Sunday, December 16, 2007

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!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recap! I have been waiting patiently for a chanukah rport and I was NOT disappointed! Your chanukah was so much better than mine!! I like the theme of first in Israel....

Stephanie said...


Baila said...

Anon--Thanks alot!


Eilat is beautiful, but definitely to hot for your upcoming summer tour. You'll have to come back some time in the Fall to visit that part of the country.

Also my husband wants to know if thats really you in the picture :)