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. 

Experiment.

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. 

Ingredients:

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. 


Directions:

  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:

"Fifty."

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

Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Last Words We Said, A Book Review

The Last Words We Said by Leah Scheier was written for teenagers, but I must admit that I enjoyed it. It's not a childish book. It deals with issues that aren't exclusive to teenagers. 

The dynamics between good friends change over the years, but nothing puts friendship under more stress than the disappearance and probable death of one of them. In this case, no body has been discovered. 

Leah Scheier succeeds in a difficult format, telling the story from two timelines, alternating between after Danny's disappearance and before he disappeared. This format could be disastrous from a less talented writer, but Scheier makes it seem like the only sensible way to write the story.

Danny was Ellie's boyfriend, so most everyone is focused on her difficulties in accepting his most certain death in an accident. But her two best friends, Rae and Deenie, are also seriously affected by his disappearance. The three surviving friends must help each other to fully heal.

The Last Words We Said can also be considered a mystery, because only at the end do we discover what really happened the night of the accident.

Danny, Ellie, Rae and Deenie aren't just regular American suburban teenagers. They are from Modern Orthodox Jewish families and study in Jewish Day School, one with mixed- boys and girls together- classes. So besides the regular teenage issues, we're dealing with families that keep Shabbat, Kashrut and expect the girls and boys to keep their hands off of each other. 

Scheier does an excellent job writing about realistic characters and universal issues. I highly recommend the book. To paraphrase an old ad: 

"You don't have to be Jewish to read The Last Words We Said."

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 31, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1534469397
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1534469396
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 12 years and up

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Baile Rochel Tries A "New" Art Medium

 Since, as my sister says: 

"We're from a family of artists."

I'm always on the prowl, the intrepid searcher, for a new art medium which will make me feel like one of the clan. Luckily my cheerful, optimistic disposition hasn't given up the fight against PTS post traumatic stress from all the times my horrendously unsuccessful attempts to draw and paint got me nothing but clear unmistakable mockery and criticism.

Thank Gd, a few decades ago I discovered photography and more recently mosaics which are art forms, art media, requiring no drawing at all. Jackson Pollock got away with splashing paint all over the place, but early in his career he showed that he could produce stunning realistic images. The same goes for Picasso. They didn't go abstract because they couldn't draw.

A few weeks ago I found myself signing up for a two session Pottery Workshop. There were two things going for it. One is that the price is subsidized, though I'm still not sure what it will cost, and secondly I envisioned myself producing a beautifully designed and molded mug for my morning coffee to be photographed for my daily #morningcoffeehaiku and #cinquains. 



The Art Center is a short walk from my house, but of course I got there ridiculously early and helped the young woman in charge set the room up. As the other participants showed up, I realized that they were young enough to be my granddaughters. I had even been at the weddings of the parents of two and am friends with their grandparents. But I'm used to being the oldest... Of course I was also the only one masked, since I don't know...

We finally got started an hour or more after I had arrived*, and my eyes were shooting poison arrows at the teacher. While we had been waiting everyone was chatting, and some were noshing. The leader kept asking me to participate, but I was embarrassed to say that I'm waiting for my hearing aids to be ready. They weren't even at the age of reading glasses. I could barely hear them, so I kept tuning out.

I understood the instructions, but deja vu nothing I tried to form looked like it was supposed be. The clay I rolled into strings looked like a snake that had feasted on a few mice, rather than the perfectly identical diameter strings I was supposed to produce. After trying to make some sort of bowl, similar to others, I gave up. My attempts looked like the awful "worst in the group" blobs of my childhood memories.

I squished it all together and decided to go in a totally different direction, a "plate" for the Passover Seder. 

"A Seder Plate?" my classmates asked.

"No, just something to place the matzah on." I answered.

"Maybe you should make it more perfectly round" they gently suggested when I was almost finished.

"No, hand matzah isn't usually perfectly round," I replied with the confidence of a true artist.

The teacher has taken all of our "pottery" to dry and then bake in her special oven/kiln. Next week, Gd willing we'll get to paint our art before being baked again. 



*Gd willing, I'll expand on this in the future, since this story is long enough.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

A New Recipe, Low Fat Chicken

 


Let's start at the very beginning....

A couple of weeks ago there was a sale on "chicken breasts" in our local supermarket, so I bought a couple of packages. A lot of people use them to pan or "oven fry" as schnitzels, but not me. Quite often I separate them and cut and bake with lots of vegetables, sort of like "stir fry," but neither stirred nor fried. In the meantime, I stored them in the freezer.

As our table was "filling" with expected guest for Shabbat lunch, I realized that I had to cook something else as main course for me and my husband for Friday Night. Friday morning I took the "chicken breasts" out of the freezer to thaw planning on cooking just enough for the two of us. As the cooking deadline approached I realized that the chicken was still frozen solid. I managed to break off half, but they fillets couldn't be separated at all.

I put the "chicken breasts" in a glass-like baking pan, so I'd be able see if it's cooking later on. I added onion, tomato, red pepper, mushroom plus a bit of oil and coarse black pepper. Covered with foil it started baking at 200C with the heat coming from below. After I could see bubbling "oil" I switched the oven heat to "top." 

Once I was almost 100% certain that it was fully cooked I took it out of the oven and sliced it to check that it was white and not pink. If it had looked raw, I would have returned it to the oven for more cooking.

My low fat chicken was super tasty, and since I had cooked more than needed, we have a couple of servings left over.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

"Why We Fly" Book Review

Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal is probably the most difficult book for me personally to review. I feel torn and as always must be totally honest. I'm conflicted. 

On one hand Why We Fly is an excellent, well-written book for youth touching realistically on numerous important timeless issues. Even though I'm more than half a century past my teenage years I could easily relate to the main characters and all of their challenges. As I'm sure you've noticed, there are two authors. Why We Fly is written in two voices, Eleanor and Chanel aka Leni and Nelly. 

Leni, Nelly and the other main teenage characters are all top high school athletes, cheerleading and football. They live in a world that is relatively free of color prejudice and antisemitism, though when Nelly, who's Black,* doesn't  get a position she had expected, she blames color discrimination. I saw other reasons in the narrative

Three, the nickname of the local high school football star, develops a relationship with Leni after they unexpectedly meet outside the sport physical therapy clinic. There never seems to be an issue/problem that they're different colors and religions. Objections only come from Three's parents who don't want any girlfriend to distract him from their plans for him. Three's their last chance to have a son be a star in the NFL, and before that he must get into the best possible university team. The various ambitions the parents have for their children is a subplot.

Conflict in Why We Fly concerns whether or not to kneel during the national anthem, which was a major issue a few years ago in the United States. Unless I missed it, everyone agrees that there's racial injustice which supports kneeling, but the school administration opposes kneeling. And some of the parents and kids are afraid that kneeling will blacklist the participating student athletes negatively affecting their futures.

Now I'll speak as A Jewish Grandmother. Even though Leni and her family are involved in their local Reform Temple, intermarriage with a non-Jew isn't an issue. I've seen the rate of intermarriage rise in my family and friends in the United States, even among those who attended Jewish Day Schools. I "voted with my feet" when I was in high school. I became Torah observant, Orthodox as it's called in the states, and also became a Zionist. My husband and I made aliyah (moved to Israel) two months after our 1970 wedding. 

The blurb/motto on the book cover of Why We Fly is:

Don't just stand on the sidelines.

I've never stood on the sidelines. It's not my nature. Maybe that's why I could so easily relate to Leni and Nelly. But as A Jewish Grandmother I wish that Leni's rabbi taught a Judaism based on Jewish Torah, Law and Lore rather than Progressive Liberal Ideology. 

Honestly, I didn't mind being out of my "comfort zone." To be honest I really enjoyed getting to know today's America. I'll repeat that Why We Fly is a well-written book.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Sourcebooks Fire (October 5, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1492678929
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1492678922
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 14 - 17 years
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 8 - 12

*Black, capitalized, is used in Why We Fly. I checked while writing the review.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Rosh Chodesh Tevet Women's Prayers, Tel Shiloh


 

Ladies, please join us this Chanukah Rosh Chodesh Tevet at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh, for our traditional prayers together.

Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5782
Sunday 5\12\2021 8:30am
ראש חודש טבת תשפ"ב
יום ראשון 5\12\2021 8:30

Once you're already there, spend the day. There's always so much to do. Visit the museum, the holograph and more. 

For more information call 025789111, or write to visit@telshilo.org.il.





Sunday, November 14, 2021

Genre Focused Book Club

 A few months ago, as I've already posted, our Book Club came  back to life in a new format. Each monthly meeting is a different genre or author instead of struggling with the logistics of everyone reading, and first finding in one form or another, the same book. 

We all read something by Herman Wouk, then children/youth classics, inspiring books, inspiring people/biographies/memoirs and most recently detective books.

Genre focused meetings are lots of fun and allow us book-lovers to really enjoy and share our love of literature. Another change is that we're taking turns as facilitators. Quite often the facilitator is the member who suggested the genre.

Our detective mysteries ranged from Agatha Christie to Michael Connelly, which really are very different. It's always interesting to see which books have been chosen. I spoke about Michael Connelly, and I was rather shocked to discover that not all of my friends were familiar with any of his many, many series of books and characters.

A few years ago we added a potluck dinner to the meeting's festivities, and now that we're vaccinated it has fully resumed. The only change is NO FINGER FOOD or DOUBLE-DIPPING. 

If you're part of a book club, please tell me about it in the comments, thanks. And if you'd like more information on how we run our club, please fell free to ask.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Community Challah Baking in Honor of Shabbat Olami, World Shabbat

A couple of weeks ago, Jews all over the world participated in The Shabbat Project, and one of the big activities was community challah baking, the Challah Challenge. Here in Shiloh, the local Inner Circle Women's Center sponsored the challah challenge, organizing it in a synagogue hall. Women of all ages came to mix and knead their challah dough together. 



The Inner Circle Women's Center in Shilo, is a program of The Ne'eman Foundation USA/Canada/Israel.  The purpose of the center is to encourage and support women's activities to strengthen women and to give to the community as a whole- including new mommies, meals on wheels, cooking for the seniors, support groups etc...




While the challah rose, there was entertainment and inspiring words. We could have listened all night, but it was soon time to "punch down" the challah dough and then "take challah" for the blessing. 

After the blessing, the challah was shaped and painted with egg. Finally we took the challah home for baking. Many of the challot were then given as Shabbat gifts to new families, that had recently moved to Shiloh.

It was a lovely inspiring evening, and everyone thanked Sara Katz of The Inner Circle Women's Center for organizing such a pleasant and successful event.






Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Ruti Eastman's "Haikuchains..." A Book Review

 Haikuchains That Kept Me Sane Through The Pandemic by Ruti Eastman

For Ruti Eastman
Haikuchain as book review
obvious of course

Ruti wrote a book
diary in haiku form
suits just perfectly

We both say so much
in seventeen syllables
everyone, try it

Haikus can be news
family or good cooking
certainly coffee

When writing haikus
we must count all syllables
each one packs a punch

Book's dedicated
to me so surprisingly
though we're haiku groupmates*



read what's posted here
a selection of haikus
written by Ruti

to order the book
yes, recommended




Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Super Soups at Alma's

Yesterday when my friend and I were walking around center/downtown Jerusalem, we needed an early lunch. The numerous Alma soup stands caught our eyes. Neither of us had ever tasted any of the Alma soups, considering that the weather beginning to chill, hot soup seemed perfect.


The hardest task was choosing a soup. As you can see, there's a great variety of parve vegetable/lentil/bean soups plus meat/fleishik kubeh* (kube/kubbe/kubbeh) soups, which also have a lot of vegetable.

Since we both follow the principle of not ordering out what we make at home, we chose kubeh soups. My friend chose the beet, and I chose pumpkin. Usually I find restaurant soups much too salty, but mine was perfect, and my friend also enjoyed hers. We sat outside at one of their tables, which was very pleasant. Jaffa Street has become very peaceful since the lightrail now travels on it instead of buses, cars and taxis.

Alma soup stands are at a number of locations along the main streets downtown. We definitely recommend it. Which is your favorite? Please let me know in the comments.
*I consider kubeh to be the most accurate spelling, since it's pronounced with a long "u" and short "e." For those not familiar with them, a kubeh can be considered an Iraqi dumpling, kreplach or wonton.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

CHELM for the HOLIDAYS, Brilliant! A Book Review

Titling this book review "CHELM for the HOLIDAYS, Brilliant!" isn't an oxymoron. The classic Jewish "wise men of Chelm" stories aren't about stupid people; they are lessons in life and siyata d'Shmaya, the hand/power of Gd.

Valerie Estelle Frankel did a wonderful job writing CHELM for the HOLIDAYS; I enjoyed reading it. Allegories, such as stories about Chelm, are actually theological books written simplistically with humor, rather than heavy-handed preachiness. 

CHELM for the HOLIDAYS is written for very young readers in short, clear chapters sans illustrations, but you can read it to younger children, even preschoolers. The advantage of reading it to children is that you can discuss the issues and laugh together about the characters' "foolishness." 

For example, the Chanukah story, "The Oiliest Miracle" can be used to teach children how many candles or portions of oil would be needed to light the Chanukiyah, Chanukah Menorah all eight nights. Teaching via humor is very effective.

A very important concept is found in all of the stories, community. The people of Chelm aren't isolated individuals. Whether intended or not, they end up helping each other. We see this especially in the Shavuot Blintzes story and The Disappearing Challah.

CHELM for the HOLIDAYS is highly recommended. Buy it for young readers or to read to children of all ages.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Kar-Ben Publishing ®; Illustrated edition (August 1, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 72 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1541554620
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1541554627
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 - 15 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 740
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 3 - 9

Monday, October 04, 2021

Surviving Without WhatsApp and Facebook

This evening Israel time, Facebook and WhatsApp, which are siblings of sorts, have ceased to work.

Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp apps crash throughout the world



Nobody knows what happened. Luckily I was able make arrangements with a friend by SMS. 

So much of our everyday communication is by WhatsApp and Facebook. 

I hope by the time I wake up in the morning, life will be back to norma.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh

I look at next week, and all I can say is that it's going to be a busy week. The past few weeks have also been busy, but in a different way. We've spent over three weeks on and off Jewish Holiday times, including two fast days.

Despite the holidays and all the necessary preparations, I managed to get to the Ariel Swimming Pool quite a few times.


Next week I Gd willing return to my studies in Matan. In addition there will be a memorial for friends who had been killed in the Yom Kippur War, 1973, and it's Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. My women's prayer group plans on getting together in Shiloh Hakeduma-Tel Shiloh on the 1st of Cheshvan, Thursday 7/10/2021 at 8:30am.
ראש חודש חשון תפילת נשים
שילה הקדומה
יום ה' 7\10\2021 8:30
כולן מוזמנות

Tel Shiloh is the Biblical Shiloh where the Mishkan Tabernacle stood as the central location for Jewish Prayers for almost four hundred years after the exodus from Egypt, during the time of the Judges. Shiloh is where Chana Hannah had prayed for a son, and when one was finally born to her, she took him Shmuel Samuel to serve with the priests after he was weaned. So, I'm sure you agree that Shiloh is the perfect place for women's prayers.

Shiloh Hakeduma has activities for the entire family and is easy to get to, also by public transportation.

For more information 02-5789122, visit@telshilo.org.il.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Yom Kippur Outdoor Synagogue-- I Finally Prayed "With" a Minyan


 I know. You are thinking that this is some strange playground draped in sheets. Yes, you can look at it that way, but it's our local outdoor synagogue. 

Add a small portable "ark," a bunch of chairs, string up lights for the night prayers, and you have yourself an outdoor synagogue. Quite a few of my neighbors had prayed together here for over a year, even last winter, but I got no closer than my front door once or twice. It's across the street and down the block. Depending on who's the chazan, I can hear or not hear the prayers.

A couple of months ago, it had been decided to close it down and have everyone return to their former synagogues, in buildings. The powers that be had decided that it was finally safe enough, at least for those vaccinated.

But then the numbers of COVID positive began to climb, and it was clear that at least for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the outdoor synagogue had to reopen. This time our neighborhood synagogue took charge declaring the synagogue building "green" and the outdoor synagogue "purple." This way children could attend with their parents outdoors, and there would be fewer people indoors. On Rosh Hashanah I attempted to hear the outdoor prayers from my front door. I was partially successful, but that was good enough. Shofar blowing both days was perfect.

On Yom Kippur I started out by my door, and my next-door neighbors, who have a better perch invited me to their lawn. That's where I prayed most of Yom Kippur. There were just two of us on a large lawn, very private and safe. It was wonderful.

I wonder when/if I'll ever really get back to praying from my seat- the best seat in the Ezrat Nashim, Women's Gallery. There were things bothering me, even making me leave in the middle and pray at home, even before corona. 

May 5782 be a wonderful, healthy, safe and joyful year for all, Gd willing.

Monday, August 30, 2021

The PROPHETESS, A Book Review

Evonne Marzouk's The PROPHETESS is an amazing book that slowly draws one in until it can't be put down. Even though it was written more for teens and marketed for that age group, I truly enjoyed reading it.
We follow Rachel, her family and friends as she discovers her destiny. There are no goody-goodies, as the characters are all drawn realistically with good points, bad points and problems. Rachel lives in an ordinary suburban neighborhood with all sorts of people, Jews religiously observant and not along with non-Jews. Rachel's parents, though both Jewish, have different attitudes towards their religion. Rachel's mother's father was very religious and influences their home, even after his death. The last thing Rachel ever expects is her destiny as a prophetess. And nothing is simple.

The PROPHETESS leaves us with a few incomplete storylines, so I'm hoping for a sequel. What was the turning point in Rachel's mother's life, and what happens to Rachel's three best friends Maya, Chris and Jake? Nu, Evonne, hint, HINT!

The PROPHETESS is the perfect gift for readers of all ages, including yourself. It can be ordered on Amazon hardcover or Kindle. 

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bancroft Press (October 16, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 161088504X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1610885041
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 14 - 18 years
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 10 - 12
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.25 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 1 x 9 inches