Thursday, February 23, 2017


I'm delighted to have time in my schedule for some volunteer work.

A few weeks ago I began volunteering for Lema'an Achai ("For the Sake of My Brothers") an organization that helps people who are in financial need.  I really like their approach--they say they give people a "hand up, not a handout".  They combine financial grants with psychological counseling, financial management and training, a food pantry and there's even a dental clinic on-site.  Their whole approach is centered around "breaking the cycle of poverty".  My job is make a database of new olim and then give each family a Lema'an Achai backpack filled with information about the organization and a cookie with the organization's logo on it.  I tell families that perhaps they'd like to volunteer like I do, or maybe they might even know someone who needs help and now they'll know a good place to make a referral to.  I've enjoyed getting to say hi to the other new olim (many of whom I know) and also learning my way around the area better.  Here's a link to the organization.  I loved reading their staff list and seeing people's backgrounds--very impressive to the see the people who work for them (and it's amazing that the secretary speaks seven languages!!!)

Every week we also volunteer for Ezrat Achim ("Help Brothers").  This organization does MANY different things--they run the Shabbos health clinic that I went to when I cut my finger, they offer a van going from here to the hospitals in Jerusalem (a huge help since it's common here not to own a car and to get from here to, say, Hadassah Ein Kerem takes three buses and a 15 minute walk).  They also run a gemach to loan people medical equipment like crutches (as odd as it seems to those of us from America, the doctor's office doesn't give out/sell crutches, nor does the pharmacy.  You borrow them from an organization!).  Ezrat Achim also organizes the project we volunteer for every week: a program where they give baked goods for Shabbos to families in need/someone sick or in the hospital, etc. It's definitely a win-win situation because now my girls can bake whatever they want and we keep some and share most.  It's also challenged me to step up my baking skills more.  As someone who prefers savory over sweet, I have always focused my Shabbos efforts towards cooking, not baking ("dessert?  You want dessert?!").  So this has encouraged me to get a few recipes under my belt (and actually measure ingredients, which I'm somewhat allergic to).

When Chana was here, she also volunteered at a program that takes leftover food from people's simchas and repackages it into individual meals for people in need.  It's wonderful how they run the program: there is a locked refrigerator and freezer in someone's yard.  They are opened with a code, so anyone can drop off food at any time, even if your bar mitzvah or wedding ends quite late.  Chana is being missed around here--the woman who runs this just posted looking for a teen girl assistant to help package meals.

There's also a lot of volunteering that gets done that's not through any specific organization, usually in the form of meals for a family with a sick family member or those with a new baby at home.

Off to go make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for Ezrat Achim!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ulpan (lather, rinse, repeat....)

Ah, yet another semester of ulpan has started.  I think they're a little crazy how they schedule the semesters: last class of the previous semester was on a Monday, the government-given exam (taken only once in a lifetime and I did mine last year) was Tuesday, and then the next semester started on Wednesday.  Give us a break, people!  Day or two of vacation before we start all over again?!  Clearly they didn't listen to my input re. the scheduling....

I'm now in level Gimel, which is so cool that I finally made it to the big leagues :).  After one semester in Aleph Plus (say it "ploos" and you've have the correct pronunciation), and two in Bet (different teachers, so it was definitely worth doing again, especially as I wanted to work on improving my grammar), I've finally made it to the highest level.  I'm far from being the star student, but I'm holding my own.  The teacher, whom Shalom Shachne had last year and really liked, is an older woman with a very dry sense of humor.  Whenever someone gives up trying to say something in Hebrew and reverts to English (only we Americans do this.  I have never seen the native French/Russian/Spanish/Portuguese speakers do it....), she says, "your EEEnglish ees purrrfect" and then goes back to speaking in Hebrew.  The class is almost exclusively in Hebrew, with a few choice translations thrown in in our native languages.  I really like how, when she says a word that some/all of us don't know, she translates it into easier Hebrew before giving up and saying it in another language.

Delightfully, we only have class Sunday-Wednesday (In response to "why?" the teacher said, "Because I have already been teaching 30 years and I am old and I only want to work 4 days a week"), so my Thursdays are now free, free, free!  I'm really excited to have such a chunk of free time in my schedule, and I'm looking forward to getting a jump on Shabbos cleaning, shopping, preparing and cooking (oh, and did I mention blogging?).  Off to make my grocery list--we have a friend staying with us for Shabbos, we'll be 9 or 10 for dinner and a crowd of 12 for lunch, so I better get moving!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Non-Stop Continues

Well, Chana is, (baruch Hashem and with big thanks to Cousins Jen and Shmuley) settled in NY and trying to get her class schedule in order

Richard and Leah are back in Boston after a really action-packed two weeks in Israel.  It was great to have our buddies around!

And by the time you read this I will be on a plane going back to Israel after spending the weekend in Florida with my parents and sister!  It was great to be together and just have time to talk and be with each other.

It's been a wild and wonderful few weeks and/but I am really looking forward to getting back to regular life!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

One Year...

Hard to believe that a year has gone by since Hilary died.....Tonight is her first yarhzeit.  

Irwin a''h, Barbara and all the brothers and sisters at Hilary and Michael's wedding in 1992

We decorated a yarhzeit candle with some of the many roles she played in this world---wife, mother, daughter, sister, stepsister, aunt, niece, friend, cousin, businesswoman, fighter.... I'm sure we only scratched the surface.....

May the memory of Malka bas Yehuda be for a blessing.