Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Now this makes me a little nervous...

Over at the Jerusalem Post, this is what's being reported:

Rafael gets rabbinic ok to work on Iron Dome on Shabbat

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has received special rabbinic permission to work on Shabbat on the Iron Dome anti-Kassam missile defense system, defense officials said Monday.

The rare rabbinic approval was granted following a Defense Ministry request that Rafael speed up its work on the development of the system.

Last February, then-defense minister Amir Peretz chose Rafael's Iron Dome system as Israel's anti-Katyusha and Kassam rocket defense system...

The plan is for this "Iron Dome" to be able to intercept katyusha and kassam rockets. The Dome is supposed to be ready by 2010 at a cost of $300 million dollars.

The article doesn't specify which Rabbi(s?)gave the approval, but it's pretty clear that lives are at stake, and time is of the essence. I guess this heter (permission) is related to the issue of pikuach nefesh (one is allowed certain transgressions in order to save a life).

I'm sure the residents of Sderot are relieved to hear that help is on the way; but do you think there is maybe a more PROACTIVE solution??

Ya think???

You can read the entire article (really not so fascinating, I've already given you the highlights) here.

Another article in the Post tells us that there is a record number of women in the Israel Air Force pilot's course. Yup, the females are top gunnin' with the big boys.

And I think that's great.

A few more housekeeping items:

I'm adding a new blogger to my blogroll. Leora is a very talented jack-of-all-trades who writes about life in Highland Park, New Jersey. I really relate to her and her blog, and she occasionally posts her artwork which is beautiful. Go read it, you won't be sorry.

Finally, check out the latest edition of Haveil Havalim over at FrumeSarah. And by the way, Jack, who is doing an admirable job of organizing the carnival really needs a hand. If any of you can host, please contact him at talktojacknow@sbcglobal.net.

Can't think of a witty parting shot--so, g'nite.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Israel on Fire

Tonight is Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer in which we commemorate the death of the great Rav, Shimon Bar Yochai. In Israel it is commemorated by lighting huge bonfires everywhere.

Let me tell you, when it comes to Lag BaOmer bonfires, size matters. People built huge pyres to burn--all we needed was someone to burn at the stake and it would have been perfect.

Of my three kids, Tali was the one most involved in her event. A bunch of the girls organized themselves. They've been collecting wood for weeks, and everyone was bringing something to the medura. There were hotdogs, burgers, marshmellows (and of course S'mores), corn, potatoes, onions and well, that's about it. The bonfires were held everywhere, in open fields. People came in groups and families. There were lots of teenagers, from what I saw acting pretty responsibly. (Of course, we left at 11, I don't know what's going to happen now).

When I asked Tali who exactly was in charge of the fire, the pyromaniac told me not to worry, everything was under control.

I was worried.

It turned out okay, though. Even though we were embarrassing, a couple of adults went down to the bonfire, and hung out to make sure things went smoothly. And they did. The kids had a great time, they sang and joked and laughed alot.

It was a nice way to celebrate this chag. (Better than the annual "Do I have to go on the Lag BaOmer trip? No one is going." Of course, the kids always went, but I did sympathise with them. The trip was usually games in a hot field with little shade).

In any case, I hope your Lag BaOmer was as pleasant as mine was.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

הישרדות--"Survivor"--Israeli Style

I've posted here about how much I enjoyed the Israeli version of the [formerly] popular "Survivor" series. Tonight was the series finale and I informed friends that they were not to disturb me while the show was being broadcast. The show is outrageously popular here, but seemingly only among Israelis: most of my Anglo friends were surprised that I was watching it. A few weeks ago there was a big "Tell All"** in the Yediot Achronot about how it's all rigged. Who knows? And more importantly who cares? If I wanted to watch serious television I'd watch Masterpiece Theater or Animal Planet. Of course Survivor is junk --that's why I love it. I've always been into pop culture, and I'm trying to develop that here in Israel.

So tonight was the finale, in which the final three were vying to be the "Last Survivor". They were:

Na'ama, the mom, of course looks great in a Survivor Bikini, who in my opinion didn't deserve to be there because another player gave her his immunity in the previous show;

Dan, the resident scoundrel, who played the game by lying and back-stabbing;
and finally Noam, the guy who gave Naama his immunity, very gorgeous and played the game without lying and scheming [full disclosure: he was voted out early and won individual competitions on the "Island of Death"] whom half the country is drooling over.

I know it's a stretch, but who do you think I would have voted for?

Why do I love the show, when I really wasn't particularly interested in the American version? Because it's so Israeli and Jewish.

This guy, Alex, lives in Ginot Shomron, the same yishuv as my friends M and E. He runs sports chugim for the kids, and most of the yishuv knows him.

When this guy, Muli, was asked what the first thing he did when he came back to Israel, he answered "I went to Beit Knesset and bentched Gomel".

I guess I should insert over here that this woman, Vika, did NOT go to Beit Knesset, she went to have a manicure, pedicure and massage upon her return to Israel. (Well, in some circles, that is also uniquely Jewish, and Israeli!)

All three finalists were asked to present their cases in front of the "jury". Dan pointed out that he served with honor in Golani Brigade of the IDF (Israel's army), and though he was abroad when the Second Lebanon War broke out, he quickly returned to Israel to serve. That's what we like to hear. Totally irrelevant to the game, but I liked hearing it anyway. (He did not get one vote from the jury, by the way; so much for scheming as a strategy for winning.)

As the host of the show was being flown to Tel Aviv for the final episode, which was shown LIVE!, the helicopter flew past the Azrieli Mall in Tel-Aviv, which is still covered in thousands of blue and white lights in the design of an Israeli flag in honor of our sixtieth birthday. I tried, but couldn't find a photo of the building all lit up. It's really something. It'll be up for a few more days I think, so if you hurry on over to Tel Aviv you'll get to see it.

I know the show is not exactly a portrayal of religious Judaism. I know the players ran around on the beach in bikinis and swimming trunks for the better of two months, and ate all kinds of sea creatures not exactly on the Kosher list. My point is that in Israel, shows can be produced that reflect our way of life, our culture. And that makes me proud.

Congratulations to Naama, who won 1 million shekel and a Hummer (I think it was a Hummer). At $7.00 a gallon, she'll need the million shekel to fill that baby up.

And, no she wasn't the one I was rooting for.

**Hebrew word for "Tell All": "טלאול".

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Heart Thanks me.....and other miscellaneous items.

Today I managed to get to the pool, in spite of having guests for Shabbat. That makes it the fourth time this week. They opened the outdoor pool, and it's really nice. The girls have been joining me in doing laps. Today we all shared a lane and I started off and was followed by the girls in age order. Tali and Liat soon passed me--they swim quickly. Orli didn't but she definitely won the endurance contest; she swam 50 laps!

It feels so good to do something so healthy, active and fun together. Isaac joined as well, but swimming is not his thing. He went biking, and enjoyed the hot tub and the sauna.

I find Fridays here very tense. There is much to do, and I want it to be a fun day, a family day, because as everyone and their mother knows, there is no Sunday in Israel. On Sunday it's get up and go to work, school, whatever. The post offices and banks are open and it's business as usual. Friday is our Sunday, but Friday, at least for me is the day I prepare for Shabbat. In the states I would do all my cooking on Thursday evenings. In the winter I had to because I came home from work an hour before Shabbat. And in the summer I wanted to, because I wanted to go to the pool with the kids when I got home from work. But I did have a woman who cleaned my home on Fridays while I was at work. I walked in to an immaculate home.

I miss that.

Right now I'm only working 7 hours a week, so it's hard for me to justify cleaning help in the home. It's not that I physically can't do it, or don't have the time for it, I just don't want to do it.

I recently implemented a "toranut" (rotating) system in the house, where the girls have very specific jobs, [not necessarily easy] that they have to do. They each have a chore to do during the week; and then an additional chore on Fridays. I'm embarrassed to say this, but in terms of cleaning they are kind of spoiled because of the cleaning help I had (it was only once a week, but still enough for them never to have to clean a bathroom or dust). So they are mumbling and grumbling about it, but I am trying to be consistent, and firm. It's been a couple of weeks now, and the grumbling is not as loud. And I feel better. Of course it's a good and important thing for them to be full participants in how this household is maintained.

But I should have done this years ago. So, if you have young children at home, be forewarned: start them participating now. Even very young children can do something. Otherwise they get to be pre-teens and teens without having any idea how much work it entails to run a household--definitely NOT a good thing.

But I think I'm going to kill myself getting it done on Thursday's so that Fridays can be Sunday (with of course some time saved to prepare for Shabbat). I just want the day free and clear (is that even possible?)

**Note: I thought this post was going to be about the pool, and exercise and family and friends. But as I started writing it totally went somewhere else, maybe not quite as coherent as I'd like, but I just followed it. One of the reasons I really love blogging.

Have a Shabbat Shalom!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Responding to some comments....

My earlier post, Sixty Things I Love about Living in Israel, garnered some comments that I wanted to respond to. Since in the blogosphere it's considered an old post, I decided to publish my responses to make sure they are seen by the commenters and anyone else stopping by.

I do so love getting comments!

I am so glad people read the list, even without pictures! I always knew that my friends and bloggers (and blogger friends) were a smart bunch!

Regarding the lice (as noted by Leora and Jameel):

This was tongue-in-cheek; one of the downers about living here is the prevalence of lice. If the schools were more vigilant, there'd be much less. But they aren't, so you have to have a sense of humor about it. And I don't freak out about it here, the way I did the two times my daughter had in the states. Believe me, there are alot worse things to have. I know it and I guess the Israelis do, too.

Regarding the milk-in-bags (SuperRaizy and Ra'anana Ramblings):

Of course the bags leak! But not as often as you'd think. I don't know why, but I love 'em, much as I love my outdoor "drier". And they cost half as much as the cartons.


You are very much missed as well. I know you've been here for Yom Ha'atzmaut, but it really is different celebrating as a citizen. But I have faith you'll be here some day soon. (Modiin's getting pricey though--maybe you should buy now? ;)


It's amazing that we can go to the kotel and be home in a morning! And I've done it, several times...


Thank you for stopping by! And in response to your comment, all I have to say is, "so?"

Raanana R,

Thank you!

And finally to my friend, Jameel:

12. But everybody wants the Teudat Zehut number--and expects it. Should I just say no?

22. The machsom (checkpoint): The one I am mostly affected by is the one on the 443 before Modiin and in the other direction, before Jerusalem. The truth is, I rarely drive during rush hour so I never have to wait. What I meant, though, is that it makes me happy that people are being watched entering and leaving, to deter the "bad guys". I also don't mind my bag being forever checked every time I enter a store or building. I feel it does makes us a bit more secure. (Of course I know that sometimes the terrorists get in anyway....). Now, where you live, as far as I understand it's very different. It's probably horribly inconvenient at the least, and, I don't know maybe even worse for the "settlers". Maybe you could tell us about your experiences at the local machsom.

Still, is it not a necessary evil at this point?

56. The dud (for those of you who are wondering, this is the hot water heater that usually sits on the roof of your home and is heated primarily by the sun. It saves much energy, but you don't always have hot water--you need to remember to turn the switch on before). This was also tongue-in-cheek. On Friday's guess who's the last to shower so usually suffers through a cold one? Yup, the same person who made this. And I'm afraid to ask what the "guf chimum" is!

And yes, Jameel, in spite of it all, I am glad to be home!

Haveil Havalim #165--Happy 60th!

The latest roundup of the Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere is ready for your consumption. You can find it at the following link:

Haveil Havalim #165 Happy 60th Birthday Israel!

Go read!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tonight, I'm looking forward to....


(Don't worry I'll skim it first.)

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

As Promised.....Sixty Things I Love About Living in Israel

The transition from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Haatzmaut is really something over here. Yom Hazikaron was so moving, and the party thrown by Modiin to usher in Yom Haatzmaut was spectacular--Poogy, fireworks and more. It feels good to be in the thick of things. This a special year--it is the sixtieth anniversary of the day David Ben Gurion declared us to be an independent Jewish state

So without further ado--here is my list, not necessarily in order.

1. Hebrew
2. If you yell "Doody!" in the street, you're not cursing, but calling your army buddy.
3. Falafel
4. The "shneckel" (new 2 shekel coin)
5. The sirens that sound on Yom HaShoah VeHaGvura and Yom HaZikaron
6. Museums are free on Chol HaMoed
7. Eilat
8. Milk in bags
9. Getting to know my cousins and aunt and uncles
10. Sure there's a line, but it's not meant for me.
11. My Teudat Zehut (Identity card)
12. You give out your Teudat Zehut number everywhere and to anyone without any qualm or fear of identity theft. I don't know why. In the US, I wouldn't give my own mother my social security number.
13. The Hermon
14. Well, really all of the Golan.
15. At a stop at a random gas station, shelves of chametz were covered for Pesach.
16. Borecas (Israel's national heart attack food)
17. Cup of Joe
18. The Kotel
19. That I know my way around, I what the 443 and the 5 and 20 and the 2 are and where they go. I can even take some short cuts occasionally.
20. Marta
21. The words "Walla" and "sababa"
22. The machsomim (checkpoints)
23. The soldiers at the machsomim
24. Make that, the soldiers everywhere
25. Pizza Domino in Modiin Center. Not to be confused with Dominoes Pizza, which isn't kosher. No one else in my family likes this pizza, so I try to order from them often, this way I don't have to share.
26. Israeli wine.
27. Drying my laundry in the sun....really, I love it.
28. Food products wish us a chag sameach, in, of course, Hebrew.
29. Jerusalem
30. Everyone, from the guy behind the McDonald's counter to the girl who pumps your gas wishes you a "Shabbat Shalom" or "Chag Sameach".
31. You can get kosher McDonald's if you want it (I don't).
32. It's hard to get around after 3 PM on a Friday--no buses or trains.
33. The Galil
34. Gan Hashlosha
35. The kids can go to school, even if they have lice.
36. Marian
37. Tova
38. Mangal, baby
39. The view of the mountains as I drive up Rechov Yehuda to see Arlene or Tammy
40. The Post Office, where you can pay bills, open up a bank account, and yes, even buy stamps.
41. If you really want to, you can find Santa Claus, but it won't be for Christmas, it will be for Chanuka. And Israelis won't understand why you find that ironic.
42. You can bargain for anything in almost any store.
43. The ocean.
44. Palm trees.
45. Double dipping in the supermarket. When they were handing free sufganiyot on Chanukah, I saw a woman take one, take a bite, then redip the doughnut in the sugar on the tray. After all, we are all one family.
46. There are ancient olive presses, mikvahs, burial sites and shuls everywhere. Come visit us and I'll show you the ones in my backyard.
48. Rosh Hanikra
49. Ateret Kohanim and the work they do in having Jews return to East Jerusalem
50. My Hyundai Getz rental. (Sniff. I had to return it. Sniff.)
51. I wore my winter jacket twice this winter. My kids didn't wear theirs at all.
52. Nachalat Binyamina, the art shuk in Tel Aviv on Tuesdays and Fridays.
53. The music of David Broza.
54. Yad Vashem
55. Kibbutz Beerot Yitzchak
56. The "dud"
57. My mirpeset (porch)
58. The year evolves around the Jewish calendar and MY holidays.
59. The neighborhood streets in Modiin are named for the Shvatim (12 tribes), Hebrew months of the year, the Neviim (prophets), Women in the the Tanach, Rivers and streams in Israel, and Israeli war heroes.
60. It's a dream come true.

Happy Birthday, with love.

P.S. I had uploaded many pictures to give this post more visual interest, only to somehow lose them--I have no idea how they could be lost and not the whole post, but I'm glad I have something because I sure as heck am not re-writing this...
P.S.S. This concludes my experiment of publishing a post a day--much as I love doing it, it's a bit much for me. So I am now returning back to my regular 1-2 posts a week.

See y'all soon.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


This is the number of sacrifices our people have given so that we can have our own state.

Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day began this evening. Take a moment to think about all of the soldiers and citizens who have given the ultimate, and their families who remain behind.

For them, Yom HaZikaron is everyday.

Monday, May 5, 2008

So Sue Me....

I didn't get to do a post today.

I'm still all broken up about this.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

These pictures are NOT for the weak of heart...

With the recent warm weather, we had been told that it was time for Ozzy to get a haircut. He did seem to suffer during the Pesach heatwave, and we are also concerned about fleas and tics. So we decided to have him trimmed a bit. But we NEVER expected this.

Here's the before picture, the Ozzy we all know and love:

(How do all the Israeli kids know about "Lassie"? They (and adults as well!) always say, Look, a Lassie dog! In fact, Ozzy happens to be a Shetland Sheepdog, not a collie, which is Lassie's breed. At least he was a Shetland Sheepdog. We're not quite sure what he is now.)

Here is how poor Ozzy looks now, after his, uhm, trim:

When I went to pick him up, I didn't see him with the other dogs, because I just plain did not recognize him. Then I saw him. When Liat and Orli heard my [very loud] gasp, they ran over to look and then burst into hysterical, uncontrollable laughter. You know the kind of laughter where you have to clutch at your stomach and the tears are streaming down your face. That kind. The groomer told them to stop because they were making Ozzy feel bad. They just couldn't. Then the groomer said, "Now you're making me feel bad." Which she should, after doing this to poor Ozzy. Did you see the tail she made him? There is only one word to describe it, but I can't do it here, because I've seen my girls sneak a peak at the blog from time to time.

I kinda suspected that the groomer had taken our Ozzy and replaced him with THIS. She had told me she had loved her Shetland Sheepdog years ago, and had never had a better dog than him. There aren't to many Shelties here in Israel, so it was entirely possible that she would do something so nefarious. But when we came home, this dog behaved just as Ozzy does (chasing buses and birds, giving us a high-five, and playing soccer.) So it probably is really him.

At home, Tali burst into tears when she saw him, and Isaac, well he had a few choice words. At least [the dog] won't be hot. I just hope his friends don't laugh at him as hard as we did.

Perhaps you noticed that Ozzy looks much skinnier with his new [lack of] hair-do.

Excuse me while I go shave.

Haveil Havalim #164

Haveil Havalim #164--the No Name Edition is up and running at Simply Jews. Go take a look, and enjoy.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Just a quick note...

...to tell you that my challot came out amazing! My kids never want store-bought challah again.

Thanks to Arlene for the recipe.

Shavua Tov!

(I told you some of my posts would be short).

Friday, May 2, 2008

Baila Bakes Bread (well actually challah, but I kinda liked the alliteration)

When the call went out in my community this week for 40 people to bake challah as a "segulah" (exact translation?) for someone who is ill, I thought why not?

Why not?

Because I had never baked challah alone in my life, and because I have enough to do without taking this on. Because I'm just plain tired. Because my middle name is not Suzy Homemaker. Because I am not like some of my friends (whom I so admire) who bake and cook and decorate and garden and clean and daven and go to shiurim and car pool and exercise and shop and entertain and bare children and raise them, all before their first cup of coffee in the morning. And then they go to work.

I have made challah with my friend Sarah. Well she made the challah and I hung out with her. This was usually done for the first Shabbat after Pesach, when putting the key of your front door in the challah (Shlissel Challah) is a segulah for Parnasa (livelihood).

[UPDATE: Go check out what Jameel has to say about the origin of the Shlissel Challah tradition, and some cool pictures!]

This year, Sarah is there and I am here, and I thought why not?


So I called my friend Arlene (who lives here) for her excellent recipe. I was also armed with the book A Taste of Challah by Tamar Ansh. It was truly an adventure, because I don't have great equipment. I certainly don't have a kitchen aid or bread maker so I made it the old-fashioned way--by hand.

And I took some pictures.

Here are the 2 1/2 bags of flour I sifted, into a garbage bag (of course clean! The dirty one was being used.)

This is the two cubes of yeast with warm water and sugar. The yeast is "activating" and bubbling--a good sign. (I know I learned about that in science--something about "fermentation". Glad I don't have to understand it anymore.)

Here is the dough. To the foaming yeast thingie I added sugar, flour, oil, vanilla and eggs. I kneaded by hand, no machine for me. I am my mother's daughter.

Here is the dough two hours later, after rising. Thank G-d.

Next, I carefully followed instructions to "punch the dough down". That felt good.

(It is at this point that I separated the challah and said the bracha (blessing). I also said this beautiful prayer:

May it be your will, Eternal, our G-d, that the commandment of separating challah be considered as if I had performed it with all its details and ramifications. May my elevation of the challah be comparable to the sacrifice that was offered on the altar, which was acceptable and pleasing. Just as giving the challah to the Kohein in former times served to atone for sins, so may it atone for mine, and make me like a person reborn without sins. May it enable me to observe the holy Shabbat with my husband and our children and to become imbued with its holiness. May the spiritual influence of the mitzvah of challah enable our children to be constantly sustained by the hands of the Holy One, blessed is He, with His abundant mercy, loving-kindness, and love. Consider the mitzvah of challah as if I have given a tithe. And just as I am fulfilling this mitzvah with all my heart, so may Your compassion be aroused to keep me from sorrow and pain, always. Amen.

I also added my personal, private prayer to this.)

Back to our program.

Here is one of the challahs, ready for baking.

We--my daughters were active participants--made a pull-apart challah (that one had the key), a three-braided challah and a four-braided challah.

Here are the finished products:

I thought I would be stressed, but I wasn't. The challahs smell great, and hopefully will taste better. I feel very accomplished. My daughters had a great time and asked if we could do it every week.

Suzy Homemaker, watch out.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

How it's done in Israel

Just some quick thoughts about my first Yom Hashoah VeHagvurah here in Israel:

Last night we attended a ceremony that was put together by the city of Modiin. The 12th grade of a secular public high school here recently returned from a trip to Poland. They spoke movingly of their experiences there, and how it related to them personally. I was glad I went.

This morning, at work, most people went about their business as the siren sounded. I work in a chareidi area and that's just how it is. I was glad, though that a colleague of mine, who is chareidi, pointed out the siren to me (I was engrossed in what I was doing); she knew that I would want to pay my respects.

On television, many channels have a posting saying that they will return to regular programming at the end of the day. The channels that are working are only showing Holocaust movies and documentaries. Isaac and I watched The Pianist last night.

Tali decided to go swimming with her friend, but had to cancel her plans when we realized that all gyms (and movie theaters, cultural centers etc.) are closed today.

I put my huge Israeli flag out on the mirpeset (porch) today.

It was a quiet day. I performed a mitzvah that I had never before performed on my own today--I'll let you know more about that tomorrow.

And that's how it's done in Israel.