I can't believe I haven't written anything in almost two weeks. And still, there have been over 300 hits to my site since I started keeping track! I think life has just caught up with me; between ulpan and then studying for ulpan, and getting places by bus again, and going to physical therapy 3 times a week (back pain) and taking care of Emma (our little sweetie), every day just whizzes by WAY too fast. We get home from ulpan by 1:15 and it's already dark three hours later. And it doesn't matter if it's only 4:30 in the afternoon - if it's dark out, it's late and I'm tired!
Today we didn't have ulpan - we had a tiyul (field trip) to Tel Aviv. Since I've never been there, and David's only seen the train station and bus stops, we decided to go. Most of the class went except for those with kids because we didn't get back until after 5. Our downstairs neighbor, Shaina, came up and got Emma for part of the day so she (the puppy) wouldn't be home alone for so long. In fact, Shaina is going to come upstairs to get Emma for an hour or more every morning when we're at ulpan so she and Coco can play and get some exercise together. I'll have to get Shaina a present for her "doggie day care."
So the tiyul was really nice. I was worried about the bus ride, but David and I sat in the front seat and I took my ginger pills and did all right. It was in the mid-70's, not a cloud in the sky, and we had a great tour guide even though he spoke in Ivrit and kept forgetting to repeat himself in English. Almost everyone understood him except for about 6 or 7 of us. The last half of the day I just stood near Toby, who's in the gimmel class, and she just translated to us as he spoke.
We spent a lot of time in Yaffo, which was the the part of the city built before Tel Aviv. It kind of reminded us of the old city of Tzfat. There were a lot of artsy and expensive shops there. Then we walked around an old part of Tel Aviv (it was first built in 1909 so it's not as old as Jerusalem). They gave us 20 minutes to find chairs in the lobby of a building and eat the lunches we packed. It wasn't so comfortable but it was 1:30 PM by then and most of us had already snacked on the lunches we'd brought. The best part of the day was going to Independence Hall. That was really spectacular. First they showed us a movie and then we actually sat in the room where Ben Gurion announced Israel's statehood. The guide there spoke English and she really told the story well; we felt we were in the room with Golda Meir and Ben Gurion and all the rest - it's a great story. Then she played an audio of part of the speech he made and then Hatikvah - I looked around and saw that I wasn't the only one crying.
Before we left to come back to Beit Shemesh, they allowed us about 30 minutes at the shuk. It wasn't like the shuk in Jerusalem; this one was mostly a flea market. Some of the stalls had stuff you wouldn't even sell at a garage sale; others had nice silver and chatchkes and furniture. When we gathered back together to get on the bus, the men decided to daven mincha right there on the street corner. They had to get the tour guide to join them because there were only 9 guys, and even though he wasn't even wearing a kipah, he joined them. David said that another guy just walking by on the street stopped to be the 10th man, but when the tour guide came over, he just walked on. Only in Israel!
This has to be short and sweet; I'm really exhausted. Just to end on a good note: the Grunberger kids are getting better all the time. Dovid is actually saying a word here and there, remembers things and recognizes people. Tehilla is getting more and more like her old self. They both have a long way to go, but Rabbi Grunberger's weekly email updates are so uplifting and powerful, with such bitachon and emuna in Hashem. Sadly, there was another family here in Israel on the way home from their son's wedding and were also in a car accident. I don't know them, but their Hebrew names were listed on the Beit Shemesh email list and it sounds like another large family and many are in serious condition. My Tehillim list just keeps getting longer and longer...
Here's some pictures: