Friday, April 21, 2017

Pesach 2017

**disclaimer: I know that my readership comes from across the religious spectrum (not just the Jewish spectrum!), so, without my taking tons of time to hyperlink everything in case you want to find out more about it, etc, how about we do a "Ramona".  One of my favorite children's book characters, when she is in elementary school tries to be like her father and read the evening paper (Beverly Cleary just dated herself with that reference more than when Ribsy the dog eats horse meat....).  The scene goes something like, "Ramona read that zzzzz was going to vote on the amendment to zzzzzz".  So, folks, if you come across an unfamiliar concept, just be like Ramona, say "zzzzz" and keep on going :)  (Extra points to someone who can correct the errors in my remembering the scene.  I'm counting on you here, Kelly!)**
Pesach was really, really lovely.  Some random thoughts:

--overall, I couldn't believe how EASY it was for me to figure out which products were kosher for Passover and which weren't.  Totally different from last year, thankfully.  I even helped an Israeli guy who looked like he was going to cry trying to figure out if the cottage cheese he wanted to buy was okay (because the possible designations are: kosher for passover, kosher for passover only for those who eat kitniyot, kosher for passover without any worry of kitniot [I really think they should make a different designation because last year, I assumed that anything with the word kitniot on it was not for us] and kosher for passover as long as it's bought before erev Pesach.)

--loved seeing some stores that had everything labeled.  Like the pharmacy that had every product labeled, including all the shampoo shelves (can't benefit from anything containing chametz, even if you're not going to eat it)

--having a car made me so much more tuned-in (of course) to things like cleaning the car.  My friend went to get her car cleaned a few weeks before Pesach, on a Tuesday.  They told her a price and she said that it was much higher than her sister had paid just the day before.  "Ah, but today is Rosh Chodesh.  Now we're so close to the holiday that we have to charge more"! 

--walking around on Pesach, Shalom Shachne and I at the same time noted that every car parked on the street was so clean and shiny.  He said that he had actually had a brief thought of, "wow, a lot of people have bought new cars recently", until he realized that it was just that they were all cleaned during the same time period.

--I waited in SUCH a line to get my car cleaned, except all I could do was smile since most people were not overtly religious.  What a country that "everyone" cleans their car before Pesach!  When I finally inched to the front of the line, I asked if I could get the lower, normal rate since my car was already quite clean (ah, the joys of NOT commuting to/from school and work.  In the US, my car was basically a large pile of crumbs from Trader Joe's snack foods with some wheels holding the whole thing up).  The guy agreed that my car was quite clean, but, alas, told me everyone was paying the same price these days.  Oh well.

In "other-than-car" news: 
--when we finally returned to ulpan yesterday, I was a little surprised to hear how everyone's family loved having only one Seder.  We all still miss the second Seder, although I am not complaining at how much less work it was in the kitchen to only have one.  And how nice it was to have another day of Chol Hamoed

--Great trip we went on was to "Invitation to Silence", known locally as "The Deaf Museum".  Really a fascinating experience and our (deaf) tour guide was very interesting.  I see why this is rated 5 stars on TripAdvisor.  The trip meshed especially nicely for Chana, who is taking a sign language class now (although ASL and Hebrew sign language are different).

--for the last Yontif day, our old friend from Philadelphia, Elisha, visited with his daughter Shira.  We became friends with Elisha something like 23 years ago and we became religious at the same time.  Our kids last saw each other when they came from Philly for Chana's bat mitzvah seven years ago (ie. they've all changed a lot since then!), but they made an instant and strong connection and had a great time together.  There is truly nothing like an old friend.....Hoping they come back in the summer so that Anabel and I can see each other, too. 

--Chana is leaving Sunday ;(.  But it's been great having her around :).  Now we all just need to figure out what she's doing next year.  She will be in college in the US, but we're not sure if she'll stay where she is or transfer to a secular college.  b''H, she got into some really good ones.  Now we just need to figure out living situations and finances and, overall, where the best place for her is.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Harry B-day- 11th Birthday Party for Ilana")

Hi everyone- Chana here!

The Goldbergs of number 7 Yavne street were proud to say that they were perfectly normal thank you very much. Well..."perfectly normal" may be a little but of a stretch. You know what? Lets just get straight to the story.

On Friday we celebrated a very special occasion- a child discovering her true magical heritage- aka Ilana's 11th birthday. As you may or may not know, in the Harry Potter series Harry discovers he's a wizard and receives a letter inviting him to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on his 11th birthday.

All children obsessed with Harry Potter anxiously await this birthday, hoping that they too will receive an owl with their own Hogwarts letter. Sadly, most are disappointed and have to come to grips with being a mere Muggle (I personally am still waiting for my letter, but that's neither here nor there).

Our family has had to grapple with three non-magical children so far, but on Ilana's birthday everything changed and we can now proudly announce that: "You're a wizard, Ilana!" (said in Hagrid's voice).

On that sunny morning, Ilana came downstairs and was greeted with an owl carrying a mysterious envelope.

In true wizard fashion it was addressed to: "Ms. Ilana Goldberg. The second bedroom on the second floor".

Upon opening it, she discovered an.....ACCEPTANCE LETTER TO HOGWARTS!!!! It also had a class schedule, a list of supplies she would need for the coming school year, and a map of the school.

Upon further inspection, Ilana discovered that platform 9 and 3/4 was conveniently located just a few steps away (in fact, it was where our front door had previously been- but that's magic for you!).

The Gryffindor common room (complete with a portrait of the Fat Lady and a password required to enter),

the Great Hall (set with a welcome feast containing assorted treats from Honeydukes),

and the Forbidden Forest and Whomping Willow (which was totally off limits to students of course!) all rounded out the magical experience.

Unfortunately, upon entering the bathroom, Ilana discovered that "The Chamber Has Been Opened". Fortunately, there was a portal to the Ministry of Magic nearby.

Round glasses  and lightening bolt scars were given to all (Voldemort was very busy designating many "chosen-ones". or it might have been face-paint. same dif).  Ilana then stopped by Olivanders wand shop, and picked up a wand which would be necessary for the magical year of learning ahead of her.

And received her broomstick--a Nimbus 2006

When Ilana entered the Great Hall, she was called up to the sorting hat to find out which house she would be in. Although the Sorting Hat had a hard time making a decision it finally pronounced: "GRYFFINDOR", in a ringing voice. The hall erupted in cheers, and candies sent straight from Hogsmeade (including jelly slugs, Bertie Botts every flavor beans, fizzing wizzbees, and candy golden snitches) were distributed to all in celebration.

the feast included spring rolls, which we heard were a favorite of  the "ickle firsties"

Headmaster Albus Dumbledore rose to address the students, the candles hanging over the tables of the great hall glinted in the starry night ceiling: "As I welcome you all back for another year of learning and hijinks," he began, "I would like to take extra care to thank a few of our extraordinarily dedicated staff members."

"Miss Penina Goldberg", he continued, "for your hard working in creating the magical world that we have gathered in today, I would like to award 50 points to Gryffindor."

"But Professor", piped up a snide voice from the audience, "staff members can't win points for their houses. That's not fair!"

"Quiet Malfoy," snapped Dumbledore, "nobody asked your opinion anyway!".
"Anyways," he continued, once more beaming at the audience, "I would also like to thank professors Ellen and Shalom Shachne and award them 50 points to Ravenclaw and Gryffindor respectively."

The hall once more erupted in cheers, students jumped onto the tables clapping and stamping their feet. Dumbledore raised his hand for silence. "Lastly," he said, eyes twinkling over his half-moon glasses, "thank you to Miss Ilana Goldberg for growing up into such a wonderful 11 year old- the person you are becoming is truly someone magical."

Ilana smiled around at the fellow students and teachers at Hogwarts who were like her family (or maybe they actually were her family. It would explain why they had gone to all that trouble to make her a Harry Potter party).  She couldn't wait to find out what her next day at Hogwarts would bring.

note: we got a lot of these great party ideas from:

Chana's Here! And Pesach is Coming!

Chana arrived veeery late Thursday and it's so great to have her back ("Penina!  Chana!  Go to bed already--it's 2 in the morning!").

Ulpan and schools let out for Pesach break at the end of last week, so we've had all this week to get ready for Pesach.  By this point, although we are officially "turning over" our kitchen to be Pesachdig today, we're all of the mindset of "Enough already!  We're ready.  Bring it on!"

Chag Kasher V'Sameach to everyone!