Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm totally stealing these pictures from...


His blog has the most up-to-the-minute news I've seen on the web. I have no idea how he does it. I hope he's not mad that I'm totally ripping these off. I just thought there may be a reader or two who didn't see them.

Taking Cover from a Gazan Rocket in Ashkelon

This is one mean looking dude. I'm glad he's not out to get me.

Actually, this last picture reminds me of this.

And now back to our scheduled war.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Second post of the day...or how I spent my Chanuka vacation

We've been having a pretty low-key Chanuka here at Casa Baila. But today we decided to mosey on into Jerusalem to see the candlelighting at the Kotel.

I always love the approach down to the kotel, that first sighting. We got there with perfect timing, at dusk, just as the candles were about to be lit.

No, this is not the official Kotel Chanukiya. It's the Chanukiya that's lit up on the side of the Kotel--not sure whose menora it is, probably a Yeshiva.

The Kotel Chanukiya after it was lit.

Here's Rav Shlomo Amar giving a bracha after candlelighting. When he was done, he got off the podium and was treated like a rock star. People were pushing and shoving to shake his hand and touch him. Of course, we're talking about the men. We women just watched.

Anyhoo, after his security detail shooed people away, HaRav Amar lead the Maariv, the evening prayer. I was thrilled to get this shot of him saying the Shema:

I know, I should have been following his prayers, but I couldn't resist the photo op. After the picture was taken though, I settled down to what was a very emotional and inspiring Tefilat Maariv.

The evening wasn't over yet. After we left the Kotel, we walked back through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Menorahs were lit everywhere, casting a beautiful glow against the white stone of that ancient city.

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday as much as I did.

Israel unleashes its strength....and the world reacts as expected

Surprise, surprise.

Disproportionate response. Sure. For how long must Israel allow unprovoked attacks on its people before it reacts?

Where do you live? Woodmere? Teaneck? San Diego? If kassam rockets were being launched daily from say, Westchester or San Francisco would you not want, no demand some kind of government protection and reaction? If Mexico started throwing missiles into Dallas, how many years do you think the US should show "restraint" for? One? Five? EIGHT YEARS???

I don't understand the reaction of the media, but I'm not surprised by it. I saw an interview on Sky News (nauseating) where a Hamas henchman, when questioned about the kassam rockets being tossed into Israel, actually stated, "oh those missiles don't really do any harm". Right. Your missiles don't do any harm.

We want peace. We do. In 1948, we would have happily accepted the UN partition plan which split the land into two states. The plan was wholly rejected by the Arabs, who vowed to push us into the sea. Thus began Israel's Independance War, a war still being fought with blood and tears. We have made huge concessions (Gush Katif, anyone?)since then, only to be provoked again and again. I've said it before: Israel is strong, we just need to be allowed to use our strength to protect and defend our people.

May G-d protect our soldiers and give our leaders the strength of character to do the right thing.

BTW, Jameel is live-blogging the Gaza Incursion and is doing an excellent job of it. For updated information go check him out.


Friday, December 26, 2008

I know I'm a day late, but over here its called Chag Hamolad

Molad, meaning, birth, so it's translated as the "Holiday of the Birth". I don't really have much to say about it, just to wish a good one to those of you who do celebrate. You do know, of course, that this is the place where it all started and there is plenty for you to see here that involves Christian history. So to all my friends that celebrate, you can come visit and see all those sites, and I'd be happy to show other sites as well. I know this sounds crazy, but Israel is a fun country!

It's kinda weird being here and not feeling a "Christmas season". I read somewhere (should have kept the source) about an American Christian family living in Jerusalem; the father talked about how strange it felt to not be the dominant culture. From my point of view it feels good to be the dominant culture.

Last year, my first here in Israel, I was surprised to see this here in my hometown of Modi'in. This year I was less surprised when I took a tiyul down to Tsomet Bilu for some shopping and I saw this:

Yep, it's the "alte zeide mit di roite bekeshe"--please! I'm from Chassidishe Williamsburg, read it the right way!*

In any case, Happy Holidays to all, whatever you're celebrating.

* (Yiddish for the old grandfather in the red coat, which is what some people call Mr. Claus).

Note: I just heard about a terrible accident at a chabad event in the Five Towns, where we used to live. It seems that a driver lost control of his vehicle, which careened into a room where Chabad was holding its Chanukah party. Apparently, there were a number of injuries, some of them critical. My heart goes out to the injured and their families and I will include a special prayer when I light candles, in a few minutes.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Three books, three reviews

Do you think most bloggers are readers at heart? We've got to be, since we spend so much time reading other people's stories on the internet. Recently, two blogger friends have been talking about what they've been reading and I've decided to follow suit.

I have always been a reader. As a child, my mother would take us to the Williamsburg Public Library every Friday, where we were allowed to take out ten books. Those ten books were returned the next Friday, because well, I read 'em all. I used to be accused of just skimming the books, but if that's the case why do I still remember some of them? I went through all the series, including the Hardy Boys, Boxcar Children, Bobbsey Twins, Little House, the Eddie/Betsy books (Carolyn Haywood?), the Betsy and Tacy books. I also read non-series books. One of my favorite childhood books was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Loved that one.

My beloved childhood library. How I loved this place.

I continued reading into adulthood. I could polish off one or two books a week, sometimes more before Blogger, Facebook and all the lists I belong to came into my life. Now I do read less, but still in surges. When I start a book, I have to finish it. I wake up in the middle of the night and read by the bathroom light. I read when I get home from work. I used to nurse my babies and read at the same time, which made for some interesting aches. And my favorite time to read, shabbat.

Here's what I've been reading lately and what I think about these books. Obviously, these are my own humble opinions. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves, or to comment. (Many thanks to my librarian friend, CK, for providing two out of the three books; I hope you come visit again soon!)

First up is Testimony by Anita Shreve. I find her to be a consistently good storyteller, although she has had some misses. In America, I often listened to the audio versions of her books. (Light on Snow is not to be missed for it's beautiful narration). Testimony, it seems to me, may have been inspired by the case of the Duke University students accused of raping a woman when things got out of hand at a party that involved alchohol. Shreve's novel takes place in a New England Boarding School. The novel opens with a bang, as the headmaster of the school is watching a video sent to him of three upper classman engaging in drunken sexual behavior with a younger (underage) student. The first chapter is necessarily graphic in its description. The rest of the novel is told through the eyes of many characters (about twenty!), including all the students involved, some of the parents, teachers, townspeople, media people and friends. The story that unfolds is suspenseful, disturbing and very, very sad. It ultimately tells the story of how one moment in time can have a devastingly ripple effect throughout an entire community. It deals with issues of alcohol and teenagers, as well as teenage sexuality. There is a a bit of a twist to the story and Ms. Shreve is masterful at weaving all the different voices together. I highly recommend this one.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld is a novel "loosely" based on the life of Laura Bush. Alice Lindgren was a democrat-leaning woman who had been involved in a car accident that killed a young man when she was 17. She was a former school teacher and a librarian when she met the "Dubya" character, Charles Blackwell. I always wonder about the words "loosely based". Sittenfeld treats the First Lady character very well, but her husband is treated as a funny, loveable buffoon, without a job whose main concern seems to be his legacy. (One of the more amusing lines in the book is the description of the president passing wind; the Commander-In-Chief loves it that his secret service agents crack up at the leader of the free world "tooting his own horn"). At the end of the novel, the author describes how tortured the First Lady is by her husband's policies. Maybe Alice felt that way, but I'm not so sure Laura Bush does. The story is an entertaining one, though it may annoy you a bit if you're a republican.

Finally, the third book is Rashi's Daughters Book II: Miriam by Maggie Anton. Talk about "loosely based". Look, I like to read. I like to feel what the past was like by someone who has done research into a particular era in history. I'm not even talking about the plot here, I'm talking about how people of that era ate, drank, cooked, interacted, worked, what they wore, how they socialized. And for all of that the book was interesting. But for the author to have me believe that Rashi's son-in-law was a homosexual and that all he ever thought about (but never acted upon) was his homosexuality is to me, appalling. The author's justification: while there is no evidence that he was, well, he could have been. And Moshe Rabbenu could have eaten pig's feet. I feel that when a book like this is written, it is done through the prism of our times: where anything and everything goes, where a novel has to have a "hook" that will help sell it. I did not find this aspect of the character believable, and since the entire novel was based on it,well, it was hard to finish the book. I wonder what's in store for the third daughter.

What have you been reading? What did you read as a kid? Enquiring minds want to know.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow expected in my old neck of the woods

On Fridays, while getting ready for Shabbat, I sometimes listen to WCBS-AM Radio. This was an all-news station I used to listen to in New York. Today, it was all about the snow headed your way. For a moment, I felt nostalgic. Aww, I miss the snow, I thought.

And then came the traffic reports, school closings and train delays. I recalled navigating the LIE and Cross Island Expressway in the snow, on a Friday where Shabbat starts so early. I remembered worrying about freezing pipes and leaking basements.

And I thought, I'm okay with no snow.*

I don't think you're getting this much snow!

*Today's weather in Modi'in:

22 °C / 71.6 °F
Humidity: 11. %
Light W Wind
Chance of rain: 0 %
High Clouds

Shabbat Shalom!

This is something worth eating meat for at 10 a.m: Stuffed Zucchini

I got this recipe from the Jerusalem Post. It's easy, but it does have several steps. It is a complete meal, though; you don't have to make any side dishes to go with it.

As I have very strict standards, I always taste my food to make sure it is up to the level of perfection my family has come to expect from me. Which is how I found myself eating a meat dish at 10 a.m. this morning. You'll all be happy to know this dish passed my test.

Here's the recipe:

12 medium zucchini


500 gram chicken
1 large grated onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped parsley
3/4 cup rice
1 pinch lemon salt
1 tsp hawaiij (middle eastern spice; Pereg makes it, you can get it in Gourmet Glatt)
salt and pepper


3 tbs oil
1 large chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1 cup diced apricots
6 fresh ripe tomatoes, grated coarsely
lemon, juice and zest
1 heaping tbs sugar
1 tsp hawaiij
salt and pepper
2-3 ups clear chicken soup or stock

Scoop out the zucchini, saving the guts. Mix all the ingredients for the filling and lightly fill the zuchinis; set aside.

Saute the onion and garlic, then add the rest of the ingredients until the chicken soup. Bring to a boil. Spread the zuccini pulp over the sauce and then place the stuffed zucchinis in the sauce. Place the covers near the zucchinis, not on them. Pour in the chicken soup and cook until they look like they are done. Voila!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Writer's block

I don't know why I can't seem to put pen to paper, or keys to screen lately. I have some posts saved but all are superficial (a recipe, and some stuff about Ozzy the Wonder Dog). There's lots of stuff going on here and I feel a kind of nervous energy that overtakes me everytime I sit down to write.

I met a blog friend who is fast becoming a real-life friend last week. It was fun to compare notes with Ruti Mizrachi. She is a very inspiring woman with so much faith, and a fascinating story to tell. I was going to write a long post about our meeting, but I can't seem to get up the energy, and well, she beat me to it over here. She basically said everything I had wanted to say, so you can click on over there if you're interested in what happens when great blogger minds get together (so what if we couldn't figure out how to get the computer fired up at the internet cafe).

In any case, I plan on keeping up the posting even if it's short, dumb stuff. Bear with me while I work through this. Hopefully it's a short phase.

In the meantime Haveil Havalim is up at Jack's place and JPix is up at Mom's.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Where did the word "meme" come from anyway?

I got tagged by Leo, which was awfully sweet. What is it about memes and blogs? You don't see them for months, even years and then all of a sudden they're all over the place. I just did one a few posts ago. I don't think I'm going to do any more memes after this one. I'd rather you get to know me slowly, by reading my thoughts. It's more natural, and more fun for me that way.

But here goes this one:

5 Things I was doing 10 years ago:

1) Adoring three little girls ages 1, 2 and 5.
2) Working at HASC in Woodmere, NY.
3) Freaking out alot of the time.
4) Lots of gardening.
5) Starting to become very active in the sisterhood of our synagogue.

5 Things on my to-do list today:

1) Get a good night's sleep.
2) Print out pictures stored in my camera and computer; back them up as well.
3) Make some doctor's appointments.
4) Call NBN to have them help me organize a way for olim to get grandfathered in as therapists under the new licensing laws for speech therapists, OTs, and PTs here in Israel.
5) Learn how to identify and edit run-on sentences.

5 snacks I love:

1) Pizza.
2) Pizza.
3) Pizza.
4) Pizza
5) Pizza.

5 Things I'd do if I were a millionaire:

1) I would try-try-try to live within my means.
2) I'd put money away for the kids.
3) Give a chunk of it to Chai Lifeline.
4) Travel.
5) Invest wisely. (These days that means keeping it all under my mattress).

5 places I have lived:

1) Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
2) Kibbutz Be'erot Yitzchak, Israel.
3) Midwood, Brooklyn.
4) Cedarhurst, Long Island, New York.
5) Modi'in, Israel.

5 jobs I have had:

1) Worked in the kitchen at Camp Moshava. (FUN!!!)
2) Call girl.
3) Camp counselor.
4) Customer service at a Jewelry place on 47th Street, NYC.
5) Speech language pathologist.

And there you have it.

I'm going to be bold and BREAK THE CHAIN. I am not tagging anyone. Just don't feel like it. You can all thank me in the comment section.

Good night.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I have alot on my mind

But I'm not going to go into all of that here. At least not yet.

I do have one thing that's been nagging at me. I'm wondering how all you technologically advanced creatures handle this.

I've always prided myself on my photo albums. Since high school, I've developed pictures and put them in albums and wrote an index on those pictures. I did this all the way up to the summer of 2007, even developing pictures from my digital camera, which I finally got in 2006.

I love these albums and take comfort in the fact that someday my children and grandchildren (G-d willing) will show them to me in an effort to keep me stimulated in some way. Hopefully, this will not be in a nursing home. I think I would very much enjoy the albums at an advanced age of, say, 105.

But the albums have stopped filling up. My pictures are now stored on Snapfish, on Facebook and I probably have about 800 shots on the memory card of the camera itself. It will cost me a bundle to develop hard copies of these pictures and take me weeks to sort them and put them away.

What are you guys doing? Does anyone have and show real pictures anymore?

Just curious.

And by the way Haveil Havalim is up at Batya's. She has included a huge amount of articles about everything going on, including the Mumbai terrorist attack. So much to read, so little time.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Skywatch Friday: Modi'in, Israel

My friends Leora and Ilana-Davita usually post beautiful pictures for Skywatch and other photo blogs. I somehow never get around to posting pictures, but last Friday I was able to photograph something in the sky that always has the power to make people stop and look. Some say that a rainbow is a sign from G-d that the world has become evil enough to be destroyed. After the great flood, G-d made a brit, a covenant with Noah that He will never again bring a flood great enough to destroy the entire world; he shows us the rainbow as a sign of this covenant instead. I saw this rainbow over my city, Modiin, last Friday, just as I was reading reports of dead bodies being found in the Chabad House in Mumbai, India. It was in a way, a comfort to see that perfect arc of color. Yes, it seemed to say, the world can be an evil place, but still, I am here, making my presence known.

According to Jewish tradition, when one sees a rainbow, the following blessing is said:

Praised are you our God, Sovereign of the world, Who remembers the covenant, who keeps the promise, and fulfills His word.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

14 million people in Mumbai and they find the Chabad house

Mumbai (Marathi: मुंबई, Mumbaī, IPA:[ˈmum.bəi] (help·info)), formerly Bombay (Hindi: बॉम्बे, Bambai, IPA: [bɒm'beɪ]), is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and the financial capital of India. With a population of 13,662,885, it is the most populous city proper in the world. (From Wikipedia).

A city of almost 14 million people with a handful of Jews. Somehow they managed to find the proverbial needle in the haystack.

They targeted hotels, bus stops, train stations and one house on the outskirts of the city.

They targeted Jews.

My heart goes out to the people of Mumbai, who are calling this their 9/11. I am sorry that such evil exists in our world. And of course my thoughts are with the families of those who died because they were Jews: Rabbi Gabriel and Rivka Holtzberg, Bentzion Chroman, Rabbi Leibish Teitlebaum, and Yocheved Orpaz.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shabbat starts in half an hour

...and I've been following the crisis in Mumbai all day, hoping and praying it would end before the day is over. I've been hopping between Ynet and Twitter, which has people sending feeds every few seconds from ground zero. Amazing how we get our news these days.

The latest news is that commandos have stormed the Chabad House and after hours of fighting, have secured the building. There are reports of five dead hostages, and I am praying that this is misinformation. I don't know if I will find out before Shabbat starts, but I continue to hope and pray for the safe return of the hostages.

In the meantime, I have read that India has said it will not negotiate with terrorists. India will not negotiate with terrorists.

May Shabbat bring us the peace we yearn for.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for, thinking of

I try to be thankful for what I have every single day, but Thanksgiving brings back so many memories and flavors. We had a very special dinner with our friends Pearl and Marta, and soon we're off to watch the kids in their Bnei Akiva performances for Chodesh Irgun.

But please join me in praying for Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka and the many other Jews being held hostage by Muslim terrorists in Mumbai, India. May they be released soon and return home to their families safe and sound.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

7 Facts about me....weird and otherwise

I was tagged by Hadassahsabo to do this. I'm supposed to tag 7 other bloggers for them to do it, but most of my favorite bloggers have been tagged (some more than once!). I'll leave it up to you to decide whether you want to do it on your blog or not; if you do, let me know and I'll put up a link.

I think there are probably more than 7 weird things about me (my kids would vouch for this), but here goes:

1. When I graduated from nursery school my mother sewed me a red dress with little black doggies on it. I was so excited about this dress until I got to school and saw all the other kids wearing white, lacy, frilly jobs. But in the pictures I definitely stood out.

2. Pizza is my favorite food in the whole world. I even love bad pizza. I have eaten cold pizza for breakfast and enjoyed it. The best kosher pizza in the world is made at Netanya's on Ave J in Brooklyn. Nothing comes close. But I keep looking.

3. I put ketchup in my chicken soup. Everyone thinks this is weird. Even my mother, who I could swear I copied this habit from when I was little.

4. I sing. Especially songs of my youth. Songs like American Pie and Yesterday and by Barry Manilow and Billy Joel. Ask my kids. They hate it.

5. I enjoy my job, but am not passionate about it. I wish I could make money doing something I adore. (Anyone wanna pay me to blog?)

6. Isaac calls me "Doom and Gloom". I worry. Alot. About all kinds of things, important and not.

7. I am an insomniac. See #6.

8. (I know it's supposed to be 7 things; but I wanted to end on a high note).
In spite of my nickname, I still have faith in humanity, and try to view life with humor and faith.

What don't I know about you?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kosher Cooking Carnival #35-procrastinator's edition

I have noone to blame but myself. After all, Batya did ask me to host way-back-when at the First Jewish Blogger's Convention. At the time, I said sure, thinking "November? NOVEMBER? I've got plenty of time to deal with that." And then she sent me a polite e-mail asking me what day I would put up the carnival. I chose November 23, still a month away.

Then the submissions started coming in. I put them in a "KCC" folder without even a glance.

And here it is November 22, 10:55 PM and I'm about to start putting this carnival together. Will it be an all-nighter? Probably. But as I said, I have noone to blame but myself.

So here goes. I hope it's coherent.

Did you know we're at the midpoint between Sukkot and Chanukah? Risa noticed, and has a special way to mark the occasion.

Coming to Israel? Confused about kashrut over here? Have no fear, Ben-Yehudah explains it in Esser Agaroth: Kashruth Certification Guide posted at Esser Agaroth. (Of course, you may want to consult your own Rabbi as well.)

You think all there is to eat in Israel is falafel or shwarma? Not quite. Ahuva Goldstand presents The top five Jerusalem foods you've never eaten - Jerusalem Metro Blog - Jerusalemite.net posted at Jerusalemite blog.

Lady-Light tells us about Soup posted at Tikkun Olam. Soup, to her, is not just an "every day meal." It is warmth, it is home, it is FAMILY!

Speaking of soup, Elisson is MENTAL FOR LENTILS posted at Blog d'Elisson.

Well, by now we all know that Batya's husband won the waffle maker at the convention. Finally we get to see it in use over here. She gives us a recipe here.

Growing up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn the New York City Marathon was a big deal because the runners would burst through our neighborhood as they sprinted down Bedford Avenue. Everyone would be out to cheer them on and hand them orange slices and cups of water. Here is some advice on keeping kosher if you are a marathon runner. (I doubt that's something I'll ever have to worry about).

Apparently, Frum Satire ate his way through Kosherfest 2008. Stephen reports on this in KosherFest 2008 - COR (14159265), KosherFest 2008 - Shannon Road and KosherFest 2008 - Get HEALTHY AMERICA posted at KosherCookingCarnival.

Phyllis tells us about a unique restaurant in Closed on Shabbat....not just my blog! posted at Ima on (and off) the Bima: Jewish Parenting & Living from a MamaRabbi.

What would I do without Mom? It's never to early to start planning next year's menu. And if you want to use your microwave for more than just heating food up, Mom tells you how here and here.

What's the difference between eating lunch and doing lunch? Batya tells us!

Fiona King presents 100 Must-Have Sites for Vegans, Vegetarians and Locavores posted at Culinary School Guide.

Isn't that a gorgeous picture? Leora presents Mabul Cake posted at Here in HP.

My friend Ilana-Davita gives us tomatoes and scones. I've tried some of Ilana-Davita's recipes before; she is a great cook!

Batya does something shocking. Check it out here.

Ahuva introduces us to the man behind the famed Jerusalem Marzipan Rugalech. I actually just saw the guy taking out a tray of rugalech when I was at the shuk in Jerusalem last week.

Check out this chicken recipe that was inspired by a chef writing in an Israeli newspaper. I paired it with Ilana-Davita's lemon stuffing, and they couldn't get enough!

I guess it's not going to be an all-nighter after all. Before I leave I want to introduce you to two great Jewish foodie blogs. Both have beautiful pictures, recipes and all kinds of advice when it comes to food. I found the first, the Jew and the Carrot through my friend CK, and the second, Israeli Kitchen, through the aforementioned Mom.

Thank you to Batya for founding and managing the Kosher Cooking Carnivals. Thank you to my long-standing computer/internet for dummies teacher for teaching me how to upload a picture from one to blog to another.

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

Two more things: spell check is not working on Blogger, so feel free to comment with spelling corrections. And, happy birthday to my brother, who probably is not reading this.

12:58 AM. Now that wasn't bad at all.

G'night, and happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 17, 2008

(Re)-learning something new everyday...

My brain is exploding.

One of the direct results of making Aliyah is that I am attending school again. Sixth, Seventh and tenth grade. In Hebrew. Yay.

Did you know that...

...the rise of chassidism is a result of a spiritual and financial crisis amongst the Eastern European Jews of the 17th century?

...David Hamelech (King David) was a pretty aggressive guy (which is why he didn't get to build the Beit Hamikdash)? He was really mad at that nasty fellow Naval HaCarmeli and was going to wipe him out when he met Naval's wife Avigayil who convinced him it was beneath the future King to destroy Naval's household. Avigayil later became one of David's wives, after G-d himself smote the evil Naval.

..before Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) was annointed King, his step-brother Adoniyahu tried to steal the kingship? When David found out about this, he took care of it. Shlomo later had his hit man, Binayahu Ben Yehoyoda take care of Adoniyahu.

...after Bar Kochba's rebellion, surviving Jews fled to the Galil because they knew they could live on the agriculture there and that also they could hide from the Romans in the numerous caves.

...that adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions in Hebrew is the same as in English? But that my kids no longer no how to say "numerator" and "denominator" in their mother tongue?

I'm also learning about the circulatory system. Digestive system is up next. When I was in tenth grade, I couldn't wait to learn about the reproductive system with my bio teacher, Mr. Zeidner, who we thought was hot. Wonder if it will be as fun this time.

Add all of this to my nightly awakenings at 4 a.m. (and not being able to fall back asleep), everything else that needs to get done and you can see why Baila's feelin' just a bit cranky.

I need a vacation. Or maybe SuperRaizy's solution will work for me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Too. Tired. To. Post.

That was the title I had in my head last night, but I was so tired, I couldn't even do that. Now it's early morning the kids are about to get up and I'm trying to squeeze this in:

Haveil Havalim is up at West Bank Mama's. As always lots of interesting posts.

And don't forget I'm hosting the Kosher Cooking Carnival, which should be up and running by Sunday, November 23rd. Anything having to do with the word "kosher" is appropriate for submission--and please people, I'm kinda desperate.

Stay tuned for the next post, where I tell you why I'm so tired.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tastes like chicken**

I am hosting November's Kosher Cooking Carnival (submit, people! By November 23!), so I figured I better include my own food post to submit.

Before Rosh Hashannah, I found a recipe for chicken in the Yediot Achronot. It looked good, so I made sure to have or buy all the ingredients. When it came to actually cooking the bird, the given recipe looked way to complicated, so I whittled it down to this:


olive oil
black pepper
crushed garlic cloves

Make a mixture out of the olive oil and spices, and smear the mixture all over the chicken (inside and out). Bake at about 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and smear honey inside and out the chicken. Put the chicken back in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. Chicken should be golden brown.

I saw this recipe over at Ilana Davita's place and immediately thought of it when I went to make my chicken. The lemon stuffing is the perfect foil for the honey on the chicken.

I've served this several times to different guests and it's been a big hit. It passes my criteria for recipes, because it's REALLY EASY and barely uses any dishes. Go ahead and try it. B'teavon (hearty appetite)!

**Since my trivia contests (see the end of this post) are so popular, I decided to use the title of this post for another triva question: In what movie was the line "tastes like chicken", uttered? Bonus points if you can name the character who said it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If you live in Modi'in, you may want to lock your doors. Just for tonight.

Well, Isaac sure has been a happy camper. A few months after we moved here, there was a call for citizens of Modiin to join the "Mishmar Ezrachi". Literal translation: "Citizen's Watch", or volunteer police force. This stuff is right up my husband's ally. He went to a course (which included target practise) and once a month goes out with his partner ("Starsky") for four hours of patrol or checking cars at roadblocks. He carries a gun, which is a bit scary for me (especially since the [real] police officer handing it to him for the first time said, "You see this gun? You better not use it.").

Anyway, Isaac, always Mr. Friendly and Popular (I swear the man could talk to a tree; and the tree would answer him) was asked to be in charge of coordinating this program. He was so happy about it; I burst his bubble by telling him this was one of those pain-in-the-butt jobs, where he will schedule people and they will call to cancel and he'll have to scramble to find a replacement. Which is exactly what has been happening, but Isaac doesn't seem to mind. He gets to go to lots of target practises, and he got this very cool uniform:

Anyway, Starsky and Hutch are out on patrol tonight, protecting Gotham City from the forces of evil. Although I laugh, they take their job pretty seriously, and I really am proud of Isaac for becoming involved in this.

He always did want to be a policeman when he grew up.


*****NEW TOPIC*****

Local elections were held yesterday. I am ashamed to say I did not vote, really because I had no idea what any of the candidates were all about. I should have made it my business to find out, but I've just been to overwhelmed with the logistics of life and family lately.

A guy named Chaim Beebis won and will be Modiin's mayor for the next four [I think] years. Maybe he'll choose a deputy mayor by the name of Butthead and then we'll have Beebis and Butthead running the city. [Bah dum pum!--but I can't take credit for that, it came from my friend AB].

Although, I know nothing about the guys running for mayor in my city, I did follow the mayoral election in Jerusalem and am very pleased that Nir Barkat won. Good news for our capital.

Finally, I'm sure you all know that Israel will be having national elections in February, and I will be sure to vote then. Unfortunately, the choices are not exactly overwhelming, but I just had a brilliant idea: maybe John McCain could come here and run for Prime Minister! He'd be a shoo-in!

I'm feeling my brain becoming incoherent, so I'll sign off. But not before I mention that Haveil Havalim 190 is up and running. It's hosted by Jewlicious, which is quite a nice blog. Have fun reading.

Sweet dreams.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Day off. Here's what I did.

--I woke up at 5:30 a.m. (always do, not because I want to).
--Showered and dressed (quickie morning prayers).
--Got kids up and out.
--Threw a load of laundry in.
--Ate corn flakes while reading Obama's acceptance and McCain's concession speeches. (Wept a bit; I'm such a sucker for American patriotism).
--Put up the chicken soup; prepared the matzoh ball batter.
--Cleaned my bathroom.
--Unpacked a box (from our lift of last year; don't ask).
--Put the laundry on the drying thingie; threw in another load.
--Threw the matzoh balls into the boiling water.
--Cleaned my desk (basically moved papers and bills from one part of the desk to another; must start to go paperless).
--Went to the Iriyah (town hall) to take care of some stuff.
--Went to pharmacy to pick up some meds.
--Dr's appointment.
--Went to the bank (for a withdrawal, what else?)
--Dry cleaners.
--Supermarket, to pick up a few items I forgot at yesterday's big shopping.
--Home. Lunch. Moved laundry to dryer (towels get the electric one) and folded other laundry.
--Made several phone calls (school, doctors, yelling at the Jerusalem Post).
--Read two chapters of Orli's science book, in Hebrew so that I could help her prepare for a test that's coming up soon.
chicken with peppers and onions.
broccoli kugel.
marble cake (not this recipe, even though it looks amazing).
--(In between the cooking), watched an episode of Top Design with Liat and Orli. We just enjoy that stuff.
--Cleaned the kitchen.
--Did not cook dinner; Thursday is usually "Fend for yourself night". And they did.
--Blogged (actually am blogging as we speak).

(Disbursed throughout the day were various conversations with daughters and husband).

The thing of it is, I know that this is a fairly typical day for many of us. Crazy, isn't it?

What did you do today?

PS I am not exaggerating--I really did do everyone of these things. Here's some of the evidence:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

They thought it couldn't be done (title 1), and will it be Barack or John? (title 2)

Fellow computer addicts, listen up. I have been away from my computer for 48 hours. I know, I can hardly believe it myself, but it can be done.

It wasn't a conscious decision not to turn the thing on. I just came home from work yesterday exhausted. I'm pretty sure I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and I have been feeling down for no apparent reason. I looked at the computer and just didn't want to deal. The fact that I was reading this also made me not want to crack open the laptop. This is just one of those books you can't put down--great plot line, strong characters and a fascinating historical setting. I also managed to go on a vigorous walk with Ozzy and a friend, then went to bed at 10:30 and woke up feeling pretty darn good.

Hmm. Maybe I should do this more often.

Next topic.

I don't usually get political on this blog, but I do read and discuss this stuff alot. My friend N called me from America a couple of hours ago; she was torn about who to vote for and said she wanted my insight. I was touched and flattered that she thought enough of my opinion to call me. She was really torn about who to vote for, saying that her neighborhood (my old neck of the woods, the Five Towns was going with McCain, but that she wasn't so sure. She had several good reasons for her feeling. I told her what I thought. I didn't try to convince her either way and don't know what she decided. She probably doesn't know yet herself, and won't know until she pulls that lever.

I was so happy that she was putting so much thought into it and not just conforming. I hate to be cynical, but with the electoral college system of electing a US president, New York State is pretty much a shoo-in for Obama, regardless of who N votes for. Still she felt her vote was crucial and talked about the privilege of voting as a Jew and as a woman.

I'm pretty intrigued about who the new president will be. I know what the polls are saying, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was an upset. I think that whomever it is has much to look forward to. America will spend the next couple of years recovering from the current economic mess. The new president, be it Obama or McCain, will get, or take credit for this recovery (whether he deserves it or not).

I'm signing off now. When I wake up, we'll know who America's new leader is. Either way, the next four years should be very interesting.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"If it's a carnival, how come there are no games?"*

The Election Edition of Haveil Havalim is up. Go check it out.

And Leora has JPix up at her place.

Finally, Batya has the Kosher Cooking Carnival over in her neck of the woods.

I'm hosting KCC this month. I'll be putting it up on November 23, so make sure to post and submit something kosher about cooking; or something like that. Or anything related to Jewish food and eating. Just submit something. Please.

*Thanks to Leora's son for contributing this quote.

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.