May 2013

Week of May 4th.
Lots of appointments this week. Sunday we need to go to the Licensing Authority with the form from the Tax Authority to change the car registration. Then we have an appointment at the Ministry of Absorption about our unemployment and Chaim getting paid for his “histaklut” (supervised rotation) in a psychiatric hospital. Both appointments were a bust. The Licensing Authority clerk said it’s impossible to add my name to the registration because there is a bank loan for the car, so now we have to go to the main office in Talpiot for help. The Ministry of Absorption said there is no money in the budget for anything, and that we are not entitled to a bonus for completing Ulpan because we are not part of the special “Young Family Program.” Don’t we get a bonus for being an “Old Family?” I think we need the bonus more than they do. So, we’re still on unemployment.

Monday we met with the mortgage representative at the bank to see if we qualify. We have to gather some papers together for documentation. After the bank, we went to the supermarket in the business center, where we picked up a few things. In Clifton, I used to go to at least three supermarkets a week because I liked different things at different stores and different things were on sale at each store. I’ve been trying to avoid that in Israel, but before a holiday I end up going to quite a few places. The store in the business center has some things cheaper, including potatoes and dairy products, but the rest of the produce is not so nice, and they don’t have all the dairy products we like to eat. Then, of course, there are the lines. People leave their stuff in bags in the floor near the register, shop for more stuff, and then come back and cut the line saying they were there first. We had quite a character behind us. I wasn’t even finished putting my stuff on the checkout when she dumped her stuff. Then she went back to shop some more. In the meantime, a man came and started unloading his groceries. The woman came back with more bags of stuff, and complained that she was there first. He fought right back and said she stepped away and he doesn’t have to wait for her. He piled his stuff OVER hers on the conveyor belt. We finished up and walked out, but Chaim was very proud of the man for screaming back and holding his ground. What amazed me was that the woman was screaming at the man “You are not normal.” Yea, lady. It’s normal to be self-absorbed and entitled and then yell at people when they assert themselves.

Tuesday was one of those busy, get things done days like we had when we first moved. We started out at the Licensing Authority in Talpiot. We took a number, and the line was moving pretty quickly because the clerk kept hitting the button for the next number. It turns out if you go to her window in 5 seconds, she called for the next number, so soon 4 people were standing there because she passed their numbers. We got called up for the next clerk. She didn’t say anything about the bank loan, she was waiting because the Tax Authority filled out the form and put my name as “Chava, Kathe” instead of “Chava Pinchuck.” She said to wait for the supervisor, whom she addressed as “Mommy” to make sure that it was okay. Sof, sof (finally), she printed us a new registration, which we had to take to the post office to pay. I will soon be able to drive, even though I probably can’t get out of our parking space!

After that, we went to the American Consulate. After our car was checked, we parked, walked down some stairs, and waited our turn. You must have an appointment to get in. We went through security and had to check our cell phones, the camera, and my embroidery scissors. Again, we took a number and waited to be called, went from the clerk, to the cashier, to another clerk, back to the first clerk, and then to the supervisor. This went relatively quickly, and we were soon finished. We decided to stop at the bathroom. The first stall I went to looked like a hole in the ground. When I found the toilet, I realized that that stall was for the Muslims to wash their feet. How considerate of the consulate, or I guess they don’t want them putting their feet in the sink.

Another example of how considerate the American Consulate folks are: they put the handicapped parking right near the stairs.

Another example of how considerate the American Consulate folks are: they put the handicapped parking right near the stairs.

After the Consulate, we saw a sign for S.Y. Agnon’s house, so we stopped there. There was a school visit, so they let us take a quick look at his library and his Nobel Prize for literature.

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From there, we made a quick stop at Kiryat Moriah, which we had passed on the way to the Consulate. Kiryat Moriah was the first placed I stayed on my first trip to Israel. I started taking pictures and security came out. When I told them that this was the first place I stayed my first time in Israel, and that I now live here, he told me to take as many pictures as I want.

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Continuing on our busy day, Moshe decided he wanted Chinese for lunch. We were going to go to the Design Center, but it’s in the middle of town, and there was no parking near it, and it was very hard to circle back on the twisting narrow streets. We ended up parking near Sheyan and going to Hechal Shlomo: the Center for Jewish Heritage. The museum is on the third floor of a massive building that also houses a few non-profit organizations. The museum houses many Jewish artifacts, some from famous luminaries like the Baal Shem Tov, and this building house the office of the late Rabbi Herzong, Israel’s first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi. After a walk through the museum, we were able to go up on the roof for a beautiful view.

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We went to Sheyan for lunch then returned to RBS. I don’t know whether the food was really salty, or we were dehydrating from waiting in the sun and the Consulate and then running around, but we drank cups of water when we got back.

Wednesday was another busy day, but we stayed local and ran errands. We started by going to the grocery store that has a lot of American products and gluten-free products. I shopped while Chaim went to the post office to pay the new registration fee. We dropped the groceries off at home, then went to the bank to drop off the papers for the mortgage. After that, we looked at the nursing home down the road and spoke with the staff. It looks like Grandma will be coming here. Not that it is so wonderful – it is kind of run down, but it is close by, the staff was very warm, and she probably will not know where she is anyway.

I decided it would be better to get everything done in the morning, so we went to the clothes store for a refund, the housewares store for a wedding present (I ended up getting a little challah board that looks nicer than using the regular cutting board), then to the garden store to see if they had flowerpots. They did not, so we continued to Osher Ad, the third supermarket this week, where I bought cupcake holders for the special chocolate mousse. After a big holiday shopping, we went to the other housewares store to get a new tablecloth. It is interesting to see the displays before a holiday. For Shavuot, they put out pancake mix, a lot of tea biscuits with which to make a crust for cheescake, and pudding.

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Finally, we returned home and took a rest. I made taco salad for dinner. Then I decided it was time to rearrange the cabinets yet again. After that, the floor needed a sweep and a wash. Finally, a load of laundry before going to sleep.

Thursday was a light cooking day because we were invited to neighbors for lunch. Friday was another light cooking day. We had broth left over from last week, but not vegetables, so all I had to do was cut up vegetables and then cover them with the soup and reboil it.

Yehuda stayed at school for Shabbat, so it was quiet. We met some neighbors, and they were nice enough to have a variety of gluten-free foods.

Week of May 12th
Sunday I took care of odds and ends in the morning, then I took an online course from 7 to 11:30 at night because it was given from 12 to 4:30 EDT. By 11 PM, I could barely focus and keep my eyes open, and I woke up Monday morning feeling like I had a hangover. I also had my last cup of Folger’s coffee until I go back to the United States, so I savored it.

Monday I did a lot of cooking: 2 roasts, potato kugel, and cheesecake. I got a recipe for a noodle dish from a magazine, but it turned out to be too much work. I used three different pots and three different bowls to make this concoction. After lunch we went to the Chad Pa’ami store, which is one of my favorite places. I know they had stores like this in the United States that sold paper goods and disposable serving stuff, but I find the items more interesting here.

We were relaxing before dinner when all of a sudden it started thundering. Then I saw lightning, and then it started pouring rain, which is not supposed to happen after Passover in Israel.

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Tuesday was another day of cooking in preparation for Shavuot. We had friends over for dinner. I served lentil soup, 2 types of roast, popcorn cauliflower, cucumber salad, and potato kugel. I was surprised that almost everything was gone. For dessert I made chocolate cake and cashew ice cream, and a good chunk of that was consumed, too.
We finished dinner around 11 PM, and then Chaim went to learn. He stayed up the whole night. I woke up at seven when he came back, and we ate some cheesecake, which also disappeared at alarming rates. For lunch we had the noodle dish, Greek salad, and sesame salmon. I also made a chocolate mousse that I served with Oreo cookie crumbs, gummy worms, and a marshmallow flower. We gave some to our neighbors, so the remaining portion went very quickly.
Thursday the kids had off from school. Chaim took Moshe to the Kotel for aliyah laregel, and Dina and I stayed home. I had to start cooking for Shabbat because there were no leftovers.

Friday was spent cooking. Yehuda came home and we had a loud Shabbat.

Week of May 19th
After staying up late Saturday and Sunday nights for my neurofeedback seminar, and Shavuot, I think I am finally back to normal, which is good because there is a lot of laundry and cleaning. It looks like I will not have projects for a while, so I can work on my presentation and hopefully not be on the computer too much.

I started the morning with a healthy breakfast, and it was such a pleasure to say the after blessing: “for the trees and their fruit, and for the produce, and for the lovely, fine and spacious land which You graciously gave to our ancestors as a heritage, to eat its fruit and to be sated with its goodness.” It really changes eating to a spiritual experience when you eat fruit grown in Israel at your table in Israel, and the words of this blessing are so palpable as I look out the window at the beautiful landscape.

Next activity, a women’s hike to Tel Yarmuth. A group of one of the local synagogues organized a women’s hiking group that goes on local hikes on Sunday mornings. Eight of us went up to Tel Yarmuth, which is located on the entrance road to Ramat Bet Shemesh Aleph right near where they are building Ramat Bet Shemesh Gimmel. It is an Early Bronze Age Canaanite city, which means the ruins date back over 5,000 years. You can still see the walls of the city, things that must have been houses in the lower city, and the palace or acropolis at the top. The city was conquered by Joshua and it mentioned in Tanach. There were also a lot of great wildflowers growing. The hike was a little strenuous for me, but it was a very congenial group, and everyone walked that their own pace.

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After that, it was time for a shower, a trip to the market for fruits and vegetables, and some serious laundry. I think I washed, dried, folded and put away six loads, including linens. I went to sleep really early, but I ended up with the usual middle insomnia.

Monday was also a pleasant, kind of social day. I walked over to the RBS library on Nachal Ein Gedi and helped out with the library. I spent the afternoon cleaning the kitchen and then working to finish a cross-stitch project. I made one of our favorite dinners: soy schwarma with salad bar. Then Chaim and I went into Jerusalem for a lecture by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, who does reparative therapy for homosexuality.

Tuesday is shopping day. I took a walk so I could photograph the globe thistle by the highway. Then I did some organizing in the basement. The movers who packed are stuff in the United States must have gotten rushed, because I opened a big box into which they just threw stuff. Thankfully, the pictures that I cross-stitched, embroidered and needlepointed did not break. I found some of the stuff I wanted to find for Hanukkah, and the only thing that did break was the glass in the framed album that Bruce Springsteen signed, lo these many years.

We went to the supermarket shortly after they opened and stocked up on food for this week, next week when I’m away, and the following week when I won’t feel like cooking!

I’m trying to facilitate Grandma’s aliyah. I.just got off the phone and it’s very much like “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” So the person who deals with the elderly was good about information about the elderly. I had no idea there was a nursing home 10 minutes away. I started the aliyah process, which means you have to pay $50 to have them process your stuff. What if I went directly through the Jewish Agency, would it be free? Anyway, when I submit the documents, I get emails from Lior. Then I got an email from someone else that I can’t schedule an interview until certain documents are in. Then the person who deals with the elderly tells me I must schedule an interview for my mother, who cannot say a complete sentence, except, “No, I would not like to live in Israel.” Then she gives me the wrong number to call. I found the right number and left a message.

I had the same experiences when we made aliyah. I would get excited about coming, then I would get frustrated and pissed off when they kept losing our documents, making us submit the same thing at least three times, and screwing things up and spelling our name wrong.

Wednesday was my teacher conference, and it went well. I definitely feel for my daughter. It is hard to be 13, hard to be in a new country, and hard not to have options. I’m hoping she can understand that she has to just do the best she can so she can choose the best high school for her academic and social development. It looks like we will have to do a lot of work on our own to figure out what will be best for her.

Wrapping up loose ends and packing for America.

Week of May 26th
I guess going back to America to visit is also part of the aliyah experience. It was a very packed week, but I was able to see a lot of old friends, do some shopping, and attend a book event. What do I miss about America? I thought I would eat Chinese take-out every day, since we don’t have it in Israel, but it wasn’t that big a thrill the day I ate it. The new owners have completely torn down our house, so there’s nothing there. People kept asking if I was upset or angry. It was no longer my house. It was a pretty house, but they are getting their dream and I got mine, so what I think about their construction plans is moot. The one thing that is rather satisfying is that the neighbors who were so un-neighborly are VERY upset.

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It was very nice to see friends and feel like not time has passed since we last got together. I miss the Montclair library – the physical building, the staff, the patrons. I miss driving around, but I kind of like that I don’t have lists of errands every day.

I went to the mall several times for Dina, and I don’t miss that at all. Book Expo was nice, but I’ve even tired of walking the floor and fighting for swag. I waited on line for autographs from Lemony Snicket and Adriana Trigiani, and that was more than enough for me. I did bring back a lot of books, but I also left a lot behind.

It was nice to spend Shabbat with friends in Brooklyn –thankfully another instance where it was like time at not passed in terms of heartfelt discussions and some good laughs. Sunday was crazy in terms of driving. I left Brooklyn, went to Queens to pick up everything from Poppy, stopped by the Katz’s for lunch, then got back on the road to New Jersey.

Monday was also a very busy day. I went to the chiropractor, went up to Monsey to see a friend, and stopped by my mother to say goodbye. Then back to Montclair to print out by boarding pass and drop off all the excess swag from Book Expo. By then it was late afternoon and time to start packing everything up.

My rental car had to be back by 7:45 AM, so I spent a long time waiting in the airport. I left from the same gate that we did when we made aliyah.

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