Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Yom Kippur In Israel

May all your roads to happiness be clear. (Acre, August 2019)
I've been AWOL on the blog due to traveling and then having to catch up with real life, and a bit of apathy tbh. I keep composing great blog posts in my head and never getting round to typing them  up and publishing. Oh well. This is how it goes in Israel... July and August are the long summer break for schools, and then when you get back to normality, the Jewish festivals kick in. These festivals (New Year, Day of Atonement, Sukkot) last over three weeks with regular days in between during which you have no idea what day it is as every other day seems to be a weekend. Nothing really starts until after the festivals.

This year the festivals are late due to an extra leap-month back in the spring. Instead of falling during September as usual, they only started on October 2nd. All this to say, don't expect any sort of routine from me until the end of October.

Luckily my friend Leonie Lachmish wrote this lovely description of what it's like celebrating Yom Kippur (Atonement) in Israel. I am copying it here with her permission.

Yom Kippur in Israel

By Leonie Lachmish

Every Erev Yom Kippur, while we were bringing up young children, I'd make sure the radio was on for the 2pm news so we could all hear the announcement that Israel's National Airport, Ben Gurion Airport (that functions 24/7) was closing down until after Yom Kippur (around 30 hours later) and then that all the radio stations were ceasing their broadcasts until after Yom Kippur. Every year it thrilled me (and still does) that a modern industrialized high-tech country, shuts down for the holiest of days , Yom Kippur. I don't know of any phenomenon like it anywhere else in the world.

Having been away for Israel during the Ten Days of Repentance over the past 10 years, it was a joy today, two days before Yom Kippur, to hear the radio channels broadcasting songs for Yom Kippur, and discussions about repentance and starting over and saying sorry and being forgiving and changing one's life - from different viewpoints, religious, secular and over the whole spectrum. And all in Hebrew, the language of the Bible, the language of the ancient Yom Kippur prayers.

In the Gemara , it is asserted that a Jew should always live in the Land of Israel, even if surrounded by pagans , rather than outside the Land of Israel even if surrounded by Jews.

I'd add: especially in our modern-day State of Israel, where the Jewish festivals are national holidays and you can know which festival is approaching just from the ads on TV, where the sights, sounds and smells reflect which festival we're at. There is also a spirituality or form of Jewishness in Israel where thousands, even millions, of Israelis who don't count themselves as religious, are nonetheless strongly connected to and in love with their roots, their language, culture and tradition and the land of Israel.

Tomorrow, for the duration of Yom Kippur, there is no law against driving your car but practically nobody does. In Jewish areas , the only cars will be emergency vehicles and ambulances taking medical staff to their hospital shifts. Children on scooters and bikes take over the roads.

Within minutes of the end of Yom Kippur on Wednesday night, after people have broken their fast, maybe just a drink and a slice of cake for those who can't wait to perform the next mitzva, all over the country we'll hear the sound of hammers and nails as Succot (Tabernacles) booths start to be erected in gardens, on balconies, outside restaurants, etc. By Sunday, they will be complete, decorated with children's drawings and colourful pictures and Sunday evening begins our 7-day Succot Festival.
May we all be sealed in the Book of Life ! צום קל וחתימה טובה

And from me: I wish everyone a good year, a successful academic year, a fulfilling twelve months, happy, healthy and full of joy. May you be written in the book of life. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Back To School - R2BC

Good Bye Summer!
Here are my Reasosn 2B Cheerful for this week. The linky is back with Becky on Lakes single Mum.

Back to School (Obviously)
I'm only writing this because my actual classroom time doesn't begin until after the upcoming Jewish festivals, They're late this year so I won't be wall-to-wall scheduled until the end of October. That said, I am working at home and some hours at college but it's a whole different ball game when you're managing your own time. 

DD has started 6th Grade. She was chosen as a supervisor for the crossing guards - because she's sensible and she took it seriously. She also started gymnastics twice a week at the classes two minutes from home. This cuts out two taxi rides a week (we used to walk home) and she can go and return by herself. The teachers are the same as last year - they do different locations on different days, so they know her already.

I took the obligatory photograph of DD on the first day of school but am under strict orders not to share it anywhere. I posted some bougainvillea on facebook instead and got 120 reactions so that was some compensation as I wasted the morning liking other people's back to school photos. 

The weather has cooled
A bit. Or I could be imagining it. But the mornings do seem a bit cooler and the nights a bit colder at least.

I have builders in my apartment. This in itself is not a reason 2B cheerful but the fact that they started after three days delay and a lot of rescheduling appointments on my part, is great. 

I'm scraping the barrel here
I can't think of anything else. God's in his heaven and all's right with my world, for the moment. Pht pht pht. PGTGABW*

*Please God, thank God, all being well. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

R2BC - End Of Summer

I once wrote a blog post about why you have to go away during the summer and how you can do it without spending a fortune. I wrote it when DD was 4 1/2 but it's still relevant for older kids. We were coming to the end of nine weeks of school break for DD and although I've been working steadily on online summer courses and prep for next year (supposedly), we were beginning to feel like we'd done nothing. Because we have a family wedding in London in the autumn, I regarded that as our holiday and didn't organize anything for the summer (apart from some days out). However, re-reading that blog post, I decided to cobble together a summer holiday.

It started out with a trip to my happy place - my friends' kibbutz in the south. We traveled down on the Thursday afternoon for a wedding celebration that evening. On the Friday we hung out at the pool with friends and then we stayed for a full Shabbat of after-celebration, known as the Groom's Shabbat. It involves a lot of eating, drinking, chatting, singing, silly games, and some dancing. And it was all wonderful.

We returned to Jerusalem in time to do our laundry before heading off again in the other direction - to Acre in the north. My friend and her son, whom we often go away with for short breaks (see Independence Day Holiday for example), found a reasonable deal on two nights in a hotel on the beach, with a pool. We've been to Acre before but it was four years ago. The kids were younger and we happened to go on a day that was so hot we couldn't enjoy it as much as we'd have liked to.

This time the weather was perfect. We arrived at midday and the kids spent a couple of hours in the pool. Then we got our rooms, unpacked and rested for a while before heading into Acre. We went on a thrilling motor boat ride, surfing the waves swell and getting thoroughly sprayed. We loved it. We even forgot about the irritatingly loud Jewish wedding music playing the whole time. Seriously, it was motor boat on the Meditteranean Sea, not a Bar Mitzva party. Dinner followed with local fish freshly caught that day and then back to sleep shower, watch tv (the kids) and drink tea (the grown ups) on the balcony overlooking the sea with the harbour lights from Haifa across the bay.

Day two saw us heading into Acre again after a leisurely breakfast. We visited the crusader fortress and the kids did some archaeology where they learned how the ancient ruins of Acre were discovered and unearthed. They did some stone carving and 'went on a dig' discovering their own bits of pottery.

After that we walked through the crusader tunnels. You start off bent double which wasn't so comfortable but I concentrated on not tripping over my shoes. Suddently I heard giggling and saw they were all laughing at me. The ceiling had been a regular height for about 25 metres and I'd not noticed. I was hobbling along with my nose to the ground when there was absolutely no need.

The afternoon was spent back at the pool of course. Two more friends joined us for dinner, each with another child. On the third day the boys wanted to go to an extreme sports park and the girls didn't. The family with the other girl took DD back with them to near Tel Aviv for more days of fun (a pool with a massive slide, a movie, Legoland Tel Aviv and a bike ride) and sleepovers. I took a pleasant ride back to Jerusalem on the train and had two whole days to myself.

DD was delivered home three days later for a grande finale lunch - I bought her favourite caramel cheese cake from Roladin. We were happy to be home together but so pleased that we'd had a lovely summer holiday too.

The Reasons 2B Cheerful linky is with Mich for the last time this summer, over on Mummy from the Heart

Sunday, August 11, 2019

R2BC - Actual Colouring

On Friday I wrote about clearing out DD's bedroom and how one pile of art supplies, artwork, and school books was left to do. Today we tackled it together. And then we went through the list of things she needs for school. Read on, it was a very pleasant experience all round and definitely worthy of Reasons 2B Cheerful.

The linky is with Mich on Mummy from the Heart for the whole of August.

School Supplies
Amazingly, from the long list, we only need to buy a geometry set (compass, two set squares, and a protractor) and a pack of 10 A4 ring bound notebooks. Everything else we have left over from previous years - even school t-shirts that still fit and sticky labels. We agreed that we'd forgo a new school bag and pencil case this year as she'll want to have new ones for Secondary School next year. We also already paid for the full set of textbooks and workbooks that will be given out at school in a couple of weeks. Sorted. 

Down to the last pencil
Reader, we organized DD's room down to the last pencil. Everything now has a home and all the rubbish has been thrown out. She hasn't said it, but I can see that DD is enjoying being in her room now. I caught her just sitting on the bed and looking around appreciatively. Later she came and asked if she could have a rug. It was very sweet. 

We also dealt with all the pens, pencils, highlighters, and felt tips that were in a hundred different pencil cases and boxes. They're still in several cases and boxes but are now more consolidated. We also found a book of cards and envelopes to colour. DD got it as a present and used it once. It's lots of fun. You colour the card and the corresponding envelope (which you fold yourself ) and there is a matching sticker to seal each one. 

I'm going to a birthday dinner and a wedding this week. At the wedding I'll see my friend's daughter who has just had a baby. And in January I did a Paying it Forward game on Facebook. The first five people to reply to the announcement could expect a surprise at some time during the year. Well it's pay-forward time and three of my recipients will be getting their surprise within the next two weeks. So that's six cards and envelopes to colour and make. I did three of them today. It kept me out of the fridge so win-win. (Incidently, it happens to be a fast day in the Jewish calendar today. It's a full 24 hours, sunset to sunset, when we remember the destruction of the Temples and the beginning of the exile from Jerusalem. I started late but I'm going to finish late too so all's good.)

Have a good week y'all.  

Friday, August 9, 2019

Coloured Pencils

I can't believe I put DD's name on every  pencil she took to 1st Grade.
As she goes up to 6th grade, we have finally come to the end of some of them.
Where did that eternal (well nine weeks)  summer holiday go? We only have three weeks left! How did that happen? In my defense, my teaching assignments never really ended.

The grande finale involved a surprise intensive course last week. I taught for six hours a day, spent my evenings  grading and preparing the next day, forgot about the diet completely (there's only so much intensity you can take without pizza for supper, and cold for lunch the next day) and I let DD watch tv all day and half the night (whilst eating said pizza). And of course there was no blogging. But we got through it and the extra money will be welcome.

On Thursday afternoon it finished. I came home to an apartment in a state of chaos, and not clean. Overflowing laundry baskets and no food in the fridge, freezer or cupboards. It was time to take back control, big time!

On Thursday evening I reorganized DD's bedroom. I'd already culled a load of books the last time I did a big sort out about two years ago. Since then her bedroom has degenerated into low-grade tidy and less tidy mode. There was lots of confusion as to what each drawer was designated for and a mish-mash of 'stuff' in a number of storage boxes.

All the books went onto the bed and I did a real Conmari on DD's behalf. Some books were siphoned off for my school library, some to pass on to friends with younger grandchildren (yes I am that age), others to my teaching resources, and a few to throw away. (Yes you can throw away books.) It's strange how books that we absolutely had to keep only a couple of years ago, don't interest us at all now.

The storage boxes now contain 1. Lego (because it's just too expensive to give away), 2. Art supplies, and 3. empty to be decided. The games are all in the living room sideboard. Also culled - we no longer need "Who Am I?" or 300 piece jigsaw puzzles. DD's clothes were already organized so nothing to do there.

The big problem area is years of accumulated colouring pencils and felt tip pens. We never throw them out, of course, and every year there are new sets received as gifts or just to start off the academic year with pristine supplies. There are now boxes and numerous pencil cases filled with perfectly good coloured pencils but just not in sets.

I take one pencil case-full for teaching and I regularly top it up from the supply of orphan pencils. Sometimes you get a pencil that won't sharpen because the lead is broken all the way through. Those do get chucked. And very occasionally a pencil will be absolutely finished down to the quick. These are also lovingly chucked into the bin.

I had to get the room tidy as one of DD's friends turned up for an impromptu sleep-over. This turned out to be an amazing incentive not to just leave half of it for the next day. There's one pile of colours, school supplies and artwork left to sort out but I told DD she'd have to do that herself over the weekend.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Day At The Pool In 1982 - R2BC

This week's reasons 2B cheerful comes to you from 1976 - 1987, a swimming pool just outside Jerusalem, I was in Seventh Heaven, and we missed the final week of July R2BC linky so this one is with the August linky on Mich's Mummy from the Heart. So traversing time and space, lets go...

On Wednesday we went to the pool at Messilat Tzion, a village just outside Jerusalem. We went with friends who are early risers and movers so we left at 8.30 in the morning. Arriving as the place opens allows you a prime spot near the pool, but not too near. Our children can swim so we want to be able to see them but we don't have to be actually at the poolside. Also, at that time of the morning there are only a few children in the pool and two lifeguards on duty.

We found a shady spot on the grass under a tree and made ourselves at home. Then the music started. Blaring. It could have been a disaster. But as luck would have it they were playing my own personal favourite playlist. A medley of pop from the 1970s and 1980s.

It was all I could do to stop myself getting up and dancing. I did sing out loud though. Every song held a memory for me from 40 years ago.

Summer 1976 - the longest and hottest drought in the UK in my lifetime, so far (I was 14). The grass was yellow, some rural areas had standpipes for water at the end of the streets, washing your car and watering your garden was banned. We sang, "skyrockets in flight, afternoon delight." It's just as good now as it was then.

Summer 1978 the movie Grease came out and my sister and I and the girls next door, sat with our heads almost inside the cassette player singing "You're the one that I want," over and over again until we knew the words by heart.

There was the winter camp 1979, where my friend Mandy and I were the cooks. Ohoh ayay, I love you more than I can say. We changed the next lyric to "and if our food is hard to swallow, oh oh, we'll give you twice as much tomorrow."

Summer 1980, camping in Lanarkshire, Scotland. My baby takes the morning train, he works from 9 till 5 and then, he takes another home again... What they lacked in sophisticated lyrics they made up for with sing-along potential.

Come on Eileen, was the wet weekend in July that I spent with Sharon in Liverpool. It was 1982 and we'd just returned from our gap year on a Kibbutz in Israel.

They just kept on coming. I gazed out across the pool and the palm trees, towards the Jerusalem hills. The scenery and the music carried me back to the summer of 1987 spent in California. La Isla Bonita, and Yeh, I wanna dance with somebody, with somebody who loves me.

The kids (what kids? Oh yes, we had three kids with us) frolicked in the pool. They had ice-creams and later hot dogs and chips for lunch. We left at 2.30 pm just before the heat of the day and the afternoon crowds arrived.

It was the best pool day ever. Except for maybe the pool days back in the real 1970s and 80s.

Monday, July 22, 2019

R2BC - Tackling That Debt

Reasons 2B Cheerful is late because we didn't do very much anything last week. As most of DD's friends were still busy with some type of day camp, we mostly hung out and went to gymnastics. There were a couple of teas out where DD loves one particular cake (the butterscotch cheese cake) but there was also one day when a horrendous heatwave sent the temperature soaring to over 100०F. (About 36०C in Jerusalem but over 100 sounds so much more heroic.) We were very cheerful home-bodies but it wasn't interesting to write about.

Today I'm more interestingly cheerful and joining the linky at Becky's Lakes Single Mum. DD has gone to a friend and I'm making practical plans for tackling that 30,000 debt I wrote about yesterday. Here's what I've come up with so far.

This is key because it frees up any extra income to go towards debt repayment. Accounting for all fixed income to cover all monthly costs and allow for a certain amount for debt repayment every month.

Debt Repayment
Tomorrow I'm going to open a Bat Mitzvah bank account with the monthly amount automatically transferred.

Spending On Wants
The only two places to cut monthly costs are food and spending on wants. I have no more wants after going clothes shopping a couple of weeks ago. There is a certain amount set aside for DD's wants and for entertainment like going to the pool and other summer stuff.

After a year of buying far too much convenience food, I'm determined to switch to more cooking from scratch. Yesterdays's weekly shop was full of fruit and vegetables. And today I'm going to make a batch of pizza dough to divide and freeze. It's more time consuming. Last night I cut up a fruit platter for DD whereas I never have to help her grab a packet of crisps or a biscuit. It's also a health thing so I'm excited about it.

The money saved doesn't directly add anything further to the debt repayment but it will help to make the budget balance so that everything else is covered by fixed income.

Extra Income
All extra income from occasional work, tax returns, and the annual Single Parent Education Grant, will go towards debt repayment.

The 10 Shekel Jar
I'm not cutting up my credit card and living out of cash jars like Gail Vaz-Oxlade advises her clients. we're doing a reverse jar savings. Every time I have a 10 shekel coin in my purse at the end of the day, it goes into the jar. I thought of doing it with coppers or 1 shekel coins but I'd end up with a full jar worth not very much. I'm hoping the 10 shekel jar will eventually add up to 1,000 shekels.

That's it so far. So far so good.