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 :)