Friday, February 27, 2009

Another teenager in the house....

Tali's turning thirteen tomorrow. My middle child.

It's amazing how you can have three daughters and all three are so different and so delightful at the same time.

Tali has blossomed here in Israel. She has grown tall and beautiful and has developed a confidence and a poise that takes my breath away.

And she knows what she wants and knows how to ask for it. :-)

Happy birthday Tali. I love you with all my heart and soul.

Shabbat Shalom to all--may we all have lots of joyful moments to celebrate...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Off to work....

I don't talk much about it, but I really do have much to say about my place of work, the work I do and how it is doing it in another language and culture. Since I have to leave in about 15 minutes, I can't cover all of that in this post, but I'll leave you with two comments/observations:

1. --(and Mom-in-Israel's guest post reminded me of this)--Because I work in a school where the staff consists predominantly of charedi women, with an average age of about 25, there are many nursing mothers on the staff. Why is it that I have walked into my office to find women pumping several times already? Nobody bothers to ask me if it's okay and it's a total inconvenience for me. With so many young nursing women there, a comfortable designated room (not mine!) should be provided for them, don't you think? I'm going to try to say something to the administration, but I have a feeling the attitude will be, "Big deal, it's been okay until now, what's the problem?"

2. I respect these women who are totally committed to davening (praying) everyday. But when I am in a room with 5 severely handicapped children and I tell the very inexperienced assistant that I want her to observe me treating so that she knows what to do with the children, that doesn't mean she has a free half hour. I thought she went to get something and next thing I know she is earnestly davening, while four kids are sitting in their chairs or laying on the mattress doing nothing. (The other assistants were out with other kids and the teacher was absent). Is that okay? These kids cannot stimulate themselves, they need the adults in the room to do it for them. Is it okay to let them lay there for half an hour so she could pray? Shouldn't she do that before she comes to work?

Am I being to harsh here?

Have a nice day, all!

משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה It's a new month on the Jewish calendar!

Today is the first day of the Jewish month of Adar. It is supposed to be a month of increased joy as during this month we recall the miracle of Purim, when our ancestors were saved from destruction by the evil Haman.

Last year, on this day 8 students were brutally murdered while studying in the Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav. Many in Israel had a hard time "increasing joy" during that time and celebrated Purim with heavy hearts. I wrote about the event here and here. I just wanted to take a moment and recall this event. Such is life in Israel--joy and sorrow woven together into our daily stories.

I got my friend Danny to help usher in the new month. Some of you might recognize him from Shlock Rock. Believe it or not, Danny just learned to play the mandolin a month ago. Here he is with a Purim classic.

While I'm here I'll remind you to check out this week's edition of Haveil Havalim, up at Sarah's Images.

Wishing all of you a חדש טוב, a month filled with joy, success and blessings.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Missing M

My oldest friend came in for a visit. Oldest in terms of how long I know her, not in terms of how old she is. We've known each other since nursery days. We used to count the years by saying, "hey we've been friends for 15 years". We stopped doing that a long time ago; I think we both felt that the number was getting scarily large and we both are pretty superstitious.

She came in because her mother, who lives here in Israel, had a bit of a health scare, which turned out to be (Thank G-d) easily resolved. By the time she arrived, mom was up and around and feeling good, so we had time to play. Now that we live so far apart, time spent with her is precious. Although we speak fairly often via my computer phone line, it's just not the same as being together. Her and her mother spent Shabbat with us and we passed the time by updating each other on the ups and downs of our lives,and of course playing games. She is a vicious competitor and I usually lose games like Banagrams and Set to her. (I always ask her how someone who hates to read books can be so good at word games).

But now she's gone. It was so hard to say good-bye to her this morning. I've probably said it before and I'll say it again: for me the most difficult thing about making Aliyah is the people I left behind. I ache with missing them. Still. It's an ache that comes and goes, but when it hits me, it's with a full force that knocks the wind out of me. How did people move here years ago before the internet and computer phone lines and Facebook?

Will it get easier?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shachar Pe'er told me this personally

Well, not exactly personally, but Shachar Pe'er, the Israeli tennis player lives in Macabim, which is part of the city of Modi'in. Every week she writes a little paragraph in the Modi'in Yediot, a supplement of the national newspaper, Yediot Achronot. Shachar is Israel's top female tennis player and is ranked 45th in world standings. She was scheduled to play in a prestigious women's tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates this week, but surprise, surprise was denied a visa.

Why was Shachar denied this visa? According to Dubai officials, they were concerned about her safety in lieu of the recent war between Israel and the terrorists running the show in the Gaza Strip. Tensions are running high in the area, and the kind Dubai officials didn't want to take any chances.

If it's so dangerous in the area, shouldn't the tournament be cancelled or at least postponed? And to all you tourists out there planning a nice vacation on a beach shaped like a palm tree--do you really want to visit a country that is worried it can't protect athletes?

I could care less about tennis, but this speaks of blatant anti-semitism. The Woman's Tennis Association should not just let this go; they need to make sure that this tournament is not held in Dubai next year.

There should be no tolerance for this kind of intolerance.


Please go visit Haveil Havalim. My friend Leora did an outstanding job putting this latest edition together.

(I've been away for a while but am trying to compensate by putting up two posts in one day--scroll down for the next fascinating post).

I'm back and I'm tired

I believe this is the longest I've been away from my blog. It's nothing in particular that's been keeping me away: it's everything. I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed with all that needs to get done around here: the housework, the work-work, and the homework.

The homework is a big issue. I feel that the kids need lots of support that the educational system here just doesn't provide them with. Since it's our second year here and the kids speak hebrew most teachers believe they should be sailing along in school as well. It doesn't work that way, I'm a speech pathologist with a degree in Bilingual Education, I know. Just because a kid has mastered social language--the playground communication--doesn't mean they can listen to a lecture on science, history, math or even Torah and absorb the information. I spend half my life talking to teachers trying to explain this to them. The kids need adaptations. Some of the teachers are sensitive to this issue, others don't have a clue.

In the meantime, I am happy that I am able to understand their textbooks and am able to help them; many olim don't understand enough Hebrew to be able to do this. So I sit with them for a long time, I make summaries, I review with them, I test them. And they've been doing okay for the most part. But it's exhausting for me.

And I'm trying to figure out how to wean them so they could do this more independently at some point.

How many more days 'til summer vacation?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weather prediction for tomorrow (election day) is stormy

Is that some kind of weird foreshadowing?

I didn't vote in the recent local Modi'in elections because I never took the time to find out what each candidate stood for and didn't want to vote blind. About ten days ago, I realized that my knowledge of national politics here was pretty vague so I set about educating myself. I've been reading, attending forums (okay, I attended one, but it was very informative) and talking to people to see what they think and why. I also used the Israel Electoral Compass but didn't find it particularly helpful.

Look, I'm not going to bore you (or myself) telling you about how the parliamentry system here is set up. It's pretty much a catastrophe, where members of the Knesset (Israel's parliament) don't have to answer directly to specific regional constituents and therefore do whatever they please once elected. You vote for a party and the party that collects the most seats chooses the prime minister. Should be fun to watch.

I've formed my opinion and it's down to 2 parties. I'll decide when I'm in the voting booth. (Does Israel even have voting booths?) The truth is that no matter who wins, I think we're all screwed. I comfort myself by saying that although we think men and women run this country, we know Who Is Really Running the Show.

One thing is for sure, whether you're right, left, middle, green, pensioner, Jewish House, Israel House, National Union, or whatever: most of us are going to enjoy the day off tomorrow.

So let the stormy weather begin. L-rd knows we need the rain.

For those of you living in Israel who are still undecided, here are some election day links to help you along.

West Bank Mama

The Muqata's Guide to Voting

See who Benji is voting for

Esser Agaroth also has an opinion

Rafi interviews Uri Blank of Ichud Leumi

An endorsement for Israel Beitenu

Batya thinks a vote for Likud is a vote for Kadima

You can find these links and many more at Haveil Havalim.

Soldiers have already voted at their bases.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Skywatch Friday

These were photographed at the same time from my porch, playing with the zoom lense.

First photo shot.



Sky Watch Friday is a photo meme with photos of sunrises, sunsets, blue skies, gray skies, pink skies, dark skies and any other kind of sky posted by bloggers all over the planet.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Better sox

Way back when, I read a post by Mom in Israel on mismatched socks. I couldn't find the exact post, so Mom, if you're reading this, send me the link and I'll post it.

In any case, the other day I noticed something about my kids feet, but it didn't quite register. Today I noticed the same thing:

That's right my kids no longer bother to wear matching socks anymore, if it's at all inconvenient. You see, I don't believe that I'm always losing socks to some weird sock fairy (not that there's anything wrong with that) or that they get sucked in by the washing machine. I know my kids take off their socks at night and then promptly shove them under the bed, behind it or into one of the 50,000 boxes of "tchatchkes" that pre-teen and teen kids seem to accumulate. I'm always on them to take off their socks and throw both of them into the hamper, but honestly, that is just not a priority to them.

But this is the perfect solution. I no longer have to care about missing matches. I know the socks are in their rooms somewhere and eventually (probably before Pesach) they'll turn up. And when they do, the kids will be able to wear them, with whatever match they please. (And as you see from the second picture, they really don't have to coordinate at all). I feel so liberated.

While I'm on the topic, you should check out Seraphic Secret's Friday Footwear Feature by Robert Avrech. Mr. Avrech provides excellent politcal analysis of our situation here in Israel, as well as of what's going on in America. But his fans really go back for this stuff.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Venezuela, Venezuela on my mind

This is what happened in Venezuela this past Friday night:

The scrawls say "Leave" and "Death now".


Those of you who know me know that my husband, Isaac, was raised in Venezuela. He often describes to me an idyllic childhood: family and friends, involvement in his synagogue and Bnei Akiva, all in a beautiful and prosperous country where Jews were treated with respect and equality.

Venezuela is not that country any more and has not been for a long time. This is mostly due to government mismanagement and corruption. Venezuela's current president, Hugo Chavez, is a dictator who has all but closed down free speech, taken control of private industry and fostered an environment of anti-semitism, of course in the guise of Israel-as-occupier-committer-of-war-crimes-oppressor.

Approximately 15,000 Jews remain in Venezuela out of about 30,000 Jews living there ten years ago. Most of these Jews have gone to the United States; a few have come to Israel. Amongst the Jews remaining are Isaac's sister and brother-in-law and our three nephews, who have no immediate plans to leave the country.

Isaac has always been disappointed at how things have developed in Venezuela, but I think that seeing those pictures must be downright painful for him. The man in the second picture was Isaac's "chanich" [camper--for lack of a better word] in Bnei Akiva and is now president of the vandalized synagogue. When I see a synagogue being vandalized, I feel outrage. Isaac, I think, feels despair, knowing this is happening to people he feels a bond with in a place he once loved.

The refrain of an old Israeli song went like this:

"ונצואלה, ונצואלה אין דומה לה" "Venezuela, Venezuela, nothing compares to her".

It is sad to watch the place you once called home become a place to fear. And so I say to family, to friends, to fellow-Jews: Leave. Come to Israel if you can, but if you can't, go somewhere else. I don't think the Jewish community can survive in Venezuela, let alone thrive. Get out now.

While you can.