Friday, January 22, 2010

Erev Shabbos #22- The No-Cooking Shabbos

Wow, this has been a crazy week. NBD is really sick- a cold turned into bronchitis- and so I've been in full Ima mode. So, when two of our wonderful neighbors invited us out for both meals, this made my Erev Shabbos into a non-cooking week, allowing me to catch my breath.

When my husband and I were in our first year of marriage, we managed to maintain a good balance. Sometimes going out, sometimes eating at home, sometimes traveling to another state- we were bounced around while we were living in the US.

I had already been away from home for the 3 years before that, and Mr. NMF had been away for 5, so we were kind of used to going from one place to another, packing up suitcases, and generally never knowing where to place our aching heads.

So that was what I looked forward to when I came to Israel: a home. I was so grateful to never have to go out for meals, never have to visit anyone, just relax and enjoy my own Shabbos table. I think we stayed home for weeks upon weeks, before accepting an invitation to go out for a meal, and then hurry home to our couch.

So, when I called up a friend of mine, I was shocked to learn that she, who has been married for 6 months, has never made her own Shabbos meal. Her in-laws and parents live close by, and they always expect the young couple to show up for all the meals, if not to sleep by them as well.

And, she enjoys it. Never having to cook, prepare, serve, wash, clean up- all of this was taken care of for her. As she put it to me, eventually the young couple would no longer be so young, and they iy"H would have a brood to take care of. So, until that time, the parental units were getting the pleasure of having the couple come over while they could.

That was such an interesting concept to me- to enjoy going out, rather than staying at home. I was so grateful not to have to shlep all over the universe, while she was enjoying every second of shlepping.

Each to his or her own. But this week, I'm very grateful not to have to prepare. NBD is going to want to be held once she wakes up from her nap, and that leaves me with almost no hands to do anything. So thank you kind neighbors. We look forward to seeing you.

A Gut Shabbos Everyone!

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring- Do Something!

Baruch Hashem for rain. At least, rain in Israel- since that's a blessing we really need in these times. After all, the Kinneret is below its appropriate level, the government is soon to level a water tax (if it hasn't already) on the public, and we generally just need rain, living in a desert and all.

Last night, at the dinner table, we engaged in a resounding chorus of Mashiv HaRuach- the prayer for rain and wind- and today, look what happens. I actually got to say the blessing on lightning and thunder last night as well.

But rain also means that both NBD and I are down with colds. We also don't really leave the house on rainy days, due to the fact that I prefer not get soaked.

When I lived in the big old city of New York, I didn't have a car. I used to walk, or take public transportation, everywhere I went. As I walked down the streets, carrying one heavy bag on my back and other one wheeling behind me- I sometimes wondered why no one even thought to stop and see if I needed help, or a ride. I assumed they had other pressing business to take care of, and I was grateful if when I got to my destination, someone offered me a ride for the way back. I can remember one time when a newlywed and her husband offered me a ride as they saw me trudging down the street- they were even going in the opposite direction! But that's about it for random rides throughout my time in NY.

JerusalemStoned- a not so well known blogger, but an excellent writer and mommy living in Yerushalayim- has an interesting take on rain and people. After all, this is the season when people can do a lot of kindness to one another. Like loaning umbrellas, hitching rides- like Mr. NMF did this morning as he waited for yet another bus to slowly make its way through the traffic, or even just watching a neighbor's child so she can go pick up the other one from Gan.

Let's make this rainy season one where we reach out our hands and use the Gishmei Bracha- rain of blessing- to actually bestow tangible blessing on our friends and neighbors.

Oh yeah, and have fun splashing in those puddles!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bargaining, Israeli Style

I know, the whole world isn't a shuk (open air marketplace). But it sure seems like it!

Practically all Israelis bargain, and love doing it. Whether it's shopping for basic food items at an actual shuk- like Machane Yehuda, or doing some shopping at a small store, you can probably always bargain down the price.

Big grocery stores like Yesh, or Bar Kol, are immune to my nefarious bargaining ways. After all, when they list their chicken on sale for 29.90 NIS, I can't very well go up to them and ask to have it for cheaper if I buy more. However, with my local butcher, I totally can. He even has a sign up right now for cases of chicken for cheaper if you buy by bulk. And, what if I walked in- after discussing with 5 neighbors of course- and then asked to buy 5 cases- would he give it to me for cheaper? Maybe. Who knows?

My whole block seems to believe in this wholesale theory. There are families who sell eggs, for about at least 5 NIS cheaper than the local grocery store. The same goes for flour, oil, sugar, and other household items. Another neighbor does a gigantic meat order, of which I proudly participate every month.

If I head down to my favorite baby supply shop- he'll give me bargains right on the spot. All prices are negotiable, it seems, if they are just taped on the item with a sticker. After all, he could just rewrite the sticker, couldn't he?

I never thought I would do something like that. It's like walking in the US into a store and asking to have the listed item for less. I would never be brave enough to do that- except maybe in a Jewishly owned store. (Does that say that all Jews are willing to bargain, even if they aren't from Israel?)

As the NY Times stated, most shoppers were looking for bargains this past holiday season. So maybe it's not a Jewish thing after all? Although, I have to admit, I love showing off a great deal.
It's like beating the odds, getting my pack of disposable diapers for 48 NIS, instead of 69. I just HAVE to talk about it.

So is it Jewish to bargain? Israeli? Or something in between?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pushing the Train

Note: These are my feelings on this. My emotions are expressed within. If this hits a raw note with anyone- I apologize. I do not mean to offend. I just felt like I needed to write this out, to look back at it one day, and to remember and grow.

I read this amazing article on, and it resonated a cord with me. First of all, the author is young. As she writes, she is 19 years old, or at least, she was 19 when her father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. And the second thing is that her faith in G-d is so powerful and strong that it continues to flourish, even at a time in her life when many might lose their faith.
She says that her father commonly paraphrases something from the Chafetz Chaim:

Let me ask you, if you’re on the train and you want it to go faster, are you going to go outside and push it?”
“Of course not. That would be pointless. So stop trying to push the train.”

In life, there are problems. There are curveballs. There are times when I've stood outside in the cold Jerusalem night and railed against G-d. How could He do this to me? What did I do wrong? How could life be this way? And, I've made bargains. Just like she did. I've stood in a home and screamed and sobbed to G-d. Told Him the pain I was in. Told Him how I didn't deserve it. Told Him how if only it would be better, I would be a better person.

And it's only my faith in G-d that kept me going. There was nothing else I could do, no one else I could turn to. G-d was the only Being in the Universe who was in control, not me. And I prayed. I prayed like I had never prayed before. I recited countless chapters of Tehillim. I prayed in my own words, in English, to G-d.

And you know what? G-d answered me. I saw Him pushing the train, and I realized it was in G-d's hands. I'm not saying G-d's answers were exactly what I had wanted. But G-d did give me some measure of hope.

I have felt despair. I have felt like my life as I knew it was about to end. I have felt the loss of hope, the darkness that the Yetzer Hara contrives, all of it, for myself and for others. A friend once called me during one of the darkest hours of my life, of which she knew nothing about, and talked blithely about her upcoming wedding and shower gifts. Little did she know that I couldn't even comprehend what she was talking about- as my life as I knew it was shattering into pieces.

But throughout it all- it was G-d running the train. It's like Tzipi Caton's book- Miracle Ride- He's calling all the shots. G-d is running the train, and there is nothing else to do sometimes- but turn to Him. For Hashem is always there for us, and as such, there is always hope.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wedding in Tzfas

Yay! So, blogger and friend Mindy is now a married woman! She's Bad4's NMF #16, I think. And, I shlepped myself, NBD, and Mr. NMF up to Tzfas in order to witness the new home in Israel being made.

Now, Mindy is a special, glorious, and amazing person- and she got married to a wonderful, special guy as well. So, I knew this wedding was going to be something 'different'. And, getting married in Tzfas of all places (since that's where her husband's yeshiva is) would make this something not to be missed.

It was beautiful. The neighborhood got together and made the simcha truly special. Nothing could be prettier than their outdoor chuppa under the stars, with all of the friends singing away. The kallah was radiant in her element, full of joy and laughter. Everyone knew everyone, the wedding itself was made up of gifts and generosity from the Tzfas community, and everyone just had a grand old time.

Music was a little loud though- it took me till the next morning to get the ringing out of my ears. The food was catered by friends and neighbors- pot luck and DELICIOUS. It must have tasted as good as the shtetl weddings of old, since home cooked food is always better than the standard chicken and salad. No one felt out of place, and the hall in Tzfas had just enough room for everyone- as if it kept expanding every time another friend showed up.

So, I'm wishing Mindy and her husband much happiness as they embark on their life together. Just visit me in Yerushalayim sometime, okay?