Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Sleep- Suddenly Better

For too long, I had been waking up before my alarm, before dawn, and nothing seemed to help me sleep longer. Even when I was recovering from COVID corona I awoke before my alarm. Just to make sure I got more sleep, I actually turned off the alarm, except for days when I needed to rise early.

People keep telling me to take melatonin, which I may ask my doctor about.

When I resumed turning on my alarm, I made it a half hour later than before. Then suddenly, for no comprehendible reason, I began sleeping better and waking from the alarm. I've been sleeping more than I had been, meaning a normal night's sleep.

Davka this morning I awoke a half hour before the alarm, and that was good. A friend had sent a message when I was sleeping that she'd be driving to the pool in Ariel rather early. It gave me enough time to prepare, pray, pack and drink some water.

Thank Gd


Saturday, May 07, 2022

Dear Cousin, A Book Review

Dear Cousin by Elchonon Boruch Galbut, Mosaica Press, is a eulogy to his cousin, Brian Boruch Tzvi Galbut, who has passed away and is greatly mourned.

The Galbut cousins were part of a large Jewish family that has been in Miami Beach, Florida since the 1920s. In the 1950s and 1960s when Elchonon Boruch and Boruch Tzvi were growing up, the entire clan lived in the same neighborhood and spent a lot of time together, especially Jewish Holidays. 

Boruch Tzvi was a few years older than the author and served as his role model in sports, religion, school and more. When necessary, Boruch Tzvi was even called in to defend his younger cousin.

Elchonon Boruch tried to emulate his older cousin by going to the same yeshiva during his studies in Israel, but they were too different, and Boruch Tzvi ended up helping him make the connections to a different more suitable one, supporting him all the way. 

They ended up with very different professions, Brian Boruch Tzvi being a doctor and Elchonon Boruch combining property development and Torah teaching. Since they also lived in different cities, so they saw less of each other as adults, but like many cousins, they always felt connected.

Dear Cousin is written in an interesting format as "letters" to Boruch Tzvi interspersed among a fascinating narrative geared more to the reader. We learn about the Galbut family, which has been contributing much to Jewish life in Florida for many decades.  

I found Dear Cousin to be very pleasant reading, and I'm glad that the author has made it possible for us to get to know his cousin and the rest of the clan. Yes, I recommend the book. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Rosh Chodesh Iyyar Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh


As soon as Passover is over, here in Israel we get started on Holocaust Memorial Day and Memorial/Independence Day planning and programs. I don't forget to squeeze in Rosh Chodesh Iyyar. This year it's two days, technically, and the women who usually join me for Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Tel Shiloh have chosen Sunday, May 1, the 30th of Nissan, 8:30am.

תפילת נשים
ראש חודש אייר
שילה הקדומה
יום ראשון 1\05\2022
ל' ניסן תשפ"ב
כולן מוזמנות

If you haven't been to Tel Shiloh for awhile, it's worth planning on spending a few hours there. There's always a lot to see and do. For more information 025789111 and visit@telshilo.org.il.

Monday, April 25, 2022

What A Difference A Tree Makes

I trust you can see the giant tree towering over the orange tree.

That enormous tree, which had been growing as quickly as Jack's beanstalk is now history. I paid a neighbor to chop it down and take it away. Last year it wasn't all that big. I could easily hang out my laundry, which dried quickly, and it certainly wasn't taller than the orange tree then.

Suddenly, this year, as winter turned to spring, laundry didn't dry all that well, and that strange tree, which grew uninvited, began to take over the yard and barge into the orange tree. Before Passover, even though I was sick with COVID, I could see that it had to go before it strangled the orange tree.

Yes, it's Shmitta year, when we're supposed to give the fields and gardens a break. But when a non-fruitbearing tree endangers a fruit-bearing tree, it can be cut down.
Today my neighbor came over with his electric saw and got to work on the tree, which was actually two or maybe more like Siamese twins or a two-headed monster.

Within a few hours, they were gone, and I felt that I could breath. I hadn't realized how much that two-headed monster of a tree had taken over my yard. 

I immediately did a couple of loads of laundry and was amazed at how quickly things dried. Laundry hadn't been drying the past few months, and it wasn't because of winter. We've been in the house over 35 years, and laundry had always dried quickly, until this year. Apparently, the tree trapped in the humidity, dampness in the clothes. 

It's like having having cataract surgery... Suddenly I can see from my merpeset (terrace.)

Monday, April 18, 2022

Great KAR-BEN Publishing Books for Young Readers

I received a box of goodies recently from KAR-BEN Publishing. It included children's books on all levels, from toddlers to young readers. 

This first review will be of two books written for young readers. Both books begin with the main characters being bullied at school. Apparently, it's a big issue in the United States and including the problem and how to deal with it makes the books more popular and marketable. Another thing they have in common is that a parent of a main character in both books has passed away, which is a reason why their grandparents are helping to raise them.

The books are well-written chapter books, printed clearly with the added bonus of Jewish history, which don't feel like school work. Actually, the topic, Sephardic Jewish History, isn't very well-known. 

Let's start with The Button Box by Bridget Hodder and Fawzia Gilani-Williams. Ava and Nadeem are first cousins who share a Ladino speaking grandmother, who's their after school caregiver. Ava is Jewish, and Nadeem is Moslem, as the children's religions follow their mothers'. 

Within the family, the intermarriage of Nadeem's parents is ignored as an issue; it's just accepted, non-judgmental. But in school, which apparently has mostly Christian and Jewish students, there is prejudice against Nadeem, and Ava is encouraged by some of the Jewish kids not to hang out with him, a Muslim.

Ava and Nadeem are both exposed to their mutual Jewish Sephardic heritage by their Jewish grandmother, and that's how a magic button brings them to meet their ancestors and learn a fascinating story based on history. 

The Button Box is full of surprises. The success of Harry Potter has shown book publishers how much children, and adults, love fantasy. I'd also recommend reading the book out loud, chapter by chapter and discussing it.

There's a very helpful Glossary at the end, plus additional information about Sephardic Jews, Muslims and relevant historical background.

When Lightnin' Struck
by Betsy R. Rosenthal is another amazing book that kept me in suspense. It's set about a hundred years ago in Odessa, Texas.  James, called Butch by his grandfather, has a lot to deal with. In school a bully keeps attacking him, and he only has one real friend, Paul, a recent immigrant from Odessa, Russia. 

A few years before the story begins, James's father had been struck by lightning and died. Later on his alcoholic mother was jailed, so he began living with his grandparents. And then his beloved grandmother, a healer from Mexico with many secrets, passed away. Minutes before her death, she gave James a strange, secret and special coin.

When not in school, James keeps himself busy by helping his grandfather in their diner and spending time with Paul's family. Paul's family is different from the rest of the town in two big ways. They are recent immigrants and seem to be the only Jewish family in Odessa, Texas. That's how they end up helping James decipher his grandmother's secrets.

There's lots more to When Lightnin' Struck, because James is an interesting and complex character. He's an excellent student and had learned a lot of his grandmother's healing techniques before she passed away. All of this helps him with other issues, besides giving him a direction, a purpose in life. 

I highly recommend both The Button Box and When Lightnin' Struck and have already promised them to one of my grandchildren and told her she should pass them on to her cousins from her Sephardic side.

The Button Box- Product details
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kar-Ben Publishing ® (April 1, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 152 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 172842397X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1728423975
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 - 13 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 770
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 3 - 7

When Lightnin' Struck- Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kar-Ben Publishing ® (February 1, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1728420539
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1728420530
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 9 - 13 years
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 4 - 7

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Corona/COVID No One's Immune, Yep I Got It

Antigen test still positive
This was my failed attempt to 
"get out of jail early." It confirms 
that I'd been infected.
Yes, I did get Corona/COVID. 

Thank Gd, since I'm fully vaccinated to the maximum, it has been a relatively mild case. I've already graduated from quarantined to recovering, thank Gd.

I really am grateful that there are only two of us here in the house, and we have space, rooms, bathrooms etc. I can't imagine how those who live under crowded conditions manage to safely keep their distance.

I'm also grateful that the weather has been warm enough to comfortably keep windows open after an intense cold winter. My priority has been to keep my husband healthy. It has been strange staying masked at home, just the two of us.

Besides the awful fatigue and more congestion than I'm used to, I've had a pretty easy case. Fatigue is a problem, since even at my healthiest I don't manage to sleep enough.

I understand that I should be taking it easy for the next few weeks and not to push myself. At my age, that's a lesson for all the time. Recovery is always  harder the older you get.

Again, I thank Gd for my blessings, and this year, like the year my father passed away just a few days before Passover, I'll be doing minimum cleaning. I have to concentrate on the most important thing, the fridge/freezer. Stove top and counters need a cleaning and covering. I'm really glad that I chose the spare room as my first big project, so it was waiting for me when I realized that I was positive with Corona/COVID.

Stay healthy, and always look at the bright side.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

"The Hidden Saint," Book Review


The Hidden Saint by Mark Levenson is not my usual genre, and nobody is more surprised than yours truly that I truly enjoyed reading it. That's one of the greatest advantages/gifts to being a book reviewer, the books "choose" me, rather than my choosing them. Of course, I don't accept all offers, but I certainly try to be welcoming and daring aka open-minded.

I'm not really familiar with the "golem" and fantasy genre, but The Hidden Saint is so well-written that I was immediately drawn into the story of the young groom to be who later, mysteriously found himself far from home and had to create a golem to help rescue his family and correct his past sin. 

One thing that I really liked and helped me get into the story is that the characters aren't chassideshe mystical types. Rabbi Adam only finds the special ancient book with the instructions when he's in need of the golem, because one of his children has disappeared and the others are mysteriously close to death. There's a faintly ironic tone, which at least I "heard." Rabbi Adam wonders if he had properly formed the strange mute mud creature and seems surprised that he and his family are in such a situation.

The Hidden Saint is a book for all ages, young as well as old. And one doesn't need a strong Jewish background/knowledge to understand. It's written in English, not laced with Hebrew and Yiddish. For those who like this sort of fantasy, you don't even have to be Jewish. Yes, I highly recommend The Hidden Saint.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Level Best Books (February 22, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 312 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1685120504
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1685120504

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

"Only in Jerusalem" Bus Story

The picture illustrating this story doesn't show any faces or easily identifying whatevers, but I need a photo for each blog post. 

This afternoon I was on the #34 bus from Hadar Mall to Jaffa Street to catch the lightrail to make my bus home, which never showed, but that's irrelevant to the story*...

The bus was full but not super crowded. I was sitting near the front with my back to the driver. We were around the Keren Hayesod Street stop when I heard someone saying that "two seats were needed near the front." I saw people escorting a couple of blind men into the bus. Across from me was a man about ten years or more my junior and a girl who looked about 14. I told the girl that she must give up her seat. She looked a bit confused but got up, as did the man sitting next to her.

Other passengers helped guide the two blindmen to the seats. Then a message was passed from the driver, asking which stop they'd be getting off.

Across the aisle, a woman who was probably a bit older than me began a "silent conversation" with me just using our eyes. It was obvious that she thought the young teen should have realized that she needed to get up without my having to say something. It's very probable that the girl had never been taught proper "travel manners." Nowadays when so many families have cars, kids don't know that the front seats are for elderly and handicapped and that they are sometimes supposed to give up seats for those in need. 

A couple of months ago on a different bus a woman got up for me, and then she squeezed in with her children. A stop or two later, an elderly couple came in, so the woman and her children gave them their seats. These children are learning proper public transportation manners. 

I got off the bus before the blindmen, but I have no doubt that they were carefully and politely helped off the bus. Some days there's a bonus to traveling on public transportation in Jerusalem.

Is this an "Only in Israel" story?

*Although I was overjoyed that I got to the bus stop on time for my bus, the bus never showed, and I had to get home a more complicated way.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Memories of Israel Folk Dance Festival, New York, 1970

I'm someplace in this video. I've watched it many times even in slow motion and can't really find myself. My sister also danced in the NCSY group which I had led. I can't find her either, though she should be easy to find. She's relatively short. Ours is the Wedding Dance with the bride. 

The NCSY National Conference of Synagogue Youth was the youth organization that changed my life. By attending its events in the middle 1960s I became familiar with Torah Judaism. I don't like the term "orthodox."

I'm sure you can guess
which is me.
In 1967 I danced in the NCSY group when it was led by the legendary Leah Weiner, Z"L, May Her Memory Be a Blessing. In 1968 we didn't have a group, (Leah didn't head the group then) though we danced in the Salute to Israel Parade. Look at the picture on the right. The parade organizers used the picture of me and my friend for the advertisement for the following year's parade. 

After the disappointment in 1968 that we hadn't danced in the Israeli Folk Dance Festival headed by Fred Berk, I made it clear to NCSY that I'd be taking over the dance group. There was no way that we'd miss another festival.

In 1969 we danced a "Shabbat Candle-lighting Dance." My choreography was considered "horrendous," so the head choreographer put something together for us, and I had the "whip" the girls/dancers into performance shape. I guess I'm a better leader than choreographer, since we surprised them with a well-danced performance. We had been warned that if we weren't up to par, we wouldn't participate in the festival. We were also given tips for costumes and props. I may have sewn all the skirts, which we used again the following year. Possibly others helped with the sewing.

Now for Israeli Dance Festival 1970--
After my experience the previous year, I had decided not to dance with the group. It's very hard to make sure lines are straight and everyone's movements are coordinated when dancing with everyone. And again the head choreographer redid the dance. 

I didn't mind not dancing the "dance," because I'd still be dancing the in the finale. For the very first time, Fred Berk had the type of stage he had always been dreaming of. There wouldn't be a theatrical stage with curtains. Fred had always said that folk dance includes and entrance and exit. He envisioned a large area where the dancers would wait together, each group rising and entering when it was their turn. This was able to happen in Felt Forum- Madison Square Garden a huge indoor sports stadium in midtown Manhattan. And since there was enough room, we were to end with all the groups dancing together. You'll see that in the film.

Back to the NCSY group. Somehow we ended up with one too many dancers, but thankfully, two didn't mind only dancing in one performance, rather than both afternoon and evening. And I found it much easier to lead the group to "perfection" when not dancing with them. Being that this was my third festival and second time leading, I was confident that we'd do a great job. 

But... the morning of the performance when we arrived for the one and only dress rehearsal... I discovered that two of my dancers weren't there. They were both out sick. One had a bad flu and the other being checked for possible appendicitis. Okay... yes... and how did we solve that problem?

Even though I had never danced the dance, only supervised, I found myself having to dance. And even scarier, I had to lead a line, so it was hard to cheat and follow the others. But somehow I pulled it off. One of the sick ones felt better by evening performance and participated then. So I don't know if I'm in the dance part of the movie; though I was in the finale for sure.

That's the behind the scene story of the NCSY Dance Group 1970.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Pishers' Guide to Ariel #2 Conveniently Close to University & Bus Stops

Besides my entire Pishers' Guide series, I reviewed the Super Sol Deal loo here.

On the street level floor of the mall across from Ariel University, where you'll also find a drug store, bakery, FOX Home, Super Sol Deal, Tamnun, Golda Ice Cream and lots of other stores, there are public toilets. One is "regular" unisex, and the other is "handicapped," meaning the door is wider, room larger etc. according to standards.

Everything was pleasant smelling and clean. There was toilet paper, soap, paper towels and a ritual hand washing cup.

I was there just after 7:30am Friday morning before catching my ride to a Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions football game. It's a good thing I found that WC, because there wasn't any proper public toilet at the field in Ramat Hasharon. 

This shopping area is just a short walk to the bus stop to Shiloh/Jerusalem, which is also a popular trempiada, place to get rides.

It's always nice to be able to discover well cared for public toilets.

Monday, February 07, 2022

Hearing Aids Report #3 Be Prepared & Not Cheap


Hearing Aids case & batteries

You may find it helpful to read my previous articles about life with hearing aids, updates #1 and #2, plus mask-tying advice for avoiding COVID and loss of expensive hearing aids.

This post will have three topics, which I hope you'll find helpful. The first topic concerns us hearing aid-wearers all.

Be Prepared

As per Murphey's Law, one of the first times I left the house wearing my hearing aids, figuring I wouldn't be gone long, and since I wasn't far from home, I didn't take the kit with spare batteries. Yes, I got the battery model and not the rechargeable. That's what was recommended for Sabbath observers, since a new battery is supposed to last longer than a newly charged hearing aid. 

Obviously you guessed it. Almost half the time I was out, I was forced to listen to low-battery-warning rings in stereo. Since I didn't have my case with me, I couldn't take them out, either. But the good news is that even as they kept nudging that it's time to change the batteries, they still magnified the sounds. I should have at least checked the battery percentage which can be done pretty simply on my phone. Yes, they're connected via Bluetooth. Volume can also be adjusted very easily on my phone.

Hearing Aid Expenses

After purchase of course, which I'll talk about later, I have to buy batteries. They can certainly add up in terms of expense, and as I noted above, they rarely last as long as you were counting on. I asked around and was told that it's cheapest to buy them in large quantities online. Just as I was about to bite the bullet and put in my first order, one of my sons told me that he found a whole bunch of packs in a home he was renovating. The former owner has no need any more... Once we ascertained that they're the same size I need, he passed them on to me. I checked them out with the audiologist, who said that even though their date had passed, they seemed OK. He also told me what to look out for as a sign to throw them out. So now I'm set for the next few months.

Facebook Hearing Aids Support Groups

When I had my third meeting with the professional who tested and fitted my hearing aids he mentioned that I'd probably enjoy being part of hearing aids support groups on Facebook. Some are even specific to the brand Oticon, which I have. I quickly whipped out my phone and opened Facebook. Then I searched "Oticon hearing aids support," and suddenly there were a slew of groups to join. There aren't too many notices per day. Usually I ignore them after a quick read, and sometimes I even chime in with some advice. Hah! Me the expert! But to be totally honest I'm shocked at what American have to pay for hearing aids, thousands of dollars in many cases. People even get second hand hearing aids, which I find pretty sad, frightening and pathetic. 

Here in Israel we're all members of a "sick fund," and once we're recognized as needing hearing aids, they highly subsidize one pair every three and a half years. I paid just a few hundred dollars for the pair. And I have friends who got theirs for nothing from special "funds." They were new, not second hand.


I hope this has been helpful and am looking forward to your responses in the comments. Hoping to hear from you....

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Annoying, Inaccurate Idiotic Linguistic Oxymorons

We all have our pet peeves, and there are various genres for sure. Maybe genre is the wrong word. Maybe I should have written categories. I'd hate to start a rant like this with a glaring linguistic faux pas mistake, but thanks to Professor Google I've just discovered that the actual definition of genre  is category. Honestly, I never knew that before. Spanish was my Foreign Language in high school, not French.

Before I share two glaring ones, at least they're glaring to me, I'd like to invite you to share yours in the comments, please.

Linguistic Oxymorons

  1. "close acquaintances" which is a contradiction in terms. An acquaintance by definition isn't someone you're close with. If you were close with the person, it would mean that the person is a friend. acquaintance: a person whom you know but do not know well and who is therefore not exactly a friend. Synonyms: contact, associate, connection, ally, colleague. Actually using these synonyms would be a more correct way of describing someone you know, or work/ed with, but don't consider to be a friend. There's more distance in an "acquaintance."
  2. "knitted" sic kippot (yarmulkes)" Kippot are those small round head-coverings worn by some Jewish men and the Roman Catholic hierarchy, though they call them "skullcaps." Actually they can be of any material/fabric at all. In certain Jewish circles, especially here in Israel, a crocheted kippah is also a "political badge" signifying "national religious," those believing in Jewish Rights to the Land of Israel. In Hebrew the little "cap" is called kippah srugah. The problem comes from translating srugah into English. The Hebrew word can mean either knitted or crocheted, which are two similar though different crafts using string or yarn. Knitting uses two sticks and is best for square or rectangular shapes. Crocheting uses one hooked "stick" and is best for circles and ovals. A kippah is circular, so it's easily crocheted. It's pretty obvious that some man needed to translate "srugah" and looked up the word in a dictionary. Not having the vaguest idea of the difference between knitting and crocheting, he figured that they were the same, one more Anglo and the other French. This oxymoron has taken off. I've even seen it in books and articles where the author should have known better, but the world of Jewish publishing is dominated by men....
What's your linguistic pet peeve? Please add it to the comments, thanks.

Monday, January 31, 2022

From Hollywood To The Holy Land: A Spiritual Odyssey, Book Review

We live in strange times. The media keeps hyping a television reality show that follows a formerly religious Jew who traded a life of mitzvot for money, traif and fame, and here I am reviewing another autobiography/memoir about a Jew who discovered that a life of Torah and mitzvot in the Holy Land has literally saved his life, From Hollywood To The Holy Land: A Spiritual Odyssey, by Tzvi Fishman*. You can read my review of Miranda Portnoy's Making Meaning Out of Madness: A Jewish Journey, here. What should I call this genre?

Fishman wasn't trying to escape a life of disappointments, failure and/or poverty when became interested in Judaism. He was a Hollywood success, scriptwriter of movies that had made it to the screen, a published novelist, friends with celebrities and could get any woman he wanted besides "invitations" from those he didn't. And if he had wanted a "quieter life," his father would have set him up in business in The Virgin Islands. Most people would call that "the American Dream."

But suddenly Fishman's body began to rebel and he developed severe ulcerative colitis. The treatment is steroids, which made him swell up, and as soon as he finished the prescribed period of treatment, the bleeding returned. This pattern went on for months and months, wreaking havoc with his life.

Fishman tried all sorts of cures, diets, Indian master swami, yoga, holistic medicine and more, but none helped his body heal.

Then his buddy Daniel asked a simple innocent question:

"Why don't you know anything about Judaism?"

Fishman realized that it was true. Over the years he had studied all sorts of academic subjects, philosophies and trendy ideologies, but his knowledge of actual Judaism was virtually non-existant. Slowly he began to search and learn. Later on bit by bit he took on various mitzvot, and his ulcerative colitis became history. 

I can't do justice to Fishman's amusing way of describing his journey to Torah Judaism and life in Israel. You really must read it all in his own words. In person Fishman is as entertaining as his book. For a few years he lived across the street from us in Shiloh, and I know the family well. But Fishman never talks about his past, only the present and plans for the future. So it was a real eye-opener to read From Hollywood To The Holy Land

In addition to the great story, there are lots of photos helping the book truly come to life. We get to see what Tzvi looked like way back when, scenes from his former life and people and places mentioned in From Hollywood To The Holy Land.

From Hollywood To The Holy Land is highly recommended. It's very well written and the story comes to life, yes, like a movie...

*Yes, this is the same Tzvi Fishman who wrote "Arise and Shine," More Adventures with Tevye and many other more serious books.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (August 23, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 248 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1082429406
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1082429408

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Hearing Aids Report #2

I guess everyone knows by now that I sport hearing aids. A couple of weeks ago I wrote Report #1, so now here's Report #2.

The deal here in Israel is that we "try out" the hearing aids for just over a month. If they are disastrous we can return them and won't be charged. During that time we are scheduled for a couple of appointments to help us with the hearing aids. 

A couple of weeks ago, when I really wasn't feeling comfortable with them, I was given an extra appointment. I kept the one for today which I had scheduled earlier on, and I'm glad I did.

At my first Medton-Hedim appointment I made sure that I could ask for extra appointments whenever I felt the need. That was one of my conditions for choosing them over the competition. And BTW there's lots of competition. I'm sure that some of the other places also give good service, but not all work with my kupat cholim, sick fund. I chose them, because a neighbor recommended them, and I trust his judgement.

Today my main question concerned what I felt was the short life of the batteries. I had been expecting them to last much longer. As we discussed my use of the hearing aids, it ends up that my favorite thing, listening to music, Torah classes etc. is what uses lots of battery power. It may be worth using my old headphones sans hearing aids at various times. The Bluetooth headphones are easy to charge.

I was wracking my brain to think of something else to report when I felt the hearing aids sort of "moving around." They don't always stay in my ears properly. So I mentioned that to the technician. He quickly took a look and said:

"You may need larger buds/tips/plugs/domes." 

So he took out a different size and replaced the ones I had been using. He was right. They are better. They stay in place, so I hear even better than before.

Honestly I was surprised, but I'm glad that the staff knows their stuff. 

There was no need to make another appointment, though I was told that I'm always welcome to call and they'll fit me in.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Making Meaning Out of Madness: A Jewish Journey, Book Review

Making Meaning Out of Madness: A Jewish Journey by Miranda Portnoy is a memoir, though written in a penname, plus some additional "disguises." 

Miranda Portnoy writes of her very difficult childhood in a dysfunctional Jewish American family with a physically and emotionally abusive mother and difficult father, who eventually left them. Portnoy is closest to her grandfather, but is unable to save him from her father's systematic and eventually fatal abuse. It's made even worse, because the authorities refuse to believe her. 

Despite her toxic family, being taken advantage of by her longtime lover and a vicious conspiracy against her at the university, Portnoy somehow manages to escape to Israel where she survives and thrives as a Torah observant Jew.

Portnoy's story is one of those that sounds too amazing to be believable fiction, but it's true. 

During Portnoy's difficult times, she did find people to help her, a professor who introduced her to Torah Judaism and various therapists. She was even hospitalized at one point; that's how bad things had become. 

I found Making Meaning Out of Madness very readable. It's a well-written and compelling story even though the narrative sounds like a "horror story." I don't like the horror genre and rarely finish such books. Portnoy's innate strength comes through the writing even when telling of her most difficult times. She doesn't give up or give in to the demons who plague her.

Portnoy's life eventually turns around when she starts observing Torah Judaism, moves to Israel, and after one failed try, finds the perfect women's Torah seminary for her needs. It's a fairy tale ending when she's introduced to an amazing man and they marry.

Besides protecting herself by changing all identifiable names, Portnoy isn't shy about letting us know how horrendously difficult her life had been. I highly recommend Making Meaning Out of Madness. It's wonderful to read such a great survival story. 

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Booklocker.com (November 28, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 388 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1647188814
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1647188818

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Hearing Aids Report #1


I've had my hearing aids for almost a week, but I must admit that I skipped wearing them Friday and Shabbat. 

In all honesty, the first few days I wore my hearing aids, it was a relief to take them out at night. My ears had begun to hurt. Besides that, I had to keep checking where they were. I had discovered that they had "exited" where they should have been. Of course, bli eyin haraa the part with the battery was still behind my ears and under my scarf.

Friday morning I had gone to swim in the Ariel Pool and forgotten to insert earplugs. That's another new routine I must adopt, earplugs for swimming to keep my ears dry. So I just decided to take a break from the hearing aids. On Shabbat there was no real need to wear hearing aids. My study group was "cancelled for corona," and I haven't been to shul for almost two years. We also didn't have guests. My husband speaks loud enough. Besides that on Shabbat I can't turn off and on hearing aids, so they'd use up a lot of battery power. My ears definitely needed the two day break.

Sunday mid-morning I reinserted my hearing aids, and my ears felt better, though they still seem to pop out, though less. I made an extra appointment for tomorrow to check them out. One of the reasons I chose Medton Hedim is that they had promised I could nudge as much as I felt I needed.

Besides all that, you want to know:

Do I really hear better with my hearing aids?

  1. I keep lowering volume when I have them in, the tv, my phone...
  2. Suddenly I hear strange sounds. For some peculiar reason when my husband takes something from plastic bags from the kitchen, and I'm in the den, I hear what sounds like someone's grinding glass.  And even worse are the sounds that come out of his phone. I can't make out what's being said, but it sounds louder than the television. And this is when I'm in a different room.

  3. Inexplicably, one battery finished before the other. Due to the "magic" of Bluetooth communication before the hearing aids and my phone, I was notified that the left one was about to go "empty." So I changed that battery for a new one. So now the left is full, and the right at half.
  4. Pre-hearing aids I always had to make the TV louder or I couldn't understand what was being said. I'd ask my husband: "Can you really hear that?" And he'd answer "Yes." Suddenly this evening I saw him grabbing the remote and pressing volume. "Are you really making it louder?" I asked in shocked surprise. He was, so I guess my hearing has improved.
Do you have any questions for me about my experiences with hearing aids? If so, please ask in the comments.

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Better Mask-Tying Makes Better Protection


I'm not exaggerating to say that a very high percentage of those who wear masks as protection against catching of possibly inadvertently infecting someone with COVID corona wear their masks so loosely that they are almost totally useless.

Even those whose noses are covered, sometimes wear their masks very loosely. One weak sneeze and it's gone. There's another problem with loose masks, fog. Yes, since there's no real barrier between one's nose and glasses, for those who wear them, especially in cool weather we find our glasses fogging up.

And using the elastic behind the ears can be be quite problematic. Earrings and even hearing aids can get dislodged and disappear. 

Now that I've joined the hearing aids set, I have to be very careful in how I wear my mask. I now tie the mask with a long shoelace or jersey yarn from my crocheting projects.

I find this the best way to keep my mask on. It's not all that difficult to do. 


Let me know of your successes.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Hearing Aids All The Rage With The Senior Set

I've been enjoying multifocal glasses which double/triple as sunglasses for a number of years, and now I've gone "hi-tech" with hearing aids. 

If you look really, really carefully you can see a pale wire entering my ear from under my scarf. 

After too many years of saying "What?"  "What? I cant hear you." or missing out on important information or just tuning out, since what's the point....

Yesterday I finally got hearing aids. As I type this, I'm in shock that my gentle taps on the keyboard actually make noise. It's a whole new world out there for me. Since I got home, I've been lowering the volume on the television, my cellphone etc. 

Last year when I sort of mentioned to my doctor that I thought my hearing had badly deteriorated she disagreed, since I could hear her. But this year I insisted. So many of my friends who seemed to hear much better than me have begun wearing them. It was embarrassing at people's homes having to raise the volume on their TV's. Now I can easily raise or lower the volume of my Oticon hearing aids via my cellphone. 

To be approved for hearing aids and a subsidy to cover much of the cost, I needed a hearing test which I did in a clinic in Ariel University. Then I needed to be examined by an ENT Ear, Nose and Throat specialist to make sure that my hearing loss wasn't due to a curable illness. Finally I went to the Jerusalem branch of מדטון הדים Medton Hedim. It had been recommended by a neighbor; there are many different places I could have gone to.

At Medton Hedim I had a more detailed hearing test plus a talk with the "technician," or whatever he is. Then my Kupat Cholim, sick fund had to approve their subsidy. I paid much less than the "real" price. The subsidy is for a pair of hearing aids every three and a half years. Then I can get new ones if needed at the lower price. I paid less than I had paid for my latest multifocal eye glasses about a year and a half ago. They had also been discounted by the sick fund.

Yesterday was the day. I was taught how to insert the hearing aids and care for them. I set up the app on my phone to control the volume via Bluetooth. There's a lot to remember. Just like after getting new glasses, I was told to keep them in from now on except for sleeping, bathing, swimming etc. Of course there's a follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks, and I can always call to ask questions.

When I left the office, I was amazed by the sounds I hadn't been hearing. Then I went by lightrail to the other end of Rechov Yaffo to buy earplugs in the Speedo store. The good news there was that my points --really thanks to friends who use my membership when buying in the Ariel Pool branch-- covered the price of the earplugs. 

Next I have to get another new phone, because the Bluetooth in the one I bought recently isn't compatible with my hearing aids. One of my descendants will certainly enjoy that recently bought phone.

The joys of growing old....

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Sauerkraut Beef Stew


We somehow found ourselves with a can of sauerkraut, and I'd been trying to figure out what to do with it. For some strange reason, I began to imagine it with beef. Just to make sure I wasn't totally crazy, I did some google searches to see if such recipes exist, not that I actually follow recipes...

The recipes I found, and there are many, weren't at all kosher. They also required "slow-cookers" which I don't have. But at last I got some reassurance that people do cook beef with canned sauerkraut. Then I asked in a facebook group that prides itself on "real world" recipes, not those awfully complicated ones. Some nice people answered. They gave recipes/cooking ideas that also use "slow-cookers" or "cover well and bake in the oven," which I didn't feel like doing. I generally simmer beef on the stove for a few hours.

Now, to be honest, we haven't eaten it yet, but it looks and smells delicious. 


kilo plus of the least expensive frozen beef in the store, onion, celeriac, a few carrots, a couple of tomatoes, a can of sauerkraut, a bit of oil, coarse ground black pepper and a couple cups of water. 


  1. thaw beef
  2. soak beef or awhile in water, and then throw out the water
  3. put beef in pot with some oil, high heat
  4. add the onions, and then turn the beef over so it browns a bit all around
  5. add vegetables, sauerkraut, water and pepper, then cover
  6. as soon as it starts to boil, turn down heat to slow simmer
  7. simmer for at least two hours
That's it!

I plan on serving it with potatoes, cooked vegetables and salad.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Baile Rochel Wimps Out of a Swim, But Pumps Iron Instead

Our intrepid golden age athlete, yours truly Baile Rochel, can't handle the cold very well. Yes, heaven for me is sitting in the sauna or soaking in a jacuzzi. My only problem is that sometimes my gold necklace gets dangerously hot, but no sweat.

The past few weeks there have been problems at the pool I belong to. Not only hasn't the pool been hot enough, the jacuzzi barely reaches body temperature. Even before checking the posted temperatures on the wall it's easy to see the lack of thick cloud of steam hovering over it.

One of my friends who drives there is a lot more tolerant of chilly, icy water. I guess she still misses the icy lake water of the "old country." 

The other day when we arrived, I joined the parade of wishful, though cautious, swimmers and checked the temperature readings before even taking off my jacket. It was clear to me that not only was the jacuzzi too cold, but the post-swim shower would be freezing. 

Well, since I was already there in the health/fitness center, I looked for an alternative to sitting in the lobby playing with my cellphone. 

Even though decades have passed since I had stepped onto a treadmill, the high-tech gym called to me. It's also included in the price of my "pool membership" and has been on my "to do" list.

I opened the door and peeked in. Everyone seemed so busy and confidently "at home." I courageously walked around asking:

"Who's in charge?"

At my age, not only can a foolish move be dangerous, but some gyms demand proof of "fitness" before letting us "seniors" try out even the most gentle of machinery. When I finally found the instructor, a female who looked around the age of my oldest children, I mentioned that it "had been a long time" since I last worked out in a gym, but since the pool is cold...

I mentioned that I'd like to try the treadmill, so she showed me how to turn it on and off. For some peculiar reason, my body kept contorting, and I couldn't stand straight, but I soldiered on. I played around with the speed and incline, but I must admit that it felt a lot longer than ten minutes. 

After reporting to the instructor, I let her choose various machines for me. She instructed me in reps* & sets,* making sure to take out or reduce the weights/resistance according to her judgement as to how much my body could safely handle.

About a half hour after I had started, I decided that for a newbie* this was enough. I told her so and then asked how old she thought I am. She took a good look and answered:


I gave her a big hug and thank you, revealing that I have a daughter of that age. That's the best encouragement any one could give me. I'm seventy-two and not embarrassed to admit it. 

Gd willing I'll be back there, instead of one of my swims each week. And in case you're wondering, that night and the next day I did feel my muscles kvetching, but not as much as I had expected.

*fitness slang