Saturday, November 26, 2016

Being Thankful

Most Thanksgivings in the US, we were guests at either my mother-in-law's (missing the poached pears, Chellie!) or Deb and Frank's.  When Deb and Frank were here recently we talked about making a whole giant meal to recreate and have an early "Franksgiving", but were convinced that going out was lovely, too (and it was, as we got to introduce them to our favorite restaurant which has, truly, the best french fries/home fries we've ever tasted).  Frank also taught Penina how to make his homemade tomato sauce, which is delicious.

And then this past Thursday came around and we had volunteered to make a side dish for the Lone Soldiers Thanksgiving Meal in Tel Aviv (by dividing the whole meal up into portions for 20 people, and working with a number of communities, somehow a meal for 1000 people comes together!).  Lone Soldiers come voluntarily to Israel to serve in the army.  As my neighbor, Kara, said, they leave their homes, families and their friends and come overseas to join up in an army, in a totally foreign language so all of us can have a country to call home and so we can feel safe every day, and the rice and turkey and potatoes are "all just a teeny, tiny drop in the bucket of the immense gratitude we feel towards them every single day"

Well, after we were already cooking wild rice for the soldiers (whole machloket over whether to include cranberries.  Do they look nice or were they too feminine for a bunch of soldiers [some of whom, regardless of gender, I was quite sure would appreciate the cranberries]?!  In the end we put just a sprinkling in for visual appeal).  Chana decided she wanted to make Thanksgiving.  Far be it for me to ever tell one of my kids they shouldn't cook, so she made a whole feast and I made a few things and we sat down and told each other what were thankful for about each of them, which was a nice change over saying what each of us was thankful for.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Fires Across Israel

The weather has been extremely windy lately, which has made it quite dusty.  We had to stop leaving the windows open after we woke up one morning to find that all the dishes drying in the rack needed to be rinsed....

I promise you that I dust!

For the past several days there have been many (estimates are as high as 100) wildfires raging across Israel.  The really sad part is that a large number of these fires have been determined to be "environmental terrorism"--arson using forests as weapons.  I just saw a picture of a booby-trapped tree that was discovered before it could be detonated.  So, so sad.... The situation is complicated by the fact that the weather has been extremely dry and windy, so the conditions are ideal for the fires to spread.  Thousands of people (like the vast majority of people living in Haifa and Modiin) have been evacuated.  Chana and I are about to go to our neighborhood collection point with a care package for firefighters.

May we soon have rain.  May everyone be protected from these fires and any other harm.  And may everyone soon learn to live in PEACE....
Link to say tehillim:


Monday, November 21, 2016

NEHA Reunion

A small reunion since Shelly and Sigalit couldn't come, but SO lovely to be together again with Morah Esther (in Israel for her grandson's bar mitzvah.  Mazal tov!) and Morah Chana, who made aliyah about 7 months ago.  Did my heart good to be with "the old gang" :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Walking up the Stairs

Our house is about eight flights of stairs below the main street level.  Here is a spiffy 16-second video that I asked my sister, Deb, to make while she was visiting.  Once at the top of the stairs, it's only a few minutes to walk to the mercaz, but, boy, we work to get to the main street!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Well, That Was a Surprise

Woke up crazy early this morning and couldn't control myself from checking the news and seeing how the election results were doing.  Ended up just staying up hitting the "refresh" button on the computer for two hours until the wake-up alarm went off....The final result was announced while we were in ulpan and let's just say it was hard for some of us (cough cough) to pay as much attention in class as we would usually....

Learned something interesting about the news in Israel (at least the news from Kol Yisrael): it's not updated every hour.  You can get 7 a.m. or 11 a.m. because, "there's not enough news to keep updating it every hour" ;).

For those of you interested in practicing your Hebrew, here is the lead story of the 7:00 a.m. broadcast.

דונאלד טרומפ על סף  הבית הלבן. חסרים לו שישה אלקטורים כדי לזכות בתואר נשיא ארצות הברית הנבחר.

That was good--now I got to practice my Hebrew typing :).  (translation: "Donald Trump is on the threshold of the White House.  He is lacking 6 Electoral votes in order to win the title of President-elect of the United States")

In other news, yesterday was a new holiday in Israel: "Aliyah Day".  This was the first year it was celebrated, and I hadn't even heard about the holiday until they took the entire ulpan for an assembly that was all about how the Israeli government was ready to assist people with finding jobs/getting retraining and helping those who want to make their own businesses (I loved the promo material for this program: "I made aliyah and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.  And a 125,000 NIS loan from the government to start my business!").

Coincidence that the new holiday is just before election day (my Facebook feed was filled with people musing about making aliyah)?  Maybe.....

In one last bit of election-related news, I'd like to share this picture of Susan B. Anthony's grave covered with "I Voted" stickers:

And, from an article sent to me by Nancy B.N.:

  • Susan B. Anthony attempted to vote in Rochester in 1872 — and got arrested. She was publicly tried and convicted, but refused to pay the $100 fine.
  • She was the first woman to appear on US currency who was not a fictional character.
  • Anthony went before Congress every year from 1869 to her death in 1906, asking them to consider an amendment allowing women to vote. When it was finally passed in 1920, it was called the “Susan B. Anthony amendment.”

Monday, November 7, 2016

What's Doing at Ulpan?

I'm still at ulpan five days a week from 8:30-12:45.  Well, it's really 8:30ish....Now that I drive the kids to school I find I run late almost every day.  It was definitely easier for me to be on time when they had to leave 15 minutes before me so they could catch a public bus.  Now that we all leave together, it's a giant scramble for me to be ready and still do things that I used to do after they left.  Minor things like eating breakfast....

I decided to go back and do Level Bet for a second time, rather than stay in Level Gimel.  It may have been possible for me to hang in there in Gimel, but it seemed like a poor choice of where to put my energies.  As the teacher said to the whole class, "If you feel like you're challenged in class, good!  Why are you in class if you're not learning anything?  If you're up at night stressing about whether you can keep up in class, then it's too high a level".  Three of us are now "Gimel refugees" back in Bet. Chana is taking level Gimel now and doing fine. Where would I, the linguistic weak link, be without my family?  (Probably banging my head on the computer while trying to figure out how to pay the electric bill.....).

Bet is a nice class.  The entire class is religious, including the teacher, which is an interesting change from last year's class with many secular Russians/Ukrainians and a secular teacher (although the teacher has clearly been hanging out here a long time.  When a couple in class had a party celebrating their daughter's engagement, she wore a sheitel!  I was pretty stunned to see her, and kept thinking how I couldn't imagine a non-religious woman in the US buying a wig just to wear to religious events she gets invited to).

I'm enjoying having a different teacher and getting used to her teaching style.  My goal in repeating Bet is to improve my grammar.  Perhaps there will come a time in the future that I won't, in the middle of a conversation, have to apologize for saying something incorrectly and give the ol' "Sorry, I'm an immigrant" line.  Tough teacher, though--tests at least twice a week, including make-up tests if you miss class!  It really works for me, though, because I see how much more I'm studying at home because I don't want to perform poorly on the test :)

Each student has to give a presentation to the class.  No reading straight from a paper, but notes are allowed.  It's encouraged to write a vocabulary list on the board (in English, French and Spanish, the languages of the students in this class) and use that as your notes (which I did).  The subject is totally open, so yesterday, when it was my turn, I spoke about working as a school/summer camp nurse and told some of the wackier stories I've experienced.  When my family asked at dinner about how the presentation went, I surprised everyone (including myself) by getting a bit misty-eyed when I spoke about putting on my lab coat and stethoscope to give the talk.  Kind of reminded me of the superhero who goes into retirement and then looks at her cape longingly....Well, we'll see.  Once I've mastered Gimel I can go into a medical uplan.  For now, though, the days are quite busy enough!

Here Today and Gone Tomorrow

Last week's big news was that Deb and Frank, my sister and brother-in-law, stopped in for dinner.  Actually, they were here for about 30 hours, so it was more than dinner, but not by much.  Gotta love these global travelers, though, because they're coming back for most of next week :)

In fact, they were here such a short time that I don't think we even took any photos (but I'm sure we'll rectify that next week).