Wednesday, July 23, 2008

When I first started keeping a blog I couldn't wait to write every day. After two years (yes, we've lived in Israel for two years now!), it's getting harder and harder to find the time to write. It's not that I don't have what to write about (that's Jewish lingo); the problem is that there's so much to say and I've just been too tired to write it all down. It seems as if I've been leaving for work earlier and staying longer - and enjoying every minute of it.

On the other hand, poor Emma is home alone for up to ten or twelve hours, in the barely bearable heat and how silly is that, to feel guilty over leaving your dog? I guess if you have a pet and you know how important they are to you, then you understand how I feel. But it's also a wonderful feeling to work for an organization that feeds so many hungry children every day, and supplies clothes and blankets and heaters and backpacks, and helps their parents train for better jobs and then helps them find jobs.

A group of about 30 girls from England came to Yad Ezra V'Shulamit this afternoon and I accompanied Bassya as she spoke to them about what we do. When she showed them the video I had tears in my eyes. Rav Ariel Lurie, who founded the organization, is such a special person. He grew up hungry on the streets of Jerusalem and vowed that he would do everything in his power to make sure that other children have enough to eat. But feeding them isn't all; he knew the stigma of being poor and going to school in ragged clothing and dowdy hand-me-downs. Every Fall, the kids we provide assistance for get to pick out their own book bags and school supplies from all the donated supplies we get. Besides giving out 2500 food baskets every single week in locations all around the country, we also have Children's Centers in six different locations where children can come after school and get a nourishing lunch, get help with homework, and play in a safe environment. They're even sent home with food for supper and breakfast the next morning. It's an amazing organization. I think I'd like to eventually do some fundraising for the organization. Not that I like asking people for money, but it's such a worthy cause. If anyone's interested in learning more, check out our website at If you make a donation, please put my name in the comments line so I can get a commission!

We have friends in town from St. Louis. Last Thursday they took a bus to our yishuv and we visited for a couple of hours. Then we drove into town and met David at one of our favorite fleish restaurants when he got off work. We just sat and talked for several hours; it was so nice to see them. They're in Israel for their grandson's bar mitzvah. Two nights ago was the celebration at a hall on Ezras Torah. There were other St. Louisans there - what a shock! Several girls who I knew as kids were there - married with babies! When did they grow up? and why am I continually surprised by it?! I didn't mind at all getting to play with all the babies.

We interrupt this irregularly scheduled blog writing with a totally unscheduled but not unexpected mitzvah request from a neighbor -------

Okay, I'm back. Emergency averted. Mini-version: 9:30 PM and a 10 year neighbor's son is having a tantrum, screaming on the street, trying to get down to the bus stop to go into town. He was yelling into the open window at a friend who was on his computer playing what was apparently a pretty cool computer game, but the friend's father had "disinvited" this kid from being there. Three younger siblings were joining in the commotion. Mom called with an SOS. I got three of the kids to come to my house for 20 minutes to play the stress game on my computer. (It's a great computer game but please don't ask how to download it; my niece, nephew and another friend's son have been begging for it and I don't think the website is around anymore). Anyway, he calmed down enough that when I walked them back home, everyone was in a good mood and Mom was able to relax a little. Unfortunately, they're all planning to come back tomorrow AND IT'S MY DAY OFF AND I NEED TIME TO MYSELF.

In case you thought I might have been yelling that last line, you are perfectly correct, although it wasn't so loud that anyone else could hear. Can we say stress? Strain? Pressure? Anxiety? Worry? I'm not really at liberty to explain all that, due to the constraints of loshon hara. Suffice it to see that I REALLY need some time away from the constant SOS's of several situations.

Until tomorrow afternoon. I pick David up around 5 and we head into Beit Shemesh for a another Bar Mitzvah celebration of friends also from St. Louis (go, Josh!). Oh, maybe I need to go earlier and buy him a present. I wonder if Manny's bookstore in Geulah sells gift certificates?

We would love to have a quiet Shabbat. We said that last week and we ended up with ten for dinner (as of 2:30 PM erev Shabbat) and overnight guests for Friday through Sunday night (we didn't know we were having guests Sunday night until we were awakened at midnight by a knock on the front door and Emma barking madly). So, please Hashem, can this one be a quiet one?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Miss me?

Ever get the feeling that life is running you over? That's how this last month has been. Soooo many things have happened and nothing I can write in public about. Suffice it to say that David and I have been dealing with a lot of other peoples' issues; we have literally felt that our lives are not our own. This past week things have gotten a little better - not for the other people, but for us. Two of the situations deal with extended family and one pertains to a friend who we've been trying to support through a nasty divorce. The divorce is not final and for some strange, unexplainable reason (unknown to any sane person), no one is making this couple separate and the husband won't leave the house. There is a lot of emotional abuse going on and we fear for the wife's sanity as well as the mental health of the children. I finally had to tell her last week that David and I had to take a step back for our own sanity. We didn't see her or any of the kids this past week or over Shabbat; after seeing them (at least her and the baby) almost daily for months, we felt like we were having withdrawal! But I must admit, it was a more stress-free Shabbat.

It was, in fact, a most pleasant Shabbat. On Friday night it was just the four of us: Miryam and Shaya, David and I. I made chicken shish kebobs and baked potatoes, which was a nice change. For lunch, Penina and Pinchas and their teenagers joined the four of us. I had cut up lettuce, celery, red, yellow and green peppers, green onions, tomatoes and cilantro, plus made some Spanish rice, refried beans and spicy ground beef for an awesome Mexican lunch. We had tortilla chips and taco shells and everyone made what they wanted. After lunch, we took the leaves out of the dining room table and the six guys played cards while we four women played mahj - ALL afternoon. Miryam and Shaya stayed for Seudat Shlishli (the 3rd Shabbat meal) and for the last 45 minutes of Shabbat the four us sat outside and enjoyed the cool night air. It's been pretty darn hot the last couple of weeks. When I'm at work it's no big deal, but on days I don't work the house can get pretty hot. We have ceiling fans and floor fans in every room so it's bearable, and by 6:00 PM or so it starts to cool off considerably.

Last week's terrorist attack was pretty ghastly. I had taken a bus into town that morning and instead of getting off at my usual bus stop went all the way to the takanah merkazit. From there I switched to another bus which came straight down Jaffa street past the shuk, and then turned up King George (I had to drop off a check at our car insurance office). I had gotten on the 2nd bus at 10 a.m., and got to work around 11. At about 12:20, one of the Rabbis who works at our office came in to tell us there had just been a pigua (terrorist attack) on Jaffa Street by an Arab who was driving a construction tractor with a huge serrated crane. He drove the tractor down Jaffa running over cars and smashing vehicles with the crane. We listened to the news all afternoon. It was sickening. And then we heard that the murderer's father said, "My son was not a terrorist; he was a drug addict." Who cares?! He got ticked off and decided to see how many Jews he could mow down? That's a terrorist in my book! It's such an old story; Jews being the scapegoat. I know that our defense forces have stopped literally hundreds more of these terrorist attacks from happening, but every time it does happen, it's just too much. We're supposed to be living in civilized times, but what kind of animals have zero regard for human life? Even their own children are persuaded to give their lives as martyrs, and then they celebrate when their children die killing other people. There's just nothing sicker.

Let's go on to more pleasant subjects.

I'm still working out three days a week. Work is very enjoyable, although the computer situation hasn't changed. By the time I leave for the day I've been on every computer in the office. Only one computer has every program in working order. My computer doesn't have the database and isn't connected to the color printer. Another one has the database but doesn't have any Microsoft programs. I can only get my office email on another one. It's crazy! Hopefully we've made enough requests of the organizations's computer person that he'll do something about it this week.

We're trying to find a good dog sitter. Friends of ours in Ramat Beit Shemesh are making a bar mitzvah in a couple of weeks and they want us to come to the Thursday night siyum and dinner as well as to the Bar Mitzvah on Shabbat. Other friends invited us to stay with them, but they already have a dog and he's very territorial. Penina and Pinchas, who watched Emma before, are moving that same weekend to Nofei Aviv in Beit Shemesh. Shayna and Yonaton, who also watched Emma one Shabbat, are going to be in the states. We may just have to go Thursday night and come home.

It's almost midnight and tomorrow starts the work week. Have a good one!