April 2013

Week of April 3rd

Dina and Moshe went back to school and Chaim went back to Ulpan on Wednesday. In the afternoon, we met with an investment advisor about how to invest in Israel, but it is going to take a lot of paperwork before anything happens. The Powers That Be are very wary of Americans investing in Israel in terms of trying to hide assets from the United States, so we are going to need a lot of documentation for our tiny, little nest egg.

Thursday and Friday were spent preparing for Shabbat, when we had our neighbors over and celebrated Moshe’s birthday. He chose the menu. Friday night we had chicken soup, grilled chicken with sesame noodles, potato kugel, sweet and sour meatballs with rice and homemade ice cream for dessert. For lunch, we had fish, salad bar, eggplant salad, kohlrabi slaw, potato kugel, and a cholent made with beef and a roast. We also had a chocolate, gluten-free birthday cake with chocolate frosting.

Week of April 7th

My work project ended, so I’ve been catching up on other projects, which, happily for me, includes a lot of reading.

Monday I went to the local book club meeting. The Hare with Amber Eyes was the topic of discussion. It’s about a collection of netsuke (small Japanese figures) that was passed down through the author’s family. I found most of the book rather dry and boring. The part I was most interested in, what happened to the Ephrussi family and their art during World War II, was a rather quick (and sad) summary. I also spent a lot of time looking up words in the dictionary. Now, we someone is angry or cranky, we can say they are splenetic.

The moderator did a lot of work to prepare for the discussion, and I think the author did some meticulous research, but the descriptions of art and décor did not hold my attention. It was nice to get out of the house, and I met my friend’s sister, who lives up the hill.

I was not going to go back to Ulpan, but some friends highly recommended the conversation class, which meets twice a week, so I decided to give it a shot. My favorite teacher is teaching the class. I sat next to someone from Passaic, and I felt it was a productive session. We did a lot of talking to each other, and almost everyone spoke in class.

Yehuda returned to school on Thursday, so we had a quiet Shabbat.

Week of April 14th

We were supposed to have a meeting at Dina’s school, but it was cancelled. I went to Ulpan, and already it is reverting back to everything I detested: people come late, people eat in class, people talk about nonsense and waste time.

Monday Dina had an orthodontist appointment, then we had to drive out to Ma’arava for a meeting with Rabbi Chait, which went pretty well.

Monday was Memorial Day. It is taken very seriously year. The siren went off on Sunday night, then again on Monday morning at 11 AM. There were ceremonies all over the country.

As Monday progressed, the mood changed for Independence Day on Tuesday.  What do Israelis do on Independence Day? Go to the park and barbecue. We barbecued on the back patio and then took a walk to the park. It rained in much of the country, which is unusual for this time of year, but here we just got a slight drizzle.

Wednesday was back to Ulpan, which confirmed that I will not continue after this month. More of the same shtuyot (nonsense) – new people coming, old people not showing up, people coming late and leaving early, etc. I feel stymied because I have the vocabulary; I just can’t the words out coherently and with proper grammar.

Thursday morning I had a driving lesson. The teacher was very nice, and I was not as nervous or as bad a driver as I thought. I thought it would be much harder because I haven’t driven in almost a year, and I’ve never driven in Israel, but it wasn’t too bad. Except for a few schmucks and some taxi drivers (who also fall in the schmuck category), most people drive carefully and with courtesy.

After my lesson, we had the rescheduled meeting with Dina’s teachers. We will be changing the routine around here. Since she had not been happy with her tutor, I will be tutoring her in math. (Who is being punished? We’ll see.)

Friday morning I made the secret-recipe garlic and started the challah. Then it was time for my driving test. In the car were a woman from Ulpan and a gentleman who was also the beneficiary of the hospitality of the Zilbers in Brooklyn.  I was hoping to go second, so that I would not have to pull in or out of the parking lot, but I ended up going last and having to pull into a parking space. A big thing for many people is the stop signs. The woman told me there are only 13 stop signs in the whole city, and luckily, we did not drive by anyone of them. She got to drive on the highway, the gentleman drove through town, and I drove us back to the parking lot.

The instructor called in the early afternoon to tell me that I passed. I don’t know how much driving I will do, but it’s nice to have the license.

I came home, did some more preparation for Shabbat, and then went to my neighbor for coffee.

Looking forward to hearing Rebbetzin Smiles speak on Shabbat.

Week of April 21st

We’re having highly unseasonable weather. I walked to Rebbetzin Smiles in the rain, and later Saturday it was pouring and thundering. It has been so cold that Chaim took his down comforter out of storage and threatened to turn on the heat.

Sunday started out not so good and got much better. One Ulpan teacher was sick, so my teacher had to combine the classes and teach everybody, which, quite frankly, sucked. We got in very little conversation and reviewed verb forms yet again. I left at the break because I could not stand it anymore. As I walked in the door, Dina’s tutor called to see if she should try and take Dina out of class. Dina refuses to work with her. I had to call later in the evening to thank her for her effort. Chaim barbecued for my birthday. We had hamburgers and chicken wings, and he bought a cake from the bakery.

Monday was an interesting day. I went to the Annual Jerusalem Writers’ Seminar. I had to leave the house at 7:15 to catch the bus. The driver was extremely impatient, but it afforded me the opportunity to learn some new vocabulary words, including “Metumtam” (fool). I got off the bus at the Givat Sha’ul junction and walk to the meeting hall to try to get rid of my nausea from the bus ride.

Once I seated myself, it was a morning of tips and writing exercises from all the women that write for Mishpacha, Bina, and Aim/Ami – Shoshana Schwartz, Batya Ruddell, Yael Mermelstein, etc. I sat with some great ladies, too. I met the mother of the inspiration for the Dina-Dee books, the grandmother of one of Yehuda’s classmates, and a friend of a friend. I was supposed to meet someone there, and I ended up sitting next to her – obvious hashgacha pratis.

I saw some people that I knew personally, and I saw some people I knew from their writing: Yaffa Ganz, Baasi Gruen, Miriam Zakon, C.B. Gavant.

Of course, there has to be a hitch – Lunch, as usual with food in Jewish events, was a free for fall with people pushing and grabbing. I stopped one woman from reaching past me, but I looked like the villain. I was starving from not eating breakfast and walking there, so I ended up sitting down with my salad and going back later for some salmon and potatoes.

The afternoon offered two workshops, which were okay, but hard to hear. I came home with a goody bag of free magazines and some swag from the publishers.

Now I have to face the music: two sinks full of dishes and a project waiting for approval.

Tuesday was an exciting day. First thing, we drove to the “Rishui” (Licensing Authority) and picked up my driver’s license. Then I went to the post office to pay the 458 shekels for the license. After that, I met a friend for coffee at Holy Bagel. As I walked home, I thought of a conversation I had with Ms. Powers a long time ago about how in Clifton, I didn’t socialize and I had no one with whom to have a cup of coffee. Here, Baruch Hashem, I have many people with whom I drink coffee. After my morning outings, I came home and caught up on the housework.

Be Careful with Fire!

Be Careful with Fire!

Getting Ready for Lag B'Omer

Getting Ready for Lag B’Omer

Wednesday was the last day of Ulpan for me. Again, more people came, more people left. My partner was someone who wanted everything explained and translated into English. Vered was not feeling well, so we left at the break. I lent her a book, and she kept saying I could read it next week, so I told her I was not getting anything out of class, and I needed to spend my time looking for a job. Meanwhile I have not heard anything about the project I started.

Thursday I stayed home and made kugels. Last week, I tried a different blade on the food processor, and the kugel came out completely different. This week I made two big kugels with the medium shredder blade, and two small kugels with the ricer blade. I also used up all the apples and made an apple cake, which went into the freezer. Dina made a struessel cake for Shabbos.

Friday was another opportunity for coffee, this time with my neighbor. She cooks while I drink coffee. I am amazed at how she whips through her kitchen making six things at a time. This week: chocolate cupcakes for her son’s birthday, challah, chicken, potato kugel, egg barley, and noodles.

Yehuda came home this week. I made a mushroom quinoa soup, the usual chicken, and popcorn cauliflower, which everyone devoured. I am amazed at how the family is enjoying new recipes and expanded their horizons when I made the same thing every Friday night for years in the States.

Saturday night was Lag B’Omer. We went to the Aish Kodesh fire, which I guess is redundant as Aish Kodesh means “holy fire.” I expected to see bonfires burning all over the hills, but there were several small ones in the area. The Aish Kodesh bonfire spread and the grass caught fire, so the fire department had to come and put it out.

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Rabbi Shapira

Rabbi Shapira

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Week of April 28th

No school on Lag B’Omer for Dina and Moshe. We had a relaxing day with a barbecue. There was a parade that started at the community center. Moshe came home with a little hat, and he reported it was a “battle” between the Chabadniks and the Breslovers for who could have more enthusiasm and make more noise.

Dina has the day off on Monday, so we took her to Jerusalem with us to run errands. First stop: the tax authority so we could add my name to the car registration. After several government workers passed the buck and told us we were in the wrong place, we found someone who helped us. From there, we stopped at a private Ulpan school, where Chaim is hoping to take classes. After the real business part of the day, we walked around Ben Yehuda and King George and bought some books. I still had my Shai Hachag (small gift that employers give for the holidays), so we used it at Stiemetzky to get some games and a video. I also bought a book about flowers of Israel and a book about trees of Israel, so I now know the beautiful purple ones are jacaranda.

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From there we walked to Mea Shearim and Geula and looked in more stores for books and music. After a brief ice cream break, we went to the final bookstore and found the book I needed for a presentation. We decided to return home for lunch. The GPS gave us the craziest directions ever. We ended up making a huge circle and then weaving through very narrow street until we met up with the main road.

The rest of the week was quiet. I have a little more work on the same project, which I will probably finish by next week.

Yehuda was home for Shabbat, but his grade had a Shabbaton in town, so he was in and out. Friday was more hectic than usual. We went to look at a house for sale, but decided it’s not exactly what we want or where we want to live. Then I cooked and made salads all day. In the afternoon, I helped a neighbor with a project she’s doing, and when Shabbat arrived, I collapsed. My neighbor made a bar mitzvah Saturday morning. My other neighbor wanted to hear the bar mitzvah boy read from the Torah, so we babysat her kids, then went over to the synagogue for the Kiddush. Rebbetzin Smiles spoke in the afternoon, and after Seudah Shlishit we played “Set” for a little while.

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