Sunday, March 16, 2008

I accomplished a lot today. The temperature was probably near 70 and I was energized. You may remember pictures I posted from last summer of our yard without any greenery. Well, it seems that grass - and lots of weeds - grow in the winter due to the rain. We have weeds almost a foot high in some places in our yard; I'm afraid Emma will get lost out there. Today I borrowed a weed whacker and just worked on the front of our house (which is actually on the side of our house; go figure). First I pulled up around twenty palm fronds that we had laid on the dirt in the yard for Emma to have a place to walk when the ground was wet. They had been part of our schach, the top of our sukkah, back in October. Grass and weeds had grown through and around them, so I had to really pull to get them up. Then I dragged them, three or four at a time, down to the end of our road where the houses end, and piled them up outside the gate. After I got rid of those, I used some big garden clippers to get rid of the thickest of the weeds, before I started whacking away with the weed eater. It actually looks like a real yard now! I only worked on about fifteen feet but it took a long time. A lawn mower would have been a whole lot easier, but I doubt if more than a handful of people on the yishuv own one. All I needed was an area big enough to set up some tables for our Purim seuda (meal) this Friday. We have to finalize plans, but I think Penina is making the Purim meal and Miryam & I are doing Friday night.

I also cleaned out the frig today. It wasn't so dirty, but it still took a long time. I think I'm getting in the Pesach cleaning mode. Our guest room is being painted as we speak by our landlord, a young Israeli guy named Eran. He's putting on the anti-mildew paint which should cut down (although not eliminate) the mold problem. Now that I know better, we'll keep the metal window doors open as much as possible and keep a fan running in the room. Even though the weather is nice, I'm sure we haven't seen the last of the rain this season.

Shabbat was wonderful. We left early Friday morning and headed to Ramat Beit Shemesh. Emma was a basket case in the car. She's probably only ridden in a car about five times in her life, and she doesn't like new things. She sat in my lap panting and shaking the entire way. But once we got to our old home, she seemed to remember it. David walked her in the grassy area in front of the apartment building we used to live in, and she couldn't get enough of the sights and smells. Yonatan and Coco were waiting for us inside, and Emma and Coco got pretty excited when they saw each other. Since Yonatan was cleaning the floors for Shabbat, we went out into their little garden with the dogs and let them get used to each other. When Shaina got home from running errands, she shooed us away and told us not to worry about Emma; she was in good hands. I'll probably say this several times, but it was so nice to see them again, and to be back in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

We spent the rest of the day going to the bank, grabbing a falafel for lunch, and visiting with Ellen and Kalmon. We miss them so much. It's amazing how in sync we two couples are. We're about the same age and have the same memories of all the stuff going on in the world when we were growing up. Plus, Kalmon and David have the same weird sense of humor, and Ellen and I run our households (and marriages...) the same way. It's nice to know there are people who "get" you. {Of course I'm talking about here in Israel; there are lots of people who "get" us back in chutz l'aretz.}

We had a great time with Zvi and Daniella. They cooked enough food for their entire apartment building, but we were their only guests. We also feel very comfortable with them. David came home from shul Friday night with a wistful look on his face and told me how good it was to be back at our old shul. We miss that the most on our yishuv. Shabbos morning was Parshas Zachor and I actually got to shul in time for the Shacharit Shemoneh Esrei.

Parshas Zachor is always the Shabbat before Purim. In the Purim story, Haman is this evil guy who tries to get the king to annihilate all the Jews. Familiar story line. Amalek was Haman's predecessor, and encompasses ANYONE who hates us and wants to kill us. We are commanded to hear the following from Deuteronomy on Parshas Zachor: Remember what Amalek did to you, on the way when you were leaving Egypt, that he happened upon you on the way, and he struck those of you who were hindmost, all the weaklings at your rear, when you were faint and exhausted, and he did not fear G-d. It shall be that when Hashem, you G-d, gives you rest from all your enemies all around, in the Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you as an inheritance to possess it, you shall wipe out the memory of Amalek from under the heaven - you shall not forget!

Wow. The Jewish People have been reading that on Parshas Zachor for thousands of years. It sure has new meaning now, doesn't it? Do you think any of our esteemed leaders in our country (the Land that Hashem, our G-d, gave us as an inheritance) have ever read that line?

Sorry for the political interruption. And now back to our regularly scheduled story.

So it was pretty weird walking into our old shul, I have to say. There are a group of women in their 60's from the "senior" group who I had been semi-friendly with; they had us for Shabbat a number of times. None of them were friendly to me Shabbat morning. I don't know if it was because we didn't reciprocate the Shabbos invitations or if we didn't become involved in the senior group or because we moved away, but I'm sure I felt I coldness from them which was uncomfortable. On the other hand, there were two or three other women who were happy to see me, and after we filed outside, David and Zvi were waiting. David even got an aliyah (he was called to the Torah to read the blessings for one of the seven sections of this week's portion that were read)! After lunch I went to an interesting women's shiur (talk) where I saw Ellen and Michal, the woman who had given us Emma. Ellen and I walked around afterwards and sat on a bench in one of the parks. Josef and Joke (Yo-ka), another couple from our ulpan we were friends with, walked by and we all spent some time catching up. Then I headed over to Yonatan and Shaina's for Seudat Shlishi, the last meal of Shabbat. Emma seemed glad to see us for the first thirty seconds, but then she was off chewing a bone and trying to steal Coco's.

On the way back to the yishuv, I thought about how much more, observance-wise, Shabbat was there. More learning (there were other shiurim I could have gone to), a shul we feel comfortable in. The rabbi there is also very personable, and his drosha (sermon) was in English. On the other hand, if I were to make a list of pros and cons for each community it would probably come out pretty even. There are certainly things we like better about living in a house versus an apartment - like having our own yard with grass (granted, the grass is only around for about three months of the year). I do remember, though, how special it was to be in an apartment building where we could knock on doors to borrow things or to drop Emma off for a couple hours. Not that we can't do that here. Like I said, there are positive things about living in a yishuv as well as in a larger community. A lot of times when I'm walking around Yerushalayim I think how wonderful it would be to live there if we could afford it, where there's so much to see and do. Come to think of it, there's probably not many types of communities that I wouldn't be happy living in here! One thing I know for sure - if we're not living IN Yerushalayim, we need to live pretty close to it.

It's been a long day!

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