Thursday, December 27, 2007

So, here's the thing....

I don't want my kids to read this blog anymore. I just find that I have to censor myself to much. It's not that I want to write about them, but I don't necessarily want them reading everything about me. (Girls, don't take that personally--I love you, but a mom's got to have some space, you know?) But what do I do? Do any of you out there know if there is a way to switch addresses without them knowing?

I'm happy with the way this blog has been progressing (except for the part of having to censor myself) and am enjoying the comments I've been getting--I don't want to start from scratch. And I kinda like my blog's name and my URL.

I'd appreciate any ideas. (And I don't mean from my kids :) )

In other news, I'm pleased to report that Isaac is working. He started after Chanukah. So he leaves every morning and comes back at night. And I miss him. Now I have to remember to tell him things. Life has become rushed again. We are very grateful.

And I'm looking forward to that first paycheck!

Monday, December 24, 2007

But yet, Gilad Schalit

Over at the Jerusalem Post, it's being reported that Hamas will agree to release Gilad Schalit, in exchange for 500 Palestinians being held by Israel, and for Israel to cease fire.

"Hamas wants the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit to be part of a package that would include, among other things, a mutual cease-fire with Israel and guarantees that Israel will not target Hamas leaders, sources close to Hamas said Sunday.

The sources said Hamas also wanted the package to include the reopening of the border crossings in the Gaza Strip and an end to international sanctions that have been in effect since Hamas came to power in January 2006."

Excuse me???? A cease fire from Israel??? Should I state the obvious??? Kassam rockets are raining down daily on Sderot and neighboring areas. That's every day. What the hell else are we supposed to do? Continue to allow it to happen? Continue to work from a position of weakness? What exactly is Hamas guaranteeing?

But yet, Gilad Schalit.

I want him home.

And the others, of course.

This morning, on my way to Mega, I was listening to a talk show (in Hebrew, she says with pride). The first person interviewed said that when you release Palestinian prisoners you need to look at who you are releasing; are you releasing the old, the infirm, the ones you are pretty sure will not murder more Israelis? This guy said there is a difference between releasing a 30-year-old terrorist, and a 60-year-old terrorist. Which is of course, laughable. I mean, isn't that age discrimination? What, a 60-year-old can't commit [mass] murder? How old is Osama Bin Ladin? Not exactly a spring chicken, and he seems spry enough to murder.

Didn't we used to have a policy of no negotiating with terrorists? But then they changed that to not releasing terrorists with "blood on their hands". And now....

Then the host of this radio program interviewed a former chayal [soldier] who had been seriously injured by a terrorist attack years ago. The chayal said, "Blood on your hands is blood on your hands". He went on to point out that if we release these prisoners now, we may get Gilad Schalit back. Of course his parents and all of Israel will rejoice. But at what price? What do we tell the parents of future victims whose children die at the hands of these terrorists we are imminently releasing?

And I live here now. This is real to me. Freed terrorists allowed to plot more killings just doesn't sit right with me.

That is the struggle of this country. Every soldier, every Jew so precious. Gilad suffers now. But we have to worry about the future as well. When we negotiate with murderers we are negotiating from a position of weakness. We are always paying a price for everything we do.

But yet, Gilad Schalit....

Friday, December 21, 2007

I took my driver's test this morning....

I think I did okay. That woman didn't look mortally wounded...And with the excellent insurance coverage in this country, fixing her face shouldn't cost her anything.

The test-giver was very serious, no conversation except for the requisite turn right, turn left. I could swear I saw him cutting me off on the 443 the other day. Naaah. I'm sure he always signals (or puts on his vinkerim as they are called in this country).

And I won't know if I passed or failed until later today. I guess my case needs to be conferenced before he tells me.

One more thing before I go: Every Thursday night or Friday we always see young chayalim (soldiers) getting out of cars and buses, with their knapsack slung over one shoulder and their gun slung over the other. I just saw a soldier bound eagerly up the steps to his apartment. I am always so happy that they are getting a well deserved "Shabbat Chofshit" (weekend off). I know they are being welcomed by their loved ones with much joy. These kids fill me with such pride and love--and I know you all join me in my prayer that they will always return home safe and sound.

See this woman's blog for a beautifully told tale of her son's army service.

Shabbat Shalom!


Our driving instructor, Ofer (a quintisential Israeli), who is also our neighbor just knocked on our door. He greeted us with, "Mazal Tov!". So we passed our tests, both Isaac and I. And then Ofer, with the Ray-Ban shades and diamond earring in his ear wished us a Shabbat Shalom.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Survivor--Israeli Style

There has been much publicity about the Israeli "Survivor" which premiered tonight on Arutz 10. It is very much based on Mark Burnett's popular (or used to be, anyway) reality show. The girls and I watched it together tonight. They liked Survivor in America, and I figured it would be a fun thing to watch here, even though its in Hebrew. And it was fun. It was exactly like the American version--the music, the logo, the scheming; even the host sounded remarkably like his American counterpart (forgot his name).

What most struck me was the team that was going to tribal council (where a member of the tribe would be voted off). The council happened to be taking place on a Friday night. Before they left for the council, one of the members got up and said, "You know I am not religious, but every Friday night I have "kabalat Shabbat" with my family. I would like to do it here as well, and whoever wants to, can join me." With that said, he lifted up his canteen, and made a full kiddush over the water inside it, and then proceeded to make "Hamotzi" over the bread. Not only did this affect me, but it affected many members of the tribe as well. One of them said, "No matter which "tribe" I belong to on this show, we are all "yehudim", and we have our special traditions. I was proud to celebrate Shabbat with my fellow Jews".

I have no comment that can beat that.

A Week of Firsts, or My Post-Chanukah Post

A while back I posted about doing everything for the last time in my old town of Cedarhurst. That was really tough. It was so sad and hard for me that I'm not going to link to that post. This is a much happier entry, about our first Chanukah and all the other "firsts" I had this week.

Our first Chanukah as Israeli citizens! We are living in Modiin, land of the Macabis themselves. There is evidence of their lives all over our town, from mikvahs, to olive presses (what would an ancient site be without an olive press?) to a Beit Knesset that was used by the Chashmonaim. There was a Friday night tefilla there that we would have attended had it not been pouring.

Right before Chanukah, I decided to get Isaac one of those outdoor Chanukiyot (menorahs), otherwise known as Yerushalmi Chanukiyot. I couldn't find any in Modiin, so I decided to head over to Kiryat Sefer. I had never been there. Kiryat Sefer is a charedi (ultra-orthodox) community not to far from here. They are famous for selling Ungar's frozen gefilte fish loaves, which you can't get at Mega. Just kidding, they are probably famous for other things as well, but well, for me its comforting to know that I can always get my hands on some frozen gefilte fish loaves anytime the urge to spend $12.00 hits me! But I digress. Now I had never been to Kiryat Sefer and had always assumed I would go there for the first time with a friend who would show me the ropes. But I really wanted that Chanukiyah, and knew they probably had it. So I bravely drove the two miles and was rewarded for my efforts:

It felt good seeing these lights twinkling all over the city.

That night, the first, Isaac's family came over and we had Latkes and Sufganiyot. Let's try this shot (not a picture, one of my kids actually videod the sufganiyot; click on the arrow):

Notice there are no "ribat chalav" donuts--that's because they were all eaten. This is what I have to say about sufganiyot:
1. I hate them, even the "caramel" ones.
2. The root word of 'sufganiya' is ס פ ג; this means 'absorb' as in oil, and transfat. So to my friend SZ, don't be to upset that you missed 'em this year.

On our first day of Chanukah, we went to Tel-Aviv to meet my sister-in-law at a mall to see the movie "Enchanted". It was our first time on the Israel Railroad. We rode in a double decker car (of course on top!)

Definitely not the Long Island RailRoad!

Riding the railroad was fun. All the automated instructions are in Hebrew and English, except for the part about watching the gap between the platform and the train. For some reason they only say that part in Hebrew. Maybe they don't like Americanos???? Or English speakers?

The movie was great. Very Disney. Go see it--and take the kids, its a family movie. The theater was huge, with big comfy seats (like business class on El-Al, not that I would know, I'm not one of those people who ever gets the upgrade).

At the mall we saw this:

The man bending over is a magician. There were dreidels and sufganiyot everywhere, and we didn't see Santa anywhere. Commercialism yes, Santa no. Apparently he's only allowed in the supermarkets.

At the mall, I bought my first pair of shoes in Israel:

Yup, my girls think they are totally hot. And guess what? Shoes are expensive here.

On Shabbat Chanukah, I achieved another signicant milestone I made my first roast. Meat here is very complicated. Buying it, not making it. But I'll save that for another post.

Another first: Seeing the Chanukiya at the Kotel. Unfortunately we were not there for candlelighting.

Finally, our first vacation as Israelis. How different from our road trips in the states (even though we loved seeing America and travelling her roads). First of all, no need to plan meals and shlep food. Just pack the string bikinis and Isaac's speedo and we're off to the races! The most we had to do was check that the Eilat restaurants we were eating in had a teudat kashrut. Isaac went to minyan in the morning, which was packed.

And of course the hotel celebrated Chanukah right along with us.

Here are some other highlights of our first Israeli vacation:

Nope, we never ran into a camel.

We stopped at Machtesh Ramon, Israel's "Grand Canyon". Truly beautiful. We'll have to go back to spend more time there.

This is the Taba Crossing, our border with Egypt. Maybe I shouldn't post it--it may be top secret.

Orienting the Egyptians as to where they are when they cross the Taba Border.

One of the highlights of the trip was snorkeling on Coral Beach. We saw the most beautiful, colorful fish, hundreds of them, swimming right under our noses. That was a first for me, but hopefully I'll get to experience that again. A tip: don't waste money on the aquarium, just go snorkeling.

Our last first of the week, hopefully not to be repeated; Isaac cut his shin on coral and had to be taken to the ER, where he received 21 stitches, poor guy. He was barely in the water when it happenned, and then had to leave. Thank G-d he is fine. He would love to tell you every gory detail, but as I've said before, he needs to get his own blog. He wanted me to post some pictures of his leg but for G-d's sake this is a family blog!

Well, that about wraps it up, folks. Come join me next Chanukah, and I'll be sure to show you a good time--or at least an olive press or two!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Shabbat Shalom!

I've been working on my Chanukah post, but its just not ready and Shabbat is starting in 15 minutes. So I promise I will post it tomorrow night. I just didn't want it to be sloppy.

In the meantime have a great Shabbat. And check again tomorrow night or Sunday.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Chanuka Events

Orli, my ten-year-old has more time than usual on her hands, what with Chanuka vacation and all. She decided she wants to contribute to my blog, so without further ado, here goes:

This is orli

Chanuka is going to be crazy so I'm writing down our events..................

night 1 my grandma and aunt came and I got a cool Israeli FOX sweatshirt and pink leg warmers-they're so cool!

night 2 we went to see the movie Enchanted (highly recommended)in Tel Aviv with my aunt, tali, liat, my mom and then went 4 pizza with my dad and grandma

night 3 we're going to a party in Bait Shemesh at Marta's, my mom's friend

night 4 4 Shabbat we're having my aunt and grandma over and since I have the hi-riser I have 2 give up my bed and sleep on top of tali's bunk bed.

night 5 we're going 2 Ra'annana 4 a party with the cousins

night 6 we're going 2 Eilat--FUN!!!!!!!

night 7 we'll still be in Eilat

night 8 still Eilat


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Front Page Headlines in Israel Today...

It was all over the news today that an elementary school in Petach Tikvah accepted four Ethiopian students into their school, but separated them from the other students. The four young girls had a separate classroom, with a separate teacher, and supposedly had recess at a different time than the rest of the school (this last fact was denied by the school). You can read more about it here. I'm not surprised by this at all. Israel hasn't really heard of "separate but equal is inherently unequal".

Besides the obvious discrimination, my first thought was, "Four kids in a class? Why aren't more parents clamoring to get their kids into that class?!?" My two kids in elementary school have 40 kids in their class. Class not grade. Each. Talk about culture shock. It's a good thing they spend most of their time in ulpan. Anyway, now that everyone's gotten wind of the antics of this school, these kids will probably get the same education like the rest of the kids in that school. For better or worse....


Stay tuned for my Chanukah post, coming soon--I'll let you all know how that caramel sufganiya was.....