Showing posts from October, 2007

Yom Haledet Sheli!

(My Birthay!) I was born in a hospital in Tustin (I think), California, The United States of America, on October 30, 1962. (Thanks Mom!) (And see picture of me in high school… couldn’t find any real baby pictures, oh well) that makes me exactly 45 years old… tomorrow. Happy birthday to me!!! Well, wait a second. My Jewish birthday is Cheshvan 2, 5723. What exactly does that mean? Do I have two birthdays, or just two calendars? If the former, then because of the combined effect of having two birthdays every year I would have been 89 on October 14 this year and tomorrow I would be 90 years old. So, that sounds like a bad idea. Nothing against being 90 mind you, I just want to remember a little more for the time I put in. So that just leaves the possibility of two, totally separate and distinct, calendars! But how is that possible you ask? Can we really live with dates like October 30 and Cheshvan 2 at the same time? And just to make it more complicated the dates are never the same every

The edge of reality

Recently we had a tee’oule (trip) with my Mother in Law Ruth to the northern borders of Israel between Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. We took Josh with us and played it by ear as we went, with no real plan. This, of course, led to an exorbitant amount of time at the fun zone when we arrived in Kiryat Shmone. It WAS fun though. We took a cable car up the side of the cliff there and witnessed where the trees that were once covering the hillsides were burnt away by the rockets from last years war. We watched crazy downhill bike riders in all their gear ride up and then fly down the mountainside. Josh did a really amazing, and a bit scary zip line down the cliff as well. If you want to watch… now you can at the following link! yeah! I love when technology works. He had fun and so did Baba Ruthie, but maybe it wasn’t until a little later on when we stopped at Tel Dan at a really great restaurant called Dag al HaDan (Fish on The Dan River). We sat on

Dad, urban planning, and the land of Israel

When I was a kid, I grew up in Orange County, California, in the U.S.A. I was born in a town called Tustin, and moved thereafter, to a tract home development in a place in the middle of a really big orange grove called El Toro. We lived there until I was in 1st grade and then we moved to Laguna Beach, California, although it wasn’t like the TV series that you may have seen. Back then, it was a very sleepy and isolated beachside community with a lot of tradition in the arts and to be truthful, drug trafficking. It was heaven to grow up there. We had the Pacific Ocean and the whole town was surrounded by what they called a green belt. This green belt was an untamed natural place that, when we were able to sneak into, became an amazing place to build forts, ride dirt bikes, and just have secrets, and we had a lot of them. My childhood was an enchanting place. It was a place of spontaneous happenings, like the performance art that we did for tourists when we were in high school, and the cr

Shvitote ve oad, ma la’a sote?

(shvitote and more, what to do?) So, what does shvitote mean you ask? It is a simple answer that has a very long and frustrating explanation. A shvita (singular for shvitote) is usually for a good cause, but also produces much anguish for parents and at the same time, much excitement for kids (see picture for emotional value). Yes, you may have guessed it already; we are talking about the dreaded school strikes. The Israeli school teachers are very poorly paid and have been for long enough to insure that the lower education in Israel is not of the highest caliber. We knew this before we came to live here and left what was supposed to be one of the best school systems in the United States. But we still made the decision to make Aliyah to Israel. This was in part because we knew that education is more then just book learning. We knew that to get a proper education for our children we would really need to step up to the plate and do something extraordinary. We needed to make sure that our

Dude… Where’s my Sukka?

Sukkot in Israel is a very different thing than in the States. In the States, we make a Sukka, usually… but only if we are involved with Judaism on a marginally deeper level. There are many ideas about Sukkot and why we are supposed to build one and live in it for seven days, but the most convincing argument comes directly from The Big Guy. He doesn’t say anything about the Arbaim Menim (Four Species), Palm, Citroen, Myrtle, and Willow, but he does say that we need to dwell in the Sukka for seven days. I think we add another day for Simchat Torah because the holiday is actually 8 days long. Before the Holiday begins, right on the heels of Yom Kippur (the very religious actually start as soon as the fast is over) we start to build the Sukka and this leaves us very little time to get it done and livable. There are kids dragging the Skach (branches and leaves for the roof) around all over the place and funny little carts selling it in the Religious neighborhoods. The trees are trimmed all

Strangers in a Stranger Land

Even though I am beginning to understand a bit of Hebrew, know what to do in some situations, and am starting to expect certain things from our new life here in HaAretz, I still think of myself as an utter stranger here. On the inside I feel more at home then any other place I have been in on the planet but I suspect that I will always feel like a stranger to some extent in this amazing and crazy land. I have also noticed however, that when I take a moment to really look at the people around me, that everyone else also seems to be a stranger in some indefinable way to there environments. Even the Sabras (born Israelis) seem a little like they are strangers. Now that is a strange word for born Israelis… Sabra. It comes from a cactus plant that is indigenous to Mexico in Northern America. The idea behind this unusual choice of names is that a Sabra is prickly on the outside and soft on the inside. The analogy sure fits, but what about the origination of the plant? I would think they woul