Shabbos is starting soon. David and I are staying home tonight, just the two of us. I made a thick beef and barley soup, which is in the oven staying warm, and some really delicious smelling challah. People told me that you have to experiment a lot with the challah here; that tried and true recipes don't work so well. So not true! My challahs have been turning out AWESOME since I started baking them here - perfect consistency and taste. Obviously not because of my cooking skills, but because this is such a holy place and Hashem blesses our efforts.
Tomorrow we're going to eat at Zvi and Toby's. They were the ones who made aliyah on our flight and shared a cab with us when we first got here. They live just up the hill a ways, also on Habesor but all the way up near the micholet. Really nice people.
So - about the job. In case you didn't hear that, I just heaved a very deep sigh. Talk about jumping from the pot into the fire! Are all not-for-profits the same? It's always "Hurry up; I need this yesterday." Plus I really DO need to know Hebrew because a lot of people who work in the Israeli side of the operations are constantly coming into our office for things. Plus my Microsoft Word and Excel programs on my computer there outwardly LOOK like they're in English, but don't let that fool you. All the pop-down menus are in Hebrew, and the spreadsheets go from right to left. Talk about confusing. The computer guy for the organization, Benyeahu (sp?) tells me he has an English version of Microsoft somewhere, but it will be about a week before he installs it. And don't even ask about the Donor Database system - there isn't one! My job, should I choose to accept (oh right, I already did...) is to find a system that works and is also compatible with the one used on the Israeli side, or get them to install an English version of theirs. They only solicit donations in Israel, while our department solicits only in chutz l'aretz: the US, Canada, England and Australia. Bassya, who's worked part time in the office for the past two months, is the office manager. I was hired to work full time (30 hours) to organize the office and make everything more effective, from the donor bookkeeping to the actual running of the office. Tefilla doesn't even want to be bothered with the how's; she just wants me to handle it. There aren't even any filing cabinets or even any files - Bassya has everything in page protectors in 2 ring notebooks. And there are no trash cans or staplers or paper clips or anything that would classify the room we work in as an actual office - except for the computers on our desks.
There are three desks - one for Bassya, one for me (mine is more of a table, actually), and one for one of the fundraisers, Joel. A woman called me today who I had spoken with about 3 weeks ago about mahj, and asked if I wanted to play tomorrow (Shabbos day). Duhhh! Of course I do! As we chatted for a few minutes, I discovered she had lived in St. Louis for a year in 1988, in the Newman's old house on Tulane Court and also that her husband is none other than Joel - the guy I haven't met yet who shares an office with me! He's in the states now fundraising for us. Our organization is actually called Yad Ezrz VeShulamit. Rav Lurie, who started the organization in 1998, named it after his parents, Ezra and Shulamit.
And the other fundraiser, who takes care of Canada, came in the office yesterday, and it turns out that he's an Aish guy from Toronto! I've seen his names in Aish emails. He lives right around the corner from us, next door to my best - oh, wait; I mean new - friend, Andrea (who's trying hard to get David employment at his company). What a small world, huh?
Okay, now we get to the heart of the whole job/working thing. I hate the bus ride! I get to the bus stop at 8:15 a.m. and it comes within 5 minutes. Okay, good so far. There's usually only one or two other people on already since I'm the second stop. Still okay. But then we make stop after stop, and oh - did I tell you there are speed bumps all around Ramat Beit Shemesh? And then you have all the traffic circles that the bus drivers try to see how fast they can whip the busses around without actually overturning it. By now my stomach is gurgling which is the prelude to the actual flip-flops. We finally make it out of RBS and hit highway 38. Then we stop. Because 38 is only 2 lanes and there are a lot of cars going in the same direction. We creep up 38, sometimes passing bulldozers and big trucks (they move to the right to let you pass), and after awhile we get to hwy 1 which takes us straight into Yerushalayim. Now I only know what I've told you because once I actually kept my eyes open and looked out the window, but that was probably the first time I took the bus about a month ago. Now I try to keep my eyes closed as much as possible. You would think it would be a relief when we get to the outskirts of Yerushalayim, near Givat Shaul, but again, you would be wrong. The first bus stop there is at the edge of town and a whole lot of people get off, probably to catch other busses. At least I don's have to do that. Then we don't stop again until we pass the Takanah Merkazit (central bus station) and go down a long road and then turn onto a road that you would never think the bus could even fit on, which of course it doesn't if there are any other cars parked on the side of the one-way street, which there always are. After 2 more bus stop on this street (we're in Geulah by this time), we turn left onto Yehezkel (the other way turns into Strauss and goes up to Yaffo), and I get off 2 block before it gets to Shmuel Hanavi and walk down the hill. The bus has already turned left, but I turn right and go a good 8-10 blocks and then turn onto Shimon Rokeach which is supposed to be a street and looks like an alley. Two more blocks and voila! I walk in the door of the office about 9:30 or 9:35 a.m. Woozy, but I've made it. And if I leave the office exactly at 3:30 pm, I get to the bus stop on the other side of Yehezkel on Shmuel Hanavi about 5-10 minutes before the bus comes. On the way home, it's much more crowded. By the time I get off it's just before 5 and I can't wait to walk home and collapse.
The really cool thing is walking around Geulah (a very hareidi - religious- neighborhood) with my backpack, and thinking, "I'm one of them now!".
But that bus ride thing is really going to get old fast. I told David that he'd better get a job quick, because I'm tired of supporting this family. Okay, so I've only worked 2 days so far, but I got paid because it was the end of the month and I bought all our Shabbos food with it and still had money for the cab home!
So much more to say, but it's almost candle-lighting!