Monday, December 30, 2019

Eight 8 Days of Chanukah, Lighting The Menorah 5780, 2019

Here's my pictorial "essay" showing this year's Chanukah candle-lighting. Night two was at our family party, and night three we had a guest.

Chanukah #1

Chanukah #2

Chanukah #3

Chanukah #4

Chanukah #5


Chanukah #7

Chanukah #8
Thank Gd, the oil and candles burned safely here in Shiloh. Enjoying "Zot Chanukah," the Eighth day of Chanukah and looking forward to a warm wonderful year until next Chanukah.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Enjoyable Chanukah Videos

Every year some new Chanukah Videos are released, some better and some... less so. Here in Israel the weather is stormy. Gd obviously decided to give us WINTER as a Chanukah present.

This is not the time to travel, even though I had some really important plans for today. Instead we'll sing.

Which is your favorite? Why?

חג אורים שמח
Chag Urim Sameach
May You Have An Enlightened Holiday

Monday, December 23, 2019

Chanukah 5780, 2019, Has Begun!

This year, Chanukah 5780, 2019, after preparing our Chanukiyot, Chanukah Menorahs for later lighting, I went to Jerusalem to attend the Begin Prize Ceremony. Actually we didn't stay there very long.

As soon as I got to Jerusalem I could see that the city is decorated for Chanukah celebrations. And then when I passed by Zion Square, the Center of Downtown Jerusalem, I couldn't resist photographing the street performers.

I hope they'll be out every night, since school vacation doesn't start until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Fantastic Salad Deal in Ariel

Last week I had a brunch date in Ariel. We had planned on eating in BIGA, in the new "mall" or better called "shopping center" across from the Ariel University. But since my "date" had come by car, we needed a parking space, and every one was full. I really didn't want to drive around and around, up and down hoping to find a car pulling out, so we went to the other mall, which has lots of parking.

The only problem was that besides the Greg dairy restaurant, in which we had an awful meal a few months ago, I didn't know of a place where we could have a nice simple meal. Considering that a lot of stores have recently opened, I suggested we case the joint. We parked the car at the end closest to the university and furthest from Rami Levi Supermarket, and then we walked. For some strange reason, there aren't many restaurants in that mall. We walked from one end to the other, and besides the Greg, nothing.

So, I suggested that we go to the second floor, over the Rami Levi. And we took the escalator up. We saw a bakery and decided to peek in and discovered that they serve sandwiches and salads made to order.  At only NS35, we decided to give their salad it a try.

The worker filled our plastic bowls with everything we asked for, tuna, fresh vegetables, a hard boiled egg, mushrooms, cheese, roasted vegetables and the salad dressing of our choice.

I think the name is "Lachmitzia," if I'm reading it correctly. It's a bakery cafe` and its sign also says "kosher mehadrin," meaning kosher to the highest standards. This is the phone number from their Facebook page 050-846-1484.

Many of the food businesses in Ariel cater to the residents of Shomron and Northern Binyamin, who are mostly religious Jews. The two new malls have all kosher stores, if I'm not mistaken. Although you can still find non-kosher restaurants and food stores in the older shopping areas. Many of the veteran residents of Ariel are Russian, not religious and even not halachikly Jewish. In recent years the population has changed. More religious and traditional Jews are moving to Ariel, besides all the university staff and students.

My salad

We were both happy with our salads. They didn't come with rolls, which didn't bother us. Since Lachmitzia is a bakery, we could have asked, but we really didn't want the temptation. Customers were coming in to buy rolls, rugelach, challah and cake. Some just sat eating cake and coffee. Ever since we ate there, I've been recommending it.

Afterwards, we looked at the shops nearby, and I bought some of the Chanukah presents for my family. Then we went down the elevator. I did more Chanukah shopping as we walked to the car.

I plan on reviewing the public toilets later on. The mall is officially called the Ariel Mall, but most people refer to it as the Rami Levi Mall, since the large discount supermarket is the draw for most visitors/customers.


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Life in Shiloh, "Getting to Know You" Over The Chopping Board

Last night here in Shiloh was the annual "Get To Know The New/Old Neighbors" event.

Maybe not all the tables/crews used chopping boards, but whether stirring puddings, sauces or kneading dough, newcomers worked with neighbors who had moved to Shiloh even before they were born. Age didn't matter at all when working together to make a quiche, pizza, salad, dessert or...

Master of the "Master Chef" came armed with ovens, cutting boards, knives, pasta rollers, bowls, burners and all sorts of foods and all the equipment needed for our intrepid chefs. A staff of "judges" were assigned to grade the delicacies. I just wandered around taking pictures.

I must admit that the event was much more successful than I had envisioned. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. I left as the food was being served and shared to all. Don't think it didn't look delicious; it looked just too delicious for my rather weak self-control.

Shiloh has grown so much in recent years that I can't expect to know everyone. But at least many of those I didn't know looked familiar. In all honesty, I'm glad that the yishuv, town, has  been absorbing many new mostly young families. It confirms that we chose well all those years ago when we moved to Shiloh. Gd willing our wonderful town will continue to grow and expand.

Friday, December 13, 2019

"Pin The Tail on The Donkey" Genre of Homemade Games

Way back in the middle of the previous century, when I was a kid, "Pin The Tail on The Donkey" was a standard party game. My mother bought us some for my kids and their friends to play, too. It was a regular feature in the birthday parties I organized along with unattractive and unfashionably "healthy" birthday cakes.

As a savta, grandma, I reprised the genre as our traditional Family Chanuka Party Game by taking a large piece of oak-tag and drawing a chanukiya Chanuka Menorah sans candles or flames. Then I'd cut out candles/flames, and get the whole family to join in playing a version of "Pin The Tail on The Donkey."

Recently my daughter created a new version of the famous classic "Pin The Tail on The Donkey" for a birthday by drawing a birthday cake with candles sans flames. I cut out flames, and the children, blindfolded of course, had to try to stick the flame on the candles.

For some strange reason, most likely the result of the "Children Shouldn't Feel Like Failures" culture, instead of laughing at badly placed flames, they coached each other:
"A bit higher"
"To the right"
"To the left"
"That's perfect"
The kids had fun, but they didn't learn to plan and calculate in the dark to develop survival skills, which is the real purpose of the game.

You can take the basic idea and make up a game for children, teens or adults. It could be a lot of fun and very low tech, too.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Thank Gd, Already Seeing Benefits to Pool Workouts

This year I joined the Ariel Sports Center for its swimming pool soon after our local Shiloh pool closed for the winter.

The Ariel pool is not far from Shiloh, and I can usually get rides to and from. The pool, locker room, everything are kept up, cleaned all the time, and I really enjoy the "spa." There are also a sauna and steam room. I haven't gone in the Jacuzzi, since I don't like hot chlorine water.

It's hard to judge how much the pool workout really helps. I don't do regular swimming, just my own version plus exercises. But this week I was surprised, rather shocked, when at the local clinic the nurse said that I measured a centimeter (just under half an inch) taller than last year. That's rather impossible, considering that I'm seventy years old. My guess is that my pool workouts are improving my posture, since I'm not growing taller. No, I'm not at my peak height from forty years ago, but relatively close. Of course, serious osteoporosis is genetic, and it's worse in thin women, which I'm not. I also walk a lot and carry a well-made backpack a couple of days a week. 

Thank Gd, bli eyin haraa, I'll just keep on doing my best. Losing weight is the most difficult, but...

Friday, December 06, 2019

Adorable New Liony Fan at Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions Game

I was one of the first fans to show even before the Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions game against Ramat Hasharon Hammers began. There was one new Lions fan there before me, this gorgeous, humongous red tabby, male. I had never seen him there before. He reminded me of the red tabby we used to have, a female who was very fertile when we didn't give her birth control pills. Could this one be a descendant? Her kittens ended up all over.

By the end of the game, the stands were full of fans, mostly for the Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions, some were just curious Israelis who wanted to see "real American tackle football," and of course there were some Ramat Hasharon Hammers fans.

Last night I did not take the bus and walk from "Tzomet Bar Ilan." One of the players, who's a neighbor, gave me a ride, and a different player dropped me off in Shiloh. But I still got in lots of "steps" following the game. It has become one of my favorite fitness pass-times. A bonus is talking to the fans and friends and family of the players. I love being able to answer "Who do you have on the team?" with "My son is the Head Coach."

As you can see from the scoreboard below, the Jerusalem "Big Blue" Lions won the game 48:18. Gd willing we'll continue winning, another championship IFL season.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Pishers' Guide to Jerusalem #32, Har Chotzvim, Not The Gas Station

This is a continuation in my ongoing series about public toilets in Jerusalem. See #31#30#29#28#27#26#25#24,  #23#22#21#20#19#18#17#16#15a#15#14#13#12#11#10#9#8#7, #6#5, Saved by The First Station aka #4a#4#3#2 and #1.

Last week when I was hiking to the Kraft Family Sports Campus to watch the Jerusalem "Big Blue Lions" opening game of the season, I realized that I wouldn't safely arrive without a pit stop on the way. So I psyched myself up to check out the facilities at the gas station, since it's right off of the sidewalk, and it's "known" that they all have public toilets. I followed the signs and found the door locked. That's also standard, so I very politely asked one of the workers for the key.
"There isn't one," replied the gas station employee. 
So I made my way into a large cavernous commercial building behind the gas station and continued in my very human quest.

Within a relatively short time, I found signs directing me to a surprisingly clean and orderly "Ladies Room," aka WC, 00, public toilet.

It had all the necessary equipment and supplies; smelled OK, too.

There was even a sign outside with the Jewish blessing one says after "eliminating," because these necessary bodily functions are miracles and can't or shouldn't be taken for granted.

I was very happy to discover the welcoming Public Facilities and disappointed that the gas station isn't properly equipped. I wonder if they just refused to give me a key, because I'm not a customer.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

IFL Football Season Began With A Win For The "Lions"

I still don't believe I did it. I walked to the Kraft Family Sports Campus. No, I didn't walk from Shiloh; I'm not insane. I walked from the Shmuel Hanavi Junction, which is where Eshkol Boulevard becomes Bar Ilan Street. I could have taken a bus part way, to the Har Chotzvim Industrial Zone, but that wouldn't have saved me much time. It's less than half the way. I checked with Google Maps.

I had gotten rides to previous games, and this time there didn't seem to be one. Besides that, I had the time. Most of the way was flat, and I even stopped off at one of the commercial buildings in Har Chotzvim Industrial Zone to try out the public toilets, which I'll have to write about in my Pishers' Guide series. When you go to the Kraft Family Sports Campus, which is near Ramot Junction, by car it seems far away. The road is off of a highway, and you have to be on the correct side of the road, or you have a long detour.

Even with all my walking, I got to the football field with time to spare. The players were still warming up. Soon the stands filled and the game began.

The Lions were ahead the entire game, though they mostly scored in the first half, if I'm not mistaken. There are many changes in players from last year, so it'll take time to really show their potential. The next game should be tougher, but it was a good season starter. The score was 31:15.

Yaala "Big Blue!" Let's have a fourth championship season, Gd willing!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Frugal Choices Even for Simple Slippers

My slippers bit the dust. I can't complain; I got my money's worth. I bought them about four years ago in the states. They were washable,  comfortable and not expensive. They certainly did their job, but a few weeks ago I noticed that the soles were falling apart. Yes, it was time to dump them and buy a new pair.

I wanted the same sort of slippers. Why not? I began slipper shopping and discovered that similar washable slippers don't seem to exist here in Israel.

A few stores sell slippers that look rather similar, but they all have "care labels" saying:
אין לכבס "Ain lichabes." Most accurately translated as "Don't you dare try to wash them." or "wash at your own risk."
And they weren't at all cheap. I went through every possible store in the Hadar Mall, plus the Hamashbir department store at Zion Square. A few times I even tried on a pair, and they weren't comfortable. Besides not fulfilling that important requirement, prices were high, NS100 and more. A few people recommended buying online, but I don't do that.

Then yesterday I got a tremp to Jerusalem, near the Clal Building. The Stock, a junky discount chain, store had some open packages for NS20. Some seemed mislabeled. But as I continued walking down Rechov Yaffo, I spotted other stores with packaged/wrapped NS20 slippers, and decided to walk into one.

I picked out and tried on this funky pair. They fit and were walkable. Considering that the least expensive I had seen the week before cost NS60, I can buy a new pair three years running, and it would cost the same. Most of the slippers I had considered buying were even more expensive. These are for the house only. I have rubber ones for the pool.

my new slippers
PS I'll keep my eyes posted for sales, so maybe I can find an additional pair even cheaper.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Dinner at Hatch Brewery, Great Beer and Wings

That's me (photo by Shelly Becker)
I finally discovered that a friend of mine also loves beer, so now I can finally go to the beer bars I've been eyeing with longing. She suggested to a number of our mutual friends that dinner at Hatch Brewery would be a nice experience. From a half a dozen who had originally shown interest, the number dwindled down to two, just the two of us. Their loss, we had a totally enjoyable evening out at Hatch.

The minute I walked in, I raised the average age by a couple of decades, but it didn't seem to bother anyone. The waitress just smiled, hopefully at my sense of humor, and the other customers were too busy eating and drinking. They weren't interested in someone old enough to be their grandmother.

As you can see in the photo above, we ended up at what could be called a "table for two" and carefully perched ourselves on the stools. They were very sturdy and more comfortable than expected. We had a nice view of dried peas and lentils. Really. Hatch is in Machane Yehuda, close to Rechov Agrippas, 28 Rechov Haegoz, just around the corner from Michmoret.

Each plate has 12 wings
Our friendly, helpful waitress gave us menus. Since we were there for the beer, plus food, we needed a bit of assistance, being first-timers. There were some interesting dishes besides a nice choice of "wings" and "fries." Hatch has a couple of vegetarian options, including a salad. There were also some tempting sandwiches, but when we noticed the "special," 12 wings and four generous tasters of their beer tasting flights for only NS65-... no contest. That's what we each ordered.

Presentation of the four beers was aesthetic and clever. The wings and beer filled me up, making a perfect meal. Wings were freshly cooked, tasty and meaty. I had eaten a giant Tuna Salad in a dairy restaurant for lunch, so my "greens quota" was filled for the day. And don't forget that there are hops in beer. That's also a vegetable...

About the beers, the IPA was excellent, light and fruity. The Sour was lemony. There was supposed to be chocolate in the stout, but I could only taste a trace of it in the last drops. Without a doubt, I liked all of Hatch Brewery beers, and I ended up tasting about five. I really enjoyed the Hatch beers much more than any of the beers I had tasted at this past summer's Jerusalem Beer Festival.

My dining partner and I had only praise for everything, the beer, food, ambiance... Since we got back we've been telling all of our friends, recommending they join us next time we go to Hatch. Yes, Gd willing, there will be a next time. BTW Hatch is certified Kosher, Rabanut Yerushalayim Mehadrin. All meat is Kehillot. Phone 02-656-3691. Hatch facebook. #hatchbrewery

Here are more photos. All photos taken by me, unless otherwise indicated.