Saturday, October 27, 2007

Can't think of a title for this post, if you think of one and I like it, maybe I'll use it

Well, this Shabbat was not as eventful as our last Shabbat was, but it did have a significant milestone: it was the first time we had people over for lunch. Actually, Liat had invited two friends from camp who are here for the year and I thought that since I was cooking for two extra, I might as well cook for 11 more....!....Of course, except for the cooking, I'm a very lazy hostess and did not think through the fact that we needed 18 chairs, and at the last minute I had to scrounge around for paper goods and plastic silverware since no way in hell I was going to wash all those dishes. In the end, everything worked out. The food was good, and the company even better. My friend brought her two week old baby, who is delicious and it was a noisy, hectic and fun afternoon. It is so great having a park right downstairs, the kids spent alot of time there. If anyone wants my corn salad recipe or the recipe for mukmara, let me know. They were a hit! The okra, not so much.

For those of you who have been asking about Isaac's job search: it's moving along. He always seems to find more leads and contacts, and one of these days, something will come through. Oddly enough, I'm not feeling nervous about this. I really believe that something good will come soon, Be'ezrat Hashem. But I'll keep you posted, and anyone with contacts in the hi-tech industry, feel free to drop me a line (I just posted my e-mail to the right of the page, on the top).

And now for some more pictures:

This is Ozzy after he just came back from a run in the park. He got his two toys and plopped down next to them. Come on, altogether now: AWWWWWW....

Now, check out the size of this mango:

I know, it's freakin' HUGE! It reminds me of when the meraglim brought back the fruit from Eretz Yisrael and had to carry the grapes on poles because they were so big. I mean, I know mangoes are not one of the shiva minim, but still. If you're not so impressed, I took a comparison picture with a regular-sized apple:
I'm telling you this mango could feed a whole platoon! Now I don't care for mangoes, so I did not eat this particular fruit, but Isaac and the kids said it was yummy....

Tomorrow for ulpan (I made level Gimmel!) I have to give a speech (in Hebrew, duh) on any topic. I chose the topic of "My Modiin" (City of the future, city of my future). I'll let you know how it turns out...

Oh, and one more thing: As I was cleaning out my wallet I found a gift card from Target for $13.00. First person to visit me gets it (but you have to ask for it, or I won't remember...)

Shavua Tov...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I Told You There Would Be Ups and Downs!

Sigh. I know, I know. School is tough. It's really tough for some kids and it's always tough for all kids who have to learn a new language. And somehow feel successful at the same time.

Really tough.

Three daughters. Three different learning styles, and different needs. All struggling in their own way, but each is

I interrupt the previous post to tell you about my Shabbat in Revava...

This past Shabbat we were invited to my cousin's son's bar mitzvah in Revava. Revava is a yishuv in the Shomron. There are about 150 families living there, including my two cousins. When My cousin heard we were making Aliyah in September, she called me to tell me that of course we would be invited and that we had to come as the whole family would be there.

Some background: This part of the family is from my father's side. As adults my father and his siblings (two brothers and two sisters) all left Argentina. Two brothers and one sister made Aliyah (43 years ago) and my father and the other sister came to America. His parents, my Bobbeh and Zeideh A"H, also made Aliyah at the time.

The family grew. My father's sister in Israel had 5 children, a son and four daughters. I did not grow up knowing my Israeli cousins. Times then were primitive in terms of communication. My father kept in touch with his parents via those blue airmail fold-up envelopes (how he looked forward to those letters written in Yiddish from my grandfather!). Phone calls were rare. We knew our cousins through pictures, and loved their exotic, Hebrew-sounding names. The first time I met them was when I went to Israel for the year after high school. I wouldn't say we got close, but I did get to know them and my Israeli aunts and uncles. Over the years we didn't really stay in touch, except when I visited Israel, or they came to America. But I did hear about them getting married, having babies. Two of my cousins live in Raanana, two live in Revava, and one cousin bought a house in Chispin, a yishuv in the Golan. I knew that once I made Aliyah I would forge a relationship with all these people. I would get to know them and their families. So I was thrilled to be able to go to Revava and attend this bar mitzvah, my first family simcha in Israel.

My cousins have all married and B"AH my aunt and uncle have 19 grandchildren. My cousin who hosted the bar mitzvah just had a baby girl two months ago. We arrived in Revava at 2 P.M. Erev Shabbat. My cousin had planned a welcome party for all her guests which was just family, both her side and her husband's side. She has a beautiful front yard where the reception was held. A keyboard player and good food contributed to the light atmosphere. It was a beautiful, breezy day and from the house we had a view of the surrounding mountains and the neighboring yishuvim and Arab villages. After a little socializing, Shlomi, the bar-mitzvah's boys father asked everyone to gather round so he could speak. Keep in mind,he is my cousin by marriage, and I had never met him before. The first thing he said, (in Hebrew, of course), was, "Before I start, I would like to mention that we have very special guests. Our cousins, Isaac and Baila and their three daughters just made Aliyah from the states. We are so happy they are here with us..." Immediately the musician spontaneously started playing ושבו בנים לגבולם and everyone started singing and clapping. There was genuine joy in their faces. The girls were so embarrassed, and I felt so....validated.

There were moments like that throughout Shabbat. We were embraced and enveloped by my cousins. I finally got to know their spouses, and their children. (Yes, I know all 19 names and which kid belongs to which cousin). The bar mitzvah itself was beautiful. Good meals, Divrei Torah, Zemirot and lots of laughter. Shlomi is Temani, which added another flavor to the event. Tali and Orli made friends with their second cousins. Liat told me she loved the idea of living on a Yishuv like this. This place is very different from a place like Chashmonaim. It's isolated, and very quiet. The people who live there, for the most part live there for ideological reasons, some might even say radical. Several of the men carried M-16 rifles with them throughout Shabbat. Liat asked me about the implications of carrying weapons on Shabbat, and we talked about that for a while.

I'm not a political person, so I'm not going to discuss the politics of living in a place like this. What I will say, is that when I see a Jew carrying a weapon in our land, I feel pride. I think about the Holocaust that occurred only sixty years ago, and the paralysis that we felt in the face of so many humiliations. We learned our bitter lesson back then. No nation is going to protect us; we must protect ourselves.

As Shabbat came to a close, we sat in the moadon (hall, lounge) of the Yishuv, eating Seudat Shlishit and watching the sun set behind the mountains. The air in the Shomron has a chill to it that we do not yet feel in Modiin. Winter is coming...and I am looking forward to seeing my family again very soon...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shmitta for Dummies

Like me.

When I first realized that we were making Aliyah just in time for shmitta, I was excited. I felt this was a good siman (like being asked to bring a Sefer Torah home from America) for our Aliyah. Here is a mitzvah that we could participate in that we would never have been able to in America. Just by the fact that we live and breathe in G-d's Holy Land.

Well, uh right.

When we got here we were inundated with different opinions of how to truly observe the laws of shmitta. And of course, everyone feels that their way is the right way. Shocking, I know. And the "differences of opinion" regarding the various heterim, are enough to make the Gourmet Glatt debacle of last year look like a walk in the park.

I was hearing all sorts of things from no watering of the grass, to having to throw all my fruits and veggies away in a separate garbage can and letting them rot for ten days before they can be disposed of. Then I hear that certain fruits and vegetables can only be brought if they are produced by non-Jews, but that due to different methods of irrigation, people get hepatitis from them.


I had just about decided that we were just was not going to eat any fruits and vegetables all year. Now those of you who know me that if stopped eating vegetables tomorrow, I'd be totally fine. (Well, except for onions [sauteed], mushrooms [preferably sauteed with the onions], and gosh, I'd sure miss the tomatoe sauce on my pizza. And what about the potatoes in all those tasty borecas that are available here in every bakery and supermarket?) But I'd miss the fruit, and besides, this really wasn't a practical solution.

What to do? My technique of, "he's buying his fruit and vegetables over here and he looks pretty relig, so this must be okay" just wasn't sitting well with me. When I heard that Rav Gideon Weitzman, of Modiin was going to give a shiur on Shmitta in English, I decided to go, albeit with trepidation. I was nervous to hear of everything I was doing wrong, and of having a really stinky garbage can sitting in my kitchen.

It turns out there is so much misinformation on this issue. I think this is especially true of new olim who have never had the obligation of this mitzvah. I feel much better after hearing him speak.

Here are some of the myths I heard, and what I believe the Rav said: (**see disclaimer below)

Myth: You can't water your grass the entire year. You have to just let it die.
What the Rav said: You can water your grass to keep it alive, you just shouldn't do stuff to improve on the way it is. If you were watering your grass everyday, water it 3x a week. But you don't have to let it die. We have some brown patches on our grass, and we can't do anything about those until after shmitta (like I was running to fix that....) but otherwise we can maintain the lawn we have.

Myth: You can't eat any of the fruit growing on your property, or you can eat the fruit but only one at a time, or you can't give the fruit to your friends.
What the Rav said: Not only can you eat the fruit growing on your property, but it is actually a mitzvah to eat it because it has "kedushat shvi'it"; that is to say it is fruit grown in Eretz Yisrael proper during the seventh year. I think some of us misunderstand the halacha, because we are technically supposed to let the land lay fallow, and let the poor people come and get the produce of the land. And we are. But the Rav said that that doesn't mean we can't eat our own produce. And letting people come and take your fruit (which was what was done way back when) doesn't mean we can't put some limits on that (e.g. everyone can come and get it between the hours of 1 and 4). As for giving your produce to friends, this can be done as long as its not a "commercial quantity". And obviously you can't charge your friends for your tomoatoes.

Myth: You have to throw out all your the things that are left over from your fruits and veggies in a separate garbage can and let it stay there for days until its completely rotted.
What the Rav said: You have to dispose only of edible fruit and veggies that have the Kedushat Shevi'it in a more respectful manner than you would normally throw away garbage. You dispose of it in a separate bag and at the end of the day (when it is inedible) you can permanently dispose of it. In other words because the fruit has the Kedushat Shevi'it (it was grown on holy ground during the very special shmitta year), you should dispose of it differently, acknowledging the fruit of our land, that G-d blesses us with. And this is only for the portions that are edible, so it does not apply, according to the Rav, to the leftovers on the table, or to potatoe or bananna peels and the like.

What about buying fruits and vegetables? This discussion got considerably more complicated. There was a great deal of discussion regarding the major leniencies, especially Heter Mechirah and Otzar Beit Din. Both have their drawbacks, and according to what I understood both are actually loopholes, which we Jews really are good at finding, are we not? In any case, the Rav did feel that using the Heter Mechirah is a perfectly acceptable solution, as is Otzar Beit Din. (He explained with regard to Heter Mechira that the produce is what's sold to Non-Jews, not the actual land).

So in our house we are generally using the Heter Mechirah, but we have also joined Otzar Ha'aretz (which does seem to have growing pains [get it--growing pains])so that we have the opportunity to eat produce that has Kedushat Shvi'it.

I have always thought that G-d gave us the Torah so that we should enjoy His Great World within certain boundaries; I don't believe he gave it to us to make our lives more difficult. Sometimes I think we Jews do that to ourselves--I'm not really sure for what purpose. Will it really give me more brownie points in the world to come if I let my grass die and allow my house to become infested with fruit flies???

**oh, and here's my disclaimer. As my father always says, "I'm a simple Jew". Many of you reading this are probably so much more learned than I am. I am not saying "this is how it should be done"; I'm saying this is how my family is doing it. And remember, I am writing about what I perceived Rav Weitzman to say, so don't blame this pious man for any errors I may have made.

But still, how blessed are we that we get to participate in this great mitzvah?

By the way, the Yovel can't be celebrated until all Jews are living in Eretz Yisrael...

And one more thing: you are all invited to my garden and take lemons, olives, pomegranites and plums any time of day or night. Just ring the bell to say hello first.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This spoke to my heart

I saw an excerpt of this incredible post by Gila Kanal on Jameel and then found the entire piece on SerandEz. It spoke to my heart, and there is no way I could ever express this the way this young woman did. I decided to republish it here, even though some of you may have already seen it on the other blogs.

Wake Up!
by Gila Kanal

On the night of September 9th, 2003, a 20-year old bride anxiously awaited the coming morning. It was the night before her wedding and she counted down the minutes until she would stand under her chupah and become the wife of a man she loved with all her neshama. Her father had just returned from New York on a medical conference and the two of them decided to go out for a heart-to-heart talk on this incredible night. They made their way to Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim. As she entered the restaurant, her father sensed that something wasn't right. He noticed a man entering the Cafe right after his daughter did, and then the panic set in. He ran in to get his daughter out, but it was too late. The blast went off and Dr. Applebaum was killed instantly. The bride remained in critical condition. I remember when the call came in from my best friend. "Naavah is in a coma. Her father is dead. Tomorrow is her wedding and she doesn't even know her father is dead."

Naavah Applebaum died that same night. Her wedding day became her funeral.

This experience left me in a state of shock. I remember a few nights after Naavah's funeral I called my Abba in a fit of hysterics. I cried, "Abba, I know what my tafkid is in Olam HaZeh." My father calmly answered, "Yes shefile'? What is that?" "I want to die Al Kidush HaShem" I sobbed. My father is a man of never ending patience, wisdom, and compassion. He took a deep breath and said, "Gila, I think I have something even harder for you." "What do you mean?" I asked. "What could possibly be harder then that?" "Try living Al Kidush HaShem", my father replied.

As many of you know, I am fighting. I am fighting with all my heart and soul to live in Israel. I have chosen a profession that I have heard is good in Israel, I have applied to schools that are only in Israel, and I do not date men who do not see a future in Israel. Recently people have been asking me, "Why. Why Israel?" Why have I chosen to plant my seeds and my roots so firmly in this country? There are the obvious reasons: Israel is my Home. It is a Mitzvah to live here. G-d promised us this land. And on and on... But that is not why I am writing this letter. Over the past few months dozens upon dozens of people have asked me, "Gila, why are you making Aliyah"?

It was then that it hit me. The fact that we are asking that question is a perfect illustration of where our generation stands today. No one asks, "Gila, why are you dating? Why are you so desperately searching for your soul mate?" It is understood that I am half a person and I am looking for my other half to complete me. There was a time, not too long ago, when Israel too was a Given. There was a time not too long ago, when people breathed, ate, and slept with the word "Tzion" on their lips. There was a time when the world held its breath as the votes were counted, 33 for, 13 against, and 10 abstentions, and on November 29th, 1947, the UN voted for a Jewish State. There was a time when we, as a nation, understood that the State of Israel was an absolute necessity, and we would never survive another Holocaust without her.

Those times are over. Am Yisrael has entered a new era. It has suddenly occurred to me that the battle we are fighting is harder then any other battle that has been fought in the history of the Jewish people. I am part of the first generation to be born into a world where the State of Israel is now officially taken for granted. I cannot think of anything harder. How do you teach someone to appreciate something they have always had? How often do we look down at our legs and think, "Wow! Thank G-d I have these things!!! Moving would be pretty hard without them!" How often do you feel your pulse and shiver with excitement that you are living and your heart is beating? If we can manage to forget the most essential parts of our bodies how can we be expected to remember the less essential parts of our lives? Israel is a necessity that we have waited 2000 years for. Close your eyes and imagine the world without her. Do we even remember what that means anymore? We are so lost. We have entered the generation where we actually ask the question, "Why are you making Aliyah?"

'Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim'

We have truly forgotten. 60 years ago on a cold November day, she became Ours. 60 years ago. Do you realize how recently that is? 40 years ago we got back the old city of Jerusalem. These things happened in our parents' lifetimes!!! We are talking about the year 1967! This is recent history. Since as far back as we can remember, the world has been dying for Israel. Since the establishments of the Aliyot to Israel, the settlers have been sweating, working, and fighting for her. Since the second the State was established and the Arabs attacked when Israel was a mere SECONDS old, we have lost thousands of neshamot bleeding, battling, and dying for this land.

Yet, through all this, we have forgotten. We have forgotten what it feels like to live in a world without a home. We have forgotten what it feels like to be a nation without a land. We have forgotten what it feels like to long for something we are missing. We have come to take it all for granted. Now suddenly, all the bleeding has stopped. The weapons have been put down. We no longer feel like Israel is fighting for her very existence. We have stopped dying. But, in my opinion, the Real Fight has just begun. Am Yisrael, listen very carefully. We are the first generation dedicated with the task of LIVING for Israel. We are the very first generation granted the luxury of going to a disco for Israel, sitting in a cafe for Am Yisrael, and having children for Midinat Yisrael. We are the first generation to have the ability to forget and take her existence for granted. I cannot think of a harder battle. We have forgotten a world without Israel. We have forgotten what it feels like to scream, "If I forget Yershalayim... let my right hand be cut off" with a passion and intensity that can only be felt by those who DON'T HAVE YERUSHALAYIM! We have forgotten what it means to say, "L'Shana HaBah B'Yerushalayim" and truly wonder if we will ever get to see her golden stones in our lifetime.

That, my friends, is why I have decided to make Aliyah. Because, for whatever reason, I do not want to forget. I am deeply aware that this Land, Country, Soil, and Earth, were fought for in order for ME to continue that fight by living here, and I never want to forget that. Every time I walk through Sha'ar Tzion and see the stones riddled with bullet holes, a lump forms in my throat as I realize how many soldiers have died so I can walk through the streets. We live in a very scary time. We live in a world where what we have actually gotten what we have been praying for for 2000 years and yet we cannot see it. We live in a world where our Dream has truly come true, yet we continue to sleep. Someone recently told me that a person can be so caught up in his/her life, that their absolute perfect b'sheret can stand right in front of them and they will never see him/her. Imagine the frustration and pain when someone realizes that they were too blind to see that their soul mate stood 2 inches from their face and they lost him forever. Imagine if your deepest fantasy came true, yet you were too busy dreaming about it to even notice it had become a reality.

Israel's existence is not set in stone. A few miles away there is a man who lives to destroy us. He has missiles pointed at the heart of this country and will stop at nothing to wipe her off the map. We live among nations whose goal is to push us into the sea. We thrive on the back of a world that resents our mere presence. Yet through all this, we are Here. We are Alive. We are Home. Open your Eyes! Am Yisrael WAKE UP!! We have a HOME! We are BACK!! Where are you!? Israel is at war, only this time the enemy no longer comes from without. It comes from within. We truly are our greatest enemy. The doors to our salvation have been thrown open, yet no one seems to be running. I am deeply confident that if we choose this moment to finally stand together and live for Am Yisarel, Torat Yisrael, and Midinat Yisrael there would be nothing that could stop us. We are no longer fighting against guns and cannons. We are now fighting the world of materialism, comfort, and ease. We are fighting Ourselves.

Let me make this very clear. I am NOT writing this letter to tell the world to make Aliyah. Everyone has their own lives and I have NO RIGHT to EVER tell anyone that their life is here. I understand that Israel is NOT for everyone. I am writing this letter to beg you to not forget. I am writing this letter to plead with you to continue to appreciate, support, protect, and defend Israel. I am writing this letter to wake up the world to the reality that our Dream has come true, but we will all miss it if we continue to sleep! I am writing this letter to remind the world of a time without Israel and how easy it is to go back to that reality if we do not Live for her now. I am writing this letter because people asked me 'Why?' and I thought I should answer.

'Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim'

I shiver because I realize we may already have... 4 years ago, on a warm night in September, a young bride was torn to pieces. Her body was left a bloody mangled mess on the streets of Baka. She died so we can Live. Please do not make her death be in vain. As I type this, there are countless soldiers putting their lives on the line so we can have the freedom to live for this country. There is truly only one way to repay them. Live for Israel. After all those who have died Al Kidush HaShem it is time we started Living. I am begging each and every one of you to remember the world without a Home. For 2000 years we cried for her. Am Yisrael, WE HAVE HER. SHE IS OURS. FIGHT FOR HER! LIVE FOR HER! We cannot lose her again! After all those years of praying, yearning, hoping, and dreaming, the prayers have been answered and the dreams have come true! WAKE UP!! Stop Dreaming!!! She is OURS!! We don't need to dream anymore. This is Reality. This is Life. It is time we started Living.

B'Zchut Aliyat Neshamot of all the people who have died fighting, living, and yearning for Am Israel, Torat Yisrael, and Midinat Yisrael,

Am Yisrael please Wake Up...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What I did on my Sukkot Vacation

Okay here are a couple of pictures from our Sukkot experiences. On Friday, the first day of Chol Hamoed, Isaac and I were invited on a private tour of Ir David by a new friend who is Director of something-or-other over there. She did this in honor of her husband's birthday. We had access to places not yet open to the public. The kids were not invited, so they slept in, and called only every half hour or so to complain about each other or to ask when we would be home. The tour was amazing and took the better part of the day, so it was completely selfish of us to go and leave the kids at home. My poor deprived children. The guilt is just killing me. This is a picture from the top of Ir David, past Shaar Ashpa (Dung Gate--where you enter to go directly to the Kotel). If you look closely, you'll see a blimp, which captivated us as it flew over the Old City. There's something you don't see everyday. Of course, this had nothing to do with Ir David.
On the tour, we were shown parts of what was actually the castle of David Hamelech, King David. Can you guess what this is a picture of?

They have recently discovered the road leading up to the Beit Hamikdash that the people of Israel were "oleh regel" on. It was amazing--we stood on this "road" on Sukkot--one of the Shalosh Regalim. I stood on the same spot that my ancestors did as they walked to the Holy Temple. On Sukkot. There were holes in the floor, and my friend, our guide explained that when the Romans captured Jerusaem, many Jews fled to the sewers. When the Romans realized this, they broke through the streets to the underground to smoke the Jews out. Under the roads archeologists have found food, ancient coins, writings. Imagine, even under those conditions, the Jews held out hope that they would survive the destruction...and we did. And now we are back here, constantly finding the connections between the present, and the past. Go to Ir David and feel that feeling, feel that connection...

On Sunday, the Iriyah (city government) of Modiin offered olim a heavily discounted trip to Neot Kedumim, a nature reserve 10 minutes from the modiin. It is a unique nature reserve that focuses on plants from the Tanach. This being Sukkot, our tour focused on the Arba Minim. They also had a display of different Sukkahs, which ones are permitted and which are not.

Etrogim growing at Neot Kedumim. All of the other pictures at NK have us in them, and I'm still undecided about posting pictures of us (that clearly show our faces).

On Monday, our lift arrived. It was so overwhelming to go from (almost feeling) settled to boxes everywhere. We couldn't see our floor. But I had invited my aunt and uncles and my Israeli cousins and their chilren, plus Isaac's family--all in all about 20 adults and to-many-kids-to-count (BAH)--to a Sukkah party in honor of Liat's birthday and I didn't want to cancel. That motivated us to sort through the boxes quickly, and by Tuesday, things were significantly better, although I do have several more boxes to go through. It was a really nice party, and so good to see my cousins.

Birthday cake for Liat at our Sukkot party.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I Started Ulpan Today....

and was surprised that the test they gave me wasn't easy shmeasy. I mean, I know my hebrew's not great, but I can hold a conversation. I did fine on the assessment (they were testing for what level we were on). But when the teacher told us that this test was on the level of those who finished Ulpan Aleph, well I kind of lost my smugness. I thought it looked like a level gimmel at least. Oh well. In a couple of days I'll find out what level they assigned me to. I'm glad to finally be starting ulpan. It will lend some structure to my days.

On a totally different topic, let me see a show of hands from all those of you who have thrown out tiny little pieces of paper that were left on the table, in the bathroom, on the floor, crumpled up, with perhaps a few digits and/or letters scrawled on it, only to find out that this piece of what-looked-like-garbage housed an extremely critical piece of information that is now lost forever and will profoundly affect our lives. Huh? Huh?

On another totally different topic, let me introduce to a new feature I am adding tonight: the blogroll. It should be to your right. These are other blogs I read. Some of them are so entertaining, brilliantly witty and just plain fun. Others are more poignant. Many of these blogs write about their aliyah experiences, all so similar yet so diffent. Once again, click and go. But remember, they do become addictive, and may even make you want to start your own blog. (And thanks to bec for helping me figure out how to set up the blogroll....)

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Okay, so I have 2 sets of pictures--of the apartment pre and post-lift, and some of our Sukkot trips (which were limited due to the lift coming). I'll start with the apartment:

This is our communications center, the hub of the apartment. It's where we have our American line, our Israeli line, and our computers. It's where most of this blog is written, and where many, many arguments take place vis-a-vis whose turn it is to get on the computer, or use the American line.

This is our kitchen, where all those delicious meals are planned and prepared so lovingly for my family.

And this is the Israeli oven I so lovingly and patiently use to prepare those wholesome, nutritious meals. And my family is so grateful...why, they praise me all the time for being the kind of mom I am!

This is our kitchen after our lift arrived. Can you say "nervous breakdown"?

This is my dryer. I know it looks suspiciously different than the dryers most of you are used to. I was pretty horrified when I saw it. But, it is surprisingly efficient and I actually enjoy putting the clothes on it. They dry in minutes in the hot Middle Eastern sun. And the other dryer, (the one with the motor, and plug and all) should be arriving any day now.

This is our sukkah. Well, actually, its not ours as our lift did not arrive until chol hamoed. (The lift got to go to Greece). This sukkah was generously lent to us by the Blocks. And because it wasn't ours, Isaac actually took the sukkah down the day after sukkot, and didn't wait until Chanukah like he usually does.

This is part of our backyard. The picture does it no justice. It is beautiful. We have a lemon tree, an olive tree and half a pomegranite tree. The backyard moves to a sideyard which extends to a beautiful large porch. In fact, the outdoor part of this apartment is probably the best part of this living space.

This is Isaac on our beautiful mirpeset, which is much bigger than what we are showing. No, he is not talking to his bookie.
Here's Ozzy in the side yard. This is what he told me to tell you all in his perfect dog-barking hebrew. I'll quote him exactly: "Hi everyone. First of all I want you all to know how much I miss you, especially my three Mets fans pals on Hemlock (its hard to find newspapers here with yankees or mets people here so I just poop outside). Second of all, especially for all you dogs out there, don't let anyone out there tell you that aliyah is hard. It's a piece of cake. Sure all those boxes make me nervous, but there's less of 'em every day. And there are no squirrels here, but there are an abundance of cats! And the garbage truck comes daily!!! It's so easy to make friends here--no one cares what kind of collar you wear or if your parents are from a mixed marriage (not that mine are, of course, but I'm just saying). So, in case you were worried, I'm letting you know that I'm very happy here. And though maybe its a teensy-weensy bit harder for mom and abba and the girls, I think they're doing okay too. And I may just start my own blog, and give mom some competition. Talk to you all soon. Woof!"

This basically concludes the tour of the apartment. I do hope you come see it in person someday soon. I'd love to give you a personal tour...

I'll leave you all with just one more picture of our front door:

We're home...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lori, this one's for you....

I know all of you in the states are still celebrating yom tov. For us the chagim are officially over. Hakafot were....okay. It's kind of hard to sit in shul, with very few friendly faces. That's why today I decided to go to the women's tefillah a few blocks from the house. I knew a friend of mine would be going and I wanted to have a friend in shul....

Here's how I feel about women's tefilla groups: I think that if they are done within the framework of halacha (and this one was), why not? These are women who want to be more connected to their Judaism, and feel something lacking in our traditional davening. They want to participate more, and to serve Hashem, B'simcha. I won't judge them. I think its great. My davening, especially b'tzibur (in public, in shul) is sorely lacking, and I respect these women for wanting more out of their spiritual lives. These women were inspiring. They were not hippy-looking, vegan-eating, kumbaya-singing women. These were seemingly normal, well-educated, well-dressed women who wanted a hands-on tefilah. One woman I knew because her daughter and Orli are in school together chanted Beraishit. She has a beatiful voice, and I asked her where she learned how to lain. She said that Beraishit was her bat mitzvah parsha, so she volunteers every year to lain it at this minyan. This group is only held at Simchat Torah and for Megillat Ester. There is always talk (from what I heard) of doing it monthly, but lining up enough women to participate (actually learn and do the laining, give divrei Torah--of which there a few at davening--etc.) is always a challenge. I don't think I'd be interested in participating monthly, but I'd attend the Simchat Torah minyan again. Otherwise Simchat Torah is a holiday for men--watching them dance, waiting for them to get their aliyahs so they can make kiddush so we can eat....

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Hey, I know that now that we are Israelis we should acknowledge her hebrew birthday, but old habits die hard.

14 years ago, our eldest was born, and what a ride its been....We are so grateful, and blessed to have her and her sisters in our lives.

May Hashem grant her continued health ad meah ve'esrim....

(and may He grant me the wisdom to deal with the teenage years!)

I have lots more to say, but not right now. I promise soon.

I wondor what rolling Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah into one is like....?