Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rosh Hashannah thoughts

I just got off the phone with my parents. It's hard to think I haven't seen them in over a year. I don't want to lead you all to believe that we have always had the warmest, closest relationship. In the past, I have had a great deal of anger inside of me, toward them, for things to painful to recount here. I think I've said this before, but some time ago I let that go. How could I blame them for doing the best they could, the best they knew how? We are all dealt certain cards in life and we just can't go on living in the past and wishing things were different. As I got older, I also realized that I am not the only one that grew up in a somewhat (maybe that's being kind) dysfunctional home. And, well, yes that makes me feel better (sometimes).

Of course I took my parents for granted back in the USA. If I wanted to see them, I did and if I didn't, well then...Here I have no choice. I just don't see them. Period. Sure I speak to them often on my Great American VOIP Line. But it's just not the same.

I say I speak to "them", but really it's my mom I speak to. She has always been the family communicator. My father is a very quiet man. And more often than not, I tell her to give him my love and he does the same.

Now they are old. My father is not well, and my mother is caring for him. She sounds tired when I speak to her. Tired in that resigned way. I did make sure to speak to my father today, the day before Rosh Hashannah. He has sounded resigned for a long time now. He has been having trouble with his legs and will not be able to walk to shul (synagogue) and so he will daven at home. This makes me feel incredibly sad. My father has a beautiful voice and though he was never formally trained he was a chazzan. He was often not home for Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur as he would travel to another shul, to lead the services there. When he got a bit older, he began to do so in our own shul. It has been several years since he has had the stamina to lead the services, but this will be first time that he will actually not be able to pray with a minyan. He actually sounded completely defeated and depleted. Even though he always says "Baruch Hashem, fine" when I ask him how he is.

I miss them. I wish...what exactly do I wish....? That they were well and happy and could be enjoying this time in their life. How many more times will I get to actually see them? I guess I shouldn't go there. I am blessed to have them here and to be able to hear their voices. So many of my friends can no longer do that.

And so for this New Year, תשס"ט, 5769 I wish you all a healthy year, a sweet year, a year full of joy and family and prosperity. May this year bring us the peace we so yearn for and the ultimate redemption, so we can all really live together in our true home. May we enjoy everyday for the gift it is and have the ability to thank G-d for all His blessings.

Shana Tova...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"You like me, you really like me!"

I won an award!! Leora awarded me in the category of "Late-night mommy bloggers". I'd say it's the first prize I ever won, but that would be a lie. I once won a computer at a chinese auction and the next year, at the same chinese auction won a $500.00 gift certificate the The Wiz (an electronics store).

But this is better, finally having the recognition of my peers! I'm waiting for the designers to start calling me because I'm sure they all want me wearing their couture gowns to the awards ceremony.

Other nominees, (okay they're actually winners) were SuperRaizy, and Juggling Frogs, whom you probably know I read regularly, as well as Hadassahsabo and A Living Nadneyda. The latter are fairly new to me, but they are so good, I'll have to start checking their blogs as obsessively as I check all the rest. My late-nights will be getting later.

And thanks to Sally Fields for inspiring the title to this post (She actually said, in accepting the Best Actress Oscar in 1984 [G-d, was it that long ago???], "I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!" It's amazing what you learn from Google).

Anyhow, it's 12:43 a.m. here in Israel--this late-night mommy blogger is going to sleep so she can be well rested when the paparazzi comes to greet her in the morning.

(Thanks, Leora. You're the best!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Machane Yehuda Shuk, Jerusalem

Some time ago there was an article in the Jerusalem Post that compared the Shuk HaCarmel in Tel-Aviv, to the Machane Yehuda Shuk in Jerusalem.

I've been to both Shuks [markets] several times during the course of the year, and I gotta tell you, (with apologies to my Tel-Aviv friends) Machane Yehuda wins every time. It's bigger, cleaner and just seems to be more comfortable to shop in.

But both shuks are a joy. The shuk is a place where all your senses come alive. The sights and sounds are dizzying. Splashes of color are everywhere and the cries of the merchants to come sample their wares greet you as you enter. And the smells....there is a certain spice that engulfs me whenever I enter the shuk.

I took some pictures at the shuk. I wanted to take so many more. I wanted to take pictures of people. Of the man slumped over his bags laden with food for the upcoming holidays. He looked so dejected about his burden. I wanted to photograph the old sefardic woman haggling with the vendor over the price of a fish, as the object of their negotiations breathed its last. I wanted to take pictures of the chassidim and the Arabs and the children. But I find that I am nervous about photographing people. I don't want to offend.

So what I offer you here is the bounty of the shuk, in all its glorious color:

These are called חבושים(havushim) in Hebrew. I had never seen them before, so they would make a perfect fruit for the New Year blessing, but you have to cook them, and well, I have enough to cook. I looked it up and they are translated as "quince". Anyone know what to do with them?

Jerusalem artichokes. Don't know what to do with these either.

These guys never stood a chance.

"Where's the beef?"

These are olives. They were all over the shuk. Do that many people still make their own olives?


Jars of honey everywhere.

Isn't it a bit early for sufganiyot [jelly donuts]?

And of course, I can't end this post without that holiday favorite, the pomegranate, or רימון[rimon]. This is a luscious fruit that is a tradition amongst many families in their New Year celebrations. Leora gives us more details about this astonishing fruit.

Hmmm...where have you all been shopping for the upcoming Yom Tov?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

No particular title today

You can read the full Jerusalem Post interview with Paul McCartney here. Even though I can't [sob] afford to go, he really does seem to be a good egg, in spite of the fact that he is like the richest man on the planet. (Or at least was until that tramp-of-an-[ex]-wife) took half of it).

Anyway, enjoy.

And, Haveil Havalim #183 is up at Jack's Place. So much reading to do, so little time.

P.S. If anyone has McCartney tickets and can't go at the last minute due to some crisis or something (not I wish that on anyone of course, but if it happens...) I will be happy to take the tickets of your hands. I mean, don't let them go unused, okay???

Saturday, September 20, 2008


[Sooner or later, most bloggers who write about their Aliyahs post about "tremping", or hitchhiking, here in Israel. Here's my take on it.]:

As a young girl growing up in America, one of the most life-threatening things you could do was hitchhike, or pick up a hitch-hiker. If you did, your name would probably end up in bold, black letters on the cover of the New York Post, where your untimely demise would be described in excruciating detail.

It's not that way here in Israel. Tremping here is a perfectly legitimate way of getting around.

When I was here for my year abroad after high school, we got the knack of tremping down pat. I never hitchhiked alone, but with a group of two or three it was okay. We got rides easily. It seems that many Israelis don't mind giving a ride to two or three eighteen-year-old young women. Of course, we never informed our parents that this had become our most frequent mode of transportation. We knew that this behavior was completely unacceptable in the states, but in Israel it seemed okay, and we never once got into any trouble doing it.

Thank G-d, we have two cars here in Israel (one Isaac gets from work and one is a jalopy we bought for me to get around in), so I don't have the need to tremp. But I often see people looking for rides on my travels. The Israeli sign for "I need a ride" is the index finger pointed out and downward (as opposed to using your thumb as is done in the US). My heart goes out to these people waiting in the hot sun for someone to pick them up.

On my way home from Kiryat Sefer, where I work, there are many chareidi men looking for a ride. Some of the men pull their hand in as soon as they see I am a woman. Others continue to keep their hitchhiking hand out. I never stop, but wonder if they would take a ride from me if I did. Wouldn't that be improper?

I rarely pick people up. Some of these people are women in long skirts and colorful scarfs, or Ethiopian women, or middle-aged men carrying briefcases. They look like they are suffering in the heat of the day and I know it would be a huge mitzvah to give them a ride, even part of their way home. But I am afraid that these people are not who they appear to be. So I avoid eye contact and drive on, always feeling guilty.

My kids have asked me what I would say if they began tremping. I answer that with a question of my own--is this something you feel the need, or want, to do? At this point in their lives they don't need to do it and I also know they would be afraid to do it. Their Israeli-ness is still very raw. I wouldn't be thrilled about them hitch-hiking. There have been ugly incidents. Soldiers are not supposed to be tremping, although many of them do. You just never know.

But still, I feel guilty leaving a fellow Jew when I could be helping them out. I'd love to hear from you guys what you do about tremping. Do you have any rules for yourselves (for tremping, or picking up trempers)?

Or is this an area where I just have to accept my American sensibilities and live with them?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down...

Paul McCartney is coming to town. He'll be playing one night only on September 25 at the Yarkon Park in Tel-Aviv. It's going to be an amazing night. Paul has been threatened with his life by certain unseemly elements of society for deciding to perform in Israel (check out what Superraizy has to say about this). But he doesn't seem to be backing down and should be arriving here in about a week.

I desperately want to seem him. I last saw him live eons ago at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. He is an amazing performer, truly an icon. And he seems like a genuinely good guy.

Tickets are 490 shekel a piece. At today's rate, that would be......[getting out my calculator].....$136.00 for one ticket. Now that's alot of shekel, certainly not in our budget, so I , unfortunately, will have to miss this great event. It will probably be the first and last time Paul performs here.

I guess I'll just have to let it be....

Monday, September 15, 2008

All work and no play makes Baila a dull girl...

I've been working. It's been about 18 months since I last worked such a full schedule, although I am working less than I did in the states. I feel much more organized when I work. I tend not to procrastinate on things, because I know there is no time to do them the next day. I don't have as much time for blogging, and it really is hard to squeeze it all in, but so far its been okay.

I work in a special education school in Kiryat Sefer, a chareidi city not to far from Modi'in. The ultra-orthodox are referred to, and refer to themselves as "chareidim". I grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and we called the place a "chassidish [pronounced by all good chasidim as "chaseedish"] neighborhood. In Israel it would be called chareidi.

Anyhow the facility is run by chareidim and a high percentage of the students (ages 2to 9, with a variety of handicapping conditions, from very mild to severely multiply handicapped) are from the neighborhood. The staff is mostly chareidi, but there are a number of regular Jews like me and some secular Jews as well.

My last job in the states was working for the New York City Public School system (I loved that job. Really.)

When I came in yesterday to my office, I noticed my office mate had left her bag on her desk. When I asked her if that was wise, she told me that in ten years of working at this facility, there had never been an kleptomaniac incident in the school.

Much as I loved the public school I worked in, the first thing I did upon arrival was put my bag away and bolt the locker closed with 16 different locks and keys. I installed a security system with a private code to ensure noone would get to the $3.00 or so that I usually had in my bag. This was, I assure you, a necessary precaution.

The other thing I noticed was amusing to me. I found a stack of pictures used to encourage description and answer questions in one of the speech offices. I had had a similar set in the states. Only in this set, everytime there was a boy or man in the set, someone had colored in a black kippah and a beard. Some of these pictures had boys and girls together in them, but I guess they had no way to get around that.

I remember growing up in Williamsburg, there were coloring books that featured Moshe Rabbenu always dressed in a shtreimel and bekeshe (the traditional hasidic garb consisting of fur hat and long black coat). The women in those pictures were always wearing wigs and Shabbos robes. That just cracks me up. As a kid, I thought, don't these people know anything?

Moshe Rabbenu looks like this and not like a chasid!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I never will.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Here's Ozzy enjoying the last licks of Israeli ice cream (don't tell Isaac, but I give it to him all the time)

(Dedicated to NW)

Please do not take offense when I tell you that we have the freakin' best dog IN THE WORLD!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Some responses to comments in previous posts

On being a speech pathologist who was trained in America (from Butterflies in my stomach):

I was trained in America and am an expert on language development in English. While the general principles of language development in Hebrew are the same, I do need to learn what the developmental norms are for articulation (pronunciation of sounds) and language construction. I have an additional Master's degree in Bilingual Speech Pathology (or treating bilingual children), but need to learn specific norms for here.

My job here is working with multiply handicapped children who are, for the most part non-verbal. It involves working with switches and augmentative communication (using devices, both hi-and-lo tech) to communicate. My Hebrew is pretty good and I can handle this population. It would be more difficult for me to work with children with mild language delays who are very verbal, because their language would probably be richer than my own. Maybe in a few years.

From Maybe our blogger community can help:

I have posted a comment asking for Asaf's name for those who wish to say tehilim for him. In the meantime, Asaf's family has had some good news.

From Going postal, in which I put up a contest about what you can't do at the Doar, the Israeli post office:

Hah-hah to anonymous who guessed that you can't send and receive mail. You are cynical enough to live here!

To Mom-in-Israel, I heard that all tickets including speeding are paid at the Doar. AHEM!

Safranit adds that you can also buy school textbooks online through the Doar. Something tells me that's probably not a good idea.

Those of you who guessed that you can't get your shoes shined at the Doar are the winners. At least you can't do that at the Doar here in Modiin.

But yes, you can switch your TV remote control at the Doar for a new one, so those of you who guessed that, well, you lose! When ours stopped working for no apparent reason, my husband told me to go to to the Doar to get a new one. I thought he was playing a prank and sending a Candid Camera crew on me. But apparently this is a very normal thing to do here in Israel.

Just another cultural difference to be celebrated.

Finally, thanks to all of your good wishes on our anniversary.

Shavua Tov--have a great week.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

One year. No, really.

It's hard to believe that one year ago today I was sitting on a plane, leaving everything that was familiar and comfortable to me, as well as so many loved ones, behind. I was emotionally drained. The previous six months had been hell, what with a sick child, helping her to recover and deciding whether to make Aliyah in light of all that. I sat on the plane in a state of shock and I don't think the shock wore off until after Pesach.

I had planned to write a long post commemorating this anniversary, but I find that I don't have much to say. It's been a year of huge personal growth for me and I think for my family as well. My kids are my heroes. They had no choice but to come along for this ride. It has been difficult for them, but they have faced challenges with humor, grace, and yes, a couple of temper tantrums.

I started this blog as I was beginning to pack up our house in Cedarhurst . I feel the blog is intertwined with the story of my Aliyah, as it has re-ignited my love of writing, which I abandoned many years ago. I am here, in the middle of my life, living out two dreams: living in the land that I love and feel I belong in, and writing on a regular basis.

Who knows where the road ahead will take us? I have no idea. But for today, we are happy, living here in G-d's country, and grateful for all his blessings.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Going postal. No, really.

One thing that has fascinated me since I got here is how the Israel post office, known as the "Doar" is the one place you get everything done. And that means everything.

Here's a little contest. From the following list, can you pick out the ones that can't be done at the Doar?

--send and receive mail.
--open a bank account.
--get your shoes shined.
--sign up for health insurance.
--pay your bills.
--trade in a non-functioning remote control for a new one.
--register your car.
--buy stamps.
--pay for your speeding tickets.

The winner will receive, well, you'll receive nothing. Who can beat the satisfaction of a job well done? If you want to win big, play lotto.

This is a no-frills blog.