Week of August 12th
This week really flew by, as it is the last week before the boys begin school and it was jam packed with all sorts of activities.
Sunday was another administrative day. I sat in the National Insurance Office waiting to get an extra allotment for Moshe’s gluten-free food. I sat around for 30 minutes in a non-air-conditioned waiting room. When my turn finally came, the lady gave me a form to fill out that also has to be completed by the school. In the meantime, Chaim went to the post office to mail our stuff for the driving test. I ended up meeting him by the post office because the line there was so long. The post office serves multiple functions in Israel, which include paying bills.
Monday we met our cousins in Ramat Moza, Jerusalem, for a tour of the Yvel Jewelry Design Center. The company was started by Isaac Levy, whose family has a difficult time adjusting when they immigrated from Argentina. He started a jewelry design school for Ethiopian immigrants. We saw the school, the jewelry factories, and several show rooms of exquisite (and expensive) jewelry made from pearls, diamonds and other gems. The jewelry is often wore by celebrities to award shows and other events.
After our tour, the cousins went home and we went to Talpiot to look at cars. We stopped at the Mazda dealer, then went to Honda and Kia. We stopped by the Hyundai dealer. In the United States, it is pronounced Hun-Day; in Israel, they called them Youn-Die. Either way, it is another Had Gadya of Israel. We cannot buy a new car without an Israeli Driver’s License. We can’t take the test without a driving lesson. We called the driving teacher, and he said it will take six weeks to get the paperwork back from the Motor Vehicle Office. It takes three to six months to get a new car, depending on the model. If we want to buy a used car, we can do that with our American driver’s licenses, but we don’t get the special reduction on taxes as new immigrants that we would with a new car. Between the price and the taxes, a car is almost double what it costs in the United States.
Yvel, which is Levy spelled backward and is pronounced ee-VEL, was interesting. But Chaim decided it should really be pronounced liked EVIL – so much materialism. On Tuesday we went for more spiritual stuff and visited Tzfat and the surrounding areas. We started in Meron at the grave of Shimon Bar Yochai, and proceeded down the winding road to several other graves. Then we went slightly north of Tzfat to a place marked on the map as Avnit and visited a cave where Rava and Abaye are said to be buried. There is a military base right above the cave, and there was a lot of equipment mounted on the hills. The view was spectacular. We then went into Tzfat and spent a lot of time driving in circles until we found the cave of Shem and Ever, which was locked. Then we took a huge loop to find the grave of Nachum Ish Gamzu.
A highlight of the trip for me was visiting the Tzfat English Library. I finally had the pleasure of meeting Edyth Geiger and seeing her giraffe collection. Moshe and I dropped off the last of Grandma’s stamp collection for the stamp club that meets at the library. We also met Edyth’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter, and they took us into the library. What a vibrant place, filled with all kinds of books.
Wednesday we registered for Ulpan, which begins on August 28th. Then we went on a supermarket tour with our favorite Nefesh b’Nefesh person, Miriam. We heard from Ora the nutritionist and met Yael the baker, and we learned about all the different dairy products and cleaning supplies.
Thursday was more paperwork. We went to the bus office to get passes, but the whole system was done the whole day. Then we went to the Interior Ministry to get temporary passports, but we are not eligible for them until October 4th. The good news is that they stamped our applications, so we do not have to bring the kids back when we go again.
The boys got haircuts. More like chops, not like the styling from our Italian barber in the states. Then the boys went to Ashkelon to go swimming in the Mediterranean.
Friday the boys went in to Jerusalem to take the tunnel tour. It entailed a lot of walking around, often up steep hills, and in the midday heat. The girls had a quiet day at home. We had the time and inclination to put some extra effort into the cooking, so we had potato leek soup and taco salad for Shabbat.
Sunday is the first day of school for both Yehuda and Moshe. It is definitely not as organized as Yeshiva Ktana. I finally got through to the school on Thursday. Moshe just needs to show up at 10 AM with a writing implement, a siddur, and some snacks. Chaim will be dropping Yehuda off at high school. In the afternoon, we’re hoping to go to the housewares store, the supermarket, possible the water company, back to get bus passes, and to look at a used car dealer.
We’re trying to keep cool both physically and emotionally.