We’ve been in Israel a month!

August 5th

Tuesday, July 31st marked one Hebrew month, and Friday, August 3rd marked a secular month for us in Israel. Now that we have somewhat of a routine, the days are filled with more mundane activities.

Tisha B’Av was very meaningful. Dina and I stayed in the house for fear of how the heat might interfere with our fasting. We broke the fast with leftovers from Shabbos that included salmon and salad.

Monday was back to camp for the kids and the next project for Chaim and me – getting our Israeli driver’s licenses. We went in search of the elusive Tofes Yarok – green form. First we went to the medical clinic to see the doctor, but he told us we had to get the form from somewhere else before we could see us.

In the meantime, we started doing all the laundry that accumulated between not having a washing machine and the nine days. The first load went well. After the second load, the entire bathroom was flooded. Now it is clear why the washing machine goes in the bathroom: in case there is a flood, it should go down the drain. Yet another call to our “property manager.”

Tuesday we continued our search. We stopped at the Motor Vehicle Bureau, which is located in the supermarket, and only open from 8 am to 1 pm. The lady there told us we had to go to an optical store to get the Tofes Yarok. There is one in the mall in Jerusalem, and another in a mall in Modi’in. We decided there would be less traffic going to Modi’in, so we circled around there until we found the optician. There the optician took our pictures, looked at our IDs, and gave us an eye test to determine if we could tell colors, see perspective, and had good peripheral vision. We are still not clear why an optician is the one who gives out government applications, but forms in hand, we returned to Bet Shemesh.

After yet another trip to the hardware store and the supermarket, we picked up the kids from Ulpan, dropped them at home, and proceeded back to the clinic to get our forms signed. We dealt with a very nice doctor, originally from Australia, and had our forms signed. In the afternoon, Chaim took the kids for their initial visits, and I waited for the plumber to fix everything.

Like everything in this cottage, a combination of poor construction, benign neglect, and being vacant for months left the drains clogged with all kinds of rocks, mud, etc. By the time the plumber finished, it was a little late to do laundry to hang out on the porch.

Wednesday was a big laundry day. We also brought our Green Forms back to Motor Vehicle to have them stamped. In the morning the appraiser came. Unlike America, they check the whole house for security and itemize things for insurance purposes.

In the afternoon we took a drive west. We turned right instead of left at the end of Route 10, so we got to see the field that is possibly where David fought Goliath. It is now the home of some big satellite dishes. After driving through the beautiful scenery, we realized we took the wrong entrance into the Gush, so we turned around and went back. We then continued up a very windy road, and we arrived in Beitar Illit. By then, we were a little tired and nauseous, so we returned home.

Thursday Chaim brought the Green Forms to the driving school and got another form. Now we have to go to the post office and mail them. We have to wait for the driving school to call us, as we each need at least one lesson to take the driving test (which starts in the supermarket parking lot).

We also attended a birthday party for our neighbor, who turned two this week. Always a pleasure to socialize with our neighbors and eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Friday we went on a family trip with the Ulpan. Yehuda and Dina stayed home while Moshe got his parents all to himself. We went to Kibbutz Shalavim, which has a special area for visitors. After a bumpy bus ride (more nausea!), we split into groups to do the activities. Our group started by making bricks and building a mud house. It reminded Chaim of Egypt, as the kids had to mix dirt, water, sand and straw to make their bricks and then more dirt and water to build the house. After a good rinsing, we went on to the wheat field. There we kids picked some stalks of wheat, then took them to another area to thresh out the kernel. On to grinding the kernels. Then the staff gave everyone a little ball of dough, and we made flat round shapes, which they baked in the oven. For those who are not gluten- free, they ate the hot pita bread with olive oil and za’atar. After that, we picked grapes and brought them to a different area, where the kids stomped on them (with bare feet), and turned them into grape juice. Our final activity was picking fresh herbs to make a mix of spices for Havdalah. I thought of my Orisha Girl friend as I smelled the fresh geranium.

We had hoped to speak more Hebrew on the trip, but the best part was being able to harvest some of the seven species of Israel and actually eat and drink the products.

After the trip, it was a rush to get ready for Shabbos. We have yet to find chicken bones or a chicken cut into eight pieces, so I made chicken soup with a whole chicken and I fried up some schnitzel for Friday night. I made cold sesame noodles to Seudat Shlishit, and I baked a gefilte fish in the oven. Dina made some brownies, and Chaim cooked the cholent.

There was a bar mitzvah in synagogue, and Dina and I enjoyed a restful Shabbos by not leaving the house the entire day.

Today the kids are in Ulpan in the morning, and Chaim and I did some straightening out and taking pictures for our complaint to the movers.

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