Friday, September 09, 2005

This blog has moved

I can now be found at Blogsome.
So far it seems like an easierand more flexible program.

Come visit!!!! I'll be taking a few of my better posts with me.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A very special Family

Since we moved here we have been adopted by a wonderful family. They have three children who are as special as they are. Since we have known them, they have donated things to the absorption center, helped a family going through a conversion process, and they both work more than full time.

With the disengagement "situation", this family has impressed me even more...

  • The daughter organized a gathering on Ben Yehuda street (downtown Jerusalem) for three days that is going under the title "Even if you support the disengagement, it still is painful." (Excuse my poor translation) They handed out flyers and sang songs together. It looks like it will be a continuting gathering.
  • Their son has been down in Atzmona (one of the settlements) taking down the greenhouses so that they can be re-assembled in their new location. There are over 200 youth working down there to help get these greenhouses assembled.
  • The couple themselves spent last Tuesday night in Nitzan helping the people who have been moved from their homes, to clean and get organized. This week I hope to join them in this task.

I wish more people would be like them...

On another note:

If you are in Israel, or know anyone who is, ask them what they are doing to help these people! There are at least four hotels in Jerusalem, a few at the Dead Sea, Ashkelon, Beer Sheva and many other places where these people are now located. It doesn't matter what you think of their politics, they are now homeless and need lots of help!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Mishaneh Makom Mishaneh Mazal*

Big changes are starting September 1. I have taken a new job at the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive! My job is primarily cataloging films (in Hebrew & English). I've previously volunteered and worked there twice over the last 14 years. This time is for real. I'm excited about this opportunity to get back into my profession, even though it isn't an area that I am so interested in...I prefer computer work to cataloging.

The archive is located at Hebrew University, which is a bit of a schlep from home, but I hopefully will have a ride to work sometimes with another parent at Ariella's childcare. I also need to check into the possibility of other rides from the neighborhood.

My big girl is starting pre-K this year! Gan Hana will be her new school. I've heard very good things about it, but it isn't as close to home as her previous childcare. Also, the day only goes until 1PM, so I need to sign her up for "tzaharon" which is after care. This runs until 4 and isn't cheap (on Israeli salaries). Most of my money will be going to pay for the girl's childcare.

I hope this coming year will lead to more positive changes for us and Israel. I know I haven't written about what is happening in Gaza, and the Shomron, but I just want to say I am very heartened by the actions of my fellow Jerusalemites in regard to providing support for the people as they are moved to new locations. May they all find what they need to start a new home and a new life. Everyone knows how difficult it is to move when you make the decision yourself, but imagine if the decision has been made by someone else!

*Literally change your location, change your luck.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

How not to ask a halachic question

I think it was last year before the 9 days, but maybe it was two years ago, I asked my Rav about knitting during the 9 days. Instead of asking is it permitted to knit during the 9 days, I said "I have this book that says I can't knit during the 9 that true?" Well, of course he would say yes. Thank you stupid all I can do is sort out my yarn and pick projects to work on.

I guess this could be a good thing, because I do need to pick some projects now that I've been buying yarn.

The talmudist in me wants to twist around the sentence says you can't knit clothing...what if I knit a stuffed animal, or something not clothing? Any thoughts? The other thought was that knitting for charity should be okay....

Sigh....oh to be Sefardi....

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The dividing line between FFB* and BT**

If you are looking for a nice but subtle way to determine if your friend/acquaintance was frum during the 70's-80's, just bring up the subject of Schoolhouse Rock.

Yes I see it in your eyes already. Either the blank stare of nothingness, or you've started humming "Conjunction Junction". Just watch the trailer, and you will see why you don't know it (or you will start to break into song if you do!) One of our recent grandparent visits brought the complete DVD of all songs, plus interviews and more. It is wonderful to watch them, and realize how educational and fun they can be.

Here is a site with some sound clips.

Definitely worth purchasing...and for all you FFB's that applies to you too.

*Frum From Birth (always religously observant)
**Baal Tshuva (became religously observant at an older age)>

Monday, August 01, 2005

This is the job I want

I haven't said much about my current job, because it is just okay....theoretically it could end at any time, and that isn't a good feeling. The good points about it are that it is very close to home, the hourly wage is reasonable, and I have lots of flexibility with my hours.

Yesterday I had an interview for the job I want. I won't say where (unless I get it), but this is someplace that I already have strong connections, and I know I would be comfortable there.

The interview was a bit weird, because I am friends with the people who work there, but they gave me a challenging task. I had to watch a 20 minute film in Hebrew, and write a summary and shot list in English. The video was about the 39 Melachot of Shabbat. (The 39 "tasks" that are forbidden to do on the Sabbath.) It was a very fast paced video...and when I hit the part about Slaughtering an Animal , I was a bit shocked to see a cow with blood spurting out of her neck! Ick!!! Luckily this was in black and white, but this was real!!!! I couldn't pretend it was chocolate syrup like Psycho.

Well, I hope this job comes through...even if I have to deal with some unpleasant films on occassion...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Request for my readers

As a former Milwaukeean, and someone who knows the Rennert family, I am passing on a tzdakah reccommendation/request.

For background on the situation see:

In order to make a donation:

Thank you Psychotoddler for posting the information.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Do I stay or do I go?

This post comes under the category of "way too personal." We will see if I keep it posted.

Part I
Before heading to the US, I realized I would need to make a mikvah visit during my time in the US. It seemed kind of silly, since I wouldn't be with my spouse, and probably would end up needing to go again shortly after returning to Israel. Logically this is a question that one should present to one's posek. I contacted the Nishmat Yoatzot Halacha for guidance. They are a wonderful group, and I trust them completely. The answer I was given, was that I should go (but not on Shabbat), because theoretically, my husband could appear and "suprise me." I debated that point a bit with her, but she said I should go.

Part II
So here I am, staying with my parents, and I should be going now....I call Mikvah #1 and their voicemail is out of gives two people to call, but not for the night I need to go. I tried calling one of them, but no answer. I call Mikvah #2 and leave a message on the machine. The woman calls me back nearly 24 hours later. She says that there are fuse problems, and so she needs to check things out before I can go. I told her that it wasn't urgent that I go that night, because my husband isn't even here. She says "al pi halacha" (according to Jewish Law) you should not go to the mikvah if your husband isn't around. I told her about my conversation above, and she said she doesn't think I should go, and she would check with the Rabbi. She said she would call me back if the answer was yes.

She didn't call back. Now if she had seen me and my lack of headcovering etc.., I wouldn't be suprised, but I'm a bit bothered by the situation. On the one hand, I didn't want to go prior to talking to the Yoatzot, but on the other, I was following the psak I was given--however unrealistic.

The other key to this story is that Mikvah #2 is not Chabad, and is much more "Black" than I am. I doubt they have many people "like me" going there.

**I don't know what the etc. is, but I must have something else wrong with me.

Would you rather be in America?

This question is posed often both by Israelis and Americans. Generally it is followed by "What do you miss about America?" or ""Why do you want to live in Israel?"

After being back in the US for over a week, I think I can say that I don't miss America*. I've been watching the news quite a bit, and most of what shows up on the news is inconsequential...or at least doesn't deserve the time it is given. (I'm happy the boy turned up alive in Utah, but just let him and his family go on living...) Maybe part of this is because I don't own a TV** and I don't see the news in Israel, but I think I listen to the radio enough, and I monitor the news via the Internet. I also feel the US government spends too much time discussing governing, and not enough time doing it.

Also, I've been doing "reverse calculations"...before two years in Israel, I would convert all costs to dollars to see if the price was right. Now in the US, I'm converting everything to shekels to see if I can get it cheaper at home.

There are things I miss from the US:
  • Target, and all other stores that have everything you need.
  • Space...our apartment would fit in the second floor of my parent's home.
  • Reality shows of the HGTV variety. (Design on a Dime etc...)
  • Yarn and Yarn Stores (I should have learned to knit before making aliyah!)
But the things in Israel that I love:
  • Easier access to kosher foods, and the ability to eat out without pre-planning
  • The really is a family--for better and worse, but I like talking to the people around me and feeling like there is a connection.
  • JANGLO, IsraEmploy, Tachlis (this connects to the item above)
  • Less materialism....there is some, but it just isn't on the level in the US.
  • More freedom for my children. I felt paranoid having my daughter wander a few feet away from me at Newark Airport (even though I could see her), but I wouldn't think twice about it in the US.
Now if only the financial part of living in Israel would straighten itself out, we would be good to go! I'd ask people to pray for parnassa for us, but since I don't do it myself (for me or anyone) I can't expect anyone to do it for me***.

*I wonder if I'm going to show up in Google for "Miss America"?

** Not for religious reasons, we are too cheap, and we don't have a place to put one.

***It is almost time for a post on spirituality...I'm lacking it, and could use some direction.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Anti-Semitism in the Catskills

I had an interesting conversation with my dad about what is going on in the Catskills. It definitely gave me something to think about.

There is a large amount of development going on...bungalow colonies, yeshivot etc... When these places build, there are many problems that take place. Here are a few scenarios which have happened in the last few years:
  • Group "A" was doing construction, they left piles of junk in front of their buildings, the city government told them that they must transport their stuff to the dump, or they would be fined. (They complied)
  • Group "B" went through the process of getting city approval to enlarge their site (new buildings, etc... Everything they did was not in accord to what was approved. They made buildings that then never said they were buildings, all the buildings that were approved were larger etc... They were fined, and paid it. (But still got away with not following the law)
  • Group "C" requested a certain number of additional buildings, but they have (apparently) added more buildings than they requested and were approved for. (This has just idea what will be the result)
This doesn't include the generally rude behavior that some of these "summer residents" bring to the area. My mother has been cut off in the grocery line on a Friday afternoon, by someone saying "it is almost Shabbat and I need to get going," rudeness on the roads etc...

Anyway as to the bullet points, my father believes that this causes Anti-Semitism, because people see the "Black Hats" and blame the Jews. I once talked (years ago) to a (non-East Coast) Rabbi who does spend part of his summer here, and he said that the behavior people who come here are enough to make anyone anti-Semitic.

It is really disheartening to see this, but it is true. So what can be done to prevent this? Or how do we make these people see that the "uniform" requires you to realize you are representing a group, even bigger than they realize, and that we are all hurt by their behavior?

And why should a Babka bought in the Catskills cost $15? Well, we can save that question for another time.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


So here I am in the Galut (aka America) and Shabbat ended a little while ago. I have two more "Shabbatot" here, and I'm afraid this might kill me.

My parents are not sabbath observant, and my four year old has started to notice. Not even discussing the halachic problems I had here, here are a few of the questions/statements I received from my daughter:
  • *I want a hardboiled egg for breakfast just like my cousin.
  • Why can't I go for a ride in the car with my Aunt and Grandma?
  • **Why is Grandpa mowing the lawn on Shabbat?
Let's not discuss the fact that there is no eruv there, and the weather was sunny and nice, so we were outside much of the day. This brings up issues of carrying, moving chairs, spreading sunscreeen...

Luckily, some fellow bloggers will be in the area this week, and maybe I will have someone to sympathize with me.

* That one was solved with a combination of a promised egg that she could make herself on Sunday, and a few cookies---the cookies were used a few other times during the day.

**I said something along the lines of Grandpa has lots to do, so he doesn't like to rest on Shabbat...she actually responded that she likes resting on Shabbat :)

Monday, May 23, 2005

I'm famous

Haaretz - Israel News - A good yarn, the kosher version

This was written about our knitting group. I think the article came out sort of corny, but I did already get one reply!

I also feel that one thing was mis-quoted and I'm afraid that the person mentioned (although not by name) might be offended.

Also, it doesn't have to be an all women's group...that is just how the cards have fallen so far. The last time I bought yarn down town, there was a group of young guys buying yarn to knit headbands!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Guide to going to the Hospital for new Olim

I really think that I should write a guide to going to the hospital for new immigrants. It is just so completely different than the US, (so is most medical related stuff) that we could really miss out.

A friend, who is a pediatrician, explained that the hospital system here is set up on the belief that your family is going to take care of you at the hospital. This is why Shaarei Tzedek has a "malonit"--mini hotel for families to stay in. The extent to which you need someone there depends on the level of your illness, but things as simple as having a cup for water is just not available. The nurses might tell you that you need to keep your fluids up, but that is completely in your own hands.

Another thing that I discovered from when my daugher was born, is that in that ward, you need to get up and go to the desk to ask for pain medication! They never even suggested it! Maybe that is because I wasn't a first time mother, but somehow I doubt it.

The hospital staff did not:
  • tell us about the mini-hotel for shabbat
  • that meals were available for me and my family in the staff dinning room, and I could pay in advance for Shabbat
  • tell my husband what he could/could not do when he got out of the hospital
But I was able to find out the information by asking the right questions. This can be a trick itself.

I don't fault the hospital for any of this, I realize people are overworked, and there is a shortage of staff, but I would love to find someone who would help me write my pamphlet.

The little things

I'm not an overly sentimental person....I am more of a realist, I don't wake up every morning and thank G-d that I live in Jerusalem, but sometimes events occur that make me weepy/happy to be here.

  • Before Passover there was a gathering at work, I guess in English it would be called a toast to the holiday. All the big wigs got up and said Happy Passover etc, they did a "dvar torah" (sermon) , but to end they gathering, they did a group sing along. Yes, everyone from the lowest level employee (that's me) to the head of the center sang along with a karaoke machine helping us with the words. These weren't religious songs, just very Israel connected songs (in Hebrew of course). It really has an affect on me.
  • Two weeks ago my husband was hospitalized for Appendicitis, and had to stay in the hospital from Wednesday through Sunday. For Shabbat I called up acquaintances, who were Shlichim (emmisaries) to Milwaukee and had recently returned to Israel. They told me they intentionally wanted to live near a hospital in case there were people in need, and I was in need. They invited us to stay over, and eat all meals there, despite the fact that his brother, sister-in-law and five children were also coming. Can you imagine a 4 bedroom apartment housing 5 adults and 10 children??? They were so kind, it was wonderful.
  • Another hospital many hospitals have a "mini-hotel" for families to stay in over Shabbat? The cost of it is only about $20 a night! They also have subsidized meals that you can pre-pay for on Shabbat. (Or not, if you arrive on Shabbat, nobody checks to see if you paid.)
  • This evening I heard shouts from a loudspeaker outside. There was a man selling watermellon from a truck. This is great, because if you don't have a car, it is quite difficult to schlep around watermellons. (I didn't make it in time though, because I'm home alone with the girls this evening)
Well, thats all for now, but in an attempt to actually update this blog more often, I'm going to start working on some themes.. let me know if there is anything I should cover.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I've started something Good

I am so excited after last night. The first well attended gathering of the Stitch n Bitch (now Knit an Nosh**) it is great!!! I advertized on JANGLO (although I really would like to get Hebrew Speakers to come, you have to start somewhere.) And I had six other people come, plus a reporter for Haaretz AngloFile.

The group of people who came were great...some skilled knitters, some new, but everyone had a great time, and wants to come back.

The group will be meeting the First and Third Mondays of the month from 8:00-9:30.

**A note about the name...I offended a few of the more religous people in the group, so I've decided to change the name externally, and let people call it what they want in private.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Doing for Myself

Lately I can count the weeks where I don't leave our neighborhood. Since my job is right here, I go from home to childcare to work to childcare to home. Tonight I got out, and it was very refresshing.

I decided to start a "Stitch N Bitch" group for Jerusalem. There was one, but it is on hiatus, so I decided to fill a need. I didn't overly publicize it, but we held it at a new cafe, called "Cafe on the Rails." It is run by Akim which is a place for developmentally disabled young adults. This worked out well for two reasons: 1) They are new, so it isn't so busy (actually tonight it was very busy) and 2) They don't have the expectations of great turnover, so you can nurse one drink for the evening.

Well, only two other people showed up, (one to say she couldn't come) but it still was nice. I got to not talk about work related things, knit and just enjoy myself! I'm sure once I spend more time in publiczing it people will come.

Sometimes it is important to give time to oneself.

Friday, March 11, 2005

A true Kashrut Nightmare!

So they look like apples right....and all fruit and vegetables are kosher right....ok, so not including all the broccoli issues.

But SUPRISE...the are not kosher because they are soaked in Concord grape flavoring.

So now you can't even feel safe letting your child eat fruit at a non-Jew/non-kosher keeper's house.

Move to Israel all....this is the sign :)

NOTE: I think I'm the first of the J-bloggers to cover this...maybe it will get me on a blogging roll...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

So are you still looking for a job?

Well, I guess the answer is yes...until something permanent comes along.

Two days ago I had an interview at Yad Ben Zvi which is a research institution. (Yes, a LIBRARY....a real LIBRARY!) I thought there was no way they would hire Hebrew isn't good enough, they want me to catalog etc... But, she told me to come back the next day to meet the director. I thought it was just a courtesy. So I came back the next day and met the director. For some reason the woman who had originally interviewed me started speaking to me in English (I don't do interviews in English, unless everyone is an English speaker). He told her not to, and I never switched to English. It turns out the director and I had some common "bonds"
  • I volunteered in Beit Shemesh, and he is from Beit Shemesh.
  • I learned at Pardes Institute, and he taught there.
Anyway, he said if he could get money for an internship for me from the Department of Immigration (Misrad HaKlita) then he would take me immediately, but he needed to see what they can do...

He handed me the Annual report for the institution (in Hebrew, of course) and told me to get practicing my Hebrew. I guess this is a good sign.

I'm not going to think about what I will do with my commitment to the Jewish Agency. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


So now I've been working there for almost a month and a half. I like what I'm doing, although I don't know if I ever would have chosen this.

The biggest event of the year is coming up the end of this week...we are running a TU B'Shvat Seder Megaconference for schools in North America, the UK and Israel. For about 4 days I will be working until between 10-Midnight! I don't know if my husbandwill be able to handle picking up the kids etc...
My piece in this has been
  1. Contacting the schools to enlist their participation
  2. Receiving applications and setting the timeslots (about 4 per day over 3 days)
  3. Organizing teleconferences so the participants can connect beforehand
  4. Ordering supplies (everything from paper cups to trees
Some things I enjoy, others are torture.

An example of torture was ordering dried fruit from "Shlomo." Here is how it went

Me: Hi Shlomo, we haven't received your price quote for the fruit yet.

Shlomo: How can I give you the price quote, the prices change every day..if I say too low then I will lose money, and if I say too high then it will be "gezel" (theft)

Me: Shlomo, we've worked with you before, we trust you....just write on the form that you will actually charge us the cost you pay.

Shlomo: You mean just pick a number out of the air?

Me: Yes, we trust you.

So now he is charging us 20 shekels a piece for pineapple....