Monday, April 27, 2009

Teaching again?

As of Sunday I am taking two piano students. Neither have piano's at home. this ought to be interesting. But the two students will cover our arnona rise once our new olim discount is over, so I figure it is a worthwhile endeavor.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the move again...

Need to move.
Landlord raising the rent by 25-30% (will not know until the dollar closes the day of the new lease.

Not happy, but such is life. We found this place in roughly 3 weeks- hopefully we will have good luck again. We need to be out by September 1st (having painted and fixed nail holes for artwork when we go).

Yes this is totally legal here. Lizards have more rights than renters.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

yom Hashoah (Holocaust rememberence day)

From my vantage spot at my living room window I saw two cars stop cold, one guy get off his bike and just stand next to it, and 3 people stop in their tracks. No one moved for the full two minutes. I found it rather astounding to watch, but in reality as I live in yachupitzville it was not really all that impressive.

Then someone posted this video taken from their office in Tel Aviv. At first it is not all that impressive, but by about the 30 second mark it gets a little eerie.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Walk through Palestinian Authority

One of the off shoots of the 'Peace Process' has been limiting access to Jewish holy sites. It is illeagal for Israeli citizens to enter Palesinian Territory Last night was the supposed Yahrtzeit of Yoshua ben Nun. It is located in what is called area A. The PA is in charge but the IDF is responsible for security. It was only one of two nights a year where Jews have access to his Kever. When I found out that Rafi G. was going I arranged to hitch a ride. (Thank Rafi).

The kever is located near Ariel in the Shomron. The drive in was uneventful with a check point when crossing the Green Line. There was a truck full of live Turkies that had been pulled over. There was a road that had been closed for the night to be used for parking.

The Kever was supposed to be open from 10:00pm to 4:30am with those already in the village allowed to stay for Nes. We arrived at around 10:30. There was a giant command post set up where we all waited. Their were Army vehicles driving back and forth with one officer controlling the crowd. Everytime he took a step back the crowd would move closer and closer. At one point he took a couple of steps back and told the crowd to stop. They took this as he meant go and started moving in before he got things under control. The way people were crowding around it was like watching the starting line for a marathon. The waiting allowed the Army photographers to get in lots of pictures of the crowd. At 10:45 we were finally able to go.

We walked for a few minutes until we arrived at the gate to the village. They kept having to yell 'Savlanut' (Patience) until the gate was ready to open and the charge began. Towards the outskirts of the town there were large homes spread out amongst many olive trees. People couldn't help put notice the giant chandlier in one house when they turned on their lights for a few minutes.

We eventually hit some smaller homes before coming to the more commercial area of town. The first stop was the Kever of Calev ben Yafuneh. We had to go through a small court yard and then duck to get into the kever. There was lots of davening and eventually they blew shofar. As we were getting ready to leave we saw Yaakov Yosef the son of Rav Ovadiah. This caused us to stay a touch longer.

We continue to walk up the hill into the main part of town. There was a major square that was the centre of the action outside of Kever Yehoshua ben Nun. The Kever was not very far from the mosque. A new school was being built immediatly behind the Kever and the municipal offices appeared to be the next building over. The Kever had a narrow courtyard to go in. We had to duck to arrive into a room with no roof. We then had to duck again to get into the kever. The room was boiling hot and it was hard to breath. I had to use my Israeli elbows instead of my Canadian manners to navitgate the kever. Once again we were joined by Yaakov Yosef. Alienu was to be resighted every hour as Yehoshua was the author. We didn't last long enough for that part.

Outside of the kever their were refreshments: drinks, pastries and Yerushlmi Kugel. Once we were done it was time to head down the hill to the Kever of Nun, father of Yehoshua. The path was fairly dark. At one point there were 3 soldiers standing on a hill and all you could see was their glow sticks. I had never thought of glow sticks as military equipment before. We spent a little bit of time at the Kever before heading back to the square.

At the square we ran into Ichud Leumi MK Michael Ben-Ari. There was a tent where Chabad was set up (they do Kiruv everywhere) plus some other tables with refreshments or collecting money. We then made our way back towards the main entrance and the road where the car was parked.

It is amazing to think that if I wanted to do the same thing tonight I would be arrested. Last night I had full IDF protection. The next major Kever like this is Kever Yoseph. It requires armoured buses with a full IDF escort because it is in Shchem which is major PA territory. As it was the first Jewish holy sight destroyed from the Oslo agreements, I am curious to see what has become of it. It probably won't be on the agenda for this year.

Kever visiting is usually not my type of thing. As a once in a lifetime experience it was very much worth doing. Pictures to follow.

A Real Community Bar Mitzvah

This past Shabbos was another only in Israel type of event. There was a Bar Mitzvah for someone who has a brother in Channah's class. They are fond of each other and Channah wanted to go. The family used to daven at our shul before switching at some point during this year. The father still has connections to our shul, so the entire congergation was invited to kiddush.

Our shul made arrangements so everybody who wanted to could go. The Shabbos Mevorchim kiddush was cancelled. Our Rabbi who normally speaks after davening moved his dvar Torah to before Mussaf, so he could daven Mussaf at the Bar Mitzvah. They started davening 30 minutes after us. Many of the after shul programs were cancelled because the people who run them were going.

Rachel wasn't feeling well, so I took Channah. The kiddush was in a room that is under construction. There were walls and a ceiling.The ground was still rough and their were some broken pews around the outside. It felt like being outside in the beautiful weather, while technically being inside.Their was a decent amount of food but nothing obscene. There were lots of people (including many from our shul) but it did not come anywhere close to being a full contact kiddush. Channah got to see her friend and eat some chocolate cake.

The whole thing was just really laid back and nice. It was a real community event.

I love when customer service actually exists!

I had something built by my handy guy when we first got here. It is a table i nmy studio that takes a tremendous amount of wear and tear as it house my rolling mill, my polishing machine and my vice. Somewhere before pessach, one of the legs fell off.

Now, as it stands I was still rather impressed with the piece because missing a leg it was still strong enoguh and sturdy enough that I could use it for anything I needed (albeit somewhat delicatly). It was not urgent so I decided to wait until after pessach to deal with it- I figured before pessach there was no way my handy guy had time to come by anyway.

So I called him yesterday and left a message figuring it would be at least a week until I heard from him. Last night he returned the call, and offered to coem this morning at 9. I figured sure. So I was up and ready early this morning even though I did not really expect him to be here until at least 11.

9:02 my door buzzer rings. He is here. He gets right to work, fixes the problem, helps me with a little advice on how to put up the awning we bought for the mirpeset last night and is on his way by 9:15- WITHOUT CHARGING ME AN AGURAH!

Oh my gosh this guy should offer lessons in customer service!

If anyone is looking for a handy guy I totally recommend Handy Randy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kachol V'Lavan, ze tzevah sheli

Last year I went to the טקס (program/ceremony) at BAYT as I had done pretty much every single year since I was in elementary school. I was pretty sure it was goingto be our last one. We hoped to be moving in the summer but we were not yet 100% sure. It felt different beign there. Being somehow outside of it as we were already so much on the boderline of being Israeli and not just celebrating Yom Ha'Atzmaute as a cultural event-b but not yet able to do so. The beauty of so many people from so many walks of life coming together for one night in many ways overwhelmed me.

But I realize now that it really was nto from all woalks of life. The Israeli teenageer in a tank top was not there. The Chareidi in the shtreimel who supports the state was not there. The family with no car who lived downtown was not there.

Here you see everyone and everything getting involved.

I went to go get Channah from gan today and the school was draped inside and out with Israeli flags. The kids were singing "lechah eten et ha-arets hazot" (to you I will give this land- a pasuk from the Torah discussing that all the land would be given to b'nai yisrael) at the top of their lungs. Every surface was covered in blue and white streamers.

Everywhere I look flags are going up. In windows, on balconies. On the routes leading into and out of cities. I know it is just the idealist new olah in me, but even all the flowers seem to be blooming to their most beautiful to dress up the country for her birthday.

People are asking about Yom Haatzmaute plans and not a week after pessach have already started wishing each other a chag sameyach (I did a double take as I had no idea why the guy at the harware store said it to me- he assumed the sun shade I was buying was for a yom haatzmaute party- I was amused!).

We all know that there were many things that finally pushed Jason and I into making the decision to move. But this week, the new olah idealist in me is being given the chance to see why it wanted to come. Forget the millions of other reasons we decided to come. This week goes right back to why I wanted to come when I was 4 years old.

I belong here. Everyone can belong here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Welcome Back

to those of you finally finished wood chipping at way at your extra day of cardboard. Hope your Chag was wonderful and meaning ful and the last one you ever need to spend in chutz la'aretz.

Lashanah Habah B'Yerushalayim Habenuya!

Ramat HaNegev Trip with NBN

It was hot. Really I am not sure I need to add any more to this entry but that oen piece of information for you to get the picture of the day. There is no slowly easing into the hot weather when you got to the NEgev just as it is starting to get warm.

But we had our water and our sun hats and were good to goo. I mean go. Both work.

We got on the (slightly overbooked) bus at 9 something in the morning. Channah was aslepp by 9 something +1. Jason was asleep by 9 something +2. I think I might have made it to 9 something +5 before the next thing I remember is pulling into the rest stop.

About 2 something hours later we arrived at our first stop. Lunch. Lunches over pessach are a little more challenginf, but I think we did okay. We had to bring two meals with us, and for the whole day we brought a combination of yogurt (defintly for lunch as it was not going to make it without the bus's air conditioning!) hard boilled eggs, tuna patties, cut up celery, cucumbers and carrots, string cheese, and a few mini chocolate bars. Oh, and I think 8 frozen water bottles. I feel like I am forgetting something, but I am not sure what.

channah with Egg on her face.

After lunch we met our tour guides and broke off into our hiking groups. We were hiking in an area called Ein Ovdat right near Ben Gurion University.

Right near the start of the hike
the middle

somewhere near the middle. Idid not get a picture of the waterfall at the end as it was right around then that Channah tripped over a rock and my first aid kit became required. Beleive it or not I forgot to go back for the picture. Sometimes the mommy in me just takes over. She is fine and a great little troupe but I think the one on her elbo might leave a scar.

After the hike there were a few minutes to kill. Channah and I ran for a pit stop of our own, and Jason went over to the grave of Ben Gurion and his wife. Apparently the view from there is spectacular. Unfortunatly, the sun was so bright we could nto see the screen on the camera at all so it was sort of point and shoot and hope you get something worthwhile and this is the best of the pictures from the grave site.

We heard rumour after the fact that apparently it is the site of many a late night rendevous for Bengurion University students. We were just glass we did not touch the stones...

From there we got to go on a jeep tour. This was the entire reason I had signed up for the trip :) I have never done anything like that and I was super excited. I am proud to say I was the first woman on one of the jeeps (or jeepees as Channah calls them) even before the "how to get on this thing" demo.

our "jeepee" pit stop for a game

oasis in desert. How cool is this!
The potential last ride of the day. We skipped it as Channah is terrified of camels and we have both already done it. we had tea with Beduines instead.

We got back to RBS around 9:30. We made some new friends and even though a lot of thetrip was pure chaos had a really good time.

We finished the chag by going for shvii to friends in Kiryat Sefer. OTher than getting lost on our way home (just a little) it was just fun and uneventful.

And that was our pessach. Funny how purim took more entries than pessach did, and pessach is 8 times as long.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Zoo was a zoo

Originally we had planned to rent a car for chol hamoed but in the end we decided to cancel the rental and just go to the zoo one day and a nefesh b'nefesh trip the next. Each day ended up costing us less than in would have for the rental alone- including all admissions, food (we brought with us both days even though technically there was stuff to buy) and transportation.

From the time we got to the train station until the time we finally got back to our apartment, we were not sure which of the beheimot (animals) were in the cages and which were on our side of the fence. People were so incredibly rude and self centred I found myself wanting to smack a lot of them.

I am sure the Zoo is a nice place to go, but I doubt we will be going again any time soon.

Ok, so maybe I should start at the beginning.

There were a grand total of 5 trains going into the zoo over the course of the whole day (and from where we live train is sort of the only option, although we did find out after that we could have bussed to Jerusalem then busees from there to the zoo but we did not know that ahead of time and in any case I suspect it would have been just as bad if not worse- going in to Jerusalem on A) chol hamoed and B) easter sunday just seemed like a crowded option.)

So after waitign 45 minutes for a bus that should come every 10 we ended up calling a cab to make it to the train station for the 2nd train of the day (the first got there 2 hours before it opened so we had decided to take the one that got to the zoo about a half hour ater it opened).

The train was a mob scene.

People were pushing and shoving. I am amazed no one ended up falling into the tracks. No one was willing to fold up their strollers, so there was way less room then there could have been. Channah sat on the floor at our feet and Jason and I stood for the 45 minute ride- not a big deal until you factor in the rolling strollers and kids racing back and forth along the train because they were bored (no idea where the parents were). Heaven forbid any of them should actually say slicha if they trample on you- no you just get a nasty look like it is your fault.

This was what we saw when we got off of the train.

We got off the train and were met by what I can only call a gaggle of people shrieking in every language under the sun. We went to a temporary booth set up to sell tickets and got in line. Silly Canadians. Don't you know that waiting nicely in line is not the Israeli way? We finally got to the front of the line (the people behind us helped push the line along) and some woman tries to smush in front of us from the side.

Um no. I slamed my credit card down on the table and in my best pissed off Israeli Hebrew informed the lady behind the counter we had been here and she was serving us next. (The guy behind us vouched for us as well). she looked at me sort of like she was not sure what to do as clearly this woman beside me was going to get pissy and I just handed her my card, told her what tickets I needed and told her to ring them up.

She did as I am pretty sure that between me and the other lady I looked the more pissed off at that moment.

In any case, we got our tickets and went in to the zoo. Inside we got our tickets to the 3D movie and hung out in the front area watching the monkeys and planning our day for 15 minutes or so until the doors opened for the movie.

Once again, the "line" to get in to the theatre was more of a boxing ring. We just waitign in line, took the best seats that were still left and put on our glasses. Jason and I loved the movie. The whole 3D thing was really well done. channah was terrified of most of it (it was about bugs) but did take her head out of my arm pit long enough to see the butterfly get eaten by the praying mantis.

Oh, every time they showed a picture of the rain forrest they had it rain in the theatre and a mist came crawing along the floor. This did not go over so well with my neat as a pin and fairly fussy five year old.

After that we wandered the zoo for a long while. Everywhere you went you saw adults pushing in front of kids. Kids totally out of control and racing around cutting in front of everyone. People who were just plain rude. It was your basic average major chillul Hashem.

We got the visitors centre where three computers that kids can use. Again we wait in line nicely. Channah waits while kids cut in and out. Most of the time it is 2 to a machine, they stay longer than I think should be allowed ocnsidering the number of kids waiting, but what can I do that is how it is set up (note there are no staff anywhere monitoring the situation. After almost a half hour Channah leaves because even when she managed to get to one of the computers another kids tells her it is "saved" and she starts to cry.

Then came the washrooms. Clearly we polite Canadians never learn our lessons. Channah and I stood in line for 15 minutes to deal with her "I need to go right now" ringingi n my ears. Again we finally got to the front o the line to the point where she was next. Again someoen comes up beside us as squeezes in front of us. she is with a child roughly the same age as Channah who clearly also needs to go.

"I'm sorry but there is a line"
I am ignored.
"Excuse me but there is a line"
More being ignored.
"There is a line and we are next"
she sends her kids in front of us to the next avaialble washroom. Channah is seriously wimpering.
"I said there is a line and my daughter is next." (said rather angrily. Mother behind me tells the other woman to go to the back of the line. woman's kid starts to cry).
She turns to me. How dare you speak to us like that. You could just ask nicely
Channah is now in the bathroom.
(woman behind me, "She did")
she continues "she did not. My daughter has not gone for 3 hours"
me. "Not my problem. My daughter also has not and the only difference is she has been in line for the last 15 minutes".
woman behind me concours again.

channah comes out, washes her hands, we leave. I see other parents pushing in front of the woman who cut in line and telling her to go to the back. I was furious over the incadent for quite a while after that.

Be that as it may there were some better parts to the day.

I am amused to discover that this is what ISraeli's call a squirrel. I see chipmunk.

This is probably the coolest (and biggest!) pidgeon I have ever seen in my life.

This hear is some local Israeli specimens in their winter coats having lost the gene to shed their fur coats in the warmer weather.

This amused the heck out of me. Anytime something was called a Palestinian anything in English, in Hebrew it was renamed "Yisraeli". I could make a comment about rewritting to suit a purpose, but as I am on the wrong side of this one I am going to keep my mouth shut.

Going into the Noah's Ark shaped visitors centre.

Seriously. I am never going anywhere touristy, especially by public transit, on chol hamoed again.

Seders- yes plural

For the first seder We were at cousins around the corner. We had a really nice time and I love seeing how much Channah loves spending time with their kids. It was also the first time I have really gotten a chance to get to know his parents (my mother's generation) and funny enough it turns out they are just as nice as he (and his family) is (are).

The next night we were tryign to figure out what to make for dinner since yom tov was not over for another couple of hours and we realized that Channah was having her own little seder with some of her best friends (yes mom, that is the pessach set you got her last year- she had a blast with it this year.)

Firstly, it was way too cute for words. I mean, just look at this picture of Channah with Pooh, Gus and Mimi. (Auntry Brenda, if you see Shelly please let her know Mimi is being very well taken care of but might have had too much wine to make it home on her own).

Secondly, it was really amazing to realize how much she had picked up the night before. She was offering her friends treats for getting the right answers, Mimi managed to bark out the 4 questions (or at least a few of them until Channah could not remember which one she was on and just did them herself in Hebrew). She made sure to remove the kearot before serving "shulchan orech" (crappy O's chocolate pessach cereal and string cheese).

The video gets a little goofy but I had to include it. Enjoy :)

Let it burn...

Look at all the pretty smoke coming up over the side of the mountain. Is there a forest fire? Baruch Hashem no! Just a bunch of crazy people making toast in the great outdoors.

I wonder if there were any weenies at this bonfire? Probably not. Who wants to be stuck fleishiks at 9am?

We interupt your examining our pessach issues for this brief announcement

Today I had my disaster of a grocery shopping trip that supposedly every new olah has. I thought I got off easy as other than trying to figure out shmitah I have never yet broken down into tears in the grocery store. Today I got teary at the butcher counter.

I asked for 6 pieces of chicken for schnitzle. I was told to come back in a few minutes and it would be ready. Alarm bells should have been going off already as there re normally just a stack of them behind the counter and they just grab em, weigh em and package them right up, but as it was the day after pessach I did not think too much of them not having stuff ready and went and did the rest of my shopping.

I got back to find 3 whole chickens cleaned and cut, with the breast de-boned and waiting for me, and him about to start the second set of 3.

Do you have any idea how expensive 3 whole chickens cleaned and cut, with the breast de-boned are? I am soooooooooo glad I caught him before he did the "other 3". I got yelled at and a lecture from the guy with dead meat all over his hands for not ordering right (still not sure what I did wrong as it was the same thing I order fairly regularly and this time juts was totally different. It was a different guy as well and I was barely able to understand him!

Not only that he had used the more expensive chickens as he thought I had motioned to them.

over 130 shekel for 3 damn birds.

Oh well. I have 3 carcasses for soup (well actually 2 as I am making a stock right now with number 3). 6 polkas (Channah's favourite), 6 wings (no idea what I will do with those as none of us like wings) and 6 thighs ready to go for another shabbat (or two) and all with no feathers! (which really is a novelty in this country.

It was still twice what I should have paid for 3 chickens, but I am counting my blessings I got ot him before he did the other half!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pesach Quirks

Bits and Pieces from Yom Tov.

The stated objectives of the Seder were
1. Children to be awake for Nirsah (the ending),
2. Not to try to win any contests for latest Seder.
3. Finish the Afikoman by Chazot (00:04)

The seder finished at 1:55 with the two 5 year olds being the only children awake. We had a great time.

When we sat down to make Motzei for lunch, Channah asked if the matzah was for dessert.

Discoverd the difference from year round and Pesach New York Super Fudge Ice Cream. The chocalate chunks are substituted with chocolate covered almonds.

Food Experiments: Channah put Choco O's onto her Matzah. She also dipped her Matzah into her chocolate ice cream.

After Yom Tov, Channah sat down with a wooden Pesach set and had a seder with her closest stuffed animals (Pooh, Gus and Mimi). Mimi is the youngest so she said Mannushtanah in her doggy way. (Woof, Woof ......)

There is a custom in Sefat to sing Echad Me Yodeah in Arabic. Which means at the seder they were singing Allah Ah Bar.
I really like the seder as a one shot deal and not worrying about having a "do over" the next night.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Here comes the sun

So this morning was the once in a generation opportunity to make the bracha over the sun. According to tradition once every 28 years the sun returns to the exact position in the shy in which it was created.

Anyhow, this morning the three of us went to the communal gathering about a 10 minute walk from here and we got to say the bracha over the sun in the house of the sun.

Walking to the gathering one got a small sense of what being oleh ba regel must have felt like. People were pouring out of homes and shuls and joining the "parade" of people to the park. Ok, so maybe it looked al ittle more like "ant farm" than "oleh ba regel" but it was very cool to see in either case.

It was actually a rather incredible gathering.

There were people of all stripes, plaids and shades of black. (I know it does not look like it from my pictures, but there were pants, shorts and even tank tops on some of the women (but I think the tank top lady was doing it to try to rile up the chareidim as it really was too cold for that). No one, at least that I saw, rose to the bait.

None of these pictures are doctors in any way or even cropped. The sun really did look like that. That visible vertical line of light was clearly visible to the naked eye. It was amazing.

Jason's number 1 reason for moving here

Yes ladies and gentlemen. That is a kasher lepessach sticker on the Ben and Jerries ice cream.

And a picture of me becuase I think it is a good one. Channah took it at the mercaz yesterday.

Spring Wardrobe

New pajamas. We got them in purple also. You need really light for the summer around here.

Yom tov outfit number 1.

casual dress 1

shabbat outfit 1 (you saw the shirt a few weeks ago, but it goes nicely with this skirt also)

birthday gift outfit from JAson's aunt and uncle.

yom tov outfit 2

casual dress 2

Out an about

Walking around our neighbourhood

Why yes, that is an ass on our blog. Why do you ask?

We took Channah last night for a brand new bicycle!

Gratuitous cuteness