Monday, March 31, 2008

Can You See The Light?

Believe me; the sky really looked gorgeous a few minutes ago. I can't believe the picture came out so dark. NO, I don't want to lighten it. It'll lose its sharpness.

Right now, the sky seems so grey. I wonder what today will bring. It's my "long day" at work. I have to plan the lessons and check some quizzes before I go. Last night we were at a wedding. I'll have to blog about it, especially the food.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Decorating Mommy's Birthday Cake

Yes, there are colored and silver sugar sprinkles, enthusiastically poured on the cake, but do you know what that luscious, creamy brown icing is? It's no fuss, store-bought date spread!

Start Your Week With...

Havel Havelim! Though I wish they wouldn't waffle about the waffles. This isn't the Kosher Cooking Carnival, which should be all cooked and yummy very soon, so please send all your kosher food posts and anything KCC-suitable you see on the net, to Mother In Israel via the carnival submission form.

Shavua Tov
Have a Great Week!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Taking a Break

It's healthy to take breaks.

Cleaned some floors, the main toilet, did some cleaning and now must get back to work.

One More Thing

I got a kick out of the Newsweek article about which face creams/treatments are best to remove wrinkles.

Many years ago, I read an article that said that the best way to look younger than your age is to have parents who look younger than their ages.

ChaZa"L, our sages, say that their are three things we have no control over.
  • when we are born
  • where we are born
  • to whom we are born

So, taking all that into account. It's best to just enjoy what you have and not to go to any extreme trying to "improve" your skin. A smile is the best and safest and cheapest method to look young and attractive.

Daylight Savings

I got up very early, OK, not really.
I set my clock ahead before going to sleep, and I got up my "regular time," which is really an hour earlier than usual. I need that "extra hour" to get ready for Shabbat.

It's time to sign off what I'm doing on the computer, pull out some clothes, shower etc and start my "real day."

One good thing is that I think I'm a bit "more energetic" since I haven't had meat/poultry all week. I didn't expect to feel better. I just felt like I needed a change. I've been eating a lot of fish, though.

I definitely need energy for all I have to do today.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Feast On The View

Because the food is horrid!!

I had eaten there before a couple of years ago, and the food was fine, maybe even great. I don't remember feeling the need to complain.

But this time, the White Nights in the Menachem Begin Heritage Center was a terrible disappointment. I wish I could forget it, like the waitress kept forgetting us.

The restaurant is attractive, the view from the terrace is absolutely great, except when I looked at "that wall." The "other wall" was fine. Of course, our visitor tried to tell me that the old city walls were built for the same reasons as the new one. But the new one won't last for centuries and more. It won't last long at all.
The view of Jerusalem's Old City is for a picture postcard.

Come for the view and maybe a cup of coffee. If you're allergic to dairy products, I don't think there's a thing to eat. The pitcher of water, which I requested at least five times, looked impressive with its lemons slice and mint leaves, but they left out ice cubes, making it more like dish water.

Back Later

Bli neder with a restaurant review and more.

I didn't get everything I want done today, and I have unexpected things to do. Some fun things included.

Now to the kitchen. And laundry to fold and dishes and dinner and...

Yesterday--- Was Busy

I got up very early to go to the pool. Ahhh...

Then I shopped for more hat "yarn," the ribbony type and then I took the bus to Beit El. The bus was late, making me late for work. Students, 11th grade, were actually waiting for me. I had perfect attendance, in that they were all there. The only problem was that one slept very soundly, not even budging during my "performances," another just "took a nap" and woke up for the end of the lesson. considering that there are only four in the class...

The 12th graders didn't show at all. So I went off to my daughter in Ofra to see the kiddies and rest up before the staff meeting/lecture. My eldest also showed up as a treat for the kids.

Then I went to a great lecture about how to teach. Too bad more teachers didn't show. Then I went home, yes, I had a ride, or I wouldn't have gone. Today's another busy one, but not so much. I really should rest and start getting ready for Pesach. But married daughter and family are coming for Shabbat, so it doesn't pay to clean until after.

The freezer's emptying.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Memories--Not Mine

This morning I decided to check out the Bell Park Gardens "memory site." At least that's what I call it.

We moved to Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, when I was an infant and left when I was 13.

It was a great place to grow up. In those days there weren't many cars in the parking lots during the day, so we could ride our bikes, roller skate, etc. I guess today's kids don't have the freedom we did.

I used to check out and write on the BPG site, but I rarely knew anyone mentioned. And when I replied to something I was ignored. I guess that nobody remembers me. And the people who run/dominate the site are much younger.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Davka, When I Wanted to Walk

Don't call it a diet!

I'm just trying to... you know, move a little more, eat a little less carbs.

If I call it a "diet," or "trying to lose weight," I'll just get hungrier and lazier. Actually, I don't think it's possible to get much lazier than I already have gotten. And my not always feeling great knee needs spoiling.

Well, I walked down to the fruit and veggie store to buy more salad like a good girl, the one nearby. The owner's car was there, but it was dark. So I went into the "grandma beware" store, which makes a good portion of its profits off of grannies like me. I bought "a few things." Really not much, light enough to carry. The owner offered me a ride up, but I decided to be a good girl and walk. And then when I was walking, someone else stopped to give me a ride. I pounded my fists into my flab, and she got the message.

Murphy's at it again. Do you know how many times I schlepp up when I need a lift?

You May Like This

I wrote it for my Arutz 7 blog. It's not quite what suits this blog or Shiloh Musings. So, if you're interested, take a look, and read and participate in the comments.

The comments on the Arutz 7 blogs are amazing. There are a bunch of people who carry on "conversations" with each other. I just get a drop of it. You can join the fray and enjoy, if that's your cup of tea.

Now, to get on with my day.

Not Vegetarian, But...

For over twenty-five years I was a vegetarian, no fish, a real vegetarian.

The first signs were when I was pregnant with our third. Meat and poultry didn't attract me. I preferred fish. Then at the end of the pregnancy, my blood pressure went up. Then when she was a year old I was stung by a bee and my arm blew up. The doctor told me to get off of animal products. After a while I resumed eggs and dairy, but I stayed off of fish, beef and poultry for over twenty-five years.

It drove my family crazy. At least, I was the cook and could control what I ate, at least most of the time.

I was in perfect health, just got fatter after a certain age, but that happens to lots of people.

Then a few years ago, after a very stressful time subbing in junior high, I began feeling hungry. And then I resumed my fish, beef, poultry eating as if I had never been a vegetarian. A few weeks later, I had a routine physical and the doctor said that my B12 was dangerously low. He said that if I hadn't already gone carnivorous, he would have prescribed B12 shots. Instead I took the under the tongue vitamin pills.

Since then, I haven't needed them. My B12 is high. And suddenly, recently, I no longer feel very attracted to all the meat. Again I prefer fish.

So, I'm in the midst of changing my eating, yet again. I've mellowed out since my vegetarian days and I have no desire to drive everyone crazy the way I used to. It's not a principle. Of course, I must find a way of getting off the new weight which has crept on this winter, when I hardly got to the pool and have been suffering from "knees." I have to be more careful about what I do, or my knees hurt.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Teaching Idioms

I have to admit that I was not looking forward to going back to work today. It felt like summer and summer means vacation, and I hadn't taught for almost two weeks...

When I planned the lesson for the 10th grade, I wrote out the "plan" to hand to the students. I've found this a good way of dealing with them, showing what's expected, and then they work (hopefully) in small groups and I go around helping. This time I asked them to translate the title and the subtitle, which had the idiom "a fresh slate." Now that I'm blogging it, I wonder if it should be "clean slate," but whatever. I had fun explaining how in the olden days paper was a luxury item and people had small slates, like blackboards, they took along.

A bit later, one of them asked me what an underdog was. That really inspired me. I promised to give them an example they'd never forget, and it would be from the Bible. I wrote on the whiteboard:
Which of the two people is the "underdog?"
Goliath or David

And then I went over the Biblical story with them. Of course, David was the underdog!

Some days I so enjoy teaching!

Spring is Here!

Just some gorgeous yes it's spring scenes here in Shiloh, including the very first leaves on my grape vines.

Spring in Shiloh 4

Spring in Shiloh 5

Spring in Shiloh 3

Spring in Shiloh 2

Spring in Shiloh 1

What's the Reason for the Popularity of Boiled Eggs?

I probably check my sitemeter too often, but I can't get over the popularity of that post.


Entry Pages Ranked by Visits
Entry Page

PS My kids claim that my hard-boiled eggs don't peel easily. I don't have problems, but...

Creative Cooking

Pre-Pesach, before Passover is the time of the year when one must be extremely creative in one's cooking to get rid of the various chametz, forbidden on Passover, foods in the house.

I don't know how the malowach, the puffed pastry circles got into the freezer, but they have to leave!

They make great "pie crusts" for vegetable and meat pies. So I put one on the bottom and layered soy hotdogs (which should have been defrosted first), onions and squash and topped them with another. Then I baked it all. You can use anything for fillings:

  • cheese, onions, tomatoes
  • cooked vegetables
  • all sorts of left-overs

The same basic technique, to reduce calories, just use malowach on top, can be used with batzek elim, the puff pastry dough used for bourekas. It's available in any freezer section here in Israel.

Now, for my second cooking invention.

I found lots of cooked food in the freezer. This is a marriage between a meatloaf and a potato kugel. First I made a simple tomato sauce in the frying pan. That's done by:

  • sauteing onion in oil
  • add tomato paste (I like the 28-30%)
  • dilute with boiling water
  • whatever spices you want, like garlic, oregano, basil etc

Then when the sauce was boiling, I added slices of the meatloaf and kugel, covered and cooked. We ate it Friday night.

Now, that brings me to the Kosher Cooking Carnival...

The next one is a bit early, because of Pesach. So please send all your kosher food posts and anything you see on the net, to Mother In Israel via the carnival submission form.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Haggling in an American chain store? No way! But according to this, things have changed. It's part of the recession there.

The America in which I grew up considered haggling rather low, something you did when touring primitive countries, like Israel.

In Israel it's not done every place. When I worked as a salesperson, I could only offer special rates when instructed by the boss.
Remembering how it felt as an employee, I rarely haggle, unless it's made clear that I'm expected to, like when buying major appliances. There are certain code words and a reluctance to give an exact price.
A couple of years ago, when I was buying a few basic skirts, I felt forced to haggle. I wanted to buy three of them, and there was a special if you got two, the second being 30% off, making each of the two 85% of the base price. I was told that I couldn't get a discount off of the third, since there wasn't a fourth. OK, I understood that they wanted two bought and not just one, but did they really prefer two to three? I'm a CPA's daughter and a remedial teacher, and believe me it took all those genes and skills to convince the salesgirl that she was going against policy if she refused the discount on the third, because I would choose only two. It wasn't a big discount, but it was a principle.
They should have offered an even larger discount on the third and subsequent; then I may have tried to choose a fourth!

Jack, Purim Ain't Over Yet!

Jack has misnomered the latest Havel Havelim! But you should still read it and check out all the links.

It's still Purim in Jerusalem and other places, like Shiloh. In Shiloh we're compensated for Purim M'shulash, the Three Day Purim bash, by only needing to hear the megillah twice, instead of our usual four times. It's so nice to get up today and not have to listen to the megillah again. Yesterday, to celebrate Shushan Purim, I went to two shiurim (classes) on the subject. Today I have more Mishloach Manot packed to be given out.

Now, I had better clean up and get ready for my daughter and the grandkids.

re: My Father

For those kind enough to ask.

The doctors got the heart BP etc stabilized, and some of my kids managed to speak to him. They say he sounds fine, B"H. I haven't gotten an update from my mother since before Shabbat.

Today should be easier to call. NY already has daylight savings, so my favorite time to call, when I get up, is too late at night now. We change our clocks at the end of this week.

There are pictures of my parents in the banner of this blog. He's shown with his father, they're both in the table picture and my mother is the cute little girl in the picture of children.

Technically it's still Purim here, though no megillah this year. That makes it easy.

The State of Marriages

Maybe this isn't exclusive to American marriages. Maybe the sort of "fooling around" among the high and mighty lawmakers in the State of New York is not only common to politicians all over the world but to marriages all over the world and in all times.

Newly sworn in New York Governor Paterson's excuse that he was getting back at his wife for her "fooling around" while she stood there at his press conference is just too pathetic for words. Was she first? Is it our business? Now, are they going to have public marriage therapy?

What other sins have Patterson committed because others were doing it?

I'm glad that I grew up in a world where couples "lived happily ever after," at least in public. There was an ideal, which doesn't exit today.

Divorce and extramarital affairs are becoming the public norm. The big difference, like you can read in the Bible, is how it's rationalized/explained. Compare Bill Clinton's explanation of Monica with King David's relationship with Batsheva. Now that's something to blog about.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Should I or Shouldn't I?

There's a big Purim Party going on now. I used to go to all the parties, but I'm afraid it'll be too noisy. We used to have parties without loud speakers, microphones etc. The last time I went to a Purim party I fled. My ears hurt just thinking about it.

Well, I do have some dishes to wash. Sounds like great fun, doesn't it?

I could pack up the rest of the Mishloach Manot for tomorrow. After I was the dishes...

I hope I don't nosh, at least not too much.

On Shabbat I kept thinking of a great post to write, and now I can't remember...

Problems With Arutz7?*

*It's fixed. I don't know what the problem was.

We're having problems with Arutz 7. Could it have been attacked over Shabbat?

I'd appreciate any info.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Better Ways to Celebrate

Today's Purim, as was last night. And yesterday was my parents' 60th Wedding Anniversary, on the goyish calendar. I never checked the Jewish date.

When I tried to call my parents, nobody answered. Later on my daughter in NY called to say that my father was hospitalized. This morning, night there, I called my mother, who said he's doing better, B"H. But of course, with his 88th birthday coming up, G-d willing, in August, he's not getting any younger. Neither is she.

We hope to celebrate with them when in NY in the early summer.

Please pray for a Refuah Shleimah, a full and speedy recovery:
Alexsander Ziskin ben Ginnalla

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Do I Want To Be A Blogging Star?

Or is the question do I want to be any sort of star?

Articles like this one from the New York Times make it all seem so simple.

Just like not everyone who goes filled with dreams and ambitions to Hollywood will be a movie star.

As a blogger, it is easy to get one's 10 minutes of fame. Not on the level of a Tom Cruise or Joan Collins, must pick someone younger, Paris Hilton.

Many of us find a post or two suddenly getting hundreds or thousands of hits, and then...

It's like being the wallflower of the cyberdance floor.

I'm sure I'm not the only blogger who would love to be a paid writer, but the hustle is harder than blogging, even on three blogs. Of course, at times I think of myself as rather schizophrenic with a variety of voices.

But I do wish to thank the friend who sent me the link.

Stay Tuned

Actually, keep checking Shiloh Musings and The Eye of the Storm. I'll be posting, G-d willing, a special Purim post there tonight, in a while, I hope.

Seriously, keep checking

Only Seven Cakes

Today I baked seven cakes, including a large round one for next week. It's my daughter's birthday and they'll be coming over.

I haven't baked for a long time. I found a kilo (2.2 lbs) of flour in the freezer. I first mixed my banana cake, with brown chocolate chips and made 3 loaf size cakes and the round one. Then I made a plain cake with white chocolate chips.

I also made a vegetable soup, sans kneidelach. The matzah meal didn't look right. There's still too much food in the freezer. I'll use what I can on Shabbat and during the week etc.

This is all for Purim. The advantage of cooking like this on a fast day is no "tasting."


Ta'anit The Fast of Esther

That means:
  • no water
  • no coffee
  • no noshing
  • no food, healthy or not

It's a "short fast" today. Just from the first light of dawn until darkness.

Last night I turned off my alarm and decided to "sleep late." Usually I'm up very early 5-5:30am. I drink a lot of water and then a lot of yummy coffee, and then "eliminate." And yes, while doing that, I'm on the computer. Only after all that do I shower, get dressed, doven (say morning prayers) and start my day.

Today I felt myself waking up, but didn't have to move, since the alarm was off. I fell back to sleep and finally got up just before 8, which is when I'm usually going off the computer and doing stage 2 of my morning. So I started with stage 2.

I'll start cooking soon. Must get ready for Purim.

I used to make homemade pizza and vegetable soup for breaking the fast, but now I just make the soup. I'll make enough for the the Purim feasts and Mishloach Manot. I also have some mushy bananas just aching to be made into a cake.

Isn't it terrible that I have to spend a fast day involved with food?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pre-Purim Celebrations

Sorry I didn't take pictures. The ones posted here are from last year in Shiloh.

Kids of all ages were in costumes today to celebrate Purim in school, pre-school etc. In recent years, the kids are given Ta'anit Ester, the Fast (Suffering/Torture) of Esther, as a day off from school.

It used to be that the non-religious schools had their Purim celebrations on the fast day. So when more Torah-Jewish minded people were in charge of education, they made it a day off from school. That's why the kids were all partying today.
Yuli Tamir, the present Minister of Education, is very anti-religious and is severely cutting the budget to religious schools. Yes, this does affect my job. But I'm more worried about my grandchildren's education. G-d willing things will improve.

Do I See A Bit More Blue?

The sky has been an unhealthy pale yellow. Ive avoided hanging out laundry. Actually, I haven't done any laundry at all. But there's a limit. I can't prevent the clothes, etc from getting dirty.

So, today, there's a wash in the machine, and I'll hang it in the sun. I just hope that the sun will shine through the clouds of grime.

When we were new to Israel, we hadn't a clue that the pale skies were filled with sand and dirt. After scrubbing the wash by hand, it was so upsetting to take it in dirtier than it had been.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

There's Still Plenty in The Freezer

It is emptying out, but I do have much too much cooked food. Much, much too much. I can't believe that there's less than a month until my kitchen, ok and the house too, should be ready for Pesach.

I'm not emotionally ready. Then again, mention "cleaning" and I become a basket case. It's just not my thing. And this year my knees are ageing. Yes, my knees. Otherwise I'm just an obese teenager. Nu? Can't you tell?

This week, if I hadn't mentioned it already, I'm off from work. The little darlings are on a "hike." Female teachers aren't welcome, so I have the week off. And then Pesach gets closer and the finals get closer and suddenly I'm kvetching that I don't have time to "finish" teaching my students who aren't ready for antything. I'm glad I'm a high school teacher. Did I say "teacher?" Well, I try to teach, but sometimes it's like banging my head against the wall.

As I said, I don't have to cook much, so why am I kvetching so much?

KCC-- In Time For Purim!!

Just in time!

Little Frumhouse on the Prairie has just posted a beautifully illustrated and very informative edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival. Everything looks absolutely delicious. Please visit and let everyone know about it.

Next month's host--and KCC will be earlier than usual because of Passover-- will be A Mother in Israel. So please remember to send all posts you've written or seen about kosher food to her via blog carnival.
  • Coping with Shemitta and the Halachik aspects
  • Purim food, the Seuda and Mishloach Manot--how about some pictures!
  • Pesach. Whether it's using up your chametz, shopping for kosher food, menus, recipes, food stories, etc
  • Restaurant and cookbook reviews
  • Kosher food related anecdotes
  • and yes, of course, kosher recipes

Since KCC is ongoing, please routinely send in your links.

Please submit your posts and any others you deem suitable for KCC via
blog carnival.

Rosh Chodesh Nissan at Tel Shiloh

G-d willing, we'll celebrate Rosh Chodesh Nissan together at Tel Shiloh. I think we all need a dose of the Holy Ketoret considering all that has been going on. Yes, I know that Rosh Chodesh Nissan is less than two weeks before our homes must be Kosher for Pesach. Honestly, I believe that our hearts and minds also need to be cleaned of all the chametz. "Chametz" is from the same root as "chamutz," sour, spoiled. Tel Shiloh is the place. The clean air and the open space is just what we need to be energized in every sense of the word.

Rosh Chodesh Nissan is Sunday, April 6. Please mark the date in your calendar, and if the Friday before is better for you, please let me know. As far as I'm concerned there could and should be more than one women's day of prayer at Tel Shiloh.

Tel Shiloh 5

Grazing in Ramat Eshkol

Ramat Eshkol is probably the first big neighborhood built in liberated Jerusalem after the Six Days War. Its large shopping center is also Jerusalem's first. There are a great variety of stores, and it's hard to be there without buying something. I was there with my daughter and grandson this week, and she enjoyed it.

Ramat Eshkol was built relatively quickly with great enthusiasm and a mistake or two. There's a bridge over a side street, Yaakov Netter Street, which was really supposed to cross adjacent Sderot Eshkol Boulevard, but the builders didn't look carefully at the map, and the inspectors didn't understand the details of the massive project.

This sight used to be common in Jerusalem. I remember seeing sheep and goats near my Bayit V'Gan, Jerusalem apartment in the 1970's.

I took this picture from the bus, dirty double bullet-proof Windows. We were at the Ammunition Hill end of Eshkol Boulevard.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Simply Fine

I did a little shopping for things for "Mishloach Manot," the food gifts people give on the Purim holiday. As I blogged earlier, I keep things simple now. I'll do the rest of my shopping here in Shiloh. I hope people don't expect much from me.

I may bake my banana cake since I have some very ripe bananas. I can't even remember the last time I baked. I'll use disposable everything.

The big problem with my baking is that even the simplest cake, and mine are simple, are just too delicious for words.

The only other thing I have to make, besides food for the feasts (yes, in Shiloh we celebrate two days), is a nice big vegetable soup. I shouldn't blog about food. It makes me too hungry!

Sure Doesn't Feel Warmer

The weather reports claim that it will be warmer today, but it doesn't feel that way. Last night it was really chilly, and now the sky is white, not like the icon on the weather site. I haven't felt this chilled for a couple of weeks. Maybe it's the "spring sandstorm."

Years ago, I tried to improve my Hebrew by taking a course in the "People's University" of the City of Jerusalem. The teacher was a very experienced, and not young, ulpan teacher of the generation that succeeded in really teaching Hebrew. One of the things I'll never forget is that she mocked Hebrew poetry concerning its depiction of spring. The poets, who had been born in Europe and influenced by its weather and literature, described the seasons here, as if we were Europe.

We shouldn't ignore that spring here includes more than the blooming of flowers. There are horrendous sand storms, thunder storms and strange muddy rain. Summer is parched, and the green and colored gardens dry out and turn an ugly brown.

Now, will today be sunny like the weathermen say? At least it's not raining. My students are on a school hike, and being a female teacher in an all-boy school, I don't have to accompany school trips.

Waffling JBloggers

There has been a running joke on some of the jblogs about waffles. I decided to dig in, as long as there's real sweet butter and old-fashioned maple syrup. Yes, a little fruit and whipped cream would be a great addition.

If you're willing to have your waffle feast here in Holy Shiloh, I'll provide the coffee! And I'll even set the table. Just come running and don't forget the waffles!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How Many Mishloach Manot?

The first year I gave out Mishloach Manot, I was with my good friend, who knew no more than I did about what we were supposed to do.

We understood that we were supposed to give two food items of different "brachot," blessings via an intermediary. I don't quite remember how we learned this. But we were off to some sort of Purim event with our youth director, and just the three of us were in the car. So we each had a fruit and something else and delivered to him for each other and asked him to do the same for us. He thought we were nuts, and he didn't bother explaining how it was supposed to be done. That must have been over forty years ago.

Over the years OK, decades, I learned that nobody quite does it like that.

When my kids were home, I'd pull all-nighters trying to bake rolls and cakes and cookies and prepare all sorts of goodies. Now I don't. I certainly don't survive those all-nighters any more. And I buy everything, except the vegetable soup I make for us and a good friend, whose kids insist that
"It's not Purim without Batya's vegetable soup."

Since the house emptied out, we just give a few "Mishloach Manot," and in recent years Keren Yehuda, founded in memory of Yehuda Shoham, HaYa"D, the infant killed after Arab terrorists threw a very large rock on the car in which he was traveling, has a Purim fundraising campaign. We give them a certain amount of money and our name goes on gifts to everyone who lives in Shiloh.

We have two days of Purim here, which means lots of junk food. At least some people have begun giving out healthy stuff.

Almost Purim, Perfect Time For Havel Havelim!

Read Jack's latest Havel Havelim. Hurry, or you won't have time before Purim!!

Not That Megillah

It's just a few days before Purim, and I'm totally unprepared for it. (The only thing I did was give in the check to "Keren Yehuda" for "Mishloach Manot" (the Purim food gifts) to all my neighbors.)

But the "megillah" I'm writing about isn't the Purim one about Ester, Mordechai, Haman and Achashverosh, which we'll be reading only twice in Shiloh, instead of the usual four times. That's because on "Purim Meshulash," when Shushan (Jerusalem) Purim comes out on Shabbat, instead of postponing the reading until Sunday, it's "preponed" to be read Friday, with the rest of world Jewry. Yes, we need unity during these difficult times, but do we really need a feast before Shabbat. OK, I'm still bloated from the YU Food-Fest Alumni Shabbaton. We didn't eat from the ice cream bar after Shabbat! But we did eat all the delicious meals. There was even great coffee Shabbat morning before prayers...

And about the megillah...
The latest Gantseh Megillah is out. The new graphics are gevaltic! Nu, take a gander.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Well, we're back. We were away for Shabbat.

We went to the YU Alumni Shabbaton in Jerusalem. On the whole it was good, even though it started off badly. I just couldn't stand the "speech" Friday night. It didn't say anything, a bunch of platitudes, worse. It got me in a terrible mood. I was depressed enough; I really wanted to be home, since things were planned in memory of Yonatan Eldar, HaYa"D, who had been murdered the week before by an Arab terrorist.

I calmed down during dinner; the white wine didn't do any harm.

The rest of the Shabbat was nice. All the people I met were great. Our table was fantastic.

OK, there was too much food. I didn't eat everything, but I did eat much too much.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ordered the Tickets

Prices have sure gone up, at least in dollars. I guess they've gone down in shekels. I hope that the dollar will stay down when we're in NY. That way I can shop for bargains.
My reason for going to New York is family, not shopping, but I do love Manhattan. I agree with the cliche` that it's a great place to visit, but only visit. During my past few visits, I've always saved a day to shop in New Jersey, too. This visit I won't have to shop for all the family, since the entire family will be in for a wedding. That means I should be able to bring back the books I bought myself last year. I stocked up on "fun reading" in the Great Neck Public Library at 50 cents a book. My aunt said that Oceanside charges only 10 cents. Maybe I'll shop there, too. So, as you see, I'm not a big spender.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Very Nice, But...

Jerusalem's Mamilla Mall is upscale, but not too much. Many of the stores are the standard Israeli Mall chains, the ones you find on the better main streets and all the malls. I think it was designed to be a modern "Cardo," the ancient shopping street discovered and repopulated in Jerusalem's Old City. There's no roof, meaning, chilly, rainy, sunny--depending on the seasons.

When we first made aliyah, we shopped on Mamilla Street, before it was taken down to be rebuilt and modernized and all "poshed up." Pre-1967, only poor people lived there. It was right on the border between Israel and Jordan. In 1970, when we began shopping at Levi's little grocery store, most of the residents had been relocated to poorly built public housing in what was then the outskirts of Jerusalem. The only other store we patronized, and continued to for a few years after moving to Bayit V'Gan, was a fantastic "conditoria," fancy bakery.

For over 35 years, I had nothing to do on Mamilla Street. Now they've opened a mall.

In theory, it's nice, but...
  • unless you enter in a car via the parking lot, there are a lot of steps to go up from most of the street entrances.
  • and, there are two parking lots. The first you pass charges ns10 per hour or ns50 for the day. There is no sign indicating that there's a second parking lot for those shopping in the mall. That parking lot is free for the first three hours and then ns10 per additional hour. If my daughter hadn't been sure that it was supposed to be free, we would have paid to park.
  • The public toilets can only be accessed via stairs

lots and lots of stairs. Lots more than you can see in these pictures. We asked some workers lounging around if there was any elevator access, and the answer was:


Laughing is Healthy

And I found the following article better than antibiotics!

Op-Ed Contributor
And the Band Played Badly

Published: March 9, 2008

WHY should real musicians, the ones who can actually play their instruments, have all the fun?

Some years ago, a group of frustrated people in Scotland decided that the pleasure of playing in an orchestra should not be limited to those who are good enough to do so, but should be available to the rankest of amateurs. So we founded the Really Terrible Orchestra, an inclusive orchestra for those who really want to play, but who cannot do so very well. Or cannot do so at all, in some cases.

My own playing set the standard. I play the bassoon, even if not quite the whole bassoon. I have never quite mastered C-sharp, and I am weak on the notes above the high D. In general, I leave these out if they crop up, and I find that the effect is not unpleasant. I am not entirely untutored, of course, having had a course of lessons in the instrument from a music student who looked quietly appalled while I played. Most of the players in the orchestra are rather like this; they have learned their instruments at some point in their lives, but have not learned them very well. Now such people have their second chance with the Really Terrible Orchestra.

The announcement of the orchestra’s founding led to a great wave of applications to join. Our suspicion that there were many people yearning to play in an orchestra but who were too frightened or too ashamed to do anything about it, proved correct. There was no audition, of course, although we had toyed with the idea of a negative audition in which those who were too good would be excluded. This proved to be unnecessary. Nobody like that applied to join.

Some of the members were very marginal musicians, indeed. One of the clarinet players, now retired from the orchestra for a period of re-evaluation, stopped at the middle B-flat, before the instrument’s natural break. He could go no higher, which was awkward, as that left him very few notes down below. Another, a cellist, was unfortunately very hard of hearing and was also hazy on the tuning of the strings. As an aide-mémoire, he had very sensibly written the names of the notes in pencil on the bridge. This did not appear to help.

At the outset, we employed a professional conductor, which is a must for anybody who is reading this and who is already planning to start a similar orchestra.

Find somebody who is tolerant and has a sense of humor. The conductor also has to be sufficiently confident to be associated with something called the Really Terrible Orchestra; after all, it does go on the résumé.

Our initial efforts were dire, but we were not discouraged. Once we had mastered a few pieces, if mastered is the word, we staged a public concert. We debated whether to charge for admission, but wisely decided against this. That would be going too far.

So should we go to the other extreme and pay people to come? There was some support for this, but we decided against it. Instead, we would give the audience several free glasses of wine before the concert. That, it transpired, helped a great deal.

We need not have worried. Our first concert was packed, and not just with friends and relations. People were intrigued by the sheer honesty of the orchestra’s name and came to see who we were. They were delighted. Emboldened by the rapturous applause, we held more concerts, and our loyal audience grew. Nowadays, when we give our annual concert at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the hall is full to capacity with hundreds of music-lovers. Standing ovations are two-a-penny.

“How these people presume to play in public is quite beyond me,” wrote one critic in The Scotsman newspaper. And another one simply said “dire.” Well, that may be so, but we never claimed to be anything other than what we are. And we know that we are dire; there’s no need to state the obvious. How jejune these critics can be!

Even greater heights were scaled. We made a CD and to our astonishment people bought it. An established composer was commissioned to write a piece for us. We performed this and recorded it at a world premiere, conducted by the astonished composer himself. He closed his eyes. Perhaps he heard the music in his head, as it should have been. This would have made it easier for him.

There is now no stopping us. We have become no better, but we plow on regardless. This is music as therapy, and many of us feel the better for trying. We remain really terrible, but what fun it is. It does not matter, in our view, that we sound irretrievably out of tune. It does not matter that on more than one occasion members of the orchestra have actually been discovered to be playing different pieces of music, by different composers, at the same time. I, for one, am not ashamed of those difficulties with C-sharp. We persist. After all, we are the Really Terrible Orchestra, and we shall go on and on. Amateurs arise, make a noise.

Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the forthcoming novel “The Miracle at Speedy Motors.”

My Least Favorite Place in Jerusalem

I'm referring to the United States Consulate. As an American citizen, I must go there every few years to renew my passport. This year I don't need a new passport, but I agreed to accompany my daughter and baby grandson for their consular business.

I'll never forget my visit there when she was a baby. We lived in Bayit V'Gan then and took the #12 bus, when then went from right near our house on Rechov Bayit V'Gan until Sha'ar Shechem (Damascus Gate) of the Old City. Then we had to walk through an unpleasant empty lot and an Arab neighborhood, until we got to the consulate, and of course the reverse route when we finished our business there.

Now, there is no longer a #12 bus, and we live in Shiloh, and the empty lot became the wide "number one road" from French Hill to Kikar Tzaha"l, (IDF Square,) between the Jerusalem Municipality and Jaffa Gate.

The Consulate is staffed with Arabs, who are notoriously rude to Jewish visitors. Thirty-four years ago, when I took that daughter in they were particularly nasty. Finally, we finished and I walked her back to the bus. I must have looked as upset as I felt, because the driver got out of the bus and carried her in her stroller and gently and politely placed her in the bus.

I'll let you know if things have changed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The 11th Grade Liked It, Too

Today I treated my 11th grade to the 2-part CSI, which the 10th saw yesterday.

3/4 of them showed. Yes, that means three out of four. It's a small group, on a low English level. Not only did they sit totally mesmerized, OK, they did have to read the subtitles in Hebrew, but they even told me to lock the door of the Video Room, so nobody would disturb them!
I hope all this buys me their cooperation.

Glad To Know...

... that Israel isn't the only place where teacher's have something to complain about. One thing for sure-- teachers seem to have a great sense of humor. At least those of us who blog do!

What? You don't believe me!?! Just check out the latest Carnival of Education!!

And if you had tried before and it didn't work, now it should!

Crocheting and Knitting--They're Not The Same!

One of my (I admit many) pet peeves is the fact that people keep referring to "kippot srugot," crocheted kippot (skullcaps) as "knitted."

In Hebrew it's the same word for both, לסרוג, lisrog, but in English there are two words for the different actions, knitting and crocheting. I found this informative post explaining much better than I would.

Is it clear now?

It's The Jewish Month of Adar, Passover Is Around The Corner

I just pulled some frozen meatballs, at least I think they're meatballs, out of the freezer. Within a month, the freezer must be emptied of all the food stocked in it. I don't have to cook for Shabbat this week. Three reasons:
  1. There's a tray of cooked chicken in the freezer.
  2. There's a tray of cooked turkey drumsticks in the freezer.
  3. We're going to the YU Alumni Shabbaton.

Because of the cooked food, which I cooked last month, before I knew that all the kids would be coming the Shabbat my baby was here, we'll have plenty to eat next week. I only do the "heavy" cooking once a week, when I prepare for Shabbat. There are just two of us in this empty nest, and it is a waste of time to cook daily. Washing the dishes every day is the only daily kitchen chore necessary.

So, please, if you haven't already, do your inventory and use things up.

Remember, too, that the Kosher Cooking Carnival will be at Little Frumhouse on the Prairie next week, so send in links to any suitable posts.

Of Course, It's Better Than Smoking

Not that I'd be allowed to smoke in all the places I crochet. And not that I smoke! But I think that if I had allowed myself to smoke, I'd like how it keeps the hands busy.

Sometimes I crochet, because I need "to do" something. In some ways, I'm sort of "hyper." The real problem is that I don't need a constant supply of more cute little crocheted hats.

When I was rantingkvetching about it at work last week, one of the secretaries said:

"So make me a hat."
"Are you serious?"
So yesterday, besides the cassette and DVD, I brought a large selection of "yarns" for her to choose between. She had already told me to make a black base. I brought in one of my hats to get an idea of size.

I still need a "fancy" yarn to tie them all together and give the necessary bulk. I wish I knew of a yarn store in Pisgat Zeev, Ramat Eshkol or French Hill, since today's pool day, and I have that short shopping time between swimming "splashing" and work, not quite teaching , since it'll be movie day, again.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's That Time Of The Year, Again

I have to get my tickets to visit NY. I never really like it. I don't enjoy the agent I've been using. He's like some sort of mystery voice on the phone. I don't know him, don't see him, and he works crazy hours, not my morning type of person. He doesn't even answer emails. I think I'll try a different agent. I get all stressed out just thinking about it. The two years I came home with Nefesh B'Nefesh were great fun. Their agent was nice and the price was reduced, since they covered half or so.

I also don't like making plans too far in advance, and for me, March is too early for late June.

And once I get the tickets, I always think I'm not really ready...

On A Day Like Today,

I really felt that there was nothing to do at work than show the kids a movie. I only had two hours, meaning 90 minutes, with the 10th grade. Many, if not all, knew at least one of the boys who were murdered Thursday night. And half the class was on a field trip.

So, how was I supposed to teach them? Their powers of concentration are fragile to begin with.

On one hand the "bosses" said that they understood that I'd be wasting my time trying to give a "real lesson," but on the other hand, they reminded me that I wouldn't be paid unless I did something with the darlings. So, I reserved the Video Room.

I brought in a Star Wars DVD and a video of a two part CSI. As I was getting the kids and movie started, another teacher asked if he could bring his students in, too. I agreed on the condition that "They behave!" I thought I made that clear. Within a couple of minutes I saw one of the other kids moving a small suspicious-looking "soft aluminum bag" to another one of the other class. Before I could react... STAMP! He stamped his food down hard on the bag, and the stink bomb exploded. I did, too.

The other teacher seemed rather startled and couldn't quite understand why I threw him and his darlings out. My students aired out the room, and...

We started with the DVD, but after a while, the boys asked if they could switch to CSI. I agreed; why not? They were totally absorbed in the action and watched to the end, making them late for the next class. Usually I'm the one who finds kids walking in late.

Before leaving, I asked the secretary to reserve the room for me tomorrow, too, so I can show the program to my 11th grade class.