Wednesday, December 30, 2009

HTML advice

February I'll be hosting JPix.

In December I hosted my first carnival and it was pretty straightforward with the linking. For the most part, the blog carnival notification came with the HTML code and I just had to copy paste.

With a photo post it's trickier. I want a thumbnail posted in the carnival post and the thumbnail to also be a link to the original post in the original blog. AND I want to be able to resize all the photos to a uniform thumbnail size.

And I can't seem to find the right combination of code.

When I use this (obviously without the various spaces and the [ is a < or >): [a href=""> [img src="http://1.bp.blogspot. com/_AjqvE-2F28o/SzRyyqB052I/AAAAAAAAAns/ rUNRTJMLxH0/s1600-h/DSCF6183A.jpg" width="200" alt="soup" /[ I don't get the image posted. If I use the URL from Photobucket it's fine, but that's not the link I have posted in the post. And I really don't want to have to download and then upload all the photos submitted for the carnival for the linkage.

Anyone have advice?
Of course the irony of the following article is the world vilifies Israel for the security measures she takes in protecting her borders yet it seems Israel should be taken as a positive example on her success in airport security.

'Israelification': High security, little bother

December 30, 2009

Cathal Kelly

While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.

"It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago," said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He's worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

"Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don't take s--- from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, 'We're not going to do this. You're going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport."

That, in a nutshell is "Israelification" - a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

"The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport," said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"

Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion's half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

"This is to see that you don't have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious," said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

"The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds," said Sela.

Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.

At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a purpose-built area. Sela plays devil's advocate — what if you have escaped the attention of the first four layers of security, and now try to pass a bag with a bomb in it?

"I once put this question to Jacques Ducheneau (the former head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority): say there is a bag with play-doh in it and two pens stuck in the play-doh. That is 'Bombs 101' to a screener. I asked Ducheneau, 'What would you do?' And he said, 'Evacuate the terminal.' And I said, 'Oh. My. God.'

"Take Pearson. Do you know how many people are in the terminal at all times? Many thousands. Let's say I'm (doing an evacuation) without panic — which will never happen. But let's say this is the case. How long will it take? Nobody thought about it. I said, 'Two days.'"

A screener at Ben-Gurion has a pair of better options.

First, the screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive. Only the few dozen people within the screening area need be removed, and only to a point a few metres away.

Second, all the screening areas contain 'bomb boxes'. If a screener spots a suspect bag, he/she is trained to pick it up and place it in the box, which is blast proof. A bomb squad arrives shortly and wheels the box away for further investigation.

"This is a very small simple example of how we can simply stop a problem that would cripple one of your airports," Sela said.

Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben-Gurion Airport shares with Pearson — the body and hand-luggage check.

"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

That's the process — six layers, four hard, two soft. The goal at Ben-Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in a maximum of 25 minutes.

This doesn't begin to cover the off-site security net that failed so spectacularly in targeting would-be Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.

"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none."

But even without the intelligence, Sela maintains, Abdulmutallab would not have gotten past Ben Gurion Airport's behavioural profilers.

So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive, so un-Israelified?

Working hard to dampen his outrage, Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

And rather than fear, he suggests that outrage would be a far more powerful spur to provoking that change.

"Do you know why Israelis are so calm? We have brutal terror attacks on our civilians and still, life in Israel is pretty good. The reason is that people trust their defence forces, their police, their response teams and the security agencies. They know they're doing a good job. You can't say the same thing about Americans and Canadians. They don't trust anybody," Sela said. "But they say, 'So far, so good'. Then if something happens, all hell breaks loose and you've spent eight hours in an airport. Which is ridiculous. Not justifiable

"But, what can you do? Americans and Canadians are nice people and they will do anything because they were told to do so and because they don't know any different."

More sneaky food

I'm in the mood for meatballs and spaghetti so I'll be making that for Friday night dinner.

NS's version will have pureed cauliflower and zucchini in the meatballs (and I'm considering making 'porcupine meatballs' with brown rice) and making a sauce that's mostly pureed baked sweet potato with some tomato sauce to make it redder.

Tonight's dinner I think will be veggie soup with barley and I may take a stick blender to it and let NS drink it. Also give him a grilled cheese sandwich to go with it.

Tomorrow night's dinner will be home made pizza. The sauce will be sneaky sauce.But shhhh... don't tell Zach.

And tomorrow is black and white cookie baking!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wonderfully said

After reading this guest post by Rabbi Yossi Ginzberg, I almost stood up and applauded.

Kol Hakavod for saying what needed to be said and saying it so eloquently.

Hat tip: The Wolf

Monday, December 28, 2009


Anti-Semitism czar's first target is Israel

I'm not sure where to even begin with this one... Oh I know... how about the irony of calling the head of Obama's anti-semitism somethingorother a 'czar'... although technically she's a czarina...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Hot and Sour Soup

6 cups chicken stock
1/4 lb chicken breast, julienned
2 cups carrots, julienned
2 tablespoons garlic and red chili paste (Pereg makes a great paste I use)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon white pepper, ground
3-4 eggs beaten
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup each bamboo shoots, julienned and sliced water chestnuts (I leave this out since I can't find it)
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced and stems removed
1 cup straw mushrooms
1 (12 oz) package cake tofu, 1/4 inch dice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup dried black fungus, soaked for 1 hour (I leave this out)
scallions, finely chopped for garnish

Bring stock to a simmer
Add soy sauce, chicken, carrots, mushrooms and chili paste. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add pepper, vinegar, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, fungus and tofu.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Mix cornstarch with 5 tablespoons water and add.
Bring back to a simmer and pour the eggs in a very thin stream over the surface. Let stand 10 seconds before stirring in the sesame oil.
Serve with a garnish of chopped scallions.

NOTE: the pepper, chili paste and vinegar can be varied for taste.
NOTE 2: I will also add either shredded cabbage (Napa or regular is fine) or shredded beet leaves to add body and flavor to the soup (since bok choy isn't readily available here and when it is, it's a fortune). I'll also add mung bean sprouts just before adding the egg.

Chanukah, Day 8

Aftermath. (FTR, this was NOT taken on Shabbat)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Obama and the rest can just kiss my settler tuches.

JPIX is now up!

Wonderful job, Leora! Thanks!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Moroccan Eggplant Salad

I came into liking eggplant very late. I found this recipe when I worked in the kitchen at the Ulpana in Maale Levona. I basically washed the dishes and chopped veggies and this was one of the salads I chopped veggies for. It's a fairly easy recipe, the only time consuming part is frying the cubed eggplant.*

My apologies for not having amounts but it's a salad - do things according to your own taste.

Eggplant, cubed
flour seasoned with black pepper, garlic powder and paprika (that's what I usually use, Feel free to make adjustments)
red pepper, diced
parsley, chopped
garlic, minced
olive oil, splash
lemon juice, splash
salt and pepper
oil for frying

Dredge the eggplant in the flour, shake off excess flour and fry the pieces until golden brown, turning at least once. Drain on a towel then place into a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, toss and chill.

* I have since dispensed with frying and only bake the eggplant. After dredging in the seasoned flour, place on a cookie sheet, toss with some oil, and bake until golden brown.

Seventh Day of Chanukah, 5770

Different flavored sufganiyot... about 2345345980 calories each... and I actually resisted the temptation and didn't buy any.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Public School

My brother Fred* and his wife Wilma* have decided to do 'the unthinkable' and send their daughter Pebbles* to public school starting next school year. They live in Silver Spring, MD and simply cannot afford Yeshiva tuition in their double income household. According to my brother, there are others in his community who are considering doing the same.

And I have to say, Kol haKavod to them for taking the responsible road. For having the courage to fly in the face of today's Orthodox convention and chose financial responsibility over 'Jewish education above all else'.

When I posted my support of their choice on my Facebook status, several people asked why they didn't make Aliyah. My own decision to make Aliyah over 12 years ago was mostly financially motivated and I'm sure I'm not alone.

The problem is Aliyah isn't for everyone. It also doesn't solve the Tuition Crisis in the United States.

In addition, what's really so terrible about getting a public education (provided the PS has a good curriculum) with supplemental religious studies?

I don't know about you, but in my family, my siblings, cousins and I are first generation 'Yeshiva goers'. My parents, aunts** and my grandparents all received a public school education with Hebrew school on the side and guess what? They all married Orthodox people and passed on a strong grounding in Orthodoxy to all their children. And all of us married grandkids married Orthodox.

Did going to Yeshiva have something to do with this? Of course. But so did the foundation we had from our publicly educated parents and grandparents.

* Not their real names. No, really!
** I think my mother's youngest sister went to Prospect Park a million years ago, either for her entire education or for some part of it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sixth Light with Soldiers

Chanukah, Day 5

Looking down at the diners and trays of 'suffies' (sufganiyot) at the cafe in the mall.

Fourth Light

This Chanukiyah was about 2 feet tall and I think it was made of brass.

Third light

Third light of Chanukah is also my Hebrew birthday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Traffic Circle

Traffic circle on Bar Kochba Street in Petach Tikvah.

The View

Inside the criminal court building in Petach Tikvah. Every other window on the wall has passages from the Old Testament regarding judges and judgment.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


What is it about Israeli 'culture' that this woman

who is obviously pregnant (she looks about 8 months pregnant) and sitting at the playground watching her 3 and 2 year old daughters, feels no shame or worry or regret about lighting up a cigarette?


Not to mention what it can do to a fetus.

I saw her light up and I had this visceral need to smack her around. Or shove the cigarette up her... nose...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My birthdays don't line up

And I have no idea why.

The Hebrew and Gregorian calendars are supposed to synch up every 19 years.

So in theory this year's birthday should have both my Hebrew and secular birthdays on the same day. Except it doesn't. It's off by a day.

If you go to and look at December 15th, 1971 it says it's the third light of Chanukah.

If you look at December 15th, 1990 AND 2009 however, it says it's the fourth light of Chanukah.

I know that some years the month of Cheshvan has 30 days and other years it has 29 days.

It had 30 days both in 1971 and 2009. And 29 days in 1990.

So... anyone know why my birthdays don't line up?

Coca Cola recall... again,7340,L-3811108,00.html

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Economics of eating

In a recent post on Imamother about how in just 5 months of marriage, the poster and her (mostly in Kollel) husband were in debt an anonymous poster wrote the following:

Wow I am so impressed with how people really live frugally. I am not the op but I wish I could do the same. I know that I spend way too much money but my dh would never listen to me if I tell him that we should cut down. Do people really not serve meat or chicken every night for supper? My dh would kill me if I just served him macaroni.

I have to say I am flabbergasted that people can be so pettystupidselfishblind.

Last week my husband and I sat down with all our bills and our bank statements and using Google Docs we made several spread sheets with regards to our finances.

After looking things over we decided we needed to cut down our grocery budget and the main way we were going to do that was to pretty much cut out chicken and meat during the week and limit the fish to canned tuna.

This week's menu was: Sunday we had HOMEMADE lentil burgers and baked ziti. On Monday we had potato latkes and fresh salad. Tuesday was a thick veggie-barley soup and Wednesday I bought a package of kebabs, cut them into bit sized pieces and added that to the soup. So we had meatball soup. Not sure what we'll be having tonight. (Here in Israel, dairy tends to also be crazy expensive. Ingredients for lasagna for 6 is 50NIS or more in just cheeses. Also by 'we' I mean my husband and myself, our 2 1/2 year old son and on Tuesday my 18 year old daughter)

Would I prefer fried chicken and entrecot steak? Of course.

But I also would prefer a roof over my head.

I really think that anyone who claims that their spouse will 'kill them' if they served mac and cheese for dinner needs to sit down with said homicidal spouse and plan the budget. If smacked with the cold hard facts that chicken every night is simply out of touch with the budgetary reality, I highly doubt your spouse will want to kill you.

Kosher Cooking Carnival #48

title or description

Kosher Cooking Carnival #48!

It's the turkey day special of the Kosher Cooking Carnival. Well, for those living in the US it is and thank you for taking time between football games to take a look.

Anything Kosher

TechyDad is a first time contributor and I certainly hope he becomes a regular. He presents us with Cooking With TechyDad: Sneaky BonBons posted at TechyDad, a great way to get your kids to eat more veggies and not even realize it!

Jo shows us how to make Roasted Garlic Spread that would be perfect on pita or challah.

Batya presents Menu Conversion, Or What to Serve for Special Meals, Like Thanksgiving posted at me-ander.

Avital Pinnick presents Tender, Flaky, Sourdough “Naan” posted at This and That.


Batya gives us Cottage Cheese Cheesecake from a cookbook that came with the blender and while the machine pictured in the cookbook looks older than I am, the recipe looks timeless and tasty!

Hadassah Sabo Milner helps anyone with the dilemma of whether to make pie or cake with this recipe for My World Famous Delicious Pie Cake posted at In the Pink.

My sweet contribution is a versatile Cookie Brittle.

Diet Food

Mary Jones presents 12 Simple Tips to Make Drive-Thru Dining More Healthy which offers great tips to making fast food a bit healthier.

Every Day Meals

Lester Christmas presents KAHLUA Original K-Cups from Timothy's World (certified by the KSA) for those of you who love your java.

Annette Berlin gives us an easy Tomato Pesto Sauce over at Craft Stew.

Batya whips up Easy Stove-Top Steak at me-ander.

I make a broccoli salad I deem Pretentious Cole Slaw at YESHASettler. And to go with that, why not try Felafel-crusted Chicken Strips.

Leora offers up a Mushroom Barley Soup perfect for the cold winter nights.

mominisrael presents White Sauce in the Microwave posted in her new food-related blog Cooking Manager. She also offers us Sourdough Muffins to try.


Batya wonders Is The Veggie Option Really Kosher? posted at me-ander.

Jerusalem Kosher News tells us about the milk shortage here in Israel which is also affecting butter availability posted at Jerusalem Kosher News. This site also seems to be a great resource for Kashrut alerts in Israel.

Jewish Holiday Food

Crafty Rose offers us origami candy boxes which would be perfect for Purim. Wait... we haven't even had Chanuka yet. Am I allowed to utter the 'P' word?

Restaurant or Cookbook Reviews

Jon Baker and his lovely wife give us their review of The Solo Restaurant Experience posted at ThanBook.

Batya has a review from her recent trip to the US in Eating Kosher in Great Neck, Three Meat Restaurants in This Review. She also warns us that even though a rose by any other name may smell as sweet, restaurants bearing the same name may not all be kosher. So Beware: Cafe Aroma is Traif in Great Neck!!.

I Stand up for my order when service was lousy and the food cold.

Back in July the Kosher Gourmet did a review of Mike's Bistro posted at The Kosher Gourmet.

Traditional Food

Mrs. S. presents The poor step-sister of Shabbat kugels which is her ode to the lokshen kugel.

Newsman presents The Great Pumpkin Cholent posted at The Kosher Kook. So would that make it a very Charlie Brown Shabbat?

Hadassah Sabo Milner presents Chicken soup with matzah balls.

Felisa Billet presents Entertaining: Turn Thanksgiving Leftovers into Friday Night Dinner posted at Blog.


Wise_Bread tells us 5 Quick Fixes to Salvage a Good Meal.

Emily Moser warns us about 25 Common Foods That Can Be Toxic for Your Pet.

Liked what you saw? Help spread the word!
* Why not submit your own recipe for next month’s carnival? Just chose one of your own blog posts and go to the carnival submission form. It’s easy to fill out.
* And since part of the idea is to help publicize each other’s blogs, please link to this post on your own blog. Spread the good word!
* Batya’s always looking for someone to host a KCC. Email her with your hosting offer here: shilohmuse at yahoo dot com.
* Next month’s KCC will be hosted by

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Felafel-crusted Chicken Strips

The original recipe calls for one packet of felafel ball mix, dry and another mixed with water with about 1/4 cup more water than instructed. I cheated a bit and used flour for the dry dredge.

Dredge chicken in either flour or dry felafel ball mix.

Then coat in felafel mix (add a bit more water than the package instructs) and fry.

Cookie Brittle

1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 cups flour
chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C)
Line a 10x15 jelly roll pan with baking paper and grease a bit.
Combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
Spread the batter in the pan. (Keep smushing - it will cover the whole bottom of the pan. It's supposed to be pretty thin.)
Bake 20-25 minutes (until golden brown.)
Allow the brittle to cool completely and then break it into pieces.

* I made mine with chocolate chips, almond slivers and chopped craisins. It came out amazing. I now have a batch in the oven with chocolate chips, toasted hazelnuts and chopped craisins. I have plans for a future batch to be a 'pina colada' version with coconut, macademia nuts and pineapple chunks (haven't decided if I'm going to go with canned pineapple or dried pineapple)

Chanukah Flashmob in Jerusalem

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ladies night at the country club

Once again the Matnas of Binyamin is hosting a ladies night at the country club here in Ariel.

Motza'Sh Nov. 28 between 7 p.m. - 11 p.m.

40NIS for the evening which includes gym, sauna, pool, jacuzzi and belly dancing!

I went last time and it was great. The jacuzzi alone was a 'mechaya!'

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sneaky cooking

I don't think NS is a picky eater per se, he's just 2 1/2. He'll eat when he's hungry, he likes to try things for the most part and he has some favorites.

Like pasta and rice, scrambled eggs, franks in beans. And if something is dipped in ketchup, well so much the better.

It was kind of ironic that someone posted about the Sneaky Chef and her husband's project to get their kids eating more veggies and not realizing it because I was having the same problem. How to get my 2 1/2 year old to eat more veggies without shoving it down his throat.

Today I made the 'white puree' - steamed zucchini and cauliflower and then ran it through my grinder (my blender was a total waste of time). I froze 2 baggies with one cup each in it and 1/3 cup portions went into other baggies. And 1 whole cup was mixed into tonight's dinner - Mac and Cheese.

Everyone ate it. No one complained, as a matter of fact I don't think anyone particularly noticed.

The smaller portions I froze will be for NS's scrambled eggs. I'm sure I'll find a use for the larger portions.

The next puree will be the 'orange puree' of baked sweet potato and steamed carrots. I'll be using that for pasta sauce.

Heck, I can probably steam and grind a whole bunch of veggies for pasta sauce...

If you go to their site and bid, tell them Chanie Vaiselberg (my sister) sent you so she can win prizes too!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Who is a Jew in Britain....

Interesting article in the NYT.

Standing up for my order

How many of you have done this - you go to a restaurant and order something and when the server sets the plate down in front of you in your opinion, there's something wrong with it - the dish wasn't what was advertised, it's cold when it shouldn't be, it has things in it that you requested be left out or it's over/under cooked.

And rather than 'cause a scene', you eat it. And sometimes it works out that it's better than you expected but more often than not, each bite just makes you more annoyed at yourself for NOT returning the plate and at the end of the meal the food sits in your belly like a lead weight.

I don't know about you, but I tend to be that person.

One time I was out with friends and we had gone out for my birthday. I ordered a dish and told the server to hold the pilpel which is Hebrew for peppers. My dish arrives, swimming in red peppers. When I said something to the server he said "Yes, you did ask to hold the pilpel. This is gamba".

Silly me for forgetting that the Hebrew word for sweet peppers is different from 'regular' peppers. He took it back and brought it out several minutes later... someone had simply picked out the most visible red peppers off the plate. No, I wasn't expecting different.

More recently I had a bit of a breakthrough.

Thursday many of the Anglos in Ariel had a community meeting at CafeCafe. We met to discuss any issues the new Olim (immigrants) are having and to discuss activities and such. Since it was an official meeting, the city council gave us 300NIS to spend on food. Since we were about 20 people, we were allowed 15NIS to spend. Most folks ordered hot or cold drinks but a few of us (like me) were hungry. 2 people ordered sushi. 1 person ordered a sandwich. I ordered Belgian waffles.

It took about 20 minutes for the cold and hot drinks to start showing up. 10 minutes after that the sushi and sandwich arrived. Then my husband came and he ordered sushi. 10 minutes later, my husband had his sushi.

I joked that they had to go to Belgium for the waffles. I waited 5 minutes and asked a server where my waffle was. She said it was coming. A minute later another server placed a spoon and napkin in front of me and set another 2 spoons and napkins to the side.

I don't know about any of you, but I eat my waffles with fork and knife. And I felt it was a tad presumptuous that I'd be sharing with anyone.

It's now been 50 minutes since I ordered. Everyone else has long finished their drinks and even my husband was popping the last bit of sushi into his mouth. And finally a server arrives and sets my order down in front of me.

The plate is drizzled with the bad imitation maple syrup and the even worse imitation chocolate syrup so popular in this country. In the center is a fluffy-looking, golden waffle smothered in a mountain of whipped cream. On either side of the ridge of cream are golf ball sized scoops of ice cream - one chocolate, one vanilla. There's also a small boat of fruit salad (I think it was mostly diced apples). I think they serve it so people feel better about ordering a dish that has a bazillion calories.

I cut into the waffle with my spoon and it starts to slide so with my finger I hold it in place.

The waffle is cold. And not as in 'it's smothered in whipped cream and ice cream so it's transfer' cold. But like 'what do you expect, it's been sitting on the counter for 40 minutes' cold.

I called the server over and told her I was sending it back because it was cold. She mumbled an apology, took it away and came back a few minutes later to tell me they were going to make me another plate. I told her to forget about it because the meeting was over and everyone was finished eating.

Before going home, Zach and I went for pizza.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pretentious Cole Slaw

head of broccoli
red onion
cashews (or other nuts you like)
sunflower seeds

3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar or splenda

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

KCC is now up!

To see the latest KCC, head on over to Israeli Kitchen and have a read.

I will be hosting the November edition.

If anyone is interested in contributing a recipe, review or story about Kosher food, head one over here and fill out the form.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blogger's Evening

Life kind of hit me upside the head this past week and I just haven't felt much like blogging anything. The baby will most likely be cutting his first teeth in a few days and anyone who has gone through this with a baby knows it means an interesting set of Seven Dwarves move in. In addition to Grumpy (of which we see A LOT), there's Kvetchy, Clingy, Snotty, Hungry, Pukey and Poopy.

I did finally get started on redoing my blog's banner. It's a bit of a work in progress but it's nicer than what I had before.

I also will most likely be hosting my first 'carnival', I'll be playing hostess for the November KCC.

The blogger evening was very nice, my first opportunity to get away for a significant length of time from the baby. If AMiI will forgive me, I'm just going to post a link of her own review of the evening here complete with links to all the blogs of those who participated.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cinnamon chocolate chip cake

I've had this recipe from my mom for many years. For some reason it's something I very rarely make. But judging from the few crumbs that were the only thing to survive through Shabbat, I have a feeling it's going to become a regular here.

When the cake was baked and cooled, the sugar and chocolate on top, together with the golden, crunchy cake was just wonderful.

Now on to the recipe...

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk)
3/4 cup margarine
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 - 3/4 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons melted margarine

Mix together the batter ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix topping ingredients.
Pour 1/2 of the batter into a greased 8x8 pan. Top with 3/4 of the chocolate chip crumble. Cover with the rest of the batter and finally, the rest of the chocolate chip crumble.
Bake 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Yeshiva Dance


The Jewish Calendar, a brief podcast by Rav Hillel Maizels and my husband, Zach Kessin on the '365 Days of Astronomy daily podcast' site.

It was interesting to watch... and let's not forget, he only was dealing with the pain of contractions. Never mind the incredible pelvic pressure that also comes with childbirth.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Simchat Torah, 2 years ago...

I wrote this two years ago. I'll have a new post about this year's Simchat Torah in a few days, bli neder.

I found out that I had PCOS about 2 months into my marriage with Zach. I was told it would mean fertility treatments if/when we wanted to have a baby. And treatments would only be possible if I got the green light from my GI because of the liver tumors.

Of course at the time, we didn't know they were tumors. That took almost a year to diagnose.

That Simchat Torah I stood in the women's section watching over the mechitzah as the men danced. I watched Zach dancing around the Bimah holding a Sefer Torah. I watched other men dancing around the Bimah holding their children and I prayed that by next year, despite what the doctors were saying, that Zach would be dancing around the Bimah with his child.

The year passed with more doctors' visits than I care to remember. The long process of being diagnosed with the liver tumors (made longer by health insurance bureaucracy) and then finally the green light to start treatments and the naivete that once I started treatments I'd get pregnant right away.

That Simchat Torah I stood in the women's section watching over the mechitzah as the men danced. I watched Zach dancing around the Bimah, once again holding a Sefer Torah. Now while there's nothing wrong with that, it's rather an honor, I watched and cried and felt guilty. That it was my fault Zach wasn't dancing with his child. That I had wasted so many years with an undiagnosed liver tumor and undiagnosed fertility problems and only when I was married was I finally doing something about it. That my husband was saddled with a problem.

I couldn't bear to go to services the next day.

And another year passed. With even more visits to the clinic as fertility treatments started in earnest. The long process of trying to get pregnant - from injecting myself black and blue to having scheduled sex. Having to talk to a Rabbi knowledgeable in how one goes about collecting a sperm sample to use for IUI when masturbation is forbidden and so is sex with a condom. And month after month of negative pregnancy tests.

Until finally.

That Simchat Torah I made the effort to go and watch the men dancing. I had spent Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur on bedrest and most of Sukkot. But I wanted to watch the dancing for an hour at least and as I watched Zach dancing around the Bimah yet again, I prayed and cried to God to keep safe the tiny life that had started growing within me.

And another year passed. And God did indeed keep safe the life growing within me and in May we welcomed our son into the world.

And this Simchat Torah I stood in the women's section watching over the mechitzah as the men danced. I watched Zach dancing around the Bimah with a smile I thought would split his face as he held his son. I watched and cried in happiness and thanks and said a heartfelt prayer to God, thanking Him for giving us this opportunity and that we be continue to be blessed by our son. Zach carried NS around for most of the night and as we walked home after, he commented that he didn't have a chance to hold a Sefer Torah this time.

As holy as the Sefer Torah is, I felt it was a good trade-off.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Telling secrets

My oldest and youngest... think they're conspiring against me?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grand Slam KCC

Head over to me-ander and see the wonderful job Batya did.

I think after the holidays I may volunteer to host either a KCC or a JPIX...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tie-dyed cheesecake

Inspired by Beth's posts regarding the tie-dyed cheesecake she and her family experienced on their vacation to Disneyworld in May and their own attempt to recreate this visually trippy and quite tasty treat in August, I had to make my own.

Except I felt it needed the right touch and frankly, Israeli food coloring just wasn't going to cut it. Besides the fact you tend to need a lot of the food coloring to get even a decent pastel going, the local supermarket has at most 3 colors... and when mixed I'd have 6. But I wanted the vibrant colors Beth had in Disney.

Well, I was in luck. My aunt and 2 of her kids would be visiting from Maryland so I called my brother (who lives in MD) and asked him if he'd be kind enough to get me a basic box of Wilton icing colors. He later called me from the supermarket, informed me he was standing at the top of an entire aisle dedicated to food decoration and candy making and whatnot... I resisted the urge to reply "get me one of everything" when he asked if there was anything else I'd like...

Unfortunately I got my dates mixed up and by the time I called my brother, my aunt was already on her way to the airport. But I was in luck. My brother's BIL was coming to Israel at the end of the summer. So he brought it to Israel and SR picked it up in Jerusalem and I had the final ingredients to make tie-dyed cheesecake... in addition to some really cool tubes of icing... which sparkle!

IMO, the actual recipe doesn't really matter, as long as it tastes good, so if you already have a basic cheesecake recipe that works for you, feel free to use it.

I decided to go a bit decadent and use the Philly Northwest Cheesecake Supreme recipe but left out the cherry pie filling and did a few extra steps to make it tie-dyed.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
food coloring or icing gels

Combine graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter. Press onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 325°F (160°C) for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and flour; mixing at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in sour cream and vanilla; pour into 6 or so smaller bowls to add the food coloring.
After each bowl is blended with the color you want, start pouring into the pan - about 1/3 of each bowl, then repeat the process until all the bowls have been scraped clean with a spatula and added to the pan. Very gently swirl the colors together. Be careful not to over mix.
Bake at 450°F (230°C) for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 250°F (120°C) and continue baking for 1 hour.
Loosen the cake from the rim and cool before removing. Chill.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Warning: Don't eat or drink while watching this... unless you want to be wiping coffee or cola off your screen.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Things to do

For the second November in a row, my father in law will be visiting us.

Unlike last year, our toddler's comprehension about The World Around Him is much better and it justifies spending some money on seeing and going and doing. (He'll be 2 1/2 come November).

The zoo... which is better? The Safari Park/Zoological Center in Ramat Gan or the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem? (And yes, we'll have a car).

The aquarium... is there even another aquarium in Israel other than the one in Eilat?

What other suggestions do folks have? Needs to be suitable for a 2 1/2 year old and I prefer hands-on type stuff...

JPIX is up!

The latest JPIX is up over at me ander.

Great job, as usual!

Monday, September 07, 2009

KCC has been up

My apologies for linking so late...

KCC over at Chana's.

Speaking of food, I'm in the process of hashing out my Rosh Hashana menu. Several new recipes are featured such as a chicken dish cooked with apples and leeks and almond-crusted chicken nuggets served with a honey-mustard dipping sauce. I'll also be making apple pie bars and a honey-carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for the shul's pre-Rosh Hashana get together.

One of the tried-and-true recipes I'll be making is a sweet and sour tongue (provided I can get a calf's tongue at the butcher).

Second day lunch will be dairy pot luck with some of the neighbors. Someone is making pasta with sun dried tomato pesto, another family is bringing Greek salad and I'll be making kid friendly potato-sweet potato latkes and maybe apple fritters. At least 2 others families have said they'll be coming. One is bringing drinks. The other, not sure yet. Wonder if any singles will be coming.

And depending on whether I get a key ingredient, I'll also be making a special dessert.

So folks, what's on your RH menu?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Rabbi, the Shofar and the Dog

Warning: do NOT be eating or drinking while watching this.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Spinach-Tuna-Noodle Caserole

This is sort of like a tuna florentine... Really easy to make. The original recipe has microwave directions. Since I don't own a microwave, I simply did it stove top and bake bake in the oven. Came out really nice too.

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach
2 cups ricotta cheese (I simply used 5% cottage cheese)
1/4 cup mayo or salad dressing
1 egg
2 teaspoons dried chives
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed (I used oregano)
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces wide egg noodles or fusilli, cooked and drained
1 can (9 1/4 ounces tuna, drained and broken into chunks
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Place opened spinach package in a shallow microwavable bowl. Cook uncovered on high for 4 to 6 minutes or until thawed, turning every 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes. Drain well and squeeze out excess moisture. In a blender or food processor, combine spinach, ricotta, mayo, egg and seasonings. Cover and process until smooth.

In a 9x9x2 inch microwavable casserole dish, spread the cooked noodles. Top with tuna, then spread cheese mixture over tuna. Cover loosely; microwave in high for 8 to 11 minutes or until mixture is hot in the center. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top. Let stand , covered for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 4 servings.

(I cooked the spinach in a pot on the stove with a little water and drained it. Mixed with cottage cheese, egg, seasonings and mayo. Layered as directed but added the cheese on top right away. Baked uncovered for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F)

Monday, August 17, 2009

The concept of 'generic brands'

In recent months our local supermarket has had an influx of their generic brand stocking the shelves.

Except not one item is actually priced less than the brand name and in some cases it's actually MORE expensive.

I imagine the real 'savings' is if you have their credit card, but that costs 140NIS/month. Doesn't seem like much of a savings to me.

I think the corporate board needs a lesson in the mechanics of 'generic brand'. I need a reason to buy your brand as opposed to the just as- or slightly more expensive name brand and in today's penny-pinching world, price is a big motivator to get me to drop your brand into my cart over the other guy's.

Mega has their own canned tuna in both water and oil. I bought a can to taste test and it's actually really good. Up there with the available Starkist. Starkist is priced... either 5.19 or 5.29... or maybe even 5.39. Mega brand is labeled 4.93. After deciding that we like it, I've started buying it.

Last week I noticed that it rang up at 5.29/can. It was labeled 4.93. Unfortunately I didn't notice this until I was already home and no, I never got around to taking the receipt back to complain.

However when I bought the Mega tuna again today, still labeled at 4.93/can and it rang up at 5.29, I DID say something. The cashier called over the manager and the manager had the nerve to say 'why is she complaining about 40 agurot?'.

I couldn't help myself. I told her that it wasn't an issue of 40 agurot. But 40 agurot times the 5 cans I'm buying now, and the 4 cans I bought last week.

They corrected the bill and I got the tuna for 4.93/can.

I wonder if I go back tomorrow if the cans will be labeled 5.29. If they are, I'll probably go back to buying Starkist.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cinnamon Buns

Basic Sweet Dough
1/2 cup sugar
2 packages dry yeast
1 1/2 yeapoon salt
6 1/2 - 7 cups flour
1 1/4 cups apple juice
1 cup margarine
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixer bowl, combine sugar, yeast, salt and 2 cups flour. In a 1 quart saucepan, heat apple juice and margarine until warm. (Margarine doesn't have to melt).

Gradually add warm liquid to dry ingredients beating with mixer at low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and 2 1/2 cups of flour. Beat 2 more minutes. By hand stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff dough, about 2 cups.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead 8 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary.

Place dough in a well oiled bowl and turn to oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until doubled in size. Punch down, turn onto floured board, cover with bowl and allow to rest 15 minutes for easier shaping.

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup margarine, melted or oil

1 cup confectioner's sugar
4 teaspoons water

Combine brown sugar, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Roll out dough into an 18 x 12 inch rectangle. Brush with melted margarine and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Starting with 18 inch side, roll dough jelly roll fashion, pinch seam to close. With seam side down cut roll crosswise into 18 1 inch wide pieces.

Place on a baking sheet, cover and let rise for about 40 minutes, until double in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes.

Glaze: While the buns are baking whisk together sugar and water to make glaze. Brush tops with glaze after they've cooled for about 10 minutes.

Way to be supportive, Mom

Is there a rolling eyes emoticon I can use here?

I'm a non-believing Jew but my son wants a barmitzvah

Annabel Wright and her husband are atheists. The idea of raising their children within her lapsed Jewish faith had never occurred to them. So what to do when their 12-year-old son searched his soul and suddenly got religion?

When my son Marcus was born, the last thing on my mind as a Jewish mother was circumcision. I am a non-practising Jew and my husband, Jonathan, is lapsed Church of England, and we both felt that, as our son grew up, he would want to "match" his daddy. Indeed, my husband and I are confirmed atheists, and although I have been known to make a deal with God on turbulent flights, my promise is invariably broken after touchdown.

The Torah, the sacred book of Jewish laws, states resolutely that God commands all Jewish males to be circumcised. Without this procedure a boy is not considered a Jew and will be shunned. But I am firmly against the idea, viewing it as a form of genital mutilation. How could I have known that this would present a potential problem some years later …

There we were, 12 years down the road, mooching around a north London synagogue. It was only the second time my son had set foot in one – friends had invited us to the annual Hanukah (Festival of Lights) bazaar. Although I didn't feel quite like a gefilte fish out of water, I didn't feel especially at home either. I sensed a lack of belonging to a tight-knit group.

I left Marcus to his own devices and went to find his two younger sisters. When I next saw him he was fingering a variety of kippas (Jewish skull caps) with rather more interest than I'd have liked. As he balanced one on the back of his head I stifled a laugh and playfully remarked, "Suits you."

"Don't laugh," he replied, a grave expression clouding his face. "I'm not trying these on for a joke. I want to buy one. In fact, I've been thinking lately and I want to be, well, more Jewish."

"You are Jewish, because I am," I reminded him, hoping that would be the end of it but instinctively knowing that it wouldn't. In the Jewish faith, children take their racial and religious identity from the mother, a fact over which my husband and I have had the odd tussle.

"I know that I'm Jewish because of you," replied Marcus, "but I'd like to do it properly – you know, the festivals, the food, maybe even a barmitzvah …"

I almost choked on my salmon bagel. A barmitzvah! Did he have any idea how many years ahead you had to book the Crystal Suite at the Dorchester? Where had this sudden interest in Judaism come from? Not from me, and certainly not from his dad.

I had "married out" and hadn't given the whole Jewish thing much thought thereafter. I never imagined I would have a fair-haired, blue-eyed son wanting to embrace Judaism – or any religion for that matter. How naive of me to assume my children would unquestioningly follow my atheist lead.

But I respect my son's integrity; he has an emotional intelligence beyond his years. His announcement demanded further exploration. My husband and I would have to take him seriously.

As the daughter of German Jewish refugees, I have spent a lifetime pulling away from my roots. The message I absorbed from my parents was that being Jewish was dangerous, even life-threatening. When I started secondary school, about the same age that my mother was when she found herself the victim of antisemitism, she warned me to assimilate and to avoid getting into a "ghetto" with the Jewish girls. I was further perplexed by my mother's ambivalent relationship with Judaism. She insisted on attending synagogue on holidays, but for the rest of the year we played at being as British and non-Jewish as could be.

My father wanted nothing to do with the religion. I was always embarrassed at relatives' weddings when he had to wear a disposable paper kippa, customarily on offer to the non-Jews. He didn't deny his roots (he was barmitzvahed as a boy), but he didn't go out of his way to advertise his racial heritage either. When I finally married, at the geriatric age of 32 (in Jewish spinster years that's about 55), my parents were delighted at my choice of partner: a non-Jewish lawyer. Operation Assimilation complete. Here was a man who could hide me under the floorboards should the Nazis return.

And luckily, here was a man who, despite his antipathy towards organised religion, was happy to let Marcus satisfy his curiosity about his mother's heritage – though he made it clear he wouldn't be coming along for the ride.

In the weeks that followed, Marcus asked if I could find a synagogue that might consider taking him on with a view to studying for his barmitzvah. I knew this would be a tall order. There was no way he could cram the necessary knowledge in one year. And would a synagogue take him at all? A friend had warned me that hers probably wouldn't, given Marcus's uncircumcised status. I was incensed that what was in his pants was more important than what was in his heart. But I also felt that it would be wrong to deny my son the chance to explore his roots.

We sat Marcus down for some soul-searching. "I like the idea of belonging to something special," he told us. "I feel proud to be Jewish. It feels unique. And there are so few of us left it seems a shame not to do something about it. I want to do this because it's about the religion and believing in God."

And so began my quest to find a synagogue liberal enough to take us on. An easier proposition than I'd feared – we live in north London, after all – and I found one in Golders Green. Progressive, liberal and welcoming to mixed-faith couples, although my husband was taken aback by the £750 annual fee. "That's more than a year's subscription to Sky Sports," he half-joked, threatening to offer Marcus an ultimatum: Sky or synagogue?

Marcus and I met the rabbi, and I delicately raised the issue of his physical predicament. I was relieved by the response. "It's true that some synagogues, particularly the more orthodox, would see this as a bar to entry, but not us. You're Jewish, so your son is Jewish," he said.

His advice was that Marcus and I join their family classes to give both of us an idea of what would be ahead. We all agreed that it was too ambitious to aim for a ceremony at 13. "It's a misconception that you have to have one then," explained the rabbi. "Although 13 is usual, you can study for it at any age. Men who were boys in the war and missed out have been known to have barmitzvahs in their 70s."

In the early weeks, I managed to affect a spray-on enthusiasm. But as time wore on, I realised that if Marcus was to follow the faith, I just couldn't do it with him. The subject matter (dissecting parts of the Old Testament, examining the meaning of Jewish festivals) was just too dry, too archaic, despite the rabbi's valiant attempts to make it relevant to life today.

At the end of the first term, I told Marcus that he would have to go it alone. He could join the Sunday classes, where no parental input is required. He was upset by this but realised that he couldn't expect me to embrace a religion that held no appeal. We hugged each other and cried.

But some weeks later, Marcus said that he just couldn't do it on his own. "It's just too unrealistic, Mum. How can I celebrate the festivals and follow all the other stuff without you and Dad and the girls? I guess it's time to quit."

That was 18 months ago and Marcus is now 13, the traditional age for barmitzvah. We are watching some of his friends go through the process and my husband and I have a lingering feeling that we may have denied him something important. A sense of belonging and a supportive community to fall back on, beyond home and school, are no bad things in the world we live in. But what are we saying? Organised religion is a club that we simply don't want to join.

Yet I am a Jew, and fiercely protective of my race. My grandparents survived the Nazi concentration camps and my parents avoided a similar fate by a whisker. Just don't ask me to get involved in the religious shenanigans. My husband, meanwhile, is relieved that Marcus has moved away from the religion. Would Christianity have been more acceptable I asked him. "At least the services are in English and the music is great. But ultimately no, because I don't believe in any of it."

Marcus himself is sanguine about the experience. "Now that some of my mates are going through barmitzvah I can see what's involved and I don't think it would have been right for me. Anyway, I can always go back to it when I'm older," he says. And he can. The velvet kippa is in the top drawer of his bedside table, awaiting the day. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009
I am NOT old enough to have an 18 year old.

But as of today I do, so I guess I am.

Happy birthday TC and many more.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Props to my SIL!

B&amp;N DbD display

Development by Design is having a trial run in Barnes & Noble! Very exciting for us! If you know anyone near any of these stores, please send them to stock up on any kid gifts they will need for the next year! If we do well, we expand to all B&N Stores!
West Patterson, NJ
Paramus NJ
Mishwaka, IN
Framingham, MA
Cary, NC
Madison, WI 53717
Rockville, MD 20852
(plus 4 more we haven't located yet.)

Getting the word out

From Rav Yehonatan Chipman, grandfather of the child in need:

Appeal for Blood Donations

July 29 2009. My infant grandson must undergo a major life-saving medical procedure—bone-marrow transplant—in the coming days, and there is urgent need for blood donations, from which short-lived white blood cells will be extracted. Healthy donors with types A+, A-, O+ and O- are asked to report in person at the Blood Bank at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah: Sun-Thurs: 8 am – 7pm; Fri: 8 am – 1 pm. The initial visit is to give a blood sample for screening and testing; those found suitable will be asked to return one evening for an injection to stimulate production of white blood cells, and will return the following morning. Important: please tell the nurse on duty that the blood is for Erez Chipman.

For further information, please call the Blood Bank at Beilinson, 03-937-7023; Sivan, the contact person on behalf of the family, 054-467-6144; Ika, Erez’s father, 054-536-6101. Unfortunately, for technical-administrative reasons all samples and blood donations must be made at Beilinson; my apologies to all my Jerusalem friends for the inconvenience, and my deepest thanks in advance to all those who make the effort to contribute.

Please forward this message to anyone you know who can help.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

5 + 1 shouldn't = pay for 6

On today's shopping list was laundry detergent. I don't have any particular brand I use, I generally buy whatever is on sale and has the most benign scent.

On the shelves today at Mega were two 6 kilo bags of detergent from Colon. One was labeled 6 kilo and priced at 58.99NIS.

The other bag was labeled 5 kilo +1 free and was priced... yeah, 58.99NIS.

No one was at the manager's desk so I asked one of the cashiers why they're the same price if one is advertised as being a kilo 'less'. She mumbled something about it being the company that charges that price and I should take it up with them.

So is the principle of the matter and a refund of about 10NIS worth the hassle I know will come by dialing the toll free number printed on the bag of laundry detergent (right above the line 'Kosher for Pesach and all year')?

And... if anyone (in Israel) happens to be at a different supermarket like Rami Levy or Shufersol, etc. and you happen to notices the Colon laundry detergent, let me know if they're selling the 5+1 free kilo at the 6 kilo price...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

With Netzarim at one end of town...

What CAN he be thinking?

Ah, Mayor Ron, this stroke of 'genius' may cost you the election when your term is up...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What will this year bring?

Last year we were supposed to go to the US on July 15th for almost 6 weeks of a summer vacation.

A month before we were due to fly, I got a call from the landlord, telling us they wanted us out by the middle of August and they didn't want to renew our lease. Well, technically we didn't HAVE a lease, but they didn't want to rent to us.

Needless to say, we were all upset. The landlords refused to rent to us until November, even though we were willing to pay the higher price they were asking (we soon found out they were under pressure from certain Yishuv members to get us out of the Yishuv for reasons still unknown to us).

We had to cancel our vacation and instead of simply packing for a trip abroad, I now had to pack up an entire house. And find a place to live.

We were all devastated about the canceled trip and I grew depressed. And I knew that as July 15th arrived, my depression would worsen. So would my stress levels.

While all this was going on, my husband and I decided that after our move, we would get back on the fertility treatment wagon and go through the process of trying for another child. See, I suffer from PCOS and our son was the result of a year of fertility treatments. Of getting up at the butt-crack of dawn to head in to Jerusalem twice a week for uncomfortable ultrasounds of my uterus and ovaries and blood tests to check hormone levels. Of injecting myself with hormones until I was black and blue. Of having to arrange to be in Jerusalem overnight for the IUI because you only have an hour window of opportunity from the ah.. 'collection' to when the sperm needs to be at the clinic for cleaning. And the dreaded 2 week wait until you can take a pregnancy blood test. The only silver lining was that at 9 months postpartum, despite nursing full time, I had gotten my period on my own for the first time in 5 years (sorry if this is TMI). And I'd been fairly regular, although I had no way of knowing if I was ovulating.

So with the move and canceling a much needed vacation and weaning a child who had no interest in weaning (breast feeding can affect a woman's fertility) and the logistics of treatments with a toddler, I was severely stressed and depressed. And I knew that when July 15th came around, at some point in the day, I'd find myself in the shower, crying.

On the evening of July 13th, I mentioned to my husband that I 'was late', but since my cycles were always erratic, I wasn't particularly worried or excited. He said he'd go to the pharmacy the next day and get a home pregnancy test. I smiled and nodded and decided to humor him. See, one way many of us cope with infertility is at some point we accept the fact that if we want to have children, we need the extra help of medical professionals. The idea of getting pregnant 'on our own' stops entering our minds because the hope and then disappointment is often too much to bear.

It is recommended to use 'first morning pee' for these tests so I figured July 15th would be the day I find out that once again, I'm simply late.

At 3 a.m. The 14 month old woke to nurse and afterwards, since I needed the bathroom, I took the test. If I had known it would be positive, I would have waited and I would at least have gotten 3 or so more hours of sleep. I refused to believe the plus sign. I couldn't wrap my head around the plus sign. In a daze, I woke my husband up (sort of) and told him I took the test and it was positive. He mumbled something about being good news and rolled over and went back to bed. At first I wasn't sure if he'd heard me. I simply got back into bed and tried to sleep and tried to process the news and failed miserably at both.

Needless to say, I canceled the appointment with the fertility specialist and made an appointment with the OB.

And at some point on July 15th, I found myself in the shower crying. In shocked happiness.

Here we are to this summer. In addition to a yummy toddler, I'm nursing a delicious almost 4 month old. Once again we've had to cancel our summer plans to go to the US because the landlord's family is miserable where they are and they're moving back. So after a few minutes of panic, I went online and after a harried 2 weeks search, we signed a TWO YEAR lease on a pretty little row house duplex. For less than what we're paying now. Ironically, this year we're moving on July 15th.

I wonder what August 4th will bring this year... You can be sure I'll be playing the lotto that day.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Anniversaries of sorts

Today marks the 12th anniversary of my Aliyah. Some days I can't believe it's been only 12 years and other days I can't believe it's only been 12 years. Next week will be my 7th move since making Aliyah (including the move to Israel itself).

Here's to hoping the next 12 years will be less mobile, maybe even we'll have the ability to (finally) buy a house.

And June 19th was my 10 year divorce-ary...

Clips from the Cantor's concert

I ended up going and had a better time than I thought.

Here is Barchi Nafshi:

And here is Chad Gadyah, performed by Cantors Alberto Mizrahi and Jackie Mendelson:

They had about 70 cantors from the US and Canada come and while most of the songs were in Hebrew, there were a couple that were a mix of Hebrew and English and one song each in Russian, Yiddish (although this was a medley of songs), Ladino and Spanish.

In addition, the Cantor's Assembly gave composer/conductor Charles Fox an award and he conducted the philharmonic in a new composition of his music from the movie Victory at Entebee.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Chazzanoot Concert tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 7th in Park haNachal in Ariel at 8 p.m., there will be a free performance by 70 Chazzanim (and possibly Chazzaniot, so you've been forewarned) from North America.

All are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

JPIX Spring Review

The JPix Spring Review is up, courtesy of Leora.

Great job!


Here's a compilation of clips from a documentary called Unattached, about the upper West Side Jewish community.

I'd be interested in seeing the whole thing because just from seeing the clips, I have NO idea what the director, JJ Adler's aim was.

The singles come across as vapid and spoiled (I have a feeling poor Joe is going to have to move if he ever wants to really get married) and the Shadchanim come across as simply blaming the modern world for this breakdown and being archaic in their seemingly single-mindedness in that marriage is the beat-all and end all for any 'proper' Jewish boy and girl (and yes, I realize that is IS their job, but it still comes across as being.. fanatical).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Palestinians want to build settlements

The bolded part is my own... for WTF?????????????????????????????????? I mean it's one thing to accept money and support from Christian organizations whose motives are because they believe the only way to bring about the Second Coming is by having all the Jews in Israel... It's quite another thing to have HAMAS building my house.

Palestinians want to build settlements
Jun. 25, 2009
Khaled Abu Toameh , THE JERUSALEM POST
(Original article here:

The last thing that Abu Mohammed al-Najjar wants is for Israel to succumb to US and European pressure and halt construction in the West Bank settlements.

As far as the 58-year-old laborer is concerned, freezing the construction would be a disaster not only for him and his family, but for thousands of other Palestinians working in various settlements in the West Bank.

Of course, this does not mean that they support Israel's policy of construction in the settlements. But for them, it's simply a matter of being able to support their families.

"I don't care what the leaders say and do," al-Najjar told The Jerusalem Post at one of the new construction sites in Ma'aleh Adumim. "I need to feed my seven children, and that's all I care about for now."

The phenomenon of Palestinians building new homes for Jewish settlers is not new. In fact, Palestinian laborers have been working in the construction business from the first day the settlements began in the West Bank.

Today, Palestinian Authority officials estimate, more than 12,000 Palestinians are employed by both Jewish and Arab contractors building new homes in the settlements.

In some cases, Palestinians have found jobs in settlements that are located near their villages and towns.

Jamal Abu Sharikheh, 27, of the village of Bet Ur al-Tahta, has been working as a construction laborer in Givat Ze'ev for the past three years.

Asked if he had any problem building homes in the settlements at a time when the international community was demanding that Israel freeze the construction work, the father of four also said he was trying to support his family "in a dignified manner."

He and most of the laborers interviewed by the Post over the past week said they had never come under pressure from fellow Palestinians to stay away from work in the settlements.

"If they want us to leave our work, they should offer us an alternative," Abu Sharikheh said. "We don't come to work in the settlements for ideological reasons or because we support the settlement movement. We come here because our Palestinian and Arab governments haven't done anything to provide us with better jobs."

Back in Ma'aleh Adumim, most of the Palestinian laborers said they had no problem revealing their identities.

"We're not doing anything wrong," explained Ibrahim Abu Tair, a 42-year-old father of eight from the village of Um Tuba, southwest of Jerusalem. "We're not collaborators and we're not terrorists. We just want to work."

He said that during the first intifada, which began at the end of 1987, some Palestinian groups tried to stop Palestinians from heading to work in the settlements.

"In the beginning there were threats and physical assaults on some workers," he noted. "But the leaders of the intifada later realized that depriving the laborers of their livelihood would have a boomerang effect on the Palestinians. That's why they allowed the workers to go to the settlements."

Even today the PA does not object to Palestinians working in settlements, although its representatives say they would like to see the Palestinians work elsewhere.

"We can't tell the workers to stay at home without providing them with solutions," admitted a Palestinian official in Ramallah. "We're talking about thousands of families in the West Bank that rely on this work as their sole source of income."

Some of the laborers said that boycotting work in the settlements would be ineffective and pointless because their employers would have no difficulty replacing them with Chinese or other foreign workers.

"Look how many foreign workers there are inside Israel today," complained Jawdat Uwaisat, 44, of the village of Sawahreh in the Bethlehem area. "There are about 150,000 workers from different countries who have taken our places of work inside Israel. They are even bringing workers from Thailand and Turkey."

He said that he and his colleagues working for Israelis earn almost three times what they would receive doing the same work for Palestinian construction companies.

"The Palestinian employers pay us NIS 100 to NIS 150 a day," Uwaisat said. "The Israeli companies, by contrast, pay NIS 350 to NIS 450 a day. That's why many of us prefer to work for Israeli companies, even if the construction is in the settlements."

He added that even Palestinians known as supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are employed as construction workers in settlements.

"I know some people from Hamas who work as construction laborers in Ariel," he said. "When people want to feed their children, they don't think twice."

While most of the laborers told the Post that they were opposed to the settlements, they nevertheless stressed that they would continue to show up for work every day.

"If you see how big some of these settlements are, you will understand why the talk about a two-state solution is kalam fadi [nonsense]," commented Iyad Mansour, 55, of the Kalandia refugee camp, who has been working in Ma'aleh Adumim for the past three years.

"These settlements are growing every day at a very fast pace," he said. "One day you see empty land, the next day you see new buildings. They are really fast in planning and building. But who knows? Maybe these settlements will one day become homes for Palestinian refugees."