Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blog Reading while Sick

Okay, another nice thing about being sick is that I get to catch up on my blog reading, and something caught my eye. FrumSkeptic had a post (put up in August) about fasting while pregnant, and the topic interested me.

I have consulted with some rabbis and my own personal OB-GYN in the past about this, but being here, I also wondered about the Israel aspect- as Tisha B'Av in E"Y comes out in the hot summer months, making it fairly easy to dehydrate (especially for a pregnant woman). When I first arrived here, I dehydrated fairly rapidly- and was advised to drink a cup of something every hour. After asking a doctor, he said that in the heat here- a pregnant woman should drink 2 cups every hour, to prevent early contractions.

So, what about fasting here? Well- disclaimer- everyone should ask their own local posek and doctor for their own personal conditions and situation.

I found out that according to my OB, pregnant women shouldn't fast on the minor days, and the rabbis that I consulted backed that up.

As for Tisha B'Av and Yom Kippur- the OB said it all depends how a pregnant woman feels, but she can fast. If she ends up having ANY symptoms at all- she should consult her rabbi.

Consulting with rabbis also got the answer that a pregnant woman can fast- with the same idea as the OB- any symptoms and a rav should be called.

But, interestingly, Tisha B'Av is more likely to give a pregnant woman a heter to eat than Yom Kippur- because of those hot summer months! And, we change the clock here right before Yom Kippur, so the fast ends at about 5. (A pregnant woman would miss drinking, breakfast, and lunch. )

Remarked upon was the fact that the fetus takes the nourishment from the mother whether or not the mother is eating- a baby will take, whether or not it is being replenished. Dehydration is more of the problem- as the amniotic fluid the baby needs is dependant on that, and it can begin early contractions, so most of the rabbanim, if one finds that there is a problem on the two major fast days, might allow drinking faster than eating.

All the rabbis that I consulted said that it depends on the woman- how she feels, what is her history, and what is the situation at that point. Someone may be given a heter, and someone else may be denied one.

Interesting, no? No rabbi had said, like in FS's post- that one should fast to the point of miscarriage. No doctor had said that it was completely and unequivocally impossible that a pregnant woman could fast.

Maybe the large percentage of the Jewish population in Israel, and more rabbis who are willing to consult with doctors, and vice versa, have provided both with the necessary teamwork to come to similar opinions, and ones that agree with halacha and medical science as well.


Ugh- seems the weather has caught up to me- I can barely think, let alone type, due to my waking up with a severe cold.

Good things about a cold in Israel: (Thanks, J.A.P., for the Glad Game- I think I needed something to cheer me up)
1. In Israel- the tissues are usually colorful- and have easy open perforations to help me get the next one
2. Hot Chocolate/shoko in Israel- best thing invented.
3. Now I can convince myself to start cooking for Shabbos a bit early, saving me the mad dash to shkiya that always happens, no matter what time Shabbos starts at.

Achoo! Better get back to my bed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rain, Rain, Baruch Hashem (Thank G-d)

I peer outside my window- yet another gloomy, rainy day in Yerushalyim. Baruch Hashem.

I mean, we do start praying for rain, and here it is.

The farmers need it desperately, especially since Shmitta is now over and they can plant again.
And the water supply in the Kinneret is quite low- so we need it as well.

So, we all say, thank G-d it's raining, but it's so miserable outside!

The rain turns my Yerushalayim of gold into a gray sky, complete with storm clouds hovering.

All the Israelis turn to their winter clothes- light sweaters and rain coats, complete with hoods.

And the kids have fun trying out the slip and slide down the hills of their neighborhood.

It's a strange concept, no? Here we pray for rain, and we need it- yet we, the people, don't necessarily enjoy the rainy season.

And heaven forbid we say that- it's always said, "Oh, what a rainy, gross day- Thank G-d."
Rain is a blessing, whether or not we see it as that.

Ugh. I'm staying home and drinking hot cocoa. But, thank G-d for the rain.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Misrad HaPnim- Ministry of the Interior

Okay, I admit it- there is one thing that will drive me off the wall in Israel- the Misrad HaPnim- Ministry of the Interior.

I can't imagine that American bureaucracy is as hard to access, hard to get in, and hard to deal with.

I had to renew my visa to stay here in Israel- and it took me four days of staying on the single phone number, with single operator, in order to get an appointment for a month away.

New Olim that go there have been told to come back 6 months later for their first Teudat Zehut, (Israeli identity card), and the number system there never seems to call your number, only the number 100 digits away.

Enough griping though- this is supposed to be positive- so here goes. During my last two experiences at the Misrad HaPnim, I actually did not have such a soul-wrenching time.

I went to get a visa for me and my husband- and I only had a copy of my marriage certificate, not the real thing.
But they let me get one anyway!

I then tried to make a visa appointment for someone else- and I actually got through after 8 rings on the telephone line!

So- there is hope in the darkness!

Pnim means interior- the inside workings of the government. I think that how you handle yourself in the Misrad HaPnim tells a lot about the 'inside' of the person. Are you going to scream at all the employees there when you're told that because you're missing a document you have to come back in 3 months- or are you going to choose to accept, or quietly argue, without causing a scene?

It's a test of character- one I hope to pass!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Lebedik Time

Weddings are beautiful- no matter where the country/city/hall is....but Eretz Yisroel chasunas (weddings) have a special flavor all their own.
I've been to weddings all over the United States, but Israel's weddings have a certain 'lebedik' flavor all their own.

Some of my friends have had their weddings in Bnai Brak- and in the furnishings and the music, there was no difference between that and a wedding at a hall in Williamsburg, NY.
In Yerushalayim, there is no actual 'music' at a wedding, due to mourning the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash (holy Temple), but there usually is one instrument- the drums, and some vocals.

I attended a wedding today- simply beautiful. The kallah (bride) looked radiant, and all the men sang together (since it was in Yerushalyim, so no music) as they walked the chasan (groom) down to place the veil on her head.

The chuppah (wedding canopy) was outside, like all Eretz Yisroel weddings, which was a distinct contrast to the US, where some chuppahs are outside, and some indoors, usually under a skylight. You could see the inky black sky of Yerushalayim, complete with the buses heading back and forth during the duration of the ceremony.

The dancing was lively and lebedik. In Israel, weddings are very casual, and sometimes many people show up, often times not invited, and most people aren't dressed that fancily.

But, it doesn't matter- because the whole point is to be 'Mesameach Chasan V'Kallah"- gladden the bride and the groom. People can be squished, the dance floor could be tiny, and there are beautiful little children running around. But there's a true simcha, a true happiness all around, celebrating the building of this new home in Israel- this Bayis Ne'eman.

No one really cared what was served, or which flowers were on the table (although this wedding had stunning lily arrangements)- all that mattered was sharing this happy night with both families.

I have seen weddings where an orphan is wed, and close to 300 people have shown up- not that they know the bride or groom, but just to join in and make them happy.
I have seen weddings where there is no room to breathe, but more keep coming in, and performing the most amazing tricks and 'shtick' to make the bride and groom smile.
Eretz Yisroel is truly phenomenal, and their weddings exemplify that- true simcha.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Erev Shabbos and Grocery Shopping

Only in Israel right?

The grocery in my neighborhood happens to be located next door to me- so it makes it quite convenient to pop by and pick up whatever I need.

Not only that, but they let me take my cart straight to my house, unload my food, and bring my
cart back. WITHOUT asking for a "pikadon" of any sort- to make sure I'll return it!

And in addition, for most food I don't need to check hechsherim, as it is all usually reliable.

Only downside: don't go on Erev Shabbos- the lines will take an hour or more, depending on how early Erev Shabbos you go.

Alright, just thought I'd remark on how wonderful that is.
Have a Gut Shabbos!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Well, Succos is over- my 5 kg washing machine is trying to handle the 10 loads of laundry I have left, and my out-of-town guests have packed up and out. In short, it's Isru Chag.

It kind of collapses with a bump- that the month spent cooking, cleaning, preparing, davening, and celebrating all ends with massive amounts of dishes to wash, and a regular old Shabbos to prepare.

But in truth- we all gained immensly from Yom Tov- and when it comes around again, we'll have new meaning to take to the holiday, something garnered away from last year and brought out to shine again- like the Succos decorations waiting to find their space in my machsan (storage space).

Here's a short Dvar Torah for all interested....otherwise, better get back to my sponja!

Short Dvar Torah- Shmini Atzeres and Simchas Torah are celebrated on the same day here in E"Y, which is interesting- what do the two have in common?

Shmini Atzeres is based upon the fact that after Succos, Hashem tells Bnai Yisroel that their parting is too hard, and so they should celebrate for another day of Yom Tov.
Simchas Torah is based upon the fact that we finish the annual completion of reading the entire Torah- and we want to show our love for it.

In reality, the two are related. Shmini Atzeres is us wanting to show our connection to Hashem, to rejoin each other for yet another day of Yom Tov, and to show our love to Hashem that we want to stay for another day. What better way to do that with a show of the greatest connection we have to Hashem- the Torah! The Torah shows our desire to have Hashem in our midst, and shows our connection to His Torah as well.

So that's why Shmini Atzeres and Simchas Torah are celebrated on the same day!

Credits: Mr. NMF (hey, I've got to give credit where credit is due!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Erev Shabbos #3

Well, it's that time of week again. House is bustling, soup is cooking, cholent is on the flame....
It's an absolute pleasure to witness shkiya (sunset) in E"Y.
The sun, a large orange ball, descends slowly in a beautiful pink sky- while the siren sounds to herald the Shabbos Queen.
Looking out at my view- which encompasses all of's a breathtaking sight.
Well, must get back to my sponja!
Gut Shabbos!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Succos Case Files

Succos, the holiday, has several important components.

A. The Succah- meant to be built by the carpenter in the family, or if lacking that- the next best thing- whoever has a slight idea how to use power tools. In Israel- that would be the 9 year old boys, desperately trying to help their fathers and other assorted family members put the large wooden boards up (or just taking the power tools and doing it themselves).

B. The Decorations- usually created by young hands every year, and the best ones are painstakingly saved and laminateed by doting mothers, waiting to be hung up again. In Israel, this includes the white material- B'ad Lavan- used to line the walls of every wooden succah. Some of the American Israelis would actually prefer wood, but their Israeli kids are insistant.

C. The Schach- this is made easy in Israel. In the US, I spent my formative days trying to fling delicious smelling evergreen on the top of a very high succah. Here, just roll out the bamboo mat, and you're done. Or, get the fresh cut palm tree leaves, provided by the Iriah (city municipality).

D. The Arba Minim (four species)- This could use several paragraphs. Suffice it to say that a new baalas teshuva once walked into a Jewish bookstore before Succos- and was shocked to see all the men wearing mostly black, staring with jewelers' loops of every size at yellow fruit and green branches. She walked out- and called her rabbi. "You mean they do this every year?"

Here in Israel- the Arba Minim Shuks (markets) abound. The Badatz one is on Strauss near Geulah, and there are local ones in every neighborhood. Some will let you open packages, some sell pre-created sets, and others are for those looking for a 'metziah'- bargain.

Esrog Shopping is another idea- but here in Shmitta year, it becomes a whole different idea.
Mr. NMF went to an orchard- declared hefker (ownerless) for Shmitta year, and came home with four esrogim. Cool, no? (He did pay for the upkeep of the orchard by the Bais Din, which protected some of the esrogim from thorns).

And thus continues the ever-expanding case files of Succos.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Gutten Moed!

Wow- can't believe I haven't posted since Friday- been so hectic around here!
Cooked up a storm- out of the four pans of chicken I made- only one remains, as my guests have been eating me out of house and home!

All the cute neighbor children helped me hang some more decorations- and of course, I had to repay them with delicious oatmeal-peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies and homemade ice cream.

This year I was declared officially Israeli- so I only keep one day of Yom Tov, as opposed to my Chutz L'Aaretz guests, who are keeping two.

It makes it kinda nice- as they have learned to hint very well.
"It would be so nice if the mixer were on....."
"I would love a hot cup of coffee right now....."
"It seems I have run out of pre-cut paper towels....."

So, while they're keeping Yom Tov, we get to help out, and enjoy the Moed. I finally feel like a real part of this land and people- as I get to participate while the whole country celebrates Chol HaMoed!

Any fun ideas for trips to take?

I hope to post this week every day- but I may be very busy cooking- as I'm having many, many more guests, and they seem to enjoy my 7 drawer freezer has been emptied to two drawers!

Otherwise- Gutten Moed- and I'll be back to regular posts after Succos!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Quick Post Erev Shabbos

It's Erev Shabbos again- b"H.

The sounds of my neighbors hammering continue, and they probably will continue until Succos itself!

Just a quick note- E"Y just ain't what it used to be....

In the olden days, it was hard to find anything ready made, let alone American.

Now- Bodek frozen vegetables abound, as do Skippy's peanut butter, ready made pie crusts, Heinz ketchup, Hellmann's mayonnaise, and Tofutti cream cheese.

Whole stores have opened up- Cheaperkol- which caters to only American products, and all the Maayan 2000's- which have a large selection of American products.

You can get practically everything in Israel that you can get in America- which is a good thing, in that I don't have to change my shopping habits too much- if I need dulce de leche, it's easy to find....but a bad thing, in that not always do Americans survive like the real Israelis- on lachmaniyot and leben.

Oh well. Win some and lose some.
Gut Shabbos.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Motzei Yom Kippur Prep

Just had to say it- I love this country!

Yom Kippur just finished- we lit havdala, ate something....and the entire country starts on its next project- SUCCOS!

I can hear the sounds of hammering through my window....Mr. NMF went to go buy schach, and the women have started their Succos cooking- I should head down to the store (which is opening up soon) and start myself!

All the bustle- all for Yom Tov- so amazingly phenomenal!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Just thought I'd remark on something interesting.

The last time I 'shlugged' kaparos before Yom Kippur, I went to the Kaparos stand by the Zion Blumenthal Orphanage- right by Strauss/Yirmiyahu near the main bus stops and the bazaar- right before Kikar Shabbat and the Katzenburg bakery (I just love their koskosh cake).

This year, I decided to go again- as they always behave mentchlik- they're honest, considerate of women as well as the men (like not allowing cutting in line, and not being shy of talking to a woman who just wants to come to do kaparos). They also perform the kaparos for anyone that is too squeamish to touch a chicken (what did their ancestors do, I wonder?)

I also found that this year- maybe due to the scandal that erupted regarding how the chickens used for kaparos were treated (some were used twice, some were schected and left to rot...) they tried to be very neat, organized, and even let the chickens have a pen to run around in before being used for Kaparos.

Definitely a Kiddush Hashem in my eyes as to how well they treated all people there- as well as how they treated the animals.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yom Kippur- Yom HaDin

There's a bag of mixed emotions that I feel on Yom HaDin- or at least for right now, on the days leading up to it.

I mean- teshuva for all I've done wrong during the year, but using the same approach as this- looking at the year at a whole and recognizing.

Trying to not feel so bad on all the things I've done wrong, because that will prevent me from changing. (Favorite tactic of my yetzer hara- look at you, you can't change, look how much you've done.....)

But still feeling bad, still wanting to change, still trying to fix and learn and grow.

It's a process, and it takes time. I heard that it says in Shaarei Teshuva that when a person decides to do Teshuva, they start at that point with a clean slate. Then, and only then, they can attempt to change, which is a long process.

But, it's a rejuvenating thought- clean slate.

Thank You so much Hashem, for the gift of life, for the ability to do Teshuva, to continue to be able to do Mitzvos.

And with that Thank You- which usually hits me after Yom Kippur, I can head into Succos fully V'Samachta B'Chaggecha.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"And he reaped 100 fold"

I love the place. I think that it's beautiful, ancient, welcoming, and feels spiritual just by walking through there. I love the people, and the walls, and the courtyards with wells.

I loved spending Shabbos there, with families who open up their homes and hearts to myriads of guests, some of whom you would be very surprised to find there.

I love exploring the twists and turns, finding my way through the alleyways to the people I know there. I enjoyed learning from them tricks of the trade- a really good sponja, the best Yerushalmi kugel. I saw the variety of people, and saw their acceptance, their beauty found in all forms of religious/charedi spirituality.

From reactions I've seen, most who visit see only the sign, proclaiming that all who are not dressed modestly shouldn't enter. They see those dressed in typical Yerushalmi garb, in shtreimels on Shabbos, and in three layers of clothing. They see the houses falling apart- leaning on each other like a building of wooden blocks tenuously holding their own. They see it as a place to visit, an exotic way of life that no one like them could ever attempt.

But, take the time. Meet the people- you'd be surprised. Walk around the neighborhood and see the children playing happily- the girls with their long braids, the boys with different yarmulkas and peyos swinging. See the women, smiling, holding their littlest one, and looking out their tiny porch window. Come on Shabbos- see all those heading to shul. See the fervor of their prayers and the songs they proclaim with joyful voices. Meet those families who have 1 room apartments but still host guests.

And then I wonder- could I live there? Could I be happy there? Could I see myself living their life? Would I feel alone- would anyone speak my language, or understand where I come from? Would I fit in?

You'd be surprised- after meeting many of these families, the answer might change from a definite - no chance- to a - I don't know- or - who knows. The answer might even be - possibly.

Visit it with new eyes the next time you come. You might be surprised at what you can find in the Yerushalmi neighborhood of Meah Shearim.

Realities of Real Estate

Israel seems to be one of the few places in the world that an apartment in one of the charedi (religious-ultra-orthodox) neighborhoods can cost at least double what a house in an out-of-town neighborhood in the US costs.

Shocking, no?

I mean- Israeli apartments are not big- measured in meters, an average apartment of 2 bedrooms (the apartments are usually categorized by rooms- so a 2 bedroom apartment has 3 rooms- 2 bedrooms plus a dining room/living room- salon) is around 60 square meters. Let's face it- 60 square meters is a doll house. And, families of 5 kids will live in those apartments, because they can't afford to get anything bigger, and because the location is excellent.
The bigger the apartment is, the more mirpesets (porches- sometimes used for succahs), and the location are all factors in the price, but the prices are exorbitant, and keep growing.

Israeli families are accustomed to splitting the price of an apartment for a newly married couple, but oftentimes, they can't afford an apartment in Yerushalayim, and have to buy in one of the beautiful neighborhoods outside- oftentimes at least 1/2 the price.

It's strange- but often the price jumps just because charedi Jews are interested in the area.

For example, Givat Tzarfatit- French Hill, is a neighborhood in Yerushalayim mostly populated by H. University students and teachers. However, it's a close location to the most central part of Yerushalayim. So, charedi people started moving in. When they first started, about a year- 1/2 a year a ago, the prices were normal, average. Now, these prices are almost as expensive as a totally charedi neighborhood. And, as far as can be accounted for, there are actually only 10 charedi families living in French Hill, with more who bought but don't live there.

Neve Yaakov- a fairly new charedi neighborhood- has had its prices jump by 40,000 dollars in the last 1/2 a year, because more charedi are interested in it.

And, the prices keep growing. More apartments are being built, but usually they are luxury apartments, meant for American/Chutz L'Aaretz buyers who want an apartment in Israel. So, the average Israeli can't really afford them.

But, then you look at this concept, and realize something.

Everyone looking for an apartment wants an apartment in Yerushalayim. They want an apartment as close to the place where the Beis HaMikdash stood as possible. And, they don't care that it's 60 meters, or that it's falling apart, or that the prices are astronomical. They want to live in Israel. They want to look out their window, and see the hills of Yerushalayim.

There's a story told about R' Aryeh Levine, Tzaddik of Yerushalayim. (He was the father-in-law of R' Elyashiv, shlita.) He was always doing chesed with others- stories about him are famous. He lived in a one bedroom apartment in Yerushalayim. When others heard how ramshackle and poorly he was living, they offered to buy him a bigger, much nicer apartment somewhere else.

He refused.

When asked why, he took them over to his kitchen window, and drew the shades. Through the glass was a stunning view of the Kotel (Western Wall) in all its glory. He responded that he wouldn't trade this view for anything.

So, it makes sense- why people live in the smallest apartments that you can imagine, and still manage to host guests. They want to be in a Makom HaShchina (place of the Divine Presence). They want to live a life of Torah in a charedi neighborhood.

So, whether it has 2 bedrooms or 6, it's home.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's just a job and other phenomenons

When I was younger, I always dreamed of becoming a doctor. I wanted to save lives, do good to others, and be involved in a challenging and stimulating field. Maybe one day I'll actually get to live the dream.

But, the classic problem with becoming a doctor is that sometimes, those ulterior motives pop up. In America, doctors are revered as a profession, that not only is extremely respected, but commends a very nice salary also.

Not so in Israel. In Israel, being a doctor is just that- a job description. No more, and no less. There are caring, professional, knowledgeable doctors out there, ones who go far beyond the call of duty, and they get paid like every other professional, not an exorbitant amount like in other countries.
Why, you may ask- a wonderful phenomenon called socialized medicine.

Health insurance- free to all citizens, and a small amount paid for upgrades. Tourists- minimal fees, nothing like the US. And it covers everything- all care included, and no such thing as preexisting conditions.

And the doctors are phenomenal! You would think that with a low paying country the care would be substandard- nothing like it in the least. They are knowledgeable people, caring and concerned, and they won't hesitate to do anything- because after all, it won't matter if you have health insurance or not- like in the US- because the government pays for everything.

In the US, the first question asked when coming in- is what health insurance do you have, and a slight reminder that it might not cover everything.

In Israel- first question is do you have Kupat Cholim, and after that- nothing else asked.

I personally know many doctors here in Israel- and the job is much better here than the US, because it's just a job. Many of the frum male doctors learn in a yeshiva or do other work for part of the day, and work at the Kupat Cholim or hospital the other half of the day. That makes it a real job- no 36 hour shifts!

The nurses also take much more of an active role in Israel- for example, the traditional way to give birth in Israel is through midwives trained for that purpose, with doctors standing by only in an emergency situation. Most women only go to a doctor for pre-natal care, unless they would like to pay privately for a doctor throughout. In the clinics, nurses take more of a larger role in tests, and diagnosing before the doctor ever sees the patients.

It's a phenomenon- and I would hope that in other countries with socialized medicine- for example, England- this standard of care is continued. But in Israel, being a doctor is just that, a job- where you can truly show how much you care for others!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Creepy Crawlies

I'll be the first to say it: I dislike bugs.

I don't want to squish- let's say, a cricket that kept my husband and I up all night- so I shooed it outside.

However, the bugs in Israel are not all cute crickets. Jukim- Israeli flying cockroaches- are the worst of the bunch, with mosquitoes, flies, vinegar flies, worms, caterpillar worms, moth larvae, and fruit fly maggots continuing the list.

My friends complained to me just last week that all their apartments are infested with ants, so at least I'm spared one plague.

When I first moved in, my apartment was already stocked with food by wonderful people, and so I thought I would have it easy.

Needless to say- Eretz Yisroel Nichnas B'Yissurim- Israel is only attained/allowed access to through travails.

The pantry, and room which the food was kept, was infested with moths. Not just a few, or a dozen, but hundreds of flying moths, with their cocoons and larvae.

Say it with me folks- UGH!

My valiant husband along with the chesedik (kind) neighbor kids headed to do battle with the formidable foes.

Thank G-d, after much squishing, washing, cleaning, and generally pesachdiking that room, the moths were gone, with mothballs and cedar wood in their place, to prevent such an occurance again.

Only in Israel- right?!

On the bright side- there are the special mitzvos (commandments) that we can perform with bugs. What might those be? Well, bug checking!

Jews are forbidden to eat any creepy crawly, no matter what size or shape (besides for locusts, and only certain kinds, which Yemenite Jews have the tradition to eat) .

In Israel right now, it's the Shmitta year, which means that Jewish farmers don't work the land at all, or grow any produce. All produce that naturally grows by itself- for example, fruit trees, are considered ownerless, and can't be sold by Jews.

So, where do Jewish people get their food from? Well, there are a couple alternatives (it would be hard to list all halachos (laws) of shmitta in one post- so I recommend the English comprehensive book Gateway to Shmitta, which contains all the halachos of shmitta in a very accurate form.

I buy produce usually from stores that have a hechsher (Rabbinical certificate that the food is kosher) from the Badatz- which only buys produce from non-Jews- namely, the Arabs in Israel.

On the bright side, no one goes without food during Shmitta year anymore, as they used to in the older years in Israel.

On the down side- Arabs are completely organic farmers, no pesticides or any other weed/bug killing items allowed. So, enter bug checking.

I decided to take a class about learning where to find bugs, and how to check produce for them.
Needless to say, the class is eye opening. If you ever want to know how much bugs are in food- just read R' Veie's book on bug checking (only in Hebrew- sorry!). The pictures will blow your mind.

It's amazing how these little bugs go to so much effort in camouflage in order to survive. There are phenomenal pictures- like the one with 3 peppers, one red, one green, and one yellow. In each, a worm is shown- the exact color of the pepper. Simply amazing- and a little creepy too!

Almost everything can get bugs in it in Israel- from necessities like flour, or spices, to vegetables and fruit, and even fish! Who knew?!

So cooking now has an extra challenge, but it's rewarding in the end.

If anyone has any questions on how to check food for bugs, feel free to post in comments, or just read one of the many books on the subjects. R' Falk has a book, R' Veie- as previously mentioned, and several websites are devoted to the subject.

Alright- must dash- my vegetables are awaiting checking! Be'tayavon- or Bon Appetite!

Erev Shabbos

Erev Shabbos in Eretz Yisroel deserves several postings- but here's the first.

It requires much more preparation in Yerushalayim than in America or other places Chutz L'Aaretz (out of Israel).

For example, almost no one works on Fridays, and the groceries all close at 1 o'clock sharp.
Therefore, oftentimes I have to do my shopping way in advance in order to be able to cook for Shabbos, or I have to sit in the supermarket for hours on Friday itself, since there are always last minute things to buy, and it seems like my entire neighborhood forgot to buy something!
If I forget something after 1 o'clock- the motto is do without, or ask one of my wonderful neighbors for help- which they are always willing to give- wonderful people, always willing to lend a hand, or oven space :)

It also feels like this Shabbos particularly is just one Shabbos after a Yom Tov- Rosh HaShana, and then Tzom Gedaliah- I feel like I've been cooking forever!

Although, I should confess- my husband and I got invited out for 3/4 meals on Rosh HaShana, but I'm cooking in advance for Succos as well- so it can get quite hectic.

Not to mention, things always tend to come up in my household- like cleaning (I admit- I dislike my household chores) , laundry, miscellaneous items, phone calls from Israel/America/friends/telemarketers/private numbers that don't show up on the caller ID.....

So, my Erev Shabbos is usually quite hectic.

But in Yerushalayim- there are wonderful things going on:

The neighborhood children all clean up the Chatzer (courtyard) in honor of Shabbos, so everything looks sparkling clean

The shul (synagogue) nearby plays the most beautiful Shabbos music to greet the Shabbos queen- wafting through my open window are such lovely songs

Everyone is cooking, cleaning, bustling around, and generally preparing for Shabbos- the entire atmosphere is so wonderful and spiritual as well, despite all the physical preparations for Shabbos.

And then, the siren blows- welcoming in a new Shabbos, a new chance to connect with my Creator, and time to spend in this holy city of Yerushalayim.

When I light my licht (candles for Shabbos) here, I'm really lighting 40 minutes before Shegiya- actual sunset- since in Yerushalayim, it changes from day to night in a split second. You can actually watch it happen- such a beautiful moment. So, lighting my candles in the daylight is wonderful as well- giving me more time to see the sun fall, see the sky decorated with such beautiful colors....Ma Rabu Maasecha Hashem- how wonderful are Your creations, Hashem!

Gut Shabbos to all!


Hi everyone!
Alright, I've debated with myself on and off for a very long time. I've posted on blogs before, but I decided to take the big leap and create one for myself.
What could this blog contribute to the blogosphere that no one else has done before? Well, I've read truly excellent blogs, and some really crazy ones, some that were funny, some serious, and some that have such an impact on the world.
I don't know what this one will turn out to be- but right now, it's as the title says: Israel Chronicles. I'm living in Israel now, in Yerushalayim, and I'd like to tell my story of life here, life in general, and all the unique and special things that happen around me. It's like a recording for the future, to look back, and see how the world, Israel, and my life has changed since the beginning of my journey. I hope that someone might find it interesting, or exciting, or just simply informative.
It's exactly that: chronicles, a historical account of facts and setting them in a meaningful interpretive context.
So, sit back, and enjoy!
May this year- 5769 be a year of happiness and blessing- Tehey Shanat Siman Tov- may it be a year of good tidings!