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.