Friday, December 30, 2005

Saving a life

I received this from someone who now has a donated kidney.

Proposal for increasing the number of kidney donors.

LIVE KIDNEY DONATION ideas
From personal experience by a donor

BACKGROUND
Tens of thousands of people suffer from kidney diseases. In the USA in
2001 there were more than 50,000 people waiting for a kidney operation.
Each year in the USA about 3,000 people die while waiting for a kidney
operation.

LIVE KIDNEYS ARE BETTER THAN CADAVERS.
Kidney transplants are about twice as effective as cadaver operations. The
advantages are indisputable:
---Live kidneys last many years longer.
---Live transplants allow thorough testing.
---More variety and choices allow better matching of donors to recipients.
---Hospitals can operate at the most convenient time and location.
---Live transplants avoid time pressure while the cadaver kidney is dying.
---Hospitals can decide who is the most suitable and worthy recipient.

There are very few disadvantages of a live kidney operation. The remaining
single kidney enlarges and takes over the work of both kidneys. Donating
one kidney does not increase the risk of having kidney diesases, as this
affects both kidneys.

SPIRITUAL ADVANTAGES OF LIVE DONATIONS
As someone who has donated altruistically, I have experienced many
spiritual benefits:
---The donor has great satisfaction knowing that they have done something
very personal to drammatically improve, and in some cases actually save
someone's life.
---The more altruistic the donation, the purer is the intrinsic reward to the
donor.
---This is one of the greatest acts of love and one of the highest levels of
good deeds that we can do.
---In the unlikely event that the operation is not successful, the donor still
has the peace and joy of knowing that what they are doing is right
---Such acts of love will develop respect and co-operation between all types
of people.

Altruistic donations do not put any emotional or financial pressure on the
recipient. This is the most noble of all types of kidney transplants. This
gives greatest satisfaction to the donor and greatest benefit to the recipient
and should therefore be encouraged by the medical authorities. The
procedure is very safe, easy and relatively painless.

THE WAY FORWARD
In the interest of people dying from kidney disease, it is important to
maximise donor potential.
---Each hospital would benefit from developing a procedure for kidney
donations which includes briefing the potential donor of the inconveniences
and timescale involved.
---Hospitals may wish to create a website on which they outline all the
information needed by the potential donor, including who can donate,
financial support during the process, tests involved, and personal accounts of
people who have donated
---Hospitals can use the website to explain how safe, easy and relatively
painless the donation process really is.
---Added to the website could be a discussion forum between the donors
and the hospital which can also have links to other hospitals and their
websites.
---To help preserve ethical integrity, the hospital could co-ordinate all the
information between the donor and the recipient so there would be no
chance of pressure or financial coercion.

DONATION PROGRAMS
---A "Good Samaritan donation program" can be established for people
wishing to give altruistically to whoever the hospital determines is a good
match.
---Friends and relatives should be supported in stepping forward to give to
their loved one. If, however, they cannot match their loved one, then
another process can be established such as at the Johns Hopkins hospital in
Baltimore USA. Potential donors should not be rejected, but can be used to
donate to a needy recipient whom the hospital determines.
---In this case, donor A does not match his loved one, recipient B. Donor A
proceeds to give a live kidney donation to a matching, stranger, recipient "C."
Because donor A has donated to someone, then recpient B should be put to
the top of the priority list and will soon receive a kidney operation In this
way, kidney donors can donate to anyone and still be helping their loved
one. This can also work to encourage kidney disease patients to generate
donors, and they would be rewarded by being given a kidney transplant
much quicker than usual.
---One other idea to encourage live altruistic donors is to automatically put
donors themselves to the top of the kidney waiting list in the event that they
suffer from kidney failure some time after having donated.
---Every potential donor will still be scrutinised through a series of
assessments by people such as a social worker, a psychologist, clinical
psychologist, lawyer, medical ethicist and someone from the government
medical authority.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT
---It is in the interest of medical insurance companies to support the
principles of live kidney donation. A one-off live kidney transplant is far
cheaper than years paying for dialysis. It is important that there should be
good communication between the medical insurance people, the hospital and
the donor's employer. Once the hospital has paired a donor with a recipient,
the insurance people can support the donor by covering their accomodation
and travel costs during the time taken away from work and then ensuring
their safe return to their previous employment.

CONCLUSION
Live kidney donation is the best solution for the recipient, the donor, the
hospital and the insurance company.

It is suggested that hospitals with no current donation program in place can
communicate with other medical establishments such as the Johns Hopkins
in Baltimore, US, (and other bodies pioneering work in this area), to share
their knowledge. Communication seems to be the key in breaking down the
walls that stop people from stepping forward to donate. How can we make it
easy for individuals to step forward to help with the incredible need that
exists in every country from people suffering with kidney failure?

I hope my own testimony helps in encouraging people to see the positive
side of donating altruistically, so that others consider stepping forward too.

For more information on how to search the web for a donor contact:
etzion76@netvision.net.il

yes, busy, hh

That's a sort of short hand to let you know that even if I haven't been commenting on blogs, I've been visiting, since I'm busy "composing/constructing" well hosting Havel Havelim. Last call for links! Send to shilohmuse at yahoo dot com

And now I really must get ready for Shabbat. Also lots of laundry to do, since my husband is back from Limmud in England.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Through the maze to Kever Rachel

It did seem like a maze, the new entrance to Kever Rachel, especially since it was our first time, since that part of the "separation barrier" was completed.

First of all, if you're not aware, Beit Lechem, Kever Rachel, aka Rachel's Tomb, is located just next to Jerusalem. It's like walking between Great Neck and Little Neck, NY. I used to do that to save money. Instead of traveling home on the LIRR, I'd take the subway to Flushing and then the Northern Blvd. bus to the last stop. Then I'd walk a couple of miles to my parents' house. Kever Rachel is closer than that to Jerusalem.

Since the Arabs increased the terror attacks a few years ago, Israel decided to treat the short road as a war zone. It's really weird, since Arabs and non-Jewish tourists walk freely, unencumbered by armor or any other defensive apparatus. We good Jews must go to our "mother's" tomb in a bullet-proof bus. Then we're locked in the imposing thick cement protective structure until our transport returns. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that the bus must have a soldier dressed in bullet-proof vest and heavily armed. Yep, that's how it is.

For the past few years, ever since it was deemed to dangerous to spontaneously drop by, the women of Shiloh have hired a bus to take us once a month, just before Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Jewish month. I go whenever my work schedule allows. Since it's Chanukah vacation, I was able to go this month.

Over the past year or less, we have seen the "wall" rise blocking access even more. It's not a straight wall; it curves, making it more difficult to find the actual gate. We thought we had followed the signs correctly but then found ourselves next to a simple locked gate. Nobody was there, no soldiers, nothing. So the bus made complicated moves to reverse and eventually find another gate, which was manned. There we were told that our first guess was right, and they claimed that there should have had been instructions. Or we should go further out towards Jerusalem, and a soldier would find us. That's what we did.

As annoying as these arrangements, regulations, are, it's far superior to the situation at "her son's tomb," Kever Yosef in Shechem, which Israel allowed the Arabs to destroy.

This month the bus was filled with 12 year old girls celebrating the Bat Mitzvah of one of them. The family, from Maale Levona, had decided to make the visit to Kever Rachel the "class Bat Mitzvah party" for their daughter. It really was a wonderful idea. The girls spent a few minutes at the tomb and then had a "party." The family brought lunch, and the girls ate on the bus back home. Mazal tov!

It's also possible to take public transportation to and from. There is a special Egged bus.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fitness

I always get a kick out of those fitness articles, like this one in Newsweek, which tries to tell you how to help your kids develop life-long fitness habits. They always leave out the most important advice. They are:
  • stop using the car so much
  • and take the stairs
We manage without a car, using public transportation mostly, at least when it's an option. I know that many places don't have public transportation. My parents don't, and I guess that spending my adolescence in Great Neck was such a nightmare, partially because I was dependent on rides.

It's important to walk places with your kids, as a norm, not for fitness. I remember when my youngest started nursery school, he was under three, being a November baby, and the class was a good mile away, down hill. There was organized transport to get there in the morning, but not to go home. And yes, he walked home with his siblings and friends. All the kids here in Shiloh used to walk such distances without even thinking about it. There were fewer cars then. Today I see lots of cars lined up by the school dropping kids off, even though the school is now in the middle of Shiloh, so much closer to everyone than years ago. You'd think you were in the U. S. suburbs. It's sad.

But at least here, kids walk by themselves to visit friends. "Play dates," organized and chauffeured by parents aren't necessary. I love seeing kids, and adults, taking all sorts of short cuts, up and down mountain paths, something unheard of in the civilized suburbs abroad. One certainly doesn't need a dog for an excuse or protection to walk here, bli eyin haraa, don't tempt the "evil eye."

And of course, not having elevators means that we take the stairs.

This is all the natural fitness that can last for life, especially if it's encouraged as fun and normal, rather than fitness.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

busy day

Yes, it had to be a busy day if I skipped lunch. It just didn't fit in. I had less than a cup of water after leaving home in the morning. I'm not going to go into details, too tired, but just the highlights.

I went to Jerusalem with Porat and her abba, my younger granddaughter and my son-in-law. He needed me to babysit when he went into some office, and I needed him to drive me to a couple of places.

When we finished those errands, he dropped me off near the Imaga hat factory in Talpiyot. I wanted to buy a new hat to wear with my new outfit to the dinner in NY. I couldn't find exactly what I wanted in some stores in town, so I decided to try the factory which welcomes customers. It's a real problem when I have something very specific in mind. I saw nothing on display, meaning lots of hats, but not "the hat." The people in charge there tried to help, and finally I managed to describe the type of hat I was looking for. Out came something gorgeous and different. I was told that the style wasn't even in the stores yet. Sounds good to me. And I bought it.

While paying I chatted a bit and discovered that the woman in charge was familiar with my writing. I told her that I always mention special purchases on my blog. So I did.

After finishing there I realized that I had better rush to the bus station, only no bus. We waited a long time for the #14, and then two came. I got a transfer ticket, so I could drop "Breakfast at Tiffany's" off at "3rd ear." When I was waiting for the bus to resume my trip, I suddenly heard a familiar voice, and it was my husband's cousin, visiting from the states. Then the bus came, and I just made my bus home. No time to spare and no time to eat.

And now it's time to sleep.

Baruch Dayan Ha'emet

I just got this message from friends

Baruch Dayan Ha'emet

from: RABBI DR. TZVI HERSH WEINREB
Executive Vice President, UOJCA

We regret to inform you of the passing of Dr. Abraham Luchins, a former member of the Union’s Board of Directors. Dr. Luchins, a distinguished psychologist, prolific author, and noted scholar is survived by 21 great grandchildren, 22 grandchildren, and five children including Orthodox Union Vice President David Luchins. The levaya is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, December 28th at Parkside Funeral Home, 2576 Flatbush Avenue, (718-338-1500) in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The shiva will commence at the home of Rabbi Dr. Yirmiyahu Luchins, 20 Park Avenue in Monsey, NY (845-425-5661) and David Luchins will be sitting from Motzei Shabbat at 11 88 McNeil Avenue in the Bronx (718-822-1216) Contributions in Dr. Luchins memory may be made to NCSY’s Ben Zakkai Honor Society.

We extend our deepest sympathy to the entire Luchins family.

Disastrous Evolution

It's legendary that animals are aware of "natural disasters" before they occur and manage to hide, to protect themselves. In the past year there have been more than the usual dose of disasters, both "natural" and "manmade."

Here's an interesting opinion piece from the NY Times about how even the animals have evolved in such a way as to be disengaged from the once obvious signs. Last winter even animals, which were once known to be more nature savvy, drowned in the tsunami.

Over confident government officials in the U.S. totally miss-read the situation on the ground, and thousands of people are still homeless due to Katrina and bad planning by the government.

And here in Israel, our disengaged people still are ignoring that Disengagement has endangered the entire country. Kibbutz Saad, a religious kibbutz in the south, is now complaining publicly that they are suffering frequent rocket attacks. They didn't care when Gush Katif was attacked daily, and they didn't care when the good Jewish farmers of Gush Katif were ripped from their homes and their businesses destroyed. Now they are on the front-line. What did they expect?

Did you notice that "Disengagement" and "endanger" have almost all the same letters?

Monday, December 26, 2005

What a BOMS!

Gary outdid himself. BOMS is just wonderful. Take a gander.

Still cold, but it's Chanukah already

Or should I say that it's freezing? I took a hot water bottle to bed with me. I haven't heated the bedroom this winter. Years ago we didn't. Of course then the house was fuller. I've been keeping the radiator on 24 hours a day in the living room, because if that cools down, forget it, I don't even want to think about it.

Saturday night I discovered that my usual sleeping socks didn't keep my feet warm. They were freezing so quickly you'd think they were being sprayed with quick-freeze, like in some sort of sadistic lab. And I was under a nice "down comforter," which wasn't comforting me at all. Finally, I got out of bed and added a second pair of socks, which wasn't easy, since I had gloves on, miss-matched, because I didn't have the energy to look for a real pair, and who was going to notice in the dark? I was also wearing a 40 year old sweatshirt. They just don't make them like they used to. And that means that I can brag that I still fit into something I wore in high school! It's one of those from either NCSY or Seminar. I was still pretty cold and began wishing that I had found and filled a hot water bottle. So, that hot water bottle was in my bed for the first night of Chanukah. Such a lovely "present."

I spent that pre-Chanukah day shopping. I wanted something really special for the Ben Zakkai Dinner. Since I already have, since previous years' sales, some velvet jackets, two Hagara and one Isha Isha and a long black velvet skirt, all I needed was a nice glittery top and maybe a hat. And since we had, thank the Good L-rd, lots of rain coming down, the mall seemed the best location for a search.

I'm allergic to buying anything that comes in large multiples, so I didn't find the "right top." And nothing looked tempting in Isha Isha. I think that the chain has become too large and the clothing rather predictable. Then I went to Hagara and tried on a jacket I had remembered from my last visit. It looked better on the hangar. They were having a 2 for 1 sale, meaning if I was to buy anything, it had to be even numbers. Not to keep you in suspense, I found another velvet jacket and "classic" blouse. Not quite what I had envisioned. Their clothes are special, and this is very understated.

I checked the time and saw that there was enough to go to town, to brave the rain and look for a hat. Four hat stores and didn't find the hat of my dreams, but I did get my son-in-law his Chanukah gift. I'm going to see them today, loaded with goodies.

I'm also teaching and not during my regular hours. I could have refused, but since I have two trips abroad planned for this school year, I wanted to be accommodating. But I reserved the video room. I have two movies, so there's a back up. Then there's a ride home or to my daughter's. If I go directly to Ofra after work, I have to bring all of the gifts and schlepp them around. But if I go home first, I'll get there later, obviously. Such problems.

Last night I got all the dishes from Shabbat washed, plus whatever I used afterwards, but I also made myself popcorn. I don't know why. Saturday night a friend came over to see "Breakfast at Tiffany's," which I had taken out of "3rd ear." I guess it's time to see movies I missed when younger.

There's still laundry to fold, so I ought to return it during my next venture to Jerusalem and get something else.

My hands are frozen!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Big 5 for Havel Havelim!

Great job! Daled Amos presents the 50th Edition of Havel Havelim!!! It'll be a tough act for me to follow. That's right. Yours truly, saying the "one and only" isn't accurate as bloggers go, is hosting number 51! So work up an appetite by reading #50. And send your posts to shilohmuse at yahoo dot com, preferably before Shabbat Chanukah, though the "final touches" will be on Sunday before publishing it.

Chanukah Sameach!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Shabbat Alone and Parshat Shavua Veyeshev

Another Shabbat alone, not that it's that frequent an event. My husband is at the "Limud" in England. Friday night I stayed home, very quiet. Shabbat morning was a Bar Mitzvah in shul. The Bar Mitzvah boy did a great job, but I wasn't surprised. I remember being impressed by his debut "An'im Z'mirot." There was a joint kiddush with a Sheva Brachot, post wedding celebration. Then three friends came over for lunch. And then I hosted our "shiur Nashim," Women's Torah Study Group. We've been doing this for 24 years. Each week someplace else. And for "Se'udat Shlishit," the final/third Shabbat meal I went over to a friend for a friendly game of Scrabble. No, we didn't eat the tiles, but we played and noshed with her guest. I came in a "close second."

And now for a "Dvar Torah," a little Torah Lesson from "Parshat Shavua," Torah Portion of the Week.

Parshat Vayishev, Bereishit, Genesis,
There's lots in it, especially about how Joseph was sold by his brothers, but I'm interested in his brother Yehuda and Yehuda's children. Much is said about how Yehuda's two eldest sons died when married to Tamar. First "Er," and then "Onan." Onan was ordered to marry her to have children by her to replace his brother. He sabotaged it by "spilling his seed." The reason given

" 9 And Onan knew that the seed would not be his; and it came to pass when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest he should give seed to his brother."


Now, this is a mitzvah and it was common practice to obey it in those days. So why did Onan make such a big deal. Weren't they brothers? Well, there's something interesting in the verses describing their births:

3 And she conceived, and
bore a son; and he called his name Er.
4 And she conceived again,
and bore a son; and she called his name Onan.

5 And she yet
again bore a son, and called his name Shelah

Genesis Chapter 38

Yehuda named Er, but his wife named Onan and Shelah. Could it be that the boys didn't consider themselves all brothers? And that's why Onan refused to have a child "for Er?"

And could all this and Yehuda's nameless wife, Bat Shua, daughter of Shua, have been a problem? Yehuda was supposed to be the "line" for the kings, and Tamar wanted to be part of it, just like Leah and Naomi/Ruth and Batsheva. When she didn't conceive from Yehuda's sons, she found a way to have a child, actually twins, from him.

13 And it was told Tamar, saying: 'Behold, thy father-in-law goeth up to
Timnah to shear his sheep.'

14 And she put off from her the
garments of her widowhood, and covered herself with her veil, and wrapped
herself, and sat in the entrance of Enaim, which is by the way to Timnah; for
she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she was not given unto him to wife.

15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot; for she had
covered her face.

16 And he turned unto her by the way, and
said: 'Come, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee'; for he knew not that she
was his daughter-in-law. And she said: 'What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest
come in unto me?'

17 And he said: 'I will send thee a kid of
the goats from the flock.' And she said: 'Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou
send it?'

18 And he said: 'What pledge shall I give thee?' And
she said: 'Thy signet and thy cord, and thy staff that is in thy hand.' And he
gave them to her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.

19 And she arose, and went away, and put off her veil from her, and
put on the garments of her widowhood.

20 And Judah sent the
kid of the goats by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive the pledge
from the woman's hand; but he found her not.

21 Then he asked
the men of her place, saying: 'Where is the harlot, that was at Enaim by the
wayside?' And they said: 'There hath been no harlot here.'

22
And he returned to Judah, and said: 'I have not found her; and also the men of
the place said: There hath been no harlot here.'

23 And Judah
said: 'Let her take it, lest we be put to shame; behold, I sent this kid, and
thou hast not found her.'

24 And it came to pass about three
months after, that it was told Judah, saying: 'Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath
played the harlot; and moreover, behold, she is with child by harlotry.' And
Judah said: 'Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.'

25 When
she was brought forth, she sent to her father-in-law, saying: 'By the man, whose
these are, am I with child'; and she said: 'Discern, I pray thee, whose are
these, the signet, and the cords, and the staff.'

26 And Judah
acknowledged them, and said: 'She is more righteous than I; forasmuch as I gave
her not to Shelah my son.' And he knew her again no more.

27
And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her
womb.


Behind every great man, there's an even greater woman!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Why??

Why is on the coldest, rainiest times when I have to go out and switch gas balloons?

Today, as I was cooking for Shabbat, I noticed that the flames were getting lower and lower, and lower--about to go out on the stove. There was no time to wait; it was raining hard, ok--thank G-d, we do need the rain--
and I had to open up the door and go outside, as the precious rain dripped dropped all over me. I closed the open gas canister and opened the closed one. And then I turned on the stove again. Nice big flames.

Too much to do. So off with the computer.
Shabbat Shalom

HH coming up

From Sunday, I'll be working on Havel Havelim. I volunteered to host the Chanukah edition. So start planning next week's posts, and send me the best, please. Not yet! Wait at least until after Shabbat or Sunday morning. I like to get an early start on these things.

In the meantime, send this week's favorites to:daledamos at gmail dot com.

Shabbat Shalom!

ps No I haven't done the shopping yet! nor the cleaning and cooking....

so proud of myself

Yes, I'm very proud of myself.

Last night I didn't turn on the computer. I've been wasting much too much time recently, to put it mildly. After I had an early dinner, I turned it off and went down the hill to a "bazaar" a neighbor was hosting. That's when a store or clothing manufacturer brings stock to someone's house for our shopping convenience. Since the host is always well-dressed, I went down to see if I could find "just the right outfit" for the Ben Zakkai Dinner. But the clothes on sale were junky, everyday for kids. Not at all my style. I'll probably end up wearing one of my velvet jackets, which I got last year. Don't worry, my closet isn't empty.

Then when I got home, instead of turning on the computer, I watched more of the "behind the scenes of Seabiscuit" on the dvd. And I finished the crocheting of the plum and white hat. I still have to thread the ribbons through it. Then I went to another neighbor who had nudged me to go to her house to hear a talk from someone about "Chinese medicine." I was very upset to discover that it was about Sunrider, one of those pyramid selling schemes. But armed with another hat to crochet, I stayed and acted as polite and charming as I could, under the circumstances. So few of us showed up to listen, that I didn't have the heart to leave in the middle. I got a lot of crocheting done. None of us bought anything; though I told them that after I finish my latest bottle of B-12, I'd be willing to buy theirs.

And when I got home I was a good girl and didn't turn on the computer. So I really am very proud of myself.

ps One Shabbat meal is settled, and I have to see what to do about the other, or I'll just eat home by myself.
Now I must get dressed, doven, eat and down to the stores to stock up for Shabbat and the week.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Local Boy Makes Good

Sounds better than Great Necker saves feet.

Sorry, Jeff, I don't think you ever appreciated my sense of humor, but kol hakavod! on your success with the special anti-bacterial fabric.

And for those who don't know the connection, we're both from Great Neck and knew each other way back when.

Shabbat?

must make plans
on my own
don't yet know
what to do

experiment--control

Now, let's see if this shows up under or over the "sticky" one.

weather dilemma

weather dilemma
of a more mundane
where's my weather vane?

thought I'd be efficient
but now I don't know
how? where?
to dry
the laundry
sitting wet in the drum

as my fingers freeze
on the keyboard
at least
turn on the heat

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

New York nuts?

I'm getting a bit nervous here about my proposed visit to New York in January for the Ben Zakkai Dinner. What's making me nervous is the weather. I haven't been in NY during the winter since 69-70. The following summer my husband and I moved to Israel. I've visited a few times in the past thirty-five years, but only in the summer!

Has anyone checked weather forecasts for mid-January? Better yet, don't tell me. Just please advise me what to bring. Besides boots and a hat to cover my ears and maybe arctic thermal gloves, what else?

Clueless, Education, Two Carnivals

It's not that education is clueless, G-d forbid. I just want to recommend that you take a look at two great carnivals. One is The Carnival of the Clueless and the other is The Carnival of Education.

Take a gander!

Small World

I just recently discovered that Ezzie is the son-in-law of old friends. His wife, Serach, is the daughter and neice of people I knew in NCSY. One of her aunts was even my roommate in Stern College. Considering how many of her relatives held the same NCSY position as I once did, National Financial Secretary, that makes us almost relatives.

As the "countdown" to my trip to New York for the Ben Zakkai Honor Society Reception gets shorter, I'm getting more and more curious as to how many bloggers I'll be meeting. Please don't be shy and introduce yourselves.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

No Fuss Applesauce

All you need is a good covered pot, a potato masher, some apples and cinnamon. Sugar, brown is best, is optional.

Peel, core and slice as many apples, of any variety, as you want. Put them in a pot with "not enough water to cover." Cook on a low flame until soft, add the spices (and sugar if you're sure you need it.) You may have to add a bit more water, but too much water will dilute the flavor.

Cook another few minutes. Turn off heat. Leave it with the cover on to "continue gentle cooking" for another 15-30 minutes. Take the pot off of the stove, mash and serve. It can be served cold.

Big Trouble!

I've been getting into big trouble at work recently. I can't keep my mouth shut. I can't stop complaining about the junior high kids allowed in the Teachers Room to get boiling water for their "instant lunches" or to heat their lunch in the teachers' microwave.

We are two "connected" schools, the high school and junior high, and this is the first year that we are sharing a one and only Teachers Room. In previous years we were separate and rarely met.

I like all of the teachers and respect them, but I can't take the constant interruptions of the kids coming in just as I'm about to start my workday. I'm on a different schedule, and their "lunch break" is during my precious 15 minutes of "Prep time." I admit to being slightly ADHD and hyper sensitive to movement and interruptions.

Besides that I firmly believe that there must be a "separation," a "distance" kept between the teachers and students. The students mustn't be allowed to observe and listen what goes on between the teachers. We, the high school staff, are careful to keep our students out, certainly when other teachers are in the room.

There are things in the room that are not the business of the students.

The school is large enough to find another room to be used for the junior high students' lunches, but then their teachers will have to take turns manning it, and they don't want to. Instead, they are letting the kids in and desturbing us.

I wonder what goes on else where.

The latest--HH and BOMS

The very first anniversary edition of Heval Havelim is up on serandez, who did an amazing job! It was definitely worth waiting for. And a refuah shleimah to Sera's grandfather, [Dr.] Avraham Shmuel ben Chana Risa [Luchins], (Uncle) David had emailed me that his father wasn't well. I hadn't realized that I actually know Sera's family from way back....

Gary has done a great job on the latest BOMS. Great posts from all over. Take a gander.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The PM's Stroke

I presume that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke is big news all over the world. I was on a bus going to Jerusalem after a few refreshing and relaxing hours in the Chamei Yoav spa. It has become a monthly event for me, and I go with the Israel Center.

Soon after we set off, one of the women called to the bus driver and asked him to turn on the radio so we could hear the news. I thought it was strange, because who wants to ruin our lovely mellow moods with the news? Then we heard it!

Special report from Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital!
Arik Sharon admitted with signs of a stroke!

Of Course the news report stressed that he was already conscious, upbeat, etc. We were "upbeat," too, though trying hard to control ourselves. Of course we're not like the Gazan Arabs, who had a big celebration.

We discussed the Jewish concepts of reward, punishment, this world and the next. Being a busload of frum women, we were very careful about what we said, trying to censor our thoughts, so they would come out sounding respectable and not go down to the level of "others."

We all die in the end, and we don't know when it will be. The true reward and punishment is in the next world, Olam Haba. That's what we all must remember. And G-d willing, Arik Sharon will do "tshuva," repent and use his power, his charisma for good and not evil.

Those JIB awards

Thanks Ezzie for the recommendations. It's nice to be appreciated. I'm not keeping track this year, but if anyone knows of my "being in the running," you can let me know.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

4 weeks

I have barely four weeks to get back into the out-of-shape shape I was in just last summer. Somehow some of the bulges have increased these past few months. I'm being realistic, since I'm not trying, not even dreaming, of looking like I did in my NCSY years. That was decades ago, and even my youngest child is older than I was at my last "national."

The reason I should stop noshing, even on healthy stuff, and start really exercising is that NCSY's Ben Zakkai Society is flying me to New York for
the 10th Annual Ben Zakkai Honor Society Scholarship Reception! I was suddenly, at least that's how it seems to me, voted into the honor society. I didn't even know there was such a procedure. In my day either you got in a year after high school, or you had to make peace with your exclusion. I guess it's one of those things, like the ticket machines for the LIRR that have changed in NY.

Everytime I go back for a visit, I feel like Rip Van Winkle. This time there will be an additional challenge. I haven't experienced a New York winter since we moved to Israel, made aliyah, in the summer of 1970. I really don't have any desire to experience a New York January and hope that the weather will cooperate. Please, G-d, keep the blizzards away until I'm safely back home in Israel.

My new winter jacket (no coat) is fine for Jerusalem and Shiloh, except that my skirts can get awfully wet when it rains. I hope it'll suffice for the visit. Ditto for my boots; I'll bring my cheap ones, which are more reliable than the expensive ones.

The "dinner" is one of those fund-raising affairs with a journal, and I know that I'll have less ads than anyone else, since I can't reciprocate like all the Americans. But it'll be a great privilege to represent Israel.

Any chance I'll see any of you there?

vanities, vanities

The latest Carnival of Vanities is really something special. Take a gander!

In two weeks I'm hosting the next Havel Havelim. I think I've improved from my first attempt. But then I see what others do with carnivals, and I feel so incompetent.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Refuah Shleimah, A Full Healing, to the Victims of Terror Attacks

Have you ever wondered what has happened to those you saw on TV news reports, those injured in terror attacks?

Sometimes the most horrific looking injuries we see on TV aren't very serious, and in a short time, thank G-d, everything's healed. Though sometimes the injured spend long times in the hospital, and sometimes they are permanently disabled, or have to suffer a life-time of medical care and procedures.

Studies have shown that the "cure rate" is highest for people who have been prayed for, even if the injured or sick does not believe in G-d and has no idea that his or her name is mentioned in prayers. The Jewish tradition is to call the person by his/her Jewish name ben/bat (son of/daughter of) the mother's Jewish name. If there's no Jewish name, then whatever name the person is known by. The person is identified by the mother, because a mother's prayer-power is the strongest.

One of my neighbors has taken on the very important task of keeping track, checking the progress of all of those injured these past few years. The list can be found here. She updates it regularly.

There are many people, some injured in terrorist attacks years ago, who still need our prayers.

It costs nothing to pray.

Friday, December 16, 2005

New blogger on the block

Recently, there has been a new blogger on the block. She's one of the best Jewish writers writing about real life. Yes, the one an only Chava Willig Levy blogs. Chavie's real life is pretty unique.

Decades ago we got to know each other very well, since our Jerusalem apartment was in the same building with her grandmother, the very special "Bubby" Willig, who made us part of their family. We were then a very young family with no relatives in Israel. As time went on we discovered that Chavie's mother and mine went to high school together, and they ended up resuming their friendship after discovering each other when they were both visiting.

So for a very special perspective on life, visit Chavie's blog.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I vote for...

...next year, or even later. Regarding digital cameras that is.

Yesterday, while touring the "refugee housing" of Disengagement victims, I took pictures with my real-film camera. While comparing cameras with others on the trip, I was gratified to discover that I'm not the only one who hasn't gone digital. The camera reviews, like the one I linked to from the NY Times, keep stressing that they are getting better and less expensive every year. So if you have a film camera that still works, keep it for as long as you can. That's what I'm doing.

Carnival of Education #45

Yes, here's the latest edition, with a very full selection of articles from all over. Take a gander.

Mundane Miracle

Yesterday, when I was touring the various "temporary solutions" for the Disengagement victims, I suddenly noticed that my left sandal was being held together by only a thread. Yes, literally, the stitches on the outside had totally unraveled, except for one. We were towards the end of our first stop, the Paradise Hotel in Beersheva.

Honestly, if we had just arrived, I would have gone searching for a shoemaker to repair it. But we were about to leave, so I kept my silence, just wondering how long the sandal would stay together. I had had those sandals repaired, re-sewn, already this past summer. They were very comfortable ones, and I had walked and hiked many, many kilometers in them. The big question: would it stay on my feet until I got home?

They were so comfortable, and periodically, I'd check to see the condition. Somehow, by the end of the day there was no change. The stitch stayed secure even as I returned home. Then I took off my old trusty sandals and thanked them as I sent them to the garbage instead of having them repaired again.

It seemed all so ironic on a day when I heard of how people are coping without their possessions. Was I wrong to throw out a trusty old sandal?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Seniors

I'm not referring to kids in their last year of high school or college, called seniors in the states.

I'm referring to "senior citizens." Today I was privileged to speak to the "Senior Club" in Beit El. It was established and run by my friend Debbie Klaff Dan. We were national officers together in NCSY when our parents were younger than we are today. Debbie and family (her husband is the famous "Herby's Bakery") moved to Beit El a number of years ago, and her mother joined them. That was the impetus for her to organize activities for the "seniors" there.

I had been hearing about the activities for years, and a few weeks ago Debbie asked me to speak to her group. I'm in Beit El for work three afternoons a week, so it wasn't difficult for me to come early and meet them.

First of all they're in a lovely building, with a nice meeting room and a small kitchen and offices. I didn't get a full tour, since the volunteer secretary is a good friend, too, and we were so excited to have a chance to chat before I spoke.

The group is old, and most have some "restriction," but most were alert and interested in my talk. I introduced myself by telling stories about what Debbie and I had done together when we were young, like dance down Fifth Avenue in the Salute to Israel Parade and dance in the Israeli Folk Dance Festival. Yes, we used to dance a lot.

Then I discussed the political situation and the upcoming elections. There were lots of questions and participation. I was very impressed by them and the whole set-up Debbie has organized.

I spoke Hebrew and English "simultaneously." I kept switching languages, sentence by sentence, since I didn't want them to get bored and lose interest if they only knew one of the languages. I also challenged the bi-linguals to catch me if I missed something.

They even asked me back.

You're invited...




I guess that it's never too late. Is that the right opening? Decades ago, after I had been a National officer in NCSY, National Conference of Synagogue Youth, of the UOJCA, I was not voted into the Ben Zakkai Honor Society.

Suddenly and totally unexpectedly I discovered a few months ago that I had been re-nominated. First of all I had no idea that such a procedure existed. I was certain that once rejected, always rejected, like a lifetime immunization. And there's no reason to play with suspense, I was voted in.

G-d willing, I'll be at the "big dinner" in New York next month, so if you can find it in your plans to attend, please do.

If the picture doesn't work, here's the text of the invitation:

You are cordially invited to attend the10th Annual Ben Zakkai Honor Society Scholarship Reception
Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 5:00 pm
Lincoln Square Synagogue200 Amsterdam Avenue, New York City
Reserve Online!
honoring
Rabbi Solomon &Esther Freilich, Enid & Harold H. Boxer Memorial Award
Shari Greenberg-Gold, Ezra Ben-Zion Lightman Memorial Award
Linda & Steven Brizel, Rabbi Pinchas and Rebbetzin Elaine Stolper Alumni Service Award
Special presentations to Ben Zakkai’s newest members
Rebecca Hochster
Irwin N. Lowi
Batya Medad
Nahum Zak
Hillary Zimmern
Featuring a guest shiur by Rabbi Zev Leff
Reserve Online!
VIVIAN & DAVID LUCHINS, Dinner Chairs
http://www.ou.org/

OU.ORG - Your Gateway to the Jewish Internet© 2005 - 5765 All Rights Reserved.Orthodox Union™Email OU.ORG

Monday, December 12, 2005

Grammar

I'm probably a rare bird, and I don't mean undercooked, for being able to say this, but I always loved grammar. It was easy to learn and made sense.

As an EFL, English as a Foreign Language teacher here in Israel, I'm seeing a definite increase in the difficulties teaching grammar. It finally hit me that the problem is that my students don't know their native tongue well enough. Very few of them speak Hebrew properly, and when I have to check translations into Hebrew, I see that their spelling is even worse. In addition they're only taught composition-writing skills towards the end of high school, making composition writing in English horrendous.

I know things are different from when I was in the first grade, half a century ago, but how different? I went to school in New York, in the public schools and we learned lots of language skills. How is it today?

I understand that the use of "workbooks" has reduced writing. It's obvious. There's no comparison between copying questions from the board and writing answers in one's notebook to filling in a space, or connecting lines, etc.

Recently I'm purposely forcing them to copy from the board, and I still have to use a chalk board, so I come home looking like a clown, with blue chalk on my face and yellow on my dark skirt. And in all seriousness, it's physically taxing for the kids. So I call them wimps and ask how they'll do in the army if a little writing is too much.

And the worst thing is that I'm finding myself teaching them general grammar that they should be learning in Hebrew, and I don't know the official terminology in that language. So they're going to hear a strange version and then not recognize the term when they learn it in proper Hebrew.

I have no choice, so I'll just keep trying and I'm always trying to pressure those who teach younger grades to make sure their students know Hebrew well before English.

Carnivally Yours

My two favorite carnivals Havel Havelim and BOMS are up. They are both chock full of great posts from far and wide, so take a gander!

Enjoy! You will, for sure!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

losing my mind?

I've been fridge hunting. No! I haven't lost my refrigerator; I'm just in the market for a new one, before it dies. My kids are after me to get a new one, so they'll have something else to complain about. Honestly, I don't like replacing what still works, but they keep telling me that if I wait, I'll make a bad decision under pressure. That puts me under more pressure, since this has to be PERFECT, THE PERFECT FRIDGE. I'm not the "perfect type." Why can't I just be me?

What I really want to buy and can't find, at least for a "reasonable price" is a bag on wheels. Not a suitcase or overnight bag, just a large "pocketbook" on wheels. I bought one in NY this summer, and I need another. One for work and one for errands. That's one of my organization methods. Separate bags, instead of having to constantly take things in and out. Or I'll just have to wait till my next trip... if my shoulders can take it much longer.

That's one of the reasons I go to the spa every month. Next Sunday, G-d willing. If you want to join us, call the Israel Center.

JIB?

Jewish Israeli Blogs

I'm afraid of deja vu. Last year all of my blogs came in dead last in every category nominated in the JIB Awards. So, as you may expect, I'm sort of ambivalent about it all.

Will I be embarrassed again? Maybe I should just ignore the entire business? Or just not take it seriously. Well, if I'm nominated, please let me know, but...

If you're still hungry...

If you're still hungry after the sufganiyot, you can try some of these recipes! It's quite a collection, especially for partying, in this week's Carnival of Recipes. And yes, we're included.
Baile Rochel

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Baile Rochel's "super-simple and almost healthy sufganiyot"

Baile Rochel's Back! #10

Sufganiyot is the Hebrew word for "jelly doughnuts." And I must admit that my version of sufganiyot don't have jelly, but they are deep fried, like all doughnuts. Only once did I attempt to do the "real version," and they were so disgusting, I never tried again. There are more enjoyable ways to gain weight. Fried food, deep fried food, with lots of oil fried food is traditional here in Israel for celebrating Chanukah.

Yes, Chanukah is the oily holiday, the grease holiday, because after the Greeks destroyed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, one small container of pure oil was found, and it miraculously stayed lit for eight days, enough time to produce more oil. Of course this wasn't the simple vegetable oil we cook, bake and fry with. This was cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil produced under the supervision of the Jewish religious leaders of the time. It was not for baking. It was for use in the Holy Temple.

That's why many Jewish families light oil menorahs (called Chanukiyot in Hebrew) during the eight day Chanukah holiday, and the traditional Chanukah foods are cooked, ok fried, in lots of oil.

And now for my "super-simple and almost healthy sufganiyot:"

You can half or double this or do any percentage you want. Just keep the basic proportions. You can use whole wheat flour and brown sugar if you want to get maximum health out of deep-fried food; don't laugh, but I only use whole wheat and brown sugar.

You'll need powdered sugar for sprinkling on the finished product, though no one will jail you if you eat them bare. I never buy powdered sugar. I just put some regular white--ok, I admit it, brown sugar can't be powdered--sugar into a blender, and it gets powdery enough for me!

Batter
2 1/4 cup flour, either self-rising or if not add 2 t baking powder
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, a low percent of fat
2 large eggs
1T sugar
1 t vanilla

a small or medium pot of vegetable oil, at least 3" or 7cm high of oil and not more than 2/3 the way up the pot

heat the oil

mix all of the ingredients

When the oil is hot enough to cook in, check by dropping a little of the batter in, and if it bubbles enthusiastically, it's ready, then you use two spoons to drop into the hot oil. Be careful, and don't drop from too high, since the oil will splash and burn you, G-d forbid! The two spoon method means that you put some batter in one teaspoon and use the other teaspoon to push it off and into the oil.

Don't crowd the pot, better make less at a time than more, or you'll find them undercooked on the underside and inside.

I must warn you. You will not see attractive symmetric balls. They will look sort of like strange creatures, related to an octopus. But they really taste good! When they're brown on the outside, and you may have to nudge them to turn over for an even tan, take them out with a large spoon and put them on paper towels to drain off the "extra oil." Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Remember to sample the first couple to make sure they're are cooked through to the middle. Practice makes perfect, so you may have to sample quite a few.

Enjoy, and remember that they can be eaten all year, not just Chanukah.

And please let me know if something isn't clear.

Friday, December 9, 2005

John Lennon

I had been debating about writing about John Lennon, but then I got a wonderful little "memoir' by David Badein, more known for his political muckraking and resource information. I asked David if I could post his story, he agreed, which is a wonderful one, and I'll tell mine afterwards.

Written on December 8th, 2005, 25 years to the murder of John Lennon, with a prayer that the quest of the late 1960's will never be forgotten in the land of Israel.

Remembering the news of John Lennon's murder while n a bus, travelling home to Tzfat, passing the hills of Mount Meron that loom over the Tfzfat-Meron Road, a pace of spiritual quest in Israel, a place where the Zohar flourished, where the message of the Kabbalah that the Jews would return to their land has been promised and fulfilled in our life time.

Remembering the essay that I wrote that we need a JOHN LENNON PEACE FOREST for the land and people of Israel to remember and to appreciate the spiritual quest of the late 1960's. The late Moshe Rivlin of the Jewish National Fund responded. So did Joel Glasier of Delaware, who became the co-founder of the John Lennon Peace Forest. The message of the late '60s was not only of rock, pomp and circumstance. The message of the late '60s was a spiritual quest, to think anew and to act anew, to examine one's life style and to question material motives of the space around us. Not simply to pursue a career, but to do something that would correct self-centeredness that we all possess. The music that accompanied that quest was best sung by the Beatles. Today, my oldest son, Noam, who was born in Tfzat and who has grown up in Israel, and who proudly served as a combat soldier on Israel's northern border, and who is now travelling the world, writes from Vietnam, after a month of travel to that war torn nation, that he met another proud people who fought for their independence, and that "This visit closes a circle. Your generation would not fight to hurt these people. You always explained that America doing the wrong thing in Vietnam brought you to Israel. Now I understand." You say you want a revolution. You know. It is in the heart of every person to be true to the inner voice and to an inner conscience and not to ride the waves of materialism and not to bow to blind loyalty, when your country does something which is wrong. To paraphrase the Beatles, ALL WE ARE SAYING: GIVE PEACE OF MIND A CHANCE. John Lennon was killed on Chanukah, which marks the first national religious liberation struggle from those powers who would not let a proud people live freely and independently in their own land.

David Bedein, Co-Founder, John Lennon Peace Forest, now a reality in the hills of the Galilee between Tzfat and Meron. Now living in the hills of Judea, remembering the quest of the late 1960's.

For my generation, John Lennon and the Beatles symbolized hope, because their fame and success proved that "anybody" could make it and make it big. In the mid and late 60's innumerable groups of four guys, three guitars and a set of drums would get together in immitation and great hope. Most hadn't a clue and should have sufficed with buying and playing records.

I used to audition bands to play at our "dances," and I got to know quite a few. Not long ago, my mother let it slip to one of my kids that I had even sung with a band. She remembered driving us to a gig. I also danced, even at the World's Fair, which was in nearby Flushing, NY. One of the bands had a gig in the New York State Pavilion and in order to get them "more attention," one of the fathers had the brilliant idea that we ladies, the three females accompanying them should dance on the stage. So add to my CV, go go girl. It was a lot more innocent than it sounds today. If I had done something to be embarrassed about, I wouldn't be mentioning it.

Back to John Lennon. One night a few months into my fourth pregnancy, for the first and only time, in all my pregnancies, I felt so sick that I couldn't sleep. When it was finally morning, I listened to the radio news before trying to get out of bed. Suddenly: FLASH! FROM NEW YORK! JOHN LENNON SHOT DEAD!

I didn't get out of bed that day. The girls were home for Chanukah vacation and fended for themselves.

John Lennon was a very confusing image. He projected himself as kind and peace-loving, but apparently his violent streak was strong. As a role model his drug-taking was also very problematic. But he had charisma. As we know, not all charasmatic people are good. Yoko Ono, his widow, has made a career out of their relationship. Both his sons have been left with demons to fight.

And we're left with his music, and "life is what happens when you're making other plans."





Thursday, December 8, 2005

Me, a feminist?

Honestly, I still have trouble admitting it, but I guess I am, at least in some, ok, quite a few ways. It's just that it my day, meaning when I was formatting who and what I wanted to be, feminism was pretty new and concentrating on bra-burning and careers other than motherhood.

Today the movement has matured and gotten more maternal. And I've changed, too, I'm sure. So that's why one of my rants and meanders was included in The Carnival of the Feminists! Take a gander!

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Do I rate?

There's a "best blog" contest here. I discovered it when checking out my ''visitors." I wonder if I was nominated. I don't have time to check.

Time for a Smile

Get yourself ready for Chanukah; enjoy this! And afterwards make your to-do list. Besides gifts, which the stores keep reminding you of, remember to check that there are enough chanukiyot, Chanukah menorahs, candles, oil, wicks or whatever you use. We learned the hard way, that the cheap "lighting olive oil" is junk. Also we found that the frugal way of putting water on the bottom of the glass, sometimes causes the glass to explode.

If you'll be frying, then check the cooking oil. Buy in advance. Maybe I'll put up my recipe for super-simple and almost healthy sufganiyot! Just not today, sorry.

Carnival of the Vanities again

Yes, we're in Carnival of the Vanities! It's a wonderful collection of posts from bloggers all over. Definitely worth a gander!

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

A New Face?

News is filled with stories of the partial face transplant. A woman who was maulled by a dog, and the doctors hadn't managed to repair the damage. It was decided that she would be a suitable candidate for the the experiment.

A number of years ago I remember seeing a movie, based on a true story of a women severely injured in a car accident. Her face was destroyed and she needed massive, complicated surgery. She couldn't speak, and her head was totally bandaged. She had spunk.

Eventually her face was reconstructed, and she married her surgeon. The opening of the movie had her applying make-up and looking like a very classy woman. Then it was done in flashback.

There are some very serious dangers in the face transplant. I wonder if they are different from other transplants. It's the need to take tons of medications to suppress the immune system to keep it from rejecting the foreign skin. According to the article I linked, it's only the skin that is transplanted not the bones and features. So people should look similar to how they looked before.

In a few days a good friend and a tireless worker for Israel, Judith Yehudit bat Tzippora will get a donor kidney. Let's wish her a refuah shleimah.

Poetry...

We're in the poetry carnival,
one and all

hear the call
of the muse

you'd think
I'd have nothing else
to do

Refuah Shleimah! For A Full Healing!

Please pray
for a Refuah Shleimah
A full healing
for Yehudit bat Tzippora
Judith Nussbaum
who is getting
a new kidney
G-d willing
on Monday
Thank You

To Baile Rochel From Malka Mishmash

Baile Rochel,

I, too, do handwork. Some time ago, packing for a trip to Israel, I cut enough wool for my needlepoint to be done on the flight, and packed the scissors into my suitcase to be checked. I placed the plastic bag with my partially embroidered canvas into my carryon bag.

Got to the airport, went through the x-ray machine, was asked to open my bag for a search, and, lo, and behold, there was another identical pair of scissors among the wools! I was asked to remove it and hand it in- my very special scissors that is used in hospitals - given me by a friend.

Before saying 'goodby' to my loyal instrument I looked at it fondly and noticed a marking on it - made in Pakistan! This was shortly after 9/11 and I had something made in Pakistan! Quickly, I placed it in the bin with the other no-nos - glad to assign it to another location - lest I be questioned as to how I had acquired it.
Whew! Safe! At least I could embroider on the flight and have my other pair of scissors at my destination.

Got on the plane, found my seat, buckled up, took out my needle-point and ------------the next thing that I knew we were in the clouds! The trip was wonderful --smooth, uneventful, and I slept for most of the trip, except for mealtime.

PS I could have packed the needlepoint into my checked suitcase with both pairs of scissors because I never got to do even one stitch!

Signed,
Malka Mishmash

Monday, December 5, 2005

Baile Rochel #8 I'm Embarrassed to Admit This…

Baile Rochel’s Back! #9 (not 8)
The 4th of Kislev
December 5, 2005


I'm Embarrassed to Admit This…
But I Crochet

Crocheting has not been my thing for a long time, and even when it was, it was nothing I'd brag about.

I used to crochet kippot (skullcaps for Jewish males) for my husband, who was overjoyed when our daughters took over. Mine never quite achieved the standard the "maivens" (experts) considered minimal. They looked homemade in the bad sense, like poorly done and not in style. I never quite graduated from that "first try" look. Though to be honest, they were light years better than my real first try. It was done from thick yarn, like for a winter hat and the decoration was embroidered on. Don't ask, and the guy who asked me to make him one is probably still embarrassed almost forty years later. Smart guy, he never asked me again!

Over the years, ok, decades, I kept my hands busy with all sorts of other projects. Believe me, there are times when busy hands keep the mouth from all sorts of evils, incoming and outgoing. If you want less food or less "foot in mouth", then stay busy with needlepoint or embroidery. I can't get through a staff meeting without something to drain my energies. I also found them helpful to overcome the boredom of flying. For years I did needlepoint, and luckily most of them took years to get finished.

Then two momentous events coincided, world terrorism and full walls! Yes, it was an amazing coincidence. Just when it became obvious, even to me, that there was no more hanging space on our walls, it became illegal to travel on an airplane with scissors, and I had to fly to the states. How could I survive ten hours in one seat without my needlepoint to occupy my hands?

The time had come to live dangerously, try something new! A few friends had been urging me to crochet hats, like they do. It had never appealed to me, since I don't think that I look good in them. And when someone told me that she had over fifty, a few per outfit, I thought I'd be sick. I'm trying to reduce possessions, like
Fly Lady.

Then I realized that I could always give them away… It was like what I learned in Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, how it's the "doing" not the "having" that gives pleasure. One of my daughters agreed to be a recipient, so I went into a yarn store, asked what to buy and bought some.

After that was the hard part, remembering how to crochet. Amazing, I did it. A hat is just a larger kippa, so it started growing and growing. When I was on the Long Island Railroad crocheting, a young woman told me how impressed she was at my talents. I was very polite and didn't reveal that I hadn't the vaguest idea of what I was doing.

I think that my daughter is getting tired of my hats. She has noticed that they're getting completed more and more quickly. So she suggested I try to crochet something else. "Something else!?! Wouldn't that require following a pattern, or thinking?" I replied.

The whole point of crocheting is to just keep my hands busy, without stress. I don't know what I'm doing, and that's fine with me.

If I crocheted a shawl, it would be too large to carry everyplace. I'm only interested in projects small enough to carry in my pocketbook, easy to remove and work on anyplace at all. The only other small thing would be socks, but if I crocheted socks, they would have to fit someone. And they'd have to have matching pairs. Just the thought and my blood pressure could go up, G-d forbid!

So I'll just continue with my hats, and maybe I'll even get used to wearing them. Or maybe I'll find more customers than my own daughters…

Don't worry; knitting is not in the cards. I can't imagine myself schlepping two knitting needles, poking people and worrying about fallen stitches.

And remember, it's lots better than noshing!

Baile Rochel
Copyright©2005BatyaMedad, Contact me for publication permission; private distribution encouraged.

BOMS again! Yes

Gary's BOMS is definitely one of the best blog carnivals, and this one is better than ever! Take a gander!

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Havel Havelim!

Soccer Dad shows us how it's done and hosts Havel Havelim this week. There are lots and lots of posts, and many are from blogs I'm not at all familiar with, so I'm sure that it'll be great to read. So take a gander.

"Good By Moon," scandalous!

Yes, you've read me right! There's an expose` in The New York Times! I never would have imagined, and there's a copy of that very same book on my "cocktail table." My sister bought it for my grandchildren. Of all the nerve!

Whom can we trust? What books are really proper enough for our kids and grandkids?

We were raised on those books even worse. No wonder we're...

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Why?

Why are the sunsets the nicest on Shabbat when it's forbidden to photograph them? It happens every week. If I walk around on a weekday with a camera, they sky is never as beautiful. Last night as Shabbat began and tonight, as Shabbat ended the sky was so totally and indescribably gorgeous...

Oy, who are we to try to compete with G-d?
And why collect pictures and other material possessions?

We have to learn to treasure what money can't buy....

Shavua Tov

Friday, December 2, 2005

Simplicity

Last night one of the local boys got married. For a change of pace, the parents made it simple. Israel is a (please excuse the spelling!) nouveau riche country and materialistic "excesses" are worse than common. Lots of money is wasted on fancy "affairs." Flowers and food are thrown out in such quantity, and of course money is wasted. Sometimes the logistics of getting to the hall put people in hysteria, since not everyone has cars, and public transportation gets complicated to most directions and "the last bus" is always too early.

So last night's wedding was very close by; it was in Ulpanat Ofra, the girls high school in Ofra, ten minutes away. For a pleasant change, I didn't have to arrange a ride; I just walked down to the "exit" and waited a few minutes for someone going. Of course when I got there I saw my next door neighbor who asked me why I hadn't gone with them.

The chuppah, wedding canopy, was set up outside. The dry Indian-summer we're having made it the perfect location. Another neighbor had set it up, minimalist and gorgeous. Simple and elegant. A few well-placed glass vases with regal white flowers, white chuppah... What can I tell you? It didn't need more.

The band was "leibedik", energetic, and the food was enough, not too much.

The young couple and their families looked overjoyed.

There were hundreds and hundreds of people, as one would expect from our neighbors.

MAZAL TOV to them all.