Monday, October 24, 2011

The Gates of Jerusalem

I have to admit, I am rather captivated by doors and gates. I find them
artistically beautiful, architecturally intriguing.....and I am certain that if they could speak, they would have fascinating stories to tell.
Jerusalem is full of enchanting doors and gates. One of my dreams of owning my own home here in Jerusalem is to have a bright blue fence and gate or door ..somewhere at the edge of town but not too far out..a little garden.  In my dreams for sure.

Most stories about the Gates of Jerusalem are about the Old City Gates (e.g.. Jaffa Gate) or about historical gates of Jerusalem. Some are about the artistic gates of places like beautiful Ein Karem.

This story is about everyday gates in my neck of the older untouched part of the City..(although that is changing a little...the neighborhood is slowly becoming "gentrified" and soon some of the interesting charm of yesteryear may disappear.)

The area is not economically poor but it is not upscale or well to do either..just common everyday homes and streets of Jerusalem - mostly a community of  Jewish immigrants who fled neighboring Arab countries such as Iraq. There once was a train running just at the edge of the apartment buildings...the tracks and emek (valley) still there. Often on a Shabbat afternoon, I walk the length of it. On Lag B'omer, it is alight with bonfires and at other times, simply a gathering place for fun.  In the next neighborhood those tracks and grasses have given way to beautification; it does look very nice and modern, and I think we are next for the development - one reason I wanted to capture some of the common but charming pictures of my streets before they disappear.

Many of these gates are afterthoughts. In the earlier days it seems there was only a low stone wall at the edge of a property. When it became necessary to gate the property, the arch to hold the gate, the gate itself, and the subsequent fencing on top of the stone wall were all added later and of different materials.

Some gates and walls have been remodeled and are stylish but some are very makeshift - funny and funky. Additionally, there are those that are thought out and symmetrical with the whole landscape and those that are innovative and modern.  Each is unique - almost no two alike and all are interesting.  Each innovative creation (or lack thereof) gives a snaphot of the various owners (though not necessarily the current one).  As I walk though my area, I often wonder what the story was for this one or that one. I surely  wish these gates and walls could talk. oy voy voy...what would we hear??

I have included a few here on the blog main page, but please go to my picasa website for a slideshow and/or album of many more.   Enjoy !

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gilad Gilad - ברוך שובך - Welcome Back !

We are rung dry again as a nation. Torn between moments, torn between emotions. Hetze Hetze - Half Half. Elated that our son and brother Gilad has come home to us at last; distraught that the price paid was the release of terrorists with blood on their hands.

There have been so many articles written, so much debate. But as always, I will write my piece from the inside out. I am sitting at my computer feeling the palpable relief and joy from a day of watching Gilad come home at the same moment as I am hearing the celebratory fireworks of the arab villages around me - those who are delighted in the release of the terrorists. I cannot easily describe what that feels like. Each explosion of their celebration cuts into my heart. The moment feels like an oxymoron.

I am one of those people who believe this was the right thing to do...hands down. It was an enormously tough decision for Bibi Netanyahu. He was surely between the proverbial rock and a hard place, but in my opinion, he showed extraordinary leadership to do what he did. At the same time I understand the grief and feelings of betrayal families whose loved ones have been murdered must be feeling at this moment. Their pain must be terrible, reopening wounds that never heal anyway.  There were 2 terrorists he allowed released that horrified me and I found their freedom to be completely inexcusable. I don't understand his reasoning,, but I am not the PM (thank God) and perhaps there are things I don't know about it.  I most certainly don't agree with everything Bibi does; nonetheless, today I am proud of Israel.

It was, I believe, a window of opportunity that presented itself and had to be acted upon quickly. Hamas was humiliated by the apparent success of Abbas in the UN - they had to do something to bring credibility to their "organization." Even though they appear not to want to be in the "game", nothing could be further from the truth. If they were going to remain one of the players, they would have to capitulate on some of their demands. At the same time, Egypt's military, trying desperately to hold on to power before the Muslim Brotherhood gains a bigger piece of the pie, and before Hamas relocates from Syria to Egypt, had another window opened. Israel HAD to act. We held firm on the big guns that Hamas wanted, and they had to give in. Hamas never gives in. They were desperate...and we had to move in at that moment.

The political right is considerably upset about a perceived victory for Hamas, even Fatah, and terrorism in general. They are certain this will result in more terrorism, emboldened by the release of the murderers, these terrorists, they are certain, will not hesitate to return to their vile deeds. I am neither stupid nor naive. I live here. I have been shot at by Palestinian terrorists, their bullets shattering glass at my feet, pushed off the road by arab terrorists wanting me dead in the ravine; and without going into detail I have been in the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon. I realize the potential as well as the next person.

But we cannot live on feared future scenarios, nor the exaggerated bravado of terrorists and their leaders. Our strength is in the fact that today we cared enough about one soldier's life to risk. That's it. Today we should be proud. When the Israeli officer goes to battle he does not send his men to fight, he goes first and says "follow me." Don't be fooled by the loud voices that want to distract. Today Israel said "follow me" and whether they voice it or not, the world, even our enemies took notice.

Miki Goldwasser, whose son was murdered by Hezbollah terrorists, said this: "Today is our victory day. The day where we decided that our values and our confidence in the righteousness of our way shall guide us. ..they did not win, and they know it."

In fact, Hamas itself, and Islamists throughout the Arab countries, recognized the strength that Israel displayed, the morality of the value placed on human life, and were envious. Two of many statements issued by our enemy were these: "This is a pillar of Israel's strength - to wage a war to free one man, to free a thousand prisoners for him." and "I wish I were Gilad Shalit; I wish my country cared so much about me"

One could argue about all the fine points. The critics  have screamed to high heaven about how terrible this "deal" could Israel this, and how could Israel that?  ....telescoping in on only one segment of the unfolding drama. Tunnel vision. They are so caught up in their despair and criticism that they fail to see that Israel did a good thing.

But even worse...they are so caught up with their future prognostications of doom that they failed to see the face of one of our sons. Though etched in signs of an awful reality that we will never know...there was an unmistakeable look of wonder on Gilad's face.  There was that smile that must have felt like a dream. Physically weak and exhausted, emotionally struggling to maintain, Gilad's courageous and explicit answers to the cruel and heartless interview forced upon him by Egyptian journalists was the real picture of what happened today.

We can argue all the fine points tomorrow. But today Gilad was kulanu כולנו - all of us..Am Yisrael - the people of Israel ..full of wonder and as if in a dream. We are proud of you Gilad and so happy and relieved to see you home safely.

And I am proud of Israel.  Am Yisrael chai - עם ישראל חי - the people of Israel lives !

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Kikars of Jerusalem

They are called "round-abouts" in Britain, "traffic circles" in the USA, but here in Israel it is a "kikar" (plural is probably kikarot).

Technically kikar means "square" as in Safra Square near City Hall Jerusalem. But ..the traffic circle is well..i guess - silly me...a circle is not a square is it?   ... UNLESS, of course, it's in Israel.

Ok, here's the logic...i think!.  A public square is where people gather, nachon?  so...a traffic circle is really a square for automobiles and autobuses to gather..for a brief moment anyway..... except...well, in the this case it's not a square but circle... i guess it is easier for the autos to manuever.  ....Simple isn't it?

Kikar Safra Jerusalem (Wikipedia)
We have some famous ones...Kikar Zion at the bottom of Ben Yehuda midrahov (pedestrian mall), and as I mentioned, Safra Square at the Iryia (City Hall) Jerusalem.  Neither of these is a "traffic circle" but are popular large or elaborate squares where events are held.

Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv (Wikipedia)

In Tel Aviv, there is Kikar Rabin, also a very large public square for events, and with a long history.

However, Tel Aviv's Kikar HaMedina IS an actual traffic circle, an enormous one, lined with upscale boutique stores and restaurants.  And the center of the circle, which could be beautiful, has a few trees but mostly unattractive parched dirt..not even grass.  There are walkways through it; I think it's a location for homeless to congregate and sleep. Really, Tel Aviv you could do better than that at the most famous shopping kikar in the country !!
Kikar HaMedina (Visual Travel)
But really, what I wanted to write about were just the everyday traffic kikars of Jerusalem..scattered as they are throughout the City, in every neighborhood, on every street.  Most of them are good directors of traffic, some have interesting side shows like the one in Giva HaTzarfatit, (French Hill).  Right along side the circle, at the edge of the stone sidewalk one can find an industrial scale..which is working.   People stop by and weigh themselves, their children, pets, packages and you name it. What a riot

Directions are given in Jerusalem by landmarks more than by street names, and kikars play a big role in directions. "Go to the kikar at the bottom of the hill and take a right." Almost all of them are maintained with flowers and trees, are frequently updated with seasonal changes. Some are very beautiful.  I have included a few photos of the kikars of Jerusalem, here and on this picasa link because I enjoy them, and want you to enjoy them too !!

I have featured only a few, some of them to also showcase.the surrounding neighborhood - the street itself, the walls, the apartments with Jerusalem stone as our primary and required building material. Beautiful Jerusalem. From time to time I may snap some more pics of other kikars and post a notice on the blog.

Obviously the next best thing would be to come to Jerusalem and see for yourself!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Israeli Bus Story

I love Israeli bus stories....i've shared some over the years..... the taxi driver who cut off the bus to deliver a passenger the bus driver had left standing in the dust, the woman who handed her baby to an old man on the sidewalk while she loaded the stroller, and the bus driver slammed shut the doors and took off, leaving a bewildered old man with a baby on the sidewalk and a hysterical mother (and passengers) on the bus. I even had to direct a bus driver one time, one who didn't know the route.  Then there are those I haven't mentioned like the bus driver who stopped the bus outside the Merkaz HaRav Yeshivot, asking the passengers if they minded that he talked for a minute about his nephew who was one of the tragic victims of the terrible pigua at the yeshiva the night before.

Most of the time the buses in Jerusalem drive me mad.  They are always late, very very late, they run 2 or 3 buses together instead of spacing them out, the passengers are, ummm, not always on their best social behavior to put it mildly - talking loudly on their cell phones, blocking the aisles with enormous agalot, eating, glaring, shouting, etc..  Tonight however, it was all redeemed (at least until tomorrow. :)

I boarded my #18 bus and walked to the back where often an empty seat or two get overlooked.  Standing at the back door was a young secular man, playing his heart out on the guitar, and singing.  Now this wasn't any just-horsing-around, this guy was GOOD, and he was having a GOOD time.  The song was a really familiar popular song that i couldn't quite place, and i actually don't remember if it was an american or israeli song (i know i know !), but as he entered into a familiar chorus, the whole bus load of people belted it out with him...not just joined in... belted it out at the top of their lungs.

We quickly arrived at the next bus stop and he moved - i thought to let someone out - but instead, he and a few of his friends bounded off the bus. Amazingly, he was still playing the guitar as he leapt to the sidewalk. I was really disappointed I had missed the concert !!  Just then the entire bus load of passengers burst into applause. As the driver slammed shut the doors i noticed the very orthodox, perhaps hasidic rabbi, who had departed at the same stop, walked over to the guitarist/singer, back slapping him and grinning.  (See, we do get along sometimes...:)

Only in Israel.  Made up for all the rotten bus rides i've had. That's what Israel does to you...those precious "Only in Israel Moments" make it all worthwhile.

Friday, June 10, 2011

An Afternoon in the Judean Hills

Looking over the Judean Hills from HS Winery
Recently i spent some time in the Judean Hills with some friends, visiting Tavlin, an amazing spice store in the Eshtaol Forest (tavlin is the hebrew word for spice) and the Hans Sternbach winery in Givat Yishayahu, where we had a delicious lunch. I must say, i think i was too relaxed, too in awe of the beauty of the hills, too lost amongst the fragrances of the spices, and .. too much enjoying the wine and lunch to take good pictures for a story.

Which means of course that i have to take a second trip with pictures and story in mind.  Here are 2-3 photos to tease you.  In addition to the tavlin and the wines, we made a stop in Har Adar, where a craft and clothing fair was held in individual homes rather than under one common roof.  What an idea ! It was fun to drive through the lovely mountain town of Adar and enter various homes to enjoy them.  No pics at all from there though.

By that time, the wine...had settled in.. :)

Wine tasting with Adam, who teaches us about the various wines of HSW

Tavlin Spice Store in the Eshtaol Forest

Photo from

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sefer Torah Dedication in Katamonim

I promised i would write about the events of Katamonin, specifically the Sefer Torah procession of last week.  In Jewish tradition, when a new Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) is dedicated to a synagogue, before it is placed in the Ark of that beit knesset (synagogue), there is a procession down the streets - escorting the Sefer Torah to it's home. It's a lovely tradition, colorful, meaningful, and fun.  The Sefer Torah is carried by various honored individuals and under a canopy. It is escorted by songs, dance, brachot (blessings) and usually the young boys carry torches.  Here in Jerusalem, at least the procession last week, the real fire torches were replaced with torch like lights.

I don't know what beit knesset was receiving this new Scroll, although by the sign on the side of the van with the loudspeakers apparently this and other beit knesset are assisted by an organization which provides the equipment and coordination for the procession.

Actually I was in my apartment at my computer and heard the music and the loudspeakers. Of course, I had to investigate, and when i ran up the terrace to the street where the music was coming from, I discovered the parade.  People filled the street and sidewalk, walking along with the procession.  Twice the van broke down, the loudspeakers stopped functioning, the lights were out...and people waited. Most importantly, cars and buses also waited, as this is a busy but very narrow thoroughfare and bus route.  At one point I counted 8 buses lined up waiting for the procession to pass so they could get through.  All I could think was how glad i was that i wasn't ON one of those buses in a hurry to get somewhere !!  It was however, coordinated with the police as there were police vehicles at the front and back of the parade.

I've been to many Sefer Torah dedications and each one is special for its own reasons.  This one was special because it was in my neighborhood, an unexpected simcha (happy event) to enjoy and join in.
For a few more pictures of the procession on Rh.Yosef ben Yozer click here

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Shesek

I've always said my Jerusalem neighborhood is colorful - full of rich mizrachi tradition and wonderful neighbors.  This afternoon as i came home, one of my neighbors called me over and presented me with a sakit (bag) of shesek (loquat) from his tree.  As i thanked him i realized the tree in my own yard was brimming with ripe and unpicked fruit. It got me thinking about the fruit of this Land.

Not long after my neighbor's gift i heard a great commotion on the street above me, with brachot and singing emanating from the loudspeakers, blanketing the neighborhood. A Torah scroll dedication was in progress. I ran up and took several pictures as the Torah was being escorted to it's home in some nearby beit knesset (synagogue). I will share about THAT and the pictures in another post.

..but first the shesek.

The Shesek tree bears it's fruit in late spring and the little oval orange shesekim are sweet and juicy and a favorite amongst Israelis. (both people and birds !! ).  Shesek trees are all over Israel, in yards and home gardens and have deep green large broad leaves that protect the clusters of fruit. When you pick the shesek you have to clip the stem above, otherwise the inner fruit is already exposed ready to peel the skin (if you wish) or eat !! Inside are 3 shiny large seeds..(which..of no importance - float ! when dropped in water)

Here are a few shesek recipes from Liz Steinberg from her Tel Aviv based food blog Cafe Liz . Note: Even though some shesek can be slightly tart (depending on the variety), they can usually be substituted for apricot or peach in recipes.

Liz's recipes include among others:
Loquat Peach Waffles
Creamy fruit dessert with loquat and strawberries
Savory roasted loquat and plum

These pictures here on the blog are mine, but because others must agree it is such a pretty fruit i have also included a rather fun Flicker Photo link celebrating the shesek !

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lag B'Omer 2011

Motzei Shabbat began the semi holiday of Lag B'Omer in Israel (and elsewhere too for that matter).  It is the 33rd day of Counting the Omer from Pesach to Shavuot... (intended to link Pesach - remembering the Exodus from Egypt to Shavuot - the Giving of the Torah).  During the first 32 days of Counting the Omer, some prohibitions are in place and a semi-mourning period exists due to a plague that occurred during the Rav. Akiva's lifetime.

At any rate, on the 33rd Day, the semi-mourning period ends and observant Jews throughout the world celebrate by lighting bonfires, singing and dancing throughout the night.  In Israel, non-religious Jews don't usually participate, but all over Israel, bonfires light the night, smoke fills the air, and partying, singing and dancing continues until the wee hours of the morning, as thousands of traditionally and religiously observant Jews delight in the lifting of restrictions and the end of the mourning period.     

My neighborhood, a richly traditional mizrachi community, was no exception.

Coming home late from coffee with a friend, I discovered the Party a few meters from my front any good neighbor, i went out and joined the merrymaking about lasted til 4am...


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mmmmm - Israeli Fresh Garlic

Some things are almost too pretty to use, else can i make my shakshuka?

Spring in Israel means many things of course, but one of them is the delightful, delectable, gorgeous (and did i say fragrant?) purple w/green and white stalks fresh! garlic. 

I almost missed them this year...not that i wasn't aware they were on the scene and in the markets, it's just...well, i had a lot on my mind and many things to do, and simply mused over the idea that maybe i would skip them this year.

Thank God i woke up in the nick of time to rush to the shuk (yes even though they are available in the supers, one does NOT buy fresh garlic anywhere else but the shuk. For pete's sake. No way.) It was the end of the season, but LOOK! how beautiful they still are.  I even went back the next day and bought some for a "present" for a friend who was traveling outside the country and knew she would be sad to think she missed them.

I only hang a few to dry but one can buy fresh bulbs without the stalks for a while the chemically dried white variety imported from China...

The taste of the fresh garlic is similar and used in all recipes that call for garlic, is delicate, slightly sweet and more mild.  It also stays sweet and doesn't become bitter when sauteing it.  I like to use cloves of fresh garlic when pan frying or poaching salmon.  Very nice.

To honor the fresh garlic i've included a couple of recipes. One, fresh garlic confit, from a wonderful blog called Israeli Kitchen, and a video for a simple chicken/fresh garlic dish from Ynet Foods (Phyllis Glazer.)  My friend Micha Finkelstein sent me this video and while I haven't made it yet, he said it was wonderful and i trust his culinary opinion!   Enjoy!

The Confit:

The Video:(Video is in Hebrew but there is an English writeup if you click on this hyperlink -it will remove you from the blog to the webpage)
Chicken/Fresh Garlic

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Package

Earlier i wrote about the adventures and challenges of finding addresses, people and places in Jerusalem (Hidden in Jerusalem).  One might think it is simply a frustration we could do without. 

The truth of the matter lies deeper.

Jerusalem -  Israel itself - is a place where one comes, not necessarily to enjoy the finer things of life - though they do exist here - but rather to be challenged to deal with the complexities of it.

I would go even further.  If you are a Jew who has made aliyah like myself, you are here for one reason... and that is to come face to face with the issues for which you were brought to earth. Ha! You thought it was simply that one loves and longs for Israel, and that Israel is the only place on earth where you feel at home.

The reality is that the complexity of finding addresses and people and places is a tiny reflection of the REAL life here in Yerushalayim, and the REAL life here in Yerushalayim (and all of Israel) is a TEST. It is frustrating, challenging, confusing, maddening, difficult, mishugana...  and deep, sweet, meaningful, warm, rewarding, comforting and brings shalom.

When "the search" occurs it is only about this question: ..will you persevere until you overcome and find the treasure, or will you give up halfway through?  This is why one must have the proper attitude towards speeds the goal of learning to overcome. in light of the above, i share the following story.

The Package

It doesn't matter that there was a 5 month balygan in the US before the package ever hit the tarmac at Ben Gurion, or that during those 5 months I kept bugging Avi, the postmaster at my neighborhood doar (post office) to look in the back and under the table for my missing package.  Here, if the personnel is in a good mood, they will let you come into the package area behind the locked doors, and look for yourself.  For 5 months I looked - no package, until I finally wore out my welcome...and so i waited and waited for the "slip" at my mailbox inviting me to pick up my package.

When the slip finally came, it wasn't a slip at all, but a letter, in Hebrew, addressed to me in Hebrew, even though the package was written entirely in English.  It was delivered "next door" not to my mailbox and I discovered it by accident...and that's another story. Hmmm......immediately i knew this would not be routine..

The letter told me to come to a "special" Post Office in another neighborhood, 2 buses away....because i owed customs on the package.  Now, I knew that i didn't owe customs on the package, or more correctly should NOT owe customs on the package, so I called the telephone number listed and they explained to me I had to come there to pay the customs, to come to the G'vat Shaul Post Office and gave me directions...  Ha - I wish!!

Luckily a friend gave me a lift to the Post Office, I saw a door marked "customs" but as I approached the door I found it locked. Nevertheless, I spotted a guard and another entrance nearby and went over there. As I entered I asked the guard how to get to the "customs" and was greeted with a sweet Israeli shrug. It only took asking two people "eifo customs?" before i found my way down a hallway and through a door where i could see a counter clearly dealing with such matters.

Finally, I thought, as I waited my turn. When at last I approached the counter with my letter, the woman took it, looked up and  began screaming at me - in Hebrew of course. Not knowing exactly what she was saying, I was taken by surprise, and asked Ma? Lama? (what? why?)??? Waving the letter and motioning first out the door and then the opposite direction, out the window, I gathered that the package wasn't here, in this office.  Eventually another worker who knew English came over and read the letter and told me no, the package wasn't here but he could tell me sort of how to get there, and proceeded with very long complicated some other building not on this block.  (#$%^#)  When I questioned the customs (after all I was STANDING IN THE CUSTOMS OFFICE), he also shrugged, and laughed and must understand that everything in Israel costs money... (..and does)

So...i toddled off out the door, down the sidewalk, through the parking lot, and...w**...there was nothing at all looking anything like a post office building ANYWHERE IN SIGHT.

Spotting a restaurant in the bottom of the Post Office and just off the parking lot, I decided to inquire within.  I'm telling you if it hadn't been for these guys, I would still be looking. I entered, asking, with my letter if they could tell me where this Post Office address was.  The first 2 men took me back to one of the chefs, who pointed with equally long directions the left. I know i looked frustrated, so one of them took me outside, pointed to a building quite a ways away, asked me if i saw this tiny barred window towards the back.. "Yes", I said "I see the window."  "Well", he said "if you go around some stairs that are nearby, up into the building from the back...down a hallway, and down some steps, you will be close."  OMG, you've got to be kidding.

But I did. I followed his directions to the T.  When i finally got INTO the building, there was only one unlit, very dark stairwell leading to a basement.  Hmmm...not sure i wanted to go down there....and I heard workers at the bottom...was it safe?  A little nervously i descended the stairs, stepping over the torn up concrete, and almost tripping over some pipes..and found myself in another hallway, with some open docks.  

Stopping at the first door on the right, again with my letter in hand, I was waved further down the now open series of docks.  Finally I found a large receiving area, and a desk of sorts with a man behind it, looking very bored.  Handing him my letter, he nodded, and began the search for my package.  Except he couldn't find it.  After several long minutes he remembered there were some in a pile on the floor ..and ahhh, there it was! 

After 5-1/2 months, omg, there was my package.....I could finally have it. ...but...not yet.  My customs he said was 200 nis.  MAAAAAAAA? (WHAAAAT?)  More than - or about equal to - the worth of the package itself.  I didn't have 200 could that be when i  was quite sure i didn't really owe anything?

What he said next caused me to lose it entirely.... moving the package away from me he declared you will have to go to Tel Aviv to pay the customs and you can't have the package until the customs are paid.  In my mind i grabbed him by the collar, shoved my face into his face, and screamed I am not leaving here without this package, and I am NOT GOING TO TEL AVIV TO PAY THE CUSTOMS. reality i didn't grab him by the collar, only screaming that i am NOT going to Tel Aviv to the pay the customs... and i burst into tears.

I guess he had never seen anyone do that he did the only thing a certain type of Israeli would do....he looked totally disinterested and...shrugged, turning to the next customer in line. 

I tried to explain my frustration to him and finally decided I would take my never-to-be- used, for emergencies only, credit card....(it turned out the Tel Aviv trip was only if I wanted to CONTEST THE CUSTOMS), except....he would only take cash.  I had no cash. Sitting in front of me was this package I waited for so long, I could touch it, but I couldn't have it.  He was going to save it only 2 days before returning it, but after I pleaded with him, he agreed to hold it a week so I could return with the cash, and then he tossed it on the heap on the floor again...turning finally to the next in line. 

Defeated, I left the dock and returned to the street above, tears of frustration rolling down my face.  It was then that I decided I could NOT leave G'vat Shaul (the neighborhood) WITHOUT THAT PACKAGE.  If I had to rob a bank, I was going home with that I did just that...I robbed my own bank account, where my rent money was gathering, and withdrew the 200 shekels, marched back to the surprised dock worker, shoved the 200 nis in his face, told him someone came and loaned it to me, and left with my package...when he finally found it again......

It's not that I cry that often....but maybe it was good for me...tears are sometimes necessary when it gets too frustrating, challenging, confusing, maddening, difficult, mishugana..........

....and yes, the package was worth was something my daughter sent me.  :)

oh..btw...Avi told me later I should never had had to pay anything...that the whole thing was wrong.   I knew that.   Guess maybe I failed that part of the test.  :)  Still a friar after all these years. !

Friday, March 18, 2011


For those who didn't know..the Fogel Family, so brutally murdered last Shabat, were expelled from Netzarim Gush Katif in 2005.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Shkedia Gives Way to Spring

It's been one of those weeks from hell and i thought i might share a story or two..but they are too numerous and too sad/ instead will try to cheer us all up (me included) with a few pictures of the shkedia in my back yards...and the lovely branch my neighbor (you know the one who says I am the flower) cut for me so i could have the fragrant blossom and beauty in my dira..

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tu B'Shevat 2011

Tu B'Shevat - a time to remember our connection to the Land of Israel, planting vineyards and gardens, making the desert bloom, partaking of the fruit of Eretz Yisrael.. This holiday is also referred to as the New Year of the Trees.

The day is marked by planting trees throughout the Land, particularly important this year with the forest fires in the Carmel Mountains. Many Sephardi families mark the day with a seder much like the Pesach seder, with brachot over the fruits and the wine.

I had the privilege once again of attending the seder of some dear friends who live in the center of Israel. It is always a special and sweet time.

"and I will restore my people Israel and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine, they shall also make gardens and eat the fruit." (Amos 9:14)