Showing posts from June, 2007

Shabbat Shalom!

Well, today was an interesting day. Come to think of it, so was yesterday. At the factory everyone was running around like chickens without heads. I think a lot was getting done but since I live in my own little bubble mostly (language barrier thing), it was hard to tell. One of the large air compressors wasn’t working properly and the big CNC machine kept coming to a grinding halt and blowing steam form somewhere in its guts. The guy that was working it at the time kept trying to find my boss and seemed to be having as much trouble with this as I was (he even spoke German). Every time we did find the boss he was always out of breath from some other apparent emergency. Reminds me of the days when I ran my own business and had a real bad day. Eventually the compressor started to work and I went home for the weekend. Well, not really a weekend. I got up early this morning to take the dog for a walk on my way to building a cool little micro skateboard ramp at my friend Elan’s house. We ha

All the Little Things

When we got to HaAretz we were all spinning from the journey we had just taken. This journey, which had started in Boulder, Colorado and brought us all the way to Netanya, Israel, where my gracious Mother-in-Law Ruth shared her home with us, was really just about to begin. But I am getting ahead of myself. Back in Boulder, my wonderful wife Adele, had been busy for one whole year stocking up on the essential things that we were going to need like Zip-Lock bags, Lawry’s garlic salt, lotions and oils, pancake batter, and a whole assortment of must have, can not live without items. I also had my moments like the time that I just couldn’t do without the nice little bike tool kit that I would need for sure because, after all, we were moving to the desert, a virtual no-mans-land. And since I was going to need to do all of the bike maintenance myself, I got a bicycle maintenance book too! Oh yeah, and the how to make cement countertops book was also a must because it is common knowledge that


Today started off just about normally. I got up, had some coffee, got into a fight with my wife, kissed and made up, said goodbye to the family and walked to work. Once I got there, all seemed to be normal. Everyone was busy with assorted tasks like moving the latest order of filters, taking out the garbage from the maafiah (bakery) where they make incredible bread and cakes, and talking about who knows what since most of the communication is all in German amongst the members of Beit El. Then, towards the end of the day my coworker Gideon ran down stairs to say, “meshewho po bishvilcha” (someone is here for you). I ran up the stairs and… AQUARIUS WOMAN!!! Oh no. now she is going to rattle on and on about who knows what. I did a quick one two on her to try to get her to leave my workplace but she would not budge. She wanted to be reassured about the dog. She wanted to make sure that we still called him… shoot, I already forgot the name that some little girl gave him the week that he was

Hey Dude!

It looks like we are bringing a little SoCal culture to HaAretz. We got a new dog, well, not really a new dog. He was an abandoned dog that we think is about 7 months old. I guess we are also doing a bit of ‘taming’ of the wild things here. He was living in Caesarea next to a coffee shop and someone I now call Aquarius Woman took him in and Dude lived with her for about a week, which was long enough for her to become so attached to the dog that she, in the end almost didn’t give him away. Aquarius Woman was an older lady from England or South Africa (couldn’t place her accent), had long grey/blond hair and a tie-dye beach dress on. As it turned out she was a cat lady also. She takes in lost animals and there are a lot of them here, so you can imagine. Adele had found the dog from an add on the five towns list but after about two conversations with Aquarius Woman she couldn’t take it any more and left the dirty work of schmoozing her out of the dog to me. I guess being a nice guy can pa

Forklifts, Lebanon, and More History Beneath Our feet

Yesterday I completed a grueling 16 hour shiour (lesson) with a mifchan (test) at the end on how to drive a forklift in Israel. And since we are in Israel, everything seems to be in Hebrew! What was I thinking! So day one of the shiour bemalgisa (forklift lesson) started by getting a ride after work with a whole bunch of German kids from the factory to start the, you guessed it, TOFFUS! It is a word after all. Since all the kids from the factory are actually kibbutsnicks we had to make a quick stop in Hadera while we were at the Misrad Ha Rishoui (DMV) to go shopping for bike stuff. No big deal, I have been getting a lot more relaxed about time and scheduling here. The other Israeli that was with us wasn’t so relaxed about it though. “Ze Lo Beseder!” he kept saying. I tried not to be the peace maker because of what I learned with my last experience with Uri on the bike ride but a little bit kept squeezing out regardless. It is in my nature and hard to suppress I guess. So we started t

Beit El, Bicycles, and other Beezwax

This story starts about 4 months ago when I got a call from my son Zach. He sounded out of breath and a bit manic and I had to have him repeat a couple of times what he was trying to tell me, his bike was stolen. Yup, this was the bike that we had bought in The States before the big move to the ‘wild wild east’ especially so that, with the help of G-d, he would grow into it both in size and in skill. Zach was talking to his girlfriend (at least that is the official story) with the bike leaning against a wall about three meters behind him. His friends had been riding it around a bit and so no one noticed when someone else decided to do the same… and kept on going. I told Zach to look for it some more and talk to everyone he saw about it in case someone saw it happen and could identify the thief. No luck whatsoever… yet that is. The bike was gone. Zach walked home from the Midrachove (our mini Pearl St. walking mall) and did some serious pouting. He spent the next two weeks walking

Where the Wild Things Are

My family and I came to Israel for my son Zach’s Bar mitzvah only two short years ago. At that time, and every other time that I had visited, I felt something soothingly familiar. In the past this feeling proved to be quite elusive as upon returning to my home our lives just seemed to creep back in and wipe away, what I can only call, the aroma of this ancient and holy land. With lots of things to do and think about – kids, businesses, school, friends, house, the experiences became memories and the feelings we had of a tangible connection between our Souls and this place just seemed to melt into the unconscious. We talked about Israel and loved and supported it, but it was not the same thing. It was just too hard to grasp and to hold the substance of that feeling. It slowly vanished like the smell of a gourmet meal that has already been gulped down. Two years ago, upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport I was greeted by my son Zach in one of the most amazing ways. I had left the United Stat

LagBaOmer and other cultural divergancies

Hi everyone, Today was a very interesting day at work. The weather is starting to get a little hot here and I decided to wear something different to work because of it. In California we called them shorts, and in Colorado we also called them shorts, but in Israel we call them miknasaim qatsarim (short pants). I felt a little self conscious wearing them because I havent seen anyone wear them at the factory, but it is going to be a long summer So I get to work and the first thing that someone says to me is, "Sunny-Boy!” with a big smile plastered across his face. And keep in mind that this is a guy that has barely said two words to me, boker tov and shalom. So, as you can probably guess, the rest of the day was filled with questions like, "do they wear pants like that in America ?" and, "did you wear those there?" My boss kept looking at me out of the corner of his eye like I was wearing lederhosen or something. Now I just need to get them used to it I guess. Ha,

How to become an Israeli...

Last week I went mountain biking with Zach, his friend Nadav, and Nadav’s father. We went to a place called Ofer. I was a little worried about the ride because I really didn’t know the terrain. It was supposed to be quite technical. So, we meet up with Nadav and his father, Uri and head off to this great spot. We ended up at Har Horshan and Uri asked me to pull up beside his car to tell me that he went the wrong way. Ok, we turned around and went to the right place. We get there and start getting out stuff together and I can see that Uri is a lot more uptight than I am. He is a bit over weight and his equipment is pretty old. So now I stop worrying so much about me and start to worry about him a bit. We take off on the bikes up this little trail and it is very technical right away. We all need to get off and hike a lot, but Uri starts to complain about it. Lama, kolezman tsrchime lalechet? (Why do we always have to walk?) He is going on and on about it and his son Nadav is just speedin

The Place We Truly Live

When we are born, Sages have said that we slowly begin to forget what came before. We fill our minds with the necessary things to get what we need to grow and this information just types over the existing memories. This idea speaks to me of how we live, day to day. We rarely operate from a place that incorporates the whole of our existence. What if we were able to hold onto the memories of what came before? Could we really exist in this life if we knew what was before it? And if we knew what was before it, would we also know what was after it? To know the whole of our existence would beg the question, ‘what would be the point of living? Why do we live?’ I believe that every day we spend the time we have doing one of two things, either nothing special or contemplating the idea of "why do we live?" Is there really anything in between? When we are happy or fulfilled we feel alive. When we are sprawled in the gutter, we also feel like we are alive. It would seem we live in order

The whole Country stopped for two minutes

Yesterday, the whole country stopped for two minutes. I was working in the factory and both kids were in school. Adele was driving in Netanya to pick up our driving licenses, (yes we passed), and everyone stopped what they were doing and stood solemnly to remember The Holocaust (Shoah). the break bell had just sounded for me at work and I came up the stairs and stood in the middle of the factory with everyone else that was stopped in their tracks to remember, and more importantly, not to forget. Adele was amazed to see everyone in the city of Netanya come to the windows, the front of their stores, or stop their cars in the middle of the street and step out to stand still as well. She said it was like the twilight zone - but absolutely incredible to witness and be a part of. Since I have been in Israel, I have seen people with a number tattooed on there arm. Maybe in the grocery store or just standing in line at the post office. There are still Holocaust survivors in the world and many

Just two days

Just two days that are worth a small note. Yup, this is my life for the last two days. I will start with Thursday morning. Adele and I woke up at 6 am to drive to Netanya for our driving tests. Why Netanya, since I live in Zichron almost an hour away you ask? Well, don't. So, we get in the car only about 10 minutes late and speed away into the usual morning traffic. Yes, blood pressure is rising... and yes... we are talking about the whole driving test thing here which if you have been following, isn't exactly the best topic for Adele and I to handle. Oh, I forgot, on Wednesday after work Adele called me and said that I need to go to the Doar (post office) to get some Toffuses. You know, I don't even think that is a Hebrew word. Toffus?... somebody must have just made it up so that everyone can have a good laugh every time it gets uttered by guys like me. So the Doar was closed. I called the driving office in Netanya to find out what to do and this is all in Hebrew mind you

Out of the Desert

so, where to begin... I guess we need to go all the way back to when we were slaves in Mitzraim (Hebrew word meaning Egypt and also place of narrowness). during this time of the year we are encouraged to look, once again inwards, and to find our own place of narrowness. our own private Mitzraim can be found if we have the courage to look, in the dark and fecund corners of our souls. Once we find these hidden places and take stock of (what I usually find) the amazing variety of fungi, all we need next is… Matzah! We eat this wonderful thing once a year for a period of eight days to remind us of who we are on the inside, without all the fluff and fancy that our egos tend to add all year long. My sister in law Pamela referred to this as vitamin ‘M’ at our Seder in Jerusalem . Yes, this year in Jerusalem ! And G-D willing next too! O.K., so maybe I went a little too far back…3500 years is a long time and this letter may get a little long winded. how about I just start off with how work is

Shalom Kulam

Shalom kulam, I haven’t written for a while because I have been a bit under the weather. Yes it has been cold and rainy here but that is not what I meant. My first few weeks of work have evidently taken it out of me a bit. The second week of work I caught a cold but either was able to hold it at bay or it was really just nerves. The third week of work I got the stomach flu and had to call in sick for two days. The fourth week of work I got a full on head cold along with Adele and Zach. We have been snuffling around trying to get better. I think that the sicknesses here must just be a lot more virulent for us tall and soft white people from North America. At work I have been making friends with Israelis, Russians, Canadians, Germans and one or two Americans and Brits. They all have such different accents and it is sometimes hard to understand their Hebrew. One of the Israelis that works in the aluminum area is crazy to be a pilot. He is a bit old to be a pilot but doesn’t seem to be pha

Tower of Babel

Hi everyone, I completed my first week of work and really like it. It feels so good to be making sawdust again. I think that I just love to do it. it is so much in my spirit or being or whatever. after having a little break, just over a year now!, I realize that just thinking about how to get the most out of the wood or being as efficient as possible, stupid little things like that are so much a part of me. I guess i was meant to be a carpenter, at least for now... my job is in a little woodshop at the German factory. the name or the factory, (actually i think the whole community) is Beth El (house of G-D). it is made up of Christians from Germany that in the late 60's started to move to Zichron and Benyamina because of a prophecy from a woman (i forgot her name) that "in the coming Apocalypse" this area would be spared. don't quote me because I don't really know. the community is structured as a Kibbutz and there are now many members now coming from Canada and th

Planes, trains, and automobiles

Actually, there aren't any planes or trains on my mind now, just cars or to be more specific, Drivers licenses. We had to go to the Misrad ha Rishoui to try, once again, to get our drivers licenses going. This was the third time we had been there. It is in Haifa, a 30 minute drive for us, and the first time we went we forgot our Todat Oley (New Immigrant Passport) and had to turn around. Adele and I got a little divorce on the ride home but made up later. the second time we went they told us that we didn't need to be there yet and told us we needed to get some paper work started and to go to an optometrists office in a nearby mall (we call the mall "Scud Mall" because Saddam shot one at it while it was still under construction during the gulf war. on the way to the Scud Mall we had another little divorce but made up in the mall by forgetting all our little problems by, yes you guessed it, shopping. after we waited in line for almost an hour we got into the optometrist

Eight Months Already?

Shalom Kulam! We are still doing well in Zichron. The second to last orange house on the left in this picture is where we live now. Adele has been very busy working for the army and developing her private practice. I have been looking for work and doing bids on jobs. I have finished two projects thus far, a shtender for the Shule, and a vanity for a beach house. I update the website occasionally if you would like to see. Both projects I was able to build in my little garage, however, I now realize that to make anything larger I will need to get a more appropriate space to work from. This understanding and the fact that none of the bids that I did came in accelerated my search for employment and also my stress because I cant make very much money by getting a job as a carpenter. Through a friend of my sister in law Debbie, I was able to get an interview at the German gas mask factory in Zichron as a carpenter. This is the same factory that is nestled into th

Directions in a Foreign Language

Shalom Havre! Finally I am sending some pictures of my new city, or I guess you would say town, no, maybe technically it is more of a village… I am now out of Ulpan (language school) on an official basis but decided to continue with it two times a week for two hours a day just to keep tuned. I am now trying to figure out what I am going to do with my life! Not an easy task. Sometimes I want to build a business again and sometimes I just want to get a job. Maybe I will do both. I have done a couple of little projects, a Tansue style vanity and a Shulchan (Torah table) for my Temple.Yesterday I had a job interview at a little wood shop about an hour from here. The guy there gave me instructions but the combination of his broken English and my broken Hebrew sent me to a little town in the Shtakeem (Territories) called Ariel. I started to get a little worried when I saw Bedouins with kafias walking along the road. I pulled over at the entrance to Ariel and consulted the map again. While I

Baja or Israel?

Hi Everyone, We have all slowed down a bit and begun to start to get used to this new place. We have had some ups and downs but for the most part are still doing well. I will be very happy to be done with Ulpan (language school) because it takes a lot out of me. The program is very demanding. I went to a very wealthy part of Israel yesterday for a possible job with someone I met in Ulpan. It is like Newport Beach there and a good place to get connected with work. We shall see. We have some great mountain biking right out of our house here. There are nature reserves on two sides of us and an old farm town on the other, with the beach at the bottom of the hill of course. Sometimes, in the morning, I am reminded that I live in the Middle East when I walk to my morning car pool meeting. I walk pass Arab Women on their way to work instead of Hispanics or something. It is very strange and seems to always take me by surprise. It really feels like California or something here, until a reminder