Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Lag B'Omer Beyond The Fire

It was already a month ago but I wanted to write about Lag B'Omer this year because our traditional class bonfire was different and it gave all of us parents pause for thought. But before I get to that I have to re-frame Lag B'Omer as a rational holiday.

The mini festival marks the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer. The Omer is the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot (Pesach and the Feast of Weeks). In religious terms those seven weeks count the time between the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. In practical terms, they were the seven weeks of the grain harvest (barley first and then wheat) that called for a celebratory feast at the end. It's no coincidence that Christians count seven weeks from Easter Sunday till Pentecost (or Whit Sunday).

In the Jewish Year, the Omer is a time when we don't celebrate weddings, cut our hair or do any frivolous partying. Obviously, there was no time for any of this when everyone had to help with the grain harvest. So of course the rabbis had to come up with a reason for this period of semi-mourning, which wasn't mourning at all but rather a time of concerted and focused effort on one project - the harvest.

Its all a bit silly really. They say that 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students died of a plague during this time because they didn't show enough respect to one another. You couldn't make it up. Oh, they did make it up. And on the 33rd day of the Omer, the plague stopped. Hooray! What probably happened was that 24,000 students fell in the battles against the Romans and on the day that happened to be the 33rd day of the Omer, either they had some minor victory or the war ended. That would tie in with the fact that traditionally children used to play with bows and arrows on Lag B'Omer.

It's also supposed to be the deathday of another great Rabbi. But we don't celebrate the births or deaths of any of the real central figures to Judaism - Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Kings Solomon and David, or even any of the prophets, or, in fact, any of the revered characters to whom God actually spoke (Samson, Daniel). So 1. Bonfires and parties are a funny way to mark someone's death, unless it's Guy Fawkes or Hitler. And 2. If we're celebrating someone's life I'd rather it be Theodor Herzl who paved the way for a Jewish State and so saved thousands of Jews who moved to Palestine from being murdered by the Nazis. Or Alexander Fleming, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain who together discovered penicillin thereby saving millions of people from previously fatal infections and infectious diseases.

I can't find any reference to a natural or agricultural phenomenon linking Lag B'Omer to bonfires so I'm thinking that maybe at the end of the grain harvests they started to burn the stubble in the fields around this date? It could be. It's a theory.

So we have bonfires and parties to celebrate Lag B'Omer. It's huge in Israel. Every school class and youth club have an enormous bonfire and the older kids often stay up all night. I've written about it before.  

Back to our class bonfire. We've had one every year with DD's class since they were four years old in nursery school. When they were very young the children largely ignored the bonfire and we kept them busy with some sort of activity. In 2nd grade the school had one large bonfire for everyone and a fair in the playground. No one was really satisfied with that and anyway, by the next year the open space next to the school had been turned into a proper football pitch with expensive astroturf. So no place for a fire there.

In 3rd and 4th grades the activity was the fire. The kids collected the wood and were fascinated by watching it burn - as we all are to some extent, let's be honest. The game was to build as big a fire as possible and to keep feeding it with more and more wood. However, this year was entirely different.

They built a moderate fire and the obligatory tiny hearth nearby on which to roast marshmallows. Then they spent the rest of the evening playing dodge ball (or king ball, or two camps, or whatever variation they play). Another group sat and sang songs. The parents provided far too much food as usual but we're the same as we we've been for years. It's the children who are noticeably growing up. It was a wonderful thing to see the difference between 9-10 years old and 10-11 years old.

In times of heightened awareness about air pollution and the environment, in which groups are being encouraged to attend central or shared bonfires, and forest fires meant that size and other restrictions were imposed countrywide, it was a good to see that our children have moved beyond the fire.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Slimming Sunday - OMAD

Yes, a stroopwafel on my coffee is allowed.
I waited a day before writing this post (you may have noticed that it's Monday) because I wanted to see the effect of eating an enormous falafel in laffa (a large chewy flat bread) with all the trimmings (8 falafel balls, humus, salad, fried aubergine, pickles, and chips) for my one meal a day.

Here's the story so far. I did intermittent fasting for the five weeks between April 28th and June 2nd. I aimed for 20 hours of fasting a day and, with the help of a motivating phone app (Fasti), I managed it on most days. There were at least five days when I went over 24 hours without food but it averaged out to about 20 hours a day throughout the month. Even with a couple of days not doing it at all and about 6 days of only managing between 14 and 19 hours of fasting, I lost 12 lbs (5.5 kg).

Then came summer. The first week of June I was doing great until Wednesday. On Thursday I went to a wedding and the following weekend was the festival of Shavuot which, being a Jewish Holiday, involved a number of festive meals. I dreaded standing on the scales after all that, but in fact I only put back on 2 lbs.

If you read/watch all the all the information on IT (Intermittent Fasting) it seems that doing intermittent fasting just intermittently can be beneficial. Reducing your insulin levels drastically a few times a week has a good effect. Hence the success of the 15:2 diet. However, I read that even fasting for a day once a month is good for you. I'm purposely staying clear of any scientific explanations here as I'm bound to get it wrong, I'm not a doctor or a scientist, and you can find out everything you need to know online.

Anyway, back to my experience. It was June 9th and I'd put back 2 lbs of the 12 I'd lost. I'd lost the momentum of fasting for most of the day because the wedding and some festival meals are served late at night and then there were the festival lunches...

There was also a slight problem with the 20 hour goal with no time constraints. If you eat after 20 hours every day, your eating window gets earlier and earlier. I managed to adjust it by going for a full 24 hours every few days but that was when I was in school till 3 pm four days a week. Now I'm mostly working from home so it's a lot harder to hold out. (I can see the fridge from where I'm sitting now.)

Thus, I decided to fine tune the IT and say no eating until 4 pm. And then I have OMAD (one meal a day.) I don't have to eat that meal at 4 pm and I usually don't eat until 5.30 or 6. If I'm going out on a Friday night the meal is usually a bit later. If I get an invitation to a Shabbat lunch I'll make an exception. Luckily there are no festivals coming up.

So far, only a week following this new (new for me) patent, I've been eating mostly a big salad for my one meal. However, I have been known to finish off the pasta I made for DD or eat the leftover slice(s) of pizza. I had some hesitation about a spot of dessert after the salad but I often went for it. It was usually a Danish pastry or a Stroopwafel with my coffee. The point is to make the one meal big and filling enough (without stuffing yourself to the gills) to get you through the evening without craving more food. However, if I do need to finish off some pasta or pizza (because it would be rude not to) I make sure I do it before 8 pm.

The scales have been going down slowly but steadily all week.

Yesterday evening I had a school event so I told DD I'd bring falafel home for supper. Mine was the enormous laffa described above. It must be 1,500 calories. I didn't have any dessert. And this morning the scales were down again.

It takes a leap of faith to allow yourself all the foods that have been forbidden on traditional weight-loss diets for the past 40 years. But it seems that it works. I won't be eating laffas every day. I shall return to my salads for the most part and only have dessert when it's there, which is occasionally.

Two weeks into June I'm still on track.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

R2BC - End Of Year Events

DD's Monsters. Everyone liked them except DD.
DD's story is on the left but it's in Hebrew.
Here are my reasons to be cheerful for last week. The linky is back with Becky on Lakes Single Mum this week as Mich is busy with guests and family.

No End Of Year Parties
End of year parties are a big thing in Israel. Some teachers have an end of year party for every class they teach. I spared my students and pupils yet another party and more sugar overload. For my last week of teaching we had relaxed lessons, I wished the students good luck in their exam next week and my young pupils a wonderful summer.

DD's original drawing.
Of course I'll be seeing them all again this coming week for the exam in college and I have to wrap up the library and attend a training session in school. Remember how I was laughing as I finished teaching on Wednesday? Well I did finish teaching but I have teaching related work to do for at least another week - if not more. My laughing has been reduced to a wry smile as I don't have to get both me and DD out of the house by 7.30 am. Small gains.

New Beds
My mattress was 30 years old, it had come through half a decade of children using it as a trampoline - it was that type of old fashioned, fully sprung, bouncy mattress - and it was sagging in all sorts of places. More importantly, it was no longer comfortable. So I went to buy a new one.

Ready for children's television. 
I know things are more expensive in Israel but I was shocked when the man in the bed shop told me the prices. I could probably have got something cheaper in IKEA, however, this is my local bed shop. They made my bed frame and a few years later they added a headboard to it when I realized that no headboard is not at all sophisticated. They provided a new mattress for the child's bed that used to be DD's but then got moved to the spudy. It originally came with a thin sponge mattress and needed upgrading for guests.

The price of the simple mattress (not sponge obviously but nothing amazing) was the price I wanted to pay for something in the middle range. The man told me to lie on the most expensive mattress and feel the difference. Then he offered me the most expensive mattress that had been on a bed in the shop for six months, for less than the simple mattress. Sold.

While I was at it I bought a new bed for DD too. Her 1.2 m. wide box bed took up too much space in the bedroom, we don't need the storage in the box, and I wanted to make her room lighter and airier.

The beds came on Thursday. Mine is amazing. I am now about 20 cm higher up, I can't sit on my bed anymore as it's too high, and I have slept through the night since it arrived.

Here's one by Natan that everyone loved. 
We enjoyed the Artists' Class Finale at the museum on Thursday evening.

Monster Exhibition
DD's year at school all drew monsters and wrote stories about them. They were then paired up with Art Students from The Hebrew University Bezalel Art School. The students produced professional drawings or models of the monsters as if they were to be made into cartoons or books. On Friday all the students came in to school and we had an exhibition of the finished works alongside the original drawings and stories. It was very good.

(Aside: I must confess that DD didn't have such a great experience. Her name plate fell of the wall so at first we couldn't find her work. Eventually we found it on the floor and managed to stick it back up for the photo. Her illustrator couldn't come so she didn't get that experience. But turns out maybe that was a good thing. DD took one look the way her monsters had been interpreted and burst into tears because she didn't like it. We slipped away and came home were she was inconsolable until she accidently dropped a glass dish and cut her foot. That took her mind off the monster at least. We were both glad that it was Friday afternoon.)

That's my blogging score for this week. Not quite the bogging every day that I was aiming for but at least this month has the most posts so far this year. Today starts another week...

Have a great weekend! xxx

Friday, June 14, 2019

Artists' Class Finale 2019

Yesterday we had the closing even of the Artists' Classes. I wrote about last year's fabulous event here.

To remind you, this is a small class of up to 15 pupils who have a passion for art. They do weekly art sessions in school and every couple of months they go to the Israel Museum for a special tour or project. There are about 50 primary schools in Jerusalem who take part. Contrary to folk 'wisdom' in the rest of the world, the programme includes Jewish, Arab, and 'Other' schools; secular and religious. We don't need Madonna to tell us how to work together.

There were about 500 dioramas.
This was the best one. 😜
Yesterday we went to the Israel Museum well prepared with our own bottles of water and summer clothing but the weather was mild, even a bit chilly. We already knew the drill. Daphna from the Museum made a short opening speech in Hebrew and in Arabic. She welcomed 43 schools and reminded the children that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' in art. Whatever you create is your truth.

Each school had an area of the sculpture garden. We had a tree-top previously painted by our wonderful art teacher, Moriya. And each child had a box in which to draw a background and then make a sort of diorama. The boxes would then be stuck onto the tree and displayed with all the other trees in a forest of artistic creativity.

This was our school's finished tree. 
The backgrounds were supposed to be a view or sculpture from the museum but our children mostly opted for sunsets or country scenes. DD did a beach. But by the time all the diorama's had been completed with all sorts of incongruent additions, very few of them were specifically identifiable as Israel Museum based.

Unlike last year, the children really didn't need our help. I gave DD a couple of ideas at the end and helped her cut out the birds and the boat. Mostly I walked around spying taking an interest in other schools. The school where I teach was there with three of my own pupils so I hung out with them for a while and chatted with the parents. Like last year there were loads of people I knew who have children on the programme from other schools. Jerusalem is like that. Still small enough to know people.

Here are some of the other trees from other schools You can click on the photos for a bigger picture:

I loved this background on the tree.

I liked the way this school used real branches and leaves.

These guys decorated the outsides of the boxes to great effect.
This school really used the Museum sculptures.

The most tree-like.

We didn't stay for all the speeches at the end. We learned something from last year. We slipped away and came home on the bus. On the way from the bus stop we stopped to buy half a watermelon for today's event in school. It never ends. It's that time of year.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Slimming Sunday - IF Only Revisited

Two years ago I wrote this post. I'd lost 10 lbs with intermittent fasting for one month and I laid out my plans for the following month. The following month's plans never happened. I managed to keep some of the benefits of IF because even a short period of fasting has longer term benefits, but I lost the momentum.

So last week I was actually in almost the exact same position I'd been in two years ago. If you follow the link, most of what I said then remains true today. This time I added a couple of tweaks and of course the motivation has increased due to my brother's wedding in the Autumn.

I'm not going to explain IF again -  you can read and watch videos about it all day online and I urge you to at least dip into that body of information, especially Dr, Jason Fung and his book: The Obesity Code. Like two years ago, I aimed for one meal a day (OMAD) and this time I aimed to increase my fasting to 20 hours a day. (By fasting I mean not eating. I drink tea, coffee, and lots of water.)

I downloaded an app which times your fasts (Fasti - fasting tracker). There are many many IF apps. You can browse them and choose for yourself. Mine is a simple stop watch that saves the times so you can look back on the week and even the month in various graphic representations (a list, a bar graph a weight loss graph if you put in your weight).

The app doesn't tell you what to do, it only records what you've done. However, I did find it motivating in that when I started to think about eating and I saw the clock on 18 hrs 55 mins and counting, I tended to hold off for the sake of one more hour. Even in the middle of the day, when I saw e.g. 14 hours, I'd think why spoil it? I'd be less likely to throw away 14 hrs of fasting to eat something I didn't need than if I didn't have that clock keeping track for me.

As I said, I set my goal for 20 hour a day. I didn't always get there and there is one 14 hour fast, a few between 15 and 19 hours. There was one full weekend where I didn't do it at all. Otoh, there were many days (at least two a week) where I went over 24 hours without eating. If the 20 hours was up in the afternoon and I was still running around, taking DD to gymnastics or shopping, I often didn't get to sit down and eat till 8 pm. And sometimes, having broken the 24 hours barrier, I'd be motivated to go for longer. Even going to bed in order to add another 10 hours.

On the whole I averaged about 20 hours a day fasting. It's easier for me to fast than to eat in moderation. Better not to open the flood gates even a crack. And I actually enjoy feeling hungry. It's not starving but rather feeling light and knowing that I must be running on stored energy. A mixture of physical and psychological well-being.

I've put the suffering of the cows and chickens on hold for now. I'm not proud of it but I need to concentrate on my own health atm. I've ditched calorie counting and low fat mania completely. I try to eat fewer carbs but I don't forbid myself potatoes, bread or pasta.

I lost 12 lbs in the first 5 weeks (5.5 kg). This past week I, week 6, I'd kept it all off by Wednesday but then I went to a wedding and was invited to two festival meals this weekend. I didn't even weigh myself this morning. I have noticed though, that I am eating much less when sitting down to a big meal served buffet or family style. I pay attention to when I'm full and I stop.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

R2BC - Festival of Weeks

Anticipating the wheat harvest.
Or perhaps just thinking about the pizza we ordered for them.
For all my excitement last week about coming to the end of the academic year and having more time on my hands... turns out it was a bit premature and it has been another busy week. Here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful. There's a linky over at Mich's Mummy from the Heart, where us cheerful bloggers hang out.

On Thursday night I went to a wedding of the son of old friends from my teenage years. The parents and I had loads of adventures together in England in the 1970s - early 80s, from camping in the Wye Valley to campaigning for the freedom of Jews in Soviet Russia. We moved to Israel around the same time. We spent Shabbatot (pl. of Shabbat) together, I celebrated with them the births and Bar/Bat Mitzvas of each of their four children, I worked with the wife for a few years in educational publishing where we wrote maths textbooks together, and they offered me their garden for a baby blessing party for DD.

More about weddings in Israel in another post, but suffice to say this one was lots of fun. Lots of old friends from those early years, lots of catching up and lots of great dancing to music from our era. Perhaps belting out the words to 'I Will Survive!' which aren't the most appropriate lyrics for a wedding, was a bit strange but we went with the flow.

Going to a wedding requires extensive pre-planning on my part. I have to rush home from work, shower and change, if it's a day that DD has gymnastics - take DD to gymnastics, arrange for her to get from Gymnastics to my friend Sarit who graciously has her to stay for the night*, organize how DD will get from Sarit's to school in the morning**, find my way to the agreed meeting point to get a ride to the wedding, make sure my ride is also willing to bring me home again afterwards, and only then relax and enjoy.

*Think about it. If I get home some time after midnight, apart from the enormous cost of a babysitter, what would I then do with the babysitter? I wouldn't expect someone to walk home at that time of night and I don't have a car to take her, nor would I put a teenage girl in a taxi on her own at that time of night.

**On this occasion I let DD miss Stupid Friday at school - stupid because it finishes at 11.45 - and Sarit dropped her off here on her way out.

This is actually the second wedding I've been to in two weeks. It's wedding season. Sarit had DD both times so big big thank you. xxx

63 Up
There was much talk about the long awaited 63 Up which was screened in the UK over three nights this week. Again, I want to write a whole post about it, but I found all the amazing episodes, even 63 Up, on You Tube and binge-watched the whole lot. Coupled with the wedding I went to, the program makes you assess your own life as well as watching the lives of the Up 'children'. The series is charming and alarming and I can see why the participants dread it coming around every seven years. Anyway, more about that in a different blog.

Blogging Along
Last week I committed to blogging every day in June. I managed four days out of seven this week. This was largely due to binge-watching Up on Wednesday, work and the wedding on Thursday and a final push to finish report writing on Friday followed by conking out in the early evening. But hey, I'm fine with 4/7. It's better than 4/31 which is about what I managed last month - not even four I think. I'm still up for it and hope to do better from now on.

Tonight and tomorrow is the festival of Shavuot (lit. Weeks). Traditionally we're celebrating the end of the seven-week grain harvest that started with the barley harvest on Pesach (Passover) and continued with the wheat harvest. Later they tagged celebrating the giving of the Torah on Mt Sinai, onto this harvest festival. Lots of eating, especially cheesecake. Again, more about this in its own blog post.

Have a good week y'all.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Paradise On Earth

The view from our hike stroll.

In the Bible, King Saul, Israel's first King, led a charge against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4). The battle ends with the king falling on his own sword and Saul's sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Melchishua being killed in battle (1 Samuel 31:1-4). Wikipedia

At Gan HaMa'ayanot
I call this one "10" 😋
Our Independence Day holiday - Day 2 took us to Paradise on Earth. (See Day 1 here.)Of course you have to earn your place in Paradise - everybody knows that. So before trying to go there we went on a short hike. Normally I hate hiking in Israel because it invariably involves climbing or walking over rocks. Remember this disastrous outing? But this time we walked on a smooth path towards the enchanted natural pools of Gan HaMa'ayanot (Spring Park - as in natural springs).

Entrance is free. You only start paying for things if you visit the shop, the cafe, hire bikes, or pay for a cart to drive you to the springs.

We frolicked in the first pool on the route. DD was't too sure about the tiny fish that come to nibble your feet but you pay a fortune for this treatment at a spa so I was up for it.

You can choose from several routes of varying degrees of length and wetness. You can opt to take the paths between the pools or walk through the streams that connect them. After the first pool we opted to walk straight back to the car and head for the real jewel in the crown.

Sakhne to my left....
Gan Hashlosha (Park of Three, I think it means three pools), also called Sakhne, is a place dear to my heart. When we arrived on our kibbutz in September 1981 for our gap year, one of the very first places they took us to was Sakhne. I have a very clear memory of my future b-i-l and another boy throwing me off the bridge and into the water head first. I was terrified as I fell but then it was fine of course. And though it's one of the most beautiful places in Israel, I've not been back in almost 38 years.

... and Sakhne to my right. 
We were lucky on two accounts. Firstly it was still April so not too hot. And secondly it was the first Friday of Ramadan so it was much less crowded than on a normal Friday. Oh and a third lucky thing - we didn't arrive on the same day that the Azerbaijani contestants recorded their intro video for Eurovision. (Ahh so that's why you recognize it. Yup).

It cost something to get in - I think about 65 shekels per family of two.

And, unlike God, on the third day we rested. except that it was like God because our third day was His seventh ifyswim.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Gan Garoo

The photo on the Reasons 2B Cheerful post on Saturday, mentioned Gan Garoo in the Beit She'an Valley. The valley is part of the Jordan Rift Valley that runs all the way down the Jordan River to the Dead Sea. Beit She'an is just south of the Sea of Galilee.

I love this area of Israel. It's where I spent a year on a kibbutz for my gap year and it's absolutely beautiful in the spring. Luckily our Independence Day was just at the end of springtime, and this is when we have a tradition (of two years standing, lol) to go away for the whole weekend - even if Independence Day doesn't actually fall on or near a weekend. (We take Fridays off school when necessary and it's allowed because Friday school is only until 11.45, the children are in school six days a week, and their only day off is Shabbat when many people don't travel or spend money. And anyway there is no public transport on Shabbat. Everyone agrees that some flexibility is essential.)

So this year, after the Independence Day Eve fireworks and street party in Jerusalem, we traveled up the country on Thursday morning. On the way to our guest house on Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin - actually a delightful cottage in the countryside, we stopped off at Gan Garoo. It's a play on words. Gan means garden and garoo could be 'where they live.' The 'they' in this case is kangaroos, koalas*, and parakeets from Australia. (Although by now all of the animals are several generations born in Israel.)

Israel is anyway replete with eucalyptus trees that were imported over 100 years ago to help drain the swamps. So walking into Gan Garoo was not so different from the animal sanctuary I visited once near Sydney. The Gilboa stood in place of the Blue Mountains, the sky was blue, but it was only a two hour drive to get there as opposed to a 28 hour flight (or flights) to Australia.

*Okay I'm coming clean about the koalas. There weren't any. Apparently the last one died 18 months ago and they are still negotiating getting some more from Australia. But we did walk among the kangaroos. They were mostly dozing in the sun and the children could pet them. I saw one with a joey in her pouch. Who knew that they go in head first with their legs sticking out? (Someone tell E. H. Shepard. I will never trust Little Roo again.)

The children loved feeding the parakeets with bits of apple on sticks. They were very easily bought tame. You just held the food next to your shoulder or arm and there they landed for a perfect photo op. (Not for us - DD and I didn't want any birds landing on us. No thank you.)

The other attractions at the park included a Dinosaur Maze, a children's playground, a picturesque pond with black swans, and a variety of puzzle 'mazes' for the children to work out. And bats which were actually quite fascinating.

The Dinosaur Maze was amazing. (See what I did there? ☺) The paths were like walking through a forest and around every corner was a life-sized model of a dinosaur. Many of them moved and roared or quietly chewed leaves. It was very realistic and sort of thrilling. There were also lots of interesting facts to learn. Well I thought they were interesting. The kids were more interested in getting lost in the maze and trying to find their way out.

Do you know why dinosaur fossils and bones have only been found in Israel near Jerusalem, in the north, and in parts of the Negev Desert? I.e. none in the centre of the country? Here's a hint - the centre of the country is the coastal plain. Here's another hint - Jerusalem, Haifa and the Galil in the north, and parts of the Negev are mountainous. And the final hint - Dinosaurs only lived on land and not in the sea. (Answers on a postcard - the chances of the diabolical Israeli Post Office delivering them is less than 1%.)

I don't know why I don't have any photos of the dinosaurs. I thought I'd take some. Oh well, next time.

We spent a good few hours at Gan Garoo. I don't remember what it cost because a friend of a friend got us reduced tickets through some membership or other. We bought coffee and ice lollies in the shop but rather than picnic in the pretty grounds, we decided to go elsewhere for a proper lunch.

All in all, a great day out and highly recommended. (But you need to avoid it between May and September if you hate extremely hot weather, as we do.)

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Slimming Sunday - Eureka!

I've always known there must be a secret to weight loss yet to be discovered. Now I believe the secret is intermittent fasting. And here's the amazing thing - I discovered it for myself over 40 years ago and I didn't know it! I even went back to it at least twice in my life and still didn't recognize it.

Here's a potted history of my battle with weight. I was slim until the age of 10. In the 1960s there were no snacks in between meals. If I was hungry I could have an apple.

I started putting on weight after a summer camp where I met fresh bread and butter for tea. By the time I came home I was addicted to carbs and comfort eating. Then I found out that there were indeed a stock of snacks at home - I just hadn't noticed them before.

At age 14 I lost weight again through not eating all day and joining the family for supper. OMAD (one meal a day) way before its time.

By 18 and the stress of O'levels and A'levels, I'd got fat again. It wasn't that the work was too hard, it was my chronic procrastination preventing me from doing any of it. I lived with the panic monster permanently in my head. Obviously I tried to appease him with food.

I spent my gap year in Israel. At the beginning of the year I lost weight whilst on an intensive language course at a university near Tel Aviv. It was August. I couldn't bear the heat, I got shouted at in the dining room one day because I only wanted a drink and they thought I was coming back for seconds, I didn't like Israel, I was miserable. However, there was no food with which to comfort eat so I avoided going to the dining room and lost loads of weight.

I arrived at the kibbutz in September, slim and happy. I loved it. But by the end of the year I'd put on weight again. I didn't want to go home fat so for the final month I avoided the dining room again and it worked. I used to pick avocados every day and eat them like apples.

All the weight went back on during college years. I was living with my mother's kitchen again and I'd not resolved the procrastination problem. The panic monster and I ate to survive.

In my mid-twenties I was living in Israel and worked as a tour guide for American teenagers. We spent six weeks touring the country and I made sure I was always busy during mealtimes - the bank, troubleshooting, preparing, listening to someone's problems.... And we were on the go from morning till late at night. I basically fasted for six weeks and lost loads of weight.

The happiness of feeling thin eliminated the need to comfort eat at all. Then my sister got engaged and I had a family wedding coming up. I used to walk everywhere instead of taking the bus. I got a job as tour guide in the summer and spent three months walking around Jerusalem, including hiking up to the Old City and back twice a day. I allowed myself to eat one thing a day. It could be a bag of chips, or a slice of pizza, or a whopping 1500 calorie felafel in pitta with all the trimmings. It didn't matter as long as it was only one meal a day. I was at my slimmest for my sister's wedding. Phew!

At age 34 a boyfriend who I wasn't over, married someone else. I'd order a family pizza and eat it all before going out to supper. That's how much comfort I needed. I put on weight again but managed to get back under control by my 40th birthday with a Slimming World regime. At 46 I had DD and was so happy, the weight just fell off. Then I was a single mother - back it all came and more.

About two years ago, in desperation and after a few false starts with various fads, I started researching a solution. By this time it wasn't only about weight. I knew I was on the brink of serious health issues. Apart from a blood test showing that I was pre-diabetic and high blood pressure for the first time in my life, I have no proof. But believe me, I know. And later down the road I'll write about it in more detail. It had to stop.

Last year I discovered Intermittent Fasting. I bought Dr. Jason Fung's book, The Obesity Code. I devoured the book, I watched all his You Tube videos. I believed he was right because I'd done this exact same method in the past and it always worked.

I played at it for over a year and managed to reverse some of the health issues by intermittent fasting intermittently as well as cutting way down on sugar, trying to limit carbs (not always successfully) and not worrying about natural fats (dairy, olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc...).

However, I couldn't get strictly on the programme. To some extent I was derailed by other theories and noble causes. Veganism and the ketogenic diet being diametrically opposed meant that I kept skipping between them. I believed in them both and I still do to some extent. But you need to choose one diet and stick to it.

Finally I ditched the vegans and the ketogeniuses and concentrated on the fasting. It only took one week of success and I was hooked. Spurred on by the fact that my brother got engaged and there'll be another family wedding in September, I've lost 12 lbs (5.5kg) in five weeks.   

Next Sunday I'll spell out exactly how it worked for me last month. Meanwhile I urge you to watch Dr Fung on You Tube.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

A Million Views! - R2BC

This is where we were when I passed a million views.
Gan Garoo in the Beit She'an Valley
I got stuck in May. Not for want of things to write. I can't tell you the number of times I sat on the bus mentally composing a blog post on recent events or current affairs. And then I just didn't. I could blame it on the unseasonably hot weather we've had this month. Or a work project that I couldn't seem to get going on, but which is now thankfully done and dusted. The end of the academic year demands to write exams, reports, and semester summaries whilst simultaneously planning summer courses and next semester. The students who didn't pace themselves with online courses and are now throwing 10 tasks at me for grading all at once, because they want to graduate by the end of the semester.... The list goes on. Suffice to say: All of the above.

But it's June 1st and I'm back. Not just back but really back. I missed blogging. I'd hate certain events of the past month not to be recorded on the blog. I also met a few people at a recent wedding who said they follow the blog and enjoy reading about our life. So I'm committing to a daily blog for the month of June. I know that's easy to say on a lazy Saturday morning after a good long night's sleep. However, it's what I want to do so I'm giving it a go.

Whilst I was snoozing, this blog passed the one million views mark. I'd been waiting for it for a couple of months. I was eagerly anticipating the bells and whistles when it happened. I was looking forward to blogging about it. Then it happened during the weekend we were away, and so I missed it. Oh well, I'm telling you now. And actually, so what? It's not about the numbers, it's about the words, right?

So back on topic. Here are a list of my Reasons 2B Cheerful for this week. I'm joining the linky, after several weeks of missing it (sorry I flaked out on you Becky). For the month of June it's over at Mich's Mummy from the Heart. 

1. I finished that big work project and sent it in, did all the editing they asked for, and hopefully I can just sit back and wait to be paid for it now.

2. I'm back blogging with enthusiasm. I lost my blogging mojo there for a while but it's back.

3. The blog passed the 1,000,000 views mark!

4. June is the final push before the Summer Holidays. I don't care that I have two degrees and earn less than a... a ... another person who left school at 16 and did something more lucrative. I have July and August. And in fact, college teaching is only from October to mid- June so I'm laughing. Now don't get me wrong - I work over the summer. I run online summer courses. But it's flexible work and most of it at home. I chose time over money and I'm good with that choice.

5. I lost almost a stone in weight in May. Final weigh-in tomorrow morning. I did intermittent fasting. More about that tomorrow.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week.
Until tomorrow...

Saturday, May 4, 2019

R2BC - The Pesach Edition

Place names for Seder night. 
We went to London for Pesach. I try to keep our travel plans off social media until we've returned home but it doesn't usually work very well. Anyway, lots of reasons 2B cheerful from our holiday. And lots more R2BC from other bloggers over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum.

Seder Night
We have two of them. Both a lot of fun. DD was in charge of making the place names for the table. The photo shows what she made for the first night. Thanks to my friend Janet for the idea - hieroglyphics for the exodus from Egypt. The first activity of the evening was to work out who was who. It's actually quite easy when you know which names you're looking for. We kept ours for bookmarks.

Chihuly at Kew Gardens
The Best Day Out! Thanks for taking us Doreen. This will get its own blog post so no photos on this one.

After years of refusing to wear anything but sweat pants, leggings or shorts with a t-shirt, DD surprised us all at our semi-annual trip to Primark and H&M. "I think I need to change my style," she announced. She then started picking out pretty summer jump suits with delicate shoulder straps and frilly off the shoulder 'sleeves'. I steered her away from the less practical ensembles. I am not about to iron frills although my iron may have to come out after 10 years in the cupboard. And we live in the Middle East so protected shoulders are a must in the summer. Still, it was so much more fun to buy a range of pretty clothes for her.

Fit Flops and Skechers
I always wanted Fit Flops. When they first came out my mother asked me what gift she could bring when she came to stay. I asked for Fit Flops and she brought me a pair of flip flops. Soon after, my sister asked me what I wanted as a birthday present and I asked for Fit Flops (I didn't realize the price at that time). Then she forgot about it and I didn't like to remind her (or maybe she already knew the price). I finally bought myself a pair - years ago, but I made the mistake of buying the ones without the thong. I thought the thong would be uncomfortable for every day. Stupid me. The other kind only came in dowdy designs. They were comfortable and I wore them to death but I didn't love them. After that I discovered an Israeli make that I wore for years (Ben Ami) but they're now more expensive than Fit Flops. So I finally bought my thonged Fit Flops in John Lewis and I love them.

I also discovered Skechers sports shoes. Thanks Marilyn for the recommendation. I'm never going back to other trainers and neither is DD.

Family Wedding
My brother got engaged. He's been with his fiancee for over three years so she's already a part of the family. And so we thought it could continue forever. They surprised us all by getting engaged and we're now waiting to hear when the wedding will be. Mazal Tov Michael and Alyson! xxx

Friday, May 3, 2019

Holiday Guilt

Sunburst from the Chihuly exebition at Kew Gardens
Believe me, it's a thing. It starts before the holiday with things to get done before we leave. Be up to date with work commitments (prep and grading), paperwork (taxes, paying bills, filing, etc...) and cleaning the apartment. The time gets shorter and shorter and we leave for our holiday with work unfinished, paperwork in a pile on the desk, and a whisk round the apartment with a lick and a promise. I should have managed my time more efficiently.

There is also the social media dilemma. I don't want to announce, even in emails, that we will be away for two weeks and thereby implying that the apartment will be empty. Of course I could mention my sumo-wrestler cousin who will be house-sitting with his two mastiffs, but that's like protesting too much - a transparent ruse. So I keep quiet and feel terribly guilty that I'm going to disappear from the blog and people might worry that I've been run over by a bus, or worse, lost interest in writing. Thank you Margie from Toronto, for your concern. I do appreciate it under my guilt. And sorry, sorry, sorry.

The truth will out of course and friends write on facebook, "will you be in London for Passover?" I try to ignore these questions but I feel guilty.

And then my friend's mother suggests we meet for coffee over the festival and I would love to see her. I was the recipient of her hospitality, kindness and wisdom as a teenager and it would be fabulous to catch up. I PM her that I'll call her daughter when I get to London. And other friends whom I'd also love to see, message me and I get all future President of America and I cannot tell a lie. But I arrive in London and I don't call them because I remember that I have a 10 year daughter who doesn't want to catch up with all my old friends over coffee and also doesn't want to spend her whole holiday playing on Gandma's computer while I'm doing said catching up. It's a sad situation - guilty if I do and guilty that I don't.

I get lazy about blogging sometimes but I vary rarely miss a Reasons 2B Cheerful post. A week before the holiday I wrote on twitter to the regular contributing bloggers, that I'm sorry I'm always late with mine but I don't usually have time to get to it before Saturday. A couple of the others also said they preferred Saturday and so it was decided to change the R2BC day to Saturday. Then I disappeared for two weeks without telling anyone even though the move to Saturday was mainly because of me. Guilty.

Whilst in London we went with my cousin to see the Chihuly exhibition in Kew Gardens. It was absolutely stunning and deserves its own blog post. Later that day my cousin posted her photos on facebook and tagged me. I accepted the tag without thinking of the consequences and the cat was out of the bag. "Oh, I see you're in London," wrote Mich from Mummy from the Heart (one of the two R2BC hosts). "I wondered where you were?" Sorry, sorry, sorry, I should have told you.

Of course I did intend to write some location neutral blog posts while I was away but with limited computer access and the fact that it's much more fun playing kalooky and watching endless recorded episodes of Escape to the Country until 1 am and then getting up too late to accomplish anything in the mornings, I didn't blog. Moving back into my mother's house brings with it a certain amount of teenage behaviour and the associated guilt about wasting all that time.

About wasting time. We love being in London. We love the weather, we love the parks, we love the supermarkets, we love the tv, and we love shopping in Watford. We also love a day in London proper (as opposed to the suburbs where we live) and other outings like Kew Gardens, Legoland, the theatre, etc... But we don't have a driving urge to visit loads of museums and monuments, or even to be out and about every day. This holiday involved celebrating Passover which revolved around delicious meals at my sister's house with all the cousins and other guests (including two Seder nights), and a lot of going round to people's houses for tea, coffee, or a light supper. We're a bit grounded as we don't eat out at all during the eight days of the festival. But we're in London! Just visiting for a short time! I feel so ungrateful and lazy that we don't make the most of all that culture and entertainment on our doorstep for a short time only. But we don't. This is why I will probably never be a travel writer and another source of guilt.

We travel home on the early morning flight from Luton that requires getting up at 3 am on Sunday to go to the airport. I don't bother going to sleep the night before. We get home at about 5 pm because we're just in time to hit the rush hour as we enter Jerusalem. I then have to go out to the little supermarket around the corner because we've no food in the house. I make some supper for DD, tell her to put her dishes in the sink when she's finished and to turn off all the lights when she goes to bed. I go to bed at 7 pm and leave her to it. She hates it when I do that. Guilty.

I wake up at 11 pm with a dehydration headache. I take a paracetamol, drink coffee, and then drink a large green tea because the coffee didn't seem to work. I can't sleep. I read until 3.30 am, sleep for 3 1/2 hours and turn up for my first day of school exhausted and, actually, late. Guilty.

That night I fall into bed at 7 pm again. Now I've done this to DD two nights in a row. Guilty. I ignore the phone when it rings at about 10.30 so my mum doesn't get to tell me that my brother is engaged. I read it on facebook the next morning. Guilty. I still haven't unpacked and it's now Tuesday. But I have four hours of teaching at college on Tuesday afternoon so I need to prepare those lessons rather than unpack. Guilty. On Wednesday I after school I should have graded all the papers that came in from online courses over the holiday. But it's Holocaust Memorial Day and I want it to be meaningful so I make DD watch a movie about Anne Frank with me. Then I tell her that it's not appropriate to play on the computer or watch You Tube on this night so we both go to bed. On Thursday after school DD has gymnastics until 7.15 pm. We get home at 7.30 and there are three weeks' worth of emails to deal with so no grading tonight. Guilty. Today is Friday and I have to do some grading before Shabbat comes in as we don't work tomorrow. But I will unpack tomorrow - only six days after we came home. Guilty again.

Such a little word yet it generates so much anxiety.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day)

This evening, because we start our days from sunset, marked the beginning of Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Memorial Day. Everyone lights a memorial candle that lasts for 25 hours. Many people, including us, light in memory of a specific person who perished. DD and I lit our candles in memory of Judit Rajhman and Hanna Schenbron, both aged 6, both murdered in Auschwitz in 1944.

Hanna and Judit would have been 81 now, if they were still alive. Who would their children have been? Where would their grandchildren be living now? How many children would they have had? How many grandchildren? Maybe they would have had careers? Maybe one would have been a doctor and the other a writer? Maybe it would have been the other way round and the other would have been the doctor? It's almost certain that they didn't know each other aged 6 but maybe they would have met later in life and become friends, or colleagues, or even sisters-in-law?

So many questions without answers. So many children who never got to live their full lives (estimated at 1.5 million, most of them Jewish). And their baby brothers and sisters, and their big brothers and sisters and cousins, and young adults, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, classmates, the children next door, the man from the grocery shop who always made jokes, the teacher who gave too much homework, the scary dentist and the kind doctor. And all these people's families and friends until you add up 6 million lives .... stopped. Quashed. Murdered. Gassed.

DD and I watched a film about Anne Frank and I told her how Otto Frank was the only one to survive and how he came back and Miep had saved Anne's diary. Then I told her how he went to live in Switzerland and he married another survivor, Elfriede (Fritzi) Geiringer, who had a daughter called Eva (The author Eva Schloss). Fritzi and her family had lived in the same street as Anne Frank in Amsterdam and Eva and Anne, born only a month apart, had been friends. The Geiringers also went into hiding and were also betrayed. They were sent to Auschwitz. Erich Geiringer and their 19 year old son, Heinz did not survive. After the war Eva went to live in London. In Stanmore in fact, where we also lived. "And Grandma knew her, and her daughter, Sylvia, went to my school. She was in the year above me, Anne Frank's step-niece whom she never met."

DD understood. Real people survived and we know their grandchildren and, now, great-grandchildren. Real people perished and we have to remember them because they didn't get to have children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

Friday, April 12, 2019

R2BC - General Good Stuff

The Beresheet Space Lander aborted and with it went my Reasons 2B Cheerful this week. And the political party I voted for - Gesher - didn't even pass the threshold to get one seat in the Knesset. Otoh, we got to the moon (first country to crash on the moon. Hooray, a first!) and we still live in a democracy which is a huge deal.

So with the R2BC linky over at Mich's Mummy from the Heart for the month of April, here are mine for this week.

I Didn't Know This
I found out that they take polling boxes to women's shelters so that the women don't have to go out in public if they can't. Also, in every city there is a safe polling station for people who feel threatened by going to their local station in case they meet a dangerous ex, family member, or previous attacker/abuser. How amazing is that? To know that your vote is important when you're perhaps feeling at your most low and vulnerable is truly a wonderful thing.

If At first You Don't Succeed...
The first thing everyone involved in SpaceIL said after the failed moon landing was: Next time.... We are delayed, not defeated.

The Passover (Pesach) school holidays have started. DD is out and about with her friends - mostly in the park on roller blades but also in each other's homes just hanging out. What's new is that I don't have to take her or supervise. She makes her own arrangements on her own phone and off she goes. Fantastic!

Fling Open The Windows
The rains have finally stopped for a while and we can throw open the doors and windows to begin spring cleaning (we call it Pesach cleaning) in earnest.

Fun In The Supermarket
The Pesach foods which have to be separated from the normal foods, are in the supermarkets. It's fun to walk around my local super and find the shelves in complete chaos. Nothing is in its usual place, food groups are split up and put wherever there's a space. It's kinda fun.

That's it for today. Have a great week y'all.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

So Near And Yet So Far

One selfie from Bereshit before we lost communication. 
This was supposed to be my Reasons 2B Cheerful post for this week. I had it all planned and was rehearsing the words in my head as I settled down to watch live coverage of the Beresheet moon landing.

Today at Ben Gurion Airport, the arrivals boards were announcing MOON at 22.00 (time not finalized).

All over the country there were big screens set up with hundreds of people watching together. President Rivlin had 200 children in the President's residency, face-painting, doing crafts and watching at the same time. The Cinemateque in Jerusalem and the Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv to name two more.

We watched at home. I put it on the big TV for full effect. Opher Doron, one of the engineers at SpaceIL, explained what was going to happen. The spacecraft was approaching the moon. They were controlling the engines to get it into position. DD was in her bedroom.

Me: DD! DD! Come and watch the moon landing.
DD: No! I'm Busy!
Me: Come on! It's historical!
DD comes running down the corridor.
DD: Why is it hysterical?
Me: Historical not hysterical.
DD: Oh, I only came because I thought it was going to be funny.

However, she stayed as we both got drawn into the excitement. They hyped it up. "Israel, the small country with big dreams, is only the fourth country in the world to land on the moon."

"In one minute the spacecraft will decide for itself whether the landing conditions are favourable and then it's on its own. We will have passed the point of no return." They explained that if Beresheet decides to abort the landing it will continue to orbit the moon and we can try again in another four hours.

Suddenly they announced: "we have passed the point of no return, the landing process has started." We all clapped. The scientists, the dignitaries, Bibi and Sara Netanyahu, me and DD.

But then things began to go wrong. "We've lost telemetry." (He pronounced it te-LE-metry. I thought he said that they've lost the lemon tree.) Then they regained telemetry (or the lemon tree) and we were back in business.

"The breaking mechanism is in full process, the spacecraft is doing everything it's supposed to do at this moment."

Pure joy when Beresheet sent a selfie from the backside of the moon. There was the Israeli flag just short of the moon in the background. Am Yisrael Chai (The people of Israel Live - it's a message to Hitler et al.) and Small Country, Big Dreams in English. Lots of frenzied clapping.

The excitement was rising but then, "We seem to have a problem with the main engine."

"The main engine is back on." We all clapped again with relief. "But it's not, no no, it's not....."

And finally. "The main engine is back on but we have lost communication with the spacecraft. We are trying to get it back...... No, we've lost communication."

It was all over. Less than seven minutes to go and only a few kilometres from the moon's surface. The stats said 15 km but Opher said 41 km so I'm not sure exactly. Either way, it's nearer than Tel Aviv from Jerusalem.

They tried to put a positive spin on it. "We are the seventh country to orbit the moon and the fourth country to reach the moon (but not land safely - is what he meant).

As my friend Jonny put it, Israeli drivers eh? Israel is the first country to crash on the moon. And now I'm going to bed, tired and bitterly disappointed.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Reflections On The Elections

I can see the Knesset from my balcony. See the enlargement below.
April 9th 2019, General Election Day in Israel. I made my decision. It's only midday and we're at least 20 hours away from any results. However, here are some thoughts and observations on half way through election day.

1. There's a certain reverence in the polling station. perhaps it's the fact that we're all adults and young children. But maybe there's an unspoken awe of being part of a democracy and having the right to vote.

2 And camaraderie. Polling stations are a local thing, so obviously you meet people you know. And even people you don't know get chatting as they queue up outside the classrooms.

3. It felt like waiting to go into the nurse for a vaccination shot. The door opens and one person comes out then the person at the head of the queue goes in. The door shuts. You wait three minutes, and the door opens again for the next person. You go in all serious and, I swear, everyone comes out smiling. It was painless, I didn't feel a thing.

4. And you continue smiling as you emerge into the warm sunshine and walk down the road. As proud as if you've just finished a 12 hour shift at a soup kitchen. As proud as being a Jew able and free to vote in your own country.

And there it is, in the centre (hahaha),
third building from the top. 
5. There's a calm around us. Election Day is a national holiday so no one is in a rush. It's less frenetic than Fridays when you're working towards an early deadline - either the beginning of Shabbat or the shops closing at 3 pm. My friend Dina just wrote on Facebook, do  you know what that sound is outside? It's the sound of Sunday.

6. But also a bustle of celebration. families are out picnicking, hiking, and at the beaches. The cafes are full. With each of the 43 parties having a list of candidates up to 120 (but most far fewer) there are about 1,000 of them out on the streets, mingling with the public, shaking hands, visiting your table in the coffee shop. Remember this is a very small country. After such an aggressive and often nasty campaign period, it's good to see everyone just discussing over a cappuccino.

7. I don't understand the purpose of the exit polls. Why scramble to produce predictions only a few hours before the actual results? Seriously, go to the beach.

8. In a few short hours I can turn my phone text notices on again and answer the landline without a barrage of recorded messages from political parties. Otoh, I know that today's happy atmosphere will disappear once more when the election results are announced. Like the Brexit recriminations, everyone who didn't get what they wanted will be sulking and whinging on facebook and in real life. My answer to all of them is, as always, "Darling, didn't you understand how a democracy works when you went to vote?"

It's no secret that I voted for Orly Levy's Gesher Party. Their letter code on the voting slip was nun resh. It spells out the word Ner, meaning candle. Now I'll be singing Sarit Hadad's Light a Candle all day. However, as the song goes, a thousand candles in the dark can open up our hearts.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Election Relief With Gesher - R2BC

Because we also want to enjoy
picnics in the park.
April 6th and only my first blog post this month. Things suddenly got hectic with the second round of college exams to grade, practice meitsav (SATs) exams to grade for school, preparing reports for parents' meetings and a making a start on the spring cleaning (in theory 😊). Whatever the weather, I do try not to miss Reasons 2B Cheerful at the end of each week. This week we're back being hosted by Mich on Mummy from the Heart.

We have a general election on Tuesday and I was in a bind. Along with many many others, I didn't know who to vote for.

The way it works is that there are 120 seats in the Knesset and the ruling party must have at least 61 of them. The bigger parties usually only get between 30 and 40 seats, so they then have to form a coalition made up of their party and up to 30 other seats held by other smaller parties. They have six weeks to do this during which time there are usually big compromises that have to be made in the pre-election promises. We all know this. Obviously it's most useful to get the big 3rd and 4th parties in the coalition so there's not much change in policy from election to election.

I usually go by the principal that voting for one of the small parties is a wasted vote because we know that one of the big two will win the elections. Better to give the winning party a bigger mandate and more clout so that they don't have to form so many coalitions with demanding parties on the fringe. But this election, neither one of the big two parties sparked joy. Neither Bibi Netanyahu's Likud nor Benny Gantz et al's Blue and White.

Both parties have their good points. I have no truck with the "anyone but Bibi" movement, especially from Jews in America and the UK, as their agenda is different from mine. We also have our Bibi haters and it annoys me when they forget that we have lived in relative stability and safety in most of the country during the past 11 years. However, it's probably time for Bibi to go. Otoh, the B&W brigade include top army generals but they have no experience running a country.

Then I discovered Gesher. At the top is Orly Levy. A former model whom no one took seriously until she won a seat in the Knesset and started to make changes for social justice. She refuses to be dragged into the Left versus Right debate. Gesher is only concerned with social issues.

In the last general election the fight was between national security on the Right and social justice on the Left. Netanyahu won because the majority decided that we had to be alive over and above any other issues - as important as they are. I remember a friend who lives near the border with Gaza saying, "I wish I could vote for the left and everything they believe in, but I have to vote for our safety at this point." This time both sides are about national security and there's no such dilemma.

There is a 3.25% of the vote threshold that you have to cross in order to get in. Votes for parties under the threshold are distributed proportionately among the other parties. With 42 parties running, this can be a lot of wasted votes.

Levy is on the cusp of the threshold according to the polls but she has made it into the previous two governments. This year they are hoping to gain more seats as the voice of social justice. This is what I wrote on Facebook yesterday:

Election bottom line: Either Likud or B&W will win the most mandates. Both parties have national security at the top of their agenda and experienced military men at the helm. Both parties will ultimately make a coalition with the same other parties. Whoever wins, we will not see much change in actual policy. So, let's get Gesher in the government to deal with the pressing social issues that we all care deeply about. Finally a party that isn't concerned with Left or Right but is concerned about health, education and the cost of living. Left or Right, this concerns you. Please share.

A political post may seem like a strange topic for Reasons 2B Cheerful but I was in such a bind about who to vote for that I even considered not voting. I never don't vote. Finding Gesher and making the decision to vote for Orly Levy was a big relief. I also usually keep my ballot secret. However, I'm so happy with choosing Gesher that I'm willing to put myself out there in the hope of reaching a few more voters.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Crossing The Red Line - R2BC

The weather and DD's school play are my reasons 2B cheerful this week. The linky is still with Becky on Lakes Single Mum as we see out the month of March.

School Play
DD was a monkey in her school play. She told me, "I only have two lines but I exaggerate them. She was great!

The play was a joint project with students from Nissan Nativ - a film and drama school in Jerusalem (like Rada). Kobi Marimi, our Eurovision entrant, went there. Unfortunately he has graduated and had nothing to do with DD's school play.

The Red Lines
We've had the rainiest winter following a five year drought. Not no rain, but very little and not in the north, in areas that feed The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee - not a sea at all but rather a largish lake, smaller than Lake Geneva for example). When we went there in the summer it was a good walk down to the water, over what had once been the rocky sea bed. It was very sad. And two islands have appeared where once there were no islands. However, this year the lake has filled up to above the Lower Red Line for the first time in two years.

There are two red lines. The Upper Red Line, set at 208.8 m below sea level, is full capacity and they open the Deganya Dam to send the excess down the Jordan River to the Dead Sea (also not a sea and now two distinct lakes :( ). The last time they did this was in 2013 following spring flooding and a need to replenish the Jordan River. This is something I would love to see again but it won't be this year.

The Lower Red Line is the point at which they are supposed to stop pumping water as any lower causes ecological damage and the water quality deteriorates. There is 4.2 metres between the two lines and we are only at about 1 metre above the Lower Red Line.

We need to be a good two meters above the Lower Red Line in order to stay above it for the duration of the summer as 1 cm per day can evaporate in the hot weather. Apparently there's still lots of snow on Mt Hermon to melt and, amazingly, it's still raining - with another storm expected this week! I check on the level daily. I'm a bit nerdy like that.

I have to mention that there is also a Black Line, 1.87 m below the Lower Red Line, which is below the pipes so you couldn't pump even if you wanted to. This is also the historical minimum. When things get this dangerous they plan to pump sea water from the Mediterranean into The Kinneret. But we absolutely don't want to go there again!

There's something exciting about heavy rain in springtime because you know the summer is coming so you don't get depressed thinking that this is the situation for the next three months. I intend to enjoy every minute of what could be the final storm this year. 


Monday, March 25, 2019

A Purim R2BC

I didn't get round to doing Reasons 2B Cheerful last week and this week I'm mega late. So lots of catching up to do. The linky is with Becky on Lakes Single Mum.

Purim in the Park
We had a blast. On Thursday we went to Kfar Saba with friends, to a big park for a picnic. This was our festive meal as outside Jerusalem they celebrate Purim a day earlier. (Walled cities like Jm celebrate a day later - dunno why exactly except that Shushan, where the story happened, was a walled city.) [Update: I found out why. The fighting only stopped outside Shushan a day later.]

There were trampolines in the park and elastic jumping thingies that the children loved. We also brought roller blades and scooters so we were well prepared for a long day in the sunny weather. And the weather didn't disappoint.

Butterflies Everywhere
On the way there we commented that there were loads of butterflies everywhere. And in the park there were even more. The next day there were reports in the news about how millions of Painted Ladies had swarmed all over Israel on their annual migration from Arabia and Africa to Europe for the summer. It happens every year but because of the high rainfall this year, there were more than ever before. Apparently these exact butterflies won't survive to make the journey back south in the autumn, but their offspring will.

Queen Esther
We returned to Jerusalem on Thursday afternoon to go to the reading of the Purim Story (The story of Queen Esther) at our friends' house. The 'rule' is that  you are supposed to hear it read twice - once in the evening and once in the morning. It's great fun. Many people in fancy dress and every time you hear the name of the wicked Haman, you shake your noise makers and hiss. As fun as it is, once a year is enough for me. I had intended that DD sit with me to hear it too but the other children disappeared downstairs to play so she also disappeared. However, she'd already heard it in school last Tuesday so she was covered.

After the reading, we all eat. People bring food to contribute to the meal. There are some very wonderful and creative cooks in this crowd. I bought stuffed vine leaves and carefully took them out of the tin before leaving home so they looked a bit home-made. They almost all got eaten so that's what's important.

Liquid Courage
On the Friday, which was Purim in Jerusalem, DD and I delivered some Mishloach Manot (food parcels) and then went out for lunch. Just the two of us as we'd had our Purim meal in the park the day before. One family turned up at our house dressed as characters from The Wizard of Oz with a basket containing all sorts of Oz symbols. The miniature liquid courage has gone down well in a hot toddy each night for me. And I have one serving left for tomorrow night too.

A Lovely End
We stayed in on Friday night but went to friends for lunch on Saturday. A great end to a lovely, low key and relaxed Purim weekend (except for the Costume Drama on Tuesday).

And now I'm writing this during a massive electrical storm over Israel. It's of The Sound of Music proportions. I'm a little disappointed that DD hasn't woken up and come running into my room so we can sing My Favourite Things while jumping on the bed.