So what's new here?
--we are gearing up for Ilana's bat mitzvah! Ahh, I remember that Shabbat HaGadol almost twelve years ago. It was NUTS. "I'm having contractions?!?! I can't be having contractions--we didn't turn the kitchen over for Pesach yet!". Anyway, I will say it set the bar at a totally different level and each season of Passover prep can only seem fairly-reasonable by comparison (and a still-heartfelt-after-all-these-years Thank You for Auntie Paula, Roz, Susie and Rissy who made sure we didn't starve that Pesach).
Her bat mitzvah here will be (per school rules) at the school. She and I have been working on her dvar Torah about blessings over food, which she will translate into Hebrew with her mentor and tutor, Adina. When we come to the US over the summer, there will be a luncheon in Malden so no fear if you won't be here after Pesach :)
--Ulpan started again! Yay--I'm in for another round! This time, Irit is back teaching Level Gimel, and it's just what I need. While I'm nowhere near the top student (that prize goes to the French woman who speaks 6 languages and already lived here for nine years, before going back to France for over a decade), I'm holding my own and trying to absorb all I can. Which results in some amusing conversations when I'm out and about, as I'm constantly correcting myself as I realize that, although I got my point across, my grammar could be tweaked. So I do.
This class has the least number of Americans of any ulpan I've taken and the highest number of Russians/Ukranians. I love them because they had to work even harder than I have had to to get to this level, as most of them came without even knowing the alef-bet and had to start in the lowest level, Aleph. Thanks to 8 years of the Temple Shalom Charles and Esther Lew Religious School, I was able to start in Aleph Plus, which is for students who can read, write and speak, yet do none of it well. I told Yvgeny that I understand almost 100% of what he says because it's like watching myself speak (were I a male, 60-something, former Ukranian....): I can practically see his mind at work as he slowly and deliberately reaches up through his word bank, searching and searching for the word he is looking for. It's great!
--Purim was awesome! The girls used their loot that Uncle Stephen spoiled them with last summer and went as Hogwarts students. I borrowed a Professor McGonagall robe and our mishloach manot consisted of breadstick wands ("may contain Ron Weasley's broken wand. We were out of spellotape to repair..."), Hogwarts Hommus with Dried Dragon Flame (Penina's genius marketing for the paprika we sprinkled on top), Bertie Bott's Beans, and Gringott's Gold coins.
|with Maldener Natanyah!|
We had a really fun and also spirited-yet-spiritual meal with our friends, the O's. We each chose "something" to do to enhance the holiday, so during the meal we were treated to a puppet show, original holiday song (from Ilana and Raaya), Purim Mad Libs (my offering--totally cribbed from Malden. Thanks, guys!), and a Alef-to-Tav Purim question and answer (based on a weekly Shabbos-themed Q & A sheet Ilana brings home from school. This was Shalom Shachne's contribution and it was great; he worked so hard to make up a question related to every letter of the Hebrew alphabet). Lastly, Penina decorated the table gorgeously and then made "Penina's Purim Pizzeria". YUM.
--We ended Purim by getting on a plane to San Francisco for my nephew's wedding!
Benjamin and Natalie are a wonderful couple and we had a really amazing weekend being with family. We arrived early Friday morning and left Sunday night, so it was quite brief, but we did so many different things with so many different people that it felt like longer. We all loved having an 11-person game of "Apples to Apples" Shabbos afternoon in our hotel room, and seeing Uncle Stephen and Amanda, who, despite being from "the other" side of the family, shlepped up from LA since we were (sort of) in the neighborhood. What sweeties!
|Oh, those crazy uncles!|
Ilana did a very good job as flower girl ;) and I think the 15 hours on a plane each way was probably worth it because we got a good family photo (miracle!)
Mazal tov, Benjamin and Natalie! We love you guys!