Saturday, January 31, 2015

7 No Surprises #70days70years

I am learning to remember there once lived a person named Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander. She was born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59. May her memory be for a blessing.



by Rabbi Ari Kahn

To read the essay click on the title above. Here are my thoughts.

Rabbi Kahn tells the moving story of Rabbi Yisroel Zeev Gustman, a survivor of The Shoah and a living link to the lost Jewish world destroyed by the Nazis, and Professor Robert J (Yisrael) Aumann, Nobel Prize winner for economics.

Rabbi Gustman lost his baby son Meir in The Shoah. Professor Aumann's son Shlomo fell defending his country. Rabbi Kahn tells us how Rabbi Gustman lingered at the shiva of Shlomo Aumann, saying that he had not had the chance to sit shiva for his own son, Meir. He said that while Meir is in the congregation of the Holy Departed because he died for being a Jew, Shlomo is a leader of that congregation as he died defending other Jews.

There's more but skipping to the postscript, Rabbi Kahn tells us how he met Rabbi Gustman in the street one day and asked him to bless his young son who was sitting in his buggy. The surprising blessing was, "may he be a boy like all the other boys." In other words, may there be no big differences between him and all the other boys.

Many years ago when I was a single 20-something going to work every day and dreaming of exciting things in the future, I said to my friend Judy Ta'ir, "sometimes I get scared that this is it. Nothing is going to change and this is my life for the next 40 years."

Judy worked as a psychologist in Alyn Hospital - a world leader in pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation. She was at that time also the mother of a small child. Her reply to me was, "Rachel, I pray that nothing changes and that this is my life for the next 40 years."

I didn't understand her at the time. As I got older and wiser I understood it more. When I became a mother, I too started to pray for an ordinary life in which there are few changes. And I still do.


Friday, January 30, 2015

6 A Week Is A Week, Or Is It? #70day70years

I am learning to remember there once lived a person named Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander. She was born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59. May her memory be for a blessing.


by Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein


You can read the essay by clicking on the title above. Here are my thoughts. 

I found the opening paragraph of this essay the most fascinating. The fact that the Western World still has seven-day weeks and celebrates the end of each one with a holiday. Rabbi Goldstein points out that every other cycle of time is measured according to the physics of the natural world. One year is the time it takes the earth to orbit the sun. A month is the cycle of the moon in relation to the position of the earth. And a day is one rotation of the earth on its own axis. Only a week is based on an ancient text that is not even followed by most of the people or cultures of our world.

In the past different lengths of week have been implemented in different countries and cultures. Indeed some Asian and African cultures still have a traditional calendar with different lengths of week, anything from 3 days to 10 days. 

As late as 1929 the USSR changed from a 7 day week to a 5 day week with different days off to maximize production. When this wasn't satisfactory as families could never enjoy the same day off together, they changed again, in 1931, to a 6 day week. This time they all had the same holiday whilst still getting rid of the undesirable religious Sunday. In 1940 the whole experiment was abandoned and they went back to 7 day weeks. It turned out that 5 working days was just not as efficient as 6 working days. 

From 1793 to 1802 and again for only 18 days in 1871, France experimented with the decimal week. It makes sense when you consider that all other measurements and numbers are based on the decimal system. But no sense when you still have 365 1/4 days in a year and between 28 and 31 days in a month with no decimal connection whatsoever. The experiment failed when workers complained that one day off in 10 was untenable, despite having every 5th day as a half holiday. It was also awkward for Christians who observed their sabbath on Sundays.  

The funniest weekly system, however, is the blocking timetable tried in some schools in the 1990s which led to chaos and confusion. As a solution to not enough periods in the week and lessons that are too short, a system of longer lessons with a 6 or 8 day cycle was introduced. This meant that, for example, any Monday was different from other Mondays depending on which day of the cycle fell on that Monday. You know that it's Monday but is it day 3 or day 7? And different year groups could be running on different cycles. So on Monday you might be teaching Year 1 on day 3 followed by Year 5 on day 4. 

It seems that 7 days is optimum. Bible or no Bible it seems 6 days of work, even if one of those days is working at home on the garden or your hobby, followed by a day of rest is what best suits human nature. 

Personally, I'm not interested in how you choose to celebrate your day of rest. There are rules and regulations for Jews but, seriously, it's the essence of the day that appeals to me. One day to step back and focus on your friends and family, with no rushing between appointments and obligations. One day in every 7 to unwind, relax, and regroup. Perfect. 


  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

5 The Sacrifice Of Sarah #70days70years

I am learning to remember there once lived a person named Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander. She was born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59. May her memory be for a blessing.


Essay 5 #70days70years

Abraham
by Rabbi Dov Lipman


You can read the essay bu clicking on the title above. Here are my thoughts. 

Abraham is held up as the pinnacle of everything that is good. He searched for and found the truth about the one God of creation and ruler of the universe. He rejected idol worship which he believed to be wrong. He was generous and hospitable to strangers. He followed God's words with blind faith and devotion. As our founding Father he ticks all the boxes. 

However, Abraham is eventually asked by God to sacrifice his son as a test of his obedience. And he is willing to do so. Growing up on Bible stories, I too thought this was the absolute most you could do to prove your love for the Almighty. Then, many years ago, I heard Rabbi Donniel Hartman lecture on the subject. Rabbi Hartman said, "what was he thinking of? As a father of young children myself (at that time) I would have refused. Sorry God, but that's one test too far for me."

This was a lightbulb moment for me. Either not everything we read in the Bible is right, or we are reading it the wrong way. 

As children we are taught that the loving God had no intention of making Abraham actually go through with the sacrifice so that's all right then. Except that when they returned home they found that Sarah had died of a broken heart. Yes, it might have been her time to go anyway. She was a very old woman after all. However, you can die contented or you can die in despair that your husband is about to kill your only child. 

Rabbi Lipman writes that the good and wise Abraham understood many things way before his time but he never got to grips with how God dealt with him. He went along with it anyway because he had faith. Rabbi Lipman suggests that the lesson here is physical human beings can never fully comprehend the ways of God but we should not waver from our spiritual journey just as Abraham accepted that he didn't know everything. 

But between them God and Abraham killed Sarah who died a sad and lonely death for no good reason. Maybe we should read this story as an example of what not to do? It's not so blasphemous to suggest that our forefathers made mistakes, it's human nature. If we are to regard the Bible as a manual on how to live our lives as well as a (loosely) historical document, we need to be able to recognise the mistakes as mistakes. We also need to give weight and validity to the experiences of the women. 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

4 The Nazis #70days70years


I am learning to remember there once was a person named Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander. She was born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59. May her memory be for a blessing.


Essay 4 #70day70years
by Professor Laurence Rees


You can read the essay by clicking on the title above. Here are my thoughts.

Professor Rees asks the question, how could a cultured society in the middle of the 20th century, participate in the biggest genocide of all time? How could ordinary people with ordinary jobs and families go along with the notion that murdering their neighbours, colleagues, and friends, and their children, was the right thing to do?

Interviewing Nazi war criminals years after they had retired from their jobs and had nothing to lose by telling the truth, Professor Rees was shocked to find that, unlike the men who served under Stalin for example, these men did not hide behind the excuse of following orders. They did not say they were brainwashed or they had to comply in order to save their own lives. They really believed that eliminating the Jews was the key to a peaceful and prosperous Germany in the future. They believed they were killing the root of all evil. They still believed it was the right thing to do. And they were not sorry.

In his book The Pity of It All, Amos Elon, "shows how a persecuted clan of cattle dealers and wandering peddlers was transformed into a stunningly successful community of writers, philosophers, scientists, tycoons, and activists." He goes on to trace, "how a small minority came to be perceived as a deadly threat to German national integrity." The pity of it all was that despite rising to the top echelons of everything and feeling as German as was possible to feel, these emancipated Jews were never more than tolerated.

A group of outsiders who loved German culture almost more than the Germans themselves, were an easy scapegoat for all of society's ills. This had been going on since the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1848 so it was there for Hitler to use to his advantage. How much more immediate and effective it is to fight the enemy on your doorstep than against some mythical threat from across the seas. With brilliant propaganda engineered by Josef Goebbels, the Jews were blamed for the crushing defeat of WW1, the devastating Depression of the 1930s, and portrayed as the biggest obstacle to a brave, new, magnificent, Aryan future.

How many of us have reacted to something online with disgust and commented and shared without checking the facts? I've done it many times although I am learning to be more discerning. Just because it's in print it doesn't mean it's true. But how easy it is to contribute to a snowball effect of hatred based on misinformation. I hope we would stop short of murder but even adding our small flake of incitement could lead to something way beyond our powers of control. I shall think of what mindless believing and following led to in Nazi Germany next time I'm tempted to jump on a bandwagon of protest without checking out the facts for myself.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

3 A Naughty Girl #70day70years

I am learning to remember there once lived a person named Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander. She was born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59. May her memory be for a blessing.

by Sara Yoheved Rigler 


To read the essay, click on the title above. Here are my thoughts. 

If you believe in original sin or even if you don't but think you are essentially a bad person for some other reason or no reason at all, then it is impossible to repent. You can't change who you are so the most you could hope for would be faking good behaviour.

Sara Rigler writes that people who refuse to own their mistakes, their crimes, their sins, and instead give excuses why it wasn't their fault, are people who believe deep down that they are bad and worthless. Taking responsibility for their misdemeanors would be facing up to the [erroneous] fact that they are somehow rotten inside. 

In order to repent you need to believe that you are essentially a good person who has made mistakes, made bad decisions, and taken the wrong path. Why would God make bad people? You need to believe that you can atone for your crime and that you will come through the process in a position to try again and do better. Certainly you will not commit the same offense again if you have seriously repented. However, you also need to believe that you are able to go forward and do good in the world, be good in the world, otherwise what is the point of repentance?

How important it is, therefore, that children should grow up believing they are good. That when they are naughty, as all children are sometimes, it isn't because they are essentially bad but rather it was a bad choice of action. What incentive is there to behave well if you are actually a bad person? Not much.

It's not helpful to label a child as a naughty boy/girl. Even if you only mean it to be a reflection on one recent event and not an absolute truth, that may not be how the child takes it. How much more so a child with attention problems such as ADD, who desperately wants to be good but keeps being told that he/she is a naughty boy/girl. Eventually they will believe it and give up trying. 


Monday, January 26, 2015

2 Sprituality #70days70years

I am learning to remember there once lived a person called Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander. She was born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59. May her memory be for a blessing.


by Rabbi Dr Abraham Twersky



You can read the essay by clicking on the title above. Here are my thoughts. 

If God made man in his own image then what was given uniquely to mankind and sets her apart from other animals is the spirit of mankind. Therefore it follows that if you put these unique gifts to good use you are being spiritual. As Rabbi Twerski points out, the biggest compliment Jews give each other is to say that someone is a mentsch. Literally a man, a human being, but used in the sense of being a gentleman. 

According to Rabbi Twerski, the unique features of our spirit are:
1. The capacity to think about our existence.
2. The capacity to volitionally improve ourselves.
3. The capacity to delay gratification. 
And 4. The capacity to reflect upon the consequences of our actions, how something will affect us and others in the future.

We read that if you do these four things over and above the call of duty, this is spirituality. However, Rabbi Twerski begins his essay by pointing out that in Judaism spirituality is not withdrawing from the real world, we are not encouraged to embrace asceticism, be hermits or live as monks. And yet, even in the real world with jobs, families, and a glass of wine, these features of the spirit seem somewhat self-centred. 

I remember learning in college that what sets man apart from other animals is communication. Before you start on about your expressive pet dog or horse, in the words of Bertrand Russell, "No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his parents were poor, but honest."

In our most prominent prayer, the Shema (translated below), we are instructed that God is unique and blessed, and you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. We are then given a set of instructions about what to do with these words. We should teach them to our children, speak of them at all times, and write them in prominent places where they can be read easily and frequently. In other words we should communicate. 

We are not commanded to reflect upon our existence or delay gratification. We are commanded to teach and communicate. I'm not just saying this because I'm a teacher. I believe that we are all teachers (an idea I learned from Rabbi Gordon Bernat-Kunin back in 1988). To teach selflessly is to carry out the spirit and the word of God. To pass on your knowledge and skills, is the greatest gift you can give to the world. To do this with love and patience is, for me, spirituality.  

The Shema
Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. Blessed be His name for His glorious kingdom is forever and ever. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.
What does spirituality mean to you?



Saturday, January 24, 2015

1 Surviving #70days70years

I am learning to remember there once lived a person named Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander. She was born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59. May her memory be for a blessing.



by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. 

You can read Rabbi Sacks' essay by clicking on the title above. These are my thoughts.

Why did the Jews survive being exiled from their nation state and continue to exist for the next almost 2,000 years, while other great nation civilizations, like the Mayans and the Romans, disappeared completely?

Rabbi Sacks cites Rebecca Costa's theory that civilisations die when their problems become insurmountable and they cannot overcome this cognitive threshold. According to Costa the first two signs of breakdown are 1. instead of dealing with problems, people carry on as normal and simply pass the problems on to the next generation. And 2. people irrationally take refuge in extreme religious devotion because they cannot cope with the facts.

When the 2nd Temple was destroyed in 70CE the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem, with no return in sight and no access to their holy sites. They had to live among the other nations of the world but they didn't give up everything. Instead they adapted from a nation civilization into a transportable religion. Temple worship became synagogues, sacrifices became prayers, the High Priest atoning for their collective sins became individual repentance, the people of The Land became the people of The Book.

It has always been debated: is Judaism a religion or a race? Now I know where this question comes from and that the answer is both. We could have saved hours of discussion at Jewish Summer Camp had we known this 35 years ago.

However, it wasn't only adapting to a new reality alone that kept the faith, it was this in combination with a loyalty to the past. In the adapted religion they continued to celebrate festivals connected to the agricultural seasons of the Land of Israel, they continued many of the practices of the Temple albeit in symbolic form, they kept their ancient names, the kept their dietary traditions, and they continued to intermarry as if they were not living amongst other populations.

Rabbi sacks writes this loyalty to the past coupled with adapting for the future ensured Jewish survival in exile "despite the hostility shown to them." I would say that perhaps it is because of the hostility shown to them - when no country claims your religion as the official one, you have nowhere to run except to each other.

This essay gives a warning to all nations who are feeling a sense of decline. I read the Daily Mail Online so don't tell me there's not an underlying worry in that direction right across Europe.

Of course this essay does not give all the answers, it's only four pages long after all. The question I am left with is a matter of degree. How loyal should we be to our past in order not to jeopardize our future? And how much should we adapt to modernity without losing our very essence?

There is no consensus on this one. That's why we have both Orthodox Jews and Reform Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Royalists and Republicans, UKIP and Tony Blair.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

70 Days for 70 Years

I am learning to remember there once lived a person named Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander. She was born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59. May her memory be for a blessing.


In April it will be 70 years since the end of  The Shoah (The Holocaust). I once wrote a 100 word challenge on what it means to me. I have reprinted it here:

Lest We Forget

History and yet a part of my life. Peers without grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins. Friends' parents sobbing behind closed doors. Children who are replacements for beloved families lost. Roles they can never live up to. I know them.

Born only 17 years after, I've spent my whole life trying to squash those 17 years smaller. Watching every film archive, reading every book, trying to get closer. Why? Because I was bequeathed the collective memory to carry and safeguard lest we forget. I remember something I never experienced. We all do. Like stories of your babyhood you remember only from the repeated telling.


We have always talked about the six million Jews who were killed in Europe between 1938 and 1945 and we always knew people who were there with some of those six million and who, by some miracle, survived. People who put names and lives to the numbers, people who loved them, people who grew up with them, people who were directly bereaved.

Now those survivors are very old and in another generation the number 6,000,000 will be a number without personal connections. In his last letter dated Vilna 1941, David Berger wrote, "I should like someone to remember that there once lived a person named David Berger."

We are shifting our focus from numbers to real people. For 70 days from the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the extermination camp at Auschwitz I will be taking part in an enormous project spanning nine countries and in four languages. The launch video describes it best:



I shall be learning for Gezela Lorinz nee Noilander, born in Oradea Mare, Romania, 1885 and died in Auschwitz, 1944, aged 59.

I am linking this post to Give Thanks Thursday on Mummy from the Heart because while we remember and mourn, we also give thanks for what we have achieved since those dark days of The Shoah. 
I give thanks that those of us who survived are in a position to take part in such an amazing project to remember and honour our family who did not. (I read recently that all Ashkenazi Jews are at most 5th cousins so the word family is not used lightly.)
I give thanks that we have our own country and our own army to protect us against racial and religious crimes. 
I give thanks that we live in an age of technology whereby it is easier to share knowledge and come together to prevent anything like this happening again. 


70 Days for 70 Years starts on Sunday and I shall be blogging about it regularly. 




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Tidbits #27: The Lola Edition

Birthday Party in School
1
DD: I'm hungry.
Me: Supper is in 10 minutes.
DD: I can't wait 10 minutes. What can I have to keep me company?

2
DD (doing a maths workbook): 1 less than 9. Hmm what's one more less than nine?
Me: One less than nine, not one more-less.
DD: OK, one more less than nine is...?
Me: There's no more!
DD: There is, I'm just only on the first one.

3
DD: What are you giving me to eat?
Me: Tuna in pitta.
DD: NO, I DON'T WANT TUNA IN PITTA! I HATE THAT! I'M NOT EATING IT!
Me: (putting the plate in front of her and walking away) Here it is.
DD: WHAT'S INSIDE HERE? NOOOOOO! I DIDN'T WANT TUNA! I HATE TUNA!
Me: Have one bite and see what it's like.
Silence
DD: Mmmmm (more silence) Mmmmm.


4
The present we bought for the classroom





DD: Who doesn't know how to tap dance? It's easy! You just bang your feet on the floor so it makes a noise. Who doesn't know how to do that?


Monday, January 19, 2015

Four Years, Four Changes, Four Blessings


4

Today it's my four year blogiversary. Four years of blogging. I can feel the changes: 

1. There are fewer posts as some things, like religious and national festivals, are the same each year so why write about them again, and again, and again.

2. I'm less competitive and hung up over the stats. I don't feel the need to join new trendy networking sites in order to 'grow' my blog.

3. In some ways my community of bloggers has shrunk and settled. I have my regular blog buddies and we know each other well enough. I'm not trying to widen my readership by engaging with new bloggers especially.

4. I have become a lazy blogger but a more confident one. I don't need to write 'my blog my rules' as it's a given. In fact, I've noticed that as blogging increases there aren't any 'blogging rules' posts going around these days. This was my Blogging Charter three years ago. The first comment under it, written by me, shows how lacking in blogging confidence I was back then.

Despite all the above I still love my blog and I love blogging when I've got something interesting to write. A couple of weeks ago I wondered if I'd reached a natural end to Midlife Singlemum as I barely managed 90 posts in 2014 (and some months only 1 or 2). But, no, even a once a week blogger is a blogger.

The very best things about blogging are:

1. The record of our lives from when DD was just two years old.

2. The blogging friends I've made from all over the word. A super supportive network of disperate (not desperate) people who are always there to offer advice, celebrate, commiserate, give technical assistance, laugh and generally widen my horizons more than any local hobby group could.

3. Call me an exhibitionist (and you'd be right) but I enjoy my small measure of infamy even among people I don't know personally.

4. I am a regularly published writer at last, which fulfills a lifelong dream.

Thank you for reading. I raise my glass to you all, to Blogger, to the internet, and to freedom of speech. 
Happy Blogiversary to me!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Why The Downton Diet Won't Work

I have just watched all five seasons of Downton Abbey in about two weeks - I usually made it to bed before 2 am (just) except for one memorable night morning when having watched a whole season in one sitting, I crawled under the covers at 4.30 am.

Being obsessed with food and diets, I came up with the brilliant idea of a Downton Abbey Diet. I googled Downton Diet to check that it'd not already been done and got 27,700,000 results in 0.45 seconds. Oh well.

The thought is an obvious one of course. Here are a family of stick thin women who never go to the gym, don't do pilates or yoga, do not jog (heaven forfend) and eat without ever considering calories, carbs, fat, or any other nutritional science. They eat three meals a day and afternoon tea with cake.

On the surface you could make a good argument for the Downton Diet (other than the catchy alliteration). I thought about it a lot and made a study of what and how they actually ate. Of course I'm only talking about the family upstairs. Downstairs they can eat whatever they want as they are engaged in physical labour for upwards of 14 hours a day and running between four storeys to do it. Upstairs, one writer has already pointed out that though they do walk a lot, on the other hand they don't even lift their own hairbrushes to do their hair.

It seemed to be done by eating meals of basic ingredients cooked from scratch, no foods with added chemicals or trans-fats, small portions, eating slowly, no seconds and no eating between meals. I noticed that the women drank a cup of tea at teatime but never took a slice of cake. Every meal was an occasion. Marielle Guiliano says to do that in French Women but she doesn't go so far as to recommend dressing for dinner every night.

I was all set to write the book me. So to extend my research I did a bit  more googling around the subject. Turns out things weren't all Downton Abbey in the 1900-1920s. In fact far from it. So here are the reasons The Downton Diet has been scrapped.

1. The Crawley women are all actresses in 2015, not real women from the 1920s. I know this will come as a shock (it did to me) but they are probably all working out for two hours a day and doing the Atkins/Juicing/5:2 diet.

2. I looked at pictures of real women from that era and whilst none of them is obese (no fast food, processed calorie laden snacks, or take-aways) they are all shapes and sizes. They don't look as skinny as the Downton ladies that's for sure. Some are less curvy and some more so but it looks like no one cared or even gave it a second thought. And in fact men preferred the curvier figure that suggested a life of ease rather than one of a starving skivvy.

3. After The London Season Edwardian society departed for the The Season Abroad, attending spas in Germany and Austria, or Switzerland. There they would be put on a strict regime of diet and exercise. After a month they would return home with their stomachs settled and their weight down. Some people repeated the spa experience again after The Christmas Season. They had to do this every year as, in fact, they lived a life of gluttony. All they did was eat and socialize. Pre-breakfast, sit-down breakfast, mid-morning snack, luncheon, afternoon tea, a fuller tea for when dinner would be late, a multi-course dinner, a late night supper, and nibbles placed in bedrooms in case they were peckish during the night.

4. The cook worked full time in the kitchen. She had no other duties. The raw ingredients were delivered so she didn't even have to go shopping. They do say you have to make the time for a diet but this arrangement might be a bit excessive for anyone with a life. Having said this, Sarah Ferguson did take a few months out to do a full-time diet in Switzerland with a private cook and diet coach. Although she came back ready to teach us all how we too can lose weight like her, we all understood that we may be able to lose weight but not 'like her.'

5. Even the raw basic foods we buy now are not as pure and basic as the food was 100 years ago. Our meat and dairy is full of antibiotics and hormones, our eggs might be too, our fruit and veg is genetically modified and sprayed with dangerous pesticides, much of it comes frozen and vacuum packed from half way around the world, and salt and sugar is added to anything you didn't pick/kill yourself. I'm exaggerating but only because the food industry is so large, powerful, convoluted, and secretive that no one really knows the truth.

So there you have it. The rise and fall of The Downton Diet. Anyone fancy some cabbage soup?



Friday, January 9, 2015

Snow Days Without Snow

It all started last week with forecasts of snow for the middle of this week that escalated into full blown panic-mongering about desperate winter blizzards.

It was due to start at 2pm on Wednesday. After last year's once in 50 years, 5-day snow siege in which drivers were stuck in their cars for up to 24 hours whilst trying to make it up the mountains to Jerusalem, the municipality were taking no chances. School was cancelled on Wednesday. This was announced even though most schools finish before 3pm.

Because last year Jerusalem was inundated with snow tourists from Tel Aviv who then got stranded here with nowhere to stay - they had to open up schools to house them over the weekend, the roads in and out of the city were to be closed as well.

I received an email from my college saying all lessons were cancelled for Wednesday and Thursday. At 7pm. I got an sms from one of the local supermarkets that they were staying open until midnight to allow people to shop for the impending siege.

We did manage to make a snowman of sorts
At 1.20pm on Wednesday it started to snow. I would have called it sleet (rain and snow) but friends taught me the word graupel meaning hail and snow. It landed on wet ground and instantly disappeared into slushy puddles.

Forecasts said possibility of snow over night. There were thunder and lightning storms that night but no more snow. They announced that a decision about school on Thursday would be made at 6am. We didn't bother to set the alarm. School was re-scheduled to start at 10am instead of the usual 8am as they were worried about black ice. Reports said that about 5 children per class showed up. Well you can't promise a snow day and them take it back can you? We stayed at home and did lego, workbooks, movies, colouring and food. It did rain a lot.

Thank you Miriam and Charles for the lego caravan
However, the big storm was finally due to arrive this morning. We were warned of heavy snow from 9am till midday. We were urged to shop for the weekend on Thursday night so we didn't have to drive in the snow. Everything was cancelled for today.

It's now almost 1pm and nothing yet. A friend just posted on fb that she cooked the carrot they were saving for the nose of their snowman. The funny thing is that school finishes at midday on Fridays. So that's three days off for snow that didn't happen. Whatever.




Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Downton And Discipline

You'll recall that my 'word' for 2015 is Discipline. One of the things I specifically mentioned in relation to discipline is that I am going to bed too late.

The talk in Jerusalem since last week has been all about the snow. Last year we had a particularly severe storm and were snowed in for five days! Hahahahaha, not Alaskan blizzards, about 10cm tops but Jerusalem grinds to a halt at the mere mention of snow. We're not set up for it because in the past it only happened once every three years so it's more worth it to shut down for a couple of days than invest in snow ploughs, etc. However, after last year's snowpocolypse they weren't taking any chances.

Snow was forecast for 2 pm this afternoon (it actually started early at 1.20 pm) so they announced no kindergartens, no school, no colleges or university for two days. LOL, I know, I know.

DD went to bed when she felt like it last night (although we did get all her homework done and it was double the amount because of the impending siege). I didn't get any work done as I was too busy discussing the weather, which hadn't even started yet, on fb. Then I decided it was about time I watched the first episode of season 1 of Downton Abbey.

I knew I'd love it as I grew up on Upstairs Downstairs (the tv series not the real thing). But I wasn't prepared for this. I posted on fb:


So 4 1/4 years late I finally watched the 1st episode of the 1st season of Downton Abbey. I loved it and when he announced they were at war at the end, I burst into tears. I think I can say I am well and truly hooked. No school/work tomorrow luckily, hee hee hee.

So I started to watch episode 2 because it would have been rude not to. On fb:

Rachel Selby It's a bit silly that episode 1 showed the end of the storylines from season 1, unless I accidently watched the last episode first. What's the point of knowing what's going to happen at the end?
14 hrs · Like

No one picked up on that so on I went: 


Rachel Selby I may watch episode 3 now as it's only 1.20 am. 
15 hrs · Like

The rest of the evening went like this: 

Rachel Selby 3 am. I could watch episode 5 and still be in bed by 4. Don't have to get up in the morning, right?
2 mins · Edited · Like



Rachel Selby 4.30am. I really really really should go to bed. ............ 7
4 hrs · Edited · Like

Rachel Selby 7 is the last one in season 1. I'm such an idiot.
12 hrs · Like

Rachel Selby OH FFS!!!! I watched episode 7 first when I thought I was watching 1! I THOUGHT it was weird that they showed the end of all the story lines in the first episode and then went back four years. Oooof. I'll watch episode 1 tomorrow. I'm such a moron!
12 hrs · Like · 3

I watched the real episode 1 this morning. 

My lovely friend Timna was kind to enough to remind me about my 'word' at around 1 am. At that point I couldn't even remember what discipline meant let alone how to implement it. 

I even dreamt about Downton last night (well early this morning actually). A bit crazy as dreams usually are. I had Sybil and Matthew running off to Manchester in the manner of Hodel and Perchik running off to Siberia. It should have been the chauffeur but come on, be real.

I noted that Chavaleh isn't everybody's favourite in this film but I was still sorry she didn't get her man. 

And that Tseitl is no Tseitl I can tell you, even if she too is determined to choose her own husband. I thought of the meme: Remember dear, Karma's only a bitch if you are. 

I have serious work to do tonight and yet I can hear the dainty clink of crystal wine glasses, the clip-clop of the horses preparing for the hunt, the bustle of life below stairs, ........ *sighs*