Sunday, November 30, 2008

I just don't get it

Our city is switching bus lines from Egged to Superbus. Now, this really is not that big a deal. From what I can tell, Superbus is actually going to make things BETTER. They are moving to electronic passes that can be reloaded, they are adding more bus lines which are sorely needed, and they are giving away the electronic cards for free until a month after the switch (at which point they are 20nis so roughly $5 as a one time purchase.)

From everything we have heard they are being superfriendly and superhelpful (what more could one expect from Superbus?) to anyone who calls or shows up asking for help or information. They have set up 2 stands to which people can go to get their cards, both on the current busline (in addition to their office which is also on the busline). They have given people plenty of notice to use up old bus passes and have even said they will accept the old bus line passes for a short "transition period" so people can use them up.

There was a worry that they were planning to turn the whole city bus system into mehadrin (seperate seating) buslines, but they have said that is not going to be the case.

So why are there a whole bunch of people up in arms? Becuase Superbus chooses not to conduct official business in English. That's right, there's no "push 3 for English" option when you call their hotline. No official translator or English speaker at any of their setups (although people who have been already have siad they were more than able to provide whatever assistance was required unofficially).

Um, maybe it is just me, but since when is a company REQUIRED to offer service in any language other than the official national language? Ok, it might be a nice thing. It would certainly be a helpful thing. But more and more I hear people arguing that places MUST offer service in English.

People, this is Israel. Just becuase you have been living here for a number of years (or decades in the case of one person I was speaking to!) and have not bothered learning enough of the local language to ask for your change does not mean that every business in the country needs to change to accomodate you.

Before anyone jumps down my throat about how there are so many English speakers, and people should do the right thing and offer English assistance for public utilities and buslines, etc, stop and think for a minute.

There are loads more Chinese speaking people in Canada than there are francaphones. Does that mean that there must always be a Chinese option? No! As Canadians we expect (and hope) that immigrants will learn, at least passably well, one of our two official languages!

I have said it before in reference to people who can not communicate in the local language back home, and now as an immigrant I will say it again. If you are living in a country you have an obligation to learn enough of the language to understand and to be understood! One would not move to Japan and not expect to learn a minimum of Japanese. Or to Spain without learning some Spanish. so why on Earth do people expect that they can relocate to Israel and not bother learning enough Hebrew to make a phone call?

I grant that there are people for whom learning a new language is next to immpossible. I understand that there are those who are older and have passed the age where picking up a new language is a simple albiet time consuming task. However then I should think it incumbant on them to find a way to cope and not to expect the entire country to bend for them. There are translators available. Make friends with a neighbour. See if you can "borrow" a seminary girl who needs chessed hours for an afternoon. It need not cost anything other than saying, "Hello, I understand that Hebrew is the official language of the country, so I need to figure out a way to communicate for this importatnt issue."

Ok. Getting off my soapbox now. Have a nice night.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Did I get my Rosh chodeshes confused? Is it Elul already?

There is someone in my area currently practicing his shofar blowing. Based on his sucsess I guess he has decided he needs to start practicing already?

Only in Israel.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Kever Rachel (and other things from today)

Last week I saw an ad for a bus going to Kever Rachel from the Ramah for today. I emailed and signed up. Lor decided she wanted to come with me. I only got her becuase I "forgot" to mention the "wonderful stories and songs of Rochel Imeinu" promised for en route. It was an interesting trip. We were, by far, the biggest "goyim" on the trip, but we had a good and meaningful trip in any case. I had a list of roughly 30 names to keep in mind, and I did my best to do so.

I was never at Kever Rachel before it was "fortified", but I have to imagine hat going there prior to "the addition" was a completely different experience. Gone is the little dombed building that you see in all the post cards. The pillars and the gate are still there, but the roof has been removed and the building encased inside a veritable fortress with major security.

I was there 8 years ago and even then, though already fortified, it was a lot more open. The security fence" makes it feel a little bit like being inside a prison. Scary stuff... but only a little. The bus lets you off roughly 5 feet from the entrance and you are basically told to go right inside.

You walk into a small vestibule, than a long hallway. On your right is a sink. I understand that one needs to wash when they leave the building, but I am not sure why people wash on their way in. I have a hunch that it is "becuase it is there" so people just figure they are supposed to.

Here is a virtual tour of the building and lots of other neat stuff about Rachel and the kever including historical drawings and information.

You walk down the hall. If there were any men with us they would have turned right just past the (vacant) security desk and gone into the men section. There is a ner tamid burning and that is about all I could see. Yep that is a dude in a tallit on the bottom right. I did not bother taking a picture of down the hallway as there was really not much to see.

Here is what is left of the picturesque building and its gates that were once here.They gaurd the path to the men's section.

This is the entrance to the antichamber to the kever itself. It is a room with benches and chairs around the perimeter, a well in one corner, and a wall of bookshelves fulled with siddurim, tehillim, etc. That small door leads to the actual kever.

Inside the actual kever. This was as close as I got. I have no idea why all the tombs of the avot and imahot and malachim, and, well, pretty anyone of biblical proportions have huge above ground matzevot like that, but they all do. And they are all covered with awesome coverings with embroidery and whatnot.

I gave some money to some of the people there. One gve me a pile of the traditional red strings. I took it home and played with one of them until I found something to do with it that was a little more unique than a "kabbalah string". Viking weave in fine silver with sterling finials and findings. Way more me. Yes I will have more like this for sale in the next few days.

When I got back to Beit Shemesh Lor and I went on a hunt to find the women's underwear store that sells Ballet dresses (that was all the information I got on where to go get channah's new uniform. Believe it or not, even with just that to go on we managed to find it! May I present to you a touch of gratuitious cuteness, the Channalina Ballerina!

So while all this is going on, a wonderful friend in Tel Aviv has offered to get me some wire that I need and drop it off as she will be driving by Beit Shemesh later on this evening. Great. I am so proud of myself, I even remember that I am in Israel now, and remember to switch my measurements to the metric system.

She calls me from the store, Rach, this is way mroe expensive than you told me. I coudl nto leave her hanging as it was already cut she would be on the hook (apart from being a really obnoxious thing to do to a friend doing me a favour, that would juts be all around a bad idea!). so I put it on my credit card. Problem solved, but why the heck was it so expensive.

Um, yeah. LEts go with I forgot that I could nto just write meters instead of feet without actually changing the quantity. I wanted 5 feet of the stuff and I got 5 meters of it! I'll say it was a little more expensive than I thought it would be!

Oh well, now I have wire to last a while at least.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lets talk about the weather

Oh my gosh.

It is November 26th. I am wearing a 3/4 length tshirt. I was warm in it. Channah went to school today in a t-shirt and sandals.

All our windows are open and there is a gorgeous breeze coming through the apartment.

Ok ok. I know we need rain desperately. I know we are in a major drought. I know people are complaining because grass and trees everywhere are dying.

But wow does a day like today make you forget all that for a little bit.

So, anyone back home wearing parkas yet?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ezeh Chamud! (so cute!)

Oh my gosh.

Channah just had her first ballet class. Watching 20 4-6 year olds jump around in tutus is quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life. Sorry, no pictures allowed, but once I get Channah hers I will psot a picture and maybe a video of my Chanalina Ballarina.

She has about 60% of an idea of what is going on. I can see her (through the windown on the door) watching all of the other kids to see what they are doing, then, for the most part trying to do the same thing. The teacher is awesome. High energy and the kids really like her. She has them prancing around and "dancing" while some of them are giggling so hard they are going ot fall over! The class is in Hebrew, but the teacher speaks enough English to praise Channah so she understands it and to answer questions.

This is going to be a great way for Channah to learn random body parts.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our trip to the Mall-cha last week


Hmmm, isn't this little pink bunny playing for the wrong team?

Touristy Stuff

One of the things they do in Ulpan is introduce Israeli culture. We often do stories about important people, places and events in Israeli history. On Thursday my Ulpan took a trip to Jerusalem. We visited the Supreme Court, Knesset and Menachim Begin Museum. The Supreme Court and Knesset were tours I had oppurtunities to take at other times when I was in Israel and choose to pass. This time it was worth going.

The first stop was the Supreme Court. After our whole group went through security a bag was left outside of security. They were getting nervous as noone in our group claimed it. As we were standing around a staff member from the floor above us managed to drop their cell phone near where a bunch of us were standing. We began the tour and left security to deal with their bag.

As this was Ulpan the tour was conducted in Hebrew. The guide was talking way to fast for me to register anything she was saying, even when she did use words I understood. Once we made it into the courtroom, she finally got the message to slow down. Either I understood half of what she said or I have a really off the deep end understanding of the court system. My favourite moment was when someone in my class got up and asked the guide a question in Russian. Her eyes just completly glazed over. Members of my class were happy to see that she now understood how we felt. I think we had an oppurtunity to see a case in action in the main courthouse, but we didn't have enough time.

The Supreme Court is a beautiful building. A lot of deep and well thought out symbolism was used representing important values of justice. I could not help but to think of recent court rulings that violated the principles incorporated into the building. A soldier sentenced to 21 days in jail for the crime of yawning. The ruling in favour of the forcible eviction of land legally purchased by Jews. There is overwhelming evidence the sale was not coerced. The only issue that seems to be at stake is the seller didn't know he was selling to Jews and is trying to avoid the death penalty.

The next stop was a short walk down to the Knesset. Security was extra tight with cell phone and cameras confisicated and stored in a bag until after the visit. I was surprised when I set off the medal detector. Without doing anything different I walked through a second time without doing anything different without setting of the medal detector. That meant a quick pat down of my pockets followed by a gruff "Welcome" afterwards. It is ammusing when Israeli security gaurds try to be friendly.

(The Knesset and Supreme Court have a Tadiran phone system. Although they are using the beige DKT phones which were discontinued a long time ago.) Our first stop was a video presentation. It was in Hebrew with Hebrew subtitles. Since it was designed as a promotional video, it was slow and clear combined with the writting I was able to understand a lot. We were given the option to watch it again as an English tour joined up with our group. Next we went to the Knesset floor. It struck me how American it was in design and layout. I really like to the pomp and ceremony of the Canadian system. The Knesset has a VIP gallery. Behind that is the public gallery which is behind sound proof glass. The tour guide explained the reason was because some once through a grenade in the old Knesset building and injured some people. The secondary reason was for noise control. I got a good laugh, as the second answer is probably the true one.

We then took the bus to the Menachim Begin Museum. It was a well done exhibit on the life story of Begin. It is amazing that someone could spend 26 years on the opposition benches before spending 6 years as Prime Minister. Each room had some sort of video on different parts of his life. There was even a room where you could select each and every election campaign he was a part of. Headphones were provided to translate the video into the language of choice. Between the different rooms there was usually an introduction given by our tour guide.

My favourite was there was a room set up with a table and chairs to simiulate Irgun planning meetings. On the left was a video of a street with a British Patrol. In front there was a monitor on the left with BBC broadcasts of various events. On the right was the same broadcast coming from the Israeli underground. There was another monitor to show events taking place. During the planning discussuion hands appeared on the tables and you could watch the planning take place. They covered the Akko prison break, King David Hotel, Soldier Hangings, Ship sinking. At one point a comment is made that there are too many British patrols as the monitor on the left shined a light into the entire room. It was a pretty simple but cool effect.

The only objection about the museum came from someone active for the Likud. They are commemorating 30 years since the Camp David accords next year. There are pictures of the Carter/Sadat/Begin handshake. He felt it was a government agenda to move the peace process forward. When I pointed out that they showed Begin saying "There will never be a Palestinian State" at the museum and at the Knesset. He said it was just there to cover up the government agenda.

The tour ended with a trip on an elevator. It was a round room that could hold 30 people. They played Begin's speech from 1978 on Ammunition Hill, about the importance of Jerusalem. When the doors open you get a beautiful view of the old city.

All in all it was a pretty good day.

A request

Hi everyone,

We try not to use this space to ask for favours or anything, but we have one now.

Can you please keep the name Chayim Gad ben Chaya Clara in your thoughts and your prayers. He is a friend of ours, a young husband and father, who has been fighting cancer for a number of years and has jsut been given more frightening news.

May avinu shebashamayim, rofeh refaim, send him a full and complete refuah.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Channah pictures

Fresh home from gan on Friday

Dressed and ready for Shabbat

Our trip into Jerusalem this week.

Channah. Home from Gan, wet and ready to go.

On the bus. Raincoats are a good thing :)

Wandering Ben Yehuda

Channah's first shwarma. It was close to the size of her head and she devoured most of it. Not quite a total Israeli yet though. She had it with ketchup instead of chumous and techina!

Guess who?

Jay met us a little later. The shwarma place was packed, so instead we went to a hot dog joint where JAson god a steak in a hot dog bun. Weird but he claims to have liked it.

The sign of a day well spent

Boo, a Boo is tights, (tight tights!)

It is finally cold enough here that we bought Boo tights. This morning we told her she should wear them.

Two minutes later I am in the living room and I hear "get on get on you stupid tights".

I forgot it has been a while...

My night tochnit

So tonight I had budgeted the evening for sifting flour. Takes me an hour, a change of clothes, and time to dust all the shelves in teh living room when I am done for random flour that gets everywhere.

So I get everything all set up. New sifter. Check. Bowl underneath sifter. Check. Flour. Check. Spatula. Check. Lousy clothes. Check. Free Evening. Check.

Using my new flour sifter the whole thing was done, no mess, no fuss, under two minutes.

Now what am I going to do tonight?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I want a three day, three day holiday............

I want to go to Israel.

OK, I live here so it is only a 3-4 hour car ride rather than having to deal with airplanes, travel agents and customs. It is still very cool.

The 3rd annual recreational hockey tournament is set for January. I just found out the details. I need to work out the logistics to sign up by next Thursday. I am very excited. I have also found out the details about playing on a regular basis. There is room in the goalie rotation and there may even be someone local who can give me ride. This week has been a rather exciting week.

First chutz l'aretz guests

We had uncle Robert and aunty Julea over for dinner last night. Yes they did the nice thing and offered to take the Israeli relatives out to dinner (to Burgers Bar no less!) but we thought it would be more fun to show off a little (apart from the fact that we really just do not get out much anymore).

After a slight detour getting here they got here around 4:15 yesterday afternoon. Uncle Robert went right up the street to catch mincha at the minyan factory and aunty Julea came inside and got the grand tour. As normal it was the mirpeset that cliniched the "wow, you have a really nice place" comment. That view gets everyone!

Once uncle Robert got home from shul we had dinner. I had gone all out with soup (tomato bean) and a main course (garlic salmon, green beans and Israeli sesame cous cous). We normally we only do one or the other. Soup with pita is a meal in itself. Channah and I even made chocolate chip cookies after school for dessert (we never have anything other than maybe a freezie for Channah for dessert during the week).

Aunty Julea played Santa pulling stuff from home out of her big read bag. Today I am wearing new real Canadian tight, a new long sleeve shirt :) (Thank you mommy!) I put leftovers away last night in real ziploc bags! Jason took crystal light to ulpan todayinstead of plain water. He is going to wear new dress pants to his interview today (Thanks Mel!) and actually look like someone in the Israeli job market. (Until now he either wore half a suit and looked like he overdressed but forgot half of his outfit on the bus, or casual pants and a dress shirt and so he looked like he got dressed for two different sets of plans at the same time.)

Anyhow, we had a great visit. News from home is always nice (yes, just becuase you know everytihng going on in our lives does not mean we know about stuff back home. Either start your own blog or send us an email once in a while!).

Uncle Robert shluffed on the couch for a bit and the rest of us shmoozed. Channah went into a snit at bedtime and sent herself to her room telling us all that she was not going to be our friend anymore. Oh well. Such is life. But that is why she is not in the picture we took as they were getting ready to go.

On the whole, I am glad we decided to stay in. I think we had a much more relaxed evening than we would have had we gone out.

Fashion show

We have noticed in the last couple of weeks that Channah was rapidly growing out of most of her clothing. Skirts that we bought just before we came or when we got here are now too short to wear to school. She has one awesome jean skirt that will fit for a while, but other than that she had nothing for school. She also needed some long sleeve shirts as we did not bring many with us as she had already outgrown most of her stuff from last year.

We got half way through the photo session before the battery in my camera died, so here is what we got. I will try to post the rest soon.

We got 5 shirts, 2 outfits that consist of a hoodie and a skirt (on adidas style one with an ankle length skirt instead of pants in white with pink stripes and one grey fleece with pink and white ruffles and cuffs- I almost did not even pick up either one beucase the old life part of my head just assumed they would be pants!), 1 other navy blue skirt made of fleece with a ruffle at the bottom and a drawstring so it should fit for a while (we bought it long and will just do it up tight) and one white fleece zip-up sweatshirt. We also got 5 pairs of tights (2 white, one pink... got to give in to the kid sometimes!).

Ok, this one is so you can see the one remaining skirt we had. I got her the Tshirt when I was in Montreal with Mom and Deb before we left. Oh, do take note of her uber-cool socks with sandals look.

Yes I know the polo shirts are very Chareidi looking, but they are juts so darn cute! I figure so long as I pair them with a jean skirt or something and not a perfectly matching skirt she can pull it off.

This shirt is very "in" here right now. It wraps around and around and around and looks aweful on most adults (who have some sort of figure) but really super cute on kids. Not the best picture of it, but it is really adorable.

Pictures of the skirts and cute athletic outfits at some lter point. This should hold over the "I need pictures of Channah" withdrawel for a couple of days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sick of politics

I know Jason has already covered the elections, but I just could not let the whole thing pass without adding my 2 agurot.

I can't say that I am thrilled with the outcome of the Beit Shemesh (soon to be renamed Beis Sheemish) elections. But, as in a deomcrasy it is the rule of the majority, I can accept the fact that my "team" lost. I can deal with that. Happened all the time in Canada. Ok, so we hope the new guy will not be as bad as we fear and move forward.

But truth be told, I can not say that I am thrilled with any part of the electoral process.

I am not normally a political person. Sure I always vote- not so much because I think it is my civic duty or anything like that, but instead because I feel that if you remove yourself from the process, than you have no right to complain about the results or their repercussions. As we all know that I like to complain, I make sure to get out and vote.

For the first time since I turned 18 I was actually relatively excited to vote. Getting my voter card here was exciting. I am an Israeli and thus have a right to have a say in how my own little piece of our ancestral land is going to be governed. (This is even more meaningful since we are not sure we will get to vote in the Federal election in February as we will have been here less than a year.)

But I was REVOLTED by how the campaigning and elections were run. It made me sick to see the dirty tactics and disgusting behavriour by the candidates and their followers. I know that I needed to expect a difference in cultural attitudes towards elections, but what I saw bordered on needing to bring in a neutral observer with trained military personel in order to make sure we had a free and fair election!

Beit Shemesh has an online list (henseforth referred to as "the list") and the Ramah has a second online list all its own (henseforth referred to as "rbs2"). The shmutz going back and forth on the lists for weeks has been disgusting. Everything from "Gedolim say you MUST vote for our candidate or you are voting against Hashem and the Torah" to "I saw candidate X and his followers throwing campaign litter on a street" to baseless accusations of backroom deals and purchased votes from all parties.

It got so bad that both lists refused to allow any more election related posts to go up, and sending them in could lead to an immidiate posting ban from the poster. The Lashon Harah on the list was so bad they were coming it faster that you could read them.

Consistency is good. It is nice to know that sinat chinam is just as bad now as it was when Hashem destroyed the Beit Hamikdash.

Add to that the vote tampering and rampant cheating that goes on in this country at election time, and rather than being proud to be part of the system, it made me embarrassed to be Israeli.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Israeli Elections (Where fraud is normal)

Being able to vote is one of the ultimate acts of citizenship. As politics is something I have always been interested in, I was very excited to be able to vote. Instead of being proud to be a voter and active in the political process, I am embarrassed witnessing first hand the worst of what our political system has to offer.

I tried on a number of occasions to volunteer for one of the parties. First they did not respond to my request. I finally got sent down a chain of volunteers of who directed me to the person I should talk to. He responded with just show up at a particular location whenever you feel like it. This morning I called the party for a ride to the polling station. An hour later I called again and they finally arranged a ride for us. A party representative that I have a lot of respect for was at the booth across from the polling station. I asked if I could help after the polls close. They made some phone calls and told me I was out of luck. Later in the evening, an e-mail went out on the list asking for after the polls close help. I called the campaign manager who I have met. He told me to call another number. They told me that they would call me if they needed me. I tried to help. Nobody wanted it.

I am used to parties not campaigning on election day. There were cars driving around all day playing loud music with election posters. Garbage was everywhere as parties scrambled to put up their own last minute election signs and tear down those of their opponents. Streets were littered with garbage everywhere. Campaign booths were set up accross from polling stations.
On the plus side I met a candidate that I had sent my resume to earlier in the morning. He showed me on his phone that he had the e-mail and he would be reading it.

After voting I became very concerned about how easy it is to manipulate the election, through ballot tampering or misleading information. As the day went on there were more and more reports of vote tampering. (Details on how votes are cast is in my politics blog). Last report police were investigating 420 seperate incidences.

We have been here for almost 3 months. Today was the first time I have been embarrased to call myself and Israeli. I was so upset that I sent an e-mail to Elections Canada requesting that they lend their expertise in ending the election corruption. Afterall they are the same organizaiton that helps such advance countries as Iraq, Haiti and Afghanistan have free and fair elections. I just hope the people's choice is the actual winner.

We Remember

We Remember.

Not 100% sure we should remember at 11:11 our time our yours, so we are going with your time becuase then Channah will be home from school so we can explain it to her as well.

Monday, November 10, 2008

And this is why our place stays so nice and clean

Messy toys are now outdoor toys!

Playdough, markers, paint... does not matter to us! There is enough good weather still that these just do not get played with in the house.

Apart from all the messy stuff, the mirpeset also has a skipping rope, a tricycle, bubbles, 2 balls, a bowling set and some random pylons nad flags and stuff. Her shopping cart and doll stroller (well, bear stroller) also spend ample ammounts of time hanging out in the fresh air.

Sure is windy in here

Wheee- freedom!

I am pretty sure I have mentioned here before that in Israel you have to sift all your flour before you use it to make sure it is not buggy.

I am not sure if I mentioned how much I HATE sifting flour and how no matter how neat I try to keep it I always end up making a huge mess as when I shake the sifter flour seems to go EVERYWHERE if there is even the slightest breeze (and lets not mention the first time I did it where it did not occur to me not to do it directly under the ceiling fan. The next morning it looked like no one had dusted in a hundred years or so).

I had been told that there was a different sort of sifter you could buy that had a hand crank and a squeegee sort of thing that spins around to push the flour through the sifter, but no one I knew had one, and no one seemed to know where to get one (incidentally, there are also electric ones but they are really expensive and just not worth it to my mind. I might hate it, but I do not hate it multiple hundreds of shekel worth).

Yesterday while wandering a non-local hardware store (which here in Israel tend to have hardware, kitchen ware, storage stuff, and sometimes toys) Jason found one of the spinning ones! It was a bit of a splurge (basically only a few shekel more than the normal one we have, but as we already have a normal one and this was not really a "necessity" the whole cost was a splurge) but I am in HEAVEN! Sooooooooo much easier and less messy and patchkadic than the other way!

I think I will take a go at actually baking a dessert for shabbat this week to celebrate. Until now I have been a real tightwad with my flour as I knew that if I used it I would have to sift more (I generally keep about a kilo pre sifted in a container).

Also, for those wondering about our menus here I have started a 2nd location at Kosher Quick with recipies and information on our kitchen life here where eating out is an insane luxury and prepackaged food is not worth the money or the freezer space. With no family to fall back on we pretty much eat at home every night, so we are needing to find good, healthy, cheap meals that are not too boring. I just loaded it yestarday so more recipies and information will go up as I get around to it.

Local Elections - Bet Shemesh

As not to bore you with local politics, I have posted details of this weeks local elections on my politics blog.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mixing Religion with Politics

The battle for Mayor and city council has really been heating up over the past two weeks. The streets are littered with garbage campaign material. Accusations are flying about the dangers of voting for other candidates and the risk of vote splitting.

On Shabbos the Rabbi of our shul stepped in with his own take on the campaign. He had been asked earlier in the week to endorse the Haredi candidate because all of the Gedolim were endorsing him. He immediately challenged their definition of "all." A delegatation was then sent to tell him what a great guy the Haredi candidate was. He responded that there were people he knew that could spend just as much time, telling him what a great person another one of the candidates were. On Shabbos morning he announced that he was endorsing everyone to come out to the debate tonight and make a decision for themselves.

After Shabbos in a less public setting he added onto his views of the election. He could not tell is Mizrachi following to vote for the Haredi candidate when the first thing he will do is funnel education dollars into the haredi school system. In other words he will not sell out his congregation. This is especially comforting considering the school he is the principal of would be the beneficiery of the shift in school funding. I really like our Rabbi.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Powerful Tefilah

On Tuesday night we decided to stop at the kotel for Marriv before heading home from the Science Museum. It is kind of neat that each trip can be a different experience because of the mind frame you are in and what is happening around you.

As I walked into the kotel I joined a minyan being organized by two people wearing french fry kippas. Nobody needed to say kaddish. Off in the right hand corner was a group of soldiers singing and dancing to celebrate their enlistment. Half way through davening the call to prayer rang out. The singing on it's own brought my davening up another 10 levels. When Channah was finished with her visit she came and stood with me for the end of davening.

It was the first time in Israel that we had the full blown prayer for rain. The rest of the world will not be changing thier tefilah for another month. At that same moment voters accross the United States were lining up to elect Obama.

The Beis Hamikdash was a place to go in order to get clarity in understanding the world. The Beis Hamikdash is gone. While I may not be able to comprehend all of the meaning from what was happening around me. I did know that at that moment I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

One more exhibit from the science museum

So there was this one exhibit at the science museum. It was sponsored by Cellcom (one of the big cell phone providers here). The context was that it was all about communication (as any exhibit sponsored by a cell phone company should be).

The way it worked is that there were these puppets (sort of like marionettes I guess) on the walls. You were able to "interact" with them by dialing in with your cell phone. Each one had their own phone number, and when you dialed in you could use your phone like a remote control and make them move and dance.

Remember- in Israel you pay for all outgoing calls. Incoming ones are free.

so Cellcom was generously sponsoring a small exhibit that had visitors making outgoing calls (for which, in our case as we are Cellcom users) and thus giving them money.

As silly and as ironic as it wass we were amused.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom/Bubbie

Happy birthday, Mom!
I hope everyone can see,
What a great mom you’ve always been,
And how much you mean to me.

I always think about you,
In times both good and bad,
For the things you taught are with me,
In happy times and sad.

So on this day I wish you joy,
Just like you pass around.
May all your good times multiply,
And happiness abound.

Karl Fuchs

Channah, Rachel and I are thinking about you and are sorry we could not be closer today. We will celebrate belatedly when you are here.

Wihing you every joy and happiness, every success and acievement in the year to come.

I love you.

As promised, here is a picture post.

Yesterday we took Channah to the Bloomfield Musiyon Shel Madah (Science Museum). It is not exactly the Science Centre, but we had a good time and she is looking forward to going back at some point. There were lots of things for her to play with and touch and manupulate. There was even an arts and crafts program where she made a spinning disc thing.

Here she is watching a thing where she manipulates a massive magnet to raise and release huge chains. She controlled it with a foot pedal.

There was a whole exhibit on vacuum and how it worked. This thing let kids make the ball "hover".

I don't remember what she was doing here but I like the picture.

Jason playing with blocks.

Channah building a ball maze. Big slope, lots of blocks to build with. There was actually a great big ball release machine and she had a lot of fun with it. I could not get a good picture as it just looked like a mess of steel tubing.

Channah getting a giraffe eye view on the world. There was a periscope inside the giraffe.

After we were done at the museum we went to the old city for Maariv and dinner. We got treated to an awesome "concert" at the kotel. There had been a reenlitment ceremony and after it was done a bunch of the dati soldiers were standing and singing at the wall. I have a short video of it below. It was gorgeous to listen to!

A shot of the kotel as we were walking up the (bazillion) steps to go get dinner.

As I said above, here is the video. Enjoy :) We certainly did.

Why yes, I have been neglecting you all...

Sorry. Thankfully work is starting to pick up so I have less "lonely at the computer" time. combine that with the fact that with the chagim over we are starting to settle into a regular routine that is, frankly, not all the interesting to post about (let alone read!) so I have not bothered with the daily nitty gritty.

Ok, I promise, big picture post coming tomorrow with pictures from today at the science museum and in the old city. I will even try to get Channah to smile for a current glamour shot.

I will also try to get Jason to give over his new stand up routine about the ridiculousness of the elections over here. Forget for a moment about Obama and McCain (what's that, you say you forgot all about it? Shame on you!), we got Lerner, Abutol, Vanknin (every time I hear his name I think of Peter Venkmin from Ghostbusters and thinking I should call him) and a party called Chen that has, to the best of my knowledge at least, no leader as I have never ever heard a name mentioned. It has tunrned into a slugfest.

In the meantime, I present

Things we should have brought but didn't.
  1. Benedryl and Buckleys. Apparently they are both Canadian phenomenons and do not exist anywhere except the great frozen north. Who knew?
  2. Ziplock bags. If you can find them here they are really, insanely expensive and the seal on them is terrible. Ditto for Saran wrap.
  3. Baking pans. Finding anything not made of foil here is a challenge.
  4. Tights. You would not think finding tights in a country where lots of women wear skirts would be a challenge, but finding anything over a size 10 is a bit of a nightmare. My legs are starting to freeze at night. If you manage to find anything here at all it is really thin stockings that tear as you put them on. Seriously not good for warmth.
  5. English reading material. I should have cleaned out a couple of second hand stores before we left and shipped their entire inventory on our lift. English books can be found, but they are really friggin' expensive! 80 shek a book is not unusual.
  6. Our succah decorations. What in the world were we thinking selling them with the succah?
  7. The contents of our bar. who would have known really?
  8. More blankets.
  9. Hangers.
  10. Sewing stuff for repairs. Again, you would think it would be readily available but for some strange reason it's not.
I am sure there are more things on this list, but this is a start.