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.