Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Nose Goofed

We were wrong. It didn't rain today. This morning's air was so "pregnant" with rain, but by mid morning it was dry, very dry, another dry day.

But on another topic, I'm glad to report that the Google spellcheck is great.

I had something else on my mind to write, but brain overload scored again. Can't remember.

holding the...

A few minutes ago, I went to the door to say "good-by" to the plumber's apprentice as he left for work and his swimming instructor class, meaning he won't be home for a few days. Being the "nag" I am, I asked if he had a jacket, "yes, in the truck."

And then I asked if he was prepared for rain. Suddenly I found myself holding his breakfast as he dashed in for another jacket, a nicer one. I could smell the rain on its way. When he got back to me, he said that only when I asked him, did he realize that it smelled like rain.

Time will tell, if the nose knows.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Right to Know

Recently I wrote about the results of sperm donors and the dangers of secrecy. Now in The New York Times there's an op-ed by a woman who was adopted and suddenly needed family medical records. This can also happen to someone conceived as the result of donor sperm.

Many sperm donors are young college students, earning a living by... medically encouraged and financially supported masturbation. That sure doesn't sound very proper, but that's what it is. Now how many young men of that age really know enough about their family medical history to accurately fill out such a crucial form?

Can you just imagine a call to Grandma, trying to explain why you're asking such questions?

But the bottom line of all this is that there must be a way to contact birth mothers and donor fathers and also give them a way to update medical records long after the "act."

Crocheting Report

You've heard about my hobby, my new hobby, haven't you? I resumed crocheting this past summer, after about a twenty year break. It's very surprising, at least to me.

In my previous crocheting existence, I made kippot for my husband and maybe for my sons, who were very young when I quit. My daughters then took up needle and were much more productive and talented than I ever was.

In recent years, basically since I stopped crocheting, I did needlepoint, but I ran out of wall space. And I prefer seeing family on the walls than unattractive tapestries that took me years to complete.

Crocheting friends, hat-crocheting friends to be more exact, would periodically try to convince me to try. The big problem is that I don't think I look too great in the hats. Finally towards the end of my last needlepoint, I realized that I needed something smaller and more portable to do, to keep me sane.

So I've been crocheting since the summer and even wear one of them, though I do think I look better in real hats bought in a store.

A few times I've had to give away the yarn, because I couldn't work with it. I give it to my daughter who passes it to her mother-in-law, AKA the "other savta." And she'll use it mostly to make things for our joint granddaughters or my daughter. That's fine with me. She knows how to knit.

I am not interested in knitting. I hate the idea of clanging away, bothering people with those two sticks. I need very little space to crochet and even did it when Porat was sleeping on my shoulder. My hands were free. Also with knitting there's the danger of dropping a stitch and ruining all your hard work.

And to tell you something, you may not know. I haven't the vaguest idea what I'm really doing.

P.S. I just used the google spellcheck and it was better than blogger.

Blogging

Ironically, "blog" is not in the blogspot dictionary. If I write "blog" in a post and use its spellcheck, it's considered a mistake, and flog, bloc, bloke and some real doozies are suggested.

"Blog" isn't in The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition, 1995 either. I guess blogging may not have been going on when it was edited.

But since then an entire vocabulary has developed. See pearlies of wisdom: All Roads Lead Back to You...Blog!. It's missing an important one, blogaholic, those of us who rush to the computer the minute we get home for another "fix." Those of us who suddenly realize that hours have passed us by while we were busy posting to a handful of "visitors," or worse. Those of us who make time to "surf" and "hit" blogs galore but can't find the time to pick up the phone to call family and friends.

OK, I still say it's better than Freecell, my previous addiction.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Is the whole world nuts?

Sometimes it does seem so. And if you're still not convinced, read the latest Carnival of the Clueless!

Passing

What do we really learn to need from school?

How about how to survive in this world?

If that's the case, then the athletes who study "in" University High School are honor students. Am being facetious? Maybe. I just think of all of the "successful" academics floundering in the real world. Much of the middle-class is struggling. Always taught to stick to the rules and be good are not always the best preparation for life. The "tooth fairy" isn't going to cover the orthodonture work on the kid whose pacifier kept him quiet. And every hierarchy is crowned by people who skipped steps and trampled on the heads of those who carefully follow all orders and regulations.

A very high percentage of the super-success stories involve those rather "allergic" to frameworks and rules. The earlier we put our kids in schools, even the "non-regimented" ones, the more they're trained to "fit in." There are definitely dangers in that. Your independent thinkers are frequently punished and treated like rebels. This is a problem, because innovation comes from those sorts of minds.

And back to those athletes and their fake academic success...
It's rare for failing high school students to suddenly get passing grades, so the phony school isn't standing in their way of real learning.

Well, some will take their opportunities, given by the phony school, and really do something good. Would it be better to prevent them from participating in sports? What would the results be? More frustration and anger resulting in crime, drugs etc?

For the young school-age athlete who can't pass regular classes, it may be better to have a remedial program integrated with their athletic training. A special "academic" sports program.

I teach high school boys here in Israel, and I frequently tell them how getting through EFL, English as a Foreign Language, is like training for an elite army unit. "It's all in the mind," as my son's pre-army fitness trainer would tell the young men. Until that sort of opportunity becomes available to them, phony academic programs will be their best means of "passing."

BOMS again!

BOMS offers another diverse collection of posts from all over. Take a gander!

Thankful for Havel Havelilm

We're all very thankful that Israel Perspectives has done such a great job on this week's Havel Havelim! Take a gander; you'll be thankful, too!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Testing

I'm sure I won't be the only teacher, parent, former student etc which includes virtually everyone alive, who will be writing about this New York Times article about testing.

Simply stated, it gives examples of states which claimed very high pass rates on standardized Math tests, and then the students were retested by the national government with much worse results.

This seems to be a very common phenomenon. Everyone wants to see better test scores. There's competition from school to school, city to city, county to county, state to state. The same principle all over the world. Educators try innovative techniques to "teach" the modern generation and then make up tests suitable for the students' skills. They write great flowery reports, nicely decorated using computer graphics. In the United States there's extra pressure because of the "No Child Left Behind" law. Solutions were supposed to be found to teach all children, no matter what the problem. I'm sure that it was easier to write the law than to teach the failing kids.

One of the techniques is to raise the child's self-esteem. You do that by making up tests he can pass. Simplifying the curriculum is also done. And of course teaching for the test. Since I teach weak students who want a proper diploma, that's how I gear my lessons.

The results are that the children are exposed to a watered down curriculum and thereby know less than students once did.

In a country the size of the United States, the Federal Government doesn't really know what goes on in the far flung school districts. They collect test result data from the states, and each state tries to control or demand educational priorities and requirements. They are not uniform.

Years ago, decades ago actually, I remember my Aunt Florence (from Conn., not the Aunt Florence from Far Rockaway), who was a university professor, tell us about the different academic level of the students who came from the south. She had to put "honor students" in remedial classes to get them on par for university studies up north.

I also remember when I was in high school (Great Neck North) we always preferred doing Regents Tests, (the standardized NYS high school finals), because they were so much easier than our school finals. In other school districts, students found the Regents challenging.

In Israel we have what's called "Bagrut" tests for most high school subjects. That way there is a national standard, at least in theory. There's one enormous problem. The test grade is averaged with the school grade to help the student pass. Passing is only 55, a ridiculously low number, but that's another story. It is possible for a student to get just a 50 on the test, but if his teacher gives him a 60, he gets his 55. Some schools give very inflated grades to make the school look better. (There are some regulations restricting the differential and penalizing the school if it's too high.) There are cases where the school doctors the teachers' grades to make the school pass-rate higher, and thereby the school's statistics are better.

As a high school teacher, I honestly prefer to keep the two grades separate. That's how we had it in New York in my day. It's more honest.

carnivals large and small

We're in the Carnival of Vanities! And we were mentioned in a "turkey round-up," See who else was lassoed in.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Onwards........ Shabbat

No politics rights now, just time to close shop here and get ready for Shabbat.

My daughter is coming with family, so there's plenty of cooking and cleaning still to be done. And I have to make a meatloaf or something for the neighbors who just had a new baby. And laundry awaits; one batch is ready for hanging, though I'm not dressed for the merpeset, balcony.

Former trekker, now plumber's apprentice and swimming instructor-in training, has promised to do some of the cooking, since he learned from Aunt Selma, who cooks better than I do.

So, Shabbat Shalom, if I don't have time to get back online.

Not Fair!

Blogging Jameel has miluim. That's Israeli army reserve duty. He's kvetching about aches and pains, both physical and emotional. Post Disengagement it's not the same feeling.

But really, he's on vacation from work and home, and they even gave him off to get to a Bar Mitzvah, not bad at all.

When we were a young family and my husband still did miluim, he'd prepare by going to a 2nd hand book store and stocking up on lots and lots of books. And then he'd go off and leave me with the kids and whatever errands he used to be responsible for. I always wished to have vacations like that, to go off with my pals and buddies, a little escape from reality.

I could never go off, away, just for myself, only to doctor and dentist appointments. And I don't consider staying a couple of nights in the hospital to give birth a break from reality and daily responsibilities.

Yes, miluim has its stresses, but they are different ones. It's important to get away a bit. Years ago, ok, 9 years ago, when I worked in the "Bagel House" selling bagel sandwiches and snacks to office workers and was in charge of the department, I usually took advantage of the freebie lunch and spent the whole afternoon in the office doing the bookkeeping and planning the next day's orders, barely making the bus home. But on rare occasions, I'd meet a friend in a nearby restaurant for a nice long leisurely lunch. Then I'd run back to the office and finish my work well before the bus.

It's more efficient to take real breaks, with a change of scenery. Too bad I didn't have or make those opportunities when I was a young mother.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Returned from Turkey Dinner

We had a our first "Thanksgiving" Dinner with friends in Shiloh. There was a real turkey, roasted by a Canadian. American folk songs led by a London bred neighbor who made aliyah from New Zealand with his Malaysian-born wife. This is Shiloh!

Of course there were others from the states, but of course it's always more interesting to start with the unexpected. There were even guests from Jerusalem, who came by bus.

I brought the booze and had some in order to make others feel comfortable about drinking. All I accomplished was to drink by myself, but I did what was asked, which was to bring the booze.

We had a great time talking, laughing, telling jokes. I took some pictures, but the film's not finished yet.

And I'll end with a very suitable little "dvar Torah," Torah lesson.
The traditional food to eat on Thanksgiving is a turkey. In Hebrew it's called, "hodu," after India. But "hodu" also means, "thank!" (plural command) From the verb, "l'hodot," to thank. So that's why we thave turkey, hodu, on Thanksgiving!

Today...

This is a historic day, the first time we've done anything "Thanksgiving-ish" since leaving New York in 1970.

I'll let you know afterwards about Glenda's turkey. I think that each guest is supposed to be contributing something. We're bringing the booze!

In the yeshiva high school where I teach, they're having an "open-house" for 8th graders to recruit for next year, so G-d willing I'll be leaving early on the junior high bus to Ofra. That makes it possible to get back home on time. OK, no chance to gussy up, but I can always put on lipstick.

I had better start the Shabbat cooking. It's a busy morning, before I go to work.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Long Day

Yes, a long day. Got up early, 5am early enough for you?

Then 'blogged." It may not sound all that productive, but it's better than my old computer "yetzer haraa," "evil inclination" free cell, the computer card game. After the previous computer repair, it was no longer on, so I found a new hobby, blogging.

Then I went to the pool in Neve Yaakov with friends.

Then lots of errands in Jerusalem.

Then the bus to Beit El for a staff meeting.

And finally home at 8pm or later.

And my husband just came home now, and soon, as soon as he finishes eating, he's taking over the computer.

So, Bye bye

Short Attention Span

I thought that it was just here, concerning our Disengagement victims, still homeless and jobless since August. Nobody seems to care, and the media considers the issue, old and stale. Politicians are too busy running after votes to consider their needs.

The hundreds of thousands in the southern United States, uprooted by Katrina, are also complaining of being ignored. There have been other storms since, and the list is ever-growing of people needing help. At least the New York Times wrote about their situation.

Who really cares about the Israelis, those who once lived in Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron? In the teachers' room, fellow-teacher mentioned that his married child and family are living with them now. Their "once home and community" no longer exist. The social ties that once made life so idyllic have already disintegrated into fading memories. So quickly. Instead of more money they don't have being billed from the non-existent "compensation," the young family is staying with parents.

Then we all discussed the feasibility of proving our decades long residence, since Arik Sharon and also Bibi Netanyahu has promised to make us refugees, too, G-d forbid.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

telemarketing...grrrrrrrrrrrrr

I'm being hounded, grrrrrrrrrrr
by some telemarketers

I hate the way they speak to me grrrrrrrrrrrrr
"Hello, Batya"
in a voice as if we're best friends

I get pretty suspicious when I hear that smile grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

"I'm calling from ---
Have you heard of our organization?"

Very clearly I reply:
"I don't give over the telephone."

"Maybe I should just tell you more."

"I said: I DON'T GIVE OVER THE TELEPHONE!"

"Oh?" slam

Then the other phone begins to ring. Only telemarketers use it, oh, and once a guy searching for his wife who left him. First he rang that one, then the real line.

Honestly, how can anyone in their right mind give their credit card number to an unknown voice on the phone?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ouch!

I'm having trouble with my neck, and the computer work isn't good for me, so I'll be restricting computer time.

Check all my blogs, since I won't be able to post to everything as often as I have been. And the politics is really hopping right now.

Happy Birthday, BOMS!

And a very happy second birthday to BOMS! Come to the party!!!

Half-siblings, mystery fathers

Men have been selling their sperm to make babies for decades. Close to thirty years ago I knew a woman who confided that she was a product of such a procedure. She may be around forty-five or even fifty by now. A second cousin had her only child through a sperm bank, which she considered superior to what she feared would be another bad marriage, or no-marriage which would mean no child at all.

I can easily understand how a woman would rather resort to having a baby through an "anonymous donor" rather than being childless.

The New York Times has a feature article about the issue, and the new situation wherein the children of these "procedures," a better term than "unions," are discovering each other and meeting, creating new types of family relationships.

I read through the article and was really surprised that the issue of incestuous relationships wasn't mentioned. It's the greatest danger, the most insidious byproduct of men selling their sperm without any way of tracing to whom and their biological children.

It's very possible that people may may meet, fall in love, marry and have children totally unaware that they are siblings, cousins or uncles-nieces, or even fathers-daughters or mothers-son, like Oedipus. There are genetic conditions that suddenly appear, which can be traced to close family members marrying. That's not even taking account that according to Jewish Law certain marriages are forbidden and certain relationships, which result in "mamzerut," a "restricted category of people."

In many families children aren't told that their father isn't their father. It's a very difficult thing for men to admit that their sperm isn't capable of producing babies, and in many cases, the father's and donor's sperm are mixed to create a situation that without DNA testing nobody really knows who the biological father is. None of this was touched on in the article.

The article only focused on the creation of new family groups when all of the relatives of the children of a single donor get together. Today's easy communication, whether SMS or email make contact easy, at least for the kids. The fathers don't seem willing to meet their kids, but who knows? Maybe within the decade they will.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Original Bloggers' Carnival

If I'm not mistaken, Carnival of the Vanities is the original bloggers' carnival. And this recent one includes a me-ander and a Shiloh Musing. So take a gander!

Long legs

There's something about growing up in New York, going to Radio City Music Hall and seeing the Rockettes...

My favorite type of dance was always what I'd see on TV. When I was growing up, there were all these great entertainment shows, like Dinah Shore, Perry Como, Ed Sullivan, and lots more, but the names just escaped my information-overloaded brain. The choreography was like in a good old musical, like Oklahoma! Guys & Dolls, South Pacific. I studied dance from the age of three until I was twenty. Most years "modern," some Israeli folk dancing and "movement" based on modern.

Of course the "greatest" dancers were the Rockettes, with their long legs and great kicks. This was beyond anything I could ever do, not being gifted with the right build and proportions.

I wonder if I'd enjoy seeing them now as much as I did as a young girl. And I wonder if after reading that article, I'd find myself thinking of their pain, rather than the thrill of the show.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday, already

It's Friday already. Can you believe it? I can't. Some things have improved. I had my first "normal lessons" at work. Some of my students are actually beginning to trust that if they listen and do what I say, they have a chance at actually succeeding in learning English and passing the bagrut, the standardized tests by the Ministry of Education. There's nothing like success to bring success, and my students seem to all suffer from terrible self-esteem and long histories of failure.

Two and a half months after the beginning of the school year, and we're just starting to establish some sort of trust and routine. I understand them. Why should they bother if they're going to fail? That's why I'm a firm believer in "homogeneous" classes, where students on the same level and learning speed are together. That's how I was raised in the New York City system in the middle of the last century, and I understand that they still compose the classes on that basis.

There's nothing more frustrating than a class consisting of all levels. The brightest are bored, because it's too slow. The slowest are bored, because they can't keep up, and the middle is distracted, because the other kids are acting out their frustrations. And the teachers are burnt-out from both ends and the middle, from trying to teach a minimum of three classes simultaneously.

There are those who say that there's a stigma for the kids in the slower classes, but that doesn't compare with public failure and frustration when trying to keep up with kids who learn at a much faster pace. The embarrassment of not understanding the lessons, while others are speeding ahead is the true stigma.

When I was a kid, we had over forty, yes, 40 kids in the brightest classes, and we all did well. If we couldn't we were dropped to the next lower class the following year. The other classes had much few kids, though more than today's norms in most school systems.

Just like shoes must be the right width and length to be comfortable and enable someone to walk, run etc, classes must be shaped, geared to the student.

Success brings success.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Weighty

Just as my friends and I are planning our very first Thanksgiving for Friends in Israel/Shiloh Dinner, Newsweek makes me feel guilty for eating.

It's not like we're planning on stuffing ourselves with stuffing, only. We'll have salad and vegetable, ok, and turkey and stuffing, and something to drink, and some dessert, and I guess too many calories.

But still, most of us do walk, at least a bit. And not all of us are car-owners, so we have to walk more than your normal middle-aged, suburban home-owner.

Though I must admit that I weigh a lot more than I used to, and I weigh a lot more than I should. Just because I eat only "healthy food," doesn't prevent me from eating too much of it. I get hungry just thinking of dieting, so I must just change my eating habits, which used to be better. Recently I've been noshing, an awful lot, on dried fruit. I guess that it means I need more of something that's in that dried fruit. I'm going to have to make some changes. Maybe if I eat more fresh fruit, and maybe I need some carbohydrates with my breakfast, like just one (how could someone eat only one?) slice of bread. Usually a handful of pretzels stop my cravings.

It's time to experiment and also time to take a major break from the computer, since I have lots to do this morning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Great Disappointment

This morning I was looking forward to eating an early lunch out with a friend. We were supposed to meet after my "swim," ok, how should I call it? My "session" in the water--don't forget the steamroom and sauna!

Well, she cancelled, so I decided to eat out by myself. I was looking forward to one of those fantastic, only 22 (used to be 20) shekel breakfasts in "Cafe au lait." imagine my surprise when I couldn't find it. I was sure I had recently seen ads. I kept walking up and down the street, but it was gone. Finally I remembered that I had seen some construction work in the front of it a few weeks ago. Then I found the spot, but another restaurant was in its place. The sign said kosher, so I peeked through the window.

How long do you want to be in suspense? Long enough? OK, I could see inside, and behind the food counter, where all the salads were, there was a man....Smoking!

That was enough for me, and I looked for another place to eat in.

And you should know that I'm the type to walk over to a falafel or pizza place, where the workers are smoking and tell them:
I would have eaten here, but I won't, because you're smoking.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

To Yahoo or GMail, that's the question!

I'm getting really disgusted with Yahoo and have been wondering if I should take advantage of the offers I've gotten to get a GMail account. I need advice.

Would I be able to transfer my address book? Do they allow more letters out per hour, so I could send out my "musings" and other articles? Could I transfer all my files and mailboxes?

Please! Help!

a high school picture of me


Great Neck North, Class of 1967
I still can't figure out how to make the picture larger.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

After 35 years in Israel, meaning 35 years after leaving the states, this is the first year we're part of a Thanksgiving dinner, including turkey. And so to get ready, here's a great Thanksgiving show!!!

Carnivals

Carvinals are a safe way of "surfing" seeing what's doing in the world of blogging. When I used to freely surf the blogs, by clicking "next blog" on the top of mine, or clicking what seemed interesting from the "recently updated" on blogspot, I discovered that too many are not my "cup of tea." Let's suffice with that description. That's why I'm happy to particiapete in the "carnivals."

Now I'm a regular contributer to two, BOMS and Havel Havelim, and even host "HH" every couple of months. Take a gander. BOMS is a general carnival of posts at least two months old, and Havel Havelim is the Jewish-Israeli blogging carnival. To find out what other carnivals there are, whether just to read them or to contribute, click on Carnival Forms.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cancer is sure out of the closet

There was a time, when nobody ever admitted they had cancer. Times have changed.

A Broadway star, in a musical which was about to open had a very different opening, when she discovered a lump in her breast. No secrets here. Maria Friedman took a couple of days off for surgery and then was back on the stage with a doctor in the wings.

One of my very first posts on this blog included how my friend was joking about the advantages of being "topless," after losing her second breast to cancer.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The 71st Face

According to Jewish Tradition there are "shivim panim l'Torah," "70 faces, facets, sides, opinions to the Torah." Now I'm no great rabbi or sage; I'm just a housewife who teaches English and blogs, so I don't consider myself one of the seventy. Call me the 71st.

For quite a few years, twice a year I find myself asking the same question and getting no answer. Every Parshat Lech Lecha, (Genesis, Chapter 12-17, 27) Torah Portion Lech Lecha or "Go," and every Shavuot when we read Megillat Rut, the Scroll of Ruth, I want to compare G-d's order to Avraham and Ruth's pledge to Naomi. They seem to cover very similar ground.

Avraham is considered our first convert and is called the father of all of all converts to Judaism, and even modern conversion is modeled on Ruth's commitment to Naomi.


א וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ.
1 Now the LORD said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country,

and from thy kindred,

and from thy father's house,

unto the land that I will show thee. Lech Lecha

טז וַתֹּאמֶר רוּת אַל-תִּפְגְּעִי-בִי, לְעָזְבֵךְ לָשׁוּב מֵאַחֲרָיִךְ: כִּי
אֶל-אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכִי אֵלֵךְ, וּבַאֲשֶׁר תָּלִינִי אָלִין--עַמֵּךְ עַמִּי,
וֵאלֹהַיִךְ אֱלֹהָי.
16 And Ruth said: 'Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go;

and where thou lodgest, I will lodge;

thy people shall be my people,

and thy God my God;
יז בַּאֲשֶׁר תָּמוּתִי אָמוּת, וְשָׁם אֶקָּבֵר; כֹּה יַעֲשֶׂה
יְהוָה לִי, וְכֹה יוֹסִיף--כִּי הַמָּוֶת, יַפְרִיד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵךְ.
17 where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the LORD do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.'
Ruth

Abram, in his pre-Avraham days, was first ordered by G-d to leave his country. Naomi had instructed her widowed daughters-in-law to stay in their country, birthplace, since she was planning on leaving and returning to her own.

In the verses leading up to the one quoted here from Megilat Rut, Naomi beseeches them to return to their mother's home and find new husbands.

G-d instructs Avram to go gradually, first from his country, then his relatives, clan and lastly from his father, who apparently, contrary to the famous medrash (legend about the idols that he made and young Abram destroyed) was on a higher level than the others. Lastly, Avraham is instructed to follow G-d's directions to a "mysterious place," "the place I will show you."

That last instruction is more like Ruth's first pledge. "Wherever you go I will go." She didn't care where, she would follow blindly, just like Avraham had been instructed. "Where you live I will live." She substitutes Naomi for her own mother. And the second last instruction from Avraham was to leave his father.

"Your people will be my people." That could parallel the "kinsmen" Avraham was supposed to leave.

"Your G-d will be my G-d." The verse in Bereishit, Genesis, begins with: "And G-d said to Abram."

All of the same topics, stages are covered. The greatest difference is that Ruth comes to this on her own, while our great Avraham Avinu needed to be ordered by G-d.

Whenever I talk to friends who have converted to Judaism about religion, I'm in awe not only of the great step they had taken, but just to think that they, like Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David, are on a level an ordinary Jew can never reach.

Shabbat Shalom,

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I'm a "BB"

...and what's a "BB?" A genuine Baby Boomer! It seems like yesterday when I was told never to trust anyone over thirty, and now we're approaching sixty. According to that "Newsweek" article, it officially lasted a couple of decades, but the truth is that the real BB'ers were born within a ten year period.

We're the post war generation, WWII, that is. Ten years after the soldiers came home, most were finished making babies. They married within five years of their return and then had their 1-3 kids by their fortieth birthdays. After 1956, the veterans' generation, whether they had served or not, had very few children. Children at that time born to much younger parents were raised differently.

Part of being a "boomer" for me was the over-crowded classes. They just didn't build us enough schools, and by the time they did, the schools were empty. My sister, just six years my junior had a totally different world, though she's just within that ten year span.

My elementary school, P.S. 46, was double session when I was in Kindergarten and first and second grades. First grade from 8-12 and then second grade from 12-4. The high school was finished in the early 1960's, Francis Lewis, and was full the first year it opened, though only the tenth grade attended. Then double session for the 10th and 11th and triple session when it had all three grades. I don't know how long that lasted, since by then we had moved to Great Neck.

One thing very true in that article is that my fellow BB'ers and I do like to "reinvent ourselves" periodically or you could say that we still don't know what we want to do "when we grow up."

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Finally!

That's a nice general title, because:
Finally
  • I went to the pool this moring for a swim, the first time since ours was closed early September.
  • after hours trying to answer, delete or delay (skip for later) dozens of emails on my yahoo account, there were no more new ones--still are the ones I delayed, but...
  • I increased my walking, ok just a bit, but that's better than the previous situaltion
  • I bought a scanner-printer; I got the HP 1315, and if you know something negative about it, please, don't say anything!!! I only want to hear good things!
  • I gave Hallelie her new hooded jacket from blue sweatshirt material. She wasn't terribly interested. When she was asked what was in the bag I had given her she answered: "clothes" and then when pressed for details, "blue."

And finally, I'm going to try to turn off the computer, put in a wash for the night, to be hung tomorrow and try to get to bed, becuase I really am very tired.

Good night!

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

More on Bell Park Gardens

Not long ago, I wrote about my memories of Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, asking if anyone also lived there.

To my great surprise, someone replied, my age, who was in a different class in the same grade and school! We've been exchanging memories and brought up the question of what famous people were around with us.

The actress/comedian, Estelle (Gittleman) Getty, of "Golden Girls," was a neighbor, and my mother got her into the Fresh Meadows Community Theater, and the rest is history, as they say. Her son, Paul, was in my class, if I remember correctly.

Ever since Richard Dreyfuss's name entered the news, another much more famous actor, became well-known, I was sure that we grew up together. This was confirmed by Linda, but I can't find anything about his childhood on the internet. ***I just did, but it says that he was born in NY and then...
Born in Brooklyn, New York, he grew up in Beverly Hills, L.A., California from an early age.
even though Linda heard that he was in PS 46 where we studied. Does he skip over the BPG, Bayside part, not as exotic as Beverly Hills?

Another question. Is David Ansen, the "Newsweek" writer one of the very talented Ansen brothers who also grew up in BPG? I remember about three brothers, one was Mark, who ended up skipping two grades.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Oh, well...

Oh, well, according to the weather report, it may not be a good day to hang out the wash. And I've laundered all these big sheets and blanket covers, which don't dry well in my dryer or the small folding line.

I've done a very poor job of planning today.

Maybe I should retire the fan and wheel in the heater. It's that time of the year, and some of my neighbors have already begun heating their homes.

According to yahoo, 80% chance of rain, so I ought to take the hint. Those white clouds, no sun, sort of telling me, that even though the smell of last night's burnt food, not mine!, will permeate the house even longer, or I'll freeze to death. What a choice. But the clouds aren't black, so should I? Maybe I should get dressed first....

We've Made History!

For the first time ever, BOMS is featuring a picture blog, the one and only The Muse's Pics! And of course lots of other great posts from near and far, so take a gander.

And more on pictures, I'm checking out various scanner-printers, not the expensive ones. There seems to be a choice between an HP and a Cannon. If anyone has experience with them, I'd appreciate advice.

Thanks

ps I like simple and long-lasting

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Havel Havelim #43

Jack has done a great job with Havel Havelim #43. You'll find lots of interesting posts from lots of well-written Blogs.

Enjoy

Can this be real?

How are we supposed to go on as if life is normal? Who can think of food, laundry, shopping and work? What other terrible surprises await? Who cares whether it rains or storms or the sun shines?

This disengaged government is ready to sign away Mount Zion. Nobody seems to care.

The newspapers may be ignoring it, but that's their plan. They print what the government wants. I even went to Jerusalem to protest on Friday morning, before Shabbat! So I cooked less, and the laundry got wet in the rain, and my husband didn't realize that he was supposed to take it in.

But I can't be silent! Even here on me-ander, which is supposed to deal with the more mundane issues of life.

Considering how the Israeli Government has reacted to the riches of our historic Land, G-d helped us liberate in the 1967, Six Days War, it reminds me of this past week's Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week, Noach, Noah.

It tells the story of Noach, who was the most righteous in the entire world, the only one whom G-d considered worthy of saving. G-d decided to destroy everyone else in a great Flood. Noach was instructed to build a special waterproof ark and gather male-female couples from all the animals and his entire family, wife and kids, and then enter the ark, to be sheltered from the flood.

Once the water receded, weeks later, they left the ark and went on dry land. What was Noach's first major act? He planted a vineyard, harvested the grapes, made wine and got drunk. And this guy is supposed to be a great tzaddik, righteous man?!? It's a good question.

What happened to him? Was this some sort of nervous breakdown? Did he revert to the behavior and values of the society that pre-dated the Flood, the one that was destroyed?

The post-Holocaust Jewish Nation finally established a state in 1948. Jews arrived from all over the world, and life was very difficult. In 1967, only 19 years after its establishment, the Arab world threatened it with destruction. I remember hearing the news that Egypt's Nassar declared: "We're going to push Israel into the sea." The UN removed all of its "protective troops," at the request of Egypt.

Then suddenly, the war began and was over in Six Days, like the commandment, "Six days you must work," and then instead of keeping Shabbat and treasuring the miraculous gift, the Israeli politicians began scheming to give away our precious Land to the enemy.

This summer's Disengagement was one of the most brutal acts of evicting, removing hard-working innocent Jews from their homes and farms and businesses and schools. And now it has been revealed that for years negotiations have been going on to give our precious Mt. Zion to the Catholic Church.

These Israeli politicians, like Noach, planted a vineyard of western prosperity and drunk on their riches exposed themselves and allowed their children to castrate rather than build a healthy vibrant, proud society.

Migdal Bavel, the Tower of Babel, man's attempt to join G-d in the Heavens was Noach's descendants' response to his escape to drink. And that's, unfortunately, where we are today. It looks like G-d will have to disperse us again, G-d forbid.

We must stop the government from giving Mt. Zion away to the Vatican!

Friday, November 4, 2005

that season again

Yes, it's that season again, when I have to say Baruch Hashem, Thank G-d, when it rains on my laundry, or my boots get filled with water.

Here in Israel it only rains in the winter, and we need every drop. We start the season with a prayer for rain on Simchat Torah, and then we add short prayers (ok a few words) to the daily prayers.

There are those who say that some of the American Indian tribes are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of the People of Israel. There are tribes that also pray for rain. I wonder how similar the prayers actually are and if it's the tribes considered "Jewish" that have those ceremonies.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Now for the Carnival of Education!

This one has a number of parts, and I'm in part 3, I think. Education is quite a topic all over the world. Take a gander.

How I do HH vs the latest Carnival of the Vanities

My grandmotherly little advice on babies was included in the latest Carnival of the Vanities.

There's a real variety of posts, and he put it together very simply. I always compare all these other carnivals to my efforts at Heval Hevalim, and even though I really got a kick of how he listed them including time sent/received, I couldn't do it.

I consider constructing my Havel Havelim editions like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle when you know neither how many pieces you will have nor what it's supposed to look like. With each link or recommendation I get more of a picture, but nothing's certain until the end. I try to match posts by similarity or contrast, and then I almost always have to play around and change orders and paragraphs. When it starts taking shape, I have to go through it anew every time a new post arrives.

And then I have the major dilemma, how many of my own posts?

Oy, such problems.

Enjoy and Chodesh Tov,
Have a good (lunar) month.

Madonna has a point here

I disagree with shaister, who has a problem with Madonna's statement that

"It would be less controversial if I joined the Nazi Party," the singer
told the New York Daily News newspaper Monday.

Honestly, and apparently surprisingly to some, I agree with her. That's because when I first became religious, yes it's, forty years ago, the reception of the news was worse than if I had fallen in love with a goy. Yes, my relatives who intermarried were treated with more understanding than I was. It took decades for my mother to admit that she realizes there are worse things, like her friends' kids who destroyed and lost their lives to drugs.

For someone like Madonna, who may not always have the best taste, but she's no dummy, the anti-Jewish/Israel ideologies are the alternative choices to her Kabbala. Look and listen to the other celebrities.

I'd love for Israel's Penina Rosenblum and Madonna to meet up and compare notes. Both women excel in self-promotion and have evolved from "porn," (how soft or not is a matter of taste and personal judgment) to people you should respect.

Never underestimate a blond--remember to check their roots.

Does exercise help?

It's rather a bad time for me to have read an article that supports exercise as a statistical prevention against cancer. I haven't been to the pool in two months, and I've been taking walks no more than three times a week.

This NY Times article concerns breast and colon cancer, two cancers that also have a genetic tie, which I don't think the article mentions. But these are also two cancers that are connected to diet--too much fat increases chances--so maybe that's the factor.

Another thing not mentioned, or at least tied together, is that exercise makes one feel better, more positive, less depressed, which gives a strength to overcome cancer if, G-d forbid, it hits. Statistically that has been proven.

So, one should stay fit, and I'd add that the exercise you choose should be of a social nature, with others, so if G-d forbid you need friends to get you out and moving, you'll have them.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

What is it like to be dyslexic?

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. There are many other learning disabilities affecting concentration, visual, audial abilities. This is not to be confused with actual intelligence potential. Many of those who suffer from learning disabilities are well above average intelligence. Also, many are extremely talented and use their talents to compensate and succeed.

In workshops for teachers and parents, there are all sorts of techniques to show us how words and letters look to those with "visual disabilities." Nowadays you don't have to go any further than your computer to feel dyslexic.

Many of us bloggers have set up "word verification" to screen out spammers from our comments. In order to send comments to blogs one must type in a series of letters and/or numbers all squiggled in a box. "My own" blogspot, which hosts my blogs, has a relatively easy process. It's easy, because it only used lower case letters, so it's rare for me to foul-up when commenting. Try it and see.

Yahoo, on the other hand, has made sending mail very stressful for me. They combine upper and lower case letters plus numbers and a squiggly line running through which makes it hard to know if I'm looking at a lower case c or e. I probably run a 10% failure rate. I can feel my blood pressure rise, every time I'm confronted by these challenges.

I think that all teachers should send at least 15 yahoo letters a day to have some idea how much some of our students suffer. The same goes for parents of dyslexic kids, but that may be even harder, since it's genetic, and some of the parents may then have to deal with their reading disability in addition to yahoo's challenge.

Don't condemn "laziness" so fast. First get into their skin.