Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just a quick note to let you know we're both feeling okay - no neck or back pain from the accident so far. Neither of us thought to take the camera down and take a picture of the car before it got towed off yesterday morning. Too bad! One might have wondered how we had sustained no injuries when the car looked the way it did.

Did I ever tell you my husband's nickname? Around here we call him "Tim, the Tool Man, Taylor." For those of you who don't know about old tv shows, Tim Taylor was a real fix-it kind of guy with his own cable Home Improvement show. The problem was, Tim was always getting himself in trouble by fixing things in rather unusual and overboard measures, and usually hurting himself in the process.

We're having guests for Shabbos/Pesach lunch and I decided to make a nice dessert today. Most Pesach dessert recipes start off with "beat eggs until stiff." Unfortunately, our Pesadik mixer didn't make it to Israel with us and it never occured to me to buy one before Pesach started. Instead of letting me knock on neighbor's doors, my own personal Time The Tool Man Taylor rigged up a mixer by melting a plastic knife into a different shape and attaching it to his cordless drill. As you can see from the picture above, it worked rather well. (And the lemon meringue pie looks absolutely scrumptious!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ever have a door slam in your face? What about into the windshield of your car? While you were in it.

Baruch Hashem, David and I are all right. Talk about a freak accident! It's surprising to new olim to learn that Israelis have to take 28 driving lessons before they can take the driving test for their driver's license. Judging by the way many people drive, it's hard to believe that they've had any lessons. So many people take chances on the road, like passing on the shoulder or around a curve, or driving right up behind someone and honking. They just don't seem to realize that driving is a serious matter.

Today we decided to pack our lunches and head into Yerushalayim along with, literally, a million other people. The accident happened before we ever left the yishuv (Baruch Hashem). We were on the main road of the yishuv, and all was quiet. Today was a gorgeous day, in the upper 80's, with not a cloud in the sky. We were both in great moods, enjoying this second day of chol hamoed. A truck was driving towards us and when it was just a few feet away, the back door suddenly swung open and was in our lane! David stopped the car but there was no time to do anything else before the door slammed into our windshield. Baruch Hashem a thousand times over that even though we were covered with tiny bits of glass, neither of us were hurt. The car, of course, is another matter. The driver's door will need to be replaced, and the frame surrounding the windshield will have to be fixed or replaced along with the glass. The driver of the truck, a young guy, was apologetic but didn't seem to really understand that his being careless about latching the back door could have cost us our lives.

All day David and I have been wondering what Hashem's message for us might be. Obviously we weren't meant to be hurt, but to learn something. All suggestions welcome!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

If we were in chutz l'aretz right now, we'd be in the middle of our second seder.

But the one we had last night was quite enjoyable. David and I had planned to have a quiet seder with just the two of us, and several books of commentaries to aid in our enjoyment and understanding. As it turned out, our friend who just had her baby a couple of weeks ago joined us. It was kind of a strange seder - she came over with a red and runny nose from allergies (David and I have been taking allergy medicine for weeks; everyone's sneezing and blowing their nose around here) and I gave her a Benedryl. Duh! It wasn't the smartest thing to do. She had the first cup of wine and was out for the count! While she snoozed on the couch I got to hold and rock and walk the baby, which was an unexpected reward for the evening. She's such a cuddly little sweetie. Nathan's had to endure my repeated pleas this past month to find a nice, Jewish girl already and give me some Jewish grandchildren (and, of course, move back here to Israel to do it). He tends to change the subject a lot.

Anyway, David had a very interesting haggadah with some great commentary and we learned a lot of interesting stuff. It's the first time we had the seder at home in several years so I got to unpack all my stuff. We have about 10 boxes of Pesach dishes, serving pieces, etc. so opening everything up after a year is like getting new presents. We have an excess of everything because in St. Louis we used to have big sedarim. Someday we'll have a bigger house so we can have more space to store our things and more room to entertain.

After the seder I went across the street to let Rusty out. He's Miryam and Shaya's 150 pound dog. When we walked over, we could hear singing from open windows on the street. I absolutely love living on a street in a community in a country where practically everyone is celebrating the exact same thing you are. Supposedly 85% of Israelis profess to having a Pesach seder whether they're religious or not. This re-telling of our story year after year for three thousand years is a miracle in itself. As slaves under the ruthless ruler of the biggest empire of all time, our lives and our futures were utterly hopeless - and yet Hashem redeemed and took us out of slavery to bring us to a land "flowing with milk and honey." Every year the story has more meaning for me. So many times in my life I've been off-course, either floundering or just plain headed in the wrong direction, and He's taken me by the hand and shown me a better way.

Sara Yocheved Rigler wrote an excellent piece in this week's Binah magazine. She said that as a nation and a people things are looking pretty hopeless for us right now: the constant bombardment of kassem rockets into Sderot and southern Israel that are maiming and killing, the tragic loss of lives like the yeshiva boys in Mercaz HaRav, the rampant anti-Semitism all over the world, the assimilation that's eating away at our numbers as well as the number of teenagers "off the derech" (path of Torah) and young singles who can't find their mates, our government's ineptness, and worse of all, the threat of physical annihilation by Iran. Her message was to always remember that even when the situation seems hopeless, we have to remember yitzias Mitzraim, the redemption from Egypt, and know that all is in Hashem's hands. Pretty powerful stuff.

I had a lot of fun the past couple of weeks cleaning for Pesach in between working at my new job. I really enjoy working at my new job. Tefilla, the director, wants me full time after Pesach but I told her I was only interested in three days a week. I might work four; David wants me to work as much as I can because we tend to overspend our budget. I'm a little curious how Tefilla plans to work this out. There's already four people and four desks (the fourth person shares an office with Tefilla), so I don't know where I'd work, but Tefilla was adamant that she would work it out. I suspect she's going to try to talk me into some fundraising, and I absolutely don't want to do that. Give me computer work, even if it's inputting donations in the database, and I'll be happy, but I HATE asking people for money.

So I worked five days the first week, and last week just Sunday and Monday so I could finish cleaning and start cooking. All the cleaning was finished by Tuesday night, including covering all the counter tops and tables - first time I've ever been able to finish so early. I didn't get to do a lot of spring cleaning which I usually do; things like washing the windows and cleaning out drawers, but you have to remember this is a tiny house and we don't have kids here so I got done what I needed to. Plus I helped our friend who just had the baby. I did all her Pesach grocery shopping for her and also helped in her kitchen a little. Thank G-d she had some teenage girls who cleaned her frig and did some other cleaning for her.

It was really fun the last few days before the holiday started. Everywhere on the yishuv were people outside cleaning windows and vacuuming out cars and kids scrubbing lawn furniture or toys. I think they actually emptied out the dumpsters all over the yishuv every single day. First I'd see them overflowing and an hour later they'd be empty again.

David took off all of Chol Hamoed. He really needs this vacation. The only bad thing is - EVERYONE takes off this week, so going anywhere will be very crowded. He basically just wants to veg out in his computer/Beit Medrash room, but we'll do some sightseeing. And one night we'll have a BBQ with Shaya and Miryam; we have some rib steaks in the freezer that are calling our names.

Today we had the last seuda (festive meal) with Penina and Pinchus and their kids. Miryam and Shaya were already there; they'd walked down for the seder the night before and spent the night. After lunch we women played mah jongg on our new 2008 cards. Kind of interesting how we got our cards. We ordered them back in January by sending our checks to Shifra in St. Louis. She added them to the orders from my old mahj group. The cards arrived in St. Louis in the mail about three weeks ago. It turned out that Avi from Nefesh B'Nefesh was in St. Louis to speak to prospective olim, and he stayed at Shifra and Albert's house. It was someone who had lived around the corner from us in Ramat Beit Shemesh, so Shifra gave the cards to Avi to bring to Israel. David had the great idea to ask Avi to take them work and give them to Casriel, another guy who works there who lives on our yishuv. And Casriel delivered them to my door. Is it a small world or what? We're hoping to play over Chol Hamoed as well.

David went to bed half an hour ago, and my mind is kind of mushy by now (it's almost midnight). Later, friends!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

It's a girl! And I helped! My friend down the street called me and another friend of hers who's a certified midwife to come to the hospital with her last week when she went to have her baby. The hospital is only about 20 minutes away and we got there by 9 PM. J's first four kids were all born within a couple of hours, but this last one decided to take her time. By the time T and I got to the hospital (I need to be more mindful of people's privacy), J was not a happy camper. When she had seen the doctor earlier that morning, he had accidentally broken her water during the exam, and then sent her to the hospital. Unfortunately, she wasn't yet having contractions and it had already been 8 hours. The midwife on call (they're the ones who deliver the babies in Israel) was pushing her to get started on pictocin and she was adamant that she didn't want it. To make a long story short (although it would be such a fun story to tell if it wouldn't be invading someone else's privacy), T encouraged her to have both the pitocin and an epidural and by 10 am the next morning Sofia Libi was born. I had never been at a birth other than my sons' and I had been too preoccupied at those to really witness the miracle. It was so incredible! This baby had more hair on the top of her head than my sheitel (wig)! She was almost 9 pounds and sooo cute! That 11-hour time slot definitely makes the top ten of my most memorable experiences.

And I got a job today! It's actually only temporary until Pesach, so I'm kind of thinking that I MUST HAVE LOST MY MIND! I've barely started cleaning for Pesach yet, not to mention the cooking and the shopping, and I'm going to be out of the house for 7 or 8 hours a day for the next two weeks? At least it will help defray some of the costs of the chag (holiday). The job entails entering donation information into a database for a not-for-profit. Not particularly inspiring but I've always liked working for a non profit organization.

It's 9 PM and I MUST get back to work. I'm cleaning out my office (guest room), so that when it's finished we can put some stuff from the kitchen in here to make room for the Pesach supplies. Have I ever mentioned what a teeny tiny house we have? Baruch Hashem, it makes Pesach cleaning easy! Well - let's just say, easier. Ladies, we need to keep in mind that every swipe of the rag, every sweep of the broom, and every swish of the antiseptic spray is a mitzvah we're doing for Hashem. I must admit; I really do enjoy Pesach cleaning. I know I'm nuts, but I'm more nuts for taking on a job 12 days before the chag starts!