Week of March 3rd
Sunday we went to the Ministry of Absorption to sign for our unemployment check. There is no budget and no money, so the only things they are paying is unemployment and aliyah benefits. Even if you are entitled to other payments, they cannot put it in the system now for payment later, give you a voucher saying you are entitled and should get it in the future, or let you take training now and submit the bill later.
Wednesday was Moshe’s choir performance in a show called “Kol Ish,” which featured different male groups and performers. We did not know what to expect, but we were presently surprised with a variety of acts. The show was a benefit for Melabev, the senior services agency. First, a group of seniors that attends the day program sang some songs. Then another group sang, and there was an excellent juggler. Still another group sang, and then the Arayot Tzion break dancers performed. After a short intermission, Moshe’s choir sang. They were excellent, much improved since the Hanukkah performance. Still another band and choir performed. Then a cantor sang “My Yiddishe Mama” and “O Sole Mio.” The break dancers wrapped up the show.
It was very emotional for me. It was so wonderful to be sitting in an audience in Israel, with all different types of people. Even though all the acts probably did not appeal to everyone, the audience applauded enthusiastically for everyone. We saw several of our neighbors there. The auditorium is located across the road at Kibbutz Tzora, so we passed the Samson Beer Brewery and stalls of cows on our way to and from the performance hall.
For lunch on Shabbos, we invited Chaim’s friend from Ulpan. He and his wife came in November from Houston. Unfortunately, their one-year-old was sick, so we only had the pleasure of the husband and their four-year-old daughter.
Week of March 10th
A very social week before the cleaning crunch for Passover. Sunday I met a friend from Queens who is volunteering at a facility near Bet Shemesh. It’s also nice to reconnect with old friends, and she is exactly the same, living in Katamon and really enjoying life in Israel.
For Rosh Chodesh on Tuesday, I met another friend for coffee at Holy Bagel. I think that was the first time I actually ordered and ate there. Again, nice to talk with a friend and see her baby. Also amazing how budget constraints have affected my perception of prices. At Holy Bagel, one bagel is 5 shekel. When I go to the supermarket next door, I look for the day old bagels, which are 4 for 10 shekel.
Wednesday was an extremely challenging day. Chaim installed an update on my computer. Then I went to work, and I couldn’t access the website I need to look at to verify information. I keep trying, I emailed a coworker, I called the website help desk on the United States line – nothing helped. When Chaim returned from Ulpan, I told him my problem. In the meantime, we had to do neurofeedback for two clients. After that, Chaim figured out what something must have happened in the update. He checked the files, and it had update Microsoft Explorer to the next level, which was incompatible with the website. By the time he uninstalled it, I was too tired and aggravated to work on the project.
Then, there are big sales on Passover items. One sounds pretty cool. You put in your order, pay, and then drive around a circular street where all the stalls of items are set up. The deadline for placing the order was Wednesday at midnight, and by the time we figured out the computer problem and got dinner on the table, the order line was busy for 2 hours. I finally got through and ordered the potatoes, onion, carrots, horseradish, meat, etc.
Thursday, I had yet another “date” with a friend from Ulpan. We talked for a while, and hope to set up another date after Passover.
It is already Thursday, and I need to figure out what to serve for Shabbat.
Considering we are cleaning out the food stores, our Shabbat fare was excellent. I used up all the wheat flour and some of the gluten-free flours and baked challah for this week and next week. We had half a pack of meat that made an excellent cholent, and I used up the contents of the vegetable drawer by making grilled vegetables and cucumber salad. We had one potato kugel left in the freezer, which we had for lunch, and then I made tomato soup with rice for Friday night.
Week of March 17th
Another holiday passes without notice – I did not see anything to do with St. Patrick’s Day, even in the newspapers.
We did some cleaning. After a very warm Shabbat (with no air conditioning), it rained and the temperature decreased significantly.
We went to a very special wedding on Sunday. I’ve known the bride “since before she was born,” and it was wonderful to see all her brothers and sisters with their children. It was very emotional for me to be at her wedding, even more so as we stood in Jerusalem and I heard the words of Jeremiah (33:10-11): “let there soon be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride…” (I’m tearing up as I think about it now).
I met some interesting people and just enjoyed seeing the bride so happy.
Monday – back to cleaning. The kids loved going to the bakery to get their breakfasts of pastries and iced coffee, while Chaim and I cleaned up the living room/dining room area and some of the kitchen.
Tuesday – still more cleaning, a trip to the supermarket.
Wednesday – one of the things my husband misses the most is Costco. He wondered where we were going to buy economy size quantities of potatoes and onions for Passover. My neighbor told me about a big sale, which was kind of fun. I placed my order last Wednesday. Then I had to go and pay for the order on Monday, at which time I got a receipt.
The sale works like this: if you ordered a certain dollar amount of supplies, you are entitled to drive through. They close a street and the cars drive on the left, pedestrians work down the right. In the middle are the piles of supplies. When we arrived at the “starting line,” some boys took my multi-page receipt and taped each page to the side of the car. Then crews of boys kept checking the sheets and loading the items into the trunk of the car. We got our potatoes, onions, carrots, squash, herbs, beef and our trays of eggs. The line ran smoothly, and it was an excellent experience.
We spent the rest of the week cleaning, turning over the kitchen, and anticipating only one Seder and one last day of Passover. Chaim sprained his ankle when he missed the last basement step, and our neighbors were nice enough to lend him a cane.
Week of March 24th
The week seemed to fly by. Our Seder was very nice. Everyone made comments and did some singing, and we still finished way before midnight. Our matzah was a little tough, but all the food was very tasty.
Tuesday we visited Ashkelon, which was beautiful. Unfortunately, I tripped on the walk, which made it a little hard to fully appreciate the ancient ruins and the sea.
Wednesday was a rest day for our sore legs, and Thursday Chaim and Moshe went to a concert. Friday was get ready for Shabbat day and restock the food. The family ate their way through all the Passover brownies and blondies I baked, as well as the ice cream. This year I tried out two apple crumble recipes. The bottom is basically the same: apples, sugar, and cinnamon. For one, the top was made from potato starch and sugar; the other had crumbs made out of cookies.
I used a mixed to make “matzah” balls for the soup. They came out pretty light and fluffy, but they still tasted like potatoes. I made the special chicken with orange juice, honey and cinnamon that I only make on Passover, and I was pleasantly surprised that everyone enjoyed a kugel made with potatoes, carrots and zucchini (as well as eight eggs). We bought a special kishka to put in the cholent. That was gobbled up really quickly. Chaim commented that they put really good spices in it. When I pulled out the other package of kishka we bought, I knew why it tasted so good. The first ingredient is beef fat!
Week of March 31st
It seems like Passover flew by, but we wanted to make “aliayah l’regel” and go to Jerusalem during the holiday. We didn’t know how crazy it would be on Easter Sunday, so we went in early. We were able to find excellent parking in our usual spot at the Mamilla Mall. We walked in the Jaffa Gate, and while there were a lot of people, it was not too bad. We walked around the old city a little bit, and then we visited a friend, who has a spectacular view from the roof of the apartment:
By the time we walked out of the Jaffa Gate, the crowds were insane. The police closed off the shuk and St. James Street, so everyone had to enter from a different location. It took forever to get out of the parking structure, which was jammed with cars.
By the time we got home it was after 2 PM, and I still had to cook for the last day of Passover. I put up some potatoes and started a new chicken recipe with “onion jam.” Despite the rush, this was one of the best meals of the holiday. I think the recipe called for too much liquid in the “jam,” but everyone used it as gravy for the mashed potatoes. Even our all-skate for lunch the next day was not the usual dumping of leftovers on the table. We ate some hard salami, pastrami, and a fresh salad with olives and hearts of palm.
On Tuesday, we finished packing up all the Passover stuff and the kids went to the bakery to get some pastries for breakfast. In the afternoon, we went to the new fashion mall. The only thing we found was new Crocs for Yehuda. After that, I went to the supermarket to get some fruits and vegetables and a little bread. Once again, we are trying not to have so much junk food in the house. We’ll see how long it lasts.