Monday, March 31, 2008

'Allo, Aloe

The aloe plant right outside my door.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

An office of monitors

This office* of feral monitors seems to have displaced the cats for rights to this dumpster.

This particular office most likely started off domestic, but when their owners upgraded to purebred flatscreens, these poor monitors were released without a care.

* A pride of lions, a herd of cattle, a murder of crows, an office of monitors.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Give a fig

I'm tired of all my photo posts being titled "Today's photo(s)"...


Warning: Some scenes are truly disturbing. The film includes scenes of violence in word and deed against Jews, women, homosexuals, the West and non-Muslims in general.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Today's Photo

One of the few things I'll miss with spring/summer more or less here, are the clouds. I think they give so much character to the sky...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Today's Photo

Sorry for the lack of photos, but they've been of the baby for the most part... Here's today's.

Jerusalem is getting a light rail system installed throughout the city. At one particular point, it's supposed to go over a bridge and the City Planners decided a grand sculpture/ monument/ something or other was needed to decorate the bridge.

I kept hoping the winning design would look less like a giant erection once the steel cables were strung, but... to say I don't think "penis" when I see it would be a.. yes, you know I have to... it would be a phallacy.

Do we say "Shehechiyanu"?

As this is a new experience for us...

TC just got her initial paperwork for the Army in the mail today. She has to show up on May 21st.

You know it's weird. Here I've been so focused on the fact that when I was 16 1/2, I was a mere 2 years away from being married and 3 years from becoming a mother, I totally lost sight of what it means to be a teenager in Israel.

I don't think she'll opt for the IDF, but rather National Service (NS) which many religious girls choose to do instead of serve in the Israeli Armed Forces.

However rumor says that NS jobs are getting scarce and will only get more so since Yuli Tamir decided on cutbacks in the program and to have Arabs participate as well. Add to the fact that it's a two year service so companies and institutions are more prone to hiring girls entering their second year rather than first year young ladies, there's no guarantees.

We were also told that the way many universities work (although the person telling me this is in Bar Ilan), if you don't serve in the IDF or NS, you can't go to university. Period. Doesn't matter why you didn't do it, doesn't matter if it's through no fault of your own.

So. Yeah.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Today's Photo

Hubby, Babyzilla and our movie theme Mishloach Manot (click on image to enlarge).

Purim Sameach everyone!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Today's Photo

31.5 lbs of flour + 12 hours of work = 40 loaves of bread and 30 rolls.

And one exhausted me.

These weren't even for my Mishloach Manot. I made them for a neighbor and her daughter for their Mishloach Manot.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Today's Photos

I've been trying for weeks now to get a clear shot of this guy.

Since he favors the far side of the pole, it's been difficult - as soon as he hears me coming he flies away.

But I managed to catch him today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Today's Photos

Some more wild flowers from the yard.

Where Pesky gets annoyed

My oldest is in Ulpana (girls' high school) in Beit El.

They are notorious for not providing Yishuv-to-Yishuv transportation.

Today is the last day of a 3 day trip and my daughter has just called me to let me know that while buses will be going to Eli and Shiloh, it will NOT be coming to Maale Levona.

We're talking a 15 minute trip up the hill and back down again.

Granted, it's for 2 girls, but that's not the point. How the heck are they supposed to get home tonight?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Where Pesky offers an opinion

There have been a couple of this which have been setting folks a'talkin' and like any person (especially a female, Jewish, mother formerly from NY), I've got my opinions about the buzz.

The first item is that whole top Haredi Rabbi banning Arab labor thing.

While I think it's a good thing, I also think it's about damn time. And it's a terrible insult to all the families of victims of previous terrorist attacks especially when the murderer(s) turns out to be a current or former employee of his victims.

But wait, there's more.

With all due respect to Rabbi Kanievsky, he further loses points because of this: Rabbi Kanievsky went even further, saying that Jews should refrain from employing any non-Jews, not just Muslim Arabs, and instead grant livelihood to Jews, unless there exists a huge disparity between the labor costs.

For those not familiar with how things usually work here in Israel, Arab labor is ALWAYS cheaper than Jewish labor, sometimes significantly so.

And finally, I see it didn't prompt him (or anyone else) to say that buying produce that is Heter Mechirah, rather than BaDa'atz (which comes from Arab farms - often in Gaza) should now be enforced.

The second tidbit that's got some folks waggin' their tongues is the fact that an Israeli court handed off a case to the "Sanhedrin".

Is it me, or does no one else see the potential for a lot of problems?

Yes, I realize that by passing off judgment to this "Sanhedrin", the Israeli government can then save a huge amount of face by saying that they gave the girl a chance at a fair hearing and that they are only following the judgment passed.

The thing is, they're giving authenticity to something that is not recognized by much of the Orthodox world. Every year, they're the group that tries to bring a Korban Pesach on the Temple Mount and every year they've been turned away. Wonder what will happen next month when they try again....

Today's Photos

There are these tiny red wildflowers growing around the house. In full bloom, they're almost as big as my thumbnail.

The Purim Story, Part the Second

2 Chapter Two -- The Beauty Pageant

Narrator: After a few months, the king finally ran out of wine. This was a sobering experience.

King: Bring me another bottle of Ravenswood Zinfandel.

Servant: Sire, all that remains is this bottle of Chateaux de Mille Dieux, scarcely enough for one day. And it will take us at least eight days to bring in more wine.

Narrator: And so a great miracle occurred. The king regained possession of what, for lack of a better term, we will refer to as his wits and realized that he actually kind of missed Vashti.

King: I miss Vashti. Oh, whatever shall I do?

Servant: Sire, we will arrange a great beauty pageant, and all the virgins in the kingdom will come and parade themselves before you.

King: I don't want to just look at them!

Servant: You marry whichever one you find the most beautiful.

King: But won't their parents have something to say about that?

Servant: You are the king, Sire. You can do that sort of thing when you're the king.

Narrator: And so a great beauty pageant was held. Girls from all over the kingdom were brought in, including Esther, a young Jewish girl raised by her uncle, Mordecai, son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Knish. Fortunately, no one remembers the father of Knish, or this could go on all night.

Mordecai: And remember, tell no one that you are Jewish.

Esther: But Uncle, won't the king figure it out when I refuse to eat pork, keep separate dishes, and light candles on Friday night?

Mordecai: They don't say "King Dumb" for nothing, kid.

Narrator: And so Esther went to the royal castle to await her turn before the king. Meanwhile, the beauty pageant wasn't exactly going according to plan.

Servant: And what is your greatest desire?
Girl (in a high, overly cheerful voice): I want to be a veterinarian and work for world peace.

Mother-in-Law: She wants to be queen, you chowderhead. Why do you suppose we're here? And another thing, I expect my daughter to well treated. I hear the king gets drunk as a lord, and that's no way to treat a nice girl. Furthermore...

Guards remove mother and daughter. Mother continues diatribe while being removed.

King: That's the 432nd prospective mother-in-law so far. I don't think I can take much more of this. One more, and you're dead.

Servant: Have no fear, Sire. The next girl is an orphan.

Narrator: And so it was that Esther found favor in the king's eyes, and he married her and made her his queen. Meanwhile...

Enter Mordecai
Mordecai: Oh my, two plotters against the king. I must hide myself lest they find me. I know, I shall disguise myself as a tree.

Mordecai stands, arms akimbo. Enter Bigthan and Teresh, ignoring Mordecai.

Bigthan: The King is a fink.

Teresh: We shall poison his drink.

Bigthan: With India Ink.

Teresh: It'll turn him pink.

Bigthan and Teresh exit.

Mordecai: This plot surely does stink; I'm off in a wink, to tell the queen what I think.

Narrator: And so it was that Bigthan and Teresh were apprehended, tried, and sentenced to death by a jury of poetry lovers. Mordecai's name was recorded in the King's big book of "People To Whom I Owe a Favor, But Because I'm King I Can Forget All About It." Stay tuned for our next episode, "The Evil Wazir Was Here," or "Haman Eggs."

The Purim Story, Part the First

Narrator: Good evening and welcome to the Book of Ester. There are many tales of how the Book of Ester got its name. According to one story, it was written several thousand years ago by an infinite number of gorillas. According to this theory, the Book of Ester was named for the leader of these gorillas, Megillah Gorilla.
Another theory observes that the Book of Ester opens with a description of a party that lasted for 180 days. As anyone who ever organized a party knows, this is quite a megillah.
In any case, our story begins with Ahasuerus, the King of Persia and environs, and 126 other provinces, throwing a party that lasted for six months. The rabbis are still debating why the party lasted that long; the most common theory is that the Persians had had their fill of Mede, and were trying to avoid a hangover.
After the big party was over, the king threw a second, smaller party for everyone who was still standing. This party only included everyone in Shushan, the Capital. At the end of a week of serious drinking, the king ordered Vashti, his queen, to come and display her beauty before the royal court. Realizing that she hadn't a thing to wear, Vashti refused.
When Ahaseurus finally sobered up enough to realize that he'd spent the night alone, he was furious. For whatever reason, it never occurred to him to ask wherefore this night should have been different from all other nights. Thus, he called together his wise men, the seven princes of Persia and Media to seek their advice. The princes of Media were particularly upset since they had lost heavily in the ratings when Vashti didn't show.
Poor Vashti was sent into exile with a giant honeycomb upon her head, for, so claimed the wise men, the law decreed that she who disobeyed the king must be exiled and bee headed.
And that was the end of Vashti's story until, so the Talmud teaches us, the Rabbis chose to reexamine her case and found her guilt far greater than it had first appeared. Let us now return to the days of that fateful conversation between those three great Talmudic Scholars, Rabbi Larri of Mysogen, known as the Mysogenist; Rabbi Josef of Chauvan, known as the Chauvanist; and Rabbi Moe of Saxony, known as the Saxist.

Rabbi Larri: Wherefore can one show that the sin of Vashti was, in fact, composed of two sins? For it is written that the refusal of Vashti was an affront in the eye of the King, but before the royal court it was said that her sin was most grievous in the King's eyes. If we may assume that the King had, at most, two eyes, then was her sin composed of two sins.

Rabbi Josef: How can one show that each sin of Vashti was as 32 sins? For it is written that the refusal of Vashti pained the King as the loss of a tooth, but before the royal court it is said that her defiance was like unto a kick in the teeth. Thus it was that her sins may be seen to be 32-fold.

Rabbi Moe: How may one show that the sins of Vashti are innumerable in number? For it is written that the refusal of Vashti was like unto tweaking the hair of the King's beard. But before the royal court, it is said that her defiance was like unto the pulling of his beard. From the use of the word "hair" we can conclude that but a single hair was meant, whereas the word "beard" alone implies all the hairs of his chin. As no man can count the number of hairs upon his chin, it can be seen that Vashti's sins are beyond counting.

Rabbi Larri: Unless the King had shaved recently.

Rabbi Josef: Or was too young to have a beard.

Rabbi Larri: Or had had an unfortunate accident involving a lawn mower.

Rabbi Josef: That would explain why he was always hanging gardeners.

Rabbis exit, arguing.

Narrator: The three rabbis went on to form a famous Jewish rock group. Surely you've all heard of "A Band of Evil Angels?"
What will King Ahaseurus do when he realizes that he's just lost his wife? Will he seek out a new queen? Find out in our next episode, "The Royal Beauty Pageant" or "Fine Silks and Polyesters."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Today's Photo


Originally posted Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Thursday night was the start of Lag B'Omer (33rd of the Omer, the period between Passover and Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), when the Hebrew slaves left Egypt and traveled to Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments and become the Nation of Israel).

(In the time of Rabbi Akiva, who witnessed the destruction of the Second Temple and who was the greatest Torah Sage of his generation, twenty four thousand of his disciples died in an epidemic. The underlying spiritual cause of the epidemic was the students' lack of respect for each other. This sad event and others took place during the Counting of the Omer. As a result, the Omer period has become one of semi-mourning in which we don't hold weddings or festivities, nor do we shave or get haircuts. But because the epidemic was suspended on the 33rd day - Lag B'omer - Lag B'omer has become a joyous day of celebration.
After all his students died, Rabbi Akiva "started over" and began teaching other students. One of his foremost students was Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar. The Zohar, which means "The Shining Light," is the basis of the secret teachings of the Torah. Some people light bonfires on Lag B'omer and sing songs in honor of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who revealed the teachings of the Zohar to the world on Lag B'omer.)

Anyway, Thursday night the settlement had special for the kids and then families did their own. My girls went to the settlement's bonfire, where they roasted hotdogs, toasted marshmallows, made tea and pita...and had a general kumzitz. At 10 p.m. I left them with friends and went to an 'adults' BBQ. We drank and ate, played records (remember those) of 60's, 70's and early 80's music and had a great time. I got home at 1 a.m. and my girls were asleep in their bed. I kept the dog out for the night and we all slept late since I didn't have work and the kids didn't have school.

My youngest daughter awoke with her usual strep/tonsillitis combo (actually if it's tonsillitis/strep, she may have them removed in the near future). She ran a fever all weekend and on Sunday I took her to Jerusalem to the doctor instead of going to work. We got back around 4:15, and my oldest came home around 5-ish.

At 5:30, my neighbor was shot driving up the road. His car was hit 10 times and he was wounded in the arm.

At 8:00, a caravan of cars, vans and trucks from the settlement made their way down to the spot where our neighbor had been injured. We left as cars filled, rather than as one cohesive unit so only the first 5 cars made it passed the surprised soldiers waiting at the crossroads. I was in the 6th car.

Those of us not able to pass blocked the crossroads and just stood around, talking. About 45 minutes later, the first 5 cars returned. I won't tell you what they did. Fifteen minutes later, a few cars from a nearby settlement came to lend their support. One of the guys told us that if/when the police show up, we offer only our name and ID number. Then he started talking about arrest, and prison, about judges and hearings. A few of the men from my settlement left at that point. I stayed.

I stayed because I'm tired of the apparent inability of my government to act.

I stayed because another of my neighbors was injured.

I stayed because it could have been me.

We decided to stage a protest the next day in front of the Prime Minister's residence, with our neighbor's bullet-riddled car, each bullet hole circled in blood-red paint, right on the lawn.

Unfortunately it was canceled at the last minute, as we were told the IDF went into the offending village and 'did something'.

Yeah, I saw what they did. They cut down three olive trees in a grove of 20. Whoopy.

If anyone is worried the men in those 5 cars hurt any Arabs, don't worry. They found a more effective way to get back.

After all, you can't make a martyr out of a cement and brick factory.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Today's Photo

Hanging around.

And the song remains the same

Originally posted Thursday, April 12, 2001

Well, it's Passover and the good news is that for 5 days I didn't read/hear any news. I don't have a tv at home and I no longer have internet at home either. I can't listen to the news on the radio in Hebrew because I don't understand enough to understand the whole story. And just getting the gist of it isn't enough because I want to make sure that the bombing they're talking about was the one from 3 weeks ago, and not a new one.

The immediate area, thank God has been quiet-ish this holiday. Seems the Arabs are concentrating in the 'Gush', southwest of Jerusalem. Mortar attacks from the Arabs, the IDF retaliates by returning fire.

I'm sorry but this is really getting old, annoying...a band-aid on a sucking chest wound.

The week before Passover is usually a very busy time at the Shuk. People buying not just food but housewares for the holiday.

This year the week before was depressingly empty. Of course that week there were bombs and attempts every day and since the shuk is generally a favorite place to blow up, people were naturally afraid. The girls were already off from school and I had some chicken to buy, so we walked through the shuk and I did my shopping. The butcher admonished me and told me this was no place for children. We walked out quickly and went home. He was right.

The good news is, this week, the week OF the holiday, the shuk is crowded. It could be the increased security.

The shuk is an experience. It is an explosion of color, a riot of scents and a myriad of sounds.

Stalls of fruits and vegetables, deep green of parsley and dill, bright yellow of lemons, the gradation of rosy red tomatoes to brilliant orange carrots and citrus and the blue-black eggplants sit side-by-side with the fish mongers. Frozen salmon and tuna steaks sit in freezers with huge Nile perch fillets. Tubs of live carp, spraying water rest by cases of fresh fish nestled on crushed ice.

Scattered among the produce and fish stalls are the butchers (no live animals here) with display cases of chickens, beef and lamb in all their assorted forms (whole, ground, pieces), and an occasional turkey. There are also stalls that sell cheeses, smoked fish and a staggering variety of pickled vegetables. No less than 10 types of olives, 5 kinds of pickles, spicy pickled mixed vegetables, pickled baby eggplant (which are a surprisingly brilliant magenta), pickled turnips in a beet juice, pickled baby lemons (which look more like some gourd than a citrus) and pickled hot peppers.

There are a few stalls that offer fresh spices, quasi-burlap sacks of fresh teas and herbs, meter high cinnamon sticks and a large variety of dried hot peppers. Interspersed among the stalls are places to buy by the kilo dried split peas (green and yellow), lentils, 10 different types of rice and dried pasta of all different shapes. There are the bread bakers, where you can buy fresh pita and 'lafa', which are a cross between a pocketless pita and a flour tortilla.

And finally there are the housewares and clothes stalls...pots, pans, glasses and silverware. Dresses, shoes, pants and socks. Even shopping carts and oversized bags to buy to put all your purchases in.

There's nothing quiet about the shuk either. Shopkeepers, primarily the produce vendors, not content to write out on cardboard the price of their products, shout out their enticements... "Strawberries! 4 shekel a kilo!" (US$1 for 2.24 pounds) "BananaBananaBananas!"

Man, I love this place.

They said it

Originally posted on Monday, April 2, 2001

Quote of the decade
"Stop being afraid. There is no danger that these guns will be used against us. The purpose of this ammunition for the Palestinian police is to be used in their vigilant fight against the Hamas. They won't dream of using it against us, since they know very well that if they use these guns against us once, at that moment the Oslo Accord will be annulled and the IDF will return to all the places that have been given to them. the Oslo Accord, despite what the opposition claims, is not irrevocable."

- -Yitzhak Rabin, March, 1994 on Mabat ITV, Channel One.

This and many similar remarks have mysteriously been erased or "disappeared" from Israel TV archives. How convenient.

And which bombing were you referring to?

Originally posted on Sunday, April 1, 2001

It seems that lately we need a scorecard to keep track of everything that's been going on here.

Last week seemed to be particularly bad.

One day alone, there were 4 bombing attempts, only one was successful and it killed a 14 year old Israeli boy and a 15 year Israeli old boy on their way to school. This was two days after Shalhevet Pass, the 10-month old was killed.

The day after her death, two bombs went off in Jerusalem, one was right in front of where I wait for a bus to go home. Only 3 hours after it happened I drove by...and you couldn't tell anything had happened. It was..annoying...and sad...We're so good at cleaning up after a bus blows up....

Wednesday, when the IDF shelled Gaza and Ramallah, I heard it...two or three faint...booms in the distance. When I drove past the outskirts of Ramallah the next morning, there wasn't even a building disapointing.

The IDF may have to do something about the Arab town right next to the settlement I live in. It's become quite a hazard. Thursday, snipers shot at a schoolbus on it's way to the settlement. No one was hurt, but the roads were closed for a while.

I'm tired.

Just a quick note

I've changed a setting for leaving comments. Now you have to type in the random letters. I apologize, but I've been getting weird comments left with links and I'm worried about viruses and such.

If it continues, I'll have to go to moderated comments as well.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Today's Photo

Sunset in Jerusalem yesterday. My younger daughter caught this yesterday with my camera as we were leaving my cousin's son's third birthday party.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Today's Photo

This would be Dipper, our puppy. He's a pure-bred mutt.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Today's Photo

Taken on our road trip Thursday. The Sea of Galilee, west side, at Ginosar which is a bit north of Tiberias.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Today's Photos

It is too beautiful a day to be burying our children.

Photos taken at Tel Shiloh (the Shiloh archaeological site). They have a women's prayer group meet there at the beginning of each Jewish month. Unfortunately most of the women were preparing to go to the funeral of one of yesterday's victims.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Today's Photo

I've shown you the oil drum fields of Israel

and I may have also posted about the lightbulb greenhouses in the Jordan Valley.

Today I bring you the bag plantations of the Jordan Valley. Shown here are both the plastic and paper bag varieties.

Ok, you caught me. Those aren't bag plantations, it's one of the many banana plantations along the Jordan Valley. And since bananas are actually herbs, those really aren't trees in the 'tree' sense of the word. (Further down were fields of trees dried and dead. Come next year, new ones will have grown in their place)

So why are the bunches of bananas wrapped in bags? Well, bananas produce ethylene gas to ripen. By wrapping the bunches in bags, it contains the gas and the bananas ripen quicker.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Today's Photo

In a true, "only in Israel" moment, I give you... "Bible study booklets vending machine". As it advertises, daily learning for every Jew... AND an experience for the whole family!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Today's Photo

The aftermath of NS's new game - "dropping Cheerios one by one to the floor before Mommy stops giving me more".

On the plus side, he'd pick them up one by one in his right hand, transfer it to his left hand and then drop it over the side of the highchair.

When I actually started paying attention to him (which is probably what he wanted the whole time, bad Mommy!), I'd put my hand out under his and say "Can you give to Imma (Mommy)?", take it and say "Todah (thank you)!" I'd pretend to eat it and then give it back to him. A couple times he actually made a sound like he was trying to mimic my "Todah" and then he'd eat it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Today's Photo

Concentrating on his egg yolk...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Today's Photo

There's just something so delicious about baby feet. Especially when they're all wrinkled from a bath.

For the most part, the subjects of my "photo of the day" tend towards scenery (mostly things right outside my window) and my family (mostly of my 9 1/2 month old son since we spend our days together and he's there and mostly always a willing subject).

Until now all my photos have been of the scenery. Whenever my son is the focus of the photo I just haven't posted it because it's generally some adorable facial shot and well... I'm not sure I want to share that here just yet. So here's a compromise.