buses back to where we were staying.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two little monkeys sitting on a couch

Busy, busy, busy

Today is another nutty day in the lives of the Swirsky family. I am so glad that next week I only need to move into a new home, get all the STUFF a new home needs, start my kid in school, start Jay and I in Ulpan, and take delivery on a bunch of stuff we already bought... ahhhhhhh, a week to relax.... (snark).

Anyhow, this morning we ran out to the bank to pick up our bank cards and stuff from the bank in the ramah. We also ordered checks because I forgot to do that the first time. Those will be ready in a couple of days. No big deal.

Came home and baby sat for our hosts son for a while while our hosts were at a brit.

We dropped Jason at the train (he is going into Jerusalem for a drivers eye test and a job interview... not a lot of money, but it is part time and work from home for a legitimate company to supplement our sal klita (absorbtion grant) and whatever money I can make while I am setting up shop. It is only for 3 months so should carry us until when at least I have money coming in again) and off we went.

Lor and I went back to the ramah so that I could take out money to pay for the dining room set we ordered (pictures to follow when we get it. He gave us a discount for paying cash). We had some time to kill so we went linen shopping and I found sheets for our bed. They are nice and green and say "beautiful life" all over them. Ok, a little tacky, but they are fun and bright and I like them.

From there we went to buy the table and chairs and make sure our mattresses really were going to be delivered by September first. They will be. Maybe. We think. Hopefully.

Picked up the girls from camp and came home.

We were going to go with Chana B and her Bubbie to a drum concert, but when I got home I had an email that today was "Meet the Teacher Day" and Channah's new gan. So, today at 5:00 we are off to go see the gan and meet the gannenet (preschool teacher).

After that, Lor is taking my Channah home to give her dinner and put her to bed while Jason and I have a meeting to go to in Jerusalem. Since he is already there I am going to bus in and meet him and we will go the rest of the way together.

We are missing the local "games night", but we should be home in plenty of time to get an almost decent night's sleep before needing ot be up early to go to register for Ulpan in the morning.

Something to write home about

The last two days have been a little slower pace than last week. That will begin to change tomorrow as the next two days are big running around days. We get our apartment next week and the real craziness will begin.

Yesterday was my birthday. Just like the only other time I had a birthday in Israel it was very low key. I had tons of greetings. I got to speak to my Aunt and Uncle for the first time since landing. I also spoke with my father and some others. At dinner DW & L had gone out and bought a swiss roll cake. I really appreciated the effort, especially since they tried to find a black forest cake. DW bought a beautiful glass kiddush cup and a key change (with the shopping cart insert).

Boo stayed home from camp as an extra percaution. As she was feeling better, we took all of the kids out for the afternoon. It was one of these indoor play places. They also had 4 inflatable water slides outside. It took Boo a little bit of time to get used to climbing the ladders with kids, who did not understand personal space or waiting your turn. I yelled at one kid for pushing Boo headfirst into the water. After a short time Boo was getting along great.

There were some Haredi kids there as well. They were wearing white undershirt, white underwear, the girls also wore white tights. I understand that keeping kids tznius in a swimming enviornment can be challenging. At least have them wear clothes that don't become clinging and see through when they turn wet.

Today was another quiet day. In the morning I went to pick up an old TV to interface with Boo's computer. I don't think it has the right ports that we need. DW went out shopping for milchek pots in the afternoon. In the evening we got a sitter and went out with our hosts for dinner. We went to Burgers Bar for Lamb Burgers. DW stuck with homeburger. Wow were they good. Definitly something to write home about. So I am.

Tomorrow is another busy day. We are going to the bank in the morning to get our bank cards. We need to make payment arrangements for a number of things that were waiting for our bank card. I have a job interview in Jerusalem.

I have learned a very important lesson. Bamba is the ultimate babysitter. Stick a bag in front of a whining kid, upset that there parent has to go out and they will be content. It's just like TV but the child's brain doesn't turn to mush.

Quote of the week from Shabbos: "You guys are those confused zionists. Real zionists intend to make Aliyah and buy Israeli bonds instead"
We cashed out our Israeli bonds in order to make Aliyah.

Monday, August 25, 2008

About our neighbourhood

This is a page on the area we are moving to next week taken from the NBN website on community information.

I will post a whack of pictures when I take some.

This is a map of all of Ramat Bet Shemesh. If you hover over the bottom right corner, you will see a name pop up. Move up one unit and you will see "Bsor/Maor Refaim Area". Click there. Now click the camer pointing to the right just above the building marked on the map as "11". The picture you will see is of our building. The camer between building "11" and building "9" gives you a good look at teh "midrachov" (pedestrian street) just behind our building.

Here is a pretty good view of coming fown the pedestrian street to our building (which does have car access and a garage)

This is a good picture of the building itself.

Entering the shopping area. It is about a 20 minute walk. Downhill. Home is another story. Most people take the bus home. Most of the stores surround a huge square that has a grassy area, some shaded covered benches and some parking.

Local shopping The shops are mostly on the ground floor of residential buildings. We can get most of what we need there. Groceries, clothing, bakery, hardware store, appliances, kitchen stuff, furniture, hats, pharmacy, whatever.

This is one of the two local grocery stores. We have one closer, but it is more expensive. It is good if you just need one or two things, but for real shopping you go down to this one. They do deliver right to your door for a small (and really reasonable) fee.

The Bank (there are a number of them, but we joined this one for various reasons including but not limited to the fact that the branch manager is a native English speaker from Detroit).

There is also a health care clinic associated with our kupah, and one of their pharmacies as well.

So all in all not a bad place to be! Everything we need is pretty much walkable, and if it is not the bus is fairly frequent. There are also really reasonable cabs all over Bet shemesh. They are flat rate between zones, so to take a cab home from shopping if on a week we buy a lot is only 15 shekel (under $5).

To rent a car for a day is roughly 150 shekel a day, so if we really need it for something (to get people from the airport, go up north or whatever) it is really not insanely expensive.

Just to compare this to last year.

Car $280 monthly
Insurance $ 150 monthly
Gas (roughly at the time we left) $200

So $630 a month just for the car.

Theoretically I could take 4 cabs a day and still come in under that!

Computer illiterate

One thing no one tells you is that when you bring your computer to Israel, it comes Israeli. It starts thinking and behaving in Hebrew and doing all sorts of things that you, as a fresh off the boat (plane) olah do not understand.

Take, for example google.com . See, I would love ot take google.com, but for me that no longer exists. I get redirected to google.co.il. My search results go from right to left. Everything is alligned to the right!

Ok, not a huge deal (as the results are still in English), but an annoyance none the less.

But what about sites that actually have words you need to understand- like, for example, blogger? I had to click various links and scootch all over the place to figure out how to put up a new post. I am still not sure how to do it directly, I can only do it by clicking through my dashboard.

I am sure I will figure it out sooner or later.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Going into Shabbos

Friday was a quiet day. Channah had camp and we made preparations for Shabbos. This week we were staying in Kiryat Sefer, which is a neighbourhood in Modin Illit.

We were sleeping in the apartment above our hosts. When we opened the door the lock got a jammed and we could not get the door closed. After some wrangling by a number of people in the building, it was fixed so that the lock was permanently broken but the door could be closed. I hope the owners realize that we didn't do anything wrong to break there door.

It was nice to spend Shabbos with friends we have not seen in a while. On Shabbos afternoon another friend who lives in the neighbourhood stopped by for a visit. From the marpeset where we were sleeping there was a beautiful view of the Green Park construction just down the hill. These units made news recently when the Arab village two hills away filled a lawsuit with the Quebec Superior Court. They are demanding financial compensation plus having the units torn down on account of 'war crimes'.

When we started getting really busy with the move Boo starting having accidents. It was only once or twice a day and mostly when we were around. With all the upheaval in her life, we decided not to make a big deal of it for fear it would make her nervous and the situation worse. Just before Shabbos she had another accident. I explained the serious consequences she would face if she didn't put an end to this. I even threatened to start buying diapers.

Shabbos morning I came home from Shul and she had already had 3 accidents. The Israeli water had finally caught up with Boo. After accident number 9, I took her to the Shabbos doctor. I have never been to a doctor that did not examine their patient before reaching a conclusion. Even telehealth Ontario, always suggests that you go to the hospital "just in case". He concluded she has some kind of infection and we should ease up on her diet. 3 more accidents took us till the end of Shabbos. We had a rotation of 4 pairs of underwear and a pajama bottom that we would rinse and leave out in the sun. Everyone was frustrated as there was nothing we could do to solve the situation. Since we cut back on her food intake things have been much better.

Sick!

Well, the ISraeli water has finally started getting to Channah. She is, for lack of a better term, having a bit of a shitty weekend.

We spent shabbat In Kiryat Sefer with friends. Other than the fact that Channah is feeling so lousy it was a nice weekend. We took her to the "Shabbos doctor" (a local Arab doctor) who told us that it would pass in a few days. So, plenty of water, rice and toast. Some apple sauce, and hopefully she will be good as new within a couple days. We did keep her hoem from camp today, but hopefully by tomorrow she will be okay ot go back.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday Aug 21st Getting Stuff done

We have now been here for a whole week. Yesterday and today were devoted to finishing up the last of the major things in order start getting settled in our new home.

Our first stop yesterday was to the Absorbtion Ministry to deal with our Sal Klita. They needed our banking information in order to receive money from the government. They explained to us what our rights were and what things we needed to have taken care of. We had already dealt with most things on the list. As a surprise they were able to take care of our baby bonus as well as the rental assistance in a year from now. They gave us the documents we need to register for Ulpan. That is on next week's schedule.

We then went to the post office for health insurance for DW and Boo. We then went to the health insurance provider to sign up for the insurance. Next we went to the cell phone store in the plaza. They were still under renovation. We waited forever for a bus to the train station. We arrived to watch the train pull out of the station. We then waited an hour and half for the next train.

We finally got to the mall. There was a cell phone booth right at the entrance. Technically, we needed to go back to the bank to have a document signed before we could get our phones. Since we are New Olim (re: they really wanted to make the sale), they activated on the spot as long as we faxed the information the following day after going to the bank. We then went to the food court for Shwarma. It was really good. Back on the train to pack in for the day.

First thing this morning I went to the bank to deal with the cell phones. The bank told me to leave them the document and they would take care of the rest. We went to a furniture store out of someone's basement. The pricing and quality were great. We bought beds and will return next week to finalize the purchase of a dinning room table and chairs. We bought a fridge and beard trimmer before calling it a day.

Tommorrow we are going to Kiryat Sefer for Shabbos.

Wednesday August 20th Plant a Tree Campaign

We came up with the slogan the JNF should use for selling trees this year. "Buy a dozen trees, help a new oleh open a bank account."

We have been waiting to get our Tudah Zehut in order to open a bank account. At 8:30 this morning DW called to schedule an appointment. They told us that we would be able to come in right away. We went to Bank Hapolim to set up our account. It was a fairly simple process except we kept having to sign page after page after page of documents. I think it took 10 minutes just to sign the papers. They were very friendly and helpful with dealing with the banking system. We decided to get a debit card and a credit for free. Often there is a huge deposit required to get a credit card. (The balance on Israeli credit cards are automatically withdrawn from the bank account on a fixed date each month.) Our bank cards will be available next week. I now understand why banks are only open until 1:15 most days of the week. It takes the rest of the afternoon to finishing processing the one account they were able to set up for the day.

We then attempted to buy a cell phone. The first place we went had some kind of renovations going. We were told that we should come back after 4:00. We then went to exchange some of our US cash (the bank told us it would be cheaper through a money changer). They were next to the other cell phone provider in the plaza. We asked the money changer what time the cell phone place opened. They said they had no idea but probably 10:30. After 11:00 we decided to give up and head back to the place we were staying. Later in the day we went to another mall and with a cell phone store. They didn't sell 'kosher phones' so we were not sure how their rates compared to the other packages. We decided we will go to one of the bigger malls where we can talk to all of the cell phone providers.

We went to enroll Boo in school. The school system does not make a distinction between nursery and JK. After explaining how smart Boo is with a photographic memory and agreeing she would repeat Gan Chovah (SK) they agreed to let her in. The battle for grade 1 will be pushed off until next year. At least that decision will be made on Boo's merits instead of when her birthday happened to fall. A little more haggling and they let her into the public school 3 minutes from where we are going to live.

I took care of the post office portion of the health insurance for myself. DW still needs to go to the post office to take care of herself and Boo. Once that is done we will drop it off at the Kuppah so the full coverage can kick in. I made arrangements for our VOIP line, land line and internet. I also spoke with Rabbi B. It was really nice to speak to him again. L & DW went grocery shopping in the afternoon, while I watched the kids. We decided to give our hosts a break splurged for pizza to be delivered.

Tonight was game night. DW went to bed early as she has not had a good nights sleep in almost a month. I was introduced to the game El Grande. I was able to keep up with the game. One player took a long time planning out strategy. At one point he took a card for his turn and spent a long time plotting his move. I was able to use the time to plan out my next move. He then decided to switch cards. I was really annoyed. Instead of taking time to rethink my strategy with a card I was not sure how to use effectivly I used it to destroy his positioning on the game board.

Monday August 18th The Last Few Days

It is time for a brief update on the last few days.

Friday: Took the bus into the old city. Visted the Kotel. When Boo touched the Kotel she thought about morah's message to think of her. We then got lost looking for a store that was supposed to be on the cardo. We then attempted to take a taxi. It got pulled over 20 ft later trying to leave through dung gate. The driver didn't have his proper papers and jumped out to the car to deal with the police. He had left the metre running. After 5 minutes we decided not to keep waiting and went to take a bus to the mall. We had KFC for lunch. (That was really good). They have a Pizza Hut next door that I intend to return to. We then took the train back to prepare for Shabbos.

Shabbos: We stayed in RBS half a block from our apartment. They made early Shabbos at 5:40. We met lots of nice people and got a tour of the neighbourhood. When testing out shuls a 5 minute walk is considered a negative for beeing too far. There are something like 18 shuls within a 3 minute walk. We are really happy with our choice of where to live. We can't wait to move in.

Sunday: Boo started camp. She had a great time. DW and I went to Tel Aviv by train, so she could check out some jewelry suppliers. We then went to Sbarros for lunch. After a miscommunicatio
n asking for directions we ended up taking the bus back to the home we are staying with.

Monday: Got a call from my SIL in the morning that Rogers had screwed up transferring my MIL e-mail account. Dealt with Rogers. Got a ride into RBS to pick up our apartment rental contract. We picked up Boo from camp early and took her to see the new apartment. She had her choice of room and picked the right one. We have a beautiful view from our balcony. We really like the apartment.

We took the bus to the NBN offices to pick up our Teudah Zhoot (We are now officially Israeli citizens). We got some information on different health care providers and banks. We asked one bank rep if they had a branch in RBS. He responded with "Are there banks in RBS?" There were cell phone reps that were even more useless. We will go into a store tommorrow instead. We then went to Centre 1. We had lunch/dinner at the restaurant in the middle. The food was really good with generous portions, plus the excitement of eating in the restaurant at the mall. We then bussed back to the place we are staying.

Some of the many things we are hoping to accomplish tommorrow include bank account and cell phones.

Sunday August 17th The Kia Scam

5 years ago the lease on our Toyota Tercel was coming due. With Boo on the way it was no longer big enough to suit our needs. We considered upgrading to the Corolla but we could not afford the minimal features we were looking for. We decided to go with a 2003 Kia Spectra instead. DW found a great deal that was significantly less than we found at other dealerships. The only sticky part was they required a $500 deposit refundable if we failed the credit check. That is where the trouble began.

They screwed up our application and put down the co-signor on the car as a co-owner. They also wanted a $1500 security deposit (equivalent to almost 6 months of payments). They told us that since the credit was approved we would lose the deposit. When we threatened to bring a lawyer they explained that they are sued regularily and they always win. The co-signor backed out of the deal. Eventually DW was made the co-signor and we paid the deposit.

A few weeks later when I called the dealership all of the staff we had dealt with were not working there. When my cadilidic converter blew out the first time at 5000km and a number of issues, I complained to the head office. They told me to take the complaints back to the dealership which had gone out of business.

The lease is now up on my car. My parents took care of returning the car to Kia. First they tried to sell the car to my parents. Then they told them that since they we were not buying another car they would charge $2500 for excessive wear and tear. If they were willing to buy something else from them they would wave the entire amount. My parents were disgusted that they were going to tack on charges as punishment for not remaining customers. They even called in the assesor to try to resolve the situation. In the end Kia will not be returning our security deposit. My parents refused to give them anymore money. As we have left the country they will probably not go through the effort of recovering the extra money.

A company with such lousy customer service they should be suffering the same decline in sales as the big 3.

Saturday August 16th The Never Ending Day Part 2

Saying good-bye was much harder than I ever expected. I am really going to miss my parents and others we have left behind. Once we were through security it was time to focus on saying hello.

We stopped at the duty free shop. We bought a Macallan 12 and Glenfiddich special reserve to begin rebuilding our alcohol collection. We then proceeded to the gate to wait for boarding.

I have not flown very often. The ride would rank near the bottom of pleasant flying experiences. The plane was very stuffy and the flight was long and drawn out. The chicken that was served for lunch was OK. Breakfast wasn't served for another 7 hours. We forgot to anticipate this scenario as the snacks we brought on the plane was milchik. Boo had mood swings between cranky/excited/
frustrated/starving. Breakfast was before sunrise. It was really cool one side of the plane had sunlight and the other side was pitch black. I davened Shacharit on the plane as there would be no time when we landed.

7:30 am we touch down at terminal 3. The new airport is really nice. We went to passport control to have our visas stamp and get a card to enter the baggage area. We then went to a bus to head over to terminal 1. On route the door was locked so we had to find another exit. Terminal 1 is only used for cargo flights and NBN flights so they can get the picture of the people taking the stairs off of the plane. I think the only reason immigration processing is done their is for the nostalgia effect. They sandwiches and drinks. I signed a bunch of documents. We then received our Teuda Oleh, money and coupon for the free taxi ride from the government. Our Teudah Zechut will be available on Monday.

We then had to take the bus back to terminal 3. We picked up our luggage. NBN paid for the border to take

Thursday August 14th The Never Ending Day Part 1

I have been updating our trip on my LJ account. The next few posts will be my previous Aliyah LJ posts.

On Tuesday my parents had a small going away party for immediate family. Afterwards DW and Boo went to my in-laws where friends and family dropped by to say good bye. I went back to the apartment to finish packing up. My chavrusah stopped by to learn for a few minutes and the Sukkah was finally picked up. I loaded our luggage into the van and went back to my in-laws for the night. DW and I finally finished all of the packing up and went to sleep around 3am.

Wednesday morning, We were out of the house to be at the airport by 9:30am for a 1:30pm flight. As we were one of the first one's there we were able handle all of the airport stuff without the pressure of holding up the line. We were entitled to nine (23kg) bags. We had eight. The first one weighed in at 22.8 kg. We thought we were in the clear. Two bags ended up over the limit. We had to transfer stuff into an extra bag that we had just in case. Fortunatly we were being processed by British Airways so they were really friendly. They even gave us a 1 kg break on a couple of bags. In total 3 bags had to be opened up to be inspected by security.

We then had plenty of time to spend with my MIL, SIL, my parents. EF showing up at the airport was a pleasant surprise. I did not realize how hard it was going to be say goodbye to my parents.

The most bizarre moment was a family who was moving to Sfat. They showed up at the airport with a moving truck filled with boxes. It worked out that they had enough kids that 3 boxes each they were entitled to was enough to set them up on their own.

I started writting this post shortly after reaching where we are staying this morning. I keep falling asleep. I will post about the flight tommorrow or Sunday.

Who am I again?

There is something seriously messed up with my sleep schedule... I am becoming normal!

Back home if I was sleepy before 2 am it was a minor miracle. My "hours" were insane with me preferring to sleep from 2-10 and work right up until the middle of the night.

Here I am zonked by 8:30 and up at 6:45 (with no alarm clock!). I do hope this is a permanent change as this whole early rising thing works a whole heck of a lot better with a kid who has to get to school and a country that believes the bank day ends at 1:00 (except on days when it ends earlier!).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Off to bed with ye'

Or at least, off to bed for Jason and I. No, not like that. I mean we went this morning and bought mattresses and beds and all is okay with life. Our new landlord has agreed to store them in his machzan (storage space and oppposed to mazgan, air conditioner, that I orriginally wrote. Ooops!) temporarily until the old tenants move out, and they will hopefully be delivered some time next week (so we can just move them upstairs when we move in on the first.)

We also settled on a table and chairs from the same place. I love them. It extends from 90 cm by 120 cm to double it's length at 240 cm. Perfect! We ordered 6 chairs as well. It is a lovely dark brown colour that will look great with the rest of our salon furniture, and it has a wipe clean beige seat.

I will post pictures when I can. It is going to look fantastic with the piano and the noah's ark credenza.

Then we went to buy the one major appliance we are still missing... a fridge. We found one at the 2nd place we went to. It is smaller than what we had at home, but we also will not be taking leftovers from everyone we know every time we go to family for dinner! We are hoping it will be big enough. The next size up was an extra 1500 nis, (so almost double!) and we just did not want to spend it.

Yes it has room for ice cube trays and ice cream. But not much more in the freezer.

So yeah. All in all a pretty productive day!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Questions with no answers

How is it that the entire freaking company is up hill and I always seem to be at the bottom???

Our Aliya is complete

We have cellphones!






Ok, so we still have a ton of stuff to do but at least now we can stop being non-people with no way to reach us.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time!

The time change is killing me. I have fone from being a night owl to getting up at the crack of dawn and not being able to keep my eyes open by 8pm.
Channah is now officially a student in the RBS public school system. She will be in gan chova (Sr. Kindergarden) at "Opal" starting on September 1.

350 nis admin fee
150 nis monthly x 10 months (of which we only pay 50% as new olim).

total 1850 nis

roughly $650 for the year.



I love this country :)

Boo Pics :)

Here we have Channah's first trip to the kotel. We told her that it was a special place where you could ask Hashem for anything you want, and it is a little bit easier for him to hear you. Ok, so it is not exactly accurate, but it seemed pretty good for a rather precocious four year old. We told her that we backed away becuase we wanted to be able to look at the kotel for as long as possible. We davened at the wall, she touched the stones, we gave some tzedakah, then had a snack while we waited for Jason to finish his davening.



Here she is on her first day of camp being "twins" with Chana B.

Boxed into a corner

Just bringing our backlog of pictures up to date.

This here is what Channah's room looked like before we left. The movers had decided that it was the right place to use for storing already packaged items. Inside each of those packages is some item of our furniture be it cabinet, artwork or pillow. Yes, they even packaged the pillows. In cardboard. Meaning they took up twice as much room in a container with limited space. Of course, that still was not as bad and having to ship the dressers and their drawers empty and packaged individually.

And here is my living room at the end of the packing day.


Dining room at the end of packing day


Living room end of loading day


Dining room end of loading day

money money money money...

Now that we have our teudot zehut we were able to open our cheshbonot (accounts) at the local bank. We looked around and decided to go with Bank Hapoalim. Everything else aside, they seemed the most easy to get answers from. Since all the fees were basically the same across the board, that was a good enoguh reason for us. The fact that the branch manager and financial planner are also olim and native English speakers is just a bonus.

Other than that, I am sorry to say that I am afraid we wiped out a whole forrest of trees this morning. There was more paper work to open the account and arrange for credit/debit cards than there was to becoem citizens! Seriously, I think we each signed at least 3 trees out of existance!

But it is done. On the list for this afternoon is starting the health care process (we have to have the form stamped at the post office) and making a first attempt at getting Channah into school. We are also hoping ot get cell phones so we can stop needing to borrow one from our ever patient hosts so that we can call if (ok, when) we get lost.

If we get through all of that we are doing pretty well. I am feeling rather productive.

Oh, I also bought two really light weightpretied tichels and a light hat. With the short haircut I got in Montrael I can not get regular tiches to stay on. I wanted to buy everything in the store, then I remembered... I LIVE THERE NOW!!! I CAN COME BACK!

Out of the mouths of Babes...



Channah - Eema, is a tik a school bag?
Me - yes. How did you know that?
Channah - They kept telling me ot get my tik and I didn't have anything else!

This is Rachel T. Frog reporting live on the scene...

So it is 5:53 in the morning and I can't sleep. Figures huh? I am sitting here on the floor in our room as it is the coolest place to be and Bet Shemesh is in the middle of a heatwave. Yesterday it was 37 degrees with medium humidity. Today is supposed to be about the same. The fan in our room is awesome, but even so I woke up feeling icky (yes that is the technical term) and have not been able to fall back asleep.

My loss is your gain though since i now have nothing to do but sit on the floor and bring my blog up to date.

So I guess the biggest news is that we got our teudot zehut (identity cards) yesterday. We schlepped in to the Nefesh B' Nefesh office in Jerusalem to get them. When I say schlepped I mean it. I may be a whole lot closer to the holy city now than I was back home, but it is still an hour long bus ride. Granted it is less if you get an insane bus driver, but then you also need to buy a new shirt when you get there.

So we picked Channah up from camp early and off we went.

Oh, so I guess I should tell you about camp.

First of all, we decided putting her in to camp was really important as it would let her start integrating with other kids right away. We also knew we would need her out of our hair while we did all of the hundred thousand things we need to do in order ot get settled. No 4 year old wants to go appliance and mattress shopping!

We landed on Thursday and she started the following Sunday. The camp is near our new neighbourhood so hopefully she will meet kids who she can play with once we move in. She loves it and everything is great. Except...

The camp is run by two eleven year olds! Ok, their mom is somewhere "upstairs", but on the whole there are two (fairly responsible) eleven year olds watching a whole bunch of four and five year old girls. I must be crazy. I never would have gone for this 3 weeks ago. Here, for 150 nis for 2 weeks it sounds like a great deal!

Anyhow, so yestarday after we picked up our rental contract from the landlord we picked her up early to take her with us to see the new apartment. She got to "choose" her bedroom. Fortunatly she "chose" the one we wanted her to! Sorry ma' that means you get stuck with the ugly teddy bear room when yo ucoem visit.

Anyhow, the apartment is nice. By Toronto standards it is a little small, but by Israel standards it is a palace! The entrance to the building is gorgeous, the elevator is small but nice, and the view from the mirpeset (balcony) is breathtaking! Seriously, we have an amazing view of the hills and the rock quary.

The layout of the apartment is not bad. No wasted space, but also no real room to put in cupboards for "stuff". There is a broom closet, but no pantry. There is also not a whole lot of storage in the kitchen. For someone who is used to a load of strage space, this is going to take some getting used to! I am not overly concerned though.

The oven is small and fleishiks. It is two small to meet the minimum requirements for kashering, so anything milchiks will need to be double wrapped. A bit of a pain, but not really that big a deal. It has a niche above for a microwave where I think we will get a large toaster oven. Not sure where we will put a microwave, but that is neither here nor there at the moment.

We measured in our room and it does look like we can put in a 4 door aron (free standing closet). This is a good thing. I have no idea why Israeli builders do nto believe in closets of any sort, but they have created decent work arounds that involve Ace Hardware or Ikea furniture. am hoping we can also fit in one of our dressers as we need the space. Not sure how it will work out though. The previous tennants are leaving us 2 aronot (closets) so we are not goign to buy one until we see if we really need any more space.

So, things we know we need to buy so far.

beds and mattresses - hopefully going ot go look at mattresses this morning. worst case senario we have mattresses o nthe floor for a little while (or forever). It is what we had back in Toronto so I do not think it would really bug either of us.

table and chairs - I found a set of a table that seats from 4-8 and chairs that stack. The whole thing is 3655 nis (roughly $1000). Not bad all things considered! It matches everything we already own, will fit nicely in the space allotted to it, and unfortunatly is on back order. We have a folding table coming on the lift so we can wait a little- just get the chairs and wait for the table to be back in stock- but that means 2 delivery fees.

I am foing ot keep looking.

night tables - Don't much care what they look like so long as they have a drawer or cupbord or something.

hebrew letter stickers for our computer keyboards - this hebrew typing thing is killing me!

a small tv screen - hopefully used. It is just goign to be used for Channah's clockstart computer.

a drill - walls here are concrete so you need a hammer drill to do anything. it is on the list.

I also need to contact broadphone about getting our Canadian phone number set up. And getting the modem. In the meantime we are reachable on skype.

Ok, so wrapping this up for now (ok, really just breaking it up in to two parts so it does not become too unwieldly) let me just say that we are all doing okay and adjusting. Jason is working on job leads and figuring out the but routes. I am starting ot make contacts here and am dealing with all of the millions of details that come with moving to another country (today I finally get ot go set up a bank account!) and Channah has told us she loves Israel and never wants to leave. I can't say I blame here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Honey, I'm home!

After a long and exhausting "day" (that started Early Wednesday morning Toronto time and ended late Thursday night Israel time, I am proud ot say that Jason, Channah and I have made it home. Ok, not to our home, but to one that is willing to take us in for a few weeks until ours is available.

Be that as it may.

Once we finished saying our good bye (a tearful affair ot the level that I am pretty sure I saw animals going by two by two) and got through security we were mostly fine... mostly. The emotional meltdowns have basically stopped... at least for now. We have moved from the saying good bye process to the saying hello part of the show- and this part is a whole lot easier.

Over the next few posts I will write about the day in more detail, this is just to let you know that we are here, we are happy, and we are fine. It has been an exhausting few days, but I think we have made it through the *most* difficult transition (not that there are going to be a million others, but being torn apart from everyone who loves us was an ache with which we did not know how to cope.)

Here are a few of pictures for now.










our place. Before, during and after the lift





Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This is it

Well the parties are all over, the apartment has been emptied and the bags have been packed. This is really it.

Dreams for me have never come easy. Whether my dreams were big or small I always had to work for them. Cry for them. My Channah, the love of my life, the fulfillment of my most sacred dreams came with so much agamas nefesh, so much pain and suffering both mental and physical. But that was not the case. My tears were obviously being added to an "account" and when I had enoguh in there I got my "prize". My Channah is a product of years of tears and tefillot that I thought were ignored, only to have them answered in a way that totally usrpassed anytihng I could have ever hoped for.

I hope this is the same. I hope that the grief and the tears that come with saying good-bye to people I love is going into my "account" and saving up for a new stage in my life filled with the simcha and stability I have not yet been able to find.

I know moving to Israel is not going to solve all my problems. Far from it! I am an antisocial societal outcast who has trouble making friends... somehow I think a language and culture barrier is not goign ot make that a whole lot better. On the other hand, it will give me something I could not have here. The ability to give my daughter the world that I can only watch from the outside here.

If that works. If I can give her more there than I can immagine here, then it is worth every tear, every dollar and every sleepless night.

I know I am just rambling now. I guess that is what happens on the night before the most life-altering day of my existance. I am scared and tired and worried. I am already lonely and missing my family and I am still spending the night in their house!

If you were expecting some sort of conclusion, well, forget it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

T'was the night before lift-time, and all through the house, every window was rattling, we were using a mouse

Oh my God.

So the fragiles for our lift are being packed today. The people are supposed to be here any minute. We were up until roughly 3 am making sure there was room for the stuff to be packed, and that all the fragile stuff is where they can get at it fairly easily. Remember if you will that we live in a two bedroom apartment that is currently filled with many boxes and even more chaos. Suffice it to say this was not an easy task.

Fortunatly we have some of the world's most incredible friends who came over ot help with the schlepp work and grunt work. Between P and N & G, and some help from my sister, we managed to get most things done (and Boo aslepp on the living room floor) by the time we went ot bed.

And if that is not bad enoguh, it is tisha b'Av. Told you I had awesome friends. How many people would come help lug furniture when they were fasting? On the other hand, by the time we went to bed I was a mess. All the dust we were kicking up moving furniture and stuff was making my (mostly inactive) asthma a living hell. Lord alone knows where my puffer is. I needed water to clear my throat and obviously could not have any. By the time I went ot bed we decided on the "half-a-shot-glass-every-10-minutes" plan. Three of those and I was actually able to stop coughing long enoguh to think about going ot bed.

BOOM!

No seriously.

BIG, BIG BOOM!

About 45 seconds after turing off the lights we heard the loudest and longest noise either one of us had ever heard. Ok, I get spooked easily, but even Jay went running for a computer so we could try to figure out what was going on. The noises did not stop. They (obviously) woke up a very terrified Boo who ended up in bed with us for the rest of the night (which is an incredibly infrequent state of affairs around here. She knows her bed is where she is supposed to sleep). We were so spooked we even tried calling 911 to find out if we should evacuate!

It sounded like bombs going off or something. We could hear sirens and horns blaring. The sky was orange. We tried calling 911 repeatedly but kept geting a busy signal! We could hear our upstairs neighbour moving around- we thought about going up there to knock and see if we could catch anything on the news (or TV is no longer plugged in), but as it was now 4 am we sort of decided against it.

We checked the Toronto Fire services website which updates every 5 minutes and found out that propane factory near Wilson and Keele went up into a 6 alarm blaze. That is over 3 km from here, and it was still loud enough that we were covering our ears and our windows were rattleing.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Skype

Jason and I just finished installing skype on our computers. It is a wonderful program that will let us stay in touch and talk for free until we figure out the whole "official" voip line thing. All you need to do is install it on your computer from http://www.skype.com . Once you have done that you need only a cheapy microphone (we saw them at factory direct for $4) to talk to us. The quality is actually pretty good.

Under the "add contacts" tab you just need to search for "Jason and Rachel _______" (where the blank is our last name). Then just leave the tiny program running when your computer is on, and we can call you or vice versa.

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you think might be interested. It is a safe program and free as long as both parties are skype members.

Please let us know if you sign up so we can be sure to add you as a contact.

Thanks so much,
Rachel

Friday, August 1, 2008