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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Week of November 4th
Monday was our big Ulpan trip to Jerusalem. First we walked through “Gan Vrodim,” the rose garden across from the Knesset building. Being a rainy November day, the park was not in its full glory, but there were roses and they smelled good.

We went on to tour the Knesset, which seems like they walked us up and the down the stairs several times, but we got to see the Knesset in session and Chaim ate shashouka in the cafeteria.

After lunch, we toured the Supreme Court building. The architecture has great symbolism with pyramids, circles and different windows and lighting. We sat in a court room and heard about the different cases that are brought to the Israeli Supreme Court, then we went home.

I got my green form back from the driving school and I am looking for a new driving teacher, so far with no luck.

Week of November 11th
Wow! A week of going to Ulpan, then coming home and doing homework. Yehuda is coming home for Shabbat and asked to have taco salad. In the meantime, our neighbor is participating in a bike-a-thon, so we are having them over for lunch on Shabbat.

It is a big challenge staying motivated for Ulpan. We really don’t practice conversations in class, and the grammar can be a little boring. It is extremely hard to realize how illiterate I am in Hebrew. I am still trying to figure out how I can practice speaking more often.

Week of November 18th
Although quite a few American have a “Thanksgiving Shabbat” where they serve the traditional turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry, etc., we are definitely not doing that in Israel.

We had a meeting with Moshe’s teacher, at which we needed an interpreter. Moshe needs to apply himself a little more, so I will be sitting and doing math with him after school. We also have to get him a tutor for this Hebrew subjects.

Dina was supposed to go to Ir David, next to the old city, but the trip was cancelled due to “the matsav.” It is a little scary that things are going on in Gaza and as close as Kiryat Malachi. We hear planes overhead at all hours of the day and night, but there is a certain comfort in being here and hearing these things than being in the United States and wondering what is really going on, especially with the distorted and bias news.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the New York Metropolitan Area, we were very happy that we moved to Israel. We felt for our old neighbors and the people who lost their homes and possessions, but the hurricane and flooding confirmed that aliyah was a good decision.

People called and emailed about Operation Cloud of Defense. For us, thank God, it has been relatively quiet and it is quite amazing that the whole country bands together to pray and to support those who are directly affected by the bombing.

Week of November 25th
Finally, we visited the Israel Museum on Tuesday night. We thought, “Who goes to a museum on a Tuesday night?” Well, a whole bunch of people. Since there was such a large crowd, we decided to see the two things we most wanted to see: the exhibit about Hassidim and the Aleppo Codex.

“A World Apart Next Door – Glimpses into the Lives of Hasidic Jews “highlights facets of Hasidic culture that may not be known to the wider public.” I think every Orthodox women’s group went to tour the exhibit. It was absolutely packed. For us, it was really strange. Some of the items on exhibit, like the Besht’s tallis, Rabbi Nachman’s chair, and some original books, were very interesting. But most of the exhibit was a little bizarre. They had streimels and beckeshes and display as well as women’s head coverings. They had pictures of different rabbis and some videos of different events, such as weddings and Purim, in the Hassidic community. We felt, l’havdil, like it was something the Nazis would do to document the culture they hoped to obliterate. I could see mounting this exhibition somewhere else in the world, but you could take a bus across town and see everything live for yourself.

It was nice to see the pages of the Aleppo Codex after reading the book and hearing so much about it. It’s rather small, but the calligraphy is beautiful and clear, and it’s amazing to be able to read and understand something written so long ago. While we were there, there was a Nigerian group touring, and I wondered what they thought of it.
After our visit, we stopped in the gift shop. I astounded Chaim by not finding anything to buy. I was hoping for a postcard of the Codex, but there was not one to be had.

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The other big event of this week was teacher conferences at Yehuda’s school. He is under a lot of pressure to learn Hebrew. He seems to be treading water, but we can’t help him as far as studying and organizing himself. He seems to like it there in terms of social life and saying he goes to a prestigious school, so we keep praying he will do the hard work to stay there.

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Week of October 7th

We did some fun stuff over Hol Hamoed. We went to Neot Kedumim, a nature reserve near Modi’in and walked around the park. We saw all kinds of trees and plants mentioned in the bible, including estrogim and hadassim for Sukkot. They also have a display of all the different kinds of Sukkahs that are permissible and not permissible, including one on a boat, a really tall one, and a really short one.

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We also visited “The Bat Cave,” which is up the road a little bit. After a hike over the rocks, we arrived at the cave, where there were tons of bats and some interesting stalactite and stalagmite formations. There is also a man-made slide carved out of rock just beyond the cave.

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We went to Jerusalem one day. It’s still a thrill to be able to just drive to places that are so special. We spent some time at the kotel, walked around the old city, and then came home. A lot of the street were blocked, so driving was a little tricky.

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Ulpan and school resumed on Wednesday. In Ulpan, some people did not come back after the holiday, but new people showed up, so the class is still full. Our regular teacher, Irit, is still on vacation in the Galapagos Islands, so we have Vered, so has a different teaching style. It will be nice to get back into a regular routine.

Week of October 14th

A week of Ulpan and school. On Tuesday, Chaim drove to Talpiot so I could meet my friend Hannah. We met in Hebrew School when I was in 9th grade and she was in 8th grade. She moved here right after college. Though we haven’t kept in touch since high school, our mothers were in Sisterhood together, so we heard about each other through them. We met and had coffee, and it was like we were back in high school. She has a set of triplets and a set of twins, so life is pretty hectic for her, especially since two of the triplets started army duty. Without a Sunday, it is very hard to get together with people, but hopefully we will met up soon.

Week of October 21st
Still waiting to take driving lessons and a test. It seems the driving school and a monopoly, and they keep telling me to be patient, even though they’ve had my green from since August 1st.

I brought my sheitls to a new person. They do not call themselves the equivalent of “Sheitlmacher” in Hebrew, but I liked the lady, and she cut my wig nicely. I left my other one there to be dyed. It has been so hot since we arrived that I have not put on a wig too often, but as the weather cools off, I prefer to wear it.

Week of October 28th

We now have temporary Israeli passports, which will become permanent in a year. Ulpan has expanded to five days, and Irit is back. I kind of miss having Thursday to myself, but I like that Vered is teaching on Thursdays because it breaks up the week.

I can’t believe how time as flown, or how negligent I have been in recording our weekly happenings. It seems like we go to Ulpan in the morning, come home and eat lunch, and then spend the afternoon doing homework or trying to learn Hebrew. Once a week we go to the grocery store, usually Osher Ad (usually on a Wednesday) and pick up what we need for the week. We are only eating fruits and vegetables in season. We’ve enjoyed persimmons, kohlrabi, and just recently, citrus fruits and artichokes (pronounced “artishok” in Hebrew).
We are enjoying a break from Ulpan for Hanukkah, so I have a chance to catch up:

Week of September 2nd
It’s very hard to get used to Sunday being a “real” day of the work week. Dina had her first full day of school, and Chaim and I started Ulpan. He is in the “Bet” class, and I am in “Gimmel” with Irit. There’s an interesting mix of people from the United States, Canada, South Africa and England, with one gentleman from France.
The week went by quickly. We have class from 8:30 am to 12:45 pm with a break from 10:30 to 11:00. I have class on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Chaim has class on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. So far we don’t have books or a syllabus.

Week of September 9th
This week turned out to be a lot fuller than the previous one. Moshe tried out for the local boys’ choir on Monday evening. The leader of the choir thanked us that Moshe did not sing “V’Zakeini” and chose “Kol HaOlam Kulow” instead. Out of 30 tryouts, about 20 sang “V’Zakeini.”

Tuesday we went to the hardware store and bought some basic aronot, or clothes closets for the kids. As per the clerk’s instructions on Sunday, we went to the store at 3 PM to pick from the latest delivery. We had decided to get two small dark wood ones for the boys, and a larger light wood for Dina. It turns out they did not have two dark wood, so we took one dark wood and one light wood. The clerk, Yisrael, said he would come to the house at 5 PM with the cabinets and put them together. After the hardware store, we stopped at the grocery story. Since Rosh Hashanah is next year, it was a little hectic. We got on line, and the person in front of us was paying with a check, which always seems to be problematic. Then his wife kept bringing more items to the checkout. Chaim was very nervous we wouldn’t make it home in time, but I told him we would rather deal with this then the impending (and insane) crowds doing holiday shopping. We finally finished and got home at 4:55 PM. We had a bar mitzvah that night at 7 PM. Yisrael ended up arriving at 7 PM and didn’t leave until almost midnight. I went to the bar mitzvah at 8 and I was home by 9:30 pm. We waited until Wednesday to empty the suitcases.

On Shabbat I went to hear the bar mitzvah boy at BTYA, and Chaim went to Aish Kodesh and then stopped by the Kiddush. Then we went to a family for lunch. I had met the wife at one of Rebbetzin Smiles Shabbos afternoon shuirim. Rebbetzin Smiles asked those who were new to the community to stand up. This woman was the only person who made a point of coming over and welcoming me. Lunch was interesting. Neither the husband nor wife would tell us what they did as jobs. They told an interesting story of how they took a wrong turn and ended up in an Arab village. They had some seminary girls as guests as well.

Week of September 16th
Everyone is off for the holidays. On the first day, Dina and I went to hear shofar at Aish Kodesh. After a long introduction in Hebrew, we finally heard it, and then we left. Sometimes it amazes me how different the men’s section can be from the women’s section. Chaim keeps telling me how nice everyone is and how warm and welcoming they are. Upstairs, we got some stares and no one said “boo.”

On the second day, we ran over to the synagogue across the street, which is definitely “Dati Leumi.” After a quick intro, the shofar was blown. I got such a positive vibe that I decided to stay for Musaf, which was lovely – nice tunes, everyone participating – they even had someone handing out little paper mats for when you bend down for “Aleinu.” We had another family who recently made aliyah over for lunch. I don’t think I had anything left after the meal.

Moshe got into the choir, and his first practice was Thursday.

Week of September 23rd
No Ulpan, but the kids had school on Sunday and Monday. Yom Kippur was relatively short here because they changed the clocks right before. The kids are now off until after Sukkot.

Week of September 30th

It’s very exciting for be celebrating Sukkot in Israel, observing only one day of Yom Tov at the beginning and at the end, and having our own Sukkah. There are wood slats mounted on the patio off the kitchen, and Chaim added more and bought the schah. He also got cots for the boys to sleep in the sukkah. It turned out to be a little muggy, so between the bugs, the air conditioners going on and off, and the neighbors making noise, they all came in and slept in their beds.

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After dinner the first night, we went to neighbors for dessert. We ate lunch the first day at different neighbors, and we spent time next door visiting with our neighbors’ parents.

I had a job interview over the phone. It’s for a project creating MARC records for online publications. Thankfully, it does not pay minimum wage and I do not have to commute.