Friday, January 27, 2017


We have been going non-stop for the past week.  The fun started last Saturday night when Jay and Kim, my brother and sister-in-law, arrived at the end of a trip though Israel, Egypt and Turkey (while our guest room might not be up to some of the fancy places they stayed, it certainly won out over some of the more rustic places since we have indoor plumbing ;)).

It was terrific to see them!  We hiked through some of the hills surrounding our neighborhood

 and even played in the playground

Their input was really invaluable regarding another big thing that had just happened: Chana had found out the day before that the Jewish college in Manhattan that she was accepted to had room in their dorm for this semester.  Right before we lit Shabbos candles, she hit the "accept" button, so we spent the first few hours of Jay and Kim's visit with me making a plane ticket for her and Jay (a college professor) and Kim (Outward Bound instructor) giving her advice from their professional- and life experience.  I have to say, the timing of their visit couldn't have been better!

We spent the week running around getting Chana ready to leave.  We had a surprise party for her:

gorgeous cupcakes that Penina made!

And brought her to the airport last Sunday morning (a week after she accepted, not, thankfully, two days after).

Meanwhile, our dear ol' pals Richard and Leah arrived in town!  They're here for almost two weeks.  Pictures will be forthcoming!

Shabbat Shalom and I'll leave you with a beautiful sunset photo that Penina took:

Monday, January 9, 2017

Trip to Eilat

During Chanukah, we went to Eilat, way in the South of Israel (our hotel was so near the end of Eilat that we followed the signs that directed us towards Egypt!).
The drive there is through a lot of empty land.  I loved the "beware of camels" signs

B''H, we had SUCH a nice time.  We stopped on the way down at Mitzpe Ramon, one of the Grand Canyon-like places in Israel.  

 ibex abound

Our Eilat trip was through Rabbi Beryl Wein's Destiny Foundation.  Rabbi Wein spoke every night, as did Rabbi Zev Leff.  The talks were really wonderful.  It was nice to be with a group as there were lots of English-speakers around and we met some other nice people who also live in our town, but, overall, we were on our own (the tours from the group started at ten each morning and there is no way our kids would have been ready to leave by then.  It's vacation, after all!).

We went snorkeling right off the beach, which was pretty amazing, even for me (as a poor swimmer, I stayed close enough to shore to be able to see people's feet.  And they were standing...., but even I got to see some pretty fish).  Trip highlight was going to the Underwater Observatory .  I actually remember being here as a teenager with USY Pilgrimage (Hi, Cousin Mark!), and I figured that anything that stayed in my memory as "awesome" for 30 years was worth a re-visit.  Yup, didn't disappoint.  It was incredible to be underwater with the fish and coral all around.  And yet we were dry and I wasn't worried about drowning :).

view from the top of the observatory.  You can see coral in the water to the left, before the beach

Looking at the rocky mountains so near the beaches, I had to wonder who first had the idea, "hey, gang--let's make a fabulous resort city right here!".  As you can see, the mountains are RIGHT nearby

  I'll leave you with

--a photo of "boy, the things they have to say on the hotel info in the Middle East!"

--a beautiful sunset photo

and wish you

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Siyyum

Just *some* of the books used Friday morning in final preparations for the talk given Saturday night

When Shabbos ended on December 24, our family went into overdrive cleaning up from Shabbos, lighting the first Chanukah candle, and getting ready for Shalom Shachne's siyyum.   

(aside from this sign, most of the evening was held in English)

He had been a bit concerned that he would not get the ten men required for a minyan, but he clearly needn't have worried.  By the time people had finished squeezing in, we had over 30 people crammed into our living/dining room.  And they were all sitting down!  Penina said it was like how the Bais HaMikdash would expand so all the Jews could fit in.  Taking a tip from cousins Jen and Shmuley, we had moved a bunch of furniture out onto the porch.

It was so amazing to see all the people coming to be with him for this.  Our neighbor, Sharon, leaned over and said to me, "look at all these people coming to be with your family and you've only lived here such a short time".  

Moshe's wife and I sat next to each other in ulpan last year and now our husbands are also friends

We had a wide range of Jews there.  How can one tell?  Look at the men's head coverings: we had some men wearing kippah sruga, some with black hats, and some with shtreimels--and we commented that it felt very much like Malden to see so many different types of people (and so many different ages) together.  

The night's learning was in memory of Shalom Shachne's stepsister Hilary and his Aunt Sunny, both of whom died within the last year, and his father.  It was a beautiful way to honor the memory of these three very special, and much-missed, people.

For those interested in the real "almost-like-you-were-here" experience, here is the whole devar:

Siyum Shabbos

Mazal tov, Shalom Shachne, and kol hakavod on all your hard work.