Sunday, November 17, 2019

#ShidduchCrisis, Book Review

Anyone who knows the meaning of #ShidduchCrisis also knows what siyate diShmaya means. Gd's timing is amazing. Just as I finished reading #ShidduchCrisis: Short Stories by Penina Shtauber, I attended a parlor meeting concerning the choosing of a new Chief Rabbi for our town. The neighbor facilitating the meeting made sure we had read and understood a long list of requirements and qualifications that a new rabbi would have to meet and agree to.

Deja vu, I had to control my laughter. The committee that made that list must have been inspired by the advisers of the unfortunate young people Shtauber describes in her book. The stories are short and mostly sad. Some made me angry. It's so clear from the characters Shtauber writes about that the emphasis on lists, requirements, including height and weight, dress size etc has distracted those in the shidduch dating scene from their real aim. And I'm sure that the professional shadchanim, who have an ulterior motive -money- harm more than help.

As depressing as the situation described in #ShidduchCrisis, I must say that the book itself is well-written and easy to read. I don't consider it a "spoiler" to say that very few of the couples and those in the shidduch scene described in the book actually get married. That's why the situation is considered a crisis. The stories in #ShidduchCrisis are told in male or female voices.

I recommend that parents, both mother and father read the book and then give it to their children before they get on the shidduch merry-go-round. And of course they should discuss it together. If you want to get the best out of it, take notes, mark passages, or if you or your children read it on Shabbat, be prepared with small pieces of paper to leave by important/significant passages.

Inspired by #ShidduchCrisis, I told the neighbor on the "Choosing a new Rabbi Committee" that after meeting and "auditioning" the candidate rabbis, they should throw the lists in the garbage and just concentrate on the person. And they should ask the candidates a simple question. "If you weren't looking for the job as rabbi, would you want to live in Shiloh?"

Yes, I learned a lot from #ShidduchCrisis.
You don't have to be looking for a spouse to read #ShidduchCrisis by Penina Shtauber. 

Product details

  • Series: #ShidduchCrisis (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Penina Shtauber (September 18, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9659275706
  • ISBN-13: 978-9659275700
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)

Friday, November 15, 2019

Pishers' Guide to Ariel #1, Good Deal in "Supersol Deal"

This is a continuation of my public service posts, which review public toilets. Originally I titled the page "Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem," but now the ongoing series is called "Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem & Beyond."

Last week I had some time to spare in the new Ariel mall, which is across the road from the Ariel University. And I've already blogged about the dangerous situation due to the lack of a proper sidewalk. Besides that, there's a lovely health food store and a branch of the BIGA dairy restaurant chain.

The Ariel Mall is also very close to the various bus stops and hitchhiking posts in all directions, Tel Aviv, Shomron, Binyamin, Petach Tikvah and more, so convenient public toilets are extremely necessary. I wandered around the multistory shopping complex -it's an "open Mall," more like a modern version of a shopping center/strip mall. Usually I'm pretty good at finding public toilets, but besides at the not fully open gas station, I found nothing.

In my experience clinics and supermarkets always have public toilets. Since there was no clinic, I went to the "Super Sol Deal" and cased the "periphery." The WC won't be in the middle of the store, right? Success!

clean and equipped
This "Super Sol Deal" loo is nicer than most I've seen in restaurants.

I was also very impressed by the supermarket, layout, prices etc. No doubt that it's competing with Rami Levi, which is at the other end of Ariel.  For those of us in northern Binyamin, this is very good news. Ariel University and the mall are a lot closer than Sha'ar Binyamin. Besides the two malls in Ariel, there's an old "industrial zone" with lots of stores and other shopping areas. The Ariel malls have many of Israel's popular chains, which aren't yet in Sha'ar Binyamin. One needs to travel to Pisgat Zeev for them.

For those of us in Shiloh, there are two supermarkets to shop in, so if that's all you're looking for, there's no need to travel.

In terms of public toilets, this one in Ariel is the nicest.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Friday's Travels, Tremps & Buses, Life in The Slow Lane

Friday morning when I left home to catch a ride at the Yarkon Junction, I was very optimistic that I'd be on time. Usually I am. I got to Ariel, near the university with time to spare, so I decided to go to the nearby mall and use the loo. Blog post on that, Gd willing, in a few days.

I was disappointed to discover that the Ariel Municipality still hasn't made a safe sidewalk for pedestrians entering the new mall from the university, bus stops etc.
 As you can see from the above photo, there's still a dangerous "under construction" sidewalk of sorts along the main road to the mall. Whenever I've found myself walking in the dangerous mess over there, I think that Ariel Founder and Mayor, the late Ron Nachman, Z"L, would have made sure the sidewalk was safely completed before the stores had opened.

Not wanting to walk on the rocks and along the road in the direction of traffic, I crossed back to the bus stop I needed far from the "crosswalk."

Unexpectedly I discovered that it would be at least fifteen minutes to a bus, which meant that I'd be cutting it close at best. Davka, I didn't check in advance and chose the time of the morning with the least buses.

Of course, the bus was late, and a dozen or more people got on. Some of them with travel bags, which the driver insisted should be put under the bus. When one of the passengers with a bag on wheels sat in the front and looked totally blank and uncomprehending at the driver's request to sit in the back, I spoke to the man in English. Thank Gd, I guessed correctly, and he took himself and his bag further back.

There are signs available for those looking for rides that can show where you need to go.

Of course I updated my ride that I'd be late.

I'm glad to have discovered that bus routes in Ariel have changed. I don't know if it's all the buses, or just the ones I went on, 186 and 86, if I remember correctly. They now take the new bypass road at the Rami Levi Mall. This makes it easier to get to those stores. That means there's less bus service to the old industrial zone.

Luckily it didn't really matter that we were "later than planned" to the event we were going to, because there was no formal program.

Going home, I was dropped off at the Yarkon Junction and got a ride to the Gittit (Revava) Junction. There after a short wait, I caught a bus which took me to the Ariel University. I got off a stop early, so I could walk a bit. Then I got a ride with a neighbor.

And I managed to finish everything necessary at home before Shabbat. That's pretty good, since it was one of the "shortest Fridays" of the year.

Yes, this is how I survive without a car.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Orange Season, Now's The Time to Eat Them

Our tree's oranges are already bright orange

Perfect catch for "Orange" challenge, 52Frames
After almost a half a century in Israel, a unique country that is simultaneously agricultural/nature oriented and high tech, I religiously buy my fruit and some of the vegetables seasonally.

Years (decades) ago I read that fruits and vegetables are healthiest in the season they ripen. And as I remember the article stated that if you try to get around it, cheat, by eating imported fruit from a country in the opposite hemisphere, it won't have the same benefit.

Way back when, when one of my summer babies was a few weeks old, we got oranges very cheaply, so I ate a lot of them. Oranges are a winter fruit. Here in Israel I've learned not to buy them until a couple of weeks after the first rains, so they'll be sweet. The oranges were sweet, since they had been stored well. Suddenly I noticed that my baby had a terrible rash. None of older children had ever had a rash like that. Since the baby was fully nursing, I guessed that something I was eating must have been triggering the rash.

I experimented by cutting out oranges from my diet. Like magic the rash cleared!

In addition, we don't drink juices, even fresh juice. And I certainly don't drink orange juice. One of the last times I drank orange juice was a summer when visiting New York. I had orange juice in the break fast meal after the 25 hour fast of Tisha B'Av. I felt such awful burning in my mouth that since then I'm unable to have raw fruit when breaking a fast. But that's another story and the reason I try to make a good vegetable soup...

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Drumming Up Fun in Katamon

The other day just after I picked up one of my young grandchildren from day care, I got a message from my daughter-in-law that there was going to be a "musical activity" for children in a park near their home.

I had just walked a few minutes in the wrong direction when I decided to go. That meant I'd be walking up hill pushing the stroller, wearing my backpack. Once I clarified the location, I consulted with Google Maps, which warned me that it would be a half hour walk. Yes, the shortest route was uphill. But should that frighten this intrepid savta (grandmother)? Gd forbid!

With both hands firmly on the stroller, the toddler who refused to wear a jacket "NO!" sitting and observing, my phone in my fanny pack loudly broadcasting Google Maps' directions, "turn left," then "take the second exit on the roundabout..." I must have looked like quite a nutty old lady.

Finally, after over half an hour of trekking through hilly Jerusalem, consulting with my daughter-in-law for the exact location I found the "musical activity" in a lovely park hidden away behind a grocery store and parking lot. Lots of children and parents, probably grandparents too, were sitting mesmerized watching the show.

I skillfully wheeled my grandchild next to the front row to get a birds eye view and hear the music and explanations. I covered him up with his jacket and blanket, no refusals this time. Within seconds someone gave me a chair, so I could sit, too.

We enjoyed the show, even though we had missed most of it. The "musical activity"  was perfectly geared to young children and didn't seem to bore the adults with them.

When it was over, a short walk to my son's apartment. The fun of grannyhood.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Israel's Great Public Transport Deals, Especially for "Seniors"

Israeli Public Transportation is getting better and better in most ways. There are special discount tickets which give unlimited transportation within various districts at amazingly low prices, especially for senior citizens like myself. Today I met some friends in Gedera, which isn't near Shiloh at all. It's on the way to Ashdod, southeast of Tel Aviv.

Before leaving home I studied the map of travel discounts carefully, as did a friend who was joining me. We had already traveled cheaply to Beit Shemesh. The one day unlimited ticket to Beit Shemesh was the same as the one I use traveling to Jerusalem. The only thing I needed to tell the driver was to make sure it said Jerusalem Metropolitan West. The cost for the day was NS13.50. That's about $3.50. For someone too young for the senior discount, the price is about double.

Gedera is further than Beit Shemesh. The code name for us to get the discount fare to Gedera is Jerusalem-Gush Day. The fare was a bit more, just NS16, about $4.50. Unlike my Shiloh buses, these intercity buses are pretty reliable. The buses also had outlets to charge your phone. OK you need a long cord, too.

This district is humongous. It covers from Netanya in the north until Ashdod in the south, Jerusalem, of course, and all of Samaria and everything in between, Kfar Saba, Petach Tikva, Tel Aviv, Rechovot, Modiin and more.

The buses were clean; drivers and passengers polite.

It was a long day, and I am exhausted, but I just had to tell you about these great travel bargains. Frugal Israel is getting better.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

First Documented Camouflage. Guess!

Sometimes my mind goes in strange directions. Actually, it's rare when it follows directions or thinks conventionally.  Does that surprise you?

Today at a Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week class as we talked about the sudden self-consciousness of Adam and Eve after sinning. They quickly fashioned clothing out of leaves, so they wouldn't be noticed in Gan Eden, The Garden of Eden.

Isn't that called CAMOUFLAGE?

וַתִּפָּקַ֙חְנָה֙ עֵינֵ֣י שְׁנֵיהֶ֔ם וַיֵּ֣דְע֔וּ כִּ֥י עֵֽירֻמִּ֖ם הֵ֑ם וַֽיִּתְפְּרוּ֙ עֲלֵ֣ה תְאֵנָ֔ה וַיַּעֲשׂ֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם חֲגֹרֹֽת׃
Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they perceived that they were naked; and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths.

וַֽיִּשְׁמְע֞וּ אֶת־ק֨וֹל יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהִ֛ים מִתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ בַּגָּ֖ן לְר֣וּחַ הַיּ֑וֹם וַיִּתְחַבֵּ֨א הָֽאָדָ֜ם וְאִשְׁתּ֗וֹ מִפְּנֵי֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים בְּת֖וֹךְ עֵ֥ץ הַגָּֽן׃
They heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of day; and the man and his wife hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, 5780, Perfect Weather Forecast

Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Tel Shiloh

Perfect outdoor dovening weather is forecast for Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, Tuesday, October 29, 2019, the 30th of Tishrei, 5780.

Of course Gd can decide to surprise us...

We never know what we'll discover...

Our plan is to meet at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh at 8:30 in the morning and pray together. The "silent" prayers are prayed silently, and Hallel is sung out loud together. If you'd like more information, email me with "Rosh Chodesh" as subject.

תפילת נשים בראש חודש מרחשון תש"פ
יום ג' 29-10-2019 ל' תשרי 8:30 בבוקר
שילה הקדומה, תל שילה
כולן מוזמנות
פרטים נוספים subject: ראש חודש

Shiloh is the same Shiloh as appears in the Bible. It's where the Mishkan, Tabernacle was located for close to four hundred years. Shiloh is where the Biblical Chana prayed for a son who would be dedicated to work for the Jewish People in Shiloh.

Today Shiloh is a beautiful and well developed archaeological site. There's lots to see and do for visitors of all ages. For more information contact Shiloh Hakeduma is open weekdays and has special activities on Jewish Holidays. For more information click.

Join us for Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan Prayers!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Easy Entertaining Tips

Our entire clan came to our humble succah for a Friday, that's just before Shabbat lunch. Our succah isn't all that large. I don't think we all managed to fit inside at once, even with an extra table and all the chairs set up.

The kids decided on the menu. They'd bring bagels*, and I'd provide the trimmings, salad, cheeses, chummus, techina remember that this is Israel and the rest of the trimmings. One daughter decided to bring pancake mixture, ready to pour, and even her own frying pans, as if I don't have any. But the advantage to that was that she washed them and took them home, so I didn't find them in the sink afterwards. 

Yes, of course, I served on disposable plates etc. Emptying the local reservoir of water isn't good for the environment either. To make things easier for the food fussies, I sliced the fresh vegetables and served them in small individual bowls. Everyone was able to take only what they wanted and assemble their own salads. And we had the food "buffet" inside, since there wasn't room on the tables in the succah. My still referred to as the new kitchen has a convenient counter near the dining room table. Both were needed for the buffet. Yes, there was that much food.

Lots and cheese and spreads were leftover, along with just half a bagel. And the kids were very good in helping to clean up before going to their various homes. But one of the "toddler boys" left his calling card...

I hope the next "family event" will be soon and wonder who's hosting. We take turns.

*technically, they were rolls, not real bagels. Real bagels are pretty much impossible to find nowadays, sigh...

Friday, October 11, 2019

Challah Baking Tips, New Yeast and Distract Yourself

At least from the looks of it, yesterday's challah batch was stupendous. There was no real difference in the recipe I used. Actually, I was more than relieved that they rose so stupendously.

My previous couple of batches could be described as "flat as pittot." I used the same basic ingredients. There was one big change. I threw out the old yeast and bought a smaller package. I bake challah with dehydrated yeast. In the past, it had stayed "active" for months, even over a year. I'd buy the 500 gram package, store in a glass jar in the pantry, and I'd always have good yeast. That's true until it isn't. So, I dumped what remained and this time bought a smaller package.

In addition, I made sure that I had time to spare when preparing the dough. I let myself get distracted in the den on the computer during the various rising times. I let the dough almost  spill out of the gigantic bowl. Patience and keeping busy with other chores certainly helped.

By the time these challot/rolls had finished baking, they had risen so much you had to tear them apart. Honestly, I was extremely relieved to see the finished product.  I had begun to fear that I had lost my touch.

Timing is so important when baking with yeast dough. If you leave it too long to rise, it can fall, too. No doubt that baking with yeast dough is a lot like life. We need both patience and common sense. It's all in the ingredients and the timing.

Enjoy in Good Health

Chag Sameach v'Shabbat Shalom
Have a Joyful Holiday & Sabbath

Monday, October 07, 2019

Succah Up Early

Yesterday one of our sons came by to help my husband put up the succah. First I treated him to a nice meal, soup, chicken and all the trimmings. Then they got to work.

As you probably notice, the decorations sort of survived the year in the storage room. So we really don't have too much else to do.

I even cleaned the plastic chairs, since we had a pre-Yom Kippur Shiur, class, in the house afterwards. And then I gave the leftover cake and some watermelon to the lovely young yeshiva student who taught us.

Baruch Hashem, thank Gd...

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Tasty and Simple 21st Century Tzimmes

Tzimmes is a very traditional holiday food for Ashkenaz (European) Jews. There are still families who make it is a "one pot meal" with beef. That combination is from the days when most meals were thick soups or stews. Today's affluence has enabled the development of multiple-pot meals. Even in the half century I've been married, menus and cooking has gotten much more complicated. There are many more pots in the sink than a couple of decades ago, even though we are fewer people at the table. No doubt my grandmothers would find my tzimmes a bit strange, though familiar.

Ingredients (exact quantities aren't necessary)
1 larger or 2 medium carrots
1 medium sweet potato
piece of dlaat, pumpkin or similar preferable orange-colored squash 4"x4" or 10cm by 10cm
1 large apple
handful of raisins
handful of prunes
cinnamon to taste
approx 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
optional- a few slices of ginger root
2T vegetable oil
water up to 1/3 height of vegetables in pot
bit of coarse salt and black pepper to taste

  1. slice carrots thick
  2. cut other vegetables into large bite-sized pieces
  3. place in pot, carrots first, then dried fruit and then the rest
  4. top with sugar and cinnamon
  5. add oil, water and cover
  6. bring to a boil, then simmer until soft
  7. add salt and pepper when cooking
Tasty with meat, poultry fish or add tofu or beans as a vegetarian meal.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Rosh Hashanah Fruit Head 5780

This 5780 year's "may you be a head, not a tail" looks a bit like a 1960's hippy. In 5779 I celebrated my 70th birthday, and I guess I'm still partying. The "crown" is the security bracelet from the very first United States 4th of July Celebration in Jerusalem.

May 5780 be filled with joy, health and wonderful surprises for all.

Don't let Holiday preparations stress you out. Take the easy path, so you can enjoy yourself. Love to all, and Gd willing see you next year...

Friday, September 27, 2019

How are You Preparing for Rosh Hashannah?

We've done shopping, since we must eat festive meals on Rosh Hashannah. And we have freshly picked pomegranates, too.

And for the second time ever, I've attempted to cook lamb. I managed to cut the leg of lamb into two giant pieces, without harming myself. I seasoned and wrapped them in foil. Then I baked them in a hot oven until the entire house smelled "lamby" and fat escaped the wrapping.

My favorite pre-Rosh Hashanah activity is going to Tefilat Chana, Hannah's Prayer at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh.

I joined women, young and old, praying and enjoying the scenery. Of course, for me it was especially easy to get there, since I live in Shiloh.

The main speaker, and only guest speaker this year, was Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi, who was super inspiring as usual. The musical entertainment was the Yonina Duo, a very talented young couple, who encouraged everyone to sing along.

There were stands selling jewelry, clothes, food and Judaica. Also, besides the usual public toilets, there were enough of the "portable chemical" ones, so there weren't long lines at all.

Shiloh Hakeduma, a recognized archaeological site, is open all year, except for Shabbat and Jewish Holidays. There are always special activities on Chanukah and the Intermediate Days of Succot and Passover. I highly recommend visiting. There are attractions for all ages.

Monday, September 23, 2019

I Took The Plunge and Joined the Pool in Ariel

For two years I've been a member of the "Ariel Pool Whatsapp" group neighbors of mine have set up to offer and look for rides to the pool in the Ariel sports center.

And for two solid years I just couldn't get myself to sign up and become a member.

Every summer I take out a membership and go the the pool here in Shiloh, which is just across the street and down a path. The only complaint I have is that the season is much too short. Three months just aren't enough.

In recent years I've really noticed that my body deteriorates much too quickly and too much during the nine months the pool is closed. Each year, it's worse and never quite recovers as well as the previous year. Staying fit at my age is a full time job. Walking is great, but there are benefits from water exercise that can't be achieved any other way.

I must admit that I'm not a "swimmer." I don't swim laps. I've developed my own, unique water "movement" or "stroke" that I can do over and over, even in designated swimming lanes. I also exercise/dance in the water. I wear flexible "swimming gloves," which increase the efforts of my arms and shoulders.

The Ariel Sports Center is like a spa, with jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, fitness room full of "machines" and treadmills. In addition there are classes, pilates, feldenkrais and yoga. The entire building seems to be nice and clean.

Even after just three visits, I'm feeling better. The Shiloh Pool has been closed for three weeks. I needed the exercise. And while in Ariel, I can also take care of shopping errands. So, it's a win-win, Baruch Hashem.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Has Anyone Ever Heard of Seventynine S/9 Shoe Company?

I've needed new summer sneakers for a long time. Not only are my two pairs old, but they are full of holes. The fabric just doesn't last long,l even if the soles are still good. And then even worse, one pair began causing strange foot pain. Yes, it was time to buy new shoes.

I need light flexible shoes and over the years had bought quite a few pair of Sketchers. And I had bought my shoes in the states when visiting my parents. They've been dead for a few years already, so not only were my shoes old, but I needed to find shoes in Israel. In the states I had done well in outlet stores, buying good brands at fantastic prices. It certainly never bothered me that the style was "old."

This summer I'd been checking out shoe stores. And I was waiting for sales. Apparently I missed the big sale this week on Election Day, but I wouldn't have traded the enjoyable visits I had with children and grandchildren for discounted shoes, even two pairs for the price of one.

Rather desperate for new shoes, yesterday I went to the Sketchers store in Jerusalem and was horrified to see that their "sale" was half price for the second pair. I didn't really want to buy two pairs, especially at the prices offered.

Since I'm in the Hamashbir discount "club," and they have good/name brands I went there. After checking out the women's department and the sports shoes, I finally found the "bargains." I tried on shoes that seemed attractive and comfortable at a price I was willing to pay, and they were discounted, too. I just had never heard of the brand,  Seventynine S/9. Have you? I checked online, and there's nothing about the company at all, just stores/sites where you can buy them. They are made in China, no surprise.

I ended up buying two pairs at a total price which was less than one pair of the least expensive in Sketchers. Actually, I wore one pair out of the store and found them comfortable, even after my evening walk. But as you can see, they already look soiled. That's not the end of the world. I'm sure they can be cleaned pretty easily with wipes, if I want.

The fabric stretches, like stretch jeans/denim. As long as the elastic (in the heel) doesn't give out quickly, that's an advantage. Ever since shoe uppers became synthetic, rather than genuine leather, many people, including yours truly, have found that problematic.

Even though the sale price of shoes here in Israel is higher than the discounted ones in the states, I still saved a lot of money. My day's transportation Shiloh-Metropolitan Jerusalem Unlimited only cost me NS13.50, less than $4- instead of close to one thousand dollars for roundtrip travel to the USA, even more when you add all the other expenses a trip to the states includes. Because my feet are sensitive, I must try on shoes, so I can't imagine buying online. BTW when I googled these shoes the price was more than I had paid. I had discovered the same thing when I checked prices for the perfume I like versus the discounted price I paid in Hamashbir.

If there's anything newsworthy about the shoes, I'll blog again on the topic. I'm still curious about reports if you have any.

Happy Walking and Happy Shopping

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I Voted for The Second Time.... This Year

I was excited to see that there were three instead of the usual two voting stations in Shiloh this time. That's the "good news."

And for "better news" or Gd forbid "bad news," we're waiting.

I'm not a fortune teller. I can't predict what will be. I can just pray that it will be good for the State of Israel and the Jewish People.