Thursday, December 31, 2009

Israeli Security Is The Best

After the terrorist in the US actually made it on to the plane with the makings of a bomb, some finally have started realizing that the US security system isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Jameel at the Muqata said it best- that it's about the people. That America wastes it's time checking unnecessary people- like a randomly selected 4 year old, for example, while Israel checks those who should be checked.

I found this interesting- that even the New York Times has opened a forum to discuss whether or not the US should adopt the Israeli version of security. One commentator said a true statement. In Israel- it's about safety. In the US, it's about convenience. Another remarked on how Israeli security officials are firm, thorough, and yet still polite and respectful.

Check it out here.

Edited: Even better, most of the comments are PRO Israel! Which is wonderful to hear.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sorry, Nothing New- Except Something Big

Ein Chadash Tachas HaShemesh, Koheles says. There is nothing new on this earth. And, when house, baby, family obligations and the ever present husband (yes, I made supper already :D) take priority, this blog doesn't. And, I'm sure my readers, if I still have any, understand that.

In my own little world, nothing usually out of the ordinary happens. It goes something like this:
Wake up, get little one up, feed everyone breakfast, work a bit, play with little one, find out how husband's day went, play with little one, work a bit, get supper ready, eat supper, and good night.

See how boring? Nothing out of the ordinary, no unusual occurrences, just same old, same old.

And that's quite nice actually. There are no major pronouncements, no unexpected disasters, and nothing really that explodes like a torrential raincloud over my head. It's nice to be settled, to be set in my ways, and feel like finally, finally, I can sit down and take a break for a bit.

Soon enough, my life will get rather hectic. Graduate school will take priority over my life, and all else will go to smithereens. But for now, I'm going to enjoy my peace and quiet.

What's the 'Something Big' of my title? Well, today, something happened, that was so quiet, so relaxed, and so perfectly fit into my life, that it almost seems like nothing happened to jar my little world. You see, I made aliyah today.

Yes, you heard that right. I made aliyah. With Nefesh B'Nefesh. And it was easy, relaxing, and dare I say it, almost an anticlimactic event.

Next week, I'll be getting my Teudat Zehut (Israeli identity card). And, I've been told it's in my best interest not to leave the country for the next 3 months. Which I wasn't planning on anyway. So, there you go. I filled out the paperwork, said thank you , and went out for lunch. I wish I could say I heard the earth of Israel communing with me, or that there were trumpets, fanfare, and a bugle blow in my honor, but nothing quite so earthshattering happened. I did have a great shakshouka for lunch though!

Just another ordinary day in my life. Quite relaxing, don't you think?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oreo Cookies, Not People

Blueberry. A term I heard only after I got married, referring to those of the Bais Yaakov schools, who wear light blue shirts and dark blue skirts.

Oreo. A term I knew about, but usually in fun, when referring to typical Yeshivish people who wear a white shirt and black pants every day.

Penguin. See oreo, but sometimes referring to chassidish, who wear 'tails' and long coats.

What do these three terms have in common?

Well, they are euphemisms used to describe people who are usually referred to as 'Yeshivish'.
They see long term Torah learning as a goal, they educate their daughters and sons in Bais Yaakovs and Yeshivos respectively, and they try to serve the Ribono Shel Olam in the way they know how.

I know that in every group, there are those who are not doing the right thing. There are those who are the typical stereotype. But if a Yeshivish 'oreo' guy makes fun of a guy wearing a 'colored' shirt- how is that any different then those not wearing the black and white uniform making fun of the oreos and the blueberries?

How is it not Loshon Hara to insult an entire group of Klal Yisroel, based on the way they dress, no less. Aren't we all supposed to look past exteriors and see the Yid inside?

Where would we be if the wonderful rabbeim at Aish HaTorah, or Or Sameach, looked at the way that the people who come searching for truth are dressed? Should we make fun of them too- by inventing names for their mode of dress?

Chanukah was a time where the Maccabim called out- M'LaHashem- who is for Hashem. Not, who dresses in color, and who dresses in monochrome. Not who has 7 children and who has 2. Not who wears a tichel and who wears a shpitzel. Just, who's trying to serve G-d in the best way they know how.

So, stop with the name calling. It's not nice, and it's probably Lashon Hara. Thanks.

This has been my public service announcement for the week.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chanukah Tunes

I don't know about you, but for me, Chanukah always brings with it those melodies that evoke memories of past and present. You know the like- like the golden oldies your grandparents sang (the old tune of Maoz Tzur, for example) to the hip hop rock the newest CD's transform Al Hanissim into.

There's the classic 'Sivvivon, Sov Sov Sov' or the 'I had a little dreidel...'. There's 'Chanukah (or Hannukah, depending on your generation and ideology) Oh Chanukah', and the english Maoz Tzur- Rock of Ages.

Somehow, my family can never get a proper tune going for Haneiros Hallalu- no matter which one we try, someone ends up forgetting it in the middle, and by the end, we're making up our own tunes.

And, it's a total blast to watch NBD on Mr. NMF's shoulders as he dances to 'Yevanim, Yevanim Nikb'tzu Alay...'. My family is joining us for this holiday, and it's a pleasure to hear my father and my husband join their voices together in these wonderful tunes.

I heard that Maoz Tzur is a German folk tune, also used by the Protestant church.
Well, in any case, it's been rumored that R' Moshe Feinstein had his own tune for it, since he didn't want to use a non-Jewish tune for this special song. It didn't really catch on though. Anyone know it?

Well, I'm back to frying latkes. Here's a link for the continuing verses of "I had a little dreidel." My favorites were:

'I have a little dreidel, I made it out of pasta; it got all tangled in my hair, and now they call me 'rasta''

'I have a little dreidle, I made it out of pot, and when it started spinning, I just sat and stared at it a lot. '

'I have a little dreidel, I made it out of shmaltz; it don't make healthy eatin' but, that dreidel sure can waltz !'

'I made a little dreidel in virtual reality. If you wear the right headgear, it's there for you to see.'

'I had a little dreidel, I made it out of clay; said a Kabbalistic blessing, and it got up and walked away.'

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Season of Strawberries and Sufganiyot

Mmm- Chanukah is in the very air- as all the bakeries are churning out sufganiyot by the dozens, menorahs grace the store walls, and everyone is debating about boxes versus lighting indoors. I love this season- complete with rainfall, umbrellas, and cups of steaming hot chocolate.

This season also has brought with it a new fruit- strawberries. I saw these in my local grocery last week, and was highly tempted. But, then I remembered that strawberries were found out to be infested with thrips. Were they still infested? I wasn't sure.

Then, Yechiel Spero posted that he asked R' Moshe Vaye about strawberries, and found out that they were still infested and impossible to clean. Guess it's the frozen strawberries for me.

Here's an interesting site he linked to- all about thrips and strawberries. I'll include the short preview of the video, which shows thrips- which I had never seen before- which was kind of cool (And the kids in the background are cute!).

View More Free Videos Online at

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gichon Nightmare Part Three

So, here's the final installment- slightly anticlimactic, but some interesting things happened along the way.

To recap, I headed out to meet my Israeli neighbor in Geulah area, and from there, we would take a bus to the water company in order to sort out our various problems.

I left my house, on time, but rather late in the day- at around 4:30. The Gichon actually closes at 6:00, but I remembered from an earlier visit there that the place is still functioning, even at late hours.

I met my friend, and by the time we actually met up, it was around 5:00. We started to get nervous. After all, to take a cab would cost money, but we would probably make it on time. If we waited for a bus, we might not make it on time, but we would save money.

We started to search for a cab, but the only ones without passengers had no company sign on them. Now, I have my own policy not to take a cab without a sign, because it is possible they are an Arab- and as 2 women alone, I wouldn't want to take a taxi who wasn't Jewish. That's just my personal position on the matter.

As we were searching on the street corner, a bus with a number I recognized pulled up.

"Quick, " I yelled to my friend, "Let's get on this bus. It heads to the Gichon."

We jumped on the bus, and barely made it. And, immediately, I started to worry.
What if we didn't get there on time- all the effort for nothing.

As if the bus heard me- we had Kvitzas HaDerech- a miraculous shortening of the way. We sped through traffic, hit every single green light, and picked up minimal passengers- so by the time we got to the Gichon, it was only 5:10. Miraculous, no?

We headed inside, past the beautiful waterfall sculpture, and up to the top floor to take a number and wait.

There was practically no one there- and I started to get nervous. What if we were the only ones there, and they would close, because two people aren't enough to justify being open?
Just then, 3 families, complete with kids, walked through the door, and started taking the numbers after ours.

I went to go feed NBD, while my neighbor waited for the next available person.
When I returned, she was at the desk, and I waited patiently next to her for her case to be concluded, assuming the same person would take care of both of us.

Just then, the head of the entire office looked around, and saw me waiting.
"Come," he said, "I'll take care of you personally." When I protested that I don't know Hebrew well enough- that's why I brought along my friend- he answered with a smile. "I speak all languages- Kol Safot."

Within minutes, he understood the gist of my problem, and told me I didn't have to pay a thing- it was all a mistake. He typed the entire problem up, recorded it, stamped t, and asked me to not pay a thing until an updated and correct bill came.

I couldn't stop thanking him- he shrugged it all off. "This is my job," he said. "I'm happy to help."
I went to go check on my friend- who wasn't so lucky. She failed to negotiate a plan, and decided to come back another day.

I pointed her to the head of the office who had helped me: Efraim, and recommended she should go to him when she would come back. She agreed.

We left- and thus ends my adventure with the Gichon. Bus ride home took a nice half hour, showing that Hashem was doing miracles for me all along. After all- we only have to open our eyes to see, that everything- especially the wonderful rainfall we've been getting lately- is all from Hashem.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gichon Nightmare Part Two

So, I'm sure you are all eagerly awaiting this next installment (I mean, who wouldn't want to know about my water problems?! :D) of the Gichon Saga. Here goes:

I called up my Israeli-American friend, and asked her what she recommended to do about my 1,450 shekel bill for 10 days of water usage. (Gulp.)

Considering that an average bill is anywhere from 90-200 shekel for 2 months, that bill was way over my head. She mentioned to me that she had a problem with her water meter as well.

You see, my wonderful friend has 7 children. And, she is Israeli-American, and uses water, well, if not frugally, but not wastefully. She had recently moved into her brand new apartment 5 years ago, and was pleased as punch. (Anyone knows where that expression comes from?)

Yet one day, this year, she got hit with a gigantic (much more gigantic than mine) bill from the Gichon, with no explanation.

She called them up, and they told her this story. You see, when the apartment was built 5 years ago, her water meter number and her neighbor's water meter number, got mixed up. So for 5 years, her neighbor has been paying her water bill, and she's been paying her neighbors. When one month, the neighbor's (that's really my friend's bill) got too high, the neighbor called up the Gichon. And, the Gichon investigated, and found out about the switcheroo.

So, they were billing my friend for 5 years of extra payments. In one lump sum. Gulp is right.

She offered to me to join me in my trip to the Gichon, to not only help me out with explaining my problem, but to try to work out some sort of payment plan for the money she owes them as well.

We agreed to go in the late afternoon, as the Gichon is open at 6.

To be continued....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gichon Nightmare Part One

Excitedly, I pulled out from my mailbox my first ever Gichon (water company) bill, with my name on it, in our new apartment.

I saved the special news for my husband, and greeted him with it at the door.

"Open it", I cried, waiting for the news about how much water cost us this month.

He peeled open the familiar blue and green envelope, interestingly made like all Israeli envelopes are, and looked at the name.

So far, so good- it was my name. That's thanks to heading all the way down to the Gichon offices in order to switch the name on the bill to our name, as we moved into our new apartment.

Then came the actual amount.

Let's be nice. I don't use that much water in 6 months, let alone in 10 days. And, with that wonderful old water tax added on for Machir 3 (The water in Israel is billed in a specific way. I will try to explain in another post.) we were in interplanetary orbit with the sum listed on our bill.

It must be some mistake. I was in shock. Husband was too. At this rate- oil, and for that matter, silver, would be less expensive than water.

We resolved, first thing, to call the water company the next morning, and try to resolve the bill.

Well, after 45 minutes of waiting on the phone line, I finally got them to admit it was a mistake.

After all, how could a young couple, with one child, use 40 cubes of water in 10 days! (See how severe that bill was!)

Now, I have to head down there and prove that it was a mistake.

Wish me luck- I'll keep you updated on this saga.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bird Sighting

It was a magical moment.

We had just finished Shabbos lunch, and contrary to my usual plan of heading straight into my bed and not coming out till it was time to make Shalosh Seudah, I decided that the whole family could do for a walk.

So we headed out, and walked down our block, Mr. NMF pushing the stroller with NBD inside. Our block is covered with olive and pomegranate trees, and we amused ourselves by pointing out the various new and old foliage all around us.

We walked into a pretty block, with shade and gorgeous flowers, when I stopped short.

"Is that a hummingbird?" I said. "I've never seen a real hummingbird outside of the zoo before."

There in front of us, flitting around, was a gorgeous iridescent hummingbird, with blue and green plumage, trying to suck out nectar from some pink flowers.

A compatriot, in dark colors of brown and black, joined him, and we just stood there mesmerized, watching the two of them flit back and forth. It was a sight to see.

What a perfect Shabbos afternoon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Skipping Stones

This Thursday night, I was getting supper on the table, when my husband called me over. "NBD is crawling," he said with a smile. I ignored him, as she couldn't possibly be crawling. She's been getting all over the house lately in many other ways, but according to her doctor, since she's been standing for a while already, it was more probable that she would walk before she crawled.

But Friday, NBD proved me wrong, as she crawled towards the garbage can as I was making Shabbos, pulled herself up, and started to pick out yummy things to eat from it.

I didn't know whether to just stand there laughing, or get her out of the dustbin before she ate something nasty.

I called my grandmother, hoping to share the news. She was happy for us- but spent her conversation reminiscing.

"They grow up so fast, " she said. "This is the best time of your life- enjoying the babyhood and toddlerhood of your kids. Take advantage, don't miss a minute. Every milestone, every step, it's something that kids do, and just as they don't miss it, you shouldn't either. Rejoice with every stone met, and cherish every second. Because all too quickly they're all grown up."

It's true, you know. The time flies so fast- she was a newborn so recently. Looking at her, makes me feel old, because she's achieved so much in such a short period of time.

It's like that with all of our lives. When we are little, we can't wait to be big. When we're big, we can't wait to be grown up. When we're grown up, we can't wait to get married. When we get married, we want to start a family.

All these milestones, they pass us by so quickly. I guess like all of us, I have to learn to step back, and really watch for them, and enjoy them. Because like my grandmother said, all too quickly, she'll be grown up, and those stones will have flown by, as quick as skipping rocks on a pond.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rewind and Review

I thought today might be a nice day to review some of my really old post from way back when. After all- BOSD is celebrating her 1st birthday- go on over and wish her a mazel tov- so I figured that I'll bring up some lost treasures that my readers (if I still have readers, given how sporadically I've been posting lately) might enjoy.

Creepy Crawlies- What to do when your food starts looking back at you, Israel style.

Go Fight Egged- How the bus company has taken over the world, literally.

Sundays- That day of the week that has taken on new meaning in the Holy Land.

Hechsherim- I'm a religious fanatic (just kidding), and as such, I have a stamp on my product saying so.

Shabbos and Neighborhoods- Kind of like Mr. Rogers, just he's American and I'm Israeli.

Tis The Season- A bit of a Chanukah backtrack- after all, it is the season now yet again!!

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Arrgh. Y'Hiyeh B'Seder

Man. I wish there was an American equivalent of Y'hiyeh B'Seder. Because, heavens above, we need it. I mean, is there a colloquial English word or words that express that utter nonchalance and relaxation that Israelis exude when saying those words?

It's like nothing can ever go wrong, ever. I mean- it'll all be okay. Always okay, all the time. That should be the new Israeli radio station. "Always Okay, all the time. Y'hiyeh B'Seder."

"Geveret, no worry. It will be there on time, y'hiyeh b'seder."
"Geveret, no worry. The bomb shelter is only four blocks away. Y'hiyeh B'Seder."
"Geveret, Y'hiyeh B'Seder. I know that there is a nuclear missile heading towards us, but no worry. We will be fine."

Just today I had a contractor- who I've called an estimation of about 300 times- that's a rough estimation, not an exaggeration, and told about my deadline- November 30th- say to me, "Don't worry Geveret. Y'hiyeh B'Seder. All will be done before Chanukah."

When informed that Chanukah comes after November 30th, I got a "Don't worry. Y'hiyeh B'Seder."

Traffic? Y'hiyeh B'Seder. Terrorist attacks? Same response. How about international relations? "They all crazy. Y'hiyeh B'Seder."

I'm telling you- either I'm nuts, or they are. But one thing's for sure. Not everything is Y'hiyeh B'Seder.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

OII #19- Of Bus Drivers and Brissim

So, this past Friday, I had the privilege of attending a very good friend of mine's son's bris. She lives in my neighborhood, but the bris took place in the center of town, the better to accommodate her relatives that were arriving from all over Israel.

As required, I prepared Shabbos ahead of time, and left my house to take the bus to the center of town to make it in time for the bris. The simcha was lovely, the joy heartfelt, and the main participant wailed his way into the covenant of Avraham Avinu.

I waited till a neighbor was ready to leave as well, and we walked to what we thought was the correct bus stop. After watching our bus pass us by, we realized that with all the changes Egged has instituted, changing the route and stops of our bus was one of them, and we walked to the next bus stop to wait yet again.

We hopped on the bus, and it started heading towards Geulah area. Now for those who know, Geulah on Erev Shabbos is one of those places that can literally be called a madhouse. People are dashing everywhere, cars are honking, buses are essence, I was glad I was on a bus already rather than being outside.

So we headed towards Yechezekel, and passed by the edge of Nechama Bakery. We were stuck in literally bumper to bumper traffic. Our bus driver stops, opens his window, and yells out to a worker standing outside the bakery. Quicker than our eyes can see, the guy runs into the bakery, pulls out an already wrapped challah, and runs across the traffic to give the challah to our bus driver. The driver counts out the correct payment, hands it to the bakery worker, and resumes driving (that is, if you can call traffic driving). All this so our bus driver and his family can have challah for Shabbos.

Now how's that for Only In Israel!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finances in Israel

I've been having an on and off debate with Mr. NMF about cheaper places to live. I am convinced that once we have several kids, Israel will come out far cheaper as of living expenses, than America. This is for the simple reasons of health insurance and schooling.

But until we have several children, which really does work out cheaper? America? Or Israel?

I mean, I sit down and figure out my budget (thanks Orthonomics, for helping all the Jblogosphere, including me, with that) and basically, I can come up with a few categories. Then I figured the best way would be to compare the average living style in the US with Israel.

Of course, that sparked a debate, as I am originally from Out-Of-Town, and proud of it, while husband is from 'New Yawk'. Is living out of town cheaper than living in the big bad city? What if I were to go outside the box all together and suggest living in Australia, as his chavrusa is starting to contemplate. It seems they have a very good kollel down under, that basically pays for one's living expenses.

So, in these categories- which do you think is more expensive- America or Israel. If you pick America, please state Out Of Town versus New York/Lakewood, and tell me why!

Oh, and for our family, we'll pick an average family with 2 kids who are not in school as of yet. (One can be in a gan/preschool, if you like.)

So, drumroll please. Here are the categories:

Health Care
Clothing and Sundry (especially for 2 kids, who do ruin their clothing, despite all attempts to prevent it)
Holidays and Special Times of the Year (ie Pesach)
Schooling (assuming babysitter or gan/preschool for at least one child)
Utilities: Gas, Water, Electric

Any more things I missed?
So whaddaya all say?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Manners versus Convenience

I'm a usually very well mannered person, at least I think so. The times that I've been caught drinking straight out of a bottle (a 2 liter one) seem to make that fact obsolete, and I did send out my thank you notes for things rather late, but on the whole, I try to be respectful of others.

Yet, here is where I hit a bump, or snag, if you will.

You see, I'm a mommy, and I love being one. But I also have a brain, and I'd like to use it. So when I see all these shiurim advertised around my community, for convenient times and close location, I'd love to attend one, and get my gray cells working.

But, NBD is a baby, and does have that wonderful tendency of babies to be extremely self absorbed, causing her to interrupt what ever I may be doing at the moment to ask me to be involved in her life. And I'm happy to do so.

Yet, that means I can't attend shiurim. Most speakers and listeners HATE to be interrupted, especially by a complaining baby. In fact, some shiurim request that you not bring children at all, simply for that reason.

There is one phenomenal shiur in the neighborhood, given by the local Rebbitzen that requests that children attend- and no one minds if my kid starts complaining, or wants to nurse right in the middle of the shiur. Which is great for me, since I love being able to hear some words of Torah.

But, why can't I violate the mannerly thing to do and head to other shiurim, and just leave if NBD makes a peep? Is it wrong and uncouth to bring her to a shiur if I assume that in the middle she probably will disrupt? For, the second she disrupts, I will take her out. But at least I'll get to hear something!

Are words of Torah worth being unmannerly?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chana and Rachel

I dunno. Maybe it's Rachel Imeinu's yartzheit (anniversary of her death) (I wrote this back then but was too scared to publish it!) that brings this up in my head. Maybe it's a friend, discussing with me Chana, or a rebbitzen, discussing with me Rachel. And, truthfully, I don't deserve to speak of it at all.

I'm blessed with a daughter, who I love more than anything in the world. But some have to travel long hard roads to have children, if G-d wills it.

There are very few who blog on the internet (at least in an open blog) as being Orthodox Jews and infertile. Probably they don't want to air their kishkes in a public forum.

ATIME has an internet site, Imamother has a group, and probably there are more anonymous people out there who are going through this.

I've gained a lot from reading one blog, about Serenity and now, her wonderful son, Baby O.
And my sensitivities have changed, quite a bit. So thank you, Serenity. I'm giving you a shout out that you should have lots of nachas (that's parental pleasure and pride) from your little one!

Beezrat Hashem(with G-d's help), all those who don't have children yet soon will. I wish them all much blessings, joy, happiness, simcha, and much hatzlacha.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Check Out My Wedding

Go head on over to the Jewish Wedding Info to see a glimpse of what my wedding was like. I guest posted there.
It's interesting- I've never posted on anyone else's site before- so I'm wondering who would read it, who would think it's overrated, or what comments it would generate. After all, a site like the Jewish Wedding Info gets a lot more hits than plain old Israel Chronicles!

So check it out, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I'd Like a Cuppa

Cuppa joe, cuppa tea, cuppa cocoa; these hot drinks are the ones getting me through winter right now.

I know, for all those experiencing the gorgeous weather outside we Israeli's call winter, I guess I have no right to sit down to an exquisite cup of hot chocolate with a marshmallow for extra flavor.

But, as my family has been sick, and I'm still nursing (it's not mine- but it's needy and won't leave me alone) a cough, one of those hot drinks are the ones keeping me going.

Israeli tea- Wissotsky , is the foremost company- at least by it's indomitable presence on the shelves, and the first one to arrive in the search results from Google for Israel tea, is delicious, and well marked- unlike Celestial Seasonings, which drive me nuts trying to determine if it is caffeine free, or not. (Why do I worry? Caffeine isn't good for me, no matter how much I like it.)

They have all sorts of flavors- although not in the abundance I was spoiled by Celestial, but they have the delicious Israeli flavor of Nana- or mint- as only Israel can produce it.

Ask my Moroccan friend, she buys pure Nana leaves, soaks them in some solution, and puts them directly into her cup of boiling water. Add some honey, sugar, or Nutrasweet solution, and what you've got is fit for a queen.

Hot chocolate is my choice for late nights- either made with freshly boiled milk, or a pareve version in just water if I've recently eaten meat. But either way, nothing beats a cup of that hot cocoa for a freezing wet cold night, when all you want to do is huddle under blankets for hours.

Coffee would be my favorite, but as much as I try, I can't get my coffee to taste like Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, or even Aroma- so I've given up.

So, enjoy your cuppa, and let's wait out this winter, until spring comes again, and we can go back to enjoying our 'Arctics' (that would be Popsicles) and ice cream yet again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Delicious Shomron Zucchini Kugel

Recently, I went to my husband's family in the Shomron and enjoyed a beautiful Shabbos by them.
They made a major effort to accommodate me, and make me feel welcome.

My husband's aunt made delicious and delectable food, so much so that about two weeks afterwards, I found myself, although not pregnant, craving her zucchini kugel.

So, I called Aunt Shaindel up, and got her delicious recipe for zucchini kugel. She remarked to me on the phone that my husband must have put me up to this, because he loved her zucchini kugel for ages. I responded that surprisingly, it was me who wanted it, but if Mr. NMF likes it too, that's an added bonus.

Forgive me if there are some odd amounts in the recipe- Aunt Shaindel doesn't measure anything, so I developed the proportions on my own. Just keep playing with it until it tastes delicious!

Aunt Shaindel's Zucchini Kugel

4-6 large zucchini, cut into slices
2-3 onions, depending on taste, cut into slices
2 cloves of garlic, crushed, or a teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 a cup of oil
1 stick margarine
2-3 eggs
1- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1-2 Tbsp. curry powder (or more, if you like curry!)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the cut up zucchini, onion, and garlic into a bowl with water, and boil until soft and mushy. Strain out the liquid, and place into bowl. Add to the bowl the oil and margarine while the mixture is still hot from the boiling process. Then add the eggs, bread crumbs, curry powder, and spices. Mix up, gently (you don't want something mushy, but you should get a loose mixture) and pour into pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or 160 degrees Celsius, for at least 20 minutes until the tops turns a golden brown.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Things to Do While Sick

So, things just keep going around. By things, I mean viruses, bacteria, and all those stuff that make our lives just ever so joyful.

NBD was sick last week, for five days. Doc said it was just a virus, but boy, do those things last a long time. I caught some sort of cold, which lasted for about 3 days, yet I'm still sniffling and nursing a cough. And now, Mr. NMF has been laid low by something that forced him to leave yeshiva, which means he's really sick. It brings to mind this poem by J.A.P. about husbands and sickness.

So. What to do while you're sick. Or at least, what to do while your family is sick, besides for cooking extra big bowlfuls of 'Jewish penicillin', a.k.a., chicken soup. (By the way, although research has proven that chicken soup does help alleviate the symptoms of a sickness, it doesn't actually cure it. Although, it does help quite a bit!)

The way I see it, if you're really sick, you can't really do much more than sleep in a comfortable bed. If you're semi sick, you have just about enough energy to read a good book. I highly recommend Lawrence Kelleman's book on chinuch, 'To Kindle a Soul', for all those looking for something new to read. If you have the energy, you can use a computer, or call people who you haven't spoken to in quite a while.

But, what it comes down to is this: my household just doesn't function 'well' when they are sick.

Something that has nothing to do with the title of this post- ProfK has an excellent take on the Fort Hood shooting- I myself read immediately on Fox News that the shooter had said "Allah Akbar"- but it took until about page 5 (and let's face it, who reads that long) on the NY Times to get that point across. "Don't jump to conclusions.", Obama says. Well. I'm not jumping, I'm just meandering slowly towards them. Oh, and the New York Post is meandering too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jewish Heroes

Wow. Through the Jewish Federation, they selected 5 'Jewish Heroes' that are going to get 1,000 dollars towards their work, and that could be selected to win 25,000 dollars.
When I first got this email, there were 400 nominees, and then it got narrowed to 20, then finally, these final 5.
These people make differences in people's lives every day. Honestly, I am so amazed and wowed by some of the work that they do. I know a few people personally who have told me in confidence how they have benefited from Keren Simchas Chassan V'Kallah, and others who have joined a Friendship Circle.
Here's the video on who was chosen:

It makes me reexamine my own life. What am I doing to help the Jewish world at large? What can I contribute?

One of my neighbors takes out time from her family of 7 and leaves them on Erev Shabbos for a couple hours, in order to distribute Shabbos candles at the local marketplace to those who would probably not have lit candles otherwise. She makes a difference, even with her limited time.

Any ideas folks? For a mom of one, with most of my energy going towards my family and home, what can I do to make a difference in the lives of others?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

OII #18- Israeli Soldiers

My eyes started to tear as I told my mother over the phone what happened to me today, and her eyes started to water too. No, it wasn't something sad, but something touching. And something so routine that probably many take it for granted.

I got on the bus today with my daughter, heading out to pick up something in a neighborhood far away. I grabbed her tight, got the driver to punch my ticket, folded my stroller, and sat down. There was an empty seat next to me, and a woman across the aisle was also sitting, an empty seat next to her.

After about two stops, a young Israeli soldier boarded the bus, carrying his gun, his ammunition pack, and a giant duffel bag, probably containing all that he was taking back to his base after a brief trip home to see his family and do laundry.

He unloaded all his gear while still wearing his gun, and placed it on the floor next to my folded stroller. Meanwhile, I recognized that he probably wouldn't want to sit next to me, so I moved over to sit next to the woman with the empty seat next to her.

He looked up, saw what I did, and smiled. He then proceeded to sit down.
I have no idea what prompted me, but I looked at him and wished him quietly, "Hatzlacha Rabba". He smiled again, and nodded his thanks.

He then proceeded to spend the rest of the bus ride, until I disembarked, playing peekaboo with my daughter from across the aisle, making sure my stroller and his gear didn't roll their way across the bus, and generally acting so chesedik and kind to every single person on the bus who passed by. Like the elderly women who he helped with the shopping cart. Oh, and the other woman who he helped off the bus with her stroller.

I'm telling you, he was such a stereotypical example of an Israeli soldier, down to the kindness and all. Our boys, our young Jewish boys, head out to the army at such a young age, but they have such hearts of gold.

When I told this story over to my mother on my next bus ride, she started to cry. She reminded me of an even older story that happened with me as a young one and a soldier as well.

When I was a little child, about 5 or so, my parents went on a trip to Israel. They got on a bus, and a young soldier proceeded to play games with me at that age, just like this soldier did for my daughter. My parents were so touched, and showered so many blessings on his head as a result. I have a picture, as a young child, of me with that soldier, both of us smiling huge grins.

The soldiers of Israel- our brothers, sons, and fathers. May they all continue to be safe, well, and protected.

It Was SUCH a Chavaya

Cue the typical seminary girl's voice, "It was SUCH a chavaya, you have NO idea..."

Interesting. I was once a sem girl, believe it or not, and yes, I did my share of searching for 'chavayot' or 'experiences' that I could write home about. You know the type, like visiting Tzfas and getting followed by someone who thinks he's Mashiach, or heading to Kever Rochel on her yartzheit and getting squished (note to self: I am never doing that again.), or going to the Kotel for Birkat Kohanim and getting squished yet again (note #2: second note #1.) .

But am I, the person I am now, a chavaya? An experience? It seems so.

I hosted two guests for Shabbos that I had no clue who they were. A neighbor, who happens to be one of the sweetest and kindest families I know, offered an invitation to two girls who he never met before in his life, and they took him up on it. So, the neighbor called me to see if I had sleeping space for sem girls, which I did, as my guest room was free.

When I asked them what brought them to my neighborhood, and to that neighbor in general, she responded, "Didn't you go on chavayot when you were in sem?"

Well. It seems I am now 'an experience". Something to write home about. Frankly, I didn't know I, or my neighbors were that interesting. I don't know whether to be insulted or flattered.

Either way, they had a nice time over Shabbos, and I and NBD both have colds/flu. So there you go. I should put out advertising: "Nice guest room available in a family that's a definite chavaya. A must see experience to tell all your friends about when you get back."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Water Company Form

Sheesh- you would think I would know about such things ahead of time.

It seems the Gichon, water company, is asking all Jerusalem residents to send in a form with the number of people in their household to update their records, and if not, then they get a large fine, and they get charged much more for every cube. Oh, and this has to be done by the end of October...which is in TWO DAYS!

It can be faxed in, emailed in, or mailed in.
Here's the form with all the information.

Now, if someone could help me in the comments- how do I fill in a PDF like this one?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Learning to Say No...or Yes

The title is rather ambivelant, don't you think?

But it actually makes sense to me. You see, this week, I'm bogged down with responsibilities, mostly chesed, that I've taken on. And I was wondering to myself whether or not I should have said no to some of them.

For example, I'm hosting a women's gathering in my house (read N'shei, for those who know these things) today. I have to drop off something else far away from my house today for someone who needs it. I do have a job, and I'm doing that too. Oh, and did I mention I'm hosting guests for Shabbos? And sleeping guests? And cooking a meal or two for a new mother? And I'm cooking for the annual Melava Malka?

Now. Each one of these projects is worthwhile in itself. And, I did say yes to everything, so I am going to do it all. And, I'm happy about doing it all, that I have the chance to do so much chesed. So, that's the yes factor in all of this.

The no factor is that I still have a house to run, a job to do, and a baby to take care of. And, I didn't have to take on everything this week specifically. I could have said no, and had a slightly easier and less draining week. I would have had more time for myself, possibly, and would be a bit more relaxed about everything. So that's the no side.

All chesed is giving of one's self. Giving of the innermost side of one's self, that one wants to help others and is showing it by using their self and their talents to help others. So who wouldn't want to do that? That's why most people say yes when asked for a chesed job.

But there are times when it's necessary to say no. Add a couple more jobs on my plate and I would have had to say no to a few 'extracurricular' activities. And, I would have felt bad about that, because I do want to say yes. But sometimes one has to say no.

It's all about finding a happy medium.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tznius and Perception

Whether it's due to reading 6 Diaries recently, or just having too many conversations with friends on the same topic, I've come to the conclusion that certain areas of tznius are about perception.

Sometimes, someone is on a different level of tznius than others. Sometimes the chumras or ideas that one person takes on are not necessarily fit for another one, at least at a certain time. I know this sounds rather vague, but it has large applications.

For example, when I first arrived in Israel, unmarried, I was accustomed to wearing knee-high black stockings. Then, arriving in some of the charedi and other religious sector areas, I saw the girls wearing nude tights. Not opaque, just skin color. When I saw that I stood out like a red (or in this case, black) thumb, I decided to take upon myself to wear nude tights. When I arrived back in the US, I continued to wear them, and I haven't worn my black stocking since.
Now. Would I say that wearing nude tights is the best thing to do halachically, and everyone should take on this idea? No. For me, was it a good idea? Yes.

This has nothing to do with the Israel versus America debate on whether black or nude should be the appropriate color for women's stockings. (For an in depth analysis on that, see R' Falk's book, Oz V'Hadar Levusha.)

It's all a matter of a person's perception. A matter of what they want out of the mitzva of tznius, and what they are willing to do for themselves, on their level.

Here's another example. When I moved to Israel as a married lady, I was accustomed to wearing my shaitel, as that is what most people do in America. However, when I moved here, I switched to wearing mostly bandannas, tichels, and scarves, because I saw my compatriots do the same. But as I wrote in the comments on that post, there are tznius issues, like covering the hair right around one's temples, that I wasn't sure about. So, I called my rebbitzen, and she basically told me to do what the community does (and to consult R' Falk, who says that hair on the temples doesn't have to be covered).

So, when people look and see one wearing shoes that have closed toe- don't look at the girl as a frummy, and for the girl who covers those toes, don't look at those around you and say they are kofrim (rejectors of the mitzvos). It's all a matter of perspective, and a private perspective at that. That's the meaning of tznius.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chesed Makes a Home

I was outside, playing with NBD this Shabbos, when two of my neighbors' daughters stopped by. They stopped to chat, play with the baby, and generally relax while watching all the women stroll down the street, waiting for their husbands to return from shul and for their children to finish playing in the park.

One of the girls shmoozing with me remarked that people keep stopping to inquire as to who I am and welcome me to the neighborhood (as I am new, and I have a very friendly and welcoming neighborhood.) She compared it to people coming to check out my house, which has, besides for new occupants (us), new furniture (since we are new here).

I, then said something to the effect of that in ten years, or even in a year from now, my furniture will no longer be new, and neither will I. But I took it one step further, not wanting these precious and aidel girls to get the wrong opinion of life. I said that it's not the furniture or walls that makes a home, it's what you do with it.

I turned to one of the girls, who's mother runs a chesed program delivering food to new mothers. "Your home is a home of chesed, because your entire family does chesed with it. That's what truly makes a home, not the furniture inside it."

The world is a world built on chesed, kindness. That's what truly builds a family, builds a home, not the stuff contained in it. Most families in my neighborhood espouse that philosophy. Their dining room chairs may have seen better days, but no one can compete with them when it comes to seating as many guests as their table will hold.

I hope to live up to what I said, and to be able to claim in the years to come that it doesn't matter how my furniture looks, but rather what I do with it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

OII #17- It's a Gemach, Not a Store

Well, I'm basically settled in, and I started to explore the neighborhood. But I had a secret confession to make: I used to live next door, literally, to a major cheap supermarket. So, I was determined to find a way to do my shopping in the same manner- convenient, close, and cheap.
Little did I know that those things are possibly oxymorons.

At first, I took the bus ride to the nearest large and cheap supermarket, thinking that with all the money I'll save, I can make up for the bus ride and delivery charges. This was true, but a major hassle.

Then, I found a smaller, not as cheap, but still large supermarket, a short bus ride away, that I would also have to pay for delivery. Not financially worthwhile, except on the days they have major sales.

I tried the store advertised in the local circular, but although they have sales, the other items are inflated to much higher prices.

The local market suited me fine, as it was a makolet with it all, but I heard rumors about the Arab men working there, and that just scared me off.
So where to shop?

Then I heard about the other local makolet. It was stocked with American products, albeit that the prices were sky high, but everyone, and I mean everyone, shopped there.
Why? What was the hype? I had to go and check it out.

The first odd thing that struck me was that the store owner was manning the checkout.
The second odd thing was that he said hello to me, and welcomed me to the neighborhood.
The third odd thing was that every one, all the workers, were Jewish, and not only that, but were extraordinarily helpful.
Even odder- they all spoke English.

So I shopped there. And continuing with the oddities, I was subjected to the help asking me if I needed any.

When I checked out, I asked for delivery, and how much it would cost. "Free," he remarks to me, asking where I live in the next breath.

There was a small notecard box next to him, and I immediately realized that this was a store where people shopped on credit. If they had money, or they didn't have money, everyone was able to buy food, and then pay it off when they needed to.

I remarked on my unusualy experience with the Rebbitzen of the neighborhood, and she informed me that the owner has a heart of gold. He can't stand to see anyone go hungry, and he allows all who need to pay over many months. "It's a 'gemach', not a store," she told me. He just keeps on giving, and those loyal customers who actually do pay are keeping his business afloat for those who can't.

Mi K'Amcha Yisroel- where a storekeeper uses his entire shop to perform mitzvos. May he continue to have success in his business.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Floor Aliyah...Going Up!

So I had a meeting with Nefesh B'Nefesh. And, well. It went well. So, aliyah is now more of a possibility than ever before. In fact, I probably am only pushing off the inevitable.
In fact, when I asked the NBN counselor why I shouldn't make aliyah, as to what the downside is- she responded: "There is no downside."

Aliyah comes with many benefits- free schooling, a grant just for living here, rent subsidies, no arnona payments for a year, and of course, the chance to never have to update my visas ever again.
Downside: Wait, I just said, there is no downside.

They don't even make you pay taxes on American income for the first ten years of living here. So, until I get all my finances sorted out in the US, I don't have to worry about taxes here.

So why do I feel so nervous?

I spoke with one of my former neighbors, who has lived here her entire married life (the one with seven kids who's oldest son was just bar mitzvah, and oldest daughter is in high school) and hasn't made aliyah. When I asked her why, she told me that her relatives back in America don't want her to, and since she gets help from them, she listens. But she wishes she could.

When I asked her if I should, her response was positive. She informed me that for some religious schools, if their girls want to get into a job track after high school, they have to make aliyah anyway. And, the longer I wait to make aliyah, the more benefits I lose out on.

For example, the 'sal klita'- 'absorbtion basket' of money that new olim get can only be given if the oleh hasn't spent more than 18 months in Israel in the last 3 years. As soon as they have done that- that whole grant disappears. The free schooling also has an age limit.

So why don't more people make aliyah? Why do we have so many American families, living here for so many years, without any one of them making aliyah?

I guess I can't speak for them. But it looks like I'll be joining the ranks of those 'going up' sometime soon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blogged Down

Sorry for the lack of posting. I'm in the middle of dealing with some issues relating to school, and as such, I have no time.

Mazel Tov to Jewish Side on her engagement- it's like an epidemic in the Jblogosphere! First, Bas~Melech, Corner Point, Michelle....who's next?

Currently, I have no shidduchim to my track record- I've tried to set people up numerous times. As soon as I got engaged- my thoughts turned to my friends still stuck in the shidduchim rut. And, I ransacked Mr. NMF for any and all friends who might be available. After all, being a guy, he knew of more single guys than I did.

One interesting shidduch I redt was actually suggested by 2 more people, but alas, didn't work out.

I still think of shidduchim every once in a while, but the furthest I've ever gotten with a single shidduch is about five dates. But, it doesn't hurt to continue to try!

It's as hard as splitting the sea, the Gemara says. I used to believe that if a couple would just go out on a date- that deserves a kiddush or l'chaim, at the very least. People are very adverse to even go out with another- due to unusually rigorous checking, or adversity to even date at all.

But that's a topic for another post.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Erev Shabbos #21- Guest Shabbos

As you can probably see from the title, I'm having guests for Shabbos. Now, I'm not a newlywed, persay, in the manner that I've never had guests before. I'm used to having guests, no matter the week, and I usually cook for about 5-6, even if it is just me, Mr. NMF and NBD. (We eat the leftovers throughout the week if no one shows up unexpectedly.)

But, when I first got married, I heard about the interesting idea that a young couple should not have another young couple as guests. This was rather intriguing, so I probed more.

It seems that if a young couple hosts, they may end up comparing their spouses to the others at the table, which may be a lack of tznius. It also is slightly uncomfortable- if you are a newlywed, possibly your husband/wife has not had too many conversations with one of the other gender, and may feel slightly uncomfortable chatting freely.

I didn't feel it was such a big deal at first, but there are those who have this sensitivity. So, I didn't end up inviting couples so much in the beginning of my marriage.

Now, since I've been married for a while, and I have a little one, slowly but surely, those couples are coming for meals, including this Shabbos.

It's rather nice, actually- since you usually have a lot in common with people of your own age group and life stage. And, it makes for a very welcome and interesting Shabbos meal.

So, welcome, guests, and I'm so very glad you could make it for Shabbos.
Gut Shabbos everyone!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old Fashioned Cooking

There was a wonderful article in the New York Times on good old home made cooking.

Remember when your grandmother would make you a bowl of meat and barley soup, the author asks- why don't we make these type of things today- she queries. And so she went home to make herself a hearty bowl, and learn a bit of frugality.

I laughed while reading this article. Why? Because that's what Jewish Moms have been doing throughout the ages- cooking with what they had, using every last drop, and making delicious, hearty, homemade meals for their growing families.

It's not something new to me to use every part of the chicken, or to make hearty soups or cake with coffee. I don't need twelve types of spices or a specific cut of meat to make soup. And, frankly, neither does any other type of Jewish Mom that I've met. The best meals are those turned out with a minimum of fuss, and less than 5 ingredients. Oh, and even better, if most of those 5 are made from scratch.

I've gone to houses to eat, and the best chicken always seems to be the one roasted in its own juices, with just paprika, or duck sauce, for seasoning. The best potato kugel always seems to contain just that- lots of potatoes, lovingly grated (or chopped in a food processor- I'm not getting into that debate on which is better. Suffice it to say that my mother made mashed potato kugel.)

So, who really needs the fancy cookbooks or the elegant recipes that take hours? All we really need is a nice Jewish Mom cooking, throwing her love and care into every bite.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back to Reality

Isru Chag is almost like a letdown. It sounds weird, but just getting back into the swing of things after so much preparation, action, and adventure, is a hard thing to do. It's like Garfield hating Mondays- they take so much more effort than the rest of the week, simply because they arrive after Sunday.

I escaped to Tzfas (Safed, for those who don't know) over the Chol HaMoed break, and then to Netanya for a barbeque with those cousins in the Shomron- see my earlier post. Just coming back to plain old (although it's never really plain and old) Yerushalayim was a letdown of sorts- home, no need to travel, no strange and interesting people, no hectic rushing and crazy landings. Especially after visiting Tzfas, city of air and mysticism, coming back to Yerushalayim's fire of home and Torah is something different.

I love visiting Tzfas- it's one of those places that has a claim on my heart. It's wild, imaginative, and something different- a breath of fresh air.

For those who don't know, there are four holy cities in Israel, each representing one of the four basic elements. Tiveria (Tiberias) is one, representing water, with the Kinneret lake at its center. Chevron (Hevron) is another, representing the earth in which the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried. Yerushalayim represents fire- the fire of the Temple, the fire of Torah, and the fiery people who live there (see the riots and protest that go on!) , and Tzfas represents air- a whiff of fresh air, something different. Or the fact that there must be something in the air there- that makes many a poor soul make their way there to be understood.

Anyway. Isru Chag is a culmination and a letdown. The succahs are being demolished in my front yard, the schach is being packed away, and the esrogim are being made into besamim. Here's a phenomenal powerpoint from Chananya Kramer- that shows exactly how to do that if you are interested:

Chananya Kramer- Esrog Besamim Project

All in all, another wonderful Chag has come to an end. Hoping next year's Succos is just as wonderful!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Shechiyanu Fruit

I never realized how special Shechiyanu was until I moved to Israel.

I had grown up in America, where food was something I took for granted. I would walk into a supermarket, or fruit and vegetable store, where every available amount of produce was sitting there, just waiting for me to pick up and enjoy. Foods in season, out of season, coming into season, and never in season were always in season at my local stores.

My mother has a friend who came to America from Russia. The first time she stepped foot into a a grocery store, she fainted. She had never seen so much food available in her entire life- as she lived in Russia, where rationing, and food shortages were common.

Of course, price was an issue in America, as those fruits that were out of season were more expensive, but usually, after shopping around, one could find them for decent prices also.

Then I moved to Israel. Israel is built on an agrarian society- where food is grown by the people in the country themselves. And not everything is available all the time. Seasonal fruits are really seasonal. There are times when I can't get celery, or parsnip. Pomegranates are a yearly treat, as are clementines. Sometimes I even can't get sweet potatoes.

So, there are those who hold that the Shechiyanu blessing, made on a 'new' fruit, is one made when the fruit has just come into season. In America, almost all fruits were available all the time, making finding an interesting fruit a necessity. Here, I feel blessed to make the blessing on a plain old clementine, as I truly haven't had them in a year- since the last season was last year.
Some use mangoes, or kiwi, pretty commonplace in other parts of the world.

But it makes me feel so blessed- since it helps me recognize Hashem's bounty, and enjoy His simple delights and creations- like a fruit that only shows up once a year.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chol HaMoed Blogaversary

Happy Blogaversary to me....actually, that was yesterday, but as yesterday was Shabbos and Succos, I wasn't about to post! So, welcome to the completion of one whole year of blogging! Hurray!

It's funny. I have guests staying with me from Succos, and they keep two days of Yom Tov. So, I get the pleasure of listening to hints about how dark it is in the room, or how cold the water is.

But, I enjoy it, because it means that I'm staying here in Israel for good- that I'm part of those for who Simchas Torah and Shmini Atzeres are the same day. And, plus, this year has the most non-Shabbos days of Chol HaMoed- since all Yom Tov comes out on Shabbos. We can plan trips throughout the week- I'm actually hoping to head to Tzfas- so if I'm not blogging, you'll know why.

I also received some excellent news lately- I got accepted to the school of my choice here in Israel, which means that I'm finally going to be able to pursue my degree, right here.

I know I've been neglecting posting- but so many wonderful things go on- it's like Hashem saying, "Enjoy life. See how wonderful it is. So much good is out there. Take advantage of it."

When you're at a computer, you can't enjoy the life outside the screen. So I'd rather shut down my laptop, and unplug it to enjoy the wonderful world that Hashem has out there for me.

It's like taking pictures- you have to enjoy the moment, not just take the pictures to remember the moment. After all, the moment only happens once, and if you're behind the lens instead of in the photo, you've missed the opportunity.

So, Chag Sameach everyone- and enjoy life to it's fullest!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Erev Shabbos #20- Succos Shabbos

Well, this year we don't take the four species as a commandment from the Torah, but rather, just from the Rabbis, as this Shabbos is also Succos, when the lulav and esrog are muktzeh. So, I'm busy cooking up a storm, as we have guests, sleeping guests, and a tiny but beautiful succah to fill.

This is my first succah built in my new apartment, which makes it all the more special a Shabbos. I can just envision it- white material covering my walls, flapping gently in the breeze, as my decorations sway and shimmer to the light of my Shabbos candles.
I can hardly wait.

Succos this year should be a total blast- as we have trips galore planned with relatives and friends who came in from America just to see us. Oh, and of course, what would Succos in Israel be without a trip to the Kotel for Birkat Kohanim, the priestly blessing given on holidays?!

I visited the Machene Yehuda shuk yesterday, to pick up last minute items, and everyone wished the other a Chag Sameach, happy holiday, along with the traditional Shabbat Shalom. It's a wonderful combination that only comes once in a special while- to combine the freshness and newness of Yom Tov with the gaity and relaxed festivities of the weekly Shabbos.

So a Gut Yom Tov and Gut Shabbos to all- wishing you a wonderful week!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Visit to the Shomron

I visited the Shomron this past week- what an exhilarating experience. Mr. NMF has an uncle in a neighborhood near Karnei Shomron and we spent Shabbos with them. We boarded the 465 bus from Yerushalyim, frantically rushing on Erev Shabbos, and arrived in the main bus station with plenty of time to spare.

After getting ready for Shabbos and greeting the relatives, I went for a walk and a drive to see the neighborhood.

As we drove past flourishing esrog and orange trees, in well kept yards near the stuccoed houses, I couldn't help exclaiming at the view. Miles of hills, filled with trees supposedly planted by the former King of Jordan, next door to the olive vineyards owned by their Arab neighbors in Azun. We passed by Moshe Zar's house, occupying a hill all to himself, where he raised 12 children, and built up these settlements one at a time. Nearby Emmanuel flashed its lights, but I was distracted by the view of Karnei Shomron, Ginot Shomron, and Neve Menachem, filled with houses, homes, families, and a thriving community.

We stood in Eilon Shiloh- to get a viewpoint. Eilon Shiloh was supposed to be the last built, but they built it first, planning to fill in the homes in between. I stood there in awe, looking at what our nation has built, and what it has done to a vast wilderness. The Shomron is flourishing, and continues to thrive as more young couples remain near their parents and grandparents who settled the land at first.

Shabbos was beautiful, accompanied by long walks through the streets to see the decorated electric boxes painted with Bob the Builder, a Scrabble Board, and a Siamese cat. The park was filled with children, the shul was filled with song, and my eyes couldn't get enough of the wonderful community that was built there.

I left wishing I could live there- wishing that this community will survive and grow, and continue to flourish.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Newlywed Chronicles

I started this blog to document my life, in Israel, as a newly married girl. I'm not as newly married as when I started this blog, but in many ways I still feel like a newlywed. So, when I noticed in a Jewish magazine a new column about a newlywed's adventures, I felt a connection. But, when I started reading it, I realized that it wasn't really my type of chronicles at all.

She felt the need to poke fun at her Israel experience, at her life, and the general mishaps of it all. So, I guess, since I try to be mainly positive on this blog, my chronicles and her chronicles don't really mesh.

In addition, she sounded like she was writing from a perspective far away. As if she was married many years, but remembering what it was like to be a newlywed.

What's it like to be a newlywed?
It's exhilarating at first- just getting married, sheva brachos, and then starting your life. It begins with a ton of shopping, lots of quality time together, and a move into your own home. It allows a couple the pleasure of household chores together, meals with just the two of them, and a new lifestyle that each has to adopt.

Now, I have my first child, as I was blessed by Hashem to have NBD during my first year of marriage. So, life has changed a bit from then until now. I no longer have as much private time with my husband, and I have more responsibilities and more to do then I did then.

But, I wouldn't poke fun at my life. Things that happen, in my life, albeit as they may be funny, silly or sad, are not the type of thing I would like to ridicule a few years down the line. It may be a special time of life- almost a cliche time, but it doesn't deserve ridicule.

Oh, and for those who learn Hilchos Lashon Hara (as I do with Mr. NMF) one is not allowed to say anything bad about Israel. So, when describing life here, I do my best to not transgress that halacha. Those who write humor columns in magazines should try their best to do so as well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Recipes to Enjoy

Here's some of my favorite recipes that I posted about in yesterday's post. Enjoy!

Gan Eden Chicken and Potatoes

1-2 chickens, cut up in eighths
4-6 potatoes sliced in rounds
1-2 onions sliced in rounds
1-2 carrots sliced in rounds
2-3 stalks celery, sliced
3/4 to 1 cup honey
1 to 2 cups orange juice
hot water
extra honey to taste

Arrange your cut up potatoes, onions, celery, and carrots on the bottom of the pan. Add 1/2 cup of water. Then, arrange your chicken on top. Mix the honey with the orange juice, and add hot water while mixing until it forms a syrup. Pour over the whole chicken mixture, making sure everything gets drenched. Then, add extra honey on top of each piece of chicken to taste.
Bake at 350-360 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 1 hour until the chicken is tender with the topping crusted on top. Enjoy!

Silka (Beet Leaves) Pancakes

2 bunches bug-free silka
boiling water
4 garlic cloves or 4/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 egg
2 tbsp. flour
bread crumbs
sesame seeds
olive oil

Rinse off the silka well, until each leaf is thoroughly cleaned. Then, place in a pot with water, and boil until the leaves are tender- for at least 10 minutes. Then, drain out the excess water. Place the silka leaves and the garlic in a food processor and process on pulse several times, but not until it becomes a mush. Then, add 1 egg and 2 tbsp. flour. Mix well, and then add breadcrumbs to form into pancakes. Top with more breadcrumbs and sesame seeds, and fry in hot oil until brown on both sides. Delicious!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rosh Hashanah and a Meme

Whew! That was one awesome Rosh Hashanah. It was my first Rosh Hashanah with a little one to watch and take care of, so I didn't go to shul, except to hear my obligatory Tekias Shofar blasts. I actually did Tashlich by a small pond near my home, which was nice, because in Israel, there are very few places to choose from if you are looking for a body of water with fish. There are some who do it by their fish tank, for lack of an alternative.

My simanim were a lot of fun to make this year- I made silka (beet leaves) pancakes, which were well received, especially since I remembered to put in salt and pepper- which last year, I forgot. I also made butternut squash kugel, from Kosher By Design, for my 'karti' (gourd), and my favorite leek and potato soup, from Spice and Spirit (the purple cookbook) for the leek siman.

All the rest were rather boring- although I had fun with my shechiyanu (new) fruit. I bought quince (chabushim), which needs to be cut up and boiled. When I opened them (I had bought six) every single one of them had worms in it. Yuck! So, I ended up getting some quince from my neighbor. It tasted rather like apple- nothing really special. I also had clementines, since they had just come into season, and I haven't had them since last year.

That's one of the wonderful things, I think, about living in Israel- we get fruit by season, not all year round like America, so we get the pleasure and happiness of really experiencing a 'new' fruit when it comes into season. It really makes you appreciate and thank G-d for even the little things like new fruit.

And, I realized that I've been tagged for a meme that was made up by Mike in Midwood.
So here goes:
Here are the rules:
Rule number 1: Read the rules. (Um, how else would I do this meme?)
Rule number 2: Write one superpower you would like to have and what you would do with it. Rule number 3: Write why you chose that super power over everything else.
Rule number 4: Tag and link 7 people, and write why you think they will have an interesting meme. (I'm not going to do this one, because everyone got tagged before Rosh Hashana, so there is no need for me to do it.)

I was debating between two superpowers: the power to absorb knowledge like a sponge, and the power to have super speed. Why you may ask?
Well, I love learning, and I would want to know everything, but not everything on everything, because that would probably drive one mad. So, I'd like the ability to absorb knowledge easily and quickly. It sure would help on exams, and throughout life.
And, the other one? Well, simply as a mom, I either need 8 arms, which could be rather gross and annoying, or super speed, to get everything done. I would love the ability to beat traffic, and rush myself to the Kotel whenever I pleased, or dash around the whole world in seconds to visit friends and loved ones. Plus, I could finally get all my chores done!

Have an easy and meaningful fast!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Challah Types

It's interesting. Challah, the egg bread made by Jewish people the world over, has now become a gourmet art in itself.

Every person that makes challah has his or her own style of making it, and heaven forbid you suggest to any one of them to change even the smallest of details.

Down to what topping to use on your challah, or how to braid it, challah has become individualized to the extent that one simple type of food can be individualized.

Creativity for some of them knows no bounds- what with sprinkling a cake crumb topping on your challah, or black sesame seeds, or even the insides- chocolate surprise, fruit, garlic, or just your simple raisin bread.

The flour you use also makes a difference- sometimes showing who you are as a person. For the health nuts, they use pure spelt or rye flour- no wheat for them. For the mostly healthy, whole wheat is the flour of choice, and some moderately healthy people use a half and half mixture of whole wheat and regular. High gluten is for those who were once bakers, white flour serves for most an individual, and I'm sure there were other flour choices that I missed.

Some paint their bread with an egg wash, others with water, some add sugar, and others add oil.
Any way you do it, braid it, or make it, challah is one of those things that a Jewish person can't spend a holiday without.

Speaking of holidays, even the way you shape your challah shows something about you.
Some make a crown out of their challah for Rosh Hashana, others just a plain knot. Some use the woven braid technique found in A Taste of Challah, while others use the plain round braid technique. Some do twelve challahs, others do pull apart round breads. Some just give up and bake their challah in a loaf pan just as it is.

Taking challah (the piece of dough removed before baking that is known as challah- it used to be set aside for a tahor (ritually pure) kohen) with a bracha is something that I personally do rarely- it takes too much time, and I often times like to make fresh challah every week, which, since I have a small family, only requires taking challah without a bracha. But some take challah with a bracha every single week! If you go to Rebbitzen Kanievsky, in Bnai Brak, on Thursday, you could be part of her challah taking, along with many other women and girls, waiting to say Amen to her bracha.

So, what type of challah person are you?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rebbee Hill and Bedtime

NBD is 7 months old, and she falls nicely asleep at around 9 pm, making me a very happy mother. But, for older children, bedtime becomes an issue, mostly with the bedraggled and unhappy parent wishing for their child to fall asleep, and the child insisting that he/she will do no such thing.

One family that I know has 13 children, bli ayin hara. The lady of the house, besides for being a superb baalabusta, has also perfected a wonderful way to get her children to bed. She can't read a story to each child's taste, and frankly, she doesn't have the time to. So, she came up with a brilliant idea.

She purchases story tapes- you know, the good old Marvelous Middos Machine, Loshon Hara 911, Rebbe Alter, Rebbee Hill, all the Suki and Ding tapes, the Talking Coins, and so on. Then, she puts on the tape in each individual room, and the kids fall asleep listening to these master storytellers. She updates the tapes constantly, making sure that the kids are never bored. Oftentimes, they listen to it in installments, making it even more productive.

My family listened to tapes while in the car (I know, some people out there are saying- what's a tape?), but never before bed. Yet, these good old story tapes and CD's continue to be favorites of mine, even now.

Rebbee Hill is one of my personal favorites. He's dynamic, interesting, and delivers little bits of mussar throughout his tapes that are apropos for all ages. So, when I heard about this I was very excited. You should all check it out this Chol HaMoed- it sounds like it'll be awesome!

Blogging Convention

Well, that was fun!

I got to stay at home with NBD and still attend the convention- at least while watching it from the blog feed and the chat room. It was nice- I got to chat with Harryer, Leora, Lady-Light, Mrs. S., and R' Gil Student...all others who were there and I forgot- nice to have typed with you.

I'm not going to run down the panel and the speakers- for all who were there, I'm sure you all found it as enjoyable as I did.

I liked hearing from the different bloggers who chose to identify themselves, the private bloggers that I read like RivkA, Baila, Batya, Rafi, HaMekubal's wife (the Rabbi's Wife) and others, and also the group/company bloggers who wanted to promote themselves and their blog.

I didn't stay past that to hear the Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister talk, because NBD woke up and wanted me- but all in all, a very interesting and informative event.

Maybe next year I'll get to attend in person!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Working in a Gemara

Well, I don't think I'm attending the Bloggers' Convention- NBD is home and not feeling well.
Frankly, neither am I, as she kept me up during the night.
Edit: Well, it seems I can attend it from home, at least! See you there!

I started this post on Friday, as it was most appropriate then. But, now is no less appropriate.

Mr. NMF learns in a kollel, which is wonderful for him, and for me. But sometimes, like on hectic Erev Shabboses, I'm highly tempted to break my unwritten rule, and call him, begging for an extra pair of hands.

The phone tempts me- wanting me to make that call, say I'm not coping. To say that we have guests coming, and half the food isn't done, NBD isn't bathed, the garbage is piling up, and the dishes have yet to be washed. The laundry isn't folded, the work isn't done, and NBD just wants to be held.

Sometimes I give in. I make the call. Sometimes Mr. NMF picks up, other times he doesn't.

Either way, the rational, thinking side of me surfaces somewhere in the conversation, and realizes: He's learning Torah. He shouldn't be disturbed. I can handle it. If it was a 'real' job, I wouldn't be able to call him home either. So why should I now? Torah is just as much a job.

And then I apologize for calling, hang up, and manage somehow. When he walks through the door, usually everything is under control. And, he helps a TON when he does come home, so really, I have nothing to complain about.

If it was a 'normal' job, 9-5, or 9-1 on Erev Shabbos, I wouldn't be able to disturb anyway. So how come my brain doesn't always register that when he's 'working' in a Gemara?

Torah is the best merchandise, it is said. And it's a job, and it is hard work. To become a serious Torah scholar, one has to put in effort, just like with any advanced degree. And that work should be, in my mind, no less important than any other work.

So, next time I have in mind to call up, I'll reread this post, and remember to tell NBD: "Nope, can't call. Tatty's learning in Kollel."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blogger Meeting

Well, that was nice! Yesterday, Bad4Shidduchim gave me a ring, since she happens to be on this side of the Atlantic after being NBN's official reporter for the blogger convention, sponsored by WebAds. She thought she and I might meet up, with mutual blogger and friend, Mindy.

She mentioned she was going to visit the Kotel today, and so I said, how convenient. Commune and meet with G-d and then come meet me in the Old City.

So they did.

A fun time was had by all, bagels and iced coffee, Israeli style, were enjoyed, and shmoozing and reminiscing took place. NBD charmed the two of them, as she is wont to do.

The conversation turned to aliya, as Bad4 was reporting on NBN's system. I agreed with the statement made that making aliya is tough. Parnasa is hard to find, fitting into the system is hard to do. In this week's Mishpacha for example, an article devoted to kids at risk lists being the children of immigrants or an immigrant themselves as a possible reason for heading towards the edge.

I know that I really would love to make aliya (I haven't yet, for other reasons) but even I am worried about having a steady income here, making sure my children fit in here, and even that I fit in here. There are unspoken rules in every country, that are hard to learn for someone just off the boat.

All those who have done it and taken that major step- Kudos! Mazal Tov! Yasher Kochachem!
For all those who haven't- don't worry, we understand. It's a hard thing to leave the country you are from and start afresh.

At least friends can still come and visit when they want, leaving me not so lonely on this side of the world.

Thanks for lunch, Bad4. Let's do it again soon, iy"H, here in Yerushalyayim HaBenuyah yet again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Curious Jew and R' Miller

This is my fourth post of the day- proof I have been deprived of internet for far too long.
For those who haven't seen:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

But Chana has an AWESOME post on R' Miller and the edible watermelon- I advise all to check it out.

I love R' Miller- in fact, my mother considers herself a talmidah of R' Miller, even though she never met him. She used to listen to his tapes for hours on end as she drove herself all around. And as such, if I was in the car with her, I benefited also. My favorite parts- where he used to answer questions after each lecture on anything and everything.

Bezeq, Repairs, and Yum Bum Bum- Part Three

So, on to the last part. I had just moved into my new apartment, and with new places come new sounds. I mean, have you ever stayed alone in a new place and heard the house creaking? There are plumbing drips, wood creaks, and all sorts of other sounds. Plus, an apartment means that you have to get used to the neighbors' sounds also.

So, when I heard one of those loudspeaker cars (the cars that drive around to announce funerals or events that need to be taken care of on that day- a quick way to get the news out) saying "Yum Bum Bum", I ignored it at first. But it kept bugging me, as he meandered his way up and down my block, repeating those same three syllables over and over again.

So, I dragged NBD outside with me, and saw a group of kids milling around near the parked car. I asked my neighbor what they were gathering for- and she replied with those same three syllables.

Now, by this time I was quite curious. So, I asked. "What is Yum Bum Bum?" She replied, "You mean to tell me you don't know what Yum Bum Bum is?"

So I answered in the negative, and she started describing it to me. "You know the candy where sugar is poured into a big machine and comes out in fluffs?"

And it dawned on me.
"Cotton candy? That's what Yum Bum Bum is?" She nodded yes. So, this guy drives around and sells cotton candy, freshly made, to the neighborhood children. Rather cute- but at least I got an education in Modern Hebrew.

Any other fun words in Hebrew I should know about?

Bezeq, Repairs, and Yum Bum Bum- Part Two

Say it with me, my handyman is a mensch.

He’s a wonderful Sephardi guy, with 9 kids of his own, plus two ‘adopted’ children that he’s raising. I say it in quotes because I think that nothing is formal, but he basically took in two children with no place to go who were on the streets. He’s saving their lives- they will become normal frum Jews, with a warm, loving family to come home to.

So, my handyman shows up after we moved in and asks where we are for Shabbos. We answered, since it’s our first Shabbos, and I don’t even have an oven that works yet, we’re going out for meals. So he replies, “Then I’ll make you some fish for Shabbos. Not too spicy, I know you’re Ashkenazi.” We smile, thinking it just a kind comment.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon. My handyman comes over to put in my oven, and to install my gas range. But in his hand is a pot. Special delivery, he says. Fish for Shabbos. I was flabbergasted. But, true to his word, he had brought over delicious fish. He looked around my kitchen- no blech (plata- the heating deviced used to keep food warm on Shabbos), he asks? It seems our blech got lost through the moving process. No problem, he says. Next thing I know, he schlepped a plata over to my house just in time for Shabbos. Oh, and the fish was delicious.

The next week, he said he was going to fix my Yunkers and second oven. So I offered him this time, to bake him a delicious cake for Shabbos. I baked one of my favorites (courtesy of Rachaeli Geizhals who was featured on this blog earlier) and presented him with it when he came to fix my oven. He was happy, but happier, when he sat down with Mr. NMF to teach him how to install a plug. It seems this is one of those ‘guy time’ moments- that changing a plug is something they have to know for all eternity to keep their household running smoothly.

Then Mr. NMF and my handyman got into a Torah discussion about fixing things, and learning a parnassah, as opposed to learning Torah exclusively, or just ‘having bitachon’ that manna will fall down from heaven and feed your family. It’s amazing- even my handyman is well versed in Torah knowledge.

He came back Motzei Shabbos, with his right hand man (his son, one of the boys he ‘adopted’), and fixed my Yunkers. Then he headed off to a shiur. I fed them both cookies before they left, and handed a bag for the rest of the family to go. His son offered to distribute them the next morning for school. (For all those who don't know, Israelis have school on Sunday.)

Say it with me- he’s a mensch. Oh, and he'll be back next week to fix all the other stuff going wrong. Thank G-d.

Part Three coming soon.

Bezeq, Repairs, and Yum Bum Bum- Part One

Whew. It’s good to be back. Being without internet has got to be one of the most annoying things in the world. But then I remember that I was in 7th grade when my family first got internet, so I must have survived before then. One of my email accounts is actually from that 7th grade period- I never got around to changing it, and as such, it kind of stuck.

Anywho. Moving has got to be one of those things that you only want to do once in a lifetime. I hope not to do it again any time too soon. I arrived, and I thought myself so brilliant that I had arranged for Bezeq (one of the phone companies) to come only a few days after I arrived. I waited on the phone for an hour (Bezeq is notorious for having a very long wait time.) and finally arranged for them to come at 1:30. Turns out there was a misunderstanding, and they arrived at 11:30, when we were not home.

So, I waited on the telephone again, and rearranged for Bezeq. But the next available appointment was two weeks later. So I took it. And they came. They spent about an hour, but were unable to connect anything. They checked all the phone jacks, except for one which was hard to access, and told me I needed an electrician. Joy.

So, my handyman, who is a gem of a guy and a true mensch, showed up Motzei Shabbos with his son, and wouldn’t you know it- the one jack not checked was the one they needed. I thanked him, called Bezeq again, and told Mr. NMF that this time, I need him to stay home to help me to get the job done. 'Veni Vidi Vici'- when Bezeq came the next time, (with the same technician I had the last time, who reprimanded me about not checking the last phone jack), all was B’Seder.
Then came the hassle of setting up internet. It wasn’t too hard, except for the fact that I wanted to set up a Network Security Key- which I had never done before, to protect my internet from the misguided individuals who sit on a bench near my apartment and do all sorts of things on the internet they can access from there. But, all set up, password locked, and ready to roll.

Despite the problems I had this morning (Yosef, from Bezeq BeinLeumi- you so rock!), I'm finally here.

Part Two coming up soon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Brief Interlude- Still on Hiatus

Arrgh. Bezeq- the wonderful nice people that they are, have now come 3 times to my humble apartment, and none of them has produced results. We shall see on Sunday. Until then, I'm borrowing Internet from whoever I can find, but that doesn't mean I have time for blogging. So, still on Hiatus.

Mazel Tov to Bad4 who is coming to Israel, courtesy of WebAds and all the bloggers who nominated her! Can't wait to see you on this side of the Atlantic!

Blogger Convention sounds awesome, and I hope I can come. But, in any case, Gut Shabbos to all, and just letting you know I'm still around. More stories to come- starting with the one about Yum Bum Bum.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Real Hiatus and Lost Items

Alright- here's the actual hiatus post. Until we get Internet hooked up in our new apartment, I'm offline. I should get it soon, but as the phone company won't actually install our phone line until Wednesday, Internet access doesn't seem likely for at least 2 weeks.
So, I'll miss the J-blogosphere- and I hope to be back really soon.

I'll leave you with a parting anecdote.

In the scurry and hurry of moving, moving again, really moving this time, and actually moving, our belongings have been transferred through so many boxes and suitcases we barely know what is what.

So, it wasn't surprising that today, we couldn't find our passports. Now that's really scary, since we are not Olim yet (new immigrants), and our passport is the only means of identification accepted in this country. We wouldn't be able to use the bank, or deal with any of our new apartment issues, or sign anything, or drive anything. So, we looked. And looked. And looked again. Nothing.

I started to panic, thinking we might have taken them with us somewhere and lost them, and they weren't even in the suitcases at all. Mr. NMF was searching our new apartment, while I was searching our old one, and both of us were worrying.

So what did I do? I donated money to the Kupa of R' Meir Baal Haness.

For those who don't know, R' Meir Baal Haness was a figure in the Gemara who is famous nowadays for saying that whoever calls out to Hashem in his name and gives charity in his merit will get what they are asking for. He's buried in Teveria (Tiberias) and I've visited his grave several times. His wife was the famous Bruria, a brilliant and wise woman in the Gemara.

Some people, including me, whenever they lose an object that is precious to them, donate money in R' Meir Baal Haness's name, and say this:

"Amar Rabi Binyomin, Hakol Bcheskas Sumin Ad sheHakadosh Boruch Hu Meir es Aynayhem." "Min Hacha? 'Vatifkach HaShem es Ayneha, Vataylech Vatimaleh es Hachaymes."

This means:

"So says Rabbi Binyomin: All is hidden from the eye until Hashem opens our eyes. How do we know? [because it says] 'And Hashem opened her [Hagar's] eyes, and she went and she filled her pitcher.'"

Then, the loshon continues:

"Eloka D'meir Anayni" - "May the God of Rabbi Meir [Baal Haness] answer me"- said three times.

"B'zchus Hatzedoka she'ani Nodayv L'ilui Nishmas Rabi Meir Baal HaNes, Zechuso Yogen Olaynu, L'mtzo es haAvayda sheAvaditi "

"In the zechus of the tzedaka that I will give in the merit of the soul of R' Meir Baal Haness, may his merit last forever, to find the item that I have lost."

So. I gave tzedaka, recited the formula, and the phone rang. Literally just then. I picked up, and Mr. NMF's first words to me were "I found it." Turns out that the passports were hiding in another suitcase, underneath some sefarim.

Anyone else believe in miracles?!

I've had this happen to me many times. I've lost earrings, car keys, cell phones- you name it, I've lost it- and I've found it, usually after giving tzedaka.
Hocus pocus? I highly doubt it. In the zechus of doing a mitzva in R' Meir's name, Hashem opens your eyes to find the object.

So, if you're stuck, try this. I believe it has to be done with a full heart- not just to find your lost object- but I know of many stories like this one. G-d controls everything in this world, down to what we see and what we don't see.

I once asked a teacher of mine that if the world has been explored, every last inch of it, how come we don't know where the Sambatyon river is (the famous river that throws stones except on Shabbos- the one that the 10 lost tribes are hidden behind.)

She answered that G-d doesn't want us to find it, and as such, our eyes are not opened to find it. Only G-d can let us see or not see, even if it is right under our noses.

Has anyone else out there tried this method?

Anyway. Take care, have a good week, and a good rest of the summer. May Hashem open all our eyes to always see and recognize the truth of all things.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lions, Tigers, and Jukim, Oh My!

For those who have been past readers of my blog, one of my favorites that I posted was on bug checking in Israel. I still haven't figured out why Israel is so much more prone to bugs than anywhere else, but it pays to be prepared and to know how to bug check if necessary.

But, despite avid bug checking in food, summer time is the special time of year when all those wonderful 6/8/10/too many to count- legged creatures actually come out of the woodwork, literally.

So, summer time is usually the time for an annual 'Rissus'- or extermination. In Israel, some Israelis actually exterminate their entire house every single summer. They move out for a day or so, and let the poison do its work, coming back to a bug free home.

Or at least, to a dead bug home. You see, after an extermination is performed, one tends to come back to a home filled with dead jukim, cockroaches of the worst variety (Truthfully, I don't know any good varieties, but this is the worst of the worst.) and other sundry former inhabitants of the nooks and crannies of one's home.

We just performed a 'Rissus' in our new apartment, and thankfully, Mr. NMF kindly went over there when it was done, and cleaned up all the bugs before I could get a look at them and tell him I wouldn't be stepping in the apartment again.

Jukim have got to be the worst bug in existence. First of all, they are cockroaches, which (at least in my opinion) spread disease and are germy themselves. Secondly, they can fly in some part of their lifetime, leading to being able to launch themselves on unsuspecting people just sitting and reading calmly. Thirdly, they are huge. I've heard that in some New York apartments there are quite large cockroaches, but jukim take the cake in my opinion.

Mr. NMF and I went to another apartment for part of one summer, and every day I would wake up to find another dead juk (pronounced Jook) located somewhere in my apartment. Thank G-d they were dead- the owners had done a proper 'Rissus' before we moved in, but believe me, waking up to a pair of long antennas in your shower is not the best way to wake up.

Anyone else have bad bug stories to share?