Friday, December 31, 2010

"Should I buy four dresses?"

I remember his Bar Mitzvah!  I was pregnant with my fourth child, first son, though I didn't know that I was carrying a boy.  My friend remembers me dancing:
"And your enormous belly kept going up and down.  I thought the baby was going to fly out."
That baby will be thirty at his next birthday, so you can calculate how old the groom is!  A couple of years ago, my friend decided to try to hurry her son into marriage by buying herself a dress to wear to his wedding.  NO, he wasn't dating anyone.  Nobody could see a wedding in the future but her.  So, when she spotted a dress which looked just perfect to wear to his wedding, she bought it.  It stayed in her closet waiting for a wedding for two years.

My friend told me that if I want my kids to get married I must buy a dress.
"But four of my kids are still single.  Should I buy four dresses?!?"
It did work for her.  So, I guess if I see a dress I can picture on myself at a child's wedding, then maybe I'll buy it, one by one, G-d willing!

Jewish wedding  Israel

Jewish wedding  Israel

Jewish wedding  Israel

gorgeous wedding

Jewish wedding  Israel

Jewish wedding  Israel

Jewish wedding  Israel


Thursday, December 30, 2010

It Tasted Like Coffee

cup of filter coffee

This was called "Pot of Filter Coffee" on the menu at "Cuppa Joe's."  I met a friend yesterday for a chat and coffee.  It wasn't too expensive.  I was tired so it wasn't bad for late afternoon. 

A New Job Offer, If I Blog It, It's Real

In one of those classic siyatta d'Shmaya events, the other night, on the way to a wedding with total strangers, I ended up being offered a job.  Earlier in the day, or the day before, I had been talking to a friend, a teacher soon to be retiring. She said that when she retires, she's like a simple type of part-time job, like working in a shop of food place, just a few hours a week.

Financially, this has been a rough year.  I didn't find enough tutoring jobs, and although my weight has stayed down, people don't want to pay for my words of wisdom and encouragement.  I haven't really marketed my photography either.  Yes, things are not going well in the money department.

So, back to the ride.  In the backseat, my new friend and I were talking, and it ends up that she's manager of a clothing store, and before I knew it I had been offered a job.  I told her straight away that I could only work part-time.  She said that three shifts a week are minimum.  Perfect for me.  Of course it's not great money, but compared to what I got in that Gilo tutoring job which was too hard physically traveling, it's about the same for the day's work, when you calculate time leaving home to return.  And the store is much, much closer to home.

Today, I must get a doctor's appointment for a "fitness to work letter."  And then I call her to sign up and then she puts me in the schedule.  G-d willing, thank G-d

Once it starts, I'll let you know where it is.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Strange Dinner, Mostly Left-Overs

I ate a great lunch out with my husband's cousin.  We ate at the popular Jerusalem, Emek Rafaim, "Joy."  We both chose exactly the same meal:
  • pea soup
  • salmon with (not enough) green vegetables
  • and we shared the sorbet
The only difference was that I had plain water and she has some selzer.

After we took a long walk back to her hotel, I then met a NY friend for some coffee at "Cuppa Joe's."  I just had what they called a pot of filter coffee.  It was that new French press I think.  It was OK and didn't include much milk, which is good.

By the time I made it home, I wasn't all that hungry, but I needed a salad, so I ate:
  • a fresh simple salad (cucumber and tomato)
  • a glob of sesame paste
  • vegetables from Shabbat, mostly sweet potatoes, heated up
  • apple and ginger compote reheated
It all tasted better than it sounds/reads.  I really didn't feel like having a "real meal."  My husband had a large dinner, happily finishing off all the meat left-overs and eating well above his diet regime, but no cake!

Sorry, no pictures.

That Clean House Smell

One of the bad results of my recent flu was that the house began to stink.  At one early point when I was sick I discovered that the garbage hadn't been thrown out.  I couldn't smell anything at the time, but I knew it was bad news.

A few years ago when I picked up a new pail to be used as a garbage can, לא חשוב מי lo chashuv mi not important who said that I should have gotten something larger.  I insisted that on most days even smaller would be larger than we need, because I have no intention of keeping garbage in the house more than a day.  I 100% disagree with the idea that you have to fill the garbage as a prerequisite for emptying it.

Our nest has been empty for years, and besides when cooking/cleaning for Shabbat, the bag is pretty empty each morning (on a good week) when my husband throws it out.  I go for daily routine.  That way it gets done.  Let the garbage fester in those giant "green frogs" outside, not in my house!

Another secondary, or tertiary, side effect of my flu was that my food burned, since I couldn't smell it cook.  I cook by smell, not by timer.  And because I had still been very weak on Friday, I didn't wash the floors.

My senses of smell and taste have been returning very slowly.  Actually, I hadn't noticed the return of my sense of smell until I walked back in the door yesterday after seeing the grandkids:
"This house stinks!  I have to air it out, even if it's freezing!"
It really did smell awful, like burnt over-cooked food with too many spices.  A few minutes ago, I took a short break from the computer, yes at 5am, to pour some concentrated combo of bleach, flour cleaner and water on the floor and swish it around.  Unfortunately, ok, rather stupidly (chalk it up to post-flu delirium-irrationality) I did it wearing a very expensive woolen bathrobe a few inches too long which mopped some of the liquid up.

G-d willing that cleaning effort will improve matters in the war against the stink.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ladies, if you cover your hair for religious reasons, do you wear...? Poll Closed

Take a look at the poll, please.  It's on the upper left sidebar of this blog. 

OK, not all that many women participated, but one thing is clear.  Women's hair-covering is a very individualistic mitzvah.  What I mean is that the vast, vast majority of women to observe that mitzvah wear a large varieties of hair-covering.

For very few women is there just one way to cover her hair.  Most of us probably have a ridiculously large variety of hats, scarves and wigs for those who wear them.  I even have some wigs, but I wear them on Purim, and when my kids were in school they'd borrow them as theater costumes.

I've heard a couple of interesting approaches about hair-covering by rabbis.  One American rabbi would tell women that it's not worth the fight, the risk of Shalom Bayit, Peace in the Home, to insist on covering your hair if your husband hates the idea of it.  He even used the word, "custom," fudging the halachic (Jewish Law) basis.  I think he's mistaken.  He should have tried to work with the wary husbands to help them make peace with the idea that their wives should cover hair.  It would have been better to empower the husband to help choose the type of hair-covering.

That brings me to the psak and great insistence the Lebovitche Rebbe had that women should wear wigs.  His rationale was that more women would accept the mitzvah if they could wear a wig.  Make the woman love the hair-covering and she'll love the Mitzvah.

Think of it this way:
There's a hair-covering for everyone.  This is a mitzvah to enjoy!

Take a look here in this picture I took at Matan to get an idea of the choices we have.  There are women in wigs, but you can't tell.


Likes My Cooking

Good food shouldn't go to waste.  No, I've never gone for the:
"Eat, I cooked it with love."
"Don't waste the food; children are starving in China/India etc."
"It cost too much to throw it out."
"What do you mean it doesn't taste good?  Everybody else likes it."
--fill in your own favorites...
My style is more:
"It's a waste for it to go on the waist."
So, what do I do with food that for various reasons, nobody human can eat?

I give it to a lucky and grateful animal.  There's a local dog who considers me the elite dog caterer, and for dishes like this flu-spiked fish meal, we have some cats who sniff by.  Yes, this white cat is the lucky recipient of the meal I planned on eating the day I was downed by the flu.  I had sampled a bit, so I wasn't going to give the flu virus as extra spice to my husband, certainly not intentionally.

Monday, December 27, 2010

First Real Coffee in a Week! Modah Ani... Thank You, G-d, For Giving Me My Health Back!

My tastebuds aren't fully back this morning, but I decided to take the plunge.  I cooked up a batch of my usual Turkish coffee, boiled with some sugar in a small pot.

Post-flu, still recovering but for sure last night I was pretty close to normal, Baruch Hashem, Thank the Good L-rd.  HaKodesh Baruch Hu, The Holy Blessed Be He, is being very good to me.

Yesterday morning the clinic nurse told me to be patient.
"As long as there's some gradual improvement, you're doing fine.  There's nothing the doctor can do for the flu."
My latest pictures are being uploaded to Photobucket.  I'm back to using that to blog pictures, since Picasa said that I've reached their maximum for the free account.  Sorry, but I can't afford to pay any extra.  I actually like the general service on Photobucket just fine.  My computer with Picasa did do some fun things, but I'll just have to live without it.

Last night I attended a totally fantastic festive TaNa"CH Bible study evening at Matan, the Siyum of our Al HaPerek Joshua studies.

G-d willing, I'll be posting more about it on Shiloh Musings.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Picture This- JPIX!

Leora's lovely JPIX, the Jewish bloggers' picture carnival is perfectly gorgeous.
Here's a sample of the included posts.  I won't tell you from which blogs.  Click to find out.

Thanks Leora for the wonderful treat.
Shavua Tov--Have a Wonderful Week!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Request, Please

Please, my dear readers, friends, family...

Next year, as soon as the announcements begin offering Israelis their flu shots, please remind me to get one.

Email me, text me, phone me, make the appointment (Kupat Cholim Leumit Shiloh Branch) and drag me out of the house.  Walk with me to the clinic.  I'll behave; I promise.  And make sure I get the vaccine.  Please.

I'll be eternally grateful if it means that I won't have to go through this flu again.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Kitchen Safety, Poisoned Dishes?

During my years as cook for the local day care center, I prided myself on the fact that there hadn't been any food-borne epidemics on my kitchen watch.

Now, here in my own kitchen, I wonder if I handled things correctly.

On Tuesday, just before one when I started my aborted trip to the grandkids I washed the dairy dishes.  Then I started eating the fish lunch that had been cooking at the time.  I couldn't eat it quickly enough, or maybe that was the first sign that I was getting sick, so I packed it in my good food container and took it with me.  When I made it back home sick without going any further than the bus stop, I put the fish in the fridge and didn't wash the dairy dishes until a short while ago (Friday, noon.)  And over those three days, nobody washed the dairy dishes unless my husband wanted something very specific that was some place in that sink.

Yes, three days of festering flu virus, unless they don't thrive in a sink of dirty dishes.  I took the fish meal and fed it to the strays who like my cooking.  Then I poured some bleach on the dirty stuff in the sink.  Not an awful lot,  just a bit...  And then I finally did my usual very thorough job with soap and hot water.  When I say hot, I mean wear rubber gloves hot.

I guess I'm immune from my own flu, and we're not having any guests, and if my husband gets sick it could be from my coughing, during the first couple of days when I couldn't raise my arm to cover my mouth.

So far all I've eaten for lunch has been a banana.  I need more energy.  Maybe I should cook up some fresh ginger and an apple...  I had my "usual breakfast."  I don't think it has done much good or bad.

TU B'Shvat is Coming, Yum, But...

I love fruit.  If I had to choose between a fruit plate-which of course includes all sorts of dried and preserved-fruits and a platter of the fanciest cakes, I'd take the fruit.

My neighbor has been advertising that he's selling "TU B'Shvat fruits."  I salivate at every email message on the community list.

Even though our house has been an empty nest for years and he doesn't like fruit, my husband always buys some.  Temptation can be very dangerous when you're trying to control your eating.  The only food type I have trouble limiting is fruit.  I'm supposed to have three (maximum,) but I frequently have more.  Did I tell you that I love fruit, fresh, dried, baked, compote... well, I can ignore applesauce.  I need to chew.

It's not even Shvat yet.  I shouldn't be obsessing about TU B'Shavt fruit.  We're still suffering a serious drought here in the HolyLand.  One good rain a couple of weeks ago, no matter how strong and heavy isn't enough. 

This is what winter is supposed to look like.  It was taken a few years ago.

This year the ground is still dry and brown.  At most I see a few blades of weed when I walk around the neighborhood.  The lovely green and flowered gardens are all watered artificially.  Nobody can count on rain.

TU B'Shvat signifies that the winter is hardly over, but this year it hardly began.  I guess that this year we'll find ourselves with more imported fruit, even though that seems to be against the intention of the holiday.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Post-Flu, Pros and Cons of Raw Food Diet

For many years, decades, I've been reading all sorts of books, articles and magazines touting the health-giving of raw foods.  Because of that I'd switch into raw food gear when sick.  I don't know if it speeded up recovery.  But I did get terrible back pain.  I couldn't move/twist at those necesary times.  I just considered it as part of the flu.

Then I consulted with my brother-in-law, who practices all sorts of alternative medicine.  His original training is Chiropractic, and he has broadened his skills over the decades.  Well, we he heard about the pain and what I had been eating he perscribed cooked food only.

So for this flu, that's what I did.  I have only been eating cooked food, since I went back to eating.  I didn't force myself to eat, like I used to try to get raw salad and fruit in me duing other flus.  I do drink freshly squeezed lemon in water.

This flu started close to 1:30pm on Tuesday, and now it's almost 9:30pm on Thursday.  I'm not all better, but, Baruch Hashem, I'd doing pretty well, better than in the morning.

The abdominal muscles that hurt when I cough could be from coughing or it could also be from the exercise machines I worked out on Tuesday morning.

So, the bottom line here is that the raw diet isn't best at all times for everyone, and it may even be harmful.  And it's not all that natural.  Humans cook.

Finally Sitting... Had Been Sick

Actually, I still am sick, but I feel better than I did from Tuesday afternoon.  I was fine in the morning, and then when I was waiting for the bus to Ofra to see the grandkids, suddenly I began feeling strange, sick, awful.  So I called my daughter and told her that I was going home.  I got home and collapsed for about forty hours. 

It's Thursday, when I usually cook for Shabbat.  Luckily I have some food in the freezer.

I've been drinking lots of water, water and lemon, teas with lemon.  I tried some soup which just didn't taste right. So when my husband got home from work I asked him to make me an apple compote.  Of course, I had to tell him how to do it.  I at a drop of that.  I don't know what I'll eat today.

Next week's a busy day, so I hope I'm all better by then.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

American Tackle Football, Very Israeli

Honestly, what could be more American than tackle football?  And what could be more Israeli than the IDF Israel Defense Forces COGS Chief of General Staff?

Or maybe things aren't as they seem?

Who's the top quarterback of the best IFL team, the Jerusalem Lions?  His son:

Begin Center

Yes, that's Gabi Ashkenazi, Itai's father.

And what do I care about football?  In general, not much, except that my youngest also plays football on the same team.  Israel's a strange place, yes, a country of Jews from all over the world.  There are all sorts of things we all have in common and very different.  And we're all products of our pasts, not that football played any role in my past.  But can we control our kids?  No way.

If you want the watching NFL football experience, go to the Lions Den, HaGov, the best kosher sports bar & grill in Jerusalem.  It's also a fantastic place for dinner.  You don't have to look at the screens.  Don't tell anyone, but I don't.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Saw "Judge! Song of Devora," Fantastic!!

Last night I had a real treat.  I traveled by bus with a few dozen other women from Shiloh and other Mateh Binyamin yishuvim to Gush Etzion to see Raise Your Spirits Theatre's latest production, Judge!  Song of Devora-

It was totally fantastic.

Here's a picture of me with Sharon Katz whose brainstorm the theater company is.  She also writes and edits Voices Magazine, and yes, of course, she's one of the stars of the show.

JUDGE! – Song of Devora

Trying to Save an Apple Tree

Quite a number of years ago, (maybe 18,) I did some short translation jobs for a neighbor's business.  He didn't pay me immediately, but then he finally offered money.  Instead of accepting money, I decided to ask him to buy me a couple of fruit trees, an apple tree and a cherry tree.  They were planted in front of my house by some then new immigrants olim chadashim who used to spend a lot of time by us.  The cherry tree never took (and isn't to be found) and the apple tree barely grew all these years.  On a rare year, I'd find a couple of pathetic-looking apples on it.  Recently, due to the years of drought, I'm  relieved just to see a few leaves by the end of winter.


Yes, it does look pretty awful, doesn't it?  So, I've decided to try to save it.  Now when I take a shower, I bring in a bucket to collect the water that gets wasted as I wait for the water to heat up.  I also shower in a direction to get as much water in the pail as possible.  And, you guessed it, every day I schlepp the pail to the tree and pour the water nearby to give it a nice dose.  No doubt, it will take more than one season to get this tree on the road to fruitfulness.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Heating Up This House

We planned our house to be simply passive solar heated.  It sounded so simple when I read about it.  Passive Solar Heating:
Make sure your windows allow the sun in.  Invest in double windows and well insulated walls, and your home will be pleasant all winter long, except when it rains and the sun is hidden by clouds.
We didn't use any special materials, and almost all of our windows face the east and south.  When the house was full of kids and guests it did seem warmer than most.  In those days most of our neighbors had less efficient heating and insulation than we did, so the house was more comfortable in the winter.  But over the years they invested in more heating appliances.  Also, those books I read mentioned nothing about the strong winds from the south in the winter.

Now our house is very empty and cold.  I think it's connected.  For the past few years, we've been heating with electric, oil-filled radiators.  I now keep one on low in the living-room all the time, so the room doesn't cool off.  We skipped all sorts of heaters and heating system fads that others have invested in.  The popular one nowadays is the heater-air-conditioner combo.  Hot or cold air blows around the room.  It's OK for cooling, but I don't find my body heated by it when I'm in homes that use it.  It dries out the air and respiratory system which can be dangerous.  Israeli tile/stone floors stay freezing cold, unlike when you heat with a radiator.  Within a short time off it gets cold, so the machine keeps switching on and off, and you can hear it.  Our radiator stays warm for a while after being turned off and is totally silent.

I guess my house would feel warmer if I had a rug in the living-dining room, but then I'd also need to invest in a vacum cleaner.  All this would cost money, which we don't have.  Would we need to spend less on electricity for heating?  And cleaning wouldn't be sweeping and then "sponja," the Israeli wet-mopping floor-cleaning method/system.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lots of New For Me Clothes

I was thinking of having my husband take my picture, after Shabbat of course.  I was dressed in my favorite colors, black and cherry red.  I even got a compliment after shul.  Now, where did all these gorgeous clothes come from?  Shoes and underwear, I bought.  I also bought the black חולצת בסיס chultzat bassis, basic shirt, which is a simple tight, thin knit top of various sleeve lengths generally worn under shirts, jumpers, jackets or dresses.  Actually I was wearing it under a cherry red cardigan with ruffles, that I had picked up in New York over a year ago.  Last year I even wore the cardigan to weddings. 

Since I'm not working enough, not earning enough, I can't spend on clothes, but I really needed some new winter skirts.  I only had two that were actually wearable.  One my friend found in a clothing g'mach and another that I was given third hand from relatives.  In Israel, you can wear "summer" skirts all year, but I was tired of that and didn't want to age my summer wardrobe by wearing it in the winter.

B"H, totally unexpectedly, some great clothes were sent by the same relative, including and a couple of classic A-line woolen skirts that actually fit me perfectly.  A few more skirts, some for summer, are a bit tight.  They aren't the height of fashion, but they are wearable with the right tops, like my fancy American cardigans.  Also beggers can't be choosers.

One of them is black, just perfect for the cherry red cardigan.  And to literally top it off... when I was in NY after taking my father to Arizona, I was given a dressy woolen jacket, in cherry red and matching red hat with black trim that had been in my mother's closet.

OK, it may not be the most youthful outfit in my wardrobe, nor the most modern, but it fits, it's fun and it matches.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fast Soup For The Post-Fast Meal

I usually start the Friday night Shabbat meal with a big salad, but I don't do well on raw foods after fasting.  I need a very plain and simple to make vegetable soup. 
  • a handful or two of split (dry) peas
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • a piece of dla'at, thick fresh pumpkin
  • 1 green squash
  • a few cloves of garlic
  1. I put the peas in a pot* with boiling water. 
  2. After an hour or so I added more boiling water and put up the flame so it would cook. 
  3. After about a half an hour I chopped up the vegetables and added them to the soup, along with a spoon of oil. 
  4. I added more water. 
  5. When it started to boil I transfered the pot to a smaller flame.
  6. Then I added pepper and parsley flakes.
  7. I plan on adding miso before it's ready.
At this point it smells too good, and it's making me very hungry.

*around 3 liters.  I can't turn it over to check the size.

Not My Usual Friday

No water and coffee this morning.  It's a fast day, the 10th of the Jewish month of Tevet.  These fast days generally go very slowly.  Yes, fast doesn't mean fast.

I have a lot to do.  It is Friday, and for whatever reason I didn't do today's work yesterday.  In theory I could have, but if I had gotten it all done, what would I have had to do today?  I would have found myself just doing nothing and getting colder.

Friday I cook the side dishes to be served on Shabbat.  That heats up the house a bit.  In the summer, using the oven makes the house so warm, but in the winter, I can hardly feel it.

I just got off the phone with my sister.  My mother had a pacemaker inserted yesterday, and now she'll need more "rehab."  My father is alone with all the helpcare at McDowell's.  He's doing amazingly well all considered.  My sister has to find them a different place, one with more nursing care.  It's not easy for her.  Last year, if you remember, my father lived with us.  It feels like a million years ago.

Enough here in this cold room.

On with my day...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bus Adventures, Meet Adam

This year, especially since I'm tutoring in Gilo, I've been traveling on more buses throughout Jerusalem than ever before.  If you want to know the least expensive way to see the city, just get on a bus, especially those with long windy routes like #24.  I caught that one at the Israel Museum when I was on my way to Gilo via the Malcha Mall.  I didn't realize that it would pass through so many neighborhoods that I was sure we were on our way to Kiryat Gat.

The other day, after being dropped off at the Hizme, "check point," the number 147 came.  I knew it goes to Ofra, which was my destination.  Just as I got on the bus I was told that it goes via Adam, a community a couple of minutes north of Jerusalem.  No problem, I hadn't been in Adam for years.  There was a time when Adam was very new and our buses went in.



As you can see, it's growing and seems very well-kept.  There are both religious and non-religious Israelis living there.

Coffee, Nothing Like The Simplest For A Great Morning Treat

Coffee Time Small Pictures, Images and PhotosRegulars here know that I've been reported on a coffee saga for quite awhile.  I have these vivid olefactory memories, half a century old of that whif of coffee when opening a fresh glass jar of instant coffee.  Maybe it's derived from some ancient TV ad; I don't know.  I just know that no matter what brand, I can't reproduce it today.  The closest is good standard Israeli vacuum packed Elite Turkish coffee.

I like the flavor of good, strong perc'ed coffee and what is still served in Israeli hotels with their legendary breakfasts.

I no longer have a percolater with all parts, and the first few electric drip coffeemakers I inherited from various sources all died.  My recently bought ufesa was a total waste of money.

So I gave up and started cooking up my coffee, like some Russian immigrants taught me, with sugar.  This week I packed that simply delicious powerful coffee in a thermos and took it to Jerusalem to drink during class.  I preheated the thermos for half an hour with boiling water, like my friend suggested, and then I poured the boiling coffee in with the help of a funnel.  I added some milk.

And then when I opened my thermos in that auditorium, wow!  A friend a couple of seats away enjoyed the coffee smell.  Now, that was coffee!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A New "G'mach" and Another Great Tremp Story

A g'mach is "free loan" society or a special low price "charity store."  It can be anything from donated wedding gowns, rented at under market cost, a clothing "store" with "symbolic" no profit prices, all sorts of equipment, such as medical or baby supplies, crutches or no-interest financial loans.  And I just discovered a new one, not far from Shiloh. 


The sign I'm holding is from a sign g'mach at the check-point outside of the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood of Jerusalem where there are bus stops and people also get "tremps," rides.  When I'd pass people holding the signs, I just figured that they were very well organized.  Then I found out that a few weeks ago, somebody delivered the signs and set up a basket in the bus stop.  So, today, after my friend dropped me off, I took a sign, and a nice young lady preferred taking my picture than posing with a sign.  I have no idea who the girl is, but, yes, that's another example of how nice people are here.

Eventually, she called me over to ask if I wanted a ride to Ofra.  I got in, squashed in the backseat between a baby's carseat and a different young woman.  No complaints.  I'm glad I'm not the weight I was two years ago. 

Well, we didn't get very far.  We were in one of those traffic circles so popular nowadays with city planners, and the driver's GPS said:
"Take the exit out of the city."
Well, there is no sign saying "exit."  The poor guy seemed terribly confused.  I quickly said:
"Left," and he gratefully turned left, and we were on our way.
But I knew that soon I'd have to explain how to maneuver the Adam Junction.  The wrong turn could take us to Ramalla.  I gave directions, there, too, since his GPS wasn't at all helpful.  I suggested that he complain to the company. 

And I knew why I had to wait just there for a ride until he came.  That guy would still be going around the traffic circle if he hadn't had help.

"...Just To Hear What a Wonderful Son You Have."

The other night, very tired, I got off the bus and started trudging up the hill to get home.  The walk from the bus stop to my house is mostly up hill, at least a half a kilometer up hill and then a bit down again to the other side of it.  Somehow, it always seems longer after getting off the bus.  It's especially long when I'm alone.

I didn't have heavy bags, so I just kept going and didn't stop or wait for a ride.  I hate standing around waiting.  I hate standing around waiting even more than I hate schlepping up the hill.  So, I kept on walking.  It really wasn't so bad.

I noticed a small car going down.  It sort of slowed, then in the corner of my eye I noticed it stopping and turning around, reverse.  Suddenly it stopped right next to me.  One of the young men of the neighborhood was in the drivers seat:
"I just couldn't let you walk it."
What a sweet kid.  He turned around just to give me a ride home!

Yesterday, around twenty hours later, again I was trudging up the hill.  Suddenly a car stopped right next to me.  It was the father of the young man who had given me a ride just the night before.
"Would you believe...?  Just twenty hours earlier, your youngest gave me a ride at this very spot.  He was on his way out, saw me and turned around so I wouldn't have to walk.  What a darling boy."
"Actually, I was on my way out of Shiloh, when my wife said that I should get something from the house. That's why I'm davka here right now."
"No, you're here right now just to hear what a wonderful son you have."
I have the best neighbors here in Shiloh.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Bissel Updating

I'm on facebook more and find myself posting short unadorned messages which once would be embellished into blog posts.  Some of my blogger friends are there, too, messaging away with one and two sentence ditties.  I have a twitter account, but I don't check it at all.  I just have it set up to post my blog posts. 

And there has been a problem with blog carnival making it almost impossible to send links.

If you're a facebook friend, you know that I'm very cold, especially sitting here in the den.  Winter is much harder on me than summer was.  It used to be that both were awful and I only functioned a couple of weeks a year. 

It's hard to be clever when your fingers are frozen.

I'm not getting enough exercise so I look or feel heavier.  I know that I'm eating basically the same as when I was thinner, but I'm doing less.  That's not good.  But I'll, G-d willing, get back on target.

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is Wednesday which means that Shabbat is rapidly approaching.  The weeks just fly by...

And how are you?

Jerusalem Street Scenes--The Lightrail Traffic Jam and More

Many of us wonder, are trying to imagine what Jerusalem will really be like once the lightrail is running on schedule transporting passengers etc.  On occasion, I come across the train on practice runs throughout its inaugural debut route.  Yes, this great photo-op of old and new, ancient and modern is the lightrail as it "runs" by Jerusalem Old City Walls, near Shaar Shechem, Damascus Gate.

jerusalem lightrail

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our intrepid pedestrian (your very own blogger) keeps being forced into very dangerous situations.



All I'm trying to do is to get from point a to point b by foot.  Isn't that supposed to be the healthiest way to go?

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Fine For A Refund?

The media is all excited about the new law requiring stores here in Israel to refund money, under certain conditions, if a customer returns the purchase.  Well, this is far from the American "no question, don't ask..." policy.  In Israel, you pay a fine 10% tax or ns100.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who never got around to using a "refund credit slip" or two or more.  Cash is much easier to spend.  Too frequently the store where we want to return the purchase doesn't have what we like or need.  That's why we're returning the whatever

On occassion, I've had good luck here in Israel with returns.  A friend gave me a gorgeous set of Michal Negrin jewelry.  Yes, absolutely gorgeous but not my taste at all.  When she handed it to me, she stressed that I should exchange it and buy what I like, and that's exactly what I did.  The service in the Michal Negrin store was excellent.  Prior to that I had bought from their Lod Airport Duty Free shop.  Shortly after I picked out my "present" one of the pieces needed a small repair, and again, excellent service, no charge.

Another store with friendly service when exchanging (ok for credit slips) is the Golf clothing and housewares chain.  My daughter didn't like the first outfit I bought the baby for her parties, so I found something better in a different branch, the Pisgat Ze'ev one.  Afterwards I checked a couple of other branches, and the saleswomen were all very understanding.
"Oh, yes, the savtot, grandmothers are always back exchanging clothes here.  It's normal.  Yes, the mothers send them."
Gift stores automatically offer exchange stickers/cards, so the recipients can choose something more to their liking.

Now it's going to be legal, a requirement.  And just a warning, the law isn't simple, not at all.  Ask when purchasing if there's any chance you may need to exchange or return.

Gloves and Candlelight

Thank G-d, it's raining, but that shouldn't mean that we have to suffer all those electricity outages.  When the repairmen accidently burned up the western side of Tel Shiloh, they had been repairing some connections, or so the local security people said.

I wonder how Jerusalem's lightrail will weather the future storms, since some train passengers had to be transferred to buses in other parts of the country.

Yesterday, I set up a whole bunch of candles on the diningroom table so I could read.  What else was there to do all alone in the house?  And I searched my coat closet for fallen gloves to make up more pairs.  I need a pair of very heavy insulated ones for outside and lighter knitted ones for sleeping.  I found heavy hot-pink ones, which must have had been bought for my daughters a couple of decades ago, considering that they're still in their thirties, and I slept with a miss-matched pair, one black and one grey, but who can see in the dark?

Today, I need to take a walk and I also have my tutoring job in Gilo.  If the weather doesn't clear, I'll just have to go to Malcha Mall on the way and walk there.  It's on the way, but the bus routes from there are awfully long.  I also wonder if I'll make the 7:15 home if it's wet.  We'll see.  It'll be good to get out of the house.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

*IFL, NFL, Isn't All That Football the Same? (*METV Video Added)

I popped out of this freezing den to get some water when I caught a news report about the IFL as NFL half-time entertainment on METV.  I couldn't stop laughing.  Israeli tackle football as part of an NFL game.  We know from our #31 Jerusalem Lions that they take it very seriously.

This isn't the METV broadcast.  Hebrew, but worth watching. Take a look at the father hanging out with the Jerusalem Lions players during the game. Do you recognize him?  Fathers aren't usually allowed to hang out there, but this guy has protexia.

So, if any of you want real football, it's here in Israel.

I Hope My Neighbor Doesn't Convert to ebooks

Every couple of months I call or email one of my neighbors:
"Is it possible for me to choose another batch of books?"
His taste in books is similar to mine.  He picks them up inexpensively in second hand book stores.  He's very generous about lending them out and giving them away.  Recently he let me know that he needed to empty a few shelves, so I should just come and take whatever I wanted.  So I don't have to buy my light reading.

If he was the ebook type, he'd pay  a lot more for the right to upload a book onto some machine (which can't be used on Shabbat) and then he wouldn't be able to transfer those books to the neighbors.  I'm not the only one who uses his "library."

I like real paper books.  One book can be read by dozens or hundreds of people.  That's very efficient use of a tree and a lot friendlier than all that techie material.

Out of the den and off to finish that book I started yesterday...  I certainly can't curl up with a pc...

It's Back...

The electricity is.  We're having terrible wind storms.  I don't think it has rained much here, but the winds are awful. There was no electricity when I woke up.  Eventually, I boiled myself some coffee, with the sugar.
  • turkish coffee
  • sugar
  • water
It was so much better than the ufesa coffemaker makes me.  So please consider this a customer report, or whatever they are.  This ufesa coffee maker customer reports that the coffee maker is a gyp.  It wastes good coffee, because the water isn't hot enough and it doesn't activate/cook/filter whatever the full flavor out of the grinds.  I've used the same Turkish coffee in a couple of different filter/drip machines, plus in percolators, and believe me the ufesa is the very worst.    It's so bad that I can take the grinds out of the filter, put them in a pot with water, boil and I'll get a much more satisfying cup of coffee.  Now, that's pretty pathetic and a total waste of money.

So, when I have the opportunity, I'll be buying myself some sort of new coffeemaker or perculator, whether old-fashioned or electric, I'm not sure yet.  I may just start boiling up my coffee in the morning, even when there is electricity.

Oops!  I had better return the milk back to the fridge.  I had left it by a cold window instead of reopening the refrigerator when we didn't have electricity.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rain, Can't Complain... Just Some Thoughts

I don't think there has been all that much rain, more wind than rain, but when I was walking home from the shiur (class) I got soaked.  Yes, my shoes didn't hold up to the rain at all, and my good wool skirt didn't protect me.

Luckily I left a heater on, very low, for Shabbat.  We just have a few electric radiators.  The trick is to leave them on low all the time so the house doesn't get too cold.  There's actually a thermostat in the radiator, so if it gets too warm the heating element is off.

I don't have decent boots.  There has been so little rain; I've survived without the past few winters.  I have tried to buy some, especially when I was in NY over a year ago to bring my father here.  I had a couple of hours to shop and tried on so many boots and none were comfortable.  How do people buy shoes online?  I have to try them on, take a few steps. 

I can't imagine buying clothes online either.  I have to feel them.  I like shopping.   I like just walking through stores, even if I buy nothing at all.  Catalogues just don't do it for me.  I'm a very kinesthetic person.  I'm listening to a Tanach (Bible) class on Matan as I type, but I can't "just listen" and concentrate.  I can't watch a TV show or movie without doing something else.  I wish I could stop the TV show mid-action to leave the room and then turn it back on like a DVD.

Too many paragraphs start with "I." 

I guess I'm feeling stir-crazy since I couldn't take a walk this afternoon.

Shavua Tov
Have a Wonderful Week

Friday, December 10, 2010

According to WikiLeaks, Saudis Watch Same TV I Do

Hat tip: Jerusalem Post

We have a minimal satellite dish TV package.  So we get to watch shows from the same TV "stations" as mentioned in the WikiLeaks from Saudi Arabia.

Most of the shows on the "MBC's," Fox Series and Fox Movies are American.  I can even access the program schedule online in English.  I just have trouble sometimes figuring out what time the shows will be broadcast, since Israel isn't on the menu.  And like all the cheap cable deals, the same shows and movies keep being repeated.  Yesterday I finally saw Godfather III for the first time.  OK, I just saw the very beginning and very end, the very pathetic end.  Al Pacino's hairdo in that movie was ridiculous.  It didn't suit anything, certainly not the powerful businessman image the "don" always tried to give.

I wonder how the Saudis dealt with the very strange series "Kyle XY."  If these stations are really so popular in the Arab world, they are getting a very strong dose of American TV style life.  I wonder how the Iraqis take Army Wives.

And if someone from Fox Series is reading this, I'd like to know why Castle hasn't returned and if there's any chance of getting later E.R. seasons.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

WikiLeaks Revenge. I'm Glad I Never Got A Paypal Account

This new make-believe, virtual world we live in has so many risks.  Tonight on Israeli news they were warning parents that two convicted pedophiles are free and contacting kids on facebook.  With the internet, not only don't parents know who their kids' friends are, but kids don't really know either.

I've been told many times that I need a paypal account, and you can see that many bloggers have it.  They're like virtual "pushkas," "pay-me charity  boxes on their blogs. 
"If you like what I write, pay something, please."
I haven't done it.  No, it's not because I don't need the money, it's just that I can't imagine confiding official information needed for a banking account to some computer screen.  Also for the longest time "paypal" was one of the drawing cards of viruses, hackers etc trying to get information you wouldn't want to give out.

Apparently, they don't want to work with WikiLeaks anymore and WikiLeaks is taking revenge.  I don't want to be a casualty of cyber-war.  Ironically, I just finished reading a book, Case of Lies by Perri O'Shaughnessy, which deals with internet hacking.  I can type, but I don't understand how any of this hacking etc works.   I don't keep my money under my mattress, but I'm not trying paypal so quickly, especially after this.

"Natural" Foods and Diets, Vegan?

I'm writing this, because a friend just sent me this article by someone who stopped being vegan, because of serious health issues.

Over my long enough life to get senior discounts on Israeli buses, I've tried various "health diets."  I was vegetarian (ovo-lacto) for twenty-five years, which included a couple of periods vegan and even raw food only.  Besides becoming obese, I had no health problems, probably because by eating eggs I got all the protein, ameno acids etc.

Then I had a stressful time subbing in a junior high, besides my then high school job.  Suddenly I was very hungry and felt an uncontrollable craving for meat, poultry and fish.  Something told me that I ought to stop trying to get energy from "white chocloate," one of the worst candies ever invented and give up my vegetarianism. 

Unlike many vegetarians, I didn't preach that it was morally superior or more natural.  I started being a vegetarian after a few years of not really being attracted to meat, and then a doctor recommended a period of veganism after I had a bad reaction to a bee sting.

For those twenty-five years I felt fine as a vegetarian and had perfectly healthy pregnancies of my two sons.  I didn't take vitamin supplements most of the time.  For quite a few years, I've rejected the idea of vitamins, because they're admissions of bad eating habits.  Correct your diets and you don't need vitamins, unless there is a very specific health issue.

Now I eat very ordinary food, lots of vegetables, three proper servings of protein, plus snacks, fruit, salad etc.  During the week I get my carbohydrates from cooked vegetables, like carrots and onions.  Fruit has sugar.  I don't need any other carb.  I don't suffer food cravings either.  If I suddenly feel the need for "something" more satifying than fruit, I'll have a bit of goats yogurt, a couple of raw nuts or a spoon of sesame paste.  Those little snacks are generally much smaller than I used to take.  I also make a point of getting out of the kitchen as soon as possible and give my body the 20-30 minutes needed to let the food "register."

Some friends have gotten into veganism,  raw food and juicing.  They try to tell me that it's natural.  I insist that it isn't and remember how much food I used to have to eat to feel satisfied.  They eat enormous quantities, too.  A salad just makes me hungry.  Juice is just the "sugar" of the vegetable or fruit.  It's not "natural;" it's processing.  I like to chew.  Chewing is considered by the experts as stage one of digestion.

Jewish Law allows the eating of meat, poultry and fish with certain conditions, Kashrut.  When I was a vegetarian, I was taught that according to Jewish Law, you can only be a vegetarian if you have a specific health requirement or if meat/fish/poultry makes you feel ill.  You may not insist that it's morally superior.

John Lennon, 1960's Icon, Though Mistaken, Worshipped To This Day

The 1960's were a powerful time.  Those of us who became teens and adults then, born either during World War Two or in the first few years of the post-war baby boom benefited from growing affluence and optimism.  On the whole we seemed, statistically at least, bigger and healthier than our parents, though that seems to be proving as false* as John Lennon's "Imagine" philosophy.

It was Lennon's charisma which brought the Beatles an unbeatable following.  By all accounts he wasn't the most musically talented of the four. 

There are those who now say that actually George Harrison was the one, even more than Paul McCartney who is still producing.

And, yes, this will be a thirty years after the murder post, sort of.  OK, where was I?

Please remember that I live in Israel, which is seven hours ahead of New York.  Thirty years ago, I was pregnant with our first son.  G-d blessed me with relatively easy, comfortable and healthy pregnancies.  For some reason, that Chanukah night I couldn't sleep.  I felt miserable and nauseous, not my usual at all.  When the radio alarm went off at 6am, there was a flash-important news announcement:
John Lennon had been murdered, shot in front of his Manhattan apartment building.
I barely got out of bed that day.  Coincidence, I guess.  You don't have to agree with someone to recognize his contribution, whether positive or negative.

And where were you?

*I wonder how many of my friends and relatives will live longer than our parents who've reached well into their eighties and nineties.  Many friends tell me that they and their siblings have more chronic illnesses (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.) than their very elderly parents.  And today there are a totally unprecedented high number of children with those conditions, which were once only seen in the middle-aged and elderly.

Homeschooling, Me? But Now That I Think About It...

I got this not that I'm included in the Jewish Homeschool Carnival, and I couldn't figure out why. Of course check it out!
  1. My kids finished school years ago, unless you count the professional course my elder son is doing to be a dog psychologist whisperer.
  2. I always sent my kids to regular schools.
Curious, of course, I checked it out.  Jennifer has expanded the concept of homeschooling, including all of the very educational things good parents and grandparents do. The fact that I speak English to my very Israeli daughter and her kids means that I'm homeschooling my grandchildren in English.  It amazes me each time I hear them answer (99% in Hebrew but) appropriately to whatever I've said.  English isn't a foreign language to them.  The sounds, words, phrases etc are familiar and even comprehended.

When I sing "One little, two little, three little Indians," not only do I show appropriate fingers, I mix two from one hand and three from the other for five, along with similar combinations, to give them at least a visual understanding of how numbers can be added.

When my daughter allows them a treat from the supermarket (the local grocers is big) they are given a maximum price and aren't allowed to go over it.  That's also teaching.  They pore over the chart at the ice cream freezer, learning quickly that seven 7 is more than five 5, and four point five zero 4.50 is less.

This year I decided that since they have too many "things" and I have too little money, so I'd give them each (the older ones) a ns20 bill as a Chanukah gift and let them shop.  My daughter told me that it's their favorite type of gift.  They love to calculate what they can afford, adding up potential purchases to make sure they don't go over budget.  The oldest (all of seven) helps her younger siblings.  Their great-grandfather was a CPA and his father was a Yiddish-speaking factory owner in New York.  Another great-grandfather managed to save/invest a fortune from a modest salary as civil servant, which was only discovered after his death.  Yes, B"H, bli eyin haraa, they come from good stock on all sides.  But the key is how you school them at home, no matter where they learn the "3 R's."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Good News, Bad News: Winter's Here; I'm Cold

That's 100% right, it is good news, wonderful news and I'm really grateful to G-d Almighty that he is blessing us with cold wet weather.  But,  yes that "but," I'm cold!  I need my goves on, and my feet need not only socks at night.  I filled a hot water bottle to join me under the "puch," down blanket, by my feet.

For decades already I've had trouble with extra sensitive toes and fingers.  Sorry  for kvetching.

We need the rain, and in our part of the world we need the cold for agriculture.  My grapes won't grow without a period of cold.

I just need the right "equipment."  I need gloves, very warm socks and the right shoes with insulating soles.

Winter, like summer, is just temporary.  The seasons, and here we have two connected by very short transitions, are like the cycles of the moon.  The moon never looks the same two nights in a row, and after it can't be seen, it gradually returns until it's full.  And then it gets smaller again.

This is the last night of Chanukah.

Chag Urim Sameach
May you have an enlightened Holiday

Yes, Thanking G-d For Mud!

We've been so desperate for rain that when I spied the shimmering mud on Monday, I had to shoot it and show you!


Diamonds, gold, silver...?  There's nothing more precious and valuable than rain, because rain brings water and there's no life, neither people, plants etc without water.  You can't live on gold and diamonds, but even just drinking water will keep you alive for a long time.  Without water we won't have food.

And without rain, it's much to easy for fires to burn out of control, like Israel just experienced in the north, the Carmel.  So, we must pray for rain and we must do what G-d tells us, because He controls the rain.

Never Waste Time, Ivdu b'Simcha!

hat tip hadassa on facebook

Sometimes, like yesterday, we suddenly find ourselves with time to "kill."  Dancing is a better solution.  I ended up with a few "wasted" hours yesterday.  Instead of getting aggavated or going online on somebody's unused computer in the Begin Center, I ended up talking to some of the workers.  They also had some "dead" time before the Begin Prize ceremony.  Even when I was stuck downstairs waiting until allowed to nosh from the food-laden reception tables, I am proud to say that I kept myself pretty calm.  I wish I could have danced...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

7th Night of Chanuka

First a mazal tov to the bima ima who had her fourth child, a boy, on the sixth day!

Enjoy this little history lesson, the story of Chanukah, easy to understand.

Here's a different sort of Jewish video from

Elizabeth Edwards* is Following RivkA

*Elizabeth Edwards has passed away, more quickly than her family had expected.  May her memory be a blessing to her family, and may her children inherit her strength.

Breast cancer may be considered a "chronic disease," but the life-span is too short.  Elizabeth Edwards' family has announced that her cancer has spread to her liver.  That was the announcement that RivkA made a few short weeks before her death.

I only know Elizabeth Edwards from the media, but I had met RivkA a few times.

May G-d give their families strength and good health.

Favorite All-Purpose Cure-All?

What's your most used, effective "folk medicine?"  A cure-all which isn't a medicine, just something you can take for those vague or viral aches, pains etc...

Yesterday I felt "off" when I returned from Kever Rachel.  It's probably one of the reasons I wrote such a negative post.  It wasn't my most pleasant experience there.  I'll probably blog more when I'm in the mood or can find a more humorous way of describing what happened.

I had some green tea with lemon and honey, which didn't do all that much.  I followed my appetite and didn't have a chicken dinner.  I made up vegetables and quinoa instead.  And I drank a lot of water with freshly squeezed lemon.  I also had some this morning before my coffee.  Yes that's my "cure-all," freshly squeezed lemon in water.  It's great for flus, colds, dehydration etc.  Too much honey isn't good.  Generally once I'm feeling better I find the lemon in water disgusting, but when I'm not feeling well, it tastes fine.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Solved! The Case of the Missing Comments

I'm no computer maiven.  Luckily they taught us typing in the 7th Grade in JHS 74, Bayside, NY.  It's probably one of the most valuable things I ever learned in school.  I was taught old-fashioned touch-typing on a giant Remington manual typewriter.

Yes, it looked something like this one and was perched on a high desk, which is one of the reasons I can't use those low, under the table slide computer keyboards.

Back to the topic, sorry for the tangent...
Of late I've noticed that comments to my blogs, especially Shiloh Musings, arrive in my email inbox, but I can't find them on the blog.  It's rather Twilight Zone. I compose replies in my head and then head off to the blog and... strange, there's no such comment.  This has been happening much too frequently.  Tonight I decided to search.

I checked out my blogger dashboard, clicked "comments" and saw that there were a couple of tabs:
Awaiting Moderation
And there they were, cowering in the spam box, but they weren't spam.  At least most weren't spam.  They were comments from my loyal readers, the ones who have no problem conversing with me via the comment option on my blog.

I've learned my lesson.  I have to check more frequently.  I do check my yahoo spam box.  That's where not only do I find most comments, but I find letters I've sent.

Actually, this blog rarely gets comments.  But I don't write about such mundane matters on Shiloh Musings.  No offense intended.

Miriyummy's KCC!

Miriyummy has joined the exclusive club of Kosher Cooking Carnival hosts with a lovely, moist (B"H, it's raining) KCC!

There are some very tasty posts being served.  If you'd like to join the club of KCC hosts, or are ready for an additional opportunity, please let me know, so I can schedule you in.  To submit your kosher food posts click here.  The Kosher Cooking Carnival is more than just a recipe carnival, because kosher food is not just about eating.
  • Halachot (Jewish Law) concerning kosher animals, cleaning, cooking etc.
  • Traditions, kosher family food traditions, holidays and special occasions.
  • Kosher cookbook and restaurant reviews.
  • And recipes, of course, as long as they're kosher!

Just A Drop In The Bucket

According to the predictions, this rain is not to last very long.  We need twenty hours of rain each day for the next few months.  There should be four hours of sunshine so the water will have a chance to seep where it's supposed to seep, deep, deep down in the ground. This drought is far from over.

Keep praying.

Pray for rain and for wisdom for us and our politicians in government.  We're all in this together.

The picture is from an earlier rain.

All It Took Was A Drop of Rain For...

... the electricity to poof disappear.

Yes, we're being blessed by rain, and after less than an hour, by my reckoning, electricity was returned.  And I'm not complaining,  just thanking G-d for His mercy.  This is what winter is supposed to look like.  G-d willing, in a week or so, there will be lots of green and more rain and mud.

"Bright Night," Another Chanukah Video

Hat tip the Ima Bima who is expecting to be, or may already be as I blog this, a mother of four.  בשעה טובה! B'Sha'ah Tovah! May it be at the "right time."  And nice and healthy, ima and baby, nothing else matters!

The news has reported that the devestating fire in the Carmel region of Israel is officially extinguished.   Baruch Hashem, Thank G-d!  Davka, a fire during the holiday of lights...  Yes, another example of how in Israel the same things can be holy or profane. 

And for two conflicting thoughts.  The Hand of G-d is in everything, but at the same time, we humans have free will and must take responsibilities for our actions, including recognizing that each act, each word affects others, sometimes like a house of cards collapsing.  And sometimes when a mitzvah or chessed brings more...

נס גדול היה פה, לא שם
Nes gadol haya poh, lo sham
The Great Miracle Happened Here, Not There!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Fifth Night out of Eight, Reflecting

Yes, five small "cups" of best quality (for eating) olive oil are burning in the window facing the street. We light the chanukiyot (Chanukah menorah) on the window sill. These windows face the road. Our front door faces the path. Our custom is for everyone to light his/her own chanukiya. When the house was full of kids and guests we had chanukiyot for one and all. Some years/nights both long (wide) window sills were full. I bought lots of simple (inexpensive) oil chanukiyot, like this one. And of course, I also had to buy lots of little glass cups. We have all sorts of sizes, too. Yes, it gets sort of miss-matched. My husband still prefers his traditional candles, but I changed my tradition and I guess I've been lighting oil for a long time already.

Another change we've made over the years is to sing the entire Maoz Tzur, instead of just the first verse. I first heard the complete singing when I lit in someone else's house, because I was going to a wedding with them. It was a long time ago, and it took a very long time to get the custom accepted by my family. Another thing I didn't know existed was HaNerot hallalu... All I had ever learned in my Hebrew School was the blessings.

Life is learning and growing, like the lights in the chanukiya. We shouldn't make do, be complacent with the "old ways." We must keep on learning, improving...

Chag Urim Sameach
Have an Enlightened Holiday
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fun gift from the museum

There's nothing more fun that doing-- like in doing arts & crafts.

When my kids were little they didn't have tons of toys, but there were always simple crafts supplies, like paper, crayons, paste, scissors etc. Over a year ago, when I was in New York I found modern (plastic rather than metal) pot-holder weaving kits so similar to the ones I had as a kids and my kids got as gifts. So, of course I bought them for my granddaughters. The big girls really enjoy doing them, designing patterns and then weaving.

Here they're busy doing mosaics, pasting little squares onto small jugs.

No computer game gives the same total brain, body workout as these arts & crafts projects.
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Chanukah, Half-Done and Another Video

It always starts off seeming like Chanukah is a long holiday, eight days... Yes, that's more than a week.  But once it gets started it goes real fast like a tray of freshly fried latkes with all the trimmings, surprisingly simple no-fuss homemade apple sauce and sour cream... not on my menu, but the memories are great.

Last night we lit the 4th candle, which means that we're at the half way mark.

Here's a cute video I found on youtube.  It's not new, but it predates my youtube viewing, so it's new for me.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Sometimes The Giver Has To Receive

Israel is generally on the giving side when it comes to all sorts of emergencies, natural and man-made disasters.  We got so much praise for our instant emergency hospitals in  Haiti about a year ago.  Suddenly we're on the receiving end because of the massive fire in the Carmel, northern IsraelAbout the why there's a fire, drought etc. I've been blogging on Shiloh Musings.  Here I'll go into another aspect, when the giver must change roles and receive help.

In Shiloh, we try to help each other.  It feels better to be on the helping side, but there's no way to guarantee that we'll always be there.  Sometimes we must agree to receive help, whether we want to or not.  It's not always pleasant to admit that things are out of our control.  We just can't do it all, and if we don't take a break, breathe and let the assistance in, or the situation may get worse.  Sometimes you have to just let go and let others take charge. 

The time in my life when my family and I needed the most help was when my youngest was a tiny (OK, he was never really tiny, just very young) and he had to be hospitalized for six weeks.  I blogged about it last week.  We never would have survived without my wonderful neighbors.  After he was released from the hospital and we returned to our regular life, I could once again assist others.

We also must be realistic about our capabilities to help others and not take on more than we're safely able to do.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Chanukah, The Assimilated Jews' Last Stand...

I may be wrong; it has been forty-five, yes, 45 years since I decided to live as a Torah Jew...

For many assimilated Jews, I think that celebrating Chanukah, even as a substitute for xmas, shows the last remnants of their Jewish observance.  It may be as minimal as buying a Chanukah present for the kids and not a xmas one.  That's even easier than buying a box of matzah and making some effort to hold a "seder" on Passover.

Over the years when various relatives married non-Jews, if a female relative married a non-Jew I'd buy them a present, a Chanukah Menorah.  Sometimes I got it for a Jewish couple, since it seemed like a nice Jewish gift from the relatives in Israel.  I don't know how many actually have used them.  I certainly don't ask.

But if I'm not mistaken, it's the one ritual item most people are familiar with.

Chag Urim Sameach
Have an Enlightened Holiday

Chanukah Day 2- Another Kosher Chanukah Video, NCSY

I'm amazed that acapella is so popular with the youth!  I had thought that traditional Chazanut was on its way out.

I get a kick out of this video, because it's from NCSY.  I'm a "product" of NCSY, one of its success stories from the 1960's.  In my day, a couple of the popular bands got their starts playing at NCSY events.  Jordy Penkower and the Mark 3 were NCSY fixtures.  They were really great; we even had the Mark 3 play at our wedding.  I had this album autographed with personalized messages from the band.

The Ruach Revival started at NCSY in our Greater New York ACTION Region.  Their style was very different from Mark 3.

Chag Urim Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Completely Kosher Chanukah Video and Some Other Thoughts...

I agree that there are problems with Matisyahu's very commercial Chanukah video.  Read the comments on my Shiloh Musings posting. For sure the female could have been dressed modestly, according to the norms of tzniyut.

I've been in Israel forty years, almost exactly if you count the months two-thirds of my life, but I haven't been able to totally delete my earliest years.  Because of this my perspective isn't what you'd generally expect from the way I dress.  We're judged by our "uniforms."  Yes, we're all in uniforms, because clothing is like publicizing a membership card.  Of course, we can change our clothes and change our image, impression on others.

Chazal, our Sages, say that in Biblical times, when the single girls danced in the Valley of Shiloh, they exchanged clothes, so that they didn't wear their own white dresses.  A rich girl could be in a simple, inexpensive dress while the poverty-stricken girl could be in the dress of a wealthy girl.  Our clothing is external, superficial.

Because of this, we all must be so careful how we speak to others, because we may accidently say something offensive.  One of my pet peeves is when someone giving a shiur Torah Class prefaces something by saying:
"כמו שכולנו למדנו בגן"
"Kimo shekulanu lamadnu b'gan..."
 "Just like we all learned in nursery school..."
Well, I didn't go to gan, nursery school, and if I had I wouldn't have learned any Torah stories there.  Though born Jewish and raised in Jewish neighborhoods, Torah wasn't on the menu, not in the curriculum.

The first time I heard that expression, it was from a distinguished guest rabbi.  I sat fuming, because I felt totally left-out, rejected.  By his saying those words he excluded me from the group.  I was dressed like the other women and understand enough Hebrew to attend Hebrew-language shiurim, so he simplistically took for granted that we in the audience were "all the same."

I didn't feel right getting up and walking out, nor did I think it good form to interrupt him and tell him how he had insulted me.  About a year or so after that experience, one of my neighbors gave a class to us and used the expression.  Knowing that he would never intentionally or unintentionally hurt me, I politely interrupted him and told him how I felt.  I also mentioned that I wasn't the only one in the group who hadn't gone to gan.  Some of the women were from even less Jewish backgrounds and even converted to Judaism.  You can't tell by looking at us.  Since then, he is much more sensitive to the issue.

Should I have spoken to that guest-rabbi?  I'll always wonder. 

Chag Urim Sameach!
Have an Enlightened Holiday!