Friday, October 31, 2008

Israel Film Festival, or a guest post from CK

My friend CK is one of the most witty, smart, down-to-earth, people I know. Her e-mails and our Facebook conversations crack me up. I keep telling her to start blogging and I believe she's thinking about it. If she ever does, I won't even know because she'll probably go anonymous.

CK attended the opening night of the Israel Film Festival in New York City this week. Here are her thoughts:

Last night S and I went to Opening Night of the Israel Film Festival. It was in a movie theater on 54th street. S arrived before me to get the tix at the box office, so my first thrill was S pointing to the bouncer so I could cross the metal barriers, cut the line, and enter. (Velvet ropes would have been more dramatic, but metal barriers are so NY!)

The lobby was very small, so the paparazzi was crushed against a wall to the side of the red carpet. Let’s just say that noone made a move to position their cameras when we walked the red carpet. Up the escalator to the second floor. More paparazzi and a very crowded little lobby with some refreshments (Dietary law observed.) Sushi (which I couldn’t get near), cheese and chumus (served right out of their Sabra containers. Tacky.) And some wine and alcohol which I later learned was Limoncello in honor of Danny Devito. I spotted Chaim Saban (media mogul behind Power Rangers), and Ron Eliran who is 150 years old…

Inside the theater, we looked for seats sort of up close, but not too close to the screen because I forgot my glasses and realized there would be subtitles. We almost sat in seats clearly marked “RESERVED FOR MR. DEVITO,” but just moved right across the aisle. When the A listers arrived, it was annoying because people were crowding around my seat to meet them, get photos, etc. I grumbled that I am never going to a premiere again. People are so rude. I prefer a private screening.

Big names were receiving awards. First a little video about Ed Zwick received an award. They focused on his movies, but really he was the genius behind great tv shows like My so called life and thirtysomething. (And by the way, he produced my favorite Brad Pitt movie). Liev Schreiber presented the award. sigh. No Naomi Watts though. (Schreiber stars in Zwick’s upcoming movie , Defiance, about resistance fighters in the Holocaust.

Then Mort Zuckerman (188th wealthiest man in America, according to Forbes) gave an award to Academy Award winning producer Irwin Winkler.

The film clip started with a scene from Rocky, and included brief clips from his many, many movies set to the theme from Rocky.

Danny Devito sat across the aisle from me munching on popcorn next to wife Rhea Pearlman with their kids, I believe. Michael Douglas, his old friend from when they were roommates in the 60s presented his award. They showed a clip with many, many of his movies, including The War of The Roses which starred MD. Alas, no Catherine Zeta Jones, but truthfully, I was relieved, since I was so worried that she and I might show up wearing the same outfit and I didn’t want to be subjected to a “Who Wore It Better” poll in Us weekly or Life and Style.. Michael D. looked good. He said that he loves a country that's younger than him, and S said “He’s over 60???” Yep. And I don’t believe that Catherine Zeta Jones is 39. But that’s another story. Danny D. was very funny and told a story about a bull’s testicles. Don’t ask.

After that, the lights went down and all the A listers exited the theater. Directors and actors from the festival’s featured movies were introduced. Turns out the cute guy sitting in front of me was the star of the movie!

The movie we saw was Lost Islands. It was the highest grossing Israeli box office movie this year. And winner of 4 israeli Academy awards including the cutie sitting in front of me. And let me just say, that he seemed so delighted with himself on screen. Good for him.

The movie itself was wonderful. I loved it, partly because it’s set in Israel in the 80s which is when I spent a year in Israel on Bnei akiva’s Hachshara. It was funny and touching, just as I like my movies.

When the movie ended, I asked S if we were going to the reception, a block away. He said “Are you kidding? Now I’m no fool.I hear that Jake Gyllenhall broke up with Kirsten Dunst because she always wanted to go out and party, and he wanted to be a quiet homebody. So home we trudged. And I was really looking forward to Limoncello shots…

Until next time…


For more see this.

Thanks, CK. You can post here any time you like. (And don't you all think she should start blogging?)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's that time of the year again/Public service announcement

Well, for me anyway. Today I went for the exam dreaded by women the world over.

That's right, the mammogram.

[Let me quickly inject here that this test, really a simple x-ray, must have been designed by a man going through an ugly divorce with his wife. Really. It's that barbaric.]

In America, I'd go to this test with my friend Sarah. It had become an annual ritual for us to see "Lucy" (the radiologist's name) together. Sarah, I wish you could have accompanied me this time too!

Here in Israel they don't start doing annual mammograms until the age of 50. No way, I thought. In the US I believe it's recommended to start having the annual test at age 40. (I started having them earlier than most women due to my medical history). I obtained the referral from my primary physician ages ago, but neglected to make the appointment. One thing Aliyah has done to me is make a me a terrible procrastinator. Anything I can leave for tomorrow, I do, and it takes me months to make appointments and the like. When I finally made the call in July, the first available appointment was for today! Which was fine with me.

In truth, I'm posting about this as a public service to women in Israel (or those of you who intend to one day live here). I went to a facility called Machon Hala (I searched but could not find a link). This was a clinic to rival any top clinic in the United States. Professional, kind, efficient and I even got a cover-up so I wouldn't have to sit in the altogether while waiting for the doctor to come. I was told that the wait would very long, and to bring a book and some food. (It wasn't bad at all). First I had the mammogram, then the doctor came in and performed a breast exam and did an ultra-sound. He discussed the results with me immediately and made his recommendations on the spot (Thank G-d results were all negative, and I am to return in a year).

And the best part was not an agura left my hand: this is completely covered by my kupah (health insurance). [Actually, that's not true; the best part was hearing the results].


If you live in Israel, do it at Machon Hala--you deserve this high level of care. The clinic is located in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem. You can reach them at (02)-659-5533.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I smell a rat

One of the things I've had to give up to live in the Holy Land is driving a decent car. In the US our van was beginning to show its age and if we hadn't moved we probably would have bought or leased a new car. We only needed one car as Isaac took the LIRR to work.

Over here, Isaac gets a car from work. It's a very basic car, but it's new and all expenses are covered by the company. (This is a fairly common practise in Israel). But I needed a car to get around, so we bought a piece of cr hunk of junk jalopy used car for me. I figured I was up to the challenge. The car moves. So what if I can't listen to the radio? Roll down the window on my side? Reverse? (Just kidding about that last one). This is a sacrifice I was prepared to make for the privilege of living in the Holy Land.


Two weeks ago I was driving home from work, lost in my thoughts (since I can't listen to the radio, that is how I occupy myself on my drives) when all of a sudden I heard a loud, whirring sound, sort of like the sound my food processor makes. Of course, I got startled. When I turned off the air conditioning (which sort of works, but only in the morning), the sound stopped, but started up as soon as I turned it on again. I called my go-to man for this sort of thing (that would be Isaac). He of course was not concerned, and said he would take care of it as soon as he could (read: 2010).

But the next morning, when I took the old lemon girl out for her daily exercise, I noticed a smell. When I tried the a/c, the smell intensified.

Now this wasn't a gas, oil or electrical type of smell. This was a smell to end all smells.

I drove to work that day breathing through my mouth. Well, not really. The smell was very subtle unless you turned on the a/c and then you just wanted to retch your guts out. But even without the a/c on it wasn't exactly a pleasant ride.

Today, Isaac finally got around to taking the rattletrap car to the mechanic. He called me while I was out with Liat. "Guess what?", he said. "You are a mouse murderer".

Yep. Apparently a little white mouse had decided to make its home in the a/c vent. Unfortunately, noone told the little critter that the carburator of a car is not the natural habitat of rodents, and the poor thing met its violent demise because I was trying to stay cool. I don't want to venture a guess as to how the little creature got into the car, but I had Isaac make the mechanic perform a search-and-[not] rescue for any relatives or lovers looking to invest in some automobile real estate.

I heard the tough Israeli mechanic in the background laughing and throwing up at the same time.

"You killed Mickey Mouse", Isaac said.

I never did like that little rodent either.

This is not a picture of our clunker car, but it is a reasonable lookalike. Don't let its good looks fool you.

Trivia question: What episode of what sitcom does this bring to mind?

And for more great Israeli mouse adventures check out Benji's edition of Haveil Havalim.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Caesarea, Israel

On Sunday of Chol Hamoed we took a trip up to this beautiful area of Israel. As many of you probably know, it's hard to go anywhere in this country without finding some remnant of an ancient era gone by, be it Roman, Crusader, Byzantine or Ottoman. But Caesarea is a real jewel among the ruins. Caesarea is the ancient port city built by King Herod (who has done alot of building around the Holy Land). He actually built a harbor from scratch. How he did it was an engineering marvel; I never can fathom how the people in ancient times built these huge projects without the benefit of modern technology.

Anyhow, it was a perfect day. We started the day off at the aqueducts. Caesarea had no rivers or springs, so drinking water for the Roman and Byzantine city was brought via an aqueduct from a spring in the north. (How did they know how to do that??) What remains of the aqueducts today is breathtakingly beautiful with a backdrop of the Mediterranean Ocean:

We went for a little walk on top of the aqueducts. It looked like a good idea at the time, but my fear of heights got the better of me and I quickly climbed back down to the sand:

I couldn't resist taking this photo of a man saying the afternoon prayers:

We spent a good deal of time climbing around the ancient ruins. We paid a bit extra to see a film first that told us exactly what we were looking at. This is what remains of a temple that Herod built to honor the king, Caesar. A few centuries later crusaders built a church on the site. Today, both are in ruins:

From a distance you can see what remains of the harbor in the water. Caesarea is popular with scuba divers who explore the underwater ruins. Here's what's left of Herod's harbor, that isn't under water:

And here's a very authentic Roman trying to contact the Caesar himself via cell phone. I told you those ancients were amazing! (This particular Roman was the subject of much speculation about--well never mind.):

I'm sure you all must have seen your kids holding up their phones or cameras to take self-portraits. Teens do this all the time. They take pictures of themselves in groups, then look at the pictures and break into hysterical laughter. My teen took one with me (of course this has nothing to do with Caesarea, we just took the photo on its beach):

We also took pictures of me with a giant, naked green statue (Was that supposed to be Herod? It it was, I guess he thought much of himself). And no, I won't be posting that picture on the internet.

The weather was perfect--comfortable and breezy. This place is so beautifully maintained and easily accessible. We could have spent hours more there wandering around the ruins, but the sun began to set and we knew it was time to head home:

The perfect end to a perfect day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Haveil Havalim #187: The Sukkot 5769 Edition

Haveil Havalim is a blog carnival, linking you to the best, or at least the most recent posts of the Jewish and Israeli blogosphere. Jack is our fearless leader and somehow finds time to manage and organize it. I for one am very appreciative of this.

It's my second time hosting this blog carnival. I picked this week to do it because I am on Sukkot vacation and figured I would have enough time to dedicate to it. Last time I hosted, I literally pulled an all-nighter getting it done. This time, the kids are all away on overnights; I'm having a little preview of the Empty-Nest-Syndrome, and to my surprise, I'm not liking it so much. The kids (all three of them!!!) came back from their various sleepovers and that great Bnei Akiva Masaa (in which they hike for hours, pee in the woods, sleep in the great outdoors, get chewed alive by mosquitos and in general have a blast) happy. And when they're happy, I'm happy. I myself had fun at a certain concert and am looking forward to a family trip here on Sunday.

Just a note: I received many submissions, which is great. I pretty much included every submission, without bothering to count to see if anyone went over the limit. I do have to say that the views expressed by the various bloggers are not necessarily my views. A good portion of the submissions were about non-controversial subjects like the holidays, which is fine by me. Also, note that Blogger's spell check doesn't seem to be working, so please cut me some slack on any spelling errors.

So without further ado, I present The Sukkot 5769 Edition of Haveil Havalim:

Jewish Holidays:

The Velveteen Rabbi muses about her first student pulpit for Yom Kippur in My first Yom Kippur posted at Velveteen Rabbi.

Watch some Sukkot being built here and here. (Okay, that's Leora's and mine. Where's your Sukkah?) Maybe next year I'll host a J-bloggers Sukkah competition. Someone remind me, okay?

Here's a blogger's comment about her submission:

Really the category should be Jewish Holidays, to be more specific. It's the holiday culture (you know what I'm talking about: we cook, pray, eat, sleep and get up and do it all over again. Unless we're in Israel. Then we do it only once, at the beginning...and then the end!)

Are you listening, Jack?

Anyhoo, that blogger has a yummy holiday menu. Read it, copy it (and later, cook it and eat) in Lady-Light presents Haveil Havalim #186 and Cooking Up a Storm posted at Tikkun Olam.

We used to laugh about "Nooky in the sooky"--but we'll have none of that--this is a family carnival! But Elisson presents LOOKY, LOOKY: IT’S SOOKY posted at Blog d'Elisson.

GP presents Simple Serenity posted at Manely Montana.

You can always rely on Heshy for some holiday humor. He presents How do you shake your lulav? posted at Frum Satire | Jewish Comedy.

Uh-Oh. Have you heard? The stock market is falling [yawn]. It doesn't seem to phase Cosmic X in The Stocks Go Down and the Sukkahs Go Up posted at ****** Cosmic X in Jerusalem ******.

Batya presents Can't Kvetch-It's A Mitzvah To Be Happy posted at me-ander.

Phyllis presents The King and the Shack - Blog Action Day posted at Ima on (and off) the Bima: Jewish Parenting & Living from a MamaRabbi.

Poor RR had to cancel some plans, but at least we got some rain here in the holy land.

Do lights in the Sukkah remind you of another, decidedly un-Jewish holiday? See how West Bank Mama feels in The Old Country Casts its Shadow

See how RivkA and her family are spending their Sukkot in Succot 5769, Part I.

Ben-Yehudah presents The Price Of Lulavim In China posted at Esser Agaroth.

Ahuva Goldstand presents Don't miss the Birkat Kohanim tomorrow posted at Jerusalemite blog.

Batya Has some holiday posts in Very Impressive and Yes, Succot is a Real Holiday posted at Shiloh Musings.

Does everyone love a parade? Maybe not. This post is by Geulah Girl, presented in THE PARADE posted at ESAV EXPOSED. Also by Geulah Girl is FEAST OF TABERNACLES posted at ESAV EXPOSED.

Raizy remembers the Sukkot of her childhood in Sukkos Stories posted at SuperRaizy.

Batya had some fun on Chol HaMoed and even met up with some other famous bloggers. See who was there in Thousands At Tel Shiloh! posted at me-ander.


Mrs. S. remembers her Aliyah pre-NBN in Aliyah memories: “So, how did you ever manage during the tzena?!” posted at Our Shiputzim: A Work In Progress.

Benji Lovitt loves this Israeli phrase--he posts about it alot! Laugh out loud at what he has to say in An Idiot's Guide to "Yiyeh B'seder" posted at What War Zone???.

Sex and the holy city? MyRightWord treats the subject of Jerusalem brothels in 2008 and post-World War I. Yisrael Medad presents Dead Men Do Tell Tales posted at My Right Word. He also preents Left-wing Radical Vandals: They Even Abuse Dogs and More Arab "Logic"; More Arab Lying.

Check out these beautiful pictures in Oh how Jerusalem loves her parades posted at Jerusalemite blog.

Signs in Israel can be really funny. This is the first I've seen of this blogger, but I'll probably go check her out again when I need a laugh. See what I mean in A new way to do it posted at A Time of the Signs.

More Benji humor in More Great Moments in Israeli Advertising posted at What War Zone???. This guy makes Aliyah seem really funny.

Ruti Mizrachi also makes me laugh in Settler Chic.

Soccer Dad, the original king of Haveil Havalim gives us several angles on those dangerous Gaza smuggling tunnels in Would that be posha? posted at Soccer Dad.

And Daled Amos recalls the brutal murder of three Americans in Gaza in October 15th: 5th Anniversary Of Murder Of 3 Americans By Palestinian Terrorists posted at Daled Amos.

Current Events/Politics:

Joel Katz presents Religion and State in Israel - October 13, 2008 posted at Religion and State in Israel. Joel was the first one to submit, so he gets to win, well, nothing, but I do appreciate the early entry.

Liberal or conservative? See what Mottel has to say in Four Reasons why Liberals scare the Hell out of me posted at Letters of Thought.

Presidential elections are just around the corner. Sammy Benoit gives us his take in YID With LID: Will Obama Meet Iran's Pre-conditions and Dump Israel ? and YID With LID: Jesse Jackson- Obama Will STOP Putting ZIONISTS FIRST posted at YID With LID.

Sammy Benoit also presents Did Somali Pirate Ship Hijack A Giant Iranian Dirty Bomb? posted at YID With LID.


Batya has a tough day in Bleary Eyed posted at me-ander.

HadassahSabo conquers it in The Fear of Driving.

Like analyzing movies? See this analysis of a familiar character type in When Climbing Out the Window Just Won't Do.

Are we enmeshed if the experts say we are? This blog helps you understand your psyche. See it at Pull Versus Draw: Enmeshment posted at Everyone Needs Therapy.

Batya presents Jewish Mourning posted at Shiloh Musings.

Am I my husband's wife or do I actually have a name? I would say both. Check this article out in "... and his wife" posted at The Rebbetzin's Husband.

Gila tells us a little about her writing process in A Post That Took Me Five Hours or More to Write.

I've had this experience and it really scared me. Read about it in Attempted Burglary- A Stranger in My Backyard posted at Random Thoughts- Do They Have Meaning?.

Robert J. Avrech remembers (all the time) in The Last Kaddish, Redux posted at Seraphic Secret.

A New Category: Jewish Hair:

I decided to group these when I realized there were several posts about the subject. Go figure.

ALN's daughter really is a giver. See her donation in Rapunzel, Rapunzel Donate Your Hair.

Jack wonders about hair, (not his own) in You're Too Old For Long Hair posted at Random Thoughts- Do They Have Meaning?.

Bec takes the next step in Bandanas, Tichels and Shaitels, Oh My!.

Jews All Over the World:

Leora presents Jews and Iran posted at Here in HP.

Ilana-Davita presents Judaism in my Hometown posted at Ilana-Davita.

Thus concludes the Sukkot 5769 Edition of Haveil Havalim. It was my pleasure to present this to you, even though some of you spell Sukkot with a "C".

I know that Jack is always on the hunt for volunteers to host HH. It's not difficult, it just takes a bit of time. My second outing took much less time than the first. It's fun thing to do--really. If every Jewish blogger participated, we'd all have to do it like, once every twenty years...

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Haveil Havalim using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on blog carnival index page.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Okay, it's not Paul McCartney

But it was someone of Paul's generation and it didn't cost 490 shekel. Tonight, I joined my friend Tammy for a FREE concert in a beautiful park in Rishon LeTzion (which made it the fifth city I had been in today). It was Yehoram Gaon performing all of his classics.

Isn't there an uncanny resemblance to William Shatner in Boston Legal? You know the two have never been seen together in the same place at the same time. Hmmm...

There were thousands of people there, many knowing every single word to all of his songs. The concert and festival in the city were meant to celebrate the chag, the holiday of Sukkot. Yehoram is an excellent performer. The highlight of the concert for me was his rendition of "מלחמה האחרונה" ["milchamah haachronah"--the last war], in which a father promises his young daughter that he is leaving for the "last war". The song is also a tribute to the different army units and their contributions and sacrifices. Yehoram noted that he preferred to look at the song as a tefillah--a prayer, rather than a promise. Here's a little piece of it:

בשם הקשרים אשר קולם קרע לילות,
בשם כל הגייסות והחילות,
בשם כל האבות אשר הלכו לקרב נורא
ושרוצים לשוב אלייך חזרה -

אני מבטיח לך ילדה שלי קטנה שזאת תהיה המלחמה

For the signalmen whose voice cut through the nights,

For all the forces and women soldiers,

For all the fathers who went into the great battle

And want to return home to you...

I promise you, my little daughter,
that this will be the last war.

Tammy and I had alot of fun. I managed to slip in the mud, and we later got caught in a teen-age crowd dancing wildly to a [very loud, I might add] DJ. (Didn't see those kids at the Yehoram Gaon stage). I don't know who laughed harder--the teenagers at us, or vice versa. Talk about a generation gap.

And did I mention it was FREE? Eat your heart out, Paul.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Sukkah goes up in Modi'in

Actually hundreds of Sukkot have been going up in Modi'in. But in honor of this
holiday, זמן שמחתינו (Z'man Simchatenu--the season of our joy), I'm going to show you our Sukkah going up:

The "machzor" (specific prayer book for the holiday) is so fat because one year we left it in the rain.

I am so proud that my girls are old enough to really contribute to this great mitzvah and ritual. They actually decorated the Sukkah all by themselves. I didn't get on the ladder once.

"May you be blessed as you enter".

"May you be blessed as you leave".

For those celebrating, and those not, may this truly be the season of our joy!

Chag Sameach to all!!

BTW, Haveil Havalim #186 is up and running here. Have fun reading.

And I'm hosting next week, so make sure to submit, submit, and submit. Do it early--I want it done by Friday....

A Blip...

One of my girls is having a hard time with being here. I can't go into details because I really can't invade her privacy here on the blog. If I were anonymous I'd spill it all.

On Shabbat, I was sitting with some friends, thinking to myself, "Wow. This is okay. These women are great and I'm starting to feel about them as I feel about the women I left behind, (whom I love and miss so much). This is a good place I'm in."

But they say you can only be as happy as your saddest kid.

I'm feeling pretty sad right about now.

Still, I know that we all have our good days and our bad days. I'm entitled, and my kids are entitled. [The only one who's not entitled is Isaac.]

I just know it will be okay. My kids will get through this challenging period in their lives and come out on the other end better for it. They will be, with G-d's help, stronger women and prouder Jews.

Maybe they'll never thank me for bringing them on this journey, but I think they will understand me.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The chickens are trembling in their coops...

It's been a tough few days out there for every one's favorite fowl.** You know, there must be a million ways to cook a chicken and personally, I'm suddenly having a craving for my favorite, apricot-walnut chicken cutlet. Wouldn't it be cute if some Rabbi somewhere pardoned a chicken, much like the annual presidential pardon of the turkey on Thanksgiving? And that would be so appropriate for the Jewish holiday season!

I've collected some scenes from around the web to show you what this ritual is like:

In my family, we just use money, and give it to some worthwhile charities.

May Yom Kippur be a meaningful day for us all, filled with forgiveness and love.

[**Some background: In the days leading up to Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar (in which Jews spend the day praying for atonement for their sins), it is customary to find a surrogate to "transfer" our sins over to. Many people use a chicken. Others give charity as a way to atone for their sins.]


FYI, Haveil Havalim is up at Write Like She Talks. As always, a great round-up of what's going on around the Jewish Blogosphere.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Today is Liat's birthday on the לועזי ["lohahzi"--secular] calendar. She is 15 years old, Thank G-d. We acknowledged the day, but since it is a fast day, we will celebrate her birthday (and Orli's because she was in camp for her big day) on Chol Hamoed Sukkot, her Hebrew birthday.

The phone has been ringing off the hook as Liat's friends from America keep calling her to say hello. And I distinctly heard Liat say that even though school was really, really hard, she really, really liked it.

And I am really, really hopeful that, with G-d's help, she will have a really, really good year.

Really, really.