Monday, October 28, 2019

Crazy Cousins

Very near my Mum's, on the Watford Way between Elstree and Stanmore (in case anyone is interested in going there and I don't remember what it's called) is the largest (apparently) crazy golf in Europe. 

On a Sunday morning in September I invited my three nephews to join us for a round of crazy golf. "Bring your student cards, I'm paying." That ensured full attendance and we were picked up first thing in the morning at around 10.30. That's bright and early for two students and a recent graduate. 

They can all three of them drive now and the oldest was behind the wheel. We could have walked there but it was a moving experience being driven by my nephews. I remembered taking them on the train for a treat when they were little.

Anyhoo, back to the golf. There are two courses you can choose from - the Jungle or the Dinosaurs. We chose to do 18 holes on the Jungle Course. 

Some of the holes were more crazy than others but they're all designed to be not too difficult. The last thing you want is a queue building up whilst someone is still trying after 100 putts. Even so, there was some nifty footwork employed when necessary and nobody minded. 

The boys were very patient with DD, giving her some guidance over her swing, etc... (I say etc... because I've almost run out of golf jargon.) 

I have no idea what my handicap is and whatever we scored was par for the course, or significantly below par, or just fun. (There, that's all the golf jargon I know.)

We will definitely be visiting again.  

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Icing On The Cake

The final celebration for my brother and s-i-l's wedding was the Shabbat lunch at my sister's for the last round of Sheva Brachot (see yesterday's post). After a delicious hors d'ouvres and main course, the centre piece on the dessert table was a wedding cake made and decorated by DD. Well DD helped make the cake and was then guided in the decorating. Let me explain.

MishCakes of Mill Hill, NW7 is owned and run by my sister's friend Michelle Lipowicz. We've enjoyed Michelle's cakes at almost every party my sister has made. So a fancy cake was ordered for the Sheva Brachot and DD was invited to help make and decorate it.

I say, 'invited' but actually I don't know what the arrangements were. Looking at MishCakes' facebook page, I see that Michelle runs workshops for teenagers so I'm not sure if my sister paid for a workshop or if Michelle was just being kind. All I know is, Grandma dropped DD off at Michelle's house and a couple of hours later I received these fabulous photos.

DD absolutely loved it. She was  thrilled to have decorated such a sophisticated cake and was very proud when she was asked to carry it in and present it to the bride and groom as we served dessert.

And I schepped naches (kvelled with pride) when Michelle told me that DD is very talented, she's a quick learner and lots of fun to work with.

Thanks Michelle!

Anyone in NW London should check out or MichCakes, Personalised and Novely Cakes on Facebook.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Wedding - R2BC

DD was a bridesmaid.
In my last post I explained how in Israel the summer holidays segue into the autumn Jewish festivals and no one takes real life absolutely seriously until after all the festivals, particularly people in academia and/or with children in academia. Tertiary education doesn't even start until after the festivals. This year the festivals were very late - probably the latest possible as we had a leap month back in March. Add to this that I work according to university semesters and we were away for most of September, it's been a helluva long break from real life and routines. But now I'm back on the blog.

So here are my Reasons 2B Cheerful...

London in September
Two of my favourite things in one time and place - London and September. we went for my brother's wedding. The celebrations lasted three weeks! The weekend before is the Groom's Shabbat when he celebrates with his community. We all went to my brother's synagogue and enjoyed a celebratory lunch after the  morning services. It was trebly great for me as I sat with cousins I don't see very often and we got to meet my future s-i-l's family for the first time. And, more importantly, we liked them.

The banqueting hall at The Old Palace, Hatfield House
My Brother's Wedding
The wedding itself was a week later on the following Sunday. It was at the Old Palace at Hatfield House. It was a lovely wedding but for me an added enchantment lay in the fact that we were eating dinner in the same banqueting hall as Elizabeth l once ate. It's the place she was living when they came to tell her that she was the Queen of England. 486 years later Rachel Selby (and some others) is dining in the same hall. Legend has it that she was sitting under an oak tree when they told her but I'm sure they had some sort of celebratory dinner later.

Sheva Brachot
This is a tradition whereby the wedding celebrations are drawn out for another week as each night different friends or relatives host a dinner for the couple and include friends who were not at the wedding. Sheva Brachot means 'seven blessings'. It refers to the seven blessings that are added to the end of the grace after meals in the presence of a newly married couple during the week after their wedding.

It was a small wedding so my mother hosted the first of the Sheva Brachot to which she invited all her friends and a wider circle of cousins. I got to see all the cousins and 'aunties and uncles' of my childhood. It was in a local restaurant so no clearing up afterwards either.

A week later my sister hosted the final of the seven Sheva Brachot in her house. It was the perfect ending to all the celebrations. I caught up with all my sister's friends whom I've got to know a bit over the years. I sat  and caught up with with another cousin who'd not been at the previous events. Lots of clearing up but I actually love that 'all hands on deck' effort at the end of a successful party.

The day finished with a short walk to see my brother and s-i-l's new house followed by several rounds of the game of Catan back at my sister's.

That's enough for now. I have sufficient blog fodder from our trip to last several posts so I intend to be back on the blog more regularly from now on. I'm not sure if there is a R2BC linky atm as we all flaked out over the summer. I'm checking it out.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Yom Kippur In Israel

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

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

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

Yom Kippur in Israel

By Leonie Lachmish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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