Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Sister For DD

Yes DD is getting a sister. A big sister.

I had a meeting at the school with the headmistress, DD's class teacher and the school counselor, to see how we could help DD with her Hebrew. Having practised reading at home since December and now that we are learning for the spelling tests (which we did as soon as I knew that there were word lists given out), the teacher has changed her mind about assessments for learning difficulties and agrees with me that it's lack of exposure to the Hebrew language that is holding her back.

I also may have mentioned to her that I cannot afford a tutor for extra Hebrew lessons. Because of that and me being a single mother, there were a few subtle questions about our financial situation. I wasn't offended and answered truthfully that although I only just make enough money to reach the end of the month, we do live in our own apartment so we won't be out on the streets and we have enough to eat. (I eat more than enough actually but that's another issue.)

However, before they realized that I own my apartment and teach at college level, the school counselor had already nominated us for a big sister. The Big Brother Big Sister network is an international organisation essentially to give children at risk an adult other than their parents to mentor them through school.

If you look at the American Big Brother Big Sister website you'll see that it's all about helping the children graduate high school, not drop out of school and avoid falling into drug and alcohol abuse. I don't care as long as our big sister speaks Hebrew. And of course I'm all for graduating, not dropping out of school, etc...

I had to call the co-ordinator for Jerusalem. When I asked her if she was the co-ordinator for the whole of Jerusalem, she firmly informed me that she was the social worker and that she'd like to make a home visit before assigning us a big sister. Ho hum. Now we have a social worker.

So I spent the day of the home visit cleaning the house and was considering whether to start baking bread and putting classical music on to softly play in the background, when my mother skyped us from London. Then the Social Worker arrived just in time to see three generations of happy family connecting across the continents. I couldn't have planned it better.

I was expecting her to snoop around a bit. But it wasn't like that at all. Turns out she's a friend of my neighbour and actually she just wanted to discuss the programme. I think I got confused by all the social sevices horror stories in the Mail Online.

So she's coming back on Monday with our big sister who will be spending a couple of hours a week with DD to speak and play with her in Hebrew. She might help us with the homework or go with DD to the park. They get tickets for shows and concerts sometimes for the children to go to with their Bigs.

Our big sister is a first year student on a four year course in Jerusalem. If everything goes well we could have her in the family for the next four years. Or longer. We're excited about it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - People Who Need People

This week's Reasons 2B Cheerful (although I don't do it every week) is brought to you with People Who Need People sung by Barbra Streisand. Listen while you read.

I've had anserine bursitis (a swelling under the knee tendon) in my right leg for over a month. I'm on anti inflammatory pills (so I don't burst into flames? ;~) ) and the pain is at last under control. It's not certain if this condition ever goes away or if it becomes chronic but I'm praying for the former scenario.

One week I didn't feel like going out for dinner on Friday night. I couldn't walk down to, around, and back from the supermarket in order to make dinner for us at home. So half an hour before Shabbat came in my amazing friend Sally-Ann sent her husband over with this. Basically, two whole meals for the duration. All delicious and very gratefully recieved. Thank you Sassy! xxx

In Jewish tradition, the Shabbat directly before or after a wedding is the Groom Shabbat. It's when the groom celebrates with family and friends in his own synagogue and community.

Last November, four days before the wedding of Sarah Tehiya Litman and Arieh Beigal, her family were driving to Arieh's Groom Shabbat when a terrorist opened fire on the car. Sarah's father and 18 year old brother were killed. The wedding was postponed as Sarah and her family had to sit shiva. When she got up from shiva Sarah announced that the wedding would go ahead the next week and the whole of Israel was invited.

They were given the largest wedding venue in Jerusalem and indeed, over 1,000 people turned up to dance at the wedding as a show of love and support. Jewish communities from around the world sent representitives, and individuals flew in from London, New York and Paris. Many of my Jerusalem friends went to the wedding. None of them know Sarah or Arieh personally but everyone wanted to make this wedding happen in the biggest and happiest way possible. It was an amazing show of international Jewish solidarity.

Sarah Beigal nee Litman goes to my college. She's not in my classes but February is exam month for the end of the first semester and I found myself proctoring an exam which she sat. At the end of the exam she came up to hand in her paper and I noticed she'd written her name like this: Sarah Lit Beigal.

I laughed, "I see you forgot that you're Beigal now." She laughed too, "I know, I'm still getting used to it."

That was all. I wanted to say so much to her but it was not the time or the place. So my reason 2B cheerful is that I met Sarah Beigal and we shared a joke. And I am proud to have met this brave young woman.

The sun is shining, it's 24 degrees C, and my windows are open to the spring air.

This morning I walked to, around, and home from the supermarket. I met eight people I know and with whom I exchanged greetings or stopped briefly to chat. I estimate that by doing this I added about 20 minutes to my errand. I am cheerful and thankful for this because, as the song says, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.

This week Reasons 2B cheerful is being hosted by Becky at Lakes Single Mum.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

This Is Not A Love Story, It's Complicated

This week I read Keren David's sixth young adult novel, This is not a Love Story. Well I did love it so it was sort of a love story for me.

It's about three young adults who meet in Amsterdam. Each of them there for different reasons. None of them with parents checking up on their whereabouts - partly because of their personal circumstances and partly because it's Amsterdam. Of course they all fall in love but this is not a love story, innit? Unless you count falling in love with Amsterdam. If anything, this story shows how everything is about love - family, friends, where you live, who you are - even if you are not in a relationship. As the cover says, it's complicated.

For me the icing on the cake was that the main characters are Jewish in a way I've never come across in a novel for general reading. The plot is nothing to do with being Jewish, there are no pogroms or concentration camps, but at the same time the Jewish element is not shoved into a symbollic lighting the Chanuka candles party. Neither are there Jewish stereotypes like the wise old Rabbi or an overfeeding Jewish mother (who is invariably and irritatingly called Miriam in other novels). In fact it's about a couple of Jewish families in the way me and my friends are Jewish - not very, nothing to see, and yet all encompassing. Again it's complicated.

I have to admit that Keren David is an old friend of mine. I've reviewed her books before and though I did disclose this fact, it wasn't particularly relevant to the review. However, this time I took great joy in recognising some of the characters in the book. Some specifically and some less specifically. The less specifically identified characters were the parents in London who are all our (my friends and mine) fathers and all our mothers (except for those with weird parents).

One of the characters goes to my nephews' school and he and his friends are all their friends. Actually they're all my friends from thirty years ago but with slightly different Jewish slang and internet.

I love the way Keren included Jewish vocabulary without explaining it. I can't believe the editors let her do this but it does make the whole thing more credible. Don't you hate it when characters in a book say things they obviously both know already for the sole purpose of explaining to the reader? Like they're in a literary version of the Truman Show? Well there's none of that, thank goodness.

In fact I've written my own TINALS companion book including any Jewish slang you might want to know. It's not very long so I've copied it here:

Batty and Barmy - short for Bat Mitzva (for a girl) and Bar Mitzva (for a boy).
Neb - short for nebishe or nebekh, a pathetic person that we all feel sorry for.
Youth Movements - not Yiddish but quite a Jewish thing. National youth clubs with an ideology over and above having fun, very much like Scouts.
Beck - rich young Jews with designer clothes and expensive social lives.
Frummer - an orthodox Jew.

If you want an extremely good book to read with the added bonus of an insight into my family and community, read this book.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Building Noah's Ark

Having told you you how happy and grateful I was not to have to build Noah's Ark as one of the other girls in DD's group has parents who love doing craft projects, I actually got quite into the whole event as more and more amazing arks turned up at school. The parents really outdid themselves on this one. Here are some photos.

I even sort of want to make one myself now.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Reason 2B Cheerful - February 2016

 The Reasons to be Cheerful linky is being hosted by Lakes Single Mum again this month.

Almost finished bar the roof of the cabin.
1 Noah's Ark

An arts and crafts project at school had the 2nd Graders put into groups of two, three, or four to make a Noah's Ark. I hate these types of project as they are homework for the parents. Remember when I had to make Mini Israel?

We got our group so I called one of the other mothers in the group. And then God answered my prayers when she said: "I was just about to call you. I'll take the girls home from school on Tuesday and give them lunch then my husband will make the ark with them. You don't have to do anything."

It turned into a family effort with T's big sister helping and her little brother lending his toy animals. The end result is amazing. Thank you dear people. Btw, I have put in a request to be teamed with you for every art, craft and science project for the duration.

2 Spring is in the air!

It's February! I once described February as the Monday morning of the year. And it is if you live in Northern Europe. But here in Israel the weather has turned warmer and hints of spring are everywhere. We are still using the heating for another 6 weeks probably but only in the evenings.

Spring is in the air and the window is open (only one but it's a start).

3 Decluttering

Putting these two tv-stand type units one on top of the other, has saved me about 100 GBpounds. That's what it would cost to have a tall Billy bookcase delivered by Ikea and built in DD's bedroom. It also means one less item of furniture in the living room (one of the units was already in DD's bedroom).

I'm getting the decluttering urge again. Partly because of Rachel Jonat's Minimalist Mom series on her blog (of the same name), partly because it's almost spring, partly because the Yedidya Bazaar is in just a couple of months, and mostly because I love the feeling of less stuff and more space.

4 Shabbat

It's Shabbat and we have a whole day of nothingness before us.

Shabbat Shalom! xxx

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday Tidbits #38 - Winter 2016

DD: Did you have a tablet when you were little?
Me: No I didn't. They weren't invented yet.
DD: Well I'm so lucky because I was born when electricity had already been invented.

DD: Mummy will you stop singing Christmas songs, you're ridicking my brain! (From the word ridiculous.)
Another time:
DD: Stop asking me all the time if any more of my teeth are wobbly. That just ridics me!

At the airport walking to the boarding gates and seeing the signs: C1 - C9 and C10 - C25.
DD: C9 take away C1? C8!..... C25 take away C10? C15!
DD: Ben Gurion Airport take away Terminal 1? What does that mean?

April 2012 with Grandma and Grandpa
DD: Last night I dreamt that Grandpa came alive again.
Me: That's nice. What was he doing?
DD: He was fixing the train set for me.