Friday, March 31, 2017

Batsheva's Visit :)

Batsheva was here for about 2 1/2 weeks and we had such a nice visit.  Although much of the visit was filled with mundane things (like work, as she can do her job as a software developer remotely, she worked full-time while she was here) we got a fair amount of visit-y things in, too.

We took a hike and saw so many of the flowers in bloom.....

 Went to the Biblical Museum on Natural History  (one of the only things to do locally that does not involve going to the mall or going on a hike).  In a "like father, like daughter" moment, Batsheva also found out she had an affinity for the big snake.

Amusingly, there was a group of senior women in the museum at the same time, and many of them wanted photos of Batsheva holding the snake and them right up close to it :).  Sort of, well, like I am in the photo ("umm, no thanks, I'm fine without holding it...I'll just show how brave I am from right over here").

We had a really great time meeting up with our old homeschooling buddies Fern and Daniel (homeschoolers all over New England are waving 'hi' now!)  for breakfast at a new French cafe in Jerusalem.  Discovered that Batsheva and I are a great match to share a breakfast because I had no interest in the chocolate croissant and she had mild-but-reasonable interest in the incredible cheeses.

During our foray to Jerusalem, I also learned how to (legally) park on the sidewalk!  (By the way, that is not my car.  I parked better than that).  And we helped out a young man who was moving into the nearby Lone Soldier's Home and needed a ride for him and his luggage (funny story: when we picked him up in the Old City, where he was moving out of his yeshiva, I looked at him and said, "We might have a problem, because when the Home asked for a ride for you, they said you only had one suitcase, and I'm not sure I can fit you and three suitcases in to my tiny car with three of us in it".  He was non-fazed [good for a future solider!], sat down and had his friends put the duffel bags on top of him ["it's less than an hour.  No problem"])

We had karaoke night with Batsheva playing our new favorite instrument, the Otamatone .  Can't wait until the one she got Ilana for her upcoming birthday gets here.  That thing is a hoot!

And, overall, ate a lot, laughed a lot, and enjoyed just being together.

Batsheva took all the photos in today's blog post.  Thank you, Batsheva, and come back soooon!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trip North

We drover 2 1/2 hours north after Shabbat ended and stayed overnight in Tzfat (the most multiply-spelled word I have ever encountered.  According to the "Encyclopedia of Tzfat",  the city also goes by: Safed, Safet, Tsfat, Tzefat, Tsefat, Safes, Tsfas, Tzfas, Tzefas, Tsefas, Zfas, Zfat, Zefad, Zefas, and Zefat!  We had a lovely morning wandering around the city, seeing the many art shops

and eating a wonderful breakfast ("you should post on TripAdvisor, Mommy.  Something like, "I had to drag my kids here because they thought the food would be 'too healthy' and everyone loved it and we can't wait to eat there again") and planning a return trip so we can have more time in the future to explore.

Then, off to the Kibbutz!  It's kind of hard to believe that we've been here 1 1/2 years and this is the first trip to visit all the cousins on the Kibbutz.  In fact, it's my first trip here since Batsheva and Chana were little.  (Cousins Gil and Nitzan, and Gil's father Eitan are the ones we are closest to, and we have met them on each Israel trip and several times since making aliyah, but this was the first time seeing all of the extended family [not all of whom made it into the group photo]).

Eitan took us on a long and wonderful tour of the kibbutz ("Gil, we'll come to your house after the tour.  How long do you think a kibbutz tour with Eitan will take?"  "With him, it could be two hours or it could be 12 hours...")  I've been on at least two Eitan tours of the kibbutz and still saw many things I had never noticed/understood before, including my favorite: the kibbutz museum, 

ELEPHANTS once roamed where the kibbutz currently is?!
We went back to cousin Eli and Ariella's house to chat with the cousins (me to my ulpan teacher the next day, "and I did really well speaking in Hebrew.  I spoke more Hebrew than I ever did on the kibbutz before!  Umm, okay, the last time I was there was 18 years ago, so let's hope I don't need that much time to progress before my next visit there....")
the foundations of an ancient wine press were found in the spot where Eli and Ariella's house was planned to be built.  So the house is closer to the road and the backyard is this awesome archaeological find!
 Gi took us on a tour of nearby fields

Ilana found porcupine quills
 and up to his favorite viewing spot at the top of a mountain

Off to dinner with Nitzan and cousin Tslil and then the 3 hour drive home.  Can't believe how much we packed into 28 hours!

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Batsheva arrived Thursday night (hooray!) and we went right into a crazy busy weekend.  First, we had our mishloach manot food goodie bags to prepare.   Penina and I had been shopping last week and she saw little bags of peanuts along with popcorn containers and, suddenly, a baseball-themed MM came into form.  It was so cute!  Except lacking in baseball-ness, as every store we looked at had stickers and other trinkets that were *soccer* themed.  Or maybe basketball.  But not baseball (despite the fact that Israel just won its first four games in the World Baseball Classic before losing in Tokyo on Monday....And despite that our town actually built a baseball field).  No baseballs, though.  Thanks to Amazon Prime and Batsheva, however, we had baseball stickers and squishy baseballs (non-edible) to put in our mishloach manot.

But that led to the whole question of costumes, which led to a grand plan of going as the Red Sox, which led to another realization: it's not particularly easy to come by Red Sox paraphernalia in a country that is not baseball-crazy and is 6000 miles from Boston.  And we couldn't just call Cousin Noah to dig into his stash of Sox stuff and bail us out.  So I went to several thrift store gemachs and bought all the red shirts they had.  Which wasn't much, because many people here don't wear red as it's considered too attention-getting/not modest.  By this point, I didn't know whether to laugh or bang my head against the wall!  "And to think it all started with those little packages of peanuts.  Drat those peanuts!"

We eventually cobbled together costumes, borrowed a bat and a glove (also not easy to find!), took our own copies of Megilat Esther to read along with (it's "bring your own book" here) and headed into Purim.
I'm selling popcorn for 100 shekels.  As you may be able to tell, we had a little disagreement over whether to be the Red Sox in English or Hebrew :)
For our festive meal, we had Liat's family over (we decided to make it a tradition with them!) and then, hooray again, Rhona, Erik, Avigail and Eitan made it over for one last visit before their flight left at midnight.

We finally had the experience of yeshiva guys (collecting money for tips for their rebbes) dancing in our house.  We had two groups and they were very cute.  Perhaps because it was early in the day and no one had overindulged in the Purim custom of drinking "until you don't know the difference between 'cursed is Haman' and 'blessed is Mordechai'" (although I prefer Rambam's sensible thoughts that one must drink enough to get sleepy and that's it).  Anyway, each group asked permission to enter before singing, dancing in a circle with Shalom Shachne, getting their tzedakah contribution and leaving.

The next morning, Ilana and I helped repackage unwanted mishloach manot goodies for orphans and poor children in Jerusalem.  Together, the group packaged 1600!
my neighbor, Kara, took this photo
On Monday, I had another "first time" experience when Batsheva and I went into the walled city of Jerusalem to celebrate Shushan Purim (for an in-depth understanding, please see this article).  It was quite the happening time in both the Old City and the New, with a big street festival and street performers all over the city,

people in costume (our favorites were a gladiator trying in vain to hail a cab [chariot have a flat tire?]

and a King David-esque young man walking a goat on a leash while shlepping his modern-day gear bag], 

tons of tzedakah collectors (we were prepared and even brought extra mishloach manot to give out) 

and my favorite thing to see: curbside megillah readings!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Rhona and Erik!

And Avigail and Eitan!  They're here!  We spent a really lovely Shabbos in Jerusalem with them and are looking forward to (hopefully) getting to see them again on Purim when Batsheva is here (yay!).

As Rhona described it, "hard to believe that we met over 22 years ago at Morning Minyan in Philadelphia and here we are in Jerusalem, motzei Shabbat, still glowing after our families shared a glorious Shabbat together".  

I especially liked that Penina and Ilana got to really know them ("I see why you guys like them--they're great!")

Rhona and I talk on the phone pretty much every Friday before Shabbat.  Being together in person was way better ;)