Friday, December 2, 2016

May It Be For A Blessing...

Here in Israel, the Jewish Holy Land, we take our rain very seriously. There are all sorts of prayers about rain and references to rain in our prayers. This part of the world was not created with an automatic yearlong sprinkler system or reliable irrigation and water sources. More than half the year it doesn't rain at all, and the few natural springs can easily dry up. With proper watering, precipitation, this can be a very fertile piece of real estate.

When we were on shlichut, doing Jewish/Zionist youth work in London, I'd get a kick out of the newscasts which reported on how many minutes of sunshine in London and other cities. Here they report how many millimeters of rain fell in the previous few hours.

The greatest fireman in action!
Heavy heavy rain across Israel now especially in Haifa area where the wildfires were at their largest. #MoridHageshem, Facebook

And after a dry spell, we don't want a long, heavy rain, because there are always lots of car accidents on the suddenly slippery roads. Rain, dust, sand and oil are a bad combination. Also, too heavy a rain on parched soil just wipes away the top soil and causes damage. So, the way the rains have fallen this week is good. First we had a bit of rain, just enough to soften the earth and wipe the dust off of our roads and solar panels, without flooding all the bad stuff (potential pollution) from the fires and now we've received a heavier rain to water the crops, refill fresh water springs and the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, Israel's major water source.

Also here in the Holy Land, our timing and quantity of rains/precipitation are a blessing or punishment from Gd for our, as a People, behavior. Sins cause droughts and floods, while living according to the mitzvot Gd commanded us will bring rain in its season and the best quantities.

And one of the lessons/reminders from Gd about these recent aishtafada fires is that although with modern technology we can purify enough water for agriculture and even drinking, but we can't protect our forests and homes from fire without enough rain. Too many times recently I've read rather sacrilegious stuff about our no longer being dependent on rain for sufficient water. All the damage was a reminder of how much we need the rain that only Gd can give.

As much as I hate having the clothes drying in the living-room, it's a small price to pay for the needed rain. So, let your smile be your umbrella, thank Gd, bundle up and enjoy.

Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorach!
May you have a Peaceful and Blessed Shabbat!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sunset on Way to the Israel Museum

One of my favorite places to photograph, let's say #2 after Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, is the Israel Museum. The other day I ended up walking in just as the sun was setting, and here are some of the photos I took:

It's also the location of a very good and reasonably priced dairy coffee shop/restaurant, Mansfeld, in the entrance area; no need to pay entrance fee to eat in the restaurant. Parking is free, and there are a few bus lines that go there.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Spontaneous Crack

Those of you who follow my coffee posts are familiar with my large glass mugs. I drink my water and coffee in them every day. I have two, or should I say I had two.

When I came back from work the other day and went to finish my mid-morning tea, I discovered that the  mug had somehow cracked. It was fine when I left it. I guess some "crack elves" were at work while I was teaching and shopping.

Now I'm down to one and will have to buy a couple of new ones. This does happen periodically. But it has never happened quite like this.
Kapora! Better the mug than health!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New Coffee

A friend is my usual coffee supplier and gave me a new one which I just opened a few days ago. It's a brand I've never had, so I was curious to try it.

I had never had Kirkland before. That's the Costco brand. It's OK, but not as strong as some coffees I've had, so I add more to the French Press. It could be that since it's "medium roast" and not "dark roast," it's not very strong.

An extra spoon of coffee does the trick for me. And it sure smells good.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Planned Post Seems Embarrassingly Trivial

I was all set to post about the fact that I just noticed that not only had my blogroll disappeared a few months ago, but apparently my list of book reviews had also taken a hike. Or "blogger" ate them. I wanted to find the link to one of the reviews, and suddenly I couldn't find the list.

The past few months I've been trying to replace or remake my list of blogs, which is hard work. If I don't get it as complete as it once was, it's not a tragedy. There's always a dynamic in blog rolls. They change. But there's no way I can reproduce, remember all the books I've reviewed.

And while thinking of exactly what to write about it I was on Facebook and saw the post and pictures about the artist  Yoram Raanan's loss of decades of work in the aishtafada, the terrorist arson attack.


And as difficult as the fire has been for some people, families and communities, there has also been a great miracle. So far, bli eyin haraa, no lives were lost directly due to the fire. There are fires that kill and main, and while the terrorists who are responsible for this aishtafada have destroyed property, so far, bli eyin haraa, they haven't killed anyone.

And I stopped myself from writing that the destruction of Raanan's pictures is like a death, because no matter how unpleasant and painful, it isn't like a death. Sometimes we use the work "death" too easily.

Gd made a great miracle here in the Holy Land.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Camera's Missing*, but Compared to What Others have Lost...

This morning the big yellow sun called to me for a picture. I went to get my camera, and it wasn't there. So I tried all sorts of the usual hideouts, and I couldn't find my red Canon IXUS 145 😕😟.

Believe me, I'm not the type to lose and misplace things. I checked every possible place.  It's not the end of the world, really. I still have my phone, bli eyin haraa, not to tempt the evil eye... and the camera may show up, of course.

But even more important to remember is that over the past few days many Israeli homes have burnt to a crisp or sustained so much damage, that something like a camera is just history and one of the most easily replaceable items of the horrendous amount lost.

Mateh Binyamin, Benjamin County website
Mateh Binyamin, Benjamin County website
May Gd quickly send rain to put out the flames, and may those flames turn on the terrorist arsonists who lit them.

*PS I did find my camera. I suddenly remembered that I had put it with my phone, on the shelf over my bed. Prior to that I had remembered that it was around right before Shabbat and that it was in a place not usually placed. May Gd help those with real problems!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Now That I'm Back in the Teaching "Saddle," Some Tricks #1

It's funny how natural it has been for me to be back teaching high school boys, those who had never really gotten the fundamentals of English. During the decade plus I had taught in Beit El, I developed a lot of methods to teach reading that sometimes work with those who had never succeeded before. It's very phonetic, but not as detailed and tedious as the Hickey Method which can take eons to finish.

When I find myself with a group of 9th graders who still can't read English I need a solution and fast. There's no book that works quickly and suits our needs, the students and mine. Of course teaching vocabulary is even a great challenge, but this year one of my students is davka an English speaker, so the plan is to get him reading, and then by the end of the year he can go up a few groups to a much higher level. And for the others, I have the two challenges, reading and comprehension.

This year, I'm having major problems with the paperwork necessary for teaching, the lesson plans and the records etc. When I had done tutoring, after leaving the classroom almost ten years ago, I didn't need to keep records. The kids would come with their notebooks etc, and I'd continue with whatever was needed. Sometimes I'd have to prepare a bit, but nothing very complicated.

Now I've been photographing the board to keep a record of what I had taught.

I also printed out a page of the alphabet for all my students, and we mark off each letter learned:
Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Jj, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo,
Pp, Qq, Rr, Ss, Tt, Uu, Vv, Ww, Xx, Yy, (Yy), ZzCh, ch, -gh, Ph, ph, Sh, sh, Th, th

And as you can see from the photos above I teach the long and short vowels together. I don't call them "long and short," because the terms make no sense, neither in English nor in Hebrew for sure. I call them "strong and weak." Think of the use of muscles when vowels are "long" versus "short."

Also when you start off teaching them that an "A" is "ah," they have trouble when weeks or months later, you suddenly expect them to learn that "A" is also "aye." It's much easier in the long run to teach both at the same time, and then they know from the beginning that vowels do more than one thing.

I've labeled this post as "#1," because if you like it, I'll write more about my methods.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Like in The Movies

To let you in on a secret, I love those sentimental and kitschy sports movies, like "Remember The Titans" and "Seabiscuit" and a host of others I can't think of at this moment so early in the morning. Yes, Rocky the whole never ending series, too, like most of the world.

This year's World Series, when the Chicago Clubs came from an impossible 3-1 series loss to win it 4-3, is probably already in the works as a movie to two, or more.

So last night as half-time got close, in the always colder than expected Mishor Adumim sports field, my chauffeur and also the other mother who comes to cheer both felt that watching our beloved Jerusalem Big Blue Lions tackle football team lose yet again to the Judean Rebels, in a preseason game, just wasn't worth it, I agreed to leave and go home. I just said:
"Let's wait until half time, so we can at least say goodbye."
And so we left. The score at that time was 28:6 to the Rebels. And the game we had left had looked so much like all the other games against the Rebels even though this one didn't have their former star Dani Eastman and his father the coach at the helm. So, we just figured that freezing and watching yet another defeat, especially when this one didn't even count in final league standings, wouldn't be worth risking illness. I was dropped off at the "city-line," aka Hisme/Jerusalem checkpoint and immediately caught a ride to Ofra and then to Shvut Rachel where I walked down with a friend to my house via the caravan neighborhood.

When I got home and turned on my computer, nobody was more surprised than me, when I saw this video titled ניצחון ענק! NITZACHON ANAK! GREAT VICTORY! on Facebook:
Apparently, yes, just like in the movies, the coach, aka my younger son, inspired the Lions to shape up and do their thing and WIN, which they did by scoring another 24 points, davka, in the fourth quarter and not letting the Rebels even one! Yes, the final score was a whopping and amazing 30:28!

OK, the tackle football played here in Israel may not have the same skill and speed as the NFL, but it's here and a lot of fun.

Join us to cheer on the Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions to victory this year, Gd willing!

Here's the schedule, click.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Coney Island Knishes in Jerusalem

I must admit that I wasn't raised on knishes, but the other day while walking on Jerusalem's Jaffa Street, I stopped into the Coney Island, meal, snack, pretty much anything at great prices food place, see my post: Best Sandwich Deal in Jerusalem, NS10, and ended up getting a couple of knishes.

One was classic potato, and the other was spinach. Admittedly, I'm not a real knish-maven, but I was raised on Jewish-Ashkenaz food in New York. I have memories of potato and kasha knishes, but not spinach ones. I ate the potato one on the spot, and it was OK but I'm not a potato fan at all. I was just very hungry and needed an energy boost-- eeks! I really didn't need all those calories.

There were so many delicious and lower calorie foods to choose from, but after teaching I needed a treat. They provide friendly service and even have salads. But I rationalized that I needed to blog for people who aren't on perennial diets also. Right?

By the time I finished the potato knish I really wasn't hungry. It's not like having chocolate or one of their gorgeous and tempting cupcakes, which I still haven't tried, which always whet the appetite and makes you want even more. The knish is food and satisfying.

So, I stored the spinach knish in my friend's fridge and then took it with me the next day. I ended up heating up in the Teachers Room and eating it as a very necessary pre-lunch snack, since breakfast had been super early and lunch wasn't going to be for a couple of hours. I gave it good heating in the microwave.

And it was truly delicious.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Breaking Rules for A Change

This week 52Frames told us to Break the Rules. Actually it's a bit harder than it seems, since you have to know rules to break them. And I'm no real photography expert.

I ended up choosing this picture I took from a bus. The bus's dirty window gave the scene an interesting look, which I liked. What do you think?

"Through a Dirty Bus Window"
The dirt on the window makes it look like a snow flurry or someone had had a pillow fight out there. So many times a great scene is ruined by dirty windows, but this week we've been told to break the rules...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Even More #morningcoffeehaiku

Well, I'm not OCD about it, but I really have been writing coffee haikus on facebook daily, usually illustrated by the day's brew and a sunrise. So, here are some new ones for  #morningcoffeehaiku.

Too dark for coffee
but had to get up early
sorry cam'ra shook

First coffee of week
first sunrise looking good too
enjoy gifts Gd gives

Goodbye morning moon
sun is rising just beyond
drinking my coffee

sunrise is faded
but who cares when coffee's strong?
Thank Gd for caffeine

roses fade not coffee
coffee gives me energy
bottoms up, great day

sipping my coffee
trying to wake myself up
some nights aren't great

sneaking more coffee
French Press much too small for me
need an eight cup one

Best morning view, nu?
Sunrise or mug of coffee?
Tough call. Isn't it?

Up before the dawn
my body got used to it
coffee will be soon

Join us for a mug of energy.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Where's the Rain?

The good news is that I can hang out the wash, and it dries quickly, but the bad news is that we really need rain. Here's yesterday's sky.

I wonder if today will be the same...

Remember that the amount and quality of the rainfall here is given by Gd either as a blessing or a punishment.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Never Say Never!

It has taken me a few weeks to blog this. I really can't believe what I'm working at, yet, again. After leaving teaching almost ten years ago, I'm back in that difficult, uncomfortable saddle. Yes, I'm back to teaching EFL high school English to boys, weak students, "false starters," according to the still popular euphemism, MLD* or just plain ornery** and disinterested.

Boys like these had been my specialty about fifteen years ago, and recently when I've run into some former students and told them that I've returned to teaching they are my biggest cheerleaders and fans.

No, I'm not back in the same school, where I had taught for over a decade. I'm now teaching in Yeshiva High School Ahavat Chaim, which is in Kochav Hashachar, southeast of Shiloh, and the alma mater of my two sons, who graduated in the second and fourth graduating classes.

Why did I leave my easy job at Yafiz, selling clothes, which I really did enjoy even though the salary was the bare minimum according to law?

There are many reasons, which I can't go into right now. But the main one was that I couldn't sleep well working night shifts. I'm a morning person by nature, and working, getting myself in a "hyper mode" until 9:30pm to deal with customers plus and then having to stay awake and alert until I was home well after 10pm, meant that frequently I couldn't fall asleep until well after midnight.  I was not hired as a night shift worker; it was just to do it "sometimes."

Is teaching EFL here in Israel better today than it was when I agreed to be fired?

To be honest, no! The things that irked me then are worse now. And now there is no, even mildly, convenient way to travel between my home and Kochav Hashachar by public transportation. Every night before teaching I have to call other staff members to arrange a ride. So far, it hasn't rained when I've had to travel, so the mile, kilometer and a half, between my house and the pickup point is a nice morning's walk. Going home also requires similar logistics. But there is one thing I enjoy now, which I didn't have in my former teaching job. The staff I work with now really makes an effort to go out of its way to help me and others. It also helps that my teaching hours are morning and afternoon. In my former school it was only afternoon/evening, I'd finish as late as 7:15pm, and nobody cared if I was stuck waiting an hour for a ride in my direction.

Teaching is a talent I have. I can pretty much teach anything I know and have. I don't mind having to "change a lesson plan" on the spot, because the kids just don't know one of the prerequisites. That's a key for success as a Remedial Teacher.

Because I have to travel when others need to get to work, which is earlier than me most days, I take advantage of the computers in the Teachers Room for my lesson planning. One of the reasons I didn't want to return to teaching is that it can take over your life. I only teach two classes and have very few students.

I don't know if my salary will actually be much better than the one I had gotten from Yafiz, but I did need a change. I also don't plan on doing this very long and told that to the department head. But as we all know, life is full of surprises. May Gd give me the health and humor to continue and succeed.

*Mild Learning Disabled, normal to high IQ suffering from one or various conditions like dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD, ADHD, poor motivation etc.

**If at first you don't succeed, just give up and disrupt the class so efficiently nobody can learn anything.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

As One Week Fades Into Another

According to Jewish custom, the week begins as Shabbat ends.

For about a week, I'd been using a rose my husband had brought back from some event as part of my morning coffee still life to illustrate my #morningcoffeehaiku on Facebook.

The rose faded after a few days and needed to be dumped.

And that's the end of the rose. But when Shabbat is over, there's a new week, and may it be a much better one than the one before, Gd willing.

And the cycle goes on...