Saturday, January 24, 2009

Honeymoon is Over - The most honorable Aliyah

Paul, Art and Jerusalem
What do the three have in common?
Last Saturday night we celebrated the birthday of our Mexican friend that lives in Raanana. The Bibles Land museum in Jerusalem had an event of Wine & Cheese followed by a concert by two guys that imitate Simon & Garfunkel. The wine was dry (I’m not a big wine connoisseur) and the Cheese was…was no there by the time we arrived. The concert was very nice but we had to keep quiet because of the grumpy old woman in front of us that kept on looking back at us. Overall it was very nice.

Honeymoon is over
I can’t believe last week we celebrated 6 months since we arrived in Israel. Looking back I think there has been certainly more good moments that difficult ones. The first months it was all new, it was all living the dream, learning new things, of course going through all the bureaucratic government and other paperwork, school registration, job search. All the visits to the doctor specially by the kids was not one of the highlights of this 6 months. Meeting new people, finding ourselves in this new society with a different culture, language, food, etc. Hey we even went through a War, we’ll just leave the water, flashlight and battery radio in our safe room (yes we have a shelter at home just like anyone else). As per working on Sundays, it will take more than 6 months (probably 6 years) to get used to. Watching Steelers football live after midnight will be another tough one to get used to
Half year after things are not so new anymore, however Israel still surprises me at times. It is still great been able to be part of the Jewish state.
Although routine tries to take over we try to break it sometimes, especially on Fridays while the kids are in school and there’s no work.
The kids are doing very well at school, learning Hebrew and speaking it with a RRReish accent. Making new friends.
Liora is almost done with Ulpan (Hebrew classes) and is already an expert. She has made great friends from Ulpan too. Taking care of the children while they are sick has been a challenge.
I’m thank G’d employed in a very rough time for the economy. Learning a lot about marketing in Israel, learning about Ketchup, Oatmeal and chocolate drinks, working in an Israeli company and with Israelis (that’s the toughest one), working all in Hebrew except for all outside contacts. I admit I’m still writing in English, typing is extremely difficult for me in Hebrew, however all or most of the emails I get back are in Hebrew.
Life here is very different in all aspects, and it’s good.
I’m thankful to G’d for showing us the way to get here and for giving us a happy life here and strength to overcome any difficulty.

The most honorable Aliyah
Every year when my Bar Mitzvah’s parsha (Torah’s weekly section) is read I try to get an Aliyah (called to a blessing of the Torah). Last year I was lucky enough to be in Israel visiting to check things out and be in Jerusalem. On Saturday morning I went a year ago to the Kotel (Western Wall) and got an Aliyah on my Bar Mitzvah’s reading, it was a unique moment given the place, moment and time in my life, I got an Aliyah at the Kotel on that special Torah portion while all that was going through my mind was Aliyah (literally: ascending- moving to Israel), well as you can see G’d answered to my prayers.
This Saturday my Bar Mitzvah parsha was read, I was hoping I could get an Aliyah given that it’s the first time I would do the blessing living in Israel on my Bar Mitzvah parsha. It would certainly be a special moment. But instead of getting an Aliyah I got something even greater… Nothing. How can nothing be greater? I will explain. The Gabay (prayer planner :) ) approached to me early in the prayers and said: “I know it’s your Bar Mitzva parsha and I will try to get you an Aliyah, however I’m trying to get all the returning soldiers one as well”. It’s true, I noticed suddenly that there were many faces I haven’t seen for the last three Shabbats at the synagogue, they were all defending our country.
It was the greatest, most meaningful and honorable Aliyah I’ve ever not gotten.

Batya’s Ballet
Last week Batya had a Ballet presentation. She enjoys it so much. Below are some pictures and a video. Enjoy.

Solidarity on War, discord on elections
Is good to see our soldiers back home. I don’t think peace is closer now, but what is clear is that terrorist activity will be halted for a while (lets hope).
So what’s on the news this days? Obama is on the spotlight. Also Israeli elections are happening in a couple of weeks. It’s interesting to see how war united most Jews in Israel and the world in solidarity and we will now see how politics and elections will divide us.

Next blog hear about our Friday experience at Machane Yehudah (Popular Jerusalem market).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thank you soldiers; Rakefet, Rakefet...

Thank you Soldiers
The fight in the South is in everyone’s minds at all times. Yesterday the news got actually distracted for a little while because of the plane accident in the Hudson River, but after that right back to the war in the South. This week we got a little worried when rockets fell also in the North but apparently it was a onetime thing (for the second time!) apparently Lebanon is not really wanting to engage in War nor the terrorists among them from Hezbola. At work there are people that were called to war as well as at our Synagogue.
At the gan the kids write letters and send gifts to soldiers.
Below a video of what the kids wrote and sent to the soldiers. Batya’s letter reads in Hebrew “Thank you for guarding the land of Israel, Batya”.

Rakefet, Rakefet… (Cylcamen, Cyclamen..) :)
Last week we took our Friday tour right in the center of our city in Modiin. There is a place called Givat Hatitura (Titura Hill) that has many archeological sites from different time periods, a very nice view of Modiin and a path called shvil haprachim (Flower path). We had a very nice hike. Flowers are just starting to grow but were very nice. There were mainly two kind of flowers Rakefet (Cyclamen) and Kalaniot (anemone) apparently the unofficial flower of Israel. For all our family and friends in the North East of US, Yes I’m wearing a long sleeve T-shirt mid January.
There is a very famous folk song for the Rakefet. Below is a video of the song, and the two flowers (one is the Kalania and the other is the singer). Please be advised that I received full permission to post this video. Next time we’ll also look for the Kalaniot song…

Below are some pictures of our hike through Givat Hatitura

Paul, Art and Jerusalem.
What do the 3 have in common? Submit your guess in the comments and find out in the next Blog post. Hint- Is the silence a sound?

Shabbat Shalom.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Meet our new pet + Sabra Album

Meet our new pet

Just a quick blog to share a photo of our new pet.
Yes we have a pet, it’s a Praying Mantis that has been standing in the outside of our mosquito net to our backyard. It has been there for 2 weeks or more and it does move.
A silly thought…are praying mantis in Israel praying in Hebrew? :)

From Sabra Album

Sabra Album - Take 3:
You can also visit Sabra Album Take 1 and Take 2 if you missed them.
Continuing to post pictures that talk about how Israel is such a special and interesting place. These pictures are so unique to Israel that I would like to call them “Sabra Album” (Click here for definition of Sabra).

Sign reads “Parking Prohibited” (ok this is not unique to Israel, but we have it too)
From Sabra Album

Chanukiyah made out of Heineken beer bottles in the mystical city of Safed
From Sabra Album

Sign reads: “Because of the fire, Safed candles open two doors down” The candle store did burn down.
From Sabra Album
From Sabra Album

And now back to the Steelers playoff game...

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Blessing - Parshat Vayehi

Every Friday at Batya’s gan (kindergarten) one of the 20 girls gets to be Ima Shabbat (Sabath mother) and they need to bring candies and a story about that week’s torah portion, they also take stage in a Shabbat table in front of the class.
When we picked her up today from gan her teacher said that she did it so nicely that she (the teacher) felt like crying. She described the faces of Batya’s Israeli friends who were amazed to hear her speak so nicely in Hebrew for so long. Batya came back from gan so happy and we are so proud of her. Now that’s a blessing.
The Torah portion apart from talking about the death of Yaakov (Jacob) and Yosef (Joseph) it talks about, the blessing Jacob gave to Joseph's children Menashe & Ephraim (Genesis 48:16), Hamalach Hagoel that was posted on a previous blog called “The Blessings”.
See Batya practicing at home:

Ilan also wanted to take place on this.

May we all be blessed with good children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. May the Angel that redeemed Yaakov from all evil bless our people, our southern citizens and heroic soldiers and redeem us all from all evil.

Shabbat Shalom to all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Praying towards the South
Last week we took a trip with our visiting family to the North. As I explained on “Praying towards the West” we always pray towards Jerusalem which means that I have almost always have prayed towards the East. If you travel to the North of Israel you pray towards the center (Jerusalem) which is South. Prayers to the south have a special meaning these days where our brothers are living in fear as terrorists shoot tens of rockets to their cities and our heroic soldiers are fighting for peace and an end to terrorist attacks, so my prayers were towards Jerusalem in the South and beyond to the south of Israel.

From Trip to North Dec. 2008

What does it feel like to live in a country at war? We are a little scared. Although Modiin is still far from Gaza (60km – yes, that is considered far in this small country) see link below, so far the furthest rockets have landed is Beer Sheva (40km).

Driving through Arab villages in the north was a little more scary that the last time a month or so ago. On route 6, there was a military police on every bridge making sure there are no rock throwers and in every intersection through the Arab villages we drove there were several military police getting ready for potential demonstrations. On the streets and cars there are more people dressed in their soldier uniform, I feel like telling every single one of them “Thank you”.

No water in the north (fire in the south)
Israel is a very dry land and depends every year on the winter rains especially in the north where water accumulates in the Kineret (Sea of Galilee). See Batya and Ilan by the Kineret below.

By the way tonight it’s raining. It feels like a relief to see rain knowing how vital it is.
Our trip to the north was beautiful. It was nice to get out of work and take some fresh air. We visited Safed (a holy and mystical city), we saw the snowy Hermon from far, we visited our grandma’s friend in Kibutz Ein Gev, saw the cows, horses, eat a delicious fresh fish restaurant. It was very nice to see both grandma’s that were old friends in Mexico see each other and ride what we called the Doramovile, the dates and bananas from the Kibutz were also delicious. We slept at the Kibutz hotel/inn right next to the Kineret (sea of Galile). The day after on our way back we visitied Gan-Guru, an Australian zoo in the north of Israel where we fed Kangaroos and so many other animals. Enjoy the pictures below.

It’s sadly quiet at home
This morning we said goodbye to our visiting family. It was great having you and we thank you for your visit. I understand Israel is a couple of miles and dollars (flight) away from Pittsburgh, so thanks for coming and having such a great time with us. We had 2 great Shabbats together, a great party, a couple of visits to the Mall, the nice trip to the North, I even enjoyed watching news together every night as we all fell asleep by the Sofa (Rajel’s bed). Thanks too for all the goodies from Mexico and presents you bought for us here too. Just like we received 5 visits from my father in Law to Pittsburgh completing the 5 books of the Torah (a book per visit), I just started my Talmud collection with your first visit to us in Israel and your present and as you said there are fifty some books for that Talmud, so we are looking forward to collecting them all soon… Please come back soon.
The clock is ticking (on the right of the blog) and we are waiting for our aunt to come.
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